104 results in English
Holy Qurʼan
According to Islamic belief, the Holy Qurʼan was revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammad (570–632) by the Angel Gabriel over a period of 22 years. The Qurʼan speaks in powerful, moving language about the reality and attributes of God, the spiritual world, God's purposes with mankind, man's relationship and responsibility to God, the coming of the Day of Judgment, and the life hereafter. It also contains rules for living, stories of earlier prophets and their communities, and vital insights and understandings concerning the meaning of existence ...
Book of the Crosses
Libro De Las Cruzes (Book of the crosses) is one of the codices produced in the royal chamber of Alfonso X, King of Castile and Leon, also known as Alfonso el Sabio (Alfonso the Wise). This book is one of the very few publications in which Alfonso officially refers to himself as the king of Spain. The work shows the king’s interest in astrology. Alfonso’s extended royal stays in Toledo, and the fact that the codex was completed in 1259, also hint that the king could have been ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Beato of Liébana: The Codex of Fernando I and Doña Sancha
Around the year 776, a monk by the name of Beato or Beatus, possibly the abbot of the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, wrote a work entitled Comentarios al Apocalipsis (Commentary on the apocalypse), which had an extraordinary success in the following five centuries. Thanks to his great erudition, Beato combined in this text, as a summa, many commentaries on the topic of the apocalypse by such authors as Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Isidore of Seville, and the 4th-century scholar Ticonius. The genre of ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Etymology
Etymologiae (Etymology) is the best known work by Saint Isidore of Seville (circa 560–636), a scholar and theologian considered the last of the great Latin Church Fathers. It takes its name from a method of teaching that proceeds by explaining the origins and meaning of each word related to a topic. Saint Isidore drew on many different sources in his attempt to summarize all ancient knowledge and save it for posterity. The fame of the work led to it being widely copied and disseminated, and its popularity lasted even ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Al-Bukhāri's Abridged Collection of Authentic Hadith
This work is the earliest Arabic manuscript in the National Library of Bulgaria. Incomplete and fragmentary, it is a 1017 copy of Volume 3 of Sahīh al-Bukhārī (Al-Bukhārī’s authentic hadiths). Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī (810–70) was born in Bukhara, in present-day Uzbekistan, and died in Khartank, near Samarkand. He is considered by Sunni Muslims to be the most authoritative collector of hadiths—reports of statements or deeds attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. This work, completed in 846, is al-Bukhārī’s best-known collection. It was the first work ...
Path of Eloquence
This manuscript is a copy of Nahj al-balāghah (Path of eloquence), the classic compendium of the sermons, writings, and aphorisms of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (died 661), the fourth caliph. This work is especially revered by Shia Muslims who view ‘Ali and his descendants as the legitimate successors of the Prophet Muhammad. ‘Ali’s authorial voice is filtered here through his interpreter, Muhammad ibn al-Husayn, known as al-Sharif al-Radi (969 or 970–1016), who compiled the text from many early Islamic sources. The resulting anthology has led to debate over ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Book of Taxation
Kitāb al-Kharāj (Book of taxation) is a classic text on fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), written by Abū Yusūf Yaʿqūb Ibrāhīm al-Anṣārī al-Kūfī (died 798; 182 A.H.) at the request of the Abbasid caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd (763 or 766-809). Abū Yusūf was the most famous student of Abū Ḥanīfa and along with his illustrious teacher is considered one of the founders of the Ḥanafī school of law. In the introduction to the book, Abū Yusūf describes how the caliph asked him to write a work treating the collection of al-kharāj (the ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Enwreathed Pearl: The Conquest of Mecca, the Revered
This manuscript relates the history of the fath (conquest) of Mecca, the commercial and religious capital of Arabia, by the Prophet Muhammad in 630. The work is an abridged version, drawn from the many accounts in early texts, of the years of battle, negotiation, and exhortation that culminated in the conquest. The author is probably Egyptian scholar and Sufi Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Bakri (1493 or 1494−1545 or 1546), although other members of this prominent family of scholars also have been credited with the work. The main source for the ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Supplication Attributed to Caliph Ali
Caliph ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (circa 601−61) is one of the most revered religious and holy figures of Islam. His honorary name, Amīr al-Mu‘minīn, translates from Persian as the “prince of the believers.” Written works by ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and sayings attributed to him are sacred to the Shiite faithful, particularly among Persian speakers. Shown here is an illuminated 18th-century manuscript copy of the Munājāt (Supplication) of ʻAli ibn Abī Ṭālib. Included are both the original Arabic and a translation into Persian. The text is written on ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Crown Jewel
This manuscript of Durrat al-tāj (The crown jewel) is a Shiite prayer book, consisting of prayers to be said when making a visitation to the tomb of Caliph ʻAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (circa 601−61). ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib is one of the most revered religious and holy figures of Islam. His honorary name, Amīr al-Mu‘minīn, translates from Persian as the “prince of the believers.” Written works by ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and sayings attributed to him are sacred to the Shiite faithful, particularly among Persian speakers. The ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Titus Andronicus
This 1594 copy of Titus Andronicus is the only known copy of this quarto in existence, and, along with a version of Henry VI, Part 2 from the same year, is the earliest extant printed Shakespeare play. Quartos printed after about 1598 often display the name William Shakespeare; as this is an earlier quarto, the name of the acting company is shown instead. Quarto editions of the plays, which began to appear in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, were inexpensive and were sold unbound, sometimes in small numbers ...
