101 results in English
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
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
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
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
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 al-shari’ah (Islamic law) in the Qur’an and among the prophets, al-Tarabulsi proceeds to explain that he wrote in order to elucidate the ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
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 initials ...
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
Diwan-e of the Chain of Gold
Diwan-e Silsilat al-Zahab (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 Noor 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 scholars ...
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 Facilitator of Utility on Medicine and Wisdom
This manuscript copy is a 15th-century work by a Yemeni author, Ibrāhīm ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Abū Bakr al-Azraq, or Azraqī. It is a book of remedies dealing with medicinal uses of seeds, grains, and other foods and their nutritional value. The material is based in part on two earlier works: Shifā’ al-ajsām (The curing of bodies) by Muḥammad ibn Abū al-Ghayth al-Kamarānī, and Kitāb al-raḥmah (The book of mercy) by Ṣubunrī. Included at the end is yet another work, Burʼ al-sāʻah (Speedy recovery), a short treatise by the renowned ...
Antiphonarium Bratislaviense
This illuminated folio with Metz Gothic musical notation comes from the liturgical codex of Canon Jan Han, who was a client of the Bratislava Chapter and the purchaser of this antiphonary. The illuminated initial “S” (Sanctum) with the first two martyrs of the Christian Church, Saint Stephen and Saint Lawrence, accompanied by Saint Vitus, is supplemented by the label Illorum effusus nos in patientia firmet (Their patience enabled us to stream forth), which dates the fragment to 1487. The bottom part of the acanthus decoration on the left margin contains ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
Canonical Book of Hours
This book of hours from Slovakia originated in France. Features that reflect French influence and provenance include the script, its decoration, and the initial letter “D” (Domine) with the motif of the Virgin Mary holding a book, and a heraldic shield bearing the arms of the white cross with the heart (the arms of the Order of Crucigeri) carried by two angels. Similarly, the content of the codex, mainly the structure of its calendarium, indicates that it arose within the milieu of an Augustinian monastery or of the Crucigeri Friars ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
Chronicle of the World
Weltchronik (Chronicle of the world) is a German translation of an original Latin text attributed to Joannes de Utino (also seen as Giovanni da Udine, died 1366). This copy was produced in the second half of the 15th century and features extensive decorative colored drawings by an unknown painter. It most likely was created in Bratislava sometime after 1458, during the period of Matthias Corvinus´s accession to the Hungarian throne. It was preserved in the library of the Bratislava Capuchins. The chronicle is a didactic work that would have ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
Dismantling the Essences of “The Most Wondrous of Existences”
This 40-page manuscript, Tahdim al-Arkan min Laysa fi-al-Imkan Abda’ mima Kan (Dismantling the essences of “The most wondrous of existences”), by Ibrāhīm ibn ʻOmar al-Biqāʻī (1406 or 1407−80) concerns a philosophical dispute in the Islamic world over the possibility of the Creator fashioning a more perfect world than the one that exists. This issue had been raised by the renowned philosopher-theologian al-Ghazzali (1058−1111), who answered in the affirmative. In this text, al-Biqāʻī refutes al-Ghazzali, stating that “it is impossible for God’s creation to be more perfect than ...
Curiosity Abated by Wonders of Old Related
This manuscript, Mushtaha al-‘Uqul fi Muntaha al-Nuqul (Curiosity abated by wonders of old related), is a list of extraordinary facts, or marvels, compiled by al-Suyuti (1445−1505), one of the most prolific Muslim authors of late medieval times. The facts concern religion and history. The first entries cover the wondrous size and power of angels. These are followed by entries on such disparate topics as a census of Baghdad, the size and expense of the Umayyad army, the feats of learning and preaching of early Muslim scholars, and short ...
Fatwa on the Millennium
Kashf ‘an mujawazat hadha al-ummah al-alf (Fatwa on the millennium) is a portion of a more comprehensive genealogical work, Lubb al-Lulab fi Tahrir al-Ansab (The essence of constructing genealogies). It treats the Last Days in Sunni eschatology. The fatwa (legal opinion) was stimulated by a question brought to the author, al-Suyuti (1445−1505), regarding the resurrection of the Prophet Muhammad within a thousand years of his death. Al-Suyuti states that many people are interested in the question of the millennium. He dismisses this belief, saying that it ...
Hours of Notre Dame
Books of hours are collections of prayers used for private devotion. They were the most common illuminated works of the Middle Ages. Heures de Notre-Dame (The book of hours of Notre Dame) was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1470. The manuscript, written in Latin and on vellum, is most likely the work of William Wyelant or his studio. Wyelant, also known by the Flemish spelling of his name, Willem Vrelant, was an influential illuminator who was active in Bruges from 1449 until his death in 1481. The leaves of ...
