67 results in English
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 ...
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 ...
Contributed by 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 As stated on the colophon, the volume was originally made for King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90).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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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
The Feast of Iskandar and Nushabah from Niẓāmī's "Iskandarnamah"
The painting on the recto and the text on the verso of this fragment describe an episode in Niẓāmī's Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great), the last text of the author's Khamsah (Quintet). In his work, the great Persian author Niẓāmī Ganjavī (1140 or 1141–1202 or 1203) describes the adventures and battles of Alexander the Great as he travels to the end of the world. On his way to the Land of Darkness, he visits the queen of the Caucasian city of Barda, Nushabah, in order ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Prayers for Safety and Success
This calligraphic fragment includes verses in Persian praying for the patron's personal well-being and the prosperity of his kingdom. The verses read: "May the world be (your) fortune and the firmament (your) friend / May the World-Creator (God) protect (you) / May all your works be successful / May God of the World look after you / May your heart and your kingdom be collected and well-frequented / May division stay far away from your realm." The verses are executed in black nasta'liq script on beige paper. They are framed by cloud bands ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Verses by Hilālī
This calligraphic fragment includes three distinct text panels all executed in Nasta'liq script: one written in black ink on blue paper, another in white ink on beige paper with two illuminated triangles (or thumb pieces) in the upper and lower corners, and a third (lowest on the page) written in black ink on beige paper. All three panels were cut out and placed together, provided with a gold frame, and pasted to a larger sheet of paper decorated with flecks of gold. The blue text panel includes verses composed ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Seductiveness of the World
This calligraphic panel includes three rubā'iyāt (iambic pentameter quatrains) in nasta'liq script on beige or blue papers cut out and pasted onto a sheet from a muraqqa' (album) of calligraphies. The quatrain in the upper-left panel, executed in black on a cream-colored sheet decorated with vine motifs painted in gold, reads: “Everyone whose heart is seduced by the world / Avoid (him) because of the pride of his ignorance / Grab the hem of that (person) who, because of his greatness, / Has left behind the world and its dwellers.” The ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Commentary on the Gift of Arithmetic
This work is by Abd-Allāh Ibn Bahā al-Din Muhammad Ibn Abd-Allāh al-Shanshāri al-Shāfīī, an expert in calculating al-Fardī (inheritance portions). The cover page of the manuscript bears a magical form or talisman for finding a lost object. The main text is a detailed commentary on Tuhfat al-ahbāb fi al-hisāb (The friendly gift of arithmetic) by the renowned Egyptian scholar Badr al-Dīn Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad (1423–1506), known as the Sibt (grandson of) al-Mardini, who taught arithmetic and astronomy in Alazhar for several years. The original work has an ...
Yoshitsune Leaving for Oshu Province
This picture scroll illustrates the story of Minamoto Yoshitsune (1159-89), a military commander at the end of the 12th century, and his legendary retainer Benkei (?-1189). Yoshitsune’s older brother Minamoto Yoritomo (1147-99) became suspicions of his younger brother’s ambition after Yoshitsune achieved a series of military successes. Yorimoto had Yoshitsune expelled from Kyoto. Yoshitsune sought the protection of the Fujiwara family in Hiraizume, Oshū province, but in the end was hounded to death and forced to commit suicide by his powerful brother. The tragic story of Yoshitsune and ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Comparisons in Arabic Grammar
A considerable portion of this untitled work by an unknown author is devoted to a discussion of al-qiyas, or comparison, in Arabic grammar. The work also contains excerpts from a work by Muftizade and disquisitions about logic, as well as other references to Muftizade. The manuscript was transcribed by Abdallah al-Hamshini. The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava, Slovakia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997. Safvet beg Bašagić (1870-1934) was a Bosnian scholar, poet ...
A Summary Explanation of the Pronouncements of the Scholars and Theologians
Timbuktu, 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 of Timbuktu 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. In this work, the author examines theologians' and scholars' approaches to various issues in Islamic law and society and offers an explanation ...
The Sigüenza Map
This map is a cartographic history of the migration of the Aztec from Aztlán to Tenochtitlan. Created in the pictographic style typical of the central Mexican and Puebla valleys during the Post-Classical period, it is the only map of its kind known to exist. It is thought to date from the 16th century. The map shows the path of the migration, along with the story of the places passed and of the migration itself. Alongside the glyph for each location are symbols representing the amount of time spent in each ...
Small Treatise on the Calculation of Tables for the Construction of Inclined Sundials
The challenge of calculating the positions and movements of celestial bodies for the purpose of preparing astronomical tables helped to stimulate the development of very sophisticated mathematical tools at least as far back as the Middle Ages. The link between mathematics and astronomy was so strong that important authors in the field of astronomy were often distinguished mathematicians and vice versa. This was the case with Badr al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ġazal (1423–1506), also known as Sibt al-Māridīnī, who, according to contemporary sources, produced ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Ji Guang Jing, Land of Solitude and Illumination
This three-volume work by Hong Yingming, a Ming-dynasty philosopher, known also under his style name Zicheng, contains portraits of Buddhas. Volume one depicts 19 Buddhas of India; volumes two and three contain portraits of 42 Buddhas of China. The work includes brief biographies.
