Imagine you are a monk in 15th Century France, where your daily activities range from studying, pondering, and praying. Your time in the chapel is extensive, as you’ll be standing for much longer than it takes to sing the Star Spangled Banner. To alleviate your fatigue, you get a misericord –basically a little monster-shelf to lean upon.
A misericord is technically the entire shelf on the choir bench, but most often refers to the carvings on the support underneath the shelf.
Despite their placement in churches, these carvings rarely depict Biblical scenes. Usually the shelves are fantastic creatures – dragons, mermaids, elephants, Green Men, and pagan influenced themes from the naughty to plain silly.
These can be found in Gallery 016 at the Cloisters, the uptown branch of Metropolitan Museum of Art. To check out similar finds on a Museum Hack adventure, go to www.MuseumHack.com.
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art