21 Jan 2008

Sun in Aquarius

Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry is a medieval book of hours. There is a text for each liturgical hour of the day, with beautifully crafted and detailed pictures, each presented in glowing, jewel-like colours. The picture above is from the calendar section of the book where the 12 months of the year are depicted along with their associated Zodiac Sign and the labour or activity of the month.

The illustrations were painted for the Duke of Berry between 1412 and 1416 by the three Limbourg brothers who came from Flanders. Materials used were costly and unusual, including crushed lapis-lazuli from the Middle East to get the vibrant blues. Each of the paintings is topped by a Zodiac wheel showing the appropriate Sign of the month in question, together with the Sun moving across the sky, his chariot drawn by winged horses.

In the illustration for the Aquarius month, which we are now entering, the picture shows winter in a countryside village and farm. The land is covered in thick snow. No agricultural activities can be carried out and the stored food has to be eked out to see things through to Spring. There is little to be worked on with the land, but essential activities, such as cutting wood, must go on.

The sheep huddle together for warmth in their shelter and the inhabitants of the farm warm themselves by the fire. The sharp-eyed will notice that they do not have underwear! At the Aquarius time of year, meeting together in small groups, talking and being inventive about how to put to good use the dwindling resources laid down for the winter would have been a major activity, as thoughts of survival until Spring would have been uppermost.

The arc above the picture is detailed with dates and lunar phases. The Aquarian Water Bearer is seen on the left with the Piscean Fishes ( the next Zodiac Sign) on the right.

1 comment:

barbara said...

The Très Riches heures are just lovely illustrations of each month and the passing seasons.
Thank you for ushering in the Water Bearer's passage in the zodiac.
I'am very aware ; my own Aquarian will have another birthday in February !