Contributed by Library of Congress
Selected Writings by Dong Zhongfeng
This work is a collection of writings by Dong Qi (1483–1546), selected by Dong’s follower, Tang Shunzhi (1527–60), who was a Confucian scholar, a member of the Hanlin Academy, and a man with military knowledge. Dong Qi, a native of Guiji, Zhejiang Province, achieved his jin shi (doctoral degree) and a second degree at the highest imperial examination, and entered the Hanlin Academy. As a result of a conflict with the influential eunuch official Li Jin, he was sent from the capital to be a prefect of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Anonymous Arabic and Persian Poetic Verses
This fragment contains an Arabic poem in eight verses in the center panel and Persian poetical verses in small rectangular registers arranged around the central panel and pasted above a light blue background. The Arabic poem stresses Muhammad’s ability to provide intercession for his community on the Day of Judgment. It is a kind of praise or request directed towards the Prophet that is seen in a number of other calligraphic panels meant either for public display or included in albums of calligraphies. The Arabic and Persian verses are ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Illuminated Frontispiece
This illuminated frontispiece is one of two pages that would have formed the opening double-page composition of a manuscript. It is possible that it belonged to a Qur'an. The title would have appeared in the top and bottom rectangular panels. The central medallion may have contained the beginning of the first chapter of the Qur'an, al-Fatihah (The opening). It also may have served as a space for the work’s dedication to a patron or blessings upon its owner. The illumination is typical of Qur'an frontispieces made ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This Qur'anic fragment includes verses from several surahs (chapters) in the Qur'an. On the right side, the fragment contains the first 24 verses of the 56th chapter, al-Waqi'ah (The inevitable). The surah’s heading appears at the top of the right folio, in white ink on a gold ground and framed by a horizontal cartouche decorated with vine motifs on a blue or red background. Below the frame is a simple horizontal band of light blue floral vines and minuscule red dots contained in a gold-outlined panel ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Fragmentary Verses
This calligraphic fragment is in very poor condition. The four verses of Persian poetry are interrupted by a number of large holes in the paper. A few words are still legible, however:  “[I want] to see your face again / Seeing your beauty... made my fortune / Hand... without end / [Their] presence made (my) heart and eye happy.” In the upper-right corner appears a pasted gold panel, while the lower-right corner contains the truncated name of the calligrapher, Safi al-Husayni. This calligrapher is otherwise unknown; he may have been active in Persia ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes verses 17–34 of the 80th chapter of the Qur'an entitled 'Abasa (He frowned). Surat 'Abasa is an early Meccan surah containing 42 verses. It describes an episode during which a blind man interrupted the Prophet while he was attempting to teach. Because the man wanted to learn the Qur'an, the Prophet excused the disruption and held the man in high honor. The verses continue with an exaltation of revelation and the Qur'an: “It is indeed a Message of instruction. / Therefore let whoever ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Verses from Niẓāmī's "Divan"
This calligraphic fragment includes several verses from the Divan (Compendium of poems) by Niẓāmī' (1140 or 1141–1202 or 1203). After a beginning invocation to God, the verses describe how certain things and people fulfill particular roles in the world: “(For) every idol that they fashioned / They sewed a robe the size of its body / Not everyone can be the confidant of power / Not every donkey can carry Jesus.” The verses are executed in dark-brown ink on a beige paper framed by a blue border. The text is pasted to ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Two Bayts (Verses) on Modesty
This calligraphic fragment includes two bayts (verses) of poetry that describe the desire of unidentified antagonists to break or humble the beloved: “They want to break the wild-eyed / They want to break the black-eyelashed / They want to break the heart from the spirit / They want to break the objects of beauty.” In these verses with repetitive phrasing, the beloved ones or objects of beauty—the kajkulahan (literally, the "ones wearing crooked helmets,")—are the target of violence and animosity. Written in black Nasta'liq script on orange paper decorated with ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Laylah and Majnun Meet in School from Niẓāmī's "Khamsah"
This calligraphic fragment describes the first encounter between the star-crossed lovers Laylah and Majnun when they are children in school, as described by Niẓāmī Ganjavī (1140 or 1141–1202 or 1203) in the third book of his Khamsah (Quintet). In the story, Qays (also known as Majnun) is sent to school by his father to learn to read and write. One day, however, young Qays notices a lovely girl with hair that is laylah (literally as black as night) and falls deeply in love with her. The layout of this ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Quatrain on Separation
This calligraphic fragment includes a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain), that uses hyperbolic expressions to describe the all-consuming affection and pain of separation from a loved one. It says: “If I were to write an explanation of (my) wishes / A fire would burn up the reed of (my) pen, / And if I were to speak again of the burden of separation / The (upright) shape of the nine skies would hunch over.” The verses are executed in black Nasta'liq script on a beige sheet of paper. The text panel is ...
Contributed by Library of Congress