83 results in English
The Ash Wednesday Supper
La cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday supper), the first of Giordano Bruno’s six Italian philosophical dialogues, was first published in London in 1584. The title page indicates neither the place of publication nor the publisher, but scholars agree that the book was printed at the London shop of John Charlewood. The work is dedicated to the French ambassador to the English court, Michel de Castelnau, sieur de la Mauvissière, who assisted Bruno after his arrival in London in 1583. The book is divided into five dialogues and ...
General History of the Things of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún: The Florentine Codex. Book VI: Rhetoric and Moral Philosophy
Historia general de las cosas de nueva España (General history of the things of New Spain) is an encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico compiled by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590), a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico in 1529, eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortés. Commonly referred to as the Florentine Codex, the manuscript consists of 12 books devoted to different topics. Book VI is concerned with rhetoric and moral philosophy. It contains texts that Sahagún collected around 1547 ...
An Examination of the Talents Required for the Sciences
Examen de ingenios para las sciencias (An examination of the talents required for the sciences), first printed in 1575, is the only known work by Juan Huarte de San Juan, who was born in Navarre, Spain, in around 1529. The work seeks to clarify various questions regarding human knowledge and the capacities and abilities found in some persons but not in others, and such questions as what makes a person skilled in one science but not in another and how to recognize which art and science are best suited to ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Complete Book on the Judgment of the Stars
This book is a Latin translation of Ibn al-Rijāl Abū al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī al-Maghribī al-Qayrawānī’s principal scientific work, Kitāb al-bāriʻ fī aḥkām al-nujūm (Complete book on the judgment of the stars). Known in the Latin West as Haly Abenragel, or Haly Albohazen, Ibn al-Rijāl was the astrologer and leading official at the court of the Zīrid prince Muʻizz ibn Bādīs (1007 or 1008–62) at Qayrawān (present-day Kairouan, Tunisia). Kitāb al-bāriʻ consists of eight books covering several different types of astrology. These include interrogations, nativities, the discussions of the ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Abū Ma‘shar’s Eight Treatises Regarding the Great Conjunctions, the Annual Revolutions, and Their Origins
Ja‘far ibn Muḥammad al-Balkhī (787–886), known as Abū Ma‘shar (and as Albumasar in the Latin West), was one of the most-renowned astronomers of the Middle Ages. His fame in Europe rested upon numerous Latin translations of his astronomical works from the original Arabic. He was born in the Persian city of Balkh (present-day Afghanistan), on 20th of Ṣafar, 171 AH (August 10, 787). He most likely received his early education in Balkh prior to moving to Baghdad, as his works are often colored by a distinct Persian ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
A Clear Explanation of Averroes’ Introduction to the Commentary on Aristotle’s “Analytica Posterior”
This work is a commentary on Ibn Rushd’s prologue to his commentary on Aristotles’s Analytica Posterior (Posterior analytics) by the Italian philosopher and physician Giovanni Bernardino Longo (1528–99), published in Naples in 1551. Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Rushd (1126–98), known in the West by the Latinized version of his name, Averroes, was an intellectual luminary of the Islamic world. Although he wrote extensively on the religious sciences, natural sciences, medicine, and philosophy, his reputation in the West rests primarily on his commentaries on Aristotle. He belonged ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Al-Qabīṣī’s Treatise on the Principles of Judicial Astronomy
ʻAbd al-ʻAzīz Ibn ʻUthmān was a famous astrologer, believed, based on a comment in the Fihrist, to have been a contemporary of Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq Ibn al-Nadīm (active 987). He was probably born in al-Qabīṣ, which is a place-name shared by two locations in Iraq, one near Mawṣil, and the other near Sāmarra. He may have been of Persian descent. Al-Qabīṣī’s principal surviving work is al-Madkhal ilā ṣinā‘at aḥkām al-nujūm (Introduction to the craft of [knowing] the judgment of the stars), dedicated to Sayf al-Dawla, the Ḥamdānid ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
A So Far Unpublished Book on the Judgments of the Nativities by Abū ‘Alī, the Arabic Astrologer
Yaḥyá ibn Ghālib Khayyāṭ (died circa 835) was an astrologer and pupil of the great Jewish-Persian astrologer Māshāʼallāh (circa 730–circa 815). He was known to mediaeval Christendom as Albohali (variants include Alghihac and Albenahait). Ibn al-Nadīm includes in Abu ʿAlī’s list of works Kitāb al-Masāʾil (The book of interrogations) and Kitāb al-Mawālīd (Book of nativities), both of which are extant, together with several works that are now lost. The latter include Kitāb al-Madkhal (The book of introduction), Kitāb al-Maʿānī (The book of [hidden] meanings), Kitāb al-Duwal (The book ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
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
Treatise on Friendship
You lun (Treatise on friendship), also entitled Jiao you lun (Treatise on making friends), is by the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), who also added a Latin title, De Amicitia. Written for the general non-Christian Chinese reader, it elaborates on the concept of virtuous friendship and reflects Ricci’s efforts to bring Renaissance and humanist culture to China. According to Si ku quan shu ti yao (Annotated bibliography of the Imperial Library), the work was recommended by Qu Rukui (born 1549), a member of a noted family of officials ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Newly Compiled Pocket Astrological Calendar
This calendar was compiled by Lei Yingfa of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). The pocket-size book in two volumes has 66 pages. The paper is a dark yellow; the character type is of the early Yuan dynasty. The surface of the printed pages is blurred and the paper has suffered some damage. The calendar is based on the 60-year cycle, and records dates by year, month, and day. The title and the name of the compiler appear on the first leaf. The label at the end of the first essay ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Classified Divinations on Military Affairs
This work in 21 juan was compiled by Li Kejia of the Ming dynasty. Presented here is a Wanli edition of 1597, in six volumes. It is the earliest extant copy. The frame of the pages is 19.5 centimeters high and 13.5 centimeters wide. The borders are double-lined. Each single page has 11 columns, each with 22 characters. There is a red square seal impression of the National Central Library. Preceding the text are two prefaces, by Zhu Yuyi and Zhang Shoupeng, dated 1597. It also has an ...
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The Tianyuan Jade Calendar in Verse Prose on the Auspicious and Unusual Signs
The author of this calendar is unknown. Traditionally it was attributed to Liu Ji (1311–75), an early Ming military strategist and statesman. This copy was issued in the 13th year (1477) of the Chenghua reign of the Ming. Several other editions were made, such as the one printed in 1619, a number of which are held by the National Central Library in Taiwan. Presented here is a one-juan handwritten copy, a rare early manuscript that is slightly damaged. The work lists 60 items, with four-character headings, such as “Heaven ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Chalcedony Scriptures
Yu sui zhen jing is a book on feng shui astrology, compiled by Zhang Dongxuan and annotated by Liu Yunzhong of the Song dynasty. The National Central Library copy is a Ming edition, printed in the 29th year of the reign of Emperor Jiajing (1550) in Fuzhou, in 32 volumes. At the head of the work is the preface written by Zhang Jing (dated 1550). At the end of the work is a note in red ink indicating that “from here the leaves are missing.” It also has several prefaces ...
