64 results in English
History of Byzantium
This Greek manuscript on parchment dating from the 12th to the 13th centuries is one of the most valuable codices in the National Library of Spain, treasured for the richness of its illumination. The work, by Ioannes Scylitza (flourished 1081), is a history of the Byzantine emperors from 811 to 1057, covering events from the proclamation of Michael I Rangabe in 811 to the reign of Michael VI in 1056–57. The manuscript contains 577 miniatures by different artists. Most of the scenes are accompanied by a caption that explains ...
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 ...
“The Scientific Essay on the Need for Compound Remedies” from the "Canon of Medicine"
Abū Alī al-Ḥusayn Ibn Sīnā (980–1037) was one of the intellectual luminaries of the medieval world. Known in the Latin West as Avicenna, this Persian polymath was often referred to by Muslim authors as al-Shaykh al-Ra'īs, in acknowledgement of his role as one of the foremost savants of the Islamic world. A prolific author, Ibn Sīnā wrote on topics as varied as metaphysics, theology, medicine, psychology, earth sciences, physics, astronomy, astrology, and chemistry. His fame in Europe rests principally on his Canon of Medicine, which was translated into ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Damascus Pentateuch
The Damascus Pentateuch, from around the year 1000, is one of the oldest extant Hebrew biblical manuscripts. It includes full vocalization, accentuation, and Masoretic annotation. The manuscript is defective in its beginning, as it starts with Genesis 9:26; Exodus 18:1–23 is also missing. Written on parchment in oriental square script, the text is in three columns per page, 20 lines per column. The manuscript belonged to the Jewish community of Damascus (hence its name) until 1915, when it was acquired by the collector and bibliophile D.S ...
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
Greek Codex from the Abbey of Grottaferrata
Saint Nilus the Younger (circa 910–1005) was born in Rossano (Calabria, southern Italy) into a notable and wealthy family. Calabria was at that time a district of the Byzantine Empire and members of Nilus’s family held important offices under the Byzantine emperors. He distinguished himself from a young age by his voracious reading and learning. Later in life he founded libraries devoted to the production of manuscripts and the teaching of calligraphy. He became a monk at about age 30 and, as a follower of the teachings of ...
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
"Imperial" Menologion
This manuscript, created in the Byzantine Empire in the second quarter of the 11th century, contains the biographies of saints whom the church commemorates in the month of January. It was originally part of a set containing volumes for each month of the year. A companion volume, with texts for March, now survives in Moscow (State Historical Museum, MS gr. 183). Each chapter in both manuscripts opens with a miniature depicting the death of a respective saint, or less often, another significant event from his or her life. Each text ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
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
Reichenau Gospels
This mid-11th century Gospel Book is believed to come from the Abbey of Reichenau, on Lake Constance in Germany, on the basis of its script and illumination. The decoration of the manuscript places it in the so-called Luithar school of Reichenau. Its ornamental motifs compare very closely with those in Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Clm. 4453, and its palette is nearly identical to that in the Reichenau manuscripts of the Bamberg Cathedral Treasury. The work includes full-page miniatures of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and of the Holy Gospel of ...
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
Sacramentary of Henry II
This sacramentary was written for Henry II (973–1024) before he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014. It was executed by a workshop in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg). There the influence of the Carolingian model of the Codex aureus, a ninth-century gospel written for Emperor Charles the Bald and preserved in the monastery of Saint Emmeram, was a crucial stimulus for the Ottonian school of illumination 100 years later. The picture of the emperor closely resembles that of the earlier exemplar, but was adapted to the current political situation by ...
