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Some manuscript examples in the links below contain medieval drawings of nudity, which may or may not contain intimate body parts your boss will hate to see on your work monitor/device. Seriously. You might not want to show your squeamish spouse, either. In fact, I’m not too sure I want to see them again. Read on at your own intellectual peril, because fart jokes, while perfectly historical, may cause your employer to fire you and your I.Q. to drop alarmingly. ~Aoife

Img: The Fridge Art Society    IMG source: The Fridge Art Society. Bodily Function has been humorous throughout our period of study.

Just in time for April Fool’s Day, I am …proud? No. …excited? Not quite. Superlatives fail me, but I have plumbed the depths of the internet to find something funny to satisfy your inner twelve-year-old on this esteemed holiday.

Our historical counterparts weren’t as squeamish as we modern versions might be when it comes to bodily functions. And hey, show me somebody who has never laughed at a fart joke, and I will show you some pantalones del fuego. Here, for your delectation therefore, I present to you a list containing images and anecdotes of historical folks making themselves one with the internal winds of nature. From Shakespeare to Abu Hassan, who farted so loudly that it was used as a time reference from then on (you know, like ‘after the Hurricane’). Behold, the power of farting.

I shall now slink ashamedly into my cave and beat myself with a cat o’ nine tails until a more adult topic comes to mind for my next links list. Suggestions welcome.


Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
m/k/a Lis Gelatt
…somewhere in Aethelmearc.

Who knew illuminated manuscripts contained so many fart and poop jokes?  This is a brief article on farts and related bodily functions in marginalia, as those weird little decorations on medieval manuscripts are called. Oh, how the creation of those drawings must’ve been very tedious, given all the naughty illustrations they contain. There are links to more images, in comments at the end of the article.


Img: People of Color in European Art History

Saturday Timewaster: Japanese Fart Scrolls  “I did find out enough to know that this isn’t the only farting scroll out there in existence – in fact, in the 90s, a collection of fart scrolls sold for $1,500 at the famous Christie’s auction house.” So says Hiyoshi, the page author. Sadly, he also made a video to accompany the images. I was not brave enough to try it, but go ahead. You know you want to.

Collectors Weekly: Naughty Nuns, Flatulent Monks, and Other Surprises of Sacred Medieval Manuscripts   Kaitlyn Manning of B. L. Rare Books and Manuscripts said ““I think it’s such a shock when you have this idea in your head of what medieval society was like,…and then you see these bizarre images that make you question your assumptions.” The wild mixture of illustrations challenges our contemporary need to compartmentalize topics like sex, religion, humor, and mythology.”

Funny Junk: Medieval Marginals  “Medieval Marginalias, dating from 500-1500 CE. In these photos we see that the true evolution of the human race is only the methods in which we consume fart, poop, and penis jokes. And of course, a vast number of homicidal bunnies.”


IMG source: Portable TV

 UltraGross: The Fart Jokes of William SHakespeare  “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!” The authors of Ultra Gross have combed Shakespeare for references to flatulence. You might be surprised at how many references they found!

Portable TV. Fart Proudly: The Best Fart Jokes in the Classics   This web article is in the form of a slideshow. From Ulysses to Benjamin Franklin, scholarly hours have been spent reading and combing the classics for fart references. As far as juvenile-subject work goes, I am amazed that this was a terrific read.

Further Fart Reading

Ramsey G. 2002. ‘A Breath of Fresh Air: Rectal Music in Gaelic Ireland’ in  Archaeology Ireland Vol. 16, No. 1. Dublin.

Enders, Jody, Ed./Trans. 2011 “The Farce of the Fart” and Other Ribaldries:  Twelve Medieval French Plays in Modern English. Philadelphia.

Yes, those books are real, scholarly works on farting. No joke.