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The Great Tang Dynasty Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era
Da Tang kai yuan zhan jing is a Chinese astrology encyclopedia, compiled by imperial order by numerous scholars around 718-724, during the Kaiyuan era of the Tang dynasty. The work was led by Gautama Siddha (flourished in the 8th century), the Tang-dynasty astronomer and astrologer of Indian descent, who was born in Chang’an. The book, also known as the Kaiyuan Star Observations, contained approximately 600,000 words in 120 juan. The compilation was based on many astronomical, astrological, and divination materials from prior to the Tang dynasty. In particular ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Guide to Astronomy
This handwritten copy of Tian wen bei kao (Guide to astronomy) was made in 1790 by Pingbo, whose seals are on the cover of the first of the two juan. No other information on the copyist is available. Juan one is a collection of texts taken from Xing jing (Star manual) by Shi Shen (circa 350 BC), Tian wen xing zhan (Astronomic star observation) by Gan De (between 475 and 221 BC), Shi ji (The records of the grand historian), Tian wen zhi (Astronomy treatise) in Han shu (History of ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Letter from Alfred Nobel to Bertha von Suttner, Creating the Nobel Peace Prize
Alfred Nobel (1833–96) was a Swedish-born engineer and entrepreneur best known for inventing dynamite. At age 43, Nobel placed an advertisement in a newspaper stating: "Wealthy, highly-educated elderly gentleman seeks lady of mature age, versed in languages, as secretary and supervisor of household." An Austrian woman, Countess Bertha Kinsky, applied for and won the position. The countess worked for Nobel only briefly before returning to Austria to marry Count Arthur von Suttner. Bertha von Suttner became one of the most prominent international peace activists of the late 19th–early ...
Three Books on Life
Marsilio Ficino (1433−99) was an Italian Renaissance philosopher, theologian, priest, and physician, best known for his translations and exegeses of the works of Plato. His most important original writings include Theologia Platonica (Platonic theology, 1469−74) and Liber de Christiana religione (Book on the Christian religion, 1474). Presented here is the codex of one of Ficino’s later works, De triplici vita (Three books on life, 1489), from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The colophon on the verso of folio 174 indicates that the ...
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
Lotus Sutra
The practice of printing Buddhist scriptures on the reverse of letters from the deceased to pray for the repose of his or her soul became common from the end of the Heian period (late 12th century) onward. The scrolls shown here contain the text of a Buddhist sutra called Myōhō renge-kyō (Lotus sutra). They are printed on the reverse of letters sent from Daitō Genchi, the second abbot of Kakuon-ji Temple in Kamakura. It is believed that Hōjō Sadatoki’s wife, to whom the letters are addressed, and some others ...
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Buddhist Sutra “Jū-issai-fukutoku-zanmai-kyō”
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. Shown here is a volume from the hand-copied Issai-kyō (a Buddhist corpus) commissioned by the Empress Kōmyō (701−60), wife of the Emperor Shōmu, to pray for the repose of her parents, Fujiwara no Fuhito and Tachibana no Michiyo. The work commissioned by the empress amounts to about 7,000 volumes, which include almost all ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Completion of Mere Ideation
In Japan temples were the center of publishing until the Middle Ages. The Kasuga edition of the Buddhist scriptures was produced at the Kōfuku-ji Temple in Nara. These scrolls, from that edition, contain the text of Jōyuishikiron (The completion of mere ideation), a commentary on the work by the Indian scholar Seshin (Vasubandhu in Sanskrit) known as Yuishiki sanjūju (Triṃśikā-vijñapti-kārikā in Sanskrit, Weishi sanshi song in Chinese). The commentary was translated into Chinese during the Tang dynasty by a Chinese monk named Xuanzang. It was a canon of the ...
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The Analects of Confucius
Rongo (Analects) is famed as the collection of the words and deeds of Confucius and has greatly influenced the culture of China and neighboring nations as the most cherished scripture of Confucianism. It is said to have been introduced to Japan around the fifth century. This work is called the “Tenmon version,” the second version of the published Rongo in Japan after the Rongo shikkai (known as the Shōhei version) first published in Japan in the 19th year of the Shōhei era (1364). The Tenmon Analects were published in the ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
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
Secret of Success
Samuel Smiles was a Scottish author and physician. He dropped out of school at 14 years of age but returned to finish the study of medicine at the University of Edinburgh. His most famous work, Self-Help, which Ya’qub Sarrūf here translates into Arabic, made him a best-selling author and celebrity. Sarrūf was one of the earliest graduates of the American University in Beirut. He was a significant figure in what is called the Arab renaissance of the second half of the 19th century and was awarded an honorary doctorate ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
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
Commentaries and Questions on the Complete Logic of Aristotle and of the Subtle Doctor John Duns Scotus
Commentarii ac quaestiones in universam Aristotelis ac subtilissimi doctoris Ihoannis Duns Scoti logicam (Commentaries and questions on the complete logic of Aristotle and of the subtle doctor John Duns Scotus) was published in Lima, Peru in 1610. John Duns Scotus (died 1308) was a Franciscan priest and scholastic theologian and philosopher whose writings had great influence on both religious and secular thought in Europe. He was known by the Latin surname “Doctor Subtilis.” The first printing press in South America was established in Lima by Antonio Ricardo (circa 1540−1606 ...
