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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 ...
Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) was known for her revelations, which she reportedly wrote down in Swedish and then had translated into Latin by one of her two confessors. When she took ill, she changed her usual practice, and dictated her revelations to one of the confessors, who then translated them into Latin. In the manuscript collection at the National Library of Sweden is preserved a document that offers a unique insight into the origins of Birgitta’s revelations. It consists of three leaves of paper ...
Abridged Version of “De arte phisicali de cirurgia”, “Fistula in ano”, Including an Obstetrical Treatise
Manuscript X 188 in the National Library of Sweden dates to around 1425–35 and contains two works by John Arderne (active 1307–70), an abridged version of De arte phisicali et de cirurgia (Of the physical arts and surgery) and Fistula in ano. Also included is a tract on obstetrics by another author, Muscio. De arte phisicali et de cirurgia is a textbook on medicine and surgery; Fistula in ano deals with rectal disorders. The manuscript is written in two long columns on a parchment roll that is 542 ...
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 ...
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 richly illuminated 14th-century German homilary is particularly interesting for its rare bifolium of drawings bound in at the front of the book. The headgear worn by the nuns in the drawings is characteristic of Cistercensian and Premostratensian nuns in northern Germany as early as circa 1320. Evidence for dating and localization is also found in the manuscript's relationship with a second homilary in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Douce 185). Despite minor codicological differences—page layout, text-block dimensions, and ruling—it seems likely that the two ...
This Gospel book was written in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, in the early 14th century, and was once owned by the church of Saint George in Debre Mark'os. It was written by the scribe Mäṭre Krǝstos in the official liturgical language of Ethiopia, Gǝ‛ǝz. Most notable is its prefatory image cycle, which makes references to holy places in Jerusalem, such as Golgotha and the Holy Sepulcher, as they appeared in the sixth century. The manuscript therefore appears to be based on a sixth-century exemplar containing images connected to the ...
A Pleasing Supplement to the Excellent Coverage Contained in the Essay “The Intellectual Hearth and Awakener of the Drowsy”
This manuscript, Tadhyil latif bi-dhikr masa’il hisan min risalah “Mawqid al-idhhan wa mawqiz al-wasnan” (A pleasing supplement to the excellent coverage contained in the essay “The intellectual hearth and awakener of the drowsy”), by an unknown author is a commentary on, or supplement to, a short grammatical treatise by the famous scholar Ibn Hisham al-Ansari (1309−60). The text about which this commentary is written, Mawqad al-Izhan (The intellectual hearth), treats of difficult points of Arabic grammar. Ibn Hisham was not a widely travelled person, having made only two ...
Careful Study of Authentic Revelation
This 14th-century manuscript of a work by Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Qurqul (1111−74) is an analysis of lexical problems arising from the canonical hadith texts of al-Bukhari and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj. Ibn Qurqul’s work is modeled after the better known work by Qadi ‘Ayad, Mashariq al-Anwar `ala Sahih al-Athar (A dawn light upon authentic revelation). This is the third and final portion of a set that begins with the letter ‘ayn and continues to the end of the alphabet. The text typically begins with a review of the ...
Franc à cheval, John II
The franc à cheval was ordered issued on December 5, 1360 to finance the ransom of King John II (born 1319; reigned, 1350–64), who had been taken prisoner by the English at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, during the Hundred Years’ War. The ransom totaled a vast 3 million écus, and the fact that the coin was used to secure the release of the king gave rise to the name by which it was known: franc, meaning free. The value of the coin was set at one livre ...
The Diary of Moromori
This work is part of a series of diaries kept by Nakahara Moromori (dates unknown) in 1374-99. Moromori was an official of the imperial government who wrote his diaries in the margins and on the reverse sides of calendars. His memoranda on the military and social affairs of the day are among the best sources available for the study of late-14th century Japan.
Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus, from Murom Monastery (Karelia, Late 14th Century?), Northeast View, Kizhi Island, Russia
This northeast view of the Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus on Kizhi Island (Karelia) was taken in 1988 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Located within an archipelago in the southwestern part of Lake Onega, Kizhi Island is one of the most revered sites in the Russian north. It was organized as a museum in 1960. The miniature Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus was originally built at the Murom-Dormition Monastery ...
The Book of Proof of the Secrets of the Science of Weights and Measures (Part 3)
This manuscript consists of a section of Kitāb al-burhān fī asrār ‘ilm al-mīzān (Book of proof of the secrets of the science of the weights and measures) by the Persian alchemist Aydamur ibn ´Alī ibn Aydamur al-Gildakī (also seen as al-Jaldakī, died circa 1342). His name indicates that he was born in Jaldak, in present-day Afghanistan. Over the course of 17 years, al-Gildakī traveled to Iraq, Asia Minor, West Africa, Egypt, Yemen, Hejaz, and Syria. These journeys are recounted in another of his works, Kitāb nihāyat al-ṭalab fī sharḥ kitāb ...
