Video

Watch the Hedgehogs from Medieval Bestiaries Come to Life!

Zuzanna Stańska, Nicole Ganbold 4 April 2022 min Read

I love animals from Medieval bestiaries. They are truly beautiful. So when I came across this video animating the hedgehog described in Latin Physiologus I just couldn’t resist. The Polish animating studio Obrazki nunu and Facebook fanpage Discarding Images present: the first nature video based on medieval bestiary. In Latin (!) with English subtitles.

Also, according to the Physiologus, the hedgehog looks like a suckling piglet.

Dolls & animation: Ala nunu Leszyńska
Storyboard: Karolina Chabier
Music: Magda Tejchma
Narrated by Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett

 

Text after the Latin Physiologus :

Phisiologus dicit quod herinatius figuram habet porcelli lactentis. Hic deforis totus est spinosus. Sed tempore vindemiarum ingreditur in vineam, et ubi viderit uvam bonam, ascendit super vitem et exacinat uvam illam, ita ut cadant omnes racemi in terram. Deinde descendit et volutat se super illos ita ut omnes racemi figantur in spinis eius, et sic portat escam filiis suis.

Which in English translates to,

The Physiologue says that a hedgehog has the shape of a suckling piglet. On the outside it is entirely covered with spines. During the grape-gathering season the hedgehog enters the vineyard. And when it sees a good grape, it climbs up the vine and removes that grape in such a way as to make all the clusters fall onto the ground. Then it climbs down and rolls itself over them so that that all the grapes get caught in its spines. This is how it brings food to its offspring.

–Translated by Miłosz Sosnowski

Cute, isnt’ it?

Today we perceive hedgehogs as harmless cute pets that often need our help when crossing a busy street at night, right? However, in medieval Europe these tiny creatures were regarded as “incriminating and sinister”! As we see in the excerpt above, hedgehogs were often compared to pigs or porcupines. Meanwhile their actions were compared to those of a petty thief and condemned as sinful and wicked.

medieval bestiaries: A Hedgehog in a bestiary, about 1270, possibly made in Thérouanne, France
A Hedgehog in a bestiary, about 1270, possibly made in Thérouanne, France. Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment, 7 1/2 × 5 5/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig XV 3, fol. 79v. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program. Detail.

In the Rochester Bestiary we can clearly see how “during the grape-gathering season the hedgehog enters the vineyard. And when it sees a good grape, it climbs up the vine and removes that grape in such a way as to make all the clusters fall onto the ground. Then it climbs down and rolls itself over them so that that all the grapes get caught in its spines. This is how it brings food to its offspring.”

Rochester Bestiary, c. 1230, British Library, London, UK.
Rochester Bestiary, c. 1230, British Library, London, UK. Royal MS 12 F XIII, f. 45r. Detail.

Bibliography

1.

Pammit, Melisa. “The Hardworking, Homemaking Hedgehog.” Art Stories | Series: Book Of Beasts. Iris Blog | Getty, 10 May 2018. Accessed 24 Mar 2022.

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