City of God
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) is generally considered one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. He was born in Thagaste (present-day Souq Ahras, Algeria) in Roman-ruled Africa, the son of a pagan father and a Christian mother (Saint Monica). After studying in Carthage and teaching rhetoric in his native city, he moved to Rome in 383 and to Milan in 384. Under the influence of his mother and Ambrose, bishop of Milan, he converted to Christianity in 387. He was ordained a priest in 391 and rose ...
Letters, Essays, and Sermons by Saint Gregory Nazianzus
This 18th-century manuscript is a collection of letters, essays, and sermons by Saint Gregory Nazianzus (died circa 389). The manuscript is thought to be the first Arabic translation from the original Greek and has not yet been edited or published. It is the second volume of a two-volume work. Gregory of Nazianzus, also known as Gregory the Theologian, is recognized as a Father of the Church in both the Eastern and Western traditions. He was born in Cappadocia (eastern Anatolia), where he spent much of his life. He was a ...
Letters, Pedagogical Teachings, and Sayings of Saint Anthony of Egypt
This manuscript opens with the 20 letters “to the sons who follow his [Anthony’s] gentle path…and prayers to keep us from Satan’s example.” The letters are for the most part short, many not exceeding five folios. According to an introductory note, they are addressed to both men and women. The work is in a bold but relaxed hand. Each letter or other significant section is set off in red. There are no contemporary marginal glosses, but comments and corrections (some in English) in pencil were made by ...
The Story of the Jade Box, with Li Zhuowu‘s Critical Comments
This work is by Mei Dingzuo (1549–1615), who based it on a Tang-dynasty romantic work entitled Liu shi zhuan (The story about the woman Liu) by Xu Yaozuo, and another work, Ben shi shi (Stories in verse), by Meng Qi. Mei had a large circle of literary friends, among them literary scholars Wang Shizhen and Wang Daokun and playwright Tang Xianzu. After repeatedly failing to pass the civil examinations, Mei devoted himself to writing poetry, novels, and dramas, and eventually became a prolific author. Among his best-known works are ...
Contributed by National Central Library
The Great Tang Dynasty Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era
Da Tang kai yuan zhan jing is a Chinese astrology encyclopedia, compiled by imperial order by numerous scholars around 718-724, during the Kaiyuan era of the Tang dynasty. The work was led by Gautama Siddha (flourished in the 8th century), the Tang-dynasty astronomer and astrologer of Indian descent, who was born in Chang’an. The book, also known as the Kaiyuan Star Observations, contained approximately 600,000 words in 120 juan. The compilation was based on many astronomical, astrological, and divination materials from prior to the Tang dynasty. In particular ...
Contributed by National Central Library
City of God
This codex of Saint Augustine’s De civitate dei (City of God) is from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The volume is bound in red morocco leather with the Medici coat of arms at the center and on each corner of the front cover. It has an illuminated page (recto of folio 11) and a number of illuminated initial capital letters (e.g., recto of folio 31). Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) wrote more than 100 works, of which his Confessiones (Confessions) and De ...
