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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 ...
Minor Works of Dante Alighieri
This small manuscript, dating to the late-15th century, in Renaissance script, contains poems from the Rime (Rhymes) by the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). These are so-called minor works that are distinguished from Dante’s Vita nuova (The new life), his book of sonnets recounting his early love for Beatrice, and his all-encompassing allegorical masterpiece, La divina commedia (The divine comedy). On the front cover is a 15th-century note, now almost totally faded, which states: "Di Cosimo de' Medici e degli Amici" (Belonging to Cosimo de’ Medici and ...
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 Divine Comedy
This celebrated manuscript of the Commedia of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) containing the complete text of the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso was copied in the hand of Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–75) and is one of the most splendid manuscripts in the collection of the Biblioteca Riccardiana. Boccaccio illustrated the manuscript with five pen drawings in the lower margin of a series of leaves in the Inferno. These images were authenticated in 1992 by the noted Florentine scholar Maria Grazia Ciardi Duprè dal Poggetto. The most complete drawing depicts Dante in ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 Lifting of the Veil in the Operations of Calculation
The establishment of the Berber-Muslim dynasty of the Almohads in North Africa and Andalusia in the 12th century coincided with the decline in scientific advances in many fields of knowledge, including medicine. This was not the case with mathematics, and the treatise preserved in this manuscript together with other works by the same author stand as clear proof of the liveliness of this field under the rule of the Almohads and of the Marinid dynasty that followed. Abū ‛Abbās Ahmad Ibn al-Bannā was born in the second half of the ...
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 ...
Manuscript of Swordsmiths' Signatures and Sword Connoisseurship
This document is the oldest existing manuscript relating to swordsmiths in Japan. The text contains a description of the year 1316, which indicates that the original was written in the late Kamakura period. However, the postscript gives the date as December 21, 1423, which means this is a copy made in the Muromachi period. The document gives a genealogy of swordsmiths from the most ancient of times to the late Kamakura period, and describes the swordsmiths of the day. The section of the manuscript entitled Kokon shokoku kaji no mei ...
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 Khamsah of Amīr Khusraw Dihlavī
This is a deluxe copy of the Khamsah (quintet) of Amīr Khusraw Dihlavī (circa 1253–1325), who was India’s foremost Sufi poet who wrote in Persian. His quintet is a retelling of the five stories by 12th-century poet Nizāmī Ganjavī. The manuscript was written in nasta‘līq script by one of the greatest calligraphers of the Mughal atelier, Muhammad Husayn al-Kashmīrī, who was honored with the epithet Zarrīn Qalam (Golden Pen). This copy of Dihlavī's Khamsah probably was produced in Lahore (present-day Pakistan) in the late 16th century ...
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 ...