Monday, 10 December 2018

Lets Start The Week,

with a quick quiz,

what is it?  the illustration appears in a book by French missionary André Thevet who spent ten weeks in Brazil and documented his experiences in his 1557 book Les Singularitez de la France Antarctique (Singularities of France Antarctique), the illustration above is named as a Succarath, a beast possibly formed from distorted descriptions of a possum or anteater, shown with a devilish head and body akin to a lion, it was said to use its big bushy tail to shield its young who ride on its back when fleeing a predator, and to this day no one is exactly sure what the creature really is,

and here is another that might keep you guessing, artist Jean Cousin was enlisted to illustrate the work, Thevet started work on Les Singularitez almost immediately upon returning to France, the book became a compilation of his own ventures as well as second-hand knowledge, including descriptions of South America obtained from French sailors, Thevet writes that it has "the size of a very large African monkey" and "three claws, four fingers long ... with which it climbs trees where it stays more than on the ground. Its tail is three fingers long, having very little hair.” Rather than take in some of the nuances, the illustration focuses on Thevet’s description of a "little bear" with a head "almost like that of a baby” and translates that to a long-clawed bear with an actual human face. Nevertheless, Thevet had some imaginative stretches of his own, as he also states that it was "never seen eating" and that the local people had watched "to see if it would feed, but all was in vain." it was of course a sloth, for a fascinating read of this and other works have a look here at this article in the Smithsonian.

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