Medieval animals made out of words
This is a special book from the early Middle Ages (France, 9th century). Not only does it contain a high volume of very attractive images, but these images are also not what you would expect: they are drawn, as it were, with words. They illustrate Cicero’s Aratea, a work of astronomy. Each animal represents a constellation and the written words in them are taken from an explanatory text by Hyginus (his Astronomica). His words are crucial for these images because the drawings would not exist without them. It is not often in medieval books that image and text have such a symbiotic relationship, each depending on the other for its very existence.
Pics (BL): London, British Library, Harley 647 (France, 9th century). The manuscript is available fully digitized here. More about illustrated Aratea manuscripts here. English extracts from Hyginus’ texts are found here (including the swan).