Mentioned in a birthday gift from a good friend. Thank you Peter.
Also known as The Liber Chronicarum, of Hartmann Schedel, printed in Nuremberg by Anton Koberger in 1493. A complete history of the world from creation to the publication date. Famous as one of the most illustrated of all German books (printed before Gutenberg). Interesting, because many of the illustrated cities were adapted the same woodcut. Nuremberg was the largest city in the Holy Roman Empire, and the only city that had a two page illustrated spread in the book. The book also had a detailed map that illustrated “a parliament of monsters”, a collection of creatures believed to inhabit distant lands of the known world.
The book had well over a thousand woodcuts that were produced by the Michael Wolgemut Workshop of artists, which included Albrecht Durer. None of the artists signed their name, but Durer is suspected of helping to create many of the woodcuts. Albrecht Durer lived on the same street as Anton Koberger, the printer of the book, who was also Durer’s godfather.
The Sciapodes (Shadow Feet)
They were each owners of one very large foot and leg, while also being very nimble. In the summertime, while lying on their backs, they protected themselves against the sun by the shade of their single foot.
Six Handed Man
Said to have lived in India. Mentioned in the Histories of Alexander the Great, with some stories that were later deemed written by an author named Pseudo-Calliisthenes.
Dog-headed men of the mountains, possibly Ethiopia, perhaps based upon baboons. Solinus writes of the dog-headed Semeans who were ruled by a canine king. They communicated by barking, and used their claws skillfully to hunt birds. according to the Greek historian Ctesias, they numbered 120,000.
Alexander’s Bearded Women
A species of women with beards extending to their breasts, but whose heads are bald. Again this was part of the legends of Alexander’s travels. ‘
“Shun a woman with a beard as you would a pestilence.” -Pliny
In Lybia, there lived creatures “born headless and have mouths, and eyes”, writes Schedel. The Blemmyes were a real nomadic Nubian tribal kingdom described by Strabo as a peaceful race.in 700 bc. Later, they became factionalized as headless cannibals. Shakespeare mentions them in Othello.
In Sicily lived people whose ears were so large that they cover their whole body. The ears reach to their feet and they use them as blankets to keep warm. When frightened, they use them to fly away.
(Adapted from “The Phantom Atlas”, by Edward Brooke Hitching, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2018)