198 results in English
Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama to India, 1497−1499
This manuscript is the only known copy of a journal believed to have been written on board ship during Vasco da Gama’s first voyage to India. The lost original of the journal most often has been attributed to Álvaro Velho, who accompanied Vasco da Gama to India in 1497−99, but who did not return to Portugal with the expedition but remained for eight years in Gambia and Guinea. The manuscript is anonymous and undated, but paleographic analysis dates it to the first half of the 16th century. The ...
Antiphonary
This antiphonary (a book containing the choral parts of the Holy Office) was transferred to the Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati di Siena in 1811 from its place of origin, the Augustinian monastery of San Salvatore in Lecceto near Siena. By virtue of its specific liturgical function, the antiphonary, designed for the use of the monastic community, contains both the daytime and the nocturnal services. It was illuminated in 1442 as part of an extensive artistic program within the monastery promoted under priors Bartolomeo Tolomei and Girolamo Buonsignori. A bull by ...
Collection of Speeches and Latin Epistles by Renaissance Humanists
This manuscript, dating to the late-15th century, formerly belonged to the Sienese Alessandro Tegliacci, as stated in a note written on the initial page by an unknown later owner: "Dedit mihi Alex(ande)r Tegliaccius die(?) 8 decembris 1581 atque sua humanitate donavit" (Alessandro Tegliacci kindly gave this to me as a gift on December 8, 1581). The decoration on the same leaf bears the coat of arms of the Tegliacci family. Alessandro can perhaps be identified as the scholar who was called by Cosimo II to be professor of ...
Poem Concerning the Departure of the Magi
This 15th-century manuscript, in Renaissance script, contains a poetic composition (De profectione Magorum adorare Christum et de innocentibus interfectis ab Herode) by a "Gabriel Volaterranus." The author was in all likelihood Gabriello Zacchi da Volterra, the archpriest (acting dean, vicar to the bishop) of the cathedral, who was from a culturally sophisticated background and died in 1467 at the age of 33. The author dedicates the work to Tommaso del Testa Piccolomini, the secret assistant of Pope Pius II (folio 132r), to whom Pius had granted the privilege of kinship ...
The Perfect Pearl of Wonders and the Precious Pearl of Extraordinary Things
Kharīdat al-ʻAjā’ib wa Farīdat al-Gharā’ib (The perfect pearl of wonders and the precious pearl of extraordinary things) by Sirāj al-Dīn Abū Ḥafṣ ʿUmar Ibn al-Wardī (died 1457) is a compilation of texts on geography, natural history, and other subjects. The geographical texts constitute the bulk of the work. They list and describe different places, with emphasis on the Middle East and North Africa, although sections on China and Europe also are included. The geographical information presented varies greatly in quality, even for those regions that are central to ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Five Surahs that Save
This 15th century manuscript comprises five surahs (chapters) of the Qur’an: Yāsīn (Yā Sīn, chapter 36), al-Fatḥ (The conquest, chapter 48), al-Wāqiʻah (The inevitable, chapter 56), al-Mulk (The sovereignty, chapter 67), and al-Nabā (The tidings, chapter 78). It is not fully understood why these surahs in particular are put together. They do not follow this order in the Qur’an, and the manuscript appears to be complete and in excellent shape. It is, therefore, plausible to assume that this is not an arbitrary collection of Qur’anic fragments that ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Collection of Poems by Shāhī
Dīvān-i Shāhī (Collection of poems by Shāhī) is a divan (collection) of verse by Amīr Shāhī Sabzavārī (died 1453; 857 A.H.), a prominent Persian poet of the Timurid era who composed in many of the classical forms of Persian poetry. Amīr Shāhī’s poetry belongs to the tradition of Persian mystical love poetry. The collection includes poems composed in the ghazal (a metrical form expressing the pain of loss and the beauty of love), qaṣīda (lyric poem), and rubā’ī (quatrain) forms. Amīr Shāhī was born in Sabzevar (present-day ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Meditations, or the Contemplations of the Most Devout
Meditationes, seu Contemplationes devotissimae (Meditations, or the contemplations of the most devout) by Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388–1468) is thought to be the first Italian book illustrated with a series of woodcut images. The first edition was printed in Rome in 1467 by the German printer Ulrich Han. Presented here is a 1479 edition, printed in Mainz by Johann Neumeister (circa 1440–circa 1512), a German cleric and printer who claimed to have been a student of Johann Gutenberg. The designs of the 33 woodcuts, although considered rough by ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Epistles, Gospels, and Popular Readings in the Tuscan Language
This devotional book in Italian ('the language of Tuscany'), published in 1495 by Piero Pacini da Pescia (active, circa 1495-1514), is considered the greatest Florentine illustrated book of the 15th century. It contains 144 large woodcuts, all but eight original to this text, 24 small images of saints and prophets, and a series of 14 different border styles. The large number of images, along with the quality of the designs and execution, make this work a treasure of Florentine design and one of the truly important sources for the study ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Hebrew Bible
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 ...
