Yesterday, I had a surprise in Del Norte. My friends and I went on an adventure and “did” Del Norte. Our jaunt led us to the nostalgia shop where I found a bunch of prints of fine art. In one of the boxes were framed prints from the most unlikely place — the Codex Manesse. Huh??? What were THEY doing in Del Norte? I exclaimed something profound like, “Huh???” Corey, the store owner said, “I knew sooner or later someone would know what those are.”
I tried to explain but it made no sense to her. I was (honestly) a little shaky from the surprise and it was an alien world to her, completely and totally alien. Finally, we did the phone thing and I wrote stuff down for her and now they will be labeled as what they are.
You never ever ever know what will show up in the San Luis Valley. The Codex Manesse is a late 13th century early 14th century collection of songs and poetry, some were written in the 12th century. They were compiled so that they would not be lost. It was a huge, expensive effort funded by a Zürich man, Herr Manesse. With the poetry and songs are portraits of the poets. I love them. They show the poet in “action,” along with emblems of his life, coats of arms, helmets, flowers, some poets’ names relate to animals (Vogelweide for example: Vogel means bird…) and the animals are depicted.
The Codex is now at the University of Heidelberg. As I explained all this to the store owner, I had to “come out” as a Swiss Medievalist Historian. For a few minutes I felt as bizarre and out of place as these prints are, but in a good way. The San Luis Valley is full of surprising things (how many alligator rescues are there even in the WORLD?) and people. I just wonder how they got there.
I wasn’t tempted to buy them, much as I loved them, and as much as I wanted to look at the backs of the prints. I don’t have to. I guess if they had been the poets from the Codex that I like very much, I might have but…
The colors on the Codex are all described in a wonderful book I just bought On Divers Arts by Theophilus Presbyter (pen name) written in the 12th century. — the black ink might have been made of oak gall or by the method Theophilus describe — hawthorn bark and wine. His recipes for colors read to me like witch’ recipes.