54 results in English
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 ...
History of the Five Dynasties
Wu dai shi ji (History of the Five Dynasties) was the original title of this work by Ouyang Xiu (1007–72), statesman, historian, essayist, calligrapher, and poet of the Song dynasty. It traditionally has been called Xin Wu dai shi (The new history of the Five Dynasties) to distinguish it from another work entitled Jiu Wu dai shi (The old history of the Five Dynasties), by Xue Juzheng (912–81). This was the only authorized history compiled privately after the Tang dynasty and before the publication of Xin Yuan shi ...
Contributed by National Central Library
The Veritable Records of the Song Emperor Taizong
Chinese court officials often recorded a reigning emperor’s daily activities and words spoken in court, especially those that affected the country. These records, such as Qi ju zhu (Diaries of activity and repose) and Ri li (Daily records), were sources for the compilation of shi lu (veritable records) by a committee. Other sources consisted of materials collected from provinces, ministerial papers, and other documents. The official histories were written based on these veritable records. Such records no longer exist from before the Tang dynasty (618–907). The only ...
Contributed by National Central Library
The Tales of Ise
Ise monogatari (The tales of Ise) is a collection of some 125 brief episodes, combining elements of prose and poetry, that dates from the early Heian period (9th−10th centuries). The protagonist is believed to be modeled on Ariwarano Narihira (825−80), a handsome aristocrat who had many romantic affairs. The main character’s romances, friendships, heartbroken wandering life, and various other stories are narrated in a style that owes much to waka (literally, Japanese poems). The work had a great influence on later Japanese literature, including Genji monogatari (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
Gospels
Dated to the tenth century, this manuscript is the oldest Armenian codex in North America and the fifth oldest among documented Armenian Gospel books. The principal colophon, on folio 2 verso, records that Sargis the priest completed the text in 415 (966). Within the framed area, the commission of the codex is described: a priest, whose name was replaced by the later owner T’oros, commissioned the work "as decoration and for the splendor of [the] holy church and for the pleasure of the congregation of Rznēr." As the codex ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Corvey Gospel Fragment
This manuscript consists of four folios from a Gospel book that was likely made at the monastery of Corvey in western Germany during the mid-to-late tenth century. Dating to the reign of Otto I, these pages are a magnificent example of early Ottonian manuscript illumination. The heavily ornamented pages, which introduce the Gospels of Luke and John, shine with gold and jewel-like colors against dyed purple grounds. These pages combine monumental classicizing square capitals on purple grounds with rich and complex interlace. This fragment contains the opening pages of Luke ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
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 of Luke and John
This manuscript containing the gospels of Luke and John originally formed a whole with another gospel book fragment now preserved in Weimar. The Weimar manuscript contains prologues, canon tables, the gospels of Matthew and Mark, and, at the end, the argumentum (introduction) and breviarium (summary) to Luke. Each gospel begins with a portrait of the evangelist and a full-page initial. The manuscript, of high quality, is clearly the work of an important scriptorium influenced by that at Saint Gallen; it may have been written at Mainz.
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
Sacramentary of Bishop Abraham
Many monasteries in Bavaria were destroyed during the devastating Hungarian invasions of Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. In the period after the Hungarian wars, Bishop Abraham of Freising (957−94) nevertheless succeeded, despite temporary banishment, in enlarging his see, pushing ahead the mission to the Slavs, and promoting completion of the cathedral library and school in Freising. This sacramentary is the only high-quality liturgical manuscript surviving from this time, albeit in poor condition. The prominence given to Saint Corbinian identifies it as a Freising work. Obituary entries in ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Fulda Sacramentary
The Fulda Sacramentary typifies the structural changes that sacramentaries underwent in Carolingian times, when artistic embellishment was increasingly concentrated on the canon. The opening letter T (of Te igitur; “Thee, therefore,” the first prayer of the mass) of the sacramentary has been transformed on folio 12 recto into a picture of the crucified Christ, surrounded by four medallions depicting, respectively, the hand of God, Saint Mary, Saint John, and a priest in adoration. Executed at the Benedictine monastery at Corvey in the last third of the tenth century, the sacramentary ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Prayerbook of Otto III
This small prayer book was once owned by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (980−1002). Although it hardly stands out when compared with other luxuriously illuminated manuscripts, it was intended for the sovereign’s private devotion and is one of only two royal prayer books from the early Middle Ages to survive. It was probably commissioned after the year 984, presumably by Archbishop Willigis of Mainz, when the four-year-old Otto was committed to the care of his mother and grandmother, the empresses Theophanu and Adelaide, after his father’s ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
New Edition of the Manual of Acupuncture Points on a Bronze Figure, in Seven Juan
One of the unique features of treatments in traditional Chinese medicine is acupuncture. During the Northern and Southern Song (960−1279), the science of acupuncture and moxibustion and the meridian and collateral theory flourished. This science consequently became gradually systemized and standardized. The work Xin kan tong ren zhen jiu jing (New edition of the manual of acupuncture points on a bronze figure) was actually a chapter dealing with acupuncture, called “Zhen jing,” included in Taiping sheng hui fang (Taiping imperial prescriptions for universal relief), an official standard textbook of ...
Contributed by National Library of China
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 ...
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes verses 10-11 of the 48th chapter of the Qur'an, entitled Surat al-Fath (Victory). This surah dates from the Medinan period and contains 29 verses. It describes how triumph comes from courage, faith, and patience if the believer stays true to God: anyone who violates His [God's] oath, does so to the harm of his own soul, and anyone who fulfils what he has convenanted with God, God will soon grant him a reward (48:10). The text is executed in Kufi script with black ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes verses 85-88 of the 6th chapter of the Qur'an entitled Surat al-An'am (The Cattle). This late Meccan surah describes the nature of God and how He reveals Himself. Verses 85-88 in particular describe a number of prophets such as Jesus, Elias, and Jonah as capable of guiding believers to the "straight path" (al-sirat al-mustaqim). The text is executed in Kufi script in black ink, at six lines per page, surrounded by a gold painted frame. Verses on the fragment's recto have worn off ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Homiliary on Gospels from Easter to first Sunday of Advent
This 10th-century manuscript from the Bergendal Collection at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto is the oldest extant copy of a book of homilies composed by Heiric (Eric) of Auxerre, France, around 865–870. Heiric, a Benedictine theologian and writer, was a monk at the Abbey of Saint-Germain d’Auxerre. He studied under Lupus of Ferrière, John Scotus Erigena, and Haymo of Auxerre. He was the teacher of Remigius of Auxerre and is an important representative of intellectual life in the Carolingian period. The manuscript was written, by ...
The Book on the Properties of Precious Gems
The title page identifies this manuscript as a copy of Kitab khawas al-jawāhir (The book on the properties of precious gems), written by Yaqūb ibn Ishāq al-Kindī in the ninth century. The work has 25 chapters, which are titled “On the knowledge of gems in general,” “On knowledge of rubies,” “On knowledge of emeralds,” “On knowledge of lapis,” and so forth. Each of these chapters gives basic information about these precious stones and their properties, as understood at the time. Information on the pricing of gems and the location of ...
The Origin of Tenjin
This is a large illustrated manuscript book of the type called nara-ehon. It depicts the life of Sugawara Michizane (845-903), a leading court scholar, political figure, and literary man of the Heian period (794-1185). Nara-ehon are illustrated manuscripts or hand-printed books and scrolls that were produced from the Muromachi period (1336-1573) through the middle of the Edo period (1600-1867).
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Book of Times
This is a manuscript copy of Kitāb al-Azmān (The book of times; also known as Kitāb al-Azmina) by Yuḥannā Ibn Māsawayh (died circa 857), the famous physician of the Abbasid era. The work belongs to the tradition of Islamic hemerology—the study of the calendar, especially with a view to discerning the auspiciousness of carrying out various actions at a given date or time. In his introduction, the author states: "The people of knowledge and philosophy and the physicians of Persia, India, and Rūm [Asia Minor], have said that the ...
The Book on Medicine Dedicated to al-Mansur
This manuscript preserves one of the most famous medieval Arabic medical treatises, the Kitab al-Mansouri fi al-Tibb (The book on medicine dedicated to al-Mansur), which was composed by the well-known Persian physician, natural scientist, philosopher, and alchemist Abu Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi (865–925) early in the 10th century. As apparent in the title of the book, this work is dedicated to the governor of the province of Rayy (in present-day Iran and the birthplace of al-Razi), Al-Mansur ibn Ishāq. Al-Razi (also known by Latinized versions of his name ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Drogo Sacramentary
The sacramentary was a liturgical book used for prayer during the High Middle Ages, containing the prayers, prefaces, and canons for mass. Drogo (801–55), bishop of Metz, son of Charlemagne, and famous patron of his era, had a gorgeous copy of the sacramentary made in Metz around 845–55. The manuscript, which is on vellum, is the work of several artists employed by the imperial court. It is written in a clear Latin script and includes some of the most beautiful fleurons ever produced in Metz. The illumination is ...
