2 Answers

  1. if you are interested in the symbolic meaning of medieval images of animals, I advise you to refer to medieval texts about them (physiologist, bestiaries).

    in these texts, animals seem to be evidence of a divine plan.

    for example: it is said that lion cubs are born dead, but three days after their birth, the lion raises them up with his breath — just as God raised Christ up three days after the crucifixion. Thus, all living things (including birds, fish, insects, and mythical animals such as the phoenix and dragon) “reflect” the biblical story.

    the lion resurrects the lion cub. a thumbnail fragment from the MS Ludwig XV 3 bestiary. source

    If you read in English, I recommend digitizing the Aberdeen Bestiary.

    if not — here are the translations into Russian:

    • Yurchenko A. G. The Alexandrian “Physiologist”: Zoological Mystery, St. Petersburg, Eurasia. 2001
    • Muratova K. M. Medieval bestiary. Art. 1984

    both books are available in the Russian State Library.

    but! not every strange animal in a medieval manuscript refers to bestiaries. as Oleg voskoboinikov already wrote in a comment to another answer to your question in the thread ✨

  2. This is not symbolism, everything is much more prosaic. The fact is that medieval artists often did not have access to real images of the objects they painted. And the drawing skill itself was often lame.�

    Getting to other countries at that time was an extremely difficult task, as was getting access to books. Many artists did not even know how to read, and only a select few had access to libraries, and the libraries themselves were located mainly in monasteries. That is, you couldn't even look at it or read the description. They drew mostly” as far as their imagination went, guided by the stories of merchants, travelers, or, most often, retold by third parties.”

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