First, I was thinking about Taccolina, and about crows.
Taccolina is a name I adopted many years ago. At the time, I was writing my Masters thesis about an architect, engineer, and artist who lived in Italy in the early Renaissance - called Mariano di Jacopo (or Iacopo), otherwise known as Taccola.
From what I gather of the story, Mariano suffered a fate many of us bemoan: he had a huge nose. Lucky for most of us, this is not something that gets passed down to posterity and immortalised in the history books. But for Mariano di Jacopo, detto il Taccola, that's what happened. I suspect his nose must not only have been big, but hooked, too: 'Taccola' means 'jackdaw' - and so that became his nickname, and in the fashion of the time, the nickname was recorded and became his moniker.
If Taccola is a jackdaw, then Taccolina is a little jackdaw - basically, little crow.
Taccola lived in Siena, a hill-top town near Florence, in a time when the city-states of Italy were constantly at war. He was an inventor and engineer, and a handy man with hydraulics: an extremely useful skill when your town is perched high on a rocky hill, and the bloodthirsty neighbours are inclined to lay siege on a regular basis. He was also a talented draughtsman who created beautiful books of drawings of his machines and designs - which makes him a direct precursor to the famous Leonardo da Vinci.
I could go on for hours about his lovely drawings, but instead, if you are interested you could take a look at a few links here:
- Institute and Museum of the History of Science, Florence
- Biography of Taccola from the digital library at Cornell, where they also have
- a fantastic resource! A facsimile e-book of De Ingeneis
- And a fascinating blog called BibliOdyssey, where I found the link to Cornell's site (thanks!)
For now, I'll end with a picture of some scraps of my own, not exactly ingenious, but just what's on the making desk at the moment - the project in progress: thoughts in my mind, colours of the antique manuscripts.