Why So Many Medieval Manuscripts Depict Butt Trumpets?

Knights fighting giant snails, rabbits murdering people, countless paintings of cats licking their butts …and now men and animals playing trumpets with their rear ends… Medieval art is really confusing and quite random. If you have any idea why artists were so obsessed with these themes, please leave a comment below.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Weird art.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is strange.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Medieval art is weird.

Musician.

Medieval art is weird.

40 thoughts on “Why So Many Medieval Manuscripts Depict Butt Trumpets?”

  1. There’s a Ted Talks about this. It’s called “What is a butt tuba and why is it in medieval art?” It also explains the Knights fighting giant snails.

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  2. 1/ ‘Trump’ is a dialect word for ‘fart’
    2/ If someone is said to be ‘Talking out his arse’ he is talking rubbish.

    Many interesting visual puns can be made combining these two statements.

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  3. I’m thinking that the medieval monks doing the illustrating wanted to make a statement about flatulence, most probably among other monks…

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  4. They probably thought the flatulence was a way of expelling demons from the body. Because it was relieving and it smelled like brimstone.

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  5. Look into the dietary habits of medieval times and you might conclude it was simply a very flatulent era. Chaucer was big on farts too.

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  6. I believe it is just the artists critique on brass instrument playing talent in the middle ages

  7. In my experience the average 10 year old finds fourteenth century humor screamingly funny.

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  8. Medieval marginalia was mostly commentary on the text. This expresses disapproval of whatever is going on. Don’t read Latin so can’t tell you exactly what.

  9. Martin Luther actually wrote about his belief that farts dispelled demons. Kinda like a spiritual Orkin!

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  10. To me, this illustrates the earthy and rich humor in the monasteries, as well as a whimsicality and realism. Realism? Why do I say realism? About such grotesque figures? Realism about the body and its absurdities, about “brother ass” as Saint Francis referred to the body, figuring it as a stubborn donkey that carries our burdens yet has its own needs. We have to remember these were produced in scriptoriums under strict supervision, and so everything one finds in a manuscript had to have supervisory and collective approval. Since these figures are usually “marginalia”, it may tell us something about the medieval mind. We should recall as well these are usually found in religious texts. In the center of the page we find the important and serious matter, but it is on the edges that whimsicality may come out to play, and I think we would find this articulates in form a more general philosophy of life, particularly as we consider the products of the scriptorium as official and approved.

  11. I spotted a word in several of the texts that means ‘Fart’, and since French comes from Latin, the French have a saying about a vain and self centered person, [no French on my computer] Translated, “One is lifted [raised] by his own Fart” ‘PETARD’

  12. Can’t help but think they are comments on the text, carrying a meaning similar to the modern phrase “talking out his ass”.

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  14. Public flatulence as highly regarded at that time. Butt, was reserved for the humble without humility.

  15. I believe it comes down to two points:

    1) It took a LONG time to write or copy a book in the time before the printing press. It was also boring as hell. The artwork was thus used as a way for the scribe to entertain himself, much like a student in class will doodle in their notebook.

    2) Medieval people were still PEOPLE, and were just as apt to combine vulgarity, absurdity, and creativity as we are today.

  16. I believe that the butt trumpet was a scribe’s method of telling his employer to blow it out his butt.

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