It seems to me that there should be actual text from Malleus Maleficarum in this banner. I looked around online, and sure enough, I was able to download the whole book! (Well, my husband was able to do it). Reading the book was difficult: it’s so hateful and nasty that I found myself trying to look for passages I could use without actually having my mind take in the words. But I found some text that spells out the repulsive meaning, and typed it into red/orange:
Now I just had to very carefully use the clone stamp tool to add the glowing words to my image:
You just never know when to stop, do you, Diane? Go on, add another layer:
It really seemed finished….but I didn’t like it, and didn’t know what else to do. I was actually smart enough to leave it alone for a few days. And I remembered a church I saw years ago, on a mesa out west. Long ago, Catholic priests had forced the building of the church, with the usual crucifix and saints. But the people who used and supplied the unwilling labor to build it also added their own images, on the ceiling, above the rest.
Yes, this banner is about the oppression of women…but let’s put them on top. Let’s find some medieval female faces showing horror:
But….when I Googled ‘Medieval women mourning’ (or screaming or yelling or crying or showing any agitation), the results were pathetic. These women (above) are….mildly displeased. Very few images of women in the Middle Ages show any real emotion. Then I remembered Niccolo Dell Arca and his Compianto sul Cristo Morto…
…a life-size group of six figures lamenting the dead Christ. Now, these figures show some emotion!
By using photos of three of the figures from different angles, I was able to get the faces I needed for this:
I think we’ve got it!
Ready to send to Spoonflower. If I keep sewing like crazy, I should have at least one of the other 2 banners ready to show you next week.
Top row: Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, Pope Innocent VIII. Second row: Johannes Nider, author of Formicarius, and Spanish inquisitor Nicholas Eymeric, author of Directorium Inquisitorum. Both of these texts were source material for the Malleus Maleficarum.
Actually….. the guy standing in front of Directorium Inquisitorum is NOT the real Nicholas Eymeric. There do not seem to be any images of this man. So…we have instead a picture of Tomás de Torquemada, another member of the Inquisition. Close enough.
Now, on to the images of the witches. Here’s a few of the many Medieval prints available online showing witches and their persecution.
There are many other, far more grisly images. But I don’t want this banner to be torture porn. I want to focus on how this old, now almost unknown book was behind the persecution and oppression of women. So I started collecting images of women from the medieval period:
After combing through many collected images, I chose the ones above. The Virgin Marys on the outer edges are statues, which (I hope) will read as tangible, three-dimensional figures. The next women in are images from paintings, while the women closet to the center - to the witch - are drawings. So, as we get closer to the B&W image of the burning witch, the women become flatter, less detailed. They become less real. Which is what the Malleus Maleficarum did, transforming women from human beings to imagined monsters.
I need a background setting for the scene. There are all sorts of ‘Medieval cathedral interior’ images online:
This one (below) is reasonably neutral and has great perspective, drawing your eye right into the center.
Photoshopped in the figures and the title. By dragging down the letter uprights and adding zigzags, I’ve turned the words into saws, cutting the women.
The images of the men have to be above the women, representing their oppression. Four of the men were easy enough to place facing inward, but I wasn’t sure where to put the pope. I couldn’t find an picture of his full face…and then realized that he could be facing down (below). Perfect!
The more I looked at the zigzags, the less I liked them. So I gathered up images of teeth (especially shark teeth) and saw blades using for cutting trees.
Look carefully at the photo above. I’ve changed Henrich Kramer slightly. Now he’s not writing in a book, he’s using his large red quill to write the title letters. Spencer’s hand tool has also been extended, to reach the words.
You might look at these last 2 images and think ‘that looks finished” . Well, no. Check in next week to see how much more I was able to cram into this one!
Heinrich Kramer wrote a book recommending practices that were too unethical for the INQUISITION! Kramer wasn’t excommunicated for that, though, they just shot him down for widespread endorsement.
His hatred of witchcraft was so strong that he justified torture, dismemberment and death in the name of God to root out that which he saw as evil. His methods were considered so beyond the pale awful that even the Catholic Inquisition told him to chill the heck out, and eventually the only place that would take him was Venice, the Las Vegas of 15th century Europe. So ultimately… a charismatic German has a meteoric rise to power and is strongly disliked by his peers and contemporaries. Sound familiar?
Kramer was an inquisitor in Germany, but felt that he wasn’t being given enough power. It seems he asked the pope, Innocent VIII, for help. In 1484, the pope issued Summis Desiderantes acknowledging the existence of witches and explicitly empowering the inquisition to prosecute witches.
And now the story descends into a really toxic stew, with all sorts of conflicting information. Kramer included Summis Desiderantes in the forefront of the Malleus Maleficarum implying papal support for the book. Malleus Maleficarum was condemned by the Inquisition in 1490…there was some scandal, Kramer always claiming support he didn’t have. According to https://www.faust.com/legend/malleus-maleficarum/Kramer and Sprenger submitted the Malleus Maleficarum to the University of Cologne’s Faculty of Theology on May 9, 1487, hoping for its endorsement. Instead, the clergy at the University condemned it as both illegal and unethical. Kramer nevertheless inserted a forged claim of support from the University into subsequent printed editions of the book.
