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Adoration of the Magi and Massacre of the Innocents, in the Huth Psalter

Adoration of the Magi and Massacre of the Innocents, in the Huth Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1280

Shelfmark: Additional MS 38116

Item number: f.10r

Length: 23.7

Width: 14.5

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. A picture presents two episodes in the childhood of Christ. At the top, an elegant portrayal of the Magi juxtaposes the wise men?s lively display of luxurious gifts with the serene Virgin who holds the saviour king and his golden globe. Below, another arcade contains a depiction of the Massacre of Innocents. Backed by the devil and wielding a gigantic sword, Herod commands soldiers in medieval armour. Surmounting a triangle of pleading mothers and hacking soldiers, a baby?s impaled body heightens the gruesome consequence.

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