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Adam and Eve, Huth Psalter

Adam and Eve, Huth Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1280

Shelfmark: Additional MS 38116

Item number: f.9r

Length: 23.7

Width: 14.4

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 illumination give vivid impressions of contemporary concerns and devotional practices.

Scenes of Adam and Eve continue the Genesis story. Top left, the serpent successfully tempts the unisex-bodied couple. Next, the sword-bearing angel pushes them from the garden as they steal last glimpses. The action cuts to post-Fall Eve in the role of medieval housewife spinning while Adam digs at the roots of a dead tree, mirroring the one above. The book's anti-Semitism emerges in the fourth scene: Cain, a Jewish caricature, slays the fair-haired Abel with a huge jawbone as his discoloured sacrifice emits a sickly smoke descending into the mouth of Hell.

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