After a whirlwind end of summer in Philly, I am finally here. I built my year around the next two months in Iceland, mid-October to mid-December, to be surrounded by beautiful landscape, friendly people and inspiration around every corner.
Before leaving Philly I made an appointment to visit the collections at the Arni Magnusson Institute on the day of my arrival. I was so humbled by my visit. I was in the presence of the earliest, the ur-manuscripts of Iceland. I felt I had not yet earned my access to these precious documents that embody the most profound essence of Icelandic culture. You can’t blame me for gravitating to the “later” manuscripts as being just a tad more accessible.
But this is what I discovered among the books that Conservator Hersteinn Brynjolfsson and Dr. Margrét Eggertsdóttir had very kindly arranged for me to see:
Image courtesy of the Arni Magnusson Institute, taken with my iPhone.
Pretty cool little man/god/beast from a manuscript that was written out in about 1644, from what I can gather. In a sleep-deprived haze, my notes got a bit scrambled. But looking closer at the catalogue record, and using Google translate, I captured this tidbit of information: “The script focuses on medieval literature, of transcendental beings, natural wonders of Iceland, rocks and various superstitions connected. Excerpts from medieval geography, among others. ”
The most amazing thing, though, is that leafing through a different manuscript book, look what I found. Totally random. I didn’t even ask to see this, it was just nearby.
Written out in 1755, it is clearly referencing the same source.
Image courtesy of the Arni Magnusson Institute, taken with my iPhone
Can anyone out there tell me something more about these figures? Here are links back the records in the online catalogue, quite an amazing resource if you get to browsing around:
1st image: http://handrit.is/en/manuscript/view/is/AM04-0727-II
2nd image: http://handrit.is/is/manuscript/view/JS08-0404