11 October 2012

Nature forges an infant - updated

"Detail of a miniature depicting Nature forging a baby."
Netherlands, S. (Bruges)
Obviously intended to be allegorical, but still somewhat bizarre.

From the British Library's Catalogue of Illustrated Manuscripts, via the ever-interesting Titam et le Sirop d'Érable.

Addendum:  A hat tip to Rob from Amersfoort, who identified the source of this image as the 13th century Roman de la Rose. His note in the Comments includes two links to similar images, including this one...

... which clearly acknowledges the role of a woman and man in the process.  The fire at the back apparently represents nature's forge, with implied connections to the legendary phoenix as well (see Anthropoeccentrism).


  1. Thank you for this! I laughed so hard there were tears in my eyes.

  2. That is hilarious and wonderful. Also, did you notice that by putter her hair down and loose, they're trying to make her look wild without looking actually wild.

  3. It's from the 13th century Roman de la Rose. Many copies were made, a lot of them illustrated. See:
    "But when Nature, sweet and compassionate, sees that envious Death and Corruption come together to put to destruction whatever they find within her forge, she continues always to hammer and forge and always to renew the individuals by means of new generation" (source).

  4. Bringing a whole new meaning to the expression "Going at it hammer and tongs"!

  5. Reminds me of something I once read in a book about Medieval warfare, wherein a knight was once threatened with the death of his son, who had been taken hostage. Undeterred, he defied the kidnappers, telling them to essentially go ahead - kill the boy and be damned, "for I have the hammer and tongs with which to forge another!".


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