83 results in English
Treatise of the World's Creation
This manuscript, which contains a Tractatus de creatione mundi (Treatise on the World's Creation) from the Book of Genesis followed by a narration of the Passion of Christ (folios 99r–128v), is one of the most significant examples of late-13th-century Sienese illumination. The pictures, partly watercolor drawings and partly proper illuminations, were made by an extremely sophisticated Sienese artist who was heavily influenced by Transalpine miniaturists and active from around 1290 through the next decade. The illustrations, sketched by a fast, concise hand, stand out for their strikingly smooth ...
The Treasure of Khvarazm’Shah
Ismā‘īl ibn Ḥasan Jurjānī (circa 1042–circa 1136, also seen as Jorjānī and Gurjānī), known popularly as Hakim Jurjānī, was among the most famous physicians of 12th-century Iran. In the period between the Islamic conquest and the time of Jurjānī, almost all scientific books by Iranians were written in Arabic, including such famous works as al-Qānūn fī al-tibb (The canon of medicine) by Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Jurjānī's medical encyclopedia, Zakhīrah-i Khvārazm’Shāhī (The treasure of Khvarazm’Shah) was the first major medical book in post-Islamic Iran written in ...
History of Byzantium
This Greek manuscript on parchment dating from the 12th to the 13th centuries is one of the most valuable codices in the National Library of Spain, treasured for the richness of its illumination. The work, by Ioannes Scylitza (flourished 1081), is a history of the Byzantine emperors from 811 to 1057, covering events from the proclamation of Michael I Rangabe in 811 to the reign of Michael VI in 1056–57. The manuscript contains 577 miniatures by different artists. Most of the scenes are accompanied by a caption that explains ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Psalter of Frederick II
This remarkable illuminated psalter decorated in the Byzantine style was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Sicily (1194–1250) for his third wife, Isabella of England (1214–41). Frederick married Isabella in 1235. By design and execution, the manuscript illuminations combine the color palette of Byzantium with the stylistic rendering of the plasticity of the human body common to the Italian school of the period. Probably executed at the scriptorium in Acri, a hill town in Calabria, the manuscript is decorated with a full-page initial letter encompassing ...
Apostle Lectionary
The Apostle Lectionary, written on parchment in the second half of the 13th century, is one of the important linguistic sources delimiting the early (Preslav) from the later (Athonite) redaction of this liturgical book. The lectionary contains the portions of scripture, the lessons, to be read at divine service on particular days of the church calendar. This manuscript is remarkable for the completeness of the readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, and for its detailed menologion, a monthly calendar indicating the feast days of saints that ...
Dobreisho Gospel
This parchment manuscript, of which only a part has survived, is from the first quarter of the 13th century. The year 1221 was written on the manuscript at a significantly later date and may have been copied from an original colophon by a later owner. Known as the Dobreisho Gospel, the manuscript is an important witness to the history and early development of the Bulgarian language. Of particular interest is the rich illumination, including two full-page miniatures of the evangelists Luke and John. The portrait of the latter is accompanied ...
Banitsa Gospel
The Banitsa Gospel, written on parchment in Church Slavonic in the late 13th century, is one of the manuscripts testifying to the end of the anonymity of Bulgarian men of letters at around this time. The colophon indicates that the scribe who made the manuscript was the priest Ioann at Saint Nicholas Church in the village of Banitsa (presumably in the Vratsa region of present-day northwestern Bulgaria). The characteristic script and the ornamental illumination, elaborated in black, red, and yellow ink, reflect a local manuscript tradition. The menologion (calendar) includes ...
Menaion for June-August with Synaxarion
This parchment manuscript of the Menaion for June–August with synaxarion (a collection of brief biographies of the saints) can be dated to the second half of the 13th century. It is important as the earliest known manuscript to include the service of Saint Ioakim Osogovski (Joachim of Osogovo), hermit and founder of the monastery known as Sarandapor. His memory, celebrated on August 16, was popular in Bulgaria and elsewhere in the Balkans during the Middle Ages and in the period of the Bulgarian National Revival of the 18th and ...
Partial Hebrew Bible
This manuscript, possibly a remnant of a complete Hebrew Bible, includes books from the Nevi’im (Prophets) as well as the books of Chronicles and Psalms from the Ketuvim (Hagiographa or writings) section of the Bible. (The tripartite division of the Hebrew Bible includes the Torah, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa.) It includes full vocalization and accentuation, as well as some Masorah Parva notes. The latter are very brief notes on the side margins or between columns, which are part of the Masorah, the collection of critical notes, compiled in ...
Annotated Edition of “The Book of Documents”
Shang shu (The book of documents), also called Shu jing (The book of history), is one of the Five Classics of the Confucian canon that greatly influenced Chinese history and culture. Translations of its title into English vary and include Classic of History, Classic of Documents, Book of History, Book of Documents, or Book of Historical Documents. There are many copies and versions of Shang shu, ascribed to Confucius, but its history is obscure. The work is a compilation of speeches by major figures and records of events in ancient ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Annotated Edition of “The Book of Rites”
Li ji (The book of rites) is one of the Five Classics of the Confucian canon, which had significant influence on Chinese history and culture. The book was rewritten and edited by the disciples of Confucius and their students after the "Burning of the Books" during the rule of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, around 213 BC. The work describes the social forms, governmental system, and ceremonial rites of the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC). Li literally means "rites," but it also can be used to refer ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government
Zi zhi tong jian (Comprehensive mirror to aid in government) was a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography, first published in 1084 in the form of a chronicle. In 1065 Emperor Yingzong (reigned 1064–67) of the Song ordered the great historian Sima Guang (1019–86) to lead a group of scholars in compiling a universal history of China. The task took 19 years to complete and the finished work was presented in 1084 to the succeeding Emperor Shenzong (reigned 1068–85). Its subject is Chinese history from 403 BC ...
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The Veritable Records of the Song Emperor Taizong
Chinese court officials often recorded a reigning emperor’s daily activities and words spoken in court, especially those that affected the country. These records, such as Qi ju zhu (Diaries of activity and repose) and Ri li (Daily records), were sources for the compilation of shi lu (veritable records) by a committee. Other sources consisted of materials collected from provinces, ministerial papers, and other documents. The official histories were written based on these veritable records. Such records no longer exist from before the Tang dynasty (618–907). The only ...
Contributed by National Central Library
The Newly Compiled Overall Geographical Survey
The original work on which this compilation is based was completed in 1239, as indicated in its two prefaces, one by Lü Wu (1179–1255), and another at the end by the author Zhu Mu (died 1255). It was reprinted in 1267 by Zhu Mu’s son Zhu Zhu (jin shi 1256). The original work had two parts, part one in 43 juan and part two in seven juan, along with a 20-juan supplement and a one-juan appendix. This reprinted edition has 70 juan. According to Zhu Zhu’s postscript ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Supplement to the Local Gazetteer of Wu Prefecture
Wujun (Wu Prefecture) is an ancient name used during the Qin and Han (221 BCE–220 CE) for the seat of Guiji (situated in present-day Suzhou). The words tu jing in the title denote an older type of local gazetteer, which first appeared during the Eastern Han (25–220 CE). It was not until the Southern Song that such works were replaced by more formal gazetteers. This printed work is a very rare Song edition. The work goes back to 1099, the second year of Yuanfu era during the reign ...
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Collected Songs and Verses of Li He
Li He (790–816), courtesy name Changji, was a Chinese poet of the late-Tang dynasty, known for his unconventional and imaginative style. A native of Changgu, Henan Province, Li was unsuccessful in the imperial examination. He died at age 27, having worked, despite his distant royal ancestry, as a poor minor official. About 240 of his poems survive. Although his works were admired by the late-Tang poets, none of his poems made their way into the popular anthologies, such as Tang shi san bai shou (300 Tang poems). As indicated ...
