61 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 ...
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 ...
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
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 ...
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
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
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 ...
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
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
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
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.).
Present-Day Palestine and the Holy Land
This map of Palestine and the Holy Land was published in Florence around 1480 and was included in Francesco Berlinghieri’s expanded edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia (Geography). Berlinghieri, an Italian scholar and diplomat, was the first modern European to interpret, expand upon, and republish the works of the second-century Greek astronomer and geographer. Nicolo Tedesco, a German printer who worked in Florence, printed Berlinghieri’s work as well as engraved the maps. As with all the modern maps of Palestine added to the early printed editions of Ptolemy, this ...
Palestine
This Latin woodcut map of Palestine is from the Rudimentum Novitiorum (A handbook for beginners), which is a history of the world published in Lübeck, Germany, in 1475 and contains what are considered to be the first printed maps. The map was printed by Lucas Brandis de Schass, and is based on an earlier map by Burchardus de Monte Sion (Burchard of Mount Zion), a 13th-century Dominican priest who traveled extensively through the Holy Land and the Middle East in 1274-84. The map is oriented with west at the bottom ...
The Benefits from Knowing the Basics and Rules of Seafaring
This work is a collection of eight treatises related to the science of seafaring and navigation by Ibn Mājid al-Julfārī al-Sa‘dī, the most renowned Muslim navigator of the 15th century (9th century AH). It was originally assembled in 1490. The works are bound together in one large tome and include information about the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and other major bodies of water known to the author. The work meticulously lists and describes sea routes, harbors, and other points of interest to ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Verin Noravank Gospels
This beautifully illuminated gospel book was copied in 1487 AD at the Monastery of Verin Noravank in Armenia. The exact location of the monastery is unknown, although, since the late 1980s, it has been associated with the ruins of the Monastery of Arates (Aratesivank) of Siwnik. Verin Noravank was in close contact with the better-known Noravank of Amaghu, with which it has often been confused. Fewer than 15 manuscripts are known to have been copied at Verin Noravank. As was customary with most Armenian manuscripts, the Verin Noravank gospel contains ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Apocalypse of Saint John
This work, printed in Germany in 1470, includes part of the text of the Apocalypse of Saint John, the last book of the Christian Bible, also known as the Book of Revelation. The book is based on letters written to church members in Asia Minor that describe Saint John’s heavenly visions and revelations. It tells the story of the great heavenly warfare between good and evil, Christ’s return to earth, the punishment of the wicked, and the reward of righteousness. This edition of the Apocalypse is a superb ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Gutenberg Bible
Johann Gutenberg was born in Mainz, Germany, around 1400, the son of an aristocratic family with ties to the local metalworking industry. He lived in Strasbourg (in present-day France) for a time, where he carried out experiments with moveable metallic type made from a mold. By the mid-1450s, he had perfected a system of printing with moveable type that he used to create what became the world’s most famous book, the Latin translation of the Bible (Vulgate), generally known as the Gutenberg Bible. Scholars have thoroughly researched all aspects ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
The Desire of the Students for an Explanation of the Calculator's Craving
This manuscript offers a clear example of the liveliness of the North African mathematical tradition under the Muslim-Berber dynasties that ruled over the Islamic West from the 12th century to the first half of the 17th century. They were the Almohads (12th–13th centuries), the Marinids (13th–15th centuries), the Wattasids (15th–16th centuries), and the Saadis (16th–17th centuries). While there was little scientific advance in other fields in this period, the mathematical sciences kept on developing, as reflected both in the composition of original works and in commentaries ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Commentary on “The Little Sparkles on the Science of Calculation”
The treatise in this manuscript is a commentary on a mathematical treatise by Šihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Ibn al-Hā’im (circa 1355–1412). Ibn al-Hā’im taught mathematics and Islamic jurisprudence, subjects on which he wrote extensively. The erudite Badr al-Dīn Muhammad Sibt al-Māridīnī (circa 1423–1506), who was at the time working as muwaqqit (timekeeper) at the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, composed this short commentary less then 60 years after the death of Ibn al-Hā’im. Following widespread tradition in Islamic lands, Sibt al-Māridīnī included in the title ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Removal of the Veil in the Description of the Quadrants
This manuscript in 12 folios is a mid-18th-century copy of Kašf al-Qinā‘ fī rasm al-arbā‘ (The removal of the veil in the description of the quadrants), a treatise devoted to the description of the astronomical instrument known as the quadrant. The treatise originally was compiled by Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Ibn al-Aṭṭar in the first half of the 15th century on the basis of the teachings of his predecessors, al-Mājidī and Nūr al-Dīn al-Naqāš. The treatise is a precious source for understanding the degree of refinement reached by astronomical instrument making ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Metropolitan Civil Examination Records from the 23rd Year of the Chenghua Reign (1487)
This work is a collection of civil examination records dated the 23rd year of the Chenghua reign of the Ming dynasty (1487). The civil examination system in China officially began in the first half of the seventh century and continued with various modifications until its abolition in 1905 in the late Qing dynasty. Its purpose was to train and select qualified officials to form an efficient bureaucracy to administer the vast nation under the emperor. The system was designed to reward merit in any male candidate, rather than social or ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Metropolitan Civil Examination Records from the 7th Year of the Tianshun Reign (1463)
This work is a collection of civil examination records dated the seventh year (1463) of the Tianshun reign (1457–64). The civil examination system in China began in the first half of the seventh century and continued with various modifications until its abolition in 1905 in the late Qing dynasty. Its purpose was to train and select qualified officials to form an efficient bureaucracy to administer the vast nation under the emperor. The system was designed to reward merit in any male candidate, rather than social or political connections or ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Itzcóatl, the Fourth Aztec King (Reigned 1427–40)
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 ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
Tizoc, the Seventh Aztec King (Reigned 1481–86)
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 ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
Axayácatl, the Sixth Aztec King (Reigned 1469–81)
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 ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
Moctezuma I, the Fifth Aztec King (Reigned 1440–69)
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 ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
The Battle of Azcapotzalco
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 ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
An Aztec Noble’s Sacrifice for his Country
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 ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library