Moral Equality – Aesthetic Supremacy: The East in the Cocharelli Manuscript

Kathrin Müller


ABSTRACT: The paper discusses the ambiguous attitudes toward Mongol and Muslim culture in the Cocharelli manuscript. It argues that the imagery was supposed to teach the Cocharelli children that vices knew no cultural boundaries. Rather than suggesting any moral superiority of Western culture, the miniatures raised awareness of human susceptibility to evil and its destructive consequences in general. While the manuscript’s iconography thus aims at manifesting equality among cultures, its aesthetics reveals a reverence for the visual as well as material opulence of the East. The manuscript, then, seeks to offer all of the world’s morals as well as its marvels to the Cocharelli children.

KEYWORDS: Western perceptions of Mongol culture - Weestern perceptions of Mamluk culture - Iconography of Vices - Medieval Italian Miniature

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