First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Pliny, Augustine and Isidore have written of variously shaped people, of whom mention will be made hereafter. In India are people with the heads of dogs, who bark when they speak. They sustain themselves by catching birds and clothe themselves in the skins of animals. Item: Some have but one eye, which is in the forehead above the nose. Their diet is restricted to animal flesh. Item: In Lybia some are born headless and have mouth and eyes. Some are double-sexed, the right breast male, the left one female. They are indiscriminate in their associations with one another and bear children. Item: Toward Paradise, by the River Ganges, are people who do not eat. Their mouths are so small that they are obliged to drink through a straw. They live upon the odor of fruits and flowers. They quickly die if they encounter evil odors. In this country there are also people without noses, their faces flat. Some have lower lips so large that they cover the entire face. Item: Some have no tongues, and speak to one another in winks, in the manner of the cloister people. Item: In Sicily some people have ears so large that they cover the whole body.

Item: In Ethiopia some wander about with their bodies bent downward in the manner of animals; and some of these live four hundred years. Item: Some have horns, long noses and goat’s feet; and these are spoken of throughout the legends of St. Anthony. Item: In Ethiopia, toward the west, are people with but one foot, which is very broad. They are so fleet that they pursue the wild animals. Item: In Soythia are people with hoofs like a horse. Item: And there are some people five cubits in length and who never sicken until death. Item: In the histories of Alexander the Great one reads of people in India who have six hands. Item: Some are naked and rough and live in the water; some have six digits on hands and feet. Others who live in the water are half man and half horse. Item: Women with beards extending down to their breasts, but their heads hairless and bald. Item: In Ethiopia, toward the west, some have four eyes. So in Eripia are people with necks like those of cranes, and bills for mouths. But it is unbelievable, as Augustine writes, that there are certain people in the region of the earth opposed to us and where the sun rises, who reverse the position of their feet when the sun sets. However, there is much dispute among writers as to just where people in general reside; for round about us people live everywhere upon the earth, directing their footsteps against one another, and standing upon the earth. And yet, they all turn the crowns of their heads toward heaven; and we wonder why we, or they who turn their heels toward us, do not fall. But that is the nature of things. For just as the seat of fire is nowhere than in the fire, that of water nowhere but in the water, and that of the spirit nowhere but in the spirit itself, so the seat of the earth is nowhere but within itself.


The illustrations to this subject, (textually treated at Folio XI verso and Folio XII recto), are arranged in three narrow vertical panels, two of which appear at Folio XII recto and one at Folio XII verso. The panels are slightly over 14” in height and exactly 2¼” in width. Each panel contains seven illustrations, making a total of twenty-one various types of freaks described in the text:

  1. A dog-headed man, seated, violently gesturing with his hands, and conversing in empathetic barks.
  2. A one-eyed individual, kneeling and holding up one hands in gesture of a blessing.
  3. Headless figure, seated; his face in his chest. He gestures with his right hand while he uproots a plant with his left.
  4. Seated figure, feet reversed; gesturing.
  5. A being, half woman and half man.
  6. One-legged man lying on his back in the sunshine, and shading himself with an enormous foot, the only one he has.
  7. Man with mouth so small that he is obliged to drink from a tumbler through a straw.
  1. A noseless creature, seated on the greensward, and gesticulating as if in conversation.
  2. Kneeling figure, large open mouth, lower lip extended to size and shape of a saucer.
  3. Seated figure with elephantine ears extending below the hips.
  4. A gesticulating figure, with two long horns, long nose and cloven feet.
  5. A fleet individual, pursuing a deer which he grasps by the antlers.
  6. Seated figure, talking and gesticulating. He has horses hoofs in place of feet.
  7. Man with shield and club attacking a group of protesting cranes.
  1. Kneeling figure, violently gesticulating with six arms.
  2. Hairy woman, seated and gesticulating.
  3. Man, moving along in a kneeling crouch and gesturing with six-fingered hands.
  4. A creature, half horse and half man, gesturing.
  5. Kneeling figure of a bearded lady; head bald; gesturing.
  6. Four-eyed creature, resting on one knee; one hand extended as if to emphasize speech.
  7. Seated figure, long S-shaped neck; beak in lieu of mouth; gesturing with both hands.

As we analyze and compare these twenty-one figures, we find that most of them have one thing in common: gesticulation. And we wonder why so much action was introduced. The artist may have had several motives: (a) To give the figures human attributes, through speech and gesture, to indicate that they are deformed humans and not animals of the lower orders; (b) to exhibit their hands for the same reason; (c) to make the figures attract our attention, as figures in action always do. They are not mere stolid portraits.