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What is a butt tuba and why is it in medieval art? - Michelle Brown

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A rabbit attempts to play a church organ, while a knight fights a giant snail and a naked man blows a trumpet with his rear end. These bizarre images, painted with squirrel-hair brushes on vellum or parchment by monks, nuns and urban craftspeople, populate the margins of the most prized books from the Middle Ages. Michelle Brown explores the rich history and tradition of illuminated manuscripts.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Michelle Brown
  • Narrator Adrian Dannatt
  • Producer Anna Dolzhenko
  • Art Director Anna Dolzhenko
  • Animator Denis Bousygin, Sasha Dudka
  • Illustrator Denis Bousygin, Sasha Dudka
  • Storyboard Artist Denis Bousygin
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Joseph Isaac
Additional Resources for you to Explore
For a useful overview of issues and resources, try this link.

To learn more about manuscripts in medieval life, look here.

The educator, Michelle P. Brown, talks about the Holkham Bible Picture Book, an illuminated manuscript in this video.

For a good overview of illuminated manuscripts by period, see these resources:

Illuminating the Manuscript Leaves Digitized illuminated manuscripts from the University of Louisville Libraries
Digitized Illuminated Manuscripts – Complete sets of high-resolution archival images from the Walters Art Museum
UCLA Library Special Collections collection of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts
Collection of illuminated manuscripts. From the Koninklijke Bibliotheek and Museum Meermanno-Westreenianum in The Hague.
CORSAIR. Thousands of digital images from the Morgan Library's renowned collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts
Manuscript Miniatures, a collection of illustrations from manuscripts made before 1450
Illuminated Manuscripts in Medieval England and France - bl.uk

For Further Reading: 
Alexander, J.J.G, The Decorated Letter (London: Chatto and Windus, 1978)
J. J. G. Alexander, Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work (New Haven: Yale, 1992) Brown, M. P., 1994
Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: a Glossary of Technical Terms, London and Malibu
Brown, M. P., The British Library Guide to Writing and Scripts. History and Techniques (British Library & Toronto University Press: London & Toronto, 1998)
Brown, M. P., The World of the Luttrell Psalter (British Library: London, 2006)
Camille, M., Image on the Edge: the margins of medieval art (London: Reaktion Books, 1992)
de Hamel, C., Scribes and Illuminators (London: British Museum, 1992)
De Hamel, C., A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, 2nd edn (London, 1994)
Pächt, O., Book Illumination in the Middle Ages: an Introduction (London: Harvey Miller, 1986)

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Michelle Brown
  • Narrator Adrian Dannatt
  • Producer Anna Dolzhenko
  • Art Director Anna Dolzhenko
  • Animator Denis Bousygin, Sasha Dudka
  • Illustrator Denis Bousygin, Sasha Dudka
  • Storyboard Artist Denis Bousygin
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Joseph Isaac