Help me untangle some medieval script!
April 5, 2010 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Caption on a quirky German or Dutch woodblock print of a cat-- I'm unable to pick apart this script, can you help?

This is a late medieval woodblock print from Germany:

It's very appealing, with a smiling tiger cat holding a mouse, and a kitten behind him with some kitchen towels and a hanging fish(?). You can click the magnifying glass for full size. I can read the fourth word in as "kattzen" but I am quite unsure about the rest. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
posted by RedReplicant to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
Response by poster:
This is the correct link missing above.
posted by RedReplicant at 12:16 PM on April 5, 2010

huet dich vor den katzen – die vorn lecken unde hinden kratzen.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:23 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cite: here. What you call kitchen towels are surely sausages.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:24 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ah, thank you! I think that solves it.
posted by RedReplicant at 12:29 PM on April 5, 2010

What's the translation?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:57 PM on April 5, 2010

According to the Flickr page it's: "Beware the cats - in front they lick, behind they scratch."
posted by Kattullus at 2:14 PM on April 5, 2010

yeah it's warning against cats who are double-crossing two-faced person here : )
posted by ravingOak at 3:15 PM on April 5, 2010

literal translation:

huet dich vor den Katzen is literally 'protect/shield yourself from cats' although watch out or beware works just as well, I suppose!
posted by ravingOak at 3:19 PM on April 5, 2010

I'd have to look, but there's probably something on this theme in Malcom Jones' The Secret Middle Ages. Lots of translation of obscure medieval symbolism. It's probably the most scholarly reference on medieval dirty jokes I own.

Caution - link to really pricey hard cover version.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:02 PM on April 5, 2010

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