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The Wonders of Creation
Zakarīyā ibn Muhammad al-Qazwīnī (circa 1203–83), was a distinguished Iranian scholar who was conversant in poetry, history, geography, and natural history. He served as legal expert and judge in several localities in Iran and at Baghdad. After traveling throughout Mesopotamia and Syria, he wrote his famous Arabic-language cosmography, 'Aja'eb ol-makhluqat wa qara'eb ol-mowjudat (The wonders of creation, or literally, Marvels of things created and miraculous aspects of things existing). This treatise, frequently illustrated, was immensely popular and is preserved today in many copies. It has been translated ...
Contributed by
National Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Songs of Acupuncture Points of the Fourteen Channels
This manuscript is a detailed account of the 14 channels, also called meridians, and the acupuncture points in the human body. Each channel is described as having a number of acupuncture points. Acupuncture is an important component of traditional Chinese medicine, with a long history beginning as early as the New Stone Age. It is still in use. 12 channels run from inside the body to the limbs and joints and their names chiefly refer to locations and functions. Some are anatomical names or characteristics; others refer to physiological functions ...
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National Central Library
Five Books of the Sentences
This codex from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence is a compilation of texts related to the Christian Church in Visigothic Spain. As stated on the colophon, the volume was originally made for King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90). It includes Sententiarum libri V (Five books of the sentences) by Taio Samuel (died 683), followed by a collection of writings by the Church Fathers chosen by Isidore of Seville, and a letter by Quiricus, bishop first of Barcelona and then of Toledo, to Taio Samuel ...
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Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence
Commentary on The Analects of Confucius
Rongo (Analects) is famed as the collection of the words and deeds of Confucius. As the most cherished scripture of Confucianism, the book greatly influenced the culture of China and neighboring nations. It is said to have been introduced to Japan around the fifth century. The first published edition of Rongo in Japan was made in Sakai, a city in present-day Ōsaka Prefecture, in the 19th year of the Shōhei period (1364), and is known as the Shōhei version. The wood blocks of the first edition disappeared in early days ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Prayer Book
This illuminated prayer book, made in the Netherlands in the early 16th century, contains Latin prayers and passages from the Gospels. Although small in scale, it is notable for its abundance of illuminations, with nearly 60 extant small miniatures. Full-color portraits embellish the prayers to the Virgin and suffrages, while the images within the Gospel narrative are rendered primarily in grisaille, a nearly entirely gray monochrome technique. The last folios include a trompe-l'oeil foliate margin and a Crucifixion that seems to be a later addition. Throughout the book, gold ...
Contributed by
Walters Art Museum
Ethiopian Gospels
This large Ethiopian Gospel book was made in the first half of the 16th century and is written in Gǝ‛ǝz, the traditional liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Containing 11 full-page miniatures, six canon tables, and five elaborately ornamented ḥarägs (headpieces), this manuscript represents the golden age of what has been termed the Gunda Gunde style, named after a monastery in the district of Agame. The Gunda Gunde style is characterized by bold blocks of color defined by detailed, and often delicate, linear motifs. Figures are highly stylized ...
Contributed by
Walters Art Museum
Nautical Astrolabe
This nautical astrolabe is thought to be among the earliest surviving nautical astrolabes and dates from about 1500−1520. Most nautical astrolabes had a carved mater (graduated circular element), unlike the solid and compact instrument shown here, which bears a resemblance to the astrolabes of Diogo Ribeiro (died 1533), a Portuguese cartographer and inventor who spent most of his life in Spain. The purpose of nautical astrolabes was to measure the altitude of the sun or a star above the horizon. Navigators could determine a ship’s latitude by knowing ...
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Cabildo of Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Treatise and Notes on Prayers
This manuscript treats prayers used universally by Muslims. The first section covers al-hamdu lil-Allah, recited on many occasions when recalling God’s grace for some benefaction, such as safe arrival from a journey. The phrase literally means “Praise be to God,” and is used in various forms by people of all faiths. After discussing meaning and usage in light of grammarians Sibawayh and Khalil ibn Ahmad, eighth-century pioneers of Arabic linguistics, the author distinguishes between “proper” use and everyday speech. The work includes discussion of mutaradifat (synonyms) of praise, such ...
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National Library and Archives of Egypt
Commentary on Grammatical Distinctions
This manuscript, the Sharh al-hudud al-nahawiyah (Commentary on grammatical distinctions) by Jamal al-Din Al-Fakihi (1493 or 1494−1564 or 1565), is a summary clarification of grammatical issues. The author, a Meccan, spent part of his life in Cairo. Not much else is known of his life, travels, or teaching. He was praised by contemporaries, but his scholarship was limited to a few works on grammar, which do not appear to have had a lasting impact on the field. The Sharh is known by the alternative titles Sharh Kitab al-Hudud fi ...