Torah with Haftarah Selections
This Hebrew Pentateuch with Haftarot (portions from the Prophets section of the Hebrew Bible, read in synagogue on Sabbaths and holidays following the Torah portion) added at the end was created in Sana'a, Yemen, in 1485. The manuscript includes full vocalization, accentuation, and Masorah annotation. The Haftarot include the Targum, or Aramaic translation, following each verse. Preceding the Torah text itself are two grammatical treatises (comprising 15 leaves in total) common in Yemen. The manuscript is written on paper in Yemenite square script, in two columns per page, with ...
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
Guide to Operations on Irrational Radicals for Neophytes
This mathematical treatise by Muḥammad b. Abi al-Fatḥ Muḥammad b. al-Sharafī Abi al-Rūḥ ‘Īsā b. Aḥmad al-Ṣūfī al-Shāfi‘ī al-Muqrī, was written in 1491-92 (897 AH). It begins with a "General Introduction," followed by two main parts, with a concluding section on the study of cubes and cube roots. Part I, "Operations on Simple Irrational Radicals," is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 covers simplification of radicals. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 deal respectively with the multiplication, addition and subtraction, and division of radicals. Part II, on "Operations with Compound ...
The Bible. First Volume of the Bible
This codex is the first volume of a three-volume Bible commissioned in Italy by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90) for his library. The manuscripts were copied by Antonio Sinibaldi or his pupil Alessandro Verazzano, probably in 1489−90. The illuminations have been attributed to Attavante Attavanti. All three volumes were left unfinished, at least as far as the illuminations are concerned. At Matthias Corvinus’s death, Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzo il Magnifico, incorporated the books into the Medici collection. This volume contains the Old Testament in ...
The Bible. Second Volume of the Bible
This codex is the second volume of a three-volume Bible commissioned in Italy by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90) for his library. The manuscripts were copied by Antonio Sinibaldi or his pupil Alessandro Verazzano, probably in 1489−90. All three volumes were left unfinished, at least as far as the illuminations are concerned. At Matthias Corvinus’s death, Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzo il Magnifico, incorporated the books into the Medici collection. This volume contains the Apocrypha, in the Latin translation of Saint Jerome (died 419 or ...
Psalms of David. Third Volume of the Bible
This codex is the third volume of a three-volume Bible commissioned in Italy by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90) for his library. The manuscripts were copied by Antonio Sinibaldi or his pupil Alessandro Verazzano, probably in 1489−90. All three volumes were left unfinished, at least as far as the illuminations are concerned. At Matthias Corvinus’s death, Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzo il Magnifico, incorporated the books into the Medici collection. This volume, which is known as Corvinian Psalter, contains the complete New Testament, preceded by ...
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 ...
Literary Essay by Jāmī
This lithographic print is a literary essay by Nūr al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī (1414–92), a great Persian poet, scholar, and mystic, who lived most of his life in Herat (present-day Afghanistan). The work is exceptional for being written in prose at a time when most fine Persian writing was in poetic form. Extensive commentary and critical notes are printed in the margins. There are also some handwritten notes in the margins, but most of these were lost when the work was rebound. Lithographic printing was invented in Europe in ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
Two of the Master Jāmī’s Works on Prosody; Anonymous Treatise on Astronomy
This Persian manuscript dated 1025 AH (1616) contains two works on prosody by Nūr al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī (1414–92), as well as an incomplete, anonymous work on astronomy. Jāmī was a great poet, scholar, and mystic who lived most of his life in Herat, present-day Afghanistan. The 69 leaves of the manuscript are on a variety of papers: thin, pink-colored laid paper (folios 1a−31b); cream-colored laid paper (folios 32a−35b); pink-colored laid paper (folios 36a−37b); cream-color laid paper (folios 38a−40b); light-green-colored laid paper (folios 41a−45b ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Kyiv Gospel
The Kyiv Gospel was created in 1411 by a monk called Makarii in the Pustynno-Mykolaivskyi Monastery in Kiev, by order of the monk Ionah Bolakyrev, as recorded in one of the historic inscriptions on the work. This copy is one of the few 15th-century manuscripts from Kiev that specifies where it was made. The Gospel is known as a paleographic specimen of the “younger” semi-uncial script in Ukraine. Two headpieces of simple composition, headings, and initials are executed in dark-brown ink and vermilion. The manuscript was restored and bound in ...
