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October, in the Huth Psalter

October, in the Huth Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1280

Shelfmark: Additional MS 38116

Item number: f.6v

Length: 237

Width: 149

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Named for its donor, the Huth Psalter reveals its origin by listing in its calendar of feasts and litany Saints Hugh, Wilfrid, and John of Beverly?all associated with Lincoln or York. Medieval psalters could be used publicly in the liturgy or privately as a prayer book, with decoration, calendar and added prayers tailored for the use of an individual or community. Unusual features of its illuminations give vivid impressions of contemporary concerns and devotional practices. The calendar coordinates the Psalter?s use with the sanctoral (cycle of saints? days celebrated in church throughout the year). The page for October shows in a roundel (top) the month?s labour, threshing, carried out by a peasant dressed for work, and below, a monstrous incarnation of the zodiacal sign, scorpio. St Wilfrid?s feast appears written in blue and red about one-third of the way down. The phrase 'red letter day' comes from the practice of emphasising important feasts with colour. Flourished initials and gilt decoration throughout the list add to the rich effect.

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