Music, medicine, and morals: the iconography of an early musical instrument

Laurinda S. Dixon

Studies in Iconography, 7-8, 1981-1982, 147-156

"Examines the carved decoration of the late 14th c. north Italian mandora or gittern (Metropolitan Museum, New York) with regard to medieval legends and allegories of music. In general, the decorative scheme relates the early lore of bestiaries (particularly the Physiologus) to Christian morality. Specifically, animals such as the dog and stag appear in their capacities both to make and enjoy music and to attract Christian faith. Music as a venereal talisman appears in the scene of falconers and cupid, whereas the diabolical dragon beneath them indicates the pitfalls of adultery. The mandora therefore becomes a miniature sermon against faithlessness in marriage, pleading for pure Christian love as opposed to carnal lust." - Dixon

Language: English


Last update December 6, 2021