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     Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 28  1909  page 364

Sybill Arms at Little Mote, Eynsford By George C. Druce continued

gives a description of the animalís nature and habits, often including a fanciful derivation of its name; then follow quotations from the Bible, either mentioning or apparently alluding to the animal; and lastly, the whole was employed to convey some religious or moral lessons to the reader. There is very considerable variation in the different MSS., both in illustration and text, and the symbolism is in some cases entirely different according to the different schools. These books were extremely popular in the Middle Ages, and were widely read, and they afford a key to many animal devices, whether appearing in ecclesiastical buildings, in heraldry, or as inn signs. What motives were present towards the choice of particular animals or birds for knightly crests must be a matter of conjecture, because, although such qualities as courage, gentleness, or constancy may have been expressed or implied in particular animals in the MSS., we do not find in effect that crests were confined to these, but obnoxious beasts were also freely adopted, although they appear in some instances to have acquired a different signification heraldically.

   Some of the illustrated Bestiaries contain particulars of from 100 to 120 beasts, birds, and reptiles, and it would be safer to conclude that the fact that these MSS. were religious in character was the more powerful motive, without specifying too exactly the qualifications of the animals themselves. The "Tiger and Mirror" subject was among those adopted in heraldry, and by reference to the MSS. we can ascertain the story. The appended illustration (Plate I.) is reproduced from MS. Add. 11,283 (B.M.), an English Latin Bestiary of the thirteenth century, and shews the full details. On the left is a tiger biting and pawing a mirror, in the centre a conventional tree, and on the right a hunter on horseback riding off with the cub. The illustrations in this MS. are beautifully coloured; the tigerís spots and stripes are well delineated, the former being painted in blue and white circles, the latter in blue and red wavy lines, while the mirror has a blue centre surrounded by white, red, and green circles, evidently intended to reflect the colours of the tiger.

Page 364

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