The Church banned the book , placing it on the “Index of Forbidden Works. Malleus Maleficarum became a best seller. Here are some reviews:
So….forewarned, take a look inside Malleus Maleficarum.
Part 1 explains why women, by their weaker nature and inferior intellect, were supposedly naturally more prone to the lure of Satan. ‘when a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil’. All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable’
Part II describes the actual forms of witchcraft. . The most heinous of all crimes alleged to have been committed by witches in the Malleus is undoubtedly eating children.
Part III details the methods for detecting, trying, and sentencing or destroying witches. Many of the book’s reports of spells, pacts, sacrifice, and copulation with the Devil were gained from the tortures of Kramer’s inquisitions. Torture in the detection of witches is dealt with as a matter-of-course; Red-hot tongs were applied to womens' breasts and genitalia. Researcher Nancy van Vuuren has written that "The women's sex organs provided special attraction for the male torturer." It should not be surprising that just about every torture victim eventually confessed.
>sigh<….Kramer’s twisted sexuality and his awful book encouraged horrible misogyny and led to a widespread Medieval program against women. At LEAST 40,000 women were killed. And it allowed the church to easily subordinate people and openly denigrate women (there’s nothing like an Inquisition for truly effective behavior modification…)
https://www.thoughtco.com/persecuting-witches-and-witchcraft-4123033 says: The perception of women as inferior to men… has survived down through this day in the most conservative and fundamentalist religious movements around the world. Religious institutions and doctrines are a primary repository for ancient beliefs about the social, physical, political, and religious inferiority of women. Even if the rest of society is moving on and improving women's status, religion remains a main source of beliefs and attitudes which retard that progress in the hopes of reversing it completely.
The women questioned as witches would eventually agree to every ludicrous, insane suggestion of their torturers….so, really, most of our information about witches is based on the imaginings of seriously twisted Medieval men. Of course, just like Grimms’ Fairy Tales, the gory and sexual bits have been scrubbed off over the years, so today we have silly old witches on broomsticks, with no sexual connotations.
Witches cooking small children, kissing the devil’s butt, and stomping on a cross.
from 1720, dancing with the demons (above) and flying on broomsticks (below)
A witch feeding her familiars (below)
Look, what I’m giving here is a highly condensed account. If you’d like to learn more, check out these websites:
My pattern has always combined current hand work with planning my next pieces. Stitching the Gods of Literacy and the Museum of Brazil will give me lots of planning time. Which is good, because I’m not sure what’s coming next.
I still have this Papyrus Tablet in the works. It needs some polishing, but it certainly fits into the series.
And there’s the Chinguetti Tablet, all ready to dye and sew…
Right now, they both feel repetitious. I’ve done similar pieces (Parchment and Timbuktu).
At the Armenian exhibit at the Met, I bought the book, and later spent many happy hours exploring all the bits I couldn’t properly take in on my visit. I really love the Armenian script. It would be such great fun to create a tablet of this beautiful, inventive lettering style!
But as I wrote last week, I’m considering which way to go with my art. Should I be making more tablets? I’ve been sewing on the big, printed Museum of Brazil Tablet. After doing my usual detailed lettering, I’m just sewing long black lines up the cloth. Just quilting it. In black and white:
And…..I’ve made a decision: I’m going to keep going on these big, printed pieces, in a series called Banners. I plan to sew the titles in the same carefully worked style, but only quilt outline stitches for the rest. Just a note - The black lines on the black cloth above are only the start. There will be a great many more. And the black really IS black, not grayish.
OK then. I have 2 pieces to continue sewing while I plan for my next banner. I can plan this one in color, with a lot of detail. What’ll it be?? Time to go hunting!
In the Armenian Art book I found a one-page mention of The Friday Book - a text explaining magic spells.
Well, I went right down THAT rabbit hole! Straight to my computer, Googling Friday Book, Armenian magic, etc. Took awhile…but there is a website https://dl.wdl.org/11302/service/11302.pdf that actually has every page in the book!! And I copied out quite a few:
There were a few pages with illustrations….
…but not enough to assemble a banner. How about widening the scope? Look for other medieval books of magic?
I found an ancient Egyptian book of spells, the Ancients Book of Magic and various herbals with cures. I considered a collection of ancient holy/magic books, pointing out the similarities between biblical miracles are magical cures. While looking for that, I found the Gamma Gospels, the oldest surviving copy of the bible, in Ethiopia.
OOooh: it would be such fun to sew up more of those great Ethiopian images!
As I scrolled through biblical images, I came upon the Malleus Maleficarum.
According to Wikipedia:
The Malleus Maleficarum, usually translated as the Hammer of Witches, is the best known and the most thorough treatise on witchcraft. It was written by the discredited Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer (under his Latinized name Henricus Institoris) and first published in the German city of Speyer in 1487.It endorses extermination of witches and for this purpose develops a detailed legal and theological theory. It was a bestseller, second only to the Bible in terms of sales for almost 200 years. The top theologians of the Inquisition at the Faculty of Cologne condemned the book as recommending unethical and illegal procedures, as well as being inconsistent with Catholic doctrines of demonology.
Well, we wouldn’t want to be inconsistent with our demonolgy, would we? This is a book had I read about before, and always wanted to explore further. A friend had made me aware of the persecution of witches in Europe (the Salem Witch Trials were at the tail end of that stupidity). Yes, let’s work on this.