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National Library and Archives of Egypt
NZD185: Romance and Love-Related Ceremonies
The Naxi language spoken by the Naxi people of Yunnan Province, China is the only pictographic writing system in the world still in use. A member of the Tibetan-Burman language family, Naxi has many of the tonal and symbolic aspects of Chinese. The Naxi language has four tones; each sound complex has many different meanings based on its tone. The Naxi Dongba script is used exclusively by the dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. Many of the individual ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
NZD186: Romance and Love-Related Ceremonies
The Naxi language spoken by the Naxi people of Yunnan Province, China, is the only pictographic writing system in the world still in use. A member of the Tibetan-Burman language family, Naxi has many of the tonal and symbolic aspects of Chinese. The Naxi language has four tones; each sound complex has many different meanings based on its tone. The Naxi Dongba script is used exclusively by the dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. Many of the individual ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
NZD187: Romance and Love-Related Ceremonies
The Naxi language spoken by the Naxi people of Yunnan Province, China, is the only pictographic writing system in the world still in use. A member of the Tibetan-Burman language family, Naxi has many of the tonal and symbolic aspects of Chinese. The Naxi language has four tones; each sound complex has many different meanings based on its tone. The Naxi Dongba script is used exclusively by the dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. Many of the individual ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
NZD188: Romance and Love-Related Ceremonies
The Naxi language spoken by the Naxi people of Yunnan Province, China, is the only pictographic writing system in the world still in use. A member of the Tibetan-Burman language family, Naxi has many of the tonal and symbolic aspects of Chinese. The Naxi language has four tones; each sound complex has many different meanings based on its tone. The Naxi Dongba script is used exclusively by the dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. Many of the individual ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
NZD189: Romance and Love-Related Ceremonies
The Naxi language spoken by the Naxi people of Yunnan Province, China, is the only pictographic writing system in the world still in use. A member of the Tibetan-Burman language family, Naxi has many of the tonal and symbolic aspects of Chinese. The Naxi language has four tones; each sound complex has many different meanings based on its tone. The Naxi Dongba script is used exclusively by the dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. Many of the individual ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
NZD190: Romance and Love-Related Ceremonies
The Naxi language spoken by the Naxi people of Yunnan Province, China, is the only pictographic writing system in the world still in use. A member of the Tibetan-Burman language family, Naxi has many of the tonal and symbolic aspects of Chinese. The Naxi language has four tones; each sound complex has many different meanings based on its tone. The Naxi Dongba script is used exclusively by the dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. Many of the individual ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
Flemish Psalter
This Flemish Psalter from the library of the Irish College in Paris was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1500. The manuscript is written in Latin on vellum, and it has a 19th-century binding. Psalters are religious books, especially popular in the Middle Ages, containing the psalms (poems that are sung) from the Bible, often with other devotional texts. Richly decorated, the Psalter includes a fully illuminated page depicting the Tree of Jesse and a miniature of King David, the main author of the psalms. Twelve illuminations, each composed of ...
Contributed by
Irish College in Paris
World Chronicle with the Descent of the Kings of England from Adam and Eve to Richard III
This manuscript, produced in London around 1500, traces the genealogy of the kings of England from Adam and Eve to Richard III. The manuscript was made in the manner of William Caxton (circa 1422–92), the first English printer. Written in English, on vellum, the volume still has its original brown calf binding. Illustrations are mostly large compositions in pen and ink and include images of the Last Judgment and the fall of the rebel angels, the Creation, the fall of Adam and Eve, and Noah’s ark. Also included ...
Contributed by
Irish College in Paris
Eulogy to a Ruler
This calligraphic fragment includes a central panel with a eulogy to a king written in the "hanging" ta'liq script. Except for one line in black ink, all other horizontal and diagonal lines are written in white and outlined in black. Above the text panel appears, divided into two columns, a bayt (verse) by the great Persian poet Niẓāmī Ganjavī (died 1202 or 1203) about the power of miracles. The bayt is in black nasta'liq script on beige paper. Around the text panel is a blue border inscribed with ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
Ghazal by Sa'di
This calligraphic fragment contains a ghazal (lyric poem) by the Persian poet Shaykh Sa'di (died 1292 [691 AH]). The verses describe a lover's search for his beloved and his request that she show herself to him. The verses are written in nasta'liq script using white, light blue, red, and yellow ink on a blue paper. Rangin (colored) inks add variety to the composition and are found in a number of calligraphies produced during the 16th century. The corners left open by the intersection of the diagonal verses ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
Verses by Jami
This calligraphic fragment includes verses composed by the Persian poet Jami (died 1492 [897 AH]), whose full name, Mawlana 'Abd al-Rahman Jami, is noted in the topmost panel. In larger script appears a ghazal (lyric poem) in which a lover sighs about the lack of news from his beloved. The central text frames are bordered on the right and left by illuminated panels and contain a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain) written in smaller script. The quatrain encourages true and eternal love of God rather than passing infatuations: "Every beautiful ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
Ghazals of Asifi
This calligraphic fragment includes a variety of ghazals (lyric poems) from the Compendium of Poems (Divan) of the Persian poet Asifi. A student of the famous poet Jami (died 1492 [897 AH]) in Herat (present-day Afghanistan), Asifi remained in the Timurid capital city until his death (1517 [923 AH]), even during and after the Uzbek invasions. These particular verses on the fragment's recto and verso portray a lover's madness and his complaints about the pains of separation from the object of his affection. At the end of the ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress