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Type of Item
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
This eighth century calligraphic fragment from the collections of the Library of Congress is most likely the oldest Islamic text in North America, one that could have been touched by the youngest companions of the Prophet Muhammad. The fragment includes verses 53-54 of the 34th chapter of the Qur'an entitled Surat Saba' (Sheba), as well as the first ten verses of the 35th chapter of the Qur'an entitled Surat al-Fatir (The originator). Surat al-Fatir is an early Meccan surah that deals with the mystery of creation and angels ...
One Million Small Wooden Pagodas and Dharani Prayers
Hyakumanto Darani (The one million pagodas and Dharani prayers) is the oldest traceable publication in the world whose production date is clearly identified. In 764, the Empress Shōtoku (718-770) ordered the donation of Hyakumanto Darani, each containing a small scroll printed with four Buddhist Dharani sutras, to ten major temples. The National Diet Library holds several of the scrolls that were donated to the Hōryūji Temple in Nara prefecture in western Japan. These three-tiered pagodas were painted with white clay. It is unclear whether the printing blocks were of wood ...