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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 ...
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National Library of Bulgaria
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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Walters Art Museum
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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
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 ...
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National Library and Archives of Egypt
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).
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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 ...
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National Library and Archives of Egypt
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 ...
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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 ...
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National Library of France
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 ...
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National Library of France
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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Bibliotheca Alexandrina