The Yule Days – Day 1 – ‘A papingo-aye’

Monday 12 December 2022

The king sent his lady on the first Yule day,
A papingo-aye;

Wha learns my carol and carries it away? 

An illustration of a peacock from the margin of a 16th century manuscript copy of the Office of the Dead.

Pippin-go-aye or papingo-aye is a Scots word for parrot, though in Chambers edition of Popular Rhymes, it is referred to as a peacock.

This illustration is from a little prayer book which was originally probably part of a book of hours; these contained simplified versions of church liturgy to facilitate private devotions by the laity, and were created in large numbers during the later middle ages.

There are few clues as to where the manuscript had been before it was gifted to the University in 1919 by Rev George Walker, minister at Castle-Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire. The 18th century binding bears the stamp of ‘Henry Marchant’ on the spine, which could be the name of a previous owner, but more usually would designate an author or title so this is probably a case of the binding being recycled from an earlier work.

For more illustrations from the manuscript see the previous blog:

For the parrot version of a papingo, we offer a page from the St Andrews Psalter which includes a beautiful green bird which may relate to the heraldry of the commissioner of this wonderful illuminated manuscript. A papingo was also a wooden representation of a parrot used as target practice in archery!

St Andrews Psalter (msBX2033.A00) f 84r, showing a parrot hidden in the illuminated margin, just to the left of the finger



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