Workshop Bestiary

The wondrous creatures of the bestiary inspired delight and fascination by mixing the familiar with the strange, the local with the distant, and the dangerous with the desirable. The animals are presented in the manner of an encyclopedia. Generally, each entry provides a physical description of the creature, followed by notes on its location, habitat, behaviors, and its allegorical significance. Bestiaries were meant to reveal to medieval Christians the wonder of creation and the hidden meanings they believed were built by God into the natural world.

Saw-fish
Workshop Bestiary
England, possibly in Lincoln or York, ca. 1185
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1902
MS M.81, fol. 69r (detail)