Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Kalender of Shepherds Miscellany

Anatomical Man with the Planets

The Wheel of the Occupations of the Months and the Zodiac

A group of shepherds

Sherperde looking at night skye

Occupation of the months - feasting - January

Labours of the Months - Treading the Grapes - October

Tables for Eclipses of Sun and Moon

Sculptor and Painter (emblem of Mercury)

Human Life as a Sea Voyage

Souls Chained to a Wheel

Souls Fed Toads

Feeding Toads closeup

Souls Chained and Tormented in Hell

Four Monsters

Souls Tormented by Serpents
Draco Souls Tormented by Serpents Text

Call to repentance by a horner

Thus endeth the Shephardes kalendere,
Drawne into English to Gods' reuerence:
And for profite and pleasure shalle Clearkes to here,
Plainly shewed their intelligence,
Our is done, now readers do your diligence,
And remember that the Printer saieth to you this,
He that liueth well may not die amis.

The 'Kalender of the Shepherdes' is a late medieval almanac first published in the 1490s in Paris by Guy Marchant and Antoine Vérard. It incorporates writing and illustrations that traverse a number of themes including astrological, feasting and Saints day calendars, farming advice, folk medicine and (most significantly) religious instruction.

The original book, 'Compost et Kalendrier de Bergiers', was reprinted nine times before the close of the century, giving a fair indication of its popularity among the aristocratic and middle class readers. The first copy in english appeared at beginning of the 16th century and many further editions followed which included irregular translations, incorporation of new text and the inclusion of illustrations from various sources. It remained very popular for more than a century but "[d]espite so many editions, and perhaps because of the miscellaneous and pragmatic nature of its content, each edition of the KS has survived in very few copies and it rarely appears on the antiquarian book market".

Although 'Kalender of the Shepherdes' is the archetype for the persisting modern interpretation of an almanac (Old Farmer's Almanac for instance), the original work, which proved to be widely influential in both literary and social terms, was fundamentally about achieving salvation. The astrological charts and sherherd's folk wisdom about harvests, diet and medicine were side dishes to the core devotional and religious instructional main course. This included outlining the ten commandments, the seven deadly sins and some of the lines first published in the 'Kalender' live on today in the modern version of the Hail Mary prayer.

It's little wonder that such a didactic miscellany included illustrations that first appeared in the book, 'L'art de Bien Viure et de Bien Mourir' ('Ars Moriendi' - The Art of Dying well), from 1492 (which in turn derived from manuscript illustrations from the 1480s) where Lazarus recalls his visions of hell (the tormented souls pictures); but it's also interesting to observe that other notable 'medieval themes' made an appearance such as Ship of Fools* and Planetenkinder (seen the other day).


Koldo Barroso said...

today I decided I wanted to visit all of my favorite blogs and say Merry Christmas, and BibliOdyssey is one of them. I just wanted to say thanks because I read you every morning and you bring a lot of inspiration to my artwork.
Thank you very much. I really wish you a merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

peacay said...

Thanks koldo, much appreciated. Best wishes for the silly season!

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