Concerning Virgins and Other Works
This codex of De virginibus seu potius opera varia (Concerning virgins and other works) by Saint Ambrose (circa 340−97) is from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The book has the distinctive Medici red leather binding and a beautifully illuminated first page (recto of folio 1) executed by Matteo da Milano (active circa 1492−circa 1523). On the last page, the colophon gives the name of the copyist as “Martinus Antonius” and the date of completion as “Ides of October 1489.” Ambrose was born in ...
Five Books of the Sentences
This codex from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence is a compilation of texts related to the Christian Church in Visigothic Spain. As stated on the colophon, the volume was originally made for King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90). It includes Sententiarum libri V (Five books of the sentences) by Taio Samuel (died 683), followed by a collection of writings by the Church Fathers chosen by Isidore of Seville, and a letter by Quiricus, bishop first of Barcelona and then of Toledo, to Taio Samuel ...
Seven Books of the Saturnalia
This codex from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence contains the complete text of Saturnalia by the fourth−fifth century Latin author Macrobius. The work takes the form of a series of dialogues among learned men at a fictional banquet at which they discuss antiquities, history, literature, mythology, and other topics. The manuscript may have been copied by a scribe belonging to Bernardo Nuzzi’s circle of copyists in Florence. It organizes the seven original books of Macrobius into five books. The inscription on the recto ...
The Historical Theater in the Year 400 AD, in Which Both Romans and Barbarians Resided Side by Side in the Eastern Part of the Roman Empire
This map in Latin by the great French mapmaker Guillaume de L’Isle (1675–1726) shows the eastern parts of the Roman Empire circa 400 AD and the territory of adjacent tribes and kingdoms not under Rome’s control. The latter include the Sarmatians and the Scythians, peoples that the Romans regarded as barbarians. Arabia is shown divided into its three traditional divisions, Arabia Petrea, Arabia Felix, and Arabia Deserta. Qatar is indicated as “Catarei.” The eastern part of the map shows the empire of Alexander the Great, including Persia ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Taishokan
Taishokan is a story loosely based on the life of Fujiwara no Kamatari (614−69), who was a famous court official. In the story, the daughter of Kamatari is married to the emperor of China. When she hears that her father is going to build the main hall of the Kōfuku-ji Temple in Nara, she sends him Mugehōju, a precious crystal with divine powers, as a gift. While a military escort is sailing to Japan with the crystal, dragons attack the ship and the treasure is carried down to the ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Geographical Description of Tiantai Mountain
Tendaisan ki (Tiantaishanji in Chinese) is a geographical description of the Chinese holy mountain, Tendaisan (Tiantaishan in Chinese), located in Zheijiang Province. The author, Xu Lingfu, was a Taoist who lived in seclusion in order to discipline his mind and body. Xu lived on Tendaisan from 815 to 825, where he wrote this book. A Japanese monk studying in China may have copied the original in China or he may have brought a copy back to Japan, after which it was lost. This manuscript, held in the National ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Buddhist Sutra “Jū-issai-fukutoku-zanmai-kyō”
The hand copying of Buddhist sutras was believed to confer great merit and spiritual benefit, so that from the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the sixth century, numerous manuscripts were reproduced throughout the country. Shown here is a volume from the hand-copied Issai-kyō (a Buddhist corpus) commissioned by the Empress Kōmyō (701−60), wife of the Emperor Shōmu, to pray for the repose of her parents, Fujiwara no Fuhito and Tachibana no Michiyo. The work commissioned by the empress amounts to about 7,000 volumes, which include almost all ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Explaining al-Khansa’ in Delightful Stanzas
This book is a printed collection of the verse of Tumāḍir bint ʿAmr ibn al-Ḥarth ibn al-Sharīd al-Sulamīyah entitled Anis al-Julasāʼ fī Sharḥ Dīwān al-Khansāʼ (Explaining al-Khansa’ in delightful stanzas). Known to history as al-Khansā’ (she of the snub-nose or of resemblance to a gazelle), the author is regarded as one of the leading poets of late pre-Islamic Arabia. After meeting the Prophet Muhammad, who is said to have admired her poetry, she became a Muslim. Contemporary and subsequent appreciation of her poetry owed much to the power of her ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Correspondence of the Masters of Eloquence
Rasa’il al-bulagha’ (Correspondence of the masters of eloquence) is a compilation of classical epistolary writing assembled by the famous modern authority on the Arabic language Muhammad Kurd ‘Ali. It focuses on the writings of the eighth-century literary master ‘Abd Allah ibn Muqaffa’ and contains shorter pieces by other writers whom Kurd ‘Ali judged to be exemplars of style, such as ‘Abd al-Hamid ibn Yahya al-Katib and Ibn Qutayba. ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Muqaffa’, whose prose style is regarded as a model for writers to this day, is represented by ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Prayer of Wessobrunn