Denier
Charlemagne (742–814) was crowned emperor of the Romans in 800. Yet coins bearing his imperial title are so rare that it is believed that he had them minted only after 812, when he received recognition as emperor of the West by the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. This denier silver coin is typical of those produced during the Carolingian Renaissance, a period in which art, culture, and religion flourished under the influence of Charlemagne. Such coins include a classical imperial bust and a reverse side often inspired by ...
Qur'anic Verses
These fragments include verses from the 17th chapter of the Qur'an entitled Bani Isra'il (The Children of Israel) or al-Isra' (The night journey). Surat Bani Isra'il describes a number of events, including the Prophet Muhammad's isra' (night journey) to Jerusalem and his mi'raj (ascension) through the skies. The verses (73−84) on the two fragments in the Library of Congress describe the value of prayer and the Qur'an. The first reads: “We sent down in the Qur'an / that which is a healing and ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes verses 25−33 of the 35th chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Fatir (The originator of creation). The text continues with verses 33−40 on the folio's verso. These particular verses are found on another fragment of a Qur'an also executed in Kufi script in the collections of the Library of Congress. Surat al-Fatir deals with the mysteries and forces of al-khalq (creation), as well as the angelic forces that maintain creation. Paradise is promised for believers, and Hell for unbelievers. Hope is the ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes verses 20−21 of the 46th chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Ahqaf (The winding sand tracks). The text continues with verses 21−24 on the folio's verso. Surat al-Ahqaf is the seventh and last chapter of a series of surahs beginning with the mysterious abbreviated letters ha−mim (h−m). It discusses Creation, its purpose, and its vindication. Those who do not believe in God and his Creation will suffer torment on the Day of Judgment. The title of this surah comes from the ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes the beginning of verse 11 of the 49th chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Hujurat (The chambers). This same verse continues on the folio's verso. Surat al-Hujurat is the third of a group of three Medinan surahs, beginning with chapter 47. It discusses conduct that must be observed by the Muslim community, such as mutual respect and allegiance to a rightful leader. The beginning of verse 11 on this fragment stresses proper behavior: “O you who believe, / Do not let some men among you laugh ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes verses 120−21 of the ninth chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Tawbah (The repentance). The text continues with verses 121−22 on the folio's verso. Surat al-Tawbah describes broken treaties with pagans and the fighting against infidelity. If a community marches out, some of its members should remain behind in order to continue the teaching of religious matters. Those who believe should associate with the righteous and truthful, actively doing their duty: “It was not fitting for the people of Medina / And the Bedouin ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes, on the left-hand side of the bifolium, the illuminated title and verses 1−6 of the 69th chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Haqqah (The truth). This text continues with verses 6−14 on the fragment's verso. The right side of the recto then proceeds with verses 14−19 from the same chapter. Altogether, this fragment contains the title and verses 1−19 of Surat al-Haqqah. This surah dates from the Meccan period and contains 52 verses. It is largely eschatological in nature, and verses ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes the beginning of verse 18 from the fifth chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Ma'idah (The table). The text continues with the end of verse 18 and the beginning of verse 19 on the folio's verso. Surat al-Ma'idah describes the corruption of religions, in particular Judaism and Christianity, prior to the advent of Islam. Even if warned, the Qur'an states in 5:18 on the verso that Jews and Christians turned away from the truth and violated their covenants: “Both the Jews ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes verses 62−64 of the 24th chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Nur (The light). The text of this surah ends on the fragment's verso, which also contains the illuminated heading and first three verses of the subsequent (25th) chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Furqan (The criterion). Surat al-Nur describes domestic and public matters and discusses how communal life contributes to man's virtues and his spiritual journey towards God, as in verse 24:62: “Only those are believers who trust in God and ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Panel of Illumination, Qur'anic Verses
