8 results in English
Buddhist Texts, Including the Legend of Phra Malai, with Illustrations of The Ten Birth Tales
The legend of Phra Malai, a Buddhist monk of the Theravada tradition said to have attained supernatural powers through his accumulated merit and meditation, is the main text in this 19th-century Thai samut khoi (folding book) held in the Thai, Lao, and Cambodian Collections of the British Library. Phra Malai figures prominently in Thai art, religious treatises, and rituals associated with the afterlife, and the story is one of the most popular subjects of 19th-century illustrated Thai manuscripts. The earliest surviving examples of Phra Malai manuscripts date back to the ...
Contributed by The British Library
The Travels of Marco Polo
This manuscript from about 1350 is one of the oldest extant copies of Les voyages de Marco Polo (The travels of Marco Polo), the account by the Venetian merchant Marco Polo (circa 1254−1324) of his adventures in Central Asia and the Far East during the latter part of the 13th century. It is possibly one of five manuscripts relating to Marco Polo’s journey that belonged to King Charles V of France (reigned 1364−80). Later it was part of the library of the French book collector Alexandre Petau ...
Tales of the Prophets
Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyā’ (Tales of the prophets) is the title of the various collections of tales originating in the Qur’an and embroidered by different authors. Shown here is one of the best known, attributed to Muhammad ibn Abdullah al-Kisa’i, who is thought to have lived in the 11th century AD. The lives of the prophets were not covered in detail in the Qur’an, so al-Kisa’i and other writers added more elaborate storylines. The Qiṣaṣ begin with God’s creation of the world and descriptions of angels, the ...
Javanese Manuscript of the Adventures of Hamza
The adventures of the early Islamic hero Hamza, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, are a favorite subject of Javanese literature in which the deeds of the hero, here called Ménak, are retold. The Javanese legends are written in poetic form and relate the stories as occurring during the lifetime of the Prophet. This manuscript, written in the Javanese and Pégon (Arabic–Javanese) alphabets, contains a number of the main episodes in the tales of Hamza. The codex offers a prime example of the art of book illumination that flourished ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Kalila and Dimna
Kalila wa-Dimna (Kalila and Dimna) is a widely circulated collection of Oriental fables of Indian origin, composed in Sanskrit possibly as early as the third century BC. The fables were translated into Arabic in the eighth century by the Persian Ibn al-Muqaffa’, a highly educated writer and influential courtier. To this day, al-Muqaffa’s translation is considered an unsurpassed masterpiece of Arabic artistic prose, and numerous translations into European and Oriental languages dating from the 10th to the 14th centuries derive from his version. Influences of al-Muqaffa’s translation also ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Illustrated Book of Thai Poetry
The poems collected in this remarkable Thai manuscript from the second half of the 19th century are by an unknown poet. They all share the same theme: the loss of a beloved woman. Drawing upon all the possible degrees of refinement that the Thai language, poetry, and art can master, each poem is a work of art in itself, praising the beauty of the beloved woman and mourning her passing. Preceding the poems are 13 illustrations connected to the overall theme. They show mythological creatures and motifs from Thai legends ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Book of Animals
The artist, engraver, xylographer, publisher, and entrepreneur Jost Amman (1539–91) was involved in a huge number of printing projects, several of them together with the Frankfurt-based publisher Sigmund Feyerabend. One such project was the Thierbuch (Book of animals). Printed for the first time in 1569, it comprises nearly 100 woodcuts executed by Amman, based on designs by the Augsburg painter Hans Bocksberger the Younger. The illustrations feature 70 different kinds of animals, including domestic animals (such as horse, ox, and pig), wild animals (such as bear, fox, and eagle ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
The Story of Dhu al-Qarnayn (Better Known as Alexander the Great)
Timbuktu (present-day Tombouctou in Mali), founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries there contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. Kitab Qiṣṣat Dhū al-Qarnayn is a 12th-century rendition of the Alexander romance (legends about the mythical exploits ...