The Diary of Mansai
Mansai (1378−1435) was an abbot of the Daigo-ji Temple in the early Muromachi period (14th−15th centuries). Born into an aristocratic family, Mansai was adopted by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and ordained into the priesthood. He served three shoguns, not only as a priest but also as a political adviser and close associate. Mansai witnessed many important events in politics, foreign relations, literature, and society and was privy to the top secrets of the nation. Mansai jugō nikki (The diary of Mansai) is thus an important historical source. The National ...
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 ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Rising of the Propitious Twin Stars, and the Amalgamation of the Oceans
This manuscript is volume one of Matla us-Sadain wa Majma ul-Baahrain (The rising of the propitious twin stars and the amalgamation of the oceans) by 'Abd al-Razzāq Kamāl al-Dīn ibn Isḥāq al-Samarqandī (1413−82). The book offers a semi-official account of the political history of the late Mongol khanates and Timurid polities in the Caucasus, Iran, Khorasan, and Mawarannahr. Volume one documents the period from 1316, when Abu Said Bahadur Khan, the last great Mongol khan, came to power in Persia, to the death in 1405 of Timur, founder of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The History of the Life and Deeds of Scanderbeg, the Prince of Epirus
Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarvm principis (The history of the life and deeds of Scanderbeg, the Prince of Epirus) is a biography of George Castriota (also seen as Kastrioti, circa 1405−68), the Albanian national hero known by his Ottoman appellation Scanderbeg (a combination of Iskander, or Alexander, and the rank of bey). The work is by Marin Barleti (circa 1460−1512 or 1513),one of the first Albanian historians, a distinguished author, and a priest from Scodra (present-day Shkodër). Scanderbeg, the son of a noble family, was ...
The Judges’ Assistant for Issues Raised by Adversaries at Law
Mu’in al-hukam fi-ma yataraddudu bayn khusmin al-ahkam (The judges’ assistant for issues raised by adversaries at law) is a handbook of Islamic law procedure. It was written in the 15th century by ‘Ali ibn Khalil al-Tarabulsi, also known as ‘Ala’ al-Din ibn al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Khalil al-Tarabulsi (or al-Tarabulusi), a Hanafi jurist in Jerusalem. After introducing his book with references to the singular importance of sharia (Islamic law) in the Qur’an and among the prophets, al-Tarabulsi proceeds to explain that he wrote in order to elucidate the principles ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Homilary
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Loftie Hours
This mid-15th-century illuminated book of hours is written entirely in Dutch on fine parchment and is remarkable for its 18 grisaille miniatures. This technique, wherein the figures are modeled primarily in a gray wash, became a favorite in the Netherlands. The hand behind the miniatures in this manuscript has been identified with one of a group of artists known as the Masters of the Delft Grisailles. The manuscript has been grouped with more than a dozen related works, including New York, Morgan Library Ms. M.349; London, Victoria and Albert ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Duke Albrecht's Table of Christian Faith (Winter Part)
This manuscript is a document of the first importance in the history of Dutch manuscript illumination and contains an important medieval Dutch devotional text. The Tafel van den Kersten ghelove (Table of Christian faith) is a compendium of Christian knowledge written by a learned Dominican, Dirc van Delf. The text is in two parts, one for winter, another for summer. This manuscript is of the winter part and is incomplete, omitting the prologue and chapters 13, 14, and 35−57; chapters 23−24 are in inverse order. The arms of ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Missal of Eberhard von Greiffenklau
The Missal of Eberhard von Greiffenklau is a masterpiece of Dutch manuscript painting. It was originally produced in the second quarter of the 15th century and features work by the Masters of Zweder van Culemborg, as well as the celebrated Master of Catherine of Cleves, linking it to possibly the finest Dutch illuminated manuscript ever made: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves of circa 1440 (Morgan Library & Museum, M.917 and M.945). The extremely elaborate Missal is illuminated with one full-page miniature, fifty-two column miniatures and sixty-eight historiated ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Book of Hours
In the Byzantine world, this book would have been known as a horologion, or book of hours. Illustrated books of hours in Greek are extremely rare, and this example is one of only two surviving horologia with image cycles. The manuscript includes many full-page miniatures, which show interaction between the late-Byzantine and Gothic artistic styles. The manuscript may have been copied on the island of Crete, which in the 15th century was under Venetian rule. Unlike the images found in Western books of hours, which typically are drawn from the ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Ethiopian Gospels