This panel of illumination marks the beginning of the 20th juz' (part) of the Qur'an at verse 56 of the 27th chapter entitled Surat al-Naml (The ants). Verses 56−60 of the surah appear on this folio's verso and also on another fragment from the same Qur'an in the collections of the Library of Congress. On that fragment, the text continues with verses 57−60. Together, these two folios form the beginning of the 20th juz' (part) of the Qur'an, demarcated by a panel of illumination ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes verses 57−59 of the 27th chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Naml (The ants). The text continues with verses 59−60 on the folio's verso. The immediately preceding verses, 56−57, appear on another fragment from the same Qur'an in the collections of the Library of Congress. Together, these two folios form the beginning of the 20th juz' (part) of the Qur'an, demarcated by a panel of illumination. Surat al-Naml describes the wonders of the spiritual world. The stories of a number ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Qur'anic Verses
This calligraphic fragment includes verses 13–18 of the 81st chapter of the Qur'an entitled Al-Takwir (The folding up). The text continues with verses 18–21 on the fragment's verso. This surah (chapter) provides a series of graphic images of the Day of Judgment, when the world shatters and souls are weighed in the balance: “And when the Garden is brought near, / Then each soul will know what it has done.” (81:13–14). The style of the script is close to the Kufi D.I. category of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
This 17th-century scroll recounts the story of Taketori Monogatari (The tale of the bamboo cutter), famous as the earliest piece of prose fiction in the Japanese literary tradition and originally written around the 10th century. In the scroll, flowers are drawn on the paper of the main text. The main preoccupation of the story is Kaguyahime, discovered as a tiny infant inside a mysteriously glowing bamboo stem by an elderly bamboo cutter. He and his wife raise her as their daughter, and Kaguyahime quickly becomes a beautiful young woman, a ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Diwan
Al-Waleed ibn Ubaidillah Al-Buhturi (821–97 AD; 206–48 AH) was a leading Arab poet who was born in Manbij, in present-day Syria, and lived in the early Abbasid dynasty. He was a companion of the Abbasid caliph, Al-Mutawakil, whom Al-Buhturi saw murdered before his eyes in 861. The violent incident weighed heavily on the poet’s psyche, sending him into self-exile and a period of seclusion. Often mentioned in connection with two other preeminent poets of the Abbasid era, Abu Tamman who preceded him and Al-Mutanabbi who succeeded him ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The Book of Misers
Abu Uthman Amr ibn Bahr al-Kinani (776–869 AD; 163–255 AH), nicknamed Al-Jahiz for his bulging eyes, was a leading literary figure who lived during the early Abbasid era. He was born and died in Basra, Iraq. It was said that his grandfather was a slave from East Africa. Al-Jahiz was a prolific writer on subjects ranging from theology, to politics, to manners, who left many highly significant works. He is credited with having profoundly shaped the rules of Arabic prose. Al-bukhalaa (The book of misers) is considered a ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems
Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Mas'udi (circa 896–956 AD, 283–345 AH) was an Arab historian and geographer, known as the "Herodotus of the Arabs." He was one of the first scholars to combine history and scientific geography in a large-scale work. Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma'adin al-jawhar (The meadows of gold and mines of gems) is a book of world history that combines rewritten versions of two of al-Masudi’s earlier works. The first half of the book is of enormous value, although somewhat sprawling ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The Book of Songs
Abu Al-Faraj Al-Isbahani (or Al-Isfahani, 897–967 AD) was a literary scholar, poet, and genealogist who was born in Isfahan, in present-day Iran, but lived much of his life in Baghdad and Aleppo. Kitab al-Aghani (The book of songs) is often considered his masterpiece. A dozen or more other works by him are known. Most of them describe the indulgent social life of his times, a topical choice that prompted considerable criticism especially from clerics, some of whom went as far as to question his scholarly rigor and authenticity. Al-Isbahani ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The Comprehensive Book on medicine, Part Two, in Diseases of the Eye
One of the earliest pioneers in the history of medicine, Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyā al-Rāzī (also known by the Latinized version of his name, Rhazes or Rasis, 865–925 AD, 251–313 AH) was a Muslim Persian polymath, physician, and philosopher. He was born in the city of Rayy, near present-day Tehran, Iran, and spent most of his life between his birthplace and Baghdad, the capital city of the Abbasid caliphate. He taught medicine and was the chief physician in both cities. He made major and lasting contributions to ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina