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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 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 ...
This manuscript Hebrew Bible with full vocalization, accentuation, and Masorah annotation was created in Spain in around 1300. The Bible is illustrated and decorated in color, silver, and gold. The books of the Bible are arranged in the conventional order later adopted in Hebrew printed editions, with the exception that Ecclesiastes precedes Lamentations. Written on parchment in Sephardi square script, the manuscript has three columns per page, with 35 lines per column. The Masorah Magna notes are written in micrography. Masorah refers to the collection of critical notes, compiled in ...
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 ...
Collected Prescriptions for Divine Relief from Suffering, Reissued in the Dade Reign
The Sheng ji zong lu was originally a 200-juan encyclopedic compilation of more than 20,000 medical prescriptions, collected from both officially verified sources and common practices during and before the Song dynasty (960–1279) and published around 1111–17. Shortly after its completion, it was removed to the north due to the Jingkang Incident, which took place in 1127, when invading Jurchen soldiers besieged and sacked the Song capital Bianjing and abducted Emperor Qinzong. As a consequence, this work did not become well known in the south. Two early ...
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 ...
Book of Hours
This finely illuminated and iconographically rich book of hours was made in England at the end of the 13th century. The manuscript is incomplete and mis-bound. The original sequence of the parts of the manuscript cannot be reconstructed with certainty. The Abbreviated Hours were followed by the Hours of the Holy Spirit, the Seven Penitential Psalms, the litany and collects, the Fifteen Gradual Psalms, the Office of the Dead, and the Hours of Jesus Crucified. Whether the Prayers to the Crucified Christ, which were followed by the lections in the ...
This manuscript, illustrated with 155 marginal paintings, is one the few surviving “marginal psalters,” in which images provide a pictorial commentary on the Biblical text. Other examples include the Khludov Psalter (circa 850, Moscow, State Historical Museum, Muz. 129), the Barberini Psalter (circa 1050, Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Barb. Gr. 372), the Theodore Psalter (1066, London, British Library, Add. Ms. 19,352), and a Cyrillic psalter made in Kiev (1397, Saint Petersburg, National Library of Russia, cod. OLDP, F6). The marginal psalter of the Walters Museum was apparently ...
The Cervera Bible is among the oldest and most significant Sephardi Bibles to survive the destruction of most of the Jewish communities in the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon beginning in 1391 and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1498. An extremely rare example of the Iberian Hebrew paleography of its time, this manuscript on parchment consists of 451 folios in two columns, each with 31 lines. Profusely illuminated in gold and color with Mozarabic and Jewish motifs, it includes the books of ...
Glagolitic Leaves in Hlohovec
These two fragments are among the oldest artifacts in the manuscript collections of the Slovak National Library. They are parchment folios, written on both sides, and are of Croatian provenance. It is believed that they came to the territory of Slovakia through the Franciscan friars or by the exchange of codices and printed books among Franciscan libraries or archives. They were discovered at the library of the former Franciscan monastery in Hlohovec in southwestern Slovakia in 1936. The folios contain parts of the Glagolitic service book from the end of ...
The Book of Remedies from Deficiencies in Setting Up Marble Sundials
This work is a treatise for timekeepers (singular muwaqqit), and discusses the telling of time from such astronomical observations as the sun’s angle of inclination (mayl), altitude (irtifā‛), as well as the direction (samt) and length of cast shadows (zill). In 14 chapters, the author goes through methods for the computation of these factors, determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), and time of the day. He observes that using instruments (ālāt), such as markings on the ruler (mistara) and the compass (bargār, from the Persian pargār), and geometric ...
The Song of the Nibelungs (Codex A)
The Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs) is the most famous heroic poem in Middle High German. It tells the story of the dragon-slayer Siegfried from his childhood and his marriage to Kriemhild to his murder by the evil Hagen and Kriemhild's subsequent revenge, culminating in the annihilation of the Burgundians or Nibelungs at the court of the Huns. Originally based upon an older oral tradition, the poem was written down about or shortly after the year 1200, probably at the court of Wolfger von Erla, Bishop of Passau ...
Arthurian and Other Romances of the 13th Century
This 13th century manuscript, with text in two columns and superbly decorated, is an anthology of romances from the Middle Ages. The first two texts, L'Estoire del Saint Graal (The history of the Holy Grail) and L'Estoire de Merlin (The history of Merlin) are dedicated to the Arthurian legends and are attributed to Robert de Boron (circa 1200). The third text, Le Roman des Sept Sages de Rome (The romance of the seven wise masters of Rome), is a work of ancient Eastern origins, deriving from the Book ...
Canticles of Saint Mary
There are four manuscripts of the Cantigas de Santa María (Canticles of Saint Mary): this copy from the National Library of Spain that formerly belonged to the Biblioteca Capitular in Toledo, two copies in the Escorial, and one in Florence, similar to the Toledan copy, but unfortunately missing some content. Written during the rule of Alfonso X, King of Castile and Leon (also known as Alfonso el Sabio, Alfonso the Wise), the canticles are a collection of monodic songs, in Galician language and mensural notation, in honor of the Virgin ...
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 ...
This outstanding early 14th-century manuscript is the first part of a Qur’an originally comprising 12 volumes, which, according to the colophon, was produced for the Moroccan ruler Abū Ya‘qūb Yūsuf. This text and a companion manuscript, also in the Bavarian State Library (Cod.arab 3), contain, respectively, the first and last five sixtieths of the Qur’an. The text is written in Maghrebi script on parchment, with only seven lines to a page. The well-proportioned balancing of the text area with the wide margins gives the Qur’an ...
The Wonders of Creation
Zakarīyā Ibn Muḥammad al-Qazwīnī (1203–83) spent most of his life in present-day Iran and Iraq and served as a judge in Wasit and Hilla, Iraq, during the reign of the last Abbasid caliph, Musta‘sim (1240–58). Al-Qazwīnī was also a geographer and natural historian, and known for his encyclopedic knowledge. This work, Kitāb ‘Ajā’ib al-makhlūqāt wa-gharā’ib al-mawjūdāt (The wonders of creation, or literally, Marvels of things created and miraculous aspects of things existing), probably was written in the sixth decade of the 13th century and is ...
The Elucidation of the Memoir on Astronomy by Ṭūsi
This manuscript is a commentary on Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Ṭūsi's al-Tadhkira fī al-‘ilm al-hay’a (Memoir on astronomy). Written in the second half of the 13th century, Ṭūsi's work was hugely influential for subsequent generations of astronomers in the Islamic world, and several of the commentaries on it became popular in their own right. This commentary is by Niẓām al-Dīn Ḥasan b. Muḥammad al-A‘raj al-Nīsābūrī al-Qummī (died after 1311). In the introduction to his work, which the author himself entitles Tauḍīḥ al-Tadhkira (Elucidation of ...
Monastic Breviary and Missal (Bethune Breviary)
This early 14th-century parchment manuscript, known as the Bethune Breviary, is a prayer book used for daily monastic prayer. Normally, breviaries (so-called from their nature as condensations of texts from many separate books) contain the calendar, prayers, hymns, and liturgical readings for the Divine Office, but the Bethune Breviary also includes the canon for the mass (as in a missal or mass book). The codex contains the services for the first half of the ecclesiastical year, extending from the beginning of Advent to Easter Sunday, and from the feast of ...