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The Defeat of Montaperti
This manuscript is an illustrated account of the events relating to the famous Battle of Montaperti of September 4, 1260, which is mentioned by Dante in The Divine Comedy. The battle resulted in the victory of the armed faction of the Ghibellines, supporting the Holy Roman Emperor and led by Siena, over the Guelphs, supporting the pope and led by Florence. The manuscript was written and illustrated throughout by Niccolò di Giovanni di Francesco di Ventura da Siena, who signed it and stated that he completed the text on December ...
The Spiritual Couplets
The most significant contribution of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (popularly known in Persian as Mawlānā, and in English as Rumi, 1207–73), the renowned poet and mystic of Iran, to Persian literature may be his poetry, and especially his famous Masnavi (The spiritual couplets). This work, which is said to be the most extensive verse exposition of mysticism in any language, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problems in metaphysics, religion, ethics, mysticism, and other fields. Masnavi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism and their relationship to the ...
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 ...
The Recension of Euclid's "Elements"
This work is a printed edition of Kitāb taḥrīr uṣūl li-Uqlīdus (The recension of Euclid's Elements) by one of the intellectual luminaries of the Islamic world, the Persian polymath Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ṭūsī (1201–74). After his death al-Ṭūsī was referred to as al-muʿallim al-thālith (the third teacher, with Aristotle and Fārābī referred to as the first and second teachers, respectively). An extraordinarily prolific author, al-Ṭūsī made notable contributions to most of the intellectual fields of his era, writing on theology, mysticism, logic ...
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 ...
The Great Song Baoyou Calendar Produced in 1256
This work is a rare Qing copy of the 1256 Southern Song manuscript calendar, copied by painter Cheng Xugu in 1815. The first page records the location of the god of the year 1256, the nine constellations, the seven-color spectrum, and the size of the moon. Following this page is the report, dated the tenth month of the third year of the Baoyou reign of the Southern Song (1255) and submitted by the Astrological Service Bureau, responding to the imperial order to print the calendar. The report was signed by ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Revised Zhenghe Edition of Classified and Practical Basic Materia Medica Based on Historical Classics
Chong xiu Zhenghe jing shi zheng lei bei yong ben cao (Revised Zhenghe edition of classified and practical basic materia medica based on historical classics) is an encyclopedic work on pharmacopeia by Song physician Tang Shenwei. Its origins range from Shennong ben cao jing (Shennong’s materia medica) of the Qin and Han dynasties to Zheng lei ben cao (Classified herbal medicine), also by Tang and published before this edition. The work lists 1,746 herbal medicines. It was widely known and recommended in medical circles for its rich contents ...
On Keeping Shop: A Guidebook for Preparing Orders
This highly informative work, compiled by a Jewish apothecary in 13th century Cairo, provides a wealth of information on his craft as practiced at the time. The author, Abu al-Munā Ibn Abī Nasr Ibn Hafāż, known as Cohen al-Isra’ī'lī al-Hārūnī, completed the work in 1260 (AH 658), shortly after the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258, an event that reverberated throughout the Arab world. The manuscript contains notes by the author, to be passed to his son and descendents, who would be taking over the apothecary shop after ...
Book of Royal Gemstones
This work, by Abu al-‛Abbās Ahmad b. Yūsuf al-Qaysī al-Tīfāshī, a 13th-century writer and mineralogist who was born in Tunisia and worked in Egypt, describes precious gems found in the treasuries of kings and rulers. The author lists 25 gemstones and dedicates a chapter to each. They include the ruby (yāqūt), emerald (zumurrud), topaz (zabarjad), diamond (almās), turquoise (fīrūzaj), magnetite (maghnātīs), agate (‛aqīq), lapis lazuli (lāzward), coral (marjān), and quartz (talq). In each chapter, the author discusses the causes of the gemstone’s formation, provenance, criteria for appraisal of ...
The Rose Garden
The Persian poet and scholar Muṣliḥ ud-Dīn Sadī Shīrāzī (circa 1213-1292) is known primarily as the author of Gulistan (The rose garden), one of the great masterpieces of Persian literature, which he completed in 1259. The work has a didactic and ethical character, and is still widely read, in the original Persian and in translations in many languages. This manuscript copy is written in the ta’liq script in two different hands, and contains numerous explanations and remarks in the margins and in the text. The manuscript is dated 1585 ...
The Four Books in Chapter and Verse with Collected Commentaries
The Analects is one of the important classics for Ruist (Confucian) scholars. It was compiled by the disciples of Confucius and their disciples. It mostly records conversations and dialogs relating to Confucius and his disciples that reflect the views and principles of Confucius as applied to administration, ethics, morality, and education. The generally accepted version of The Analects has 20 sections. Zhu Xi (1130-1200) of the Song dynasty took “The Great Learning” and “The Doctrine of the Mean” from The Book of Rites and combined these extracts with The Mencius ...
Anthology of Rumi’s Poetry
Divan-i Mawlavī Rumi (Anthology of Rumi’s poetry) is a collection by the great Persian poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, popularly known in Persian as Mawlānā and in English as Rumi (1207–73). The collection includes poems on Sufism, supplications, and philosophy. The manuscript does not have a title page. Every poem is individual and self-contained, and the name of the poet appears at the end of most of the poems. Nothing is known of the copyist, although it is thought that this volume is 19th century.
Book of the Conversation of Wisdom, and Other Works
The major part of this 18th-century manuscript is taken up by the text of Ktaba da-swad sofia (Book of the conversation of wisdom), a philosophical work by the famous Syriac Orthodox bishop and author, Gregory Bar ‘Ebraya (also seen as Bar Hebraeus, 1226–86). Of special interest is the fact that the work was copied here not only in Syriac, but also in Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac script) in a parallel column on each page. The manuscript contains numerous marginal and interlinear annotations in both Garshuni and Arabic. After ...