Contributed by National Library of Peru
Collection of Five Tracts on Various Subjects by al-Suyuti
This undated manuscript contains five short essays by the prolific scholar Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (1445−1505). The longest work in the volume is a 20-page collection of hadiths (sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) pertaining to dreams, visions, and other extraordinary occurrences. The shortest work is a two-page note on al-hamd (praise), its grammar, and usage. Other titles pertain to various grammatical points in the form of questions and answers. The treatises are ordered as follows: 1. Tanwīr al-ḥalak fī imkān ruʼyat al-nabī wa al-malak (Shedding light on the possibility ...
Memorandum on the Question Posed by the Jew about Divine Fate (Zikr Su’al al-Yahudi min al-Qadha’ wa-al-Qadr)
This short manuscript contains manzumah (replies in verse) to questions about fate, destiny, and predestination. The work is anonymous. This eternally vexed area in metaphysics was said to have been raised by an unnamed Jewish religious scholar of predestinationist tendencies. The author of this work sets out arguments against strict determinism by those he calls ahl al-sunnah (orthodox thinkers). He brings to bear in rebuttal verses and quotations from several sources, two in particular, which he quotes at length. The first of them is by Ibn Lubb al-Gharnati and is ...
Women's Customs Among the Tajiks: Fortune-Telling
This photograph of Tajik women engaged in fortune telling (vorozhba, in Russian; fal'bin in Central Asian languages) is from Turkestan Album, one of the richest sources of visual information on the cultural monuments of Central Asia as they appeared in the 19th century. This multi-volume work was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of Konstantin P. von Kaufman, a Russian army general and the first governor-general of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire's Central Asian holdings were called. Kaufman held that position from 1867 to 1886, during which time ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Encyclopedic Manuscript Containing Allegorical and Medical Drawings
In the Middle Ages, medicine was very much intertwined with astrology and other nonscientific superstitions. This manuscript on vellum, produced in southern Germany around 1410, contains pen and ink drawings with explanatory texts in German and Latin. The first drawing shows the earth and seven planets. It is followed by Zodiac-man, a naked man shown with the 12 signs of the zodiac, each relating to a specific part of the body. Next are four bloodletting charts of the human body. Such bleeding charts or calendars were widely used in this ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Desired Transformations, or, On Negations and Affirmations in Rectifying Wisdom
This treatise contains information on a medley of subjects, including alchemy, numerology, mineralogy, and magic. It begins with quotations from Kashf al-asrār wa hatk al-astār (Unveiling of secrets and tearing of covers), a well-known eighth-century (second-century A.H.) work attributed to Jābir (ibn Ḥayyān). A whole other work seems to be written in the margins. The text mentions such authorities as Galen (Jālīnūs), Zīsmūs, Hermes, Democrates, Shaykh Abu al-‘Abbās Aḥmad al-Baunī, and Ghazālī. Parts of the manuscript are smudged and damaged.
An Essay on Statements in Logic
This treatise by the prominent Shafi’i theologian Muhammad al-Amidi (died 1233 [631 AH]) deals with questions of original existence and mental existence. The manuscript copy shown here was made in 1805 by an unknown scribe. It 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, journalist, and museum director who assembled a collection of 284 manuscript volumes and 365 print ...