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Utterances
The 14th-century Turkic-Mongol ruler Timur (Tamerlane) wrote a memoir in Chagatai Turkish, the original of which is now lost. The work was intended as a book of advice for princes and rulers and has been given various titles over the years, including, as in this manuscript, Malfūẓāt (Utterances). The memoir was translated into Persian by Abu Talib al-Husayni, who appears to have been a Shia scholar-official from Khorasan in the service of the Mughal rulers in India in the 1630s. Al-Husayni discovered a Turkish version of the manuscript in the ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Dīvān-i of the Chain of Gold
Dīvān-i Silsilah va al-Ẕahab (literally, The collection book of the chain of gold) is a work of Persian literature in verse. It forms volume one of a seven-volume literary collection of Mowlana Nur al-Din Abd al-Rahman Jami (1414−92), the famous Persian scholar, poet, and Sufi. The entire collection is known as Haft awrang (The seven thrones) and was one of Jami’s first major works. Volume one is the longest volume, composed sometime between 1468 and 1486. This manuscript copy seems incomplete, as the final narrative of verses on ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Biographical Account of Timur
Kulliyat-e Farsi Taymurnamah (literally, The biographical account of Timur) is a biography of Timur or Tamerlane (1336−1405), the Turkic-Mongolian founder of the Timurid dynasty and lineage. It chronicles in detail his personal, political, and military life, including campaigns and conquests, and events in the regions of present-day Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Iran. Many biographies of Timur were produced during his lifetime and after. This lithographed version was published in Tashkent by Matba-e Ghulam Hasan in 1912. The last page of the introduction (pages 2−7) states that this book ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Map of the Island of Cuba and Surrounding Territories
José María de la Torre y de la Torre (1815−73) was an illustrious Cuban geographer, archaeologist, historian, and educator who devoted a great part of his intellectual life to the study of local Cuban history. This cartographic work of 1841 by José María de la Torre is important from a historical as well as a geographical point of view. It describes in detail the itineraries of the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas. The map shows the routes of each of Columbus’s three voyages, giving the dates ...
The Book of the Hebrews
Manuals or notarial protocols are books used by Catalan notaries since the 13th century to register in accurate chronological order all notarized acts. Some notaries opened special books in which they collected one type of document. Presented here, for example, is a book maintained by a notary in Cardona, in south-central Catalonia, used exclusively for recording legal acts relating to the Jewish inhabitants of the village. On its pages, written in Latin, are found extracts concerning the acknowledgement of debts, procurements, contracts, donations, and payments. Analysis of the notarial contracts ...
Compendium of the Art of Arithmetic
Suma de la art de arismetica (Compendium of the art of arithmetic) is the first arithmetic printed on the Iberian Peninsula and possibly the second printed in Europe. Very little is known about the author, Francesc Santcliment, other than that he lived in the 15th−16th centuries. Where he was born and where he died are unknown.  As he indicates in his text and in the bibliography and reference works, he seems to have worked in the Catalan territories, in Barcelona and Perpignan. Some authors also place him in Zaragoza ...
Missa Barcelona. Ars Nova
In the middle of the 14th century, foreign minstrels and chanters in the service of the royal house of Catalonia-Aragon introduced new musical styles into the country. During the reigns of Peter IV of Aragon (Peter III in the principality of Catalonia, reigned 1336−87), John I (reigned 1387−95), and Martin I (called Martin the Humane, reigned 1396−1410), most of the minstrels came from Germany, Flanders, France, England, Italy, and Castile. The monarchs of the royal house of Catalonia-Aragon were considered among the most outstanding patrons in the ...
Book for Women
Francesc Eiximenis (circa 1340–1409) was a Franciscan monk and a prolific writer. He studied in Catalonia, Oxford, and Toulouse, and probably in Paris. Considered a prestigious intellectual, he maintained good relations with the court of the kingdom of Aragon and with the municipal authorities of Barcelona and Valencia, the city where he wrote most of his works. In 1396 he finished writing Llibre de les dones (Book for women). The book avoids the misogynist tendency of its times. It is intended as a work of moral instruction, which it ...