Image of a snake charmer, in a bestiary

13th century

The British Library

The British Library

This image of a ‘wizard’ charming a serpent is found in an illustrated medieval bestiary. The accompanying text describes several mythological snakes, including the emorroris, shown here. The emorroris was an asp whose bite caused the victim to sweat out blood until they died. It could be trapped if a conjurer sang to it in its cave, lulling it to sleep. This allowed the snake charmer to remove the precious stone growing on the asp’s forehead, rendering it powerless. Shown here: ff. 67r

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  • Title: Image of a snake charmer, in a bestiary
  • Date Created: 13th century
  • Location: British Library, London, UK
  • Location Created: England
  • Type: Manuscript
  • Original Source: Royal MS 12 C XIX
  • Rights: Public Domain in most countries other than the UK. For more information visit: https://www.bl.uk/help/how-to-reuse-images-of-unpublished-manuscripts