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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 ...
The Story of the Secluded Chamber, with Li Zhuowu’s Critical Comments
You gui ji (Story of the secluded chamber), also entitled Bai yue ting ji (Story of the Moon-Worshipping Pavilion), is one of the five greatest Ming-dynasty long poetic dramas, called chuan qi. Attributed by some to Guan Hanqing (1220–1300), the Yuan playwright, and by others to Shi Hui (born 1295 or 1296), a native of Hangzhou and a Southern-style playwright at the end of the Yuan and the beginning of the Ming dynasty, the play has 40 scenes in two juan. The story takes place at the end of ...
Mirror of the Saxons
More than 400 manuscripts of the Sachsenspiegel (Mirror of the Saxons) survive, attesting to the wide dissemination and influence on the whole of Europe of this first law book in German. The most beautiful copies are the four illuminated manuscripts, all produced between 1295 and 1371, and now held in Heidelberg, Oldenburg, Dresden, and Wolfenbüttel. The most artistically valuable of these documents is the Dresden manuscript, preserved in the Saxon State and University Library. Its 924 image sequences on 92 pages are the most extensive of those in the four ...
Military Epic about the Life of Yoshitsune
Gikei ki tells a fictional story based on the life of Minamoto Yoshitsune, a famous military commander of the 12th century. In the book, Yoshitsune’s elder brother Minamoto Yoritomo, the first shogun in the history of Japan, becomes suspicious of his younger brother’s ambition after his glorious victories in a series of battles. By order of Yoritomo, Yoshitsune is expelled from Kyoto, hounded, and finally forced to commit suicide. The tragic story of Yoshitsune has long been popular in Japan and was often described in novels and dramas ...
Born in what is now the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, ‘Ali ibn al-Muqarrab (1176 or 1177−1231 or 1232) had an adventurous life that included political intrigue and involvement with trade as well as literary accomplishment. Writing in the early 13th century, he is said to have been one of the last poets before modern times to have composed in the classical style. His Diwan (Poetry collection) is lauded for its historical as well as literary qualities. It is considered a primary source for geography and history as well ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Gospel of Passau
This Gospel lectionary contains the text of the liturgical Gospel readings for the main feast days. Written and illuminated in the 12th century in the Bavarian diocesan town of Passau, it remained in use at least until the 15th century, as it is shown by the exquisite metal binding with a deep relief, displaying the figure of Christ carved in rock crystal, which was executed at that time. The manuscript itself is one of the finest examples of Romanesque illumination from southeast Bavaria; it displays magnificent gold initials with near-naturalistic ...
Hong's Collection of Effective Prescriptions, in Five Juan
The imperial court of the Song dynasty placed great importance on medicine. Even scholar-officials were engaged in compiling medical books. Hong Zun (1120−74), in his spare time after his working hours, sought and collected medical prescriptions and compiled this work, entitled Hong shi ji yan fang (Hong's collection of effective prescriptions). It contains 167 prescriptions, which were collected from his many years of research and which proved to be practical and effective. The work was engraved in the sixth year of the Qiandao reign (1170) and was printed ...
Classified Materia Medica from Historical Classics for Emergency
Jing shi zheng lei bei ji ben cao (Classified materia medica from historical classics for emergency), often abbreviated as Zheng lei ben cao, is an encyclopedic work on materia medica. The compiler, Song physician Tang Shenwei, systematically collected all 365 herbs recorded in Shennong ben cao jin (Shennong’s materia medica) of the Qin and Han. He also studied classics of the Liang and Tang, such as Ben cao jing ji zhu (Variorum of the classic of materia medica) by Tao Hongjing (452−536) and Xin xiu ben cao (Newly ...
Notes of Those Rooted in Understanding and Verification in the Matter of Hadiths and Their Abrogation
This manuscript is a critique by the 12th-century jurist Abu Faraj ibn al-Jawzi of 21 hadiths, or sayings, of the Prophet Muhammad. A significant issue in the study of hadiths is the verification of the chain of transmission back to the Prophet himself. In this work as well as in others, Ibn al-Jawzi comments on the transmission of sayings and on the misinterpretation or misclassification of companions or relatives of the Prophet, such as ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ibn ‘Abbas, and Abu Hurayrah. The topics of the hadiths discussed include ...
Miroslav’s Gospel is a liturgical work that is considered the most important and the most beautiful of Serbian manuscript books. It was created around 1180 by two student monks for Duke Miroslav, the brother of Stefan Nemanja, grand prince of the medieval Serbian state of Rascia. Written on parchment in Cyrillic uncial (the Cyrillic script that developed from Greek in the 9th century), it is a monument to early Serbian literacy. The work is decorated with approximately 300 stylized miniatures of outstanding beauty, and is representative of a group ...
The History of Genghizcan the Great, First Emperor of the Antient Moguls and Tartars
This early Western history of Genghis Khan, the 13th-century Mongol Emperor who established the world’s largest contiguous empire, is by François Pétis (1622-95), an interpreter of Arabic and Turkish at the French court. In a long and distinguished career, Pétis translated a history of France into Turkish, compiled a French-Turkish dictionary, and created a catalog of the Turkish and Persian manuscripts owned by the king of France. François Pétis de la Croix (1653-1713), the son of François Pétis, took over the position of interpreter from his father in 1695 ...
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 ...
Nara-ehon are illustrated manuscripts or hand-printed books and scrolls produced in Japan from the Muromachi period (1336-1573) through the middle of the Edo period (1600-1867). This rectangular nara-ehon depicts the story of the Soga brothers, Soga Jurō Sukenari (1172-93) and Soga Gorō Tokimune (1174-93), and their quest for revenge for their father's death. The Soga Monogatari (Tale of the Soga brothers) tells how, after 18 years of hardships, the brothers fulfill their quest, but also how Sukenari is killed and Tokimune captured and executed by Minamoto Yoritomo (1147-99), the ...