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“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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 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 ...
The One of a Kind
Abdulmalik ibn Muhammad al-Thaalibi (961–1038 AD, 350–429 AH) was a leading linguist, literary figure, and poet. He was born in the trading and cultural center of Nishapur in Persia (present-day Iran). Yateemet al-dahr (The one of a kind) is the most famous of his more than 80 works. The book is a compilation of biographies of the poets of the time, divided into four main sections, each of which covers a region: the poets of al-Sham (Levant) and its environs; the Buwayhid poets (Western Persia and Iraq); the ...
The Grand Sheikh Ibn Sina's Collection of Treatises
Al Hussein ibn Abdullah Ibn Sina (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 ...
The Small Mirror of Genji
Genji Monogatari (The tale of Genji) is widely regarded as the pinnacle of classical Japanese literature. It tells the story of Hikaru Genji, son of the Japanese emperor who, for political reasons, is relegated to commoner status and has to start a career as an imperial official. The text covers his entire life, concentrating especially on his private life as a courtier, including his numerous love affairs. The tale was written around the year 1000 at the imperial court of Heian-kyo (Kyoto) by a lady-in-waiting at the court whose real ...
With its 181 gold and silver initials, four picture pages on purple ground, and two miniature pages, the so-called Eberhard Psalter is among the most magnificent monuments of Bavarian illumination in the first quarter of the 11th century. The manuscript contains the 150 psalms with commentaries, as well as additional liturgical songs and a confession of faith. It takes its name from Count Eberhard of Ebersberg (died circa 1041–45), who is said to have donated the psalter to the Benedictine convent of Geisenfeld, which he had founded. The manuscript ...
The Canon of Medicine
Al-Husayn Ibn Abdullah Ibn Sīnā (980–1037), commonly known by the Latinized version of his name Avicenna, was born near Bukhara in Persia (present-day Uzbekistan). He was the most famous and influential of the many Islamic scholars, scientists, and philosophers of the medieval world. He was foremost a physician but was also an astronomer, chemist, geologist, psychologist, philosopher, logician, mathematician, physicist, and poet. His Al-Qānūn fī al-ṭibb (The canon of medicine) became the authoritative reference on medicine in the Middle Ages, not only in the Islamic world but ...