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Eleven Commentaries to The Art of War by Sunzi
Sunzi bing fa (The art of war by Sunzi) is the most important and popular military classic of ancient China. Its influence also spread to neighboring countries and beyond. Sun Wu, also known as Sunzi or Sun Tzu, lived in the State of Qi during the late Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC). He served the State of Wu, in the southeast coastal area, from around 512 BC and presented his military strategy in a work of 13 chapters to the king of Wu. Together with Wu Zixu (died 484 ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Augmented Materia Medica
This work was compiled in 1116 by Kou Zongshi (flourished 1111–17), an official in charge of purveying and examining medicinal materials. According to a later preface by Lu Xinyuan, dated 1877, Kou also served as an official responsible for military provisions and supplies in various places and became a revenue manager. Kou Zongshi found mistakes and gaps in the works by Liu Yuxi, the author of Jiayou bu zhu ben cao (Supplementary comments to materia medica printed in the Jiayou reign), and Tang Shenwei, author of Jing shi zheng ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Newly Compiled Stories on the History of the Five Dynasties with Commentaries (Incomplete Copy)
One of the popular entertainments among the common people during the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) was storytelling. Historical events were particularly popular subjects. Stories often were told with the commentaries of the storytellers and thus were called ping hua (stories with commentaries). Some ping hua were published after being polished by the literati, but not many are still in existence. The author of this work is unknown. It is a collection of popular literature containing stories from the Five Dynasties (907–60), prior to the Song dynasty. It begins ...
Contributed by National Central Library
The Dresden Codex
Only four Mayan manuscripts still exist worldwide, of which the oldest and best preserved is the Dresden Codex, held in the collections of the Saxon State and University Library. The manuscript was purchased for the Dresden court library in 1739 in Vienna, as a “Mexican book.” In 1853 it was identified as a Mayan manuscript. Consisting of 39 leaves, inscribed on both sides, and approximately 358 centimeters long, the manuscript originally was folded in an accordion-like manner. The chalk-coated writing material, amatl, is a paper-like matter produced from fig-tree fiber ...
Fragment of the Old Västergötland Law
Äldre Västgötalagen (Old Västergötland law) is the oldest legal text written in Old Swedish in Latin script and the oldest of Sweden’s medieval provincial laws. The law was formulated around 1220 and was used in Västergötland in western Sweden. This manuscript fragment dates to about 1240. It contains the oldest record of the law and, along with another manuscript in the holdings of the National Library of Sweden dating from the early 1290s, is the only source for the law. The two leaves come from the same manuscript and ...
Horologium Olomoucense
Horologium Olomoucense is a collectarium (liturgical book of collects or prayers) that is recited during the Divine Office at horae (specific times) during the day. The manuscript was written for the cathedral chapter in Olomouc in the southern part of the present-day Czech Republic before the year 1150. A famous image depicting Pope Gregory I (circa 540–604) is found at the beginning of the liturgical texts. The pope is on a throne and dictating to his friend and pupil, Petrus Diaconus, who is sitting at his feet. He is ...
The Old Västergötland Law
Äldre Västgötalagen (Old Västergötland law) is the oldest legal text written in Old Swedish in Latin script and the oldest of Sweden’s medieval provincial laws. The law was formulated around 1220 and was used in Västergötland in western Sweden. Manuscript B 59 in the National Library of Sweden is the only complete copy of the law and is Sweden’s oldest book. The manuscript is a composite of 77 leaves, consisting of three parts bound together. It was written mainly by four scribes and dates to the beginning of ...
The Lectionary (Orsha Gospel)
This gospel, believed to have been created in Polotsk (present-day Belarus) in the second half of the 13th century, is one of the oldest monuments of the Cyrillic Slavonic alphabet and one of the most ancient decorated Belarusian manuscripts. It contains two multicolor miniatures with gilding portraying the evangelists Luke (folio 42 verso) and Matthew (folio 123 verso). The miniatures reflect the influence of the early Palaeologian (relating to the last Byzantine dynasty, reigned 1259–1453) Byzantine style in old Belarusian art. The images are vividly depicted in bright colors ...
