The Grand Medieval Bestiary: Animals in Illuminated Manuscripts

The ostrich supplied feathers for medieval crests and 16th century fans, and their eggshells were turned into ornate cups – and yet, to the illustrators of the day, they might as well have been gryphons.

Pliny writes:

IT FOLLOWETH now that wee should discourse of the nature of foules. And first to begin with Ostriches. They are the greatest of all other foules, and in manner of the nature of foure footed beasts: (namely, those in Affricke and Æthyopia) for higher they bee than a man sitting on horsebacke is from the ground: and as they bee taller than the man, so are they swifter on foot than the very horse. For to this end onely hath Nature given them wings, even to helpe and set them forward in their running: for otherwise, neither flie they in the aire, ne yet so much a rise and mount from the ground. Cloven houfes they have like red deere, and with them they fight; for good they be to catch up stones withall, & with their legs they whurle them back as they run away, against those that chase them. A wonder this is of their nature, that whatsoever they eat (and great devourers they bee of all things, without difference and choise) they concoct and digest it. But the veriest fooles they be of all others. For as high as the rest of their bodie is, yet if they thrust their head and necke once into any shrub or bush, and get it hidden, they thinke then they are safe ynough, and that no man seeth them. Now two things they doe affoord, in recompence of mens paines that they take in hunting and chasing them: to wit, their egs, which are so big, that some use them for vessels in the house: and their feathers so faire, that they serve for pennaches to adorne and set out the crests and morions of souldiors in the warres.

See also The Medieval Bestiary: Ostrich, Albert the Great On the Ostrich, Sir Thomas Browne's Vulgar Errors, and Fact Checking: Can Ostriches Digest Iron?


See also Ostrich Egg Drinking Vessels and Кубки и светильники в виде яиц.