A figure painted in a 14th-century religious manuscript bears such striking resemblance to Star Wars hero Jedi Order Grand Master Yoda that many are asking tongue-in-cheek whether Yoda was ever a medieval monk.
The orange-cloaked greenish ink figure, appearing as an illustration in a medieval manuscript known as the Smithfield Decretals that dates back to around 1340, would be recognized immediately by any Star Wars fan as having a remarkable resemblance to the Jedi Knight Master Yoda.
The similarity is so striking that many are tempted to think that Star Wars creator George Lucas must have seen the manuscript before creating the puppet for the movie character.
The pointy ears, greenish skin, spiky fingers, and hair couldn’t be coincidence, many would think. But it appears to be coincidence as incredible as it sounds.
Lucas has commented in the past about the character which appeared for the first time in the 1980 sequel The Empire Strikes Back, saying that he created Yoda on his own but gave him the kindly and sagely eyes of Albert Einstein, according to the Telegraph.
Julian Harrison, curator of pre-1600 historical manuscripts of the British Library, who runs the Museum’s Medieval Manuscripts blog and who first pointed out the remarkable resemblance Tuesday in the library’s blog, says the image was an illustration added to an account of the biblical story of Samson and Delilah in the 14th century manuscript also known as the “Decretals of Gregory IX with gloss of Bernard of Parma.”
The manuscript was produced in southern France between 1300 and 1400 as a compilation of papal letters and church decrees pertaining to law and doctrine.
“The Yoda image comes from a 14th century manuscript known as the Smithfield Decretals. I’d love to say that it really was Yoda, or was drawn by a medieval time traveler, but it’s actually an illustration to the biblical story of Samson — the artist clearly had a vivid imagination!”
According to Harrison, the greenish figure with spiky hands and long pointy ears, hauntingly reminiscent of the Star Wars character, appears to be a whimsical and fanciful addition to the text.
But some have suggested the image could be an imaginative representation of the Devil behind the temptress Delilah. Other strange illustrations added to the manuscript, such as half human and half animal creatures, could be the illustrator’s effort to imagine what demons look like.
However, the manuscript also includes popular animal fables and an illustration showing a rabbit shooting a dog with a bow and arrow.
The tragic biblical story of Samson tells of the life of an ancient leader of the Hebrews, Samson, whom God gave superhuman strength. This allowed to him to slaughter the Philistine enemies of the Hebrews by the hundreds using only the jawbone of an ass.
But his love for a foreign and disloyal woman who discovered that his long hair was the secret of his strength led to his tragic fall and his final remarkable feat of strength.
Some have speculated tongue-in-cheek that if the image in the medieval manuscript is a portrait of Yoda, then he must have been about 260 years at the time the illustrator added the portrait to the manuscript.
Yoda was 900 years old in the 1980 film The Empire Strikes Back, the second in the Star Wars trilogy, in which he appears — voiced by Frank Oz — as the mentor of Luke Skywalker.
The trailer has since gone viral, having been viewed more than 30 million times and about 18 million times in the first 24 hours.
[Image: “Grand Master Yoda,” handout via NY Daily News; Smithfield Decretals via Listverse.com; “Medieval Yoda,” Smithfield Decretals via Daily Mail]