Contributed by Irish College in Paris
A Guide for the Good
This Muslim prayer book is a 1785 copy of an original 15th-century manuscript. The work includes a panorama of Mecca and Medina, the holy cities of Islam in Saudi Arabia. Mecca, where the Prophet Muhammad was born and lived for the first 50 years of his life, is the most sacred city in Islam. It is also where the Ka`bah is found, the holiest sanctuary in Islam and called the "house of God" (Bayt Allah). Muslims throughout the world pray facing in the direction of Mecca and the Ka ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Encyclopedic Manuscript Containing Allegorical and Medical Drawings
In the Middle Ages, medicine was very much intertwined with astrology and other nonscientific superstitions. This manuscript on vellum, produced in southern Germany around 1410, contains pen and ink drawings with explanatory texts in German and Latin. The first drawing shows the earth and seven planets. It is followed by Zodiac-man, a naked man shown with the 12 signs of the zodiac, each relating to a specific part of the body. Next are four bloodletting charts of the human body. Such bleeding charts or calendars were widely used in this ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Sixth Map of Asia
Several editions of Ptolemy’s Geographia (Geography), translated into Latin from the original Greek, were published in Europe in the 15th century. This map is from the 1478 edition, which was published in Rome. Ptolemaic atlases included 12 maps of Asia. The “Sixth Map of Asia” covered the Arabian Peninsula. The outlines of this map are crude, but many geographic features, including the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and different features of the peninsula are clearly recognizable.
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Aesop's Fables
This is the second Augsburg edition of the Fables of Aesop, translated from Latin into German by Heinrich Steinhöwel. It is illustrated with 208 woodcuts, cut in the Augsburg style, which is characterized by thick contour lines outlining the figures, a reliance on white space rather than highly detailed embellishment to decorate the image, and little background or landscape to create perspective. The publishing history of the Fables is extensive. Over 150 separate editions of the work were printed between 1465 and 1501. Little is known of Aesop’s life ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Concerning Discovered Islands: Letter of Christopher Columbus, to Whom Our Age is Greatly Indebted, Concerning Islands Recently Discovered in the Indian Ocean
This small work, published in 1493, is a Latin edition of a letter by Christopher Columbus announcing his discoveries of the previous year. It most likely was produced in Basel, Switzerland, by Jakob Wolff, a well-known printer who was active in Basel from 1488 to 1518. The work contains some of the first published images purporting to show the New World, including one depicting Columbus landing on a shore and making contact with indigenous people, and one showing the building of a town. At the top of both illustrations are ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
A Guide for the Perplexed on the Drawing of the Circle of Projection
The author of this work, Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was a renowned mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He was linked with the influential Marāgha School through his teacher, Jamāl al-Dīn al-Māridīnī, who in turn had studied with Ibn al-Shātir al-Dimashqī’. As a descendant of a powerful local family with Mamlūk ties, Ibn al-Majdī served as the official astronomer and timekeeper at Al-Azhar. The work is divided into three chapters and a conclusion. Chapter 1 covers the procedure for projecting the circle of projection (fadl al-dā’ir) onto planes that ...
Comprehensive Reference on Algebra and Equations
This manuscript is a didactic work on arithmetic and algebra, composed in versified form, as a qasīda of 59 verses. It was composed by Ibn al-Hā’im al-Fardī in 1402 (804 A.H.). The beginning of the work also names ‛Alī b. ‛Abd al-Samad al-Muqrī al-Mālikī (died Dhu al-Ḥijja 1381 [782 A.H.]), a scholar and teacher who had come to Egypt and taught at the ‛Amr b. ‛As madrasa for several years. The main part of the qasīda begins by introducing and defining key terms in arithmetic and algebra ...
Treatise for Observers on Constructing the Circle of Projection
This work is a treatise on the important subject of timekeeping. It is a work of technical astronomy, in 19 folios, that begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowledge of time. It is divided into an introduction, two chapters, and a conclusion. Comprehensive procedures for the construction of tables and their use are provided. The work was completed in 1473 (878 A.H.).
Compendium on Using the Device Known as the Almucantar Quarter
This work, by a timekeeper at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, is an important and comprehensive textbook on timekeeping. It introduces the useful device of dividing a quarter of a circle of projection into sections known as almucantars (muqanṭarāt). The work, comprising 100 folio pages, contains 30 chapters and a conclusion. The work was composed in 1440-1 (844 A.H.) and was copied in 1757 (1170 A.H.).