Thursday, 18 December 2008

John the Baptist's camel skin

Yarnton, Oxfordshire, window nVI, 2b

How was St John the Baptist dressed? This is how Mark's Gospel has it: 'Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist' (Matthew Mark 1.6) This fifteenth century panel from Yarnton in Oxfordshire is pretty representative of the standard medieval way of interpreting the text, by dressing him in a whole camel's skin, with the head of the animal trailing on the floor between his legs. Of course in this image, like many images of the Baptist, we see him set in the heavenly reality, so he gets a rather better robe to cover his camel skin.

Yarnton, Oxfordshire

1 comment:

Roger Mortimer said...

Not a bad representation of a camel, given the date. The whole figure is the work of a very talented glass painter, isn't it? And one who, on the basis of command of facial expression, saintly and camel, had the makings of a good modern cartoonist.