This manuscript, dating from the early ninth century, contains the Wessobrunner Gebet (Prayer of Wessobrunn) and many other short works. The prayer itself, in prose, which gives the text as a whole its name, is preceded by a short creation poem, which, in nine lines of alliterative verse, seeks to explain the creation of the world out of chaos. This small literary monument is among the earliest written examples of poetry in Old High German. It has come down to us in a composite (mainly Latin) manuscript written before 814 ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Collection of Texts on Mathematical Astronomy and the Natural Sciences
This manuscript is a collection of texts on mathematical astronomy and the natural sciences dating from early in the ninth century. The illuminations are mainly of astronomical content and are based on models from late antiquity. They include the occupations of the 12 months, the earliest surviving medieval illuminations of this type (folio 91 verso); an astronomical map (folio 113 verso); the constellations (folios 115 verso−121 recto); and the 12 winds (folio 139 recto). The manuscript was copied in Salzburg, apparently from a northern French exemplar, and was presumably ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospels
This Gospel book from the Carolingian period is a product of the Mainz school of calligraphy and illumination, which was a successor to the palace (or court) school of Charlemagne. In its canon tables and portraits of the evangelists, it blends the Ottonian style from the tenth century with the traditions of the earlier Carolingian Ada group (late eighth century). The manuscript received its fine binding in the Ottonian period. Its most valuable parts are the two outstanding ivories. The baptism of Christ is represented on the front cover; on ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Purple Gospel
This sumptuous manuscript, known as the Purple Gospel, is written almost entirely in gold and silver on purple-stained parchment. It dates from the first quarter of the ninth century. It contains architectural canon tables and decorated initials in gold and silver at the beginning of the texts of the four gospels and of the prologue to Mark. Four whole-page miniatures of scenes from the New Testament, on folios 24 and 197, were formerly thought to be Ottonian copies (early tenth to early 11th centuries) made from models from late antiquity ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Rule of Saint Benedict
Ora et labora (pray and work) is the well-known phrase that reflects the basic idea underlying the rule of monastic life, which was originally formulated by Saint Benedict of Nursia (around 480−547) and initially intended as an internal rule for the monks of Benedict’s own monastery of Montecassino in Italy. The Rule of Saint Benedict spread widely beginning in the seventh century, but in France it became the sole authoritative rule of the order only in the late eighth and early ninth centuries. Adoption of the rule was ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
The Stele of Buddha Niches at Yique
Shown here are rubbings of the texts on the famous Yique fo kan bei (The stele of Yique Buddha niches), also known as the Stele of Three Niches or the Stele of Three Niches of Longmen. The tablet was erected in the 11th month of the 15th year of the Zhenguan reign (641) during the Tang dynasty, in the Binyang Cave of the Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang, Henan. The texts were composed by Cen Wenben (595−645) and written by famed calligrapher Chu Suiliang (596−658). The horizontal inscription in seal ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Arcane Medical Essentials from the Imperial Library
The book Wai tai mi yao fang (Arcane medical essentials from the Imperial Library) records 69 medical classics published before the Tang dynasty (618–907) and contains 6,900 entries. Parts of original works that no longer exist thus are preserved in this compilation. It lists many diseases and methods of diagnosis, records methods of compounding medicines, and discusses acupuncture, bathing, medical exercises, artificial emergency aid, and other topics. Compiled by Wang Tao (670−755), the work represents an outstanding contribution to the preservation of traditional medical classics and summarizes ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Collected Literary Works of Li Taibai
Li Bo (also called Li Bai, 701−762), courtesy name Taibai, style name Qinglian Jushi, was called, among his other nicknames, Shi xian (Immortal poet) and Shi xia (Poet-knight-errant). His work Li Taibai ji (Collected works of Li Taibai) has been handed down from generation to generation. The earliest edition was compiled by Wei Hao, Li Yangbing, and Fan Chuanzheng, three Tang scholars, but these works did not survive. The first printed edition dated back to the third year of Yuanfeng (1080) of the Song and was printed by Yan ...
