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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 ...
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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 ...
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National Library of Bulgaria
“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 ...
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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 ...
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National Library of Israel
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
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 ...
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Library of the National Monument of Grottaferrata
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
"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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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
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 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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