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organized their descriptors in a thesaurus will have done so according to rules that are unlikely
to be tailored to the needs of objects of cultural and historical heritage.
Simply said, to a thesaurus which is not specifically adapted to historical material a mouse is
just the narrower term for rodent and a related term to mouse-trap (compare: Library of Con-
gress,Thesaurus for Graphic Materials; see ill. 18-19). For Iconclass, the keyword mouse refers the
indexer to the protection Saint Gertrudis of Nivelles offers against the little pests. It also points
the indexer to the fact that mice were considered holy animals by the Philistines (see 1 Samuel
4:7-11) and by the Cretans of Knossos (see Apollo Smintheus, or mouse-like Apollo).
Here, however, the fact that Iconclass provides these hints that are potentially useful to students
of history and the various arts is secondary to the fact that these clues are available to both the
indexer and the end user, simply because the system is available in its entirety for both to consult.
Th e S p i n e rev i s i t e d
While occupying a slot of its own in the "Spine of Information Headings" is an honorable posi-
tion for the Iconclass System, as long as we do not define or suggest what kind of information can
be expressed with this controlled vocabulary, it is unlikely to be put to use. I therefore propose to
explore which of the Spine's categories would profit from Iconclass indexing. Let us first look at
the most obvious candidate,"Pictorial motifs" which in the present revision of the Spine is labeled
E.19. Instead of forcing my own definition on the reader of what pictorial motifs are, I shall sim-
ply follow the divisions the University of Illinois' German Emblem Book project, from which I
took an example.The relevant portion of the record created for the emblem (ill. 20) is as follows:
Illustration 18: A mouse contemplating the benefits of
captivity and freedom - metaphor of being in love or
not ... from: DaniŽl Heinsius, Emblemata amatoria,"iam
demum emendata," Amsterdam: Dirck Pietersz Pers,
1608.The keyword mouse in the Iconclass entry vocab-
ulary also refers to: 34B121 cat and mouse.
Illustration 19:"Captiva sed secura," Jacques Callot,
Lux Claustri, Augsburg: Kolb, 1720, Emblem 10.The
monastery is compared to a prison: it limits the free-
dom of the monk, but it also is a safe haven and it pro-
tects its inhabitants from the seductions of the world.
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