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December 15 – Blemmye

Headless man from the “Book of Wonders” (St Andrews ms32(o))

Though perhaps not strictly a fantastic beast, we had to include the unusual blemmye in this calendar. The blemmye or mythical headless man has been known by various names and is said to inhabit the remotest parts of the earth. With no head, its features appear upon its chest.

Blemmye shown with a cyclops, sciapod (monopod) and a cynocephaly (dog headed), from Münster’s Cosmographia (1550).
Blemmye from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493

The woodcuts are taken from Hartmann Schedel’s Liber Chronicarum known as the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) and Münster’s Cosmographia (1550). The colour illustration is taken from the “Book of Wonders” ms32(o)).

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