Letters by ‘Alī Ḥamdānī
Maktūbāt-i Sayyid ‘Alī Ḥamdānī (Letters by Ali Hamdani) is a collection letters by the famous Persian scholar, saint, and preacher Sayyid ‘Alī Ḥamdānī (1314–85 A.D.; A.H. 714–87). He came from Hamdan in Central Asia and traveled to Kashmir in 1372–73 A.D. to spread the message of Islam. This is one of the rarest extant manuscripts of letters from the saint to his disciples, directing them how to unravel the secrets of Islamic mysticism. In the letters, Sayyid ‘Alī Ḥamdānī quotes a number ...
The Abridged Amusement of the Calculator from "The Guide"
Much traditional scholarship holds that the period after about 1250 saw a decline in the production of scientific and philosophical works in the Arab world. This view is challenged by the impressive number of manuscripts written after that date in different Arabic-speaking countries that contain original treatises and commentaries. The work preserved in this manuscript, Nuzhat al-Hussāb al-Muhtasara min al-Muršida (The abridged amusement of the calculator from The guide), is a shorter version of Muršida fī Sina’at al-Gubar (The guide to the art of the numerals), an extensive treatise ...
The Little Sparkles on the Science of Calculation
The treatise preserved in this manuscript, Al-Luma‘al-yasīra fī ‘ilm al-hisāb (The little sparkles on the science of calculation), deals with Muslim inheritance. Of the social innovations that came with the Islamic conquest, the introduction of the system of fara'id (shares) for inheritances was one of the most radical and socially advanced. The fourth surah of the Qur'an, verses 11–12, criticizes the traditional pre-Islamic system of agnatic succession, under which only men could inherit property, and provides for a proportional division among all the heirs, women included ...
The Selection of Treasures Regarding Precious Stones
Kitāb nuhab al-dahā'ir fī ahwāl al-jawāhir (The selection of treasures regarding precious stones) is a treatise devoted to precious stones and, in particular, to the different kinds of hyacinth (a precious stone of the ancients, sometimes held to be the sapphire). The work opens with a draft of a poem on precious stones on the title page, probably copied at the same time as the manuscript, and proceeds with brief notes on the different kinds of hyacinth, on pearls, and on other precious stones found in water. The author ...
What A Physician Cannot Afford to Ignore
This manuscript was copied in 1682 by Ibn ʻAbd al-Nabī Muḥammad Ibn ʻAbd al-Nabī, as noted in the colophon of the manuscript. It preserves a comprehensive pharmacological compendium by Yūsuf ibn Ismaʻīl ibn al-Kutubī, also known as Al-Jam‘ al-Baḡdādī (The compendium of Baghdad). Ibn al-Kutubī was born in present-day Azerbaijan, but he spent the productive years of his life at the Abbasid court in present-day Iraq. His work is an abridgement of the famous Kitāb al-jāmiʻ li-mufradāt al-adwiya (The comprehensive book on simple remedies) composed in the 13th ...
Roman de Renart (Reynard cycle) is the most famous set of animal stories produced in the Middle Ages. It is not one story but a collection of 26 chapters composed by several clerks and minstrels around the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th. It was inspired by the Fables of the ancient Greek writer, Aesop, and by a mock epic poem in Latin by Nivardus, written in Ghent in around 1150, called Ysengrimus. Under the guise of the endless war between Reynard the Fox and ...
The Italian Poems of the Master Francesco Petrarcha
Francesco Petrarca (also known as Petrarch, 1304–74) was an Italian poet and scholar, often called the Father of the Renaissance. The greatest scholar of his era, Petrarch advocated the basic continuity between Christianity and the classical culture of Greece and Rome. While he wrote mainly in Latin and personally discovered many long-lost Latin manuscripts, he is best known for his Italian lyric poetry, much of it written to Laura, the idealized subject of his love who is identified by many scholars as Laure de Noves (circa 1308–48) of ...
Acamapichtli, the First Aztec King (Reigned 1376–95)
The Tovar Codex, attributed to the 16th-century Mexican Jesuit Juan de Tovar, contains detailed information about the rites and ceremonies of the Aztecs (also known as Mexica). The codex is illustrated with 51 full-page paintings in watercolor. Strongly influenced by pre-contact pictographic manuscripts, the paintings are of exceptional artistic quality. The manuscript is divided into three sections. The first section is a history of the travels of the Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The second section, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of ...