Either George Lucas’s sources of inspiration for Star Wars were more varied and ancient than we thought, or Doctor Who really does exist. Or it’s just a big coincidence (but let’s face it, the Doctor Who idea is more fun).
Regardless, the image is real, and the truth cannot be denied: Yoda has been found in a manuscript that dates back all the way to the 1300s.
Alright, so maybe it’s not actually Yoda, but the resemblance is certainly striking. Take a look below.
Image from The British Library, via npr.org
Julian Harrison, curator of the British Library and proprietor of the blog of the same where the image of medieval Yoda was highlighted, told NPR that the illustration comes from a 14th century manuscript called the Smithfield Decretals (decretals, according to NPR, “are collections of papal letters that compiled decisions (decrees) on church law and doctrine”).
Harrison added, “I’d love to say that it really was Yoda, or was drawn by a medieval time traveler. It’s actually an illustration to the biblical story of Samson — the artist clearly had a vivid imagination!”
Having grown up in a religious family, I feel that I know the story of Samson well; but I certainly don’t remember any Yoda-like creature making a cameo in there. My only guess is that it must have something to do with medieval Christian symbolism.
Whoever or whatever it is, it looks mysterious, like it’s withholding a secret from the reader or one of the characters in the story. Perhaps it knows who Samson’s real father is? Maybe it told Samson, “Do or do not; there is no try,” and inspired him to push down the walls of his enemies. Or maybe it was put there by Doctor Who to introduce a little bit of Star Wars joy to the darkness of medieval Europe; Star Wars can cheer anybody up.