Contributed by National Library of China
January 13, 889. Consecration
In the ninth century, the castle of Tona, located on the plain of Vic in eastern Catalonia, guarded the surrounding territory and defended it from possible Saracen attacks during the struggle with the Muslims for control of Spain. The Church of Saint Andrew was built close to the castle by the village inhabitants. They provided it with ornaments, books, and liturgical objects, and supplied it with houses and lands for its upkeep. The bishop of Vic, called Gotmar, consecrated the church in 888 and gave to it a nearby house ...
The Compendium of Faith
Muḥammad ibn Jaʻfar al-Izkiwī was a leading Muslim scholar who lived in about 900. His name, al-Izkiwī, suggests that he came from Izkī, one of the oldest cities and centers of learning in the interior of Oman. Jāmiʻ al-adyān (The compendium of faith), sometimes referred to simply as al-Jāmiʻ (The compendium) or Jāmiʻ Ibn Jaʻfar (Ibn Jaʻfar’s compendium), is his best-known work. Shown here is an 18th-century manuscript containing the first part of Jāmiʻ al-adyān. As the title suggests, the book summarizes a wide range of topics in Islamic ...
Merovingian Bees
The tomb of Childéric, king of the Salian Franks from 457 to 481 and the father of Clovis, was discovered by chance in 1653 by construction workers near the church of Saint-Brice in Tournai, in present-day Belgium. The treasure found was given to Archduke Leopold William of Habsburg (1614−62), governor of the southern Netherlands (at that time under Spanish rule). The archduke asked medical doctor and antique specialist Jean-Jacques Chifflet to write a study of the find, which was published in Antwerp in 1655 under the title Anastasis Childerici ...
Papyrus Graecus Holmiensis
Papyrus Graecus Holmiensis (The Stockholm papyrus) is a codex consisting of 15 leaves containing 154 recipes for the manufacture of dyes and colors used in fashioning artificial stones. Written in Greek around AD 300, it is one of the earliest complete treatises of its kind and an important vehicle for the transmission of practical information from the Alexandrian (Old Egyptian) world to Byzantium and Western Europe. The manuscript appears to have been written by the same scribe as a similar codex in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, also containing ...
Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart
Lancelot ou le Chevalier de la charrette (Lancelot, the knight of the cart) is the third Arthurian novel written by Chrétien de Troyes (circa 1135−circa 1181). It was composed between 1176 and 1181 at the request of Marie de Champagne. This novel in octosyllabic verses is part of the Holy Grail cycle, the four volumes of which are kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France under shelf-marks FR 113 to FR 116. This copy of the novel was commissioned by book lover Jacques d’Armagnac, duke of Nemours and ...
The Younger Titurel (Fernberger-Dietrichstein Manuscript)
This codex, called the Fernberger-Dietrichstein Manuscript after its later owners, contains the second part of the very lengthy chivalric legend of Arthur and the Holy Grail. It is based on the Titurel fragments by Wolfram von Eschenbach (circa 1170−circa 1220), who was considered the author of the Jüngerer Titurel (Younger Titurel), which was widely read in the Middle Ages. Recent scholarship holds that Albrecht von Scharfenberg (active 13th century) wrote this work in the style of Wolfram von Eschenbach. This manuscript is particularly important for its unusually rich illumination ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
The Consolation of Philosophy
Consolatio Philosophiae (The consolation of philosophy) is a philosophical work written by Boethius, the scion of an influential Roman family, around the year 524. It is regarded as one of the most important and influential works in the Western world. The book was composed during a yearlong period of imprisonment that Boethius served while he was awaiting trial for the crime of treason under the Ostrogothic king Theodoric the Great; he was found guilty and executed in 524. Written in the form of a dialogue between Boethius and Lady Philosophy ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Ingolstadt Gospel Book (Fragment)
The so-called Ingolstadt Gospel Book shares the fate of many other liturgical manuscripts, which over time gradually lost their status as religious objects and came to be reused for profane purposes. Only a fraction of the formerly 260−80 folios of this sumptuous manuscript from the middle of the ninth century have survived. Most of its pages were used in bindings of account books in the 17th and 19th centuries. One double leaf was in the possession of the German painter Carl Spitzweg in the 19th century. When and why ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library