A Treatise on Book Titles
This short work by the prominent Shafi’i theologian Muhammad al-Amidi (died 1233 [631 AH]) continues an earlier discussion by the same author about original existence and mental existence. In this work, al-Amidi considers the elements of place and time and discusses their relationship to existence. The manuscript copy shown here is by an unknown scribe, and dates from the early 19th century. It 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 ...
An Essay on the Field of Scholarship
This work by Muhammad al-Amidi (died 1786 [1180 AH]?) examines the concept of knowledge, both as innate (hudhoori) and acquired (husooli). The author explores the disagreement between philosophers and theologians over the nature of divine knowledge, and the difference between divine and human knowledge. This manuscript copy dates from 1805. It 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, journalist ...
A Treatise on the Division of Theoretical Scholarship
This four-page essay on the difference between pre-theoretical belief and theoretical imagination was written by the prominent Shafi’i theologian Muhammad al-Amidi (died 1233 [631 AH]). The manuscript copy shown here was made in the early 19th century by an unknown scribe. It 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, journalist, and museum director who assembled a collection of ...
Free Will and Acts of Faith
This manuscript is a philosophical-religious work with citations from the Qur’an. The text of this copy dating from the early 19th century is written in a very small and poor quality Nasta’liq script with black ink on thin yellowish paper. This style of Perso-Arabic script was the predominant style of Persian calligraphy in the 14th and 15th centuries and was very popular with Ottoman calligraphers. The manuscript is bound with ten other works dealing with grammar, rhetoric, and other subjects. It is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic ...
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 ...
The Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka
This edition of the Buddhist canon was printed between about the ninth year of the Huangtong era of Xizong of the Jin dynasty and sometime in the Dading era of Shizong, and for this reason is called the "Jin Tripitaka" by scholars. It is also called the “Jin Tripitaka from Tianning Temple in Xiezhou" because the woodblocks were carved at Tianning Temple on Jinglin Mountain, in Xiezhou, Shanxi (modern Xie County in the Jinnan district). In 1933, the work was rediscovered at Guangsheng Temple in Zhaocheng County, Shanxi, so its ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Twenty-One Hymns to the Rescuer Mother of Buddhas
Also known as “Twenty-One Hymns to the Rescuer Saint Tārā, Mother of Buddhas,” this item is a sutra from Tibetan esoteric Buddhism. The copyist was Yong Rong (1744–90), sixth son of the Qianlong emperor and general editor of the Siku quanshu. In addition to being a poet, calligrapher, and painter, Yong Rong had a sophisticated understanding of astronomy and mathematics. On the top protective cover of this item is written, “Imperially commissioned translation of the hymn to the rescuer mother of Buddhas," in Manchu, Tibetan, Mongolian, and Chinese scripts ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Collected Works of Han Yu
Han Yu is chief among the eight major writers of the Tang and Song dynasties. His writings are rich in content, powerful, fresh, and lively. The 40-juan (section) Collected Works of Han Yu (Changli xiansheng ji [Collected works of the Master from Changli]) was compiled by his disciple Li Han, and is the most comprehensive compendium of Han Yu’s works. The “Outer Collection” and “Omitted Writings” were added by Song dynasty scholars who recovered lost works by Han. This edition was printed in the Jianchun era (late 13th ...
Contributed by National Library of China
The Su Wen of the Huangdi Neijing (Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor)
Huangdi neijing (The inner classic of the yellow emperor) was created some time between the Warring States period and the Qin-Han period as a summation of Chinese medical knowledge up to the time of the Han dynasty. It is the earliest surviving work on Chinese medicine. The work is divided into two parts: the Su wen (Basic questions) and the Ling shu (Numinous spindle). After the Han dynasty, each part circulated separately. Su wen is written in a question-and-answer format involving the Yellow Emperor and various physicians of high antiquity ...
Contributed by National Library of China