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
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
Evangeliary of Michaelbeuern, Four Gospels with Illuminations of the Evangelists
The Gospel book from the Benedictine monastery at Michaelbeuern is considered a work of the Salzburg school because of its similarity to other Salzburg manuscripts. Whether it was brought to Michaelbeuern in the first half of the 11th century (when that monastery was being reestablished from Saint Peter’s in Salzburg) or later cannot be determined with certainty. Besides canon tables and lesser initials, it shows, on double leaves, which are interpolated but which always have formed part of the manuscript, four illustrations of the evangelists facing ornamental initial pages ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Pericope (Sections) from Saint Erentrud. Gospels for the Mass According to the Usual Rite, Preceding the Capitular Gospels
This book, which contains the “lessons,” or portions of scripture appointed to be read at divine service, was written around the year 1150, probably in Salzburg, a diocesan town situated near what is today the border between Bavaria and Austria. The manuscript was owned by the Benedictine convent of Saint Erentrud auf dem Nonnberg, which was founded by Saint Rupert in Salzburg in 711−12, and where Rupert’s niece Erentrud was the first abbess. With its 56 miniatures depicting scenes from the New Testament and the life of saints ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Sacramentary of Augsburg
This Ottonian manuscript dates from the early 11th century and was executed for the cathedral of Augsburg. It bears all the hallmarks of an ambitious project, but it was left incomplete for some reason. The text alone, interspersed with gold letters on every page, creates an impression of luxury. The prayers for special ecclesiastical fields feature decorated initials with gold tendrils, which stand out against a colored ground. For the principal festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun, full-page ornamental initials were planned but not finished. Similarly, the pictorial decoration of ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospel
The Benedictine monastery of Tergernsee, located in southern Bavaria, was founded in 746 and is considered one of the most important imperial abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire. This manuscript was formerly attributed to Tegernsee's famous abbot, Ellinger (1017−26 and 1031−41), who was twice removed from office and spent his last years in exile in Niederaltaich. This is no longer the scholarly consensus, but the codex still maintains a key position in the series of magnificent Gospel books produced in Tegernsee up until the 12th century, a ...
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
Four Gospels: The Evangeliary of Uta (Codex of Uta)
Illuminated for Abbess Uta of Niedermünster (1002−25), this Bavarian Gospel manuscript has been described by Georg Swarzenski as "perhaps the most important Western illuminated manuscript of its period." Its unique quality resides especially in the subtly articulated argument between the text and the accompanying miniatures. The text is drawn from such diverse sources as the Bible; the fields of theology, mathematics, and music; and the works of Pseudo-Dionysius, the Areopagite, in the translation by Johannes Scotus Eriugena (circa 800−circa 877). The scholar Bernhard Bischoff attributed the work to ...
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 ...
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 Tale of Genji: Commentary on Key Words and Phrases, Volumes 55-57
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Tale of Genji: Genealogy, Volume 58
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Tale of Genji: Index, Volume 60
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Tale of Genji
This book is an old movable-type edition of one of the best-known classic works of Japanese literature. It is said to be the first printed version of Genji monogatari (The tale of Genji) and appears in 54 volumes produced in the Keichō Era (1596–1615). This is one of the earliest books for which hiragana types were used, and only two others are extant as scribal copies. Hiragana is a cursive script of the Japanese syllabary. One of the oldest novels in the world, Genji monogatari was written in the ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Gospel Book from the Bamberg Cathedral (Reichenau Gospel)
The gospel from the cathedral of Bamberg is one of the most important masterpieces of book painting from the Benedictine abbey on the island of Reichenau in Lake Constance in southern Germany. In the 10th and 11th centuries, this abbey was the site of what was probably Europe’s largest and most influential school of book illumination. Book production reached its artistic peak between around 970 and 1010–1020, a period known as the Ottonian Renaissance (after Otto I, Otto II, and Otto III, German kings and Holy Roman Emperors ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
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
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
The Book of the Interpreter
This 16th-century manuscript is an old copy of the classified Syriac–Garshuni glossary by  Elias of Nisibis (975–1046). Elias was an eastern Syriac scholar and monk, who was later a bishop and from 1008–46 metropolitan of Nisibis in northern Mesopotamia (present-day Nusaybin in southeastern Turkey). He was an important figure in Syriac and Christian Arabic literature and an early grammarian. In addition to this glossary, his literary output included a bilingual (Syriac–Arabic) chronicle, liturgical poetry, and letters. This work is prefaced by Eliya's address to the ...
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 Book of Simple Medicine and Plants” from “The Canon of Medicine”
Abū Alī al-Ḥusayn Ibn Sīnā (also known by the Latinized version of his name, Avicenna, 980–1037 AD; 370–428 AH) was a Muslim Persian polymath and the foremost physician and philosopher of his time. In his Introduction to the History of Science, the eminent historian of science George Sarton (1884–1956) characterized Ibn Sina as “one of the most famous exponents of Muslim universalism and an eminent figure in Islamic learning,” noting that “for a thousand years he has retained his original renown as one of the greatest thinkers ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
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