Blind man's buff, hocky, snowball fights. Do we think of medeival people as serious, stoney-faced individuals with nothing but church on their minds and perhaps the next torture session to attend? Or do we view them as three dimensional, with everyday lives, time for a bit of fun?
The Walter's Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, is having an exhibit of medieval illuminated manuscripts, books of hours, called "Checkmate! Medieval People at Play." The pages offer glimpses into the leisure lives of medieval people, including monks going at blind man's buff or hoodman's blind as it was probably called back then. Children (apprentices?) throwing snowballs, young ladies up for a spot of butterfly hunting.
According to the museum sources, "Surprisingly, playful images are most often found in religious books, where artists tended to populate the margins with humorous, even outrageous or irreverent imagery. The medieval mind loved juxtaposing the profound and the frivolous. Sometimes the artist’s playfulness was meant for the most serious ends, intended to help one remember a prayer or the Gospels. But often the artists were simply having fun, creating delightfully lighthearted images for the entertainment of the reader."
More about the exhibition--which runs from July through October--here.