Buddhist Sutra “Bimashōkyō”
The hand copying of Buddhist sutras was believed to confer great merit and spiritual benefit, so that from the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the sixth century numerous manuscripts were reproduced throughout the country. In the late Heian period, there arose the Mappō (age of Dharma decline) doctrine, which held that Buddhist teaching, and consequently the protection of Buddha, would decline. At a time of religious pessimism coupled with the very real decline of the aristocracy, many court nobles sought to attain the after-death passage to the Pure Land ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Bible Pictures by William de Brailes
This manuscript comprises 24 leaves of Bible pictures by William de Brailes, an English artist active in Oxford in the middle of the 13th century. Seven leaves from the same set of images are now in the Musée Marmottan in Paris. These 31 leaves are all that remain of an image cycle that once contained at least 98 miniatures, and which was the longest cycle of Bible miniatures surviving from the 13th century in England. In all probability these Bible pictures were actually prefatory matter to a psalter (now Stockholm ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Claricia Psalter
The Claricia Psalter was made for, and most likely by, a group of Benedictine nuns at the abbey of Saints Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg, Germany. Although the psalter itself, along with its calendar, dates to the late-12th or early 13th century, a number of texts and prayers were added in the mid-13th century. Most striking about the manuscript are its illuminations, which include a prefatory cycle, full-page miniatures, and historiated initials. While all are Romanesque in style, they vary greatly in quality and technique, and three or four different ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Melk Missal
This missal, which dates to the late-12th or early 13th century, was made for the Benedictine abbey of Melk (or, possibly, Seitenstetten) in Lower Austria, as indicated by the inclusion of the patron saints of Melk, Peter and Paul, and Cholomannus (folio 212 recto). The surviving volume of a multi-volume missal, the manuscript contains only the ordinary of the mass and the "summer part," with the temporale running from Holy Saturday through the Sunday after Trinity Sunday and the sanctorale beginning with the feast of Primus and Felicianus (June 9 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Carrow Psalter
This English manuscript was made in East Anglia in the mid-13th century for a patron with special veneration for Saint Olaf, whose life and martyrdom are prominently portrayed in the Beatus initial of Psalm 1. Known as the Carrow Psalter, because of its later use by the nunnery of Carrow near Norwich, it is more accurately described as a psalter-hours, as it contains, among other texts, the Office of the Dead and the Hours of the Virgin. The manuscript is striking for its rich variety of illuminations, including full-page cycles ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Trebizond Gospels
This Gospel book was probably made in Constantinople in the mid-12th century and is remarkable for the fine execution and monumental quality of its full-page miniatures. The opening for the Gospel of Matthew is missing, but the other three Gospels are prefaced with a pair of miniatures each: the respective Evangelist on the left and a scene from the Gospel story on the right. The combination of Saint John with the Raising of Lazarus is one found only in this manuscript. The text was copied by two scribes with distinctly ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
T'oros Roslin Gospels
This Armenian manuscript was made in 1262 by T’oros Roslin, the celebrated illuminator who extended the iconographic repertoire by defining a narrative Gospel cycle beyond the traditional portraits of the Evangelists. This signed manuscript was created at the scriptorium of Hromkla (present-day Rum Kalesi, Turkey), which became the leading artistic center of Armenian Cilicia under the rule of Catholicos Constantine I (1221-67). As an extensive colophon starting on folio 406 verso explains, T’oros created this manuscript under commission from the nephew of Constantine, a priest also named T ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Speculum Virginum
This manuscript, written at the Cistercian abbey of Himmerode in Germany in the early 13th century, is one of 22 surviving Latin copies of the Speculum virginum (Mirror for virgins). Attributed to Conrad of Hirsau, the text was written in the first half of the 12th century as a guide for nuns, offering them theological lessons in the form of a hypothetical conversation between a teacher, Peregrinus, and his student, Theodora. The 12 illustrations in the manuscript portray the protagonists as well as the mystical visions and diagrams they discuss ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Cosmography
Created in England in the late-12th century, this manuscript was intended to be a scientific textbook for monks. The manuscript is brief, at nine folios, and was designed as a compendium of cosmographical knowledge drawn from early Christian writers, such as Bede and Isidore, as well as the later Abbo of Fleury. Those writers, in turn, drew on classical sources, such as Pliny the Elder, for their knowledge but adapted it to be understood through the filter of Christianity. The 20 complex diagrams accompany and help to illustrate the texts ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Central Panel of the Painted Cave of Gáldar
The Painted Cave of Gáldar is in northwest Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands archipelago of Spain. It is part of a complex of pre-Hispanic caves that were rediscovered in 1862. Full archaeological excavations took place in 1987−2005. The six caves are carved out of the tufa and arranged around a central space. The first occupation of the settlement dates from the sixth century, but radiocarbon dating suggests that the cave acquired its current appearance in the late 12th century. The cave system was created by the Guanches, the ...
