Thursday, December 21, 2023

Yule and Misrule

Lankes woodcut of "Yule! Yule"With the holidays incoming, we're taking a moment to share some festive illustrations from the papers of J.J. Lankes. Lankes was a 20th century American artist who worked primarily in woodcuts like the ones shown here, and illustrated the writing of authors such as Robert Frost.

Both of the prints selected here refer to older folk customs associated with the end of the year. The first shows a costumed procession, including a man on a hobby horse, playing music and holding up greenery, accompanied by the words "Yule! Yule"!" This might be a representation of a mummer's play or a wassailing group, both raucous theatrical performances conducted in England around Christmastime.

The other print we've pulled out today is "My Lord of Missrule." This little jester would have appointed, likely from the lower clergy, as a sort of officiant for the Feast of Fools, a medieval celebration conducted on the 1st of January.

Lankes woodcut of "The Lord of Misrule"

To check out these illustrations (and others!), ask for MS-1115 Box 7 Folder 6.