When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art

Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art

The thick, polished animal skin used as paper during the Medieval era wasn't very strong. It was really easy to rip during cleaning and preparation. But nobody could afford to toss away a page just because of some holes. So illustrators and scribes created art out of the flaws in their pages.

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Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel found these amazing examples of cleer.

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Bearded face from a 12th century manuscript, a commentary to the Song of Songs

Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art
Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art

A Dragon in its cave, in a 9th century manuscript

Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art
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From a 9th century book

Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art
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(via Medieval Books)

A mid-14th century Magna Carta

Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art
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(via Reading Revolutions)

Holes fixed with coloured threads, 12th-14th century

Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art
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Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art
Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art
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The contours of these patch repairs were discreetly hidden by illustrations

Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art
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(via Kristineroseacr)

Silk broidery in a 14th century book, repaired by some nuns who purchased the book in 1417

Illustration for article titled When Medieval Scribes Turned Damaged Paper into Clever Art
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The images are from Erik Kwakkel's awesome Tumblr blog, except when noted otherwise.

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DISCUSSION

Oh Medieval scholars, you are the best. Truly the printing press has destroyed the best of what humanity has to offer.