Mandrake Illustration from Herbal illustrated in Italy, ca. 1520 (LJS 46)

From this morning’s Coffee with a Codex, we ran across an illustration of a mandrake—yes! the very same plant you’ve probably heard of from the Harry Potter books and movies. Complete with a man covering his hears for fear of dying from the cries.

page 16r of a manuscript with a colored illustration of a naked man representing the roots of a plant. The man's feet are tied together and attached to a dog which is pulling the plant from the ground as nearby a man covers his ears with his hands.
page 16r of Herbal illustrated in Italy, ca. 1520 (f. 2r-53v)

In one superstition, people who pull up this root will be condemned to hell, and the mandrake root would scream and cry as it was pulled from the ground, killing anyone who heard it. Therefore, in the past, people have tied the roots to the bodies of animals and then used these animals to pull the roots from the soil.[2]
Wikipedia citing John Gerard (1597). “Herball, Generall Historie of Plants”. Claude Moore Health Sciences Library. Archived from the original on 2012-09-01.


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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

10 thoughts on “Mandrake Illustration from Herbal illustrated in Italy, ca. 1520 (LJS 46)”


  • ♻️ Jeonghun Choi
  • ♻️ Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies

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