More on the two crabs in f72r3

Actually, I’ve just found this excerpt of a european manuscript with two crabs for the cancer zodiac sign: it is from MS M700, folio 7r, located at the Morgan Library. It is a latin text, the DuBois hours, from “England, probably Oxford, ca. 1325-1330”.  (I won’t put copies of their pictures on this blog since they specifically forbid it.)

The crabs there are face to face, rather than in parallel like in the VM, but at least this shows that this depiction also occured elsewhere in Europe, and does not necessarily mean any eastern influence.  It would be very interesting to know where and when that kind of depiction occured: it could be a clue in the right direction…

Added: this manuscript and another italian one seem to be discussed in this 1963 article of Olga Koseleff Gordon (Art Bulletin vol 45, no 3: 245-253), who describes them as “unusual” in their zodiacal iconography.

Also, what is intriguing, is that the Gemini sign at the bottom of f6r has, like the VM, a man and a woman (but behind a shield, like in the iconography I’ve mentionned previously) instead of two brothers (a depiction which, as mentionned previously, is not uncommon in the XVth century).  But every little bit helps.

That MS M700 also has two aries, two pisces, two taurus, but one leo, one virgo, one sagittario… So similar to the VM purely in terms of animal counts (in the VM the two taurus and the two aries occur on different pages, a strong difference).



One Response to More on the two crabs in f72r3

  1. The issue with all imagery is ‘how like is like?’

    To posit eastern influence you don’t need to go to fifteenth-century India. The same lines of transmission which brought Indian numerals, spices, medicine and textiles also brought eastern fabrics and so forth. Europeans’ horizons might have been small, but the world wasn’t.

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