Inhabited initial

An inhabited initial is an initial, an enlarged letter at the beginning of a paragraph or other section of text that contains an illustration of human or animal figures within the letter. It is similar to a historiated initial; however, the figures in historiated initials show an identifiable scene or story, while the figures in inhabited initials do not show a narrative.[2] Figures in inhabited initials may be related to the contents of the text, but do not have to be. They may be purely decorative instead.[3]

Large uppercase E decorated with spirals and dogs
Inhabited initial "E" from an Italian breviary, 1153 AD, Los Angeles, Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig IX 1 (83.ML.97), fol. 331v[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Inhabited Initial E". Getty Museum. Retrieved 29 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Glossaries: I". Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. The British Library. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  3. ^ Chilvers, Ian, ed. (2004). "Inhabited initial". The Oxford Dictionary of Art (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 358. ISBN 0-19-860476-9.