Exegetical Works
This manuscript of works by Honorius Augustodunensis (also seen as Honorius of Autun) is one of the rare examples of an illustrated commentary on the Old Testament Song of Songs, preserved mainly in manuscripts from southeastern Germany and Austria. The manuscript, written in the monastery of Benediktbeuern, Bavaria, around 1170, features a title piece and three miniatures on books two to four, that is, the full cycle of illuminations. Honorius follows the allegorical interpretation of the marriage of Christ and his Church, depicted in the title piece. In books two ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Dialogue in Praise of the Holy Cross
Dialogus de laudibus sanctae crucis (Dialogue in praise of the Holy Cross), written between 1170 and 1180, and once owned by the Benedictine monastery of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg), Bavaria, contains a text in praise of the Cross, which has come down only in this manuscript. The text, written by an unidentified author, is in the form of a didactic dialogue between “Magister” and “Discipulus,” the teacher and a pupil. It relates the history of salvation to the Holy Cross in the so-called typological exegetical tradition. The text ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospel Lectionary
This gospel lectionary was created around 1130. A lectionary is a liturgical book, which—in contrast to usual gospel books containing the full texts of the gospels—comprises only those parts of the gospels that are used for the liturgical readings during the ecclesiastical year, presented in chronological order. The book features two pen-and-ink-drawn initials, several decorated initials in gold and silver ink, and four full-page miniatures, each showing one of the four Evangelists. The style and coloring of the miniatures follow a Bavarian tradition of book illumination, the so-called ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospels for the Year
This lavishly illuminated manuscript represents a fine example of a gospel lectionary, a liturgical book that—in contrast to the usual gospel books containing the full texts of the gospels—comprises only those parts of the gospels that are used for the liturgical readings during the ecclesiastical year, presented in chronological order. The manuscript’s miniatures display the main events in the life of Jesus Christ, which correspond to the main religious feasts: from Nativity to Ascension to the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. All the miniatures are ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
The Six Books of the Hexaemeron (The Six Days) by Ambrose
In his Hexaemeron, Saint Ambrose treats the six days of creation. In this manuscript, written in the Benedictine monastery of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg), Bavaria, the six days are illustrated with full-page pen drawings; another representation of the creator resting on the seventh day concludes the cycle. Representations of the Hexaemeron appear from the late 11th century onwards as a new subject of Romanesque illumination, above all in Bibles or in liturgical works, such as choir books and missals. The Ratisbon school of illumination, responsible for this work ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospel of Lorsch (Evangeliary of Udalrich)
This lavishly decorated Gospel lectionary belongs to a group of manuscripts in which is mentioned an Oudalricus peccator (Udalrich the sinner), who has been connected to Udalrich, abbot of the monastery of Lorsch, who died in 1075. It is decorated with golden display script in capitals, and initials in gold and silver. The main feasts (Christmas, Easter, Whitsun, and the feast of Saint Michael) are emphasized by full-size miniatures. The manuscript also displays four full-page framed miniatures depicting the apostles in the unusual order of Matthew, Luke, John, and Mark ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospel
This Gospel book contains decorated canon tables, extending over 16 pages, and portraits of the evangelists, positioned at the beginning of the respective Gospels. It is decorated with five full-page framed miniatures on gilt ground, the first of which depicts Christ enthroned, with a book in his left hand and blessing with his right. Eight pen-drawn initials mark the beginnings of the argumenta (short versions of the evangelist’s life) in the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John as well as the passages in all four Gospels concerning the Passion ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospel
This Gospel book from Weihenstephan in Bavaria, created circa 1170−80, represents a late example of the art of book illumination as it was practiced in the scriptorium of Tegernsee Abbey in the 11th and early 12th century. The scriptorium of Tegernsee Abbey was held in high esteem during that time, as a surviving letter from Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (circa 1123−90) proves. Praising the reputation of the scriptorium, he commissioned two manuscripts, which unfortunately have not been preserved. With its decoration and style of the initials and ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library