Celebrating the letter ‘I’, for ‘Inhabited Initial’


Welcome to the April 10 edition of the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, started by VikLit and now run by Lexa Cain, our fearless new leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge
Katie @ TheCyborgMom

I am combining this post with a series of alphabet posts I’ve been making for the past week or so.  If you are familiar with the blogosphere, you will know that the A to Z Blog Hop is in full swing.  I bowed out, more or less, because I’m racing toward a self-set deadline and just don’t have the time to fully immerse myself.  But I can go along, post when I can, and direct folks to the hop (see the very bottom of this post).  So why am I celebrating this?  Well, just look around at the various posters and themes.  Such a wealth of creativity, of effort and enjoyment!  Do go look.

Meanwhile, combining my alphabet with this celebration, I’ve been celebrating illuminated manuscripts.  Luscious, splendidly colored, a joy to find details.  And today’s offering speaks of Inhabited Initials: 

According to the Oxford Reference, an Inhabited Initial is…

an enlarged initial letter decorated with a figure or figures. The figures  may be purely decorative  or only  loosely related to the text,  whereas  historiated  initials contain  scenes  directly illustrating it


This ‘B’ has, in no particular order, gremlins (to the left) weird faces (lower opening of the B, the circular elements on the R, top and bottom, human-headed critters (between the top and bottom) bluish animals, top and bottom, that could be either be blue dogs or some sort of sea serpent with ears.  Below, we have a letter ‘S’ with a bird and a deer…

…And at the bottom of this page we have clerks singing in the center of  a small-case ‘A’.

                                                                 Doodling?  Or for a purpose?  My conclusion was that they may have started as doodles, but the whimsical quality of these letters caught the imaginations of the scribes, and they were put in to make the manuscript beautiful.






What better way to deepen thought than to allow the mind to linger on luscious shape and vibrant color?

Mouse and cat?