Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Abecedary to color: Q

Click here for a high-res, 
full-page printable.
 Q !  is a letter that calligraphers just love to find at the start of a quotation.  But a glance at the statistical tables tells them that they can't expect many opportunities in English; Q is third from the last in the list of letters that start words, and dead last in letters that start sentences. 
Medieval scribes, in contrast, copied the Bible in Latin, where they could start words, sentences, and verses with the letter Q often. Creative Q shapes included all sorts of tails: animals, vines, whole people.  A favorite motif was a knight killing a dragon, with the tail of the dragon forming the tail of the Q.   

Here is the original letter that I outlined on my abecedary page, in its original colors.  That tail could be redrawn into almost any shape. This dragon's color seems opposite to what modern custom suggests; since the discovery of the island where Komodo dragons live, green has become the default dragon color.  But early manuscript illuminations--and the illustrations to J R R Tolkein's The Hobbit--portrayed them as red.  

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