Medieval kids' birch-bark doodles


Bark doodles sounds like a yummy dog treat.


Here comes the knout…

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There have probably been doodles as long as kids could find a burnt stick for charcoal and something to doodle on…

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I thought the second one was a stick-necked horse with reins.


What struck me about this is how modern the doodles seemed. Even when trying not to I tend to think of historical peoples and outlooks as being stodgy or something, but these doodles look just the same as any current doodles by a kid and for a moment I felt really connected to the past.


I like Onfim. Probably because I went through a hell of a lot of birch bark as a kid, too. :smile:

Interesting how the hands are drawn, as if he’s drawing on the symbolism of a pitchfork. I can remember drawing people’s noses as upside-down U’s, because that’s what the edges resembled as I stood under them.

Yeah, there is a strange shape which is partly the head of the horse and probably partly reins. The weapon is in his other hand, stabbing the guy on the ground.

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Remember, homo sap hasn’t changed significantly since well before historical times. Art has gotten more sophisticated – perspective was a huge innovation, of course – but doodles aren’t usually trying to take advantage of any of those newer tools.

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Egad. Those children drawings are as immature then as they are now.

The neat thing about birch bark is that you don’t need a burnt stick to write on it, just a stick. Or a rock. Or your fingernail.

(Um, no birch trees around wherever you grew up?)

I love the idea of someone researching kids’ drawings through history. One of them looked like a figure wielding a sword on a horse which is akin to boys’ drawings of soldiers, tanks, guns, etc. Is that a facination or a theme that runs throughout time? Did the boy actually see a man with a sword on horseback? Are there drawings left by girls (some of whom may have been left in a nunnery at an early age) or had some education and access to materials? What did they draw? Please don’t say, “princesses”.

I’d say it’s more likely that’s a guy with a lance on horseback, though I’m sure anyone who was learning to write (reading was supposedly fairly common) would have had a chance to see armed warriors on horseback, as they lived in pretty interesting times.

I was thinking they were drawing hands like that because they were learning to write the letter E, maybe the reason is even simpler than that.

True, but I was thinking of kids scribbling on other surfaces. Rocks. Each other. Whatever’s handy.

Which Birch did I besmirch?


We tree…



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