April 29, 2016

Calendar for the Years 1486 through 1504

This unique, single-leaf print is a rare fragment of the perpetual calendar in German for the years 1486 to 1504 issued by the Nuremberg printer Konrad, or Conrad, Zeninger in Venice in 1486. The page is printed with initials in red and black. It lists saints and their feast days. Fragments of pages from this work exist in two other libraries in Germany and Austria, but this page from the Slovak National Library is the only preserved complete exemplar in the world. The type for the calendar was created by Bernardino Giolito de’ Ferrari, known as Bernardo Stagnino, a printer from northern Italy who was active in Venice between 1483 and 1538, and who often cooperated with printers and booksellers on the northern side of the Alps.

Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah

This parchment codex with gothic choral notation contains the lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah set to music, along with the Christmas story from the Gospel of Saint Matthew. The volume was compiled by Georg Ayblinger on behalf of an unknown priest from Oettingen (in Bavaria, Germany) and is dated 1594. The decoration consists of a painted initial “E” in the shape of golden capital letter on folio 2 recto with a landscape background in a golden frame. The illustration shows a meadow with a line of trees, hills, and buildings illuminated by the sun on the horizon. The decoration of the entire codex includes pen-and-ink flourishes to notes and letters. The scribe is unknown, and two folio pages are missing.

Sixteenth Century Transcript of a Fourteenth Century Excerpt from the Gospel of Saint Matthew

This text of an excerpt from the Gospel of Saint Matthew (chapters 17:9‒19:21) is a 16th century transcription of an original medieval document, now lost, dating from the 14th century. It consists of eight pages written in black and red ink in an archaic Cyrillic script, with notations in the margins. The text is in a Bulgarian recension of Church Slavic with eastern elements. The manuscript was made in Ruthenia (western Ukraine) by an unknown scribe. It is now preserved in the Slovak National Library.

The Theater of Nobility in Europe. Genealogy of the Illustrious Progenitors of the Christian World

Theatrum, Nobilitatis. Europeae, Tabulis. Progonologicis. Praecipuorum. In. Cultiori. Christiano. Orbe. Magnatum. Et. Illustrium. Progenitores (The theater of nobility in Europe. Genealogy of the illustrious progenitors of the Christian world) is a work on the family trees of royal and noble families of Europe by the German Lutheran theologian Philipp Jakob Spener (1635‒1705). Spener was one of the founders of Pietism and is considered the father of modern heraldry and genealogy studies. He worked as a preacher in Strasbourg, Frankfurt, and Dresden, before becoming consistorial counselor in Berlin. Theatrum, Nobilitatis. Europae is a four-volume work, published in Frankfurt am Main between 1668 and 1678. Families are presented in tabular form, with all names Latinized. The frontispiece consists of the family tree of Ferdinand I, king of Hungary and Bohemia and holy Roman emperor. The work was typeset by Egidius Vogel in Frankfurt. Presented here are the first and third volumes of the work (bound together), dating from 1668, held in the Slovak National Library, the only copies of the work preserved in Slovakia. The book was formerly owned by the Prague lawyer Thomas Anton Putzlacher (1722‒96), as is documented by his handwritten “ex bibliotheca” and the glued typographic bookplate on the inside front cover of the book.

Seven Centuries of Monarchy and the Holy Crown of Hungary

De Monarchia Et Sacra Corona Regni Hungariae Centuriae Septem (Seven centuries of monarchy and the Holy Crown of Hungary) is a history of Hungary for 700 years up to the time when the book was written in the mid-17th century. The author, Peter Révai (also seen as Révay, 1568‒1622), was a historian and government official. He was the hereditary district administrator of Turiec District from 1598 and from 1608 was the guardian of the royal crown; he also served as royal adviser and was a judge of the royal table. The book was issued in 1659, 37 years after the author's death, by the provincial official František Nádašdy (also seen as Ferenc, 1625‒71). It also includes a chronological list of the Hungarian palatines from the year 1001 to 1655. The latter document was produced by Dutch historian Gaspar Jongelincx (died 1669), court historian to the Hungarian king, Leopold I (1640‒1705). The concluding pages in the volume contain a “Catalogus judicum curiae regiae per regnum Hungariae” (Record of the kingdom of Hungary as ruled by judgment of the court). Révai’s work offers the first extensive treatment of the Slavs in Hungarian historiography. In it the author explains the antiquity of the Slavs and documents their numbers, the vastness of the territories inhabited by them, and the prevalence of their languages. The opinions of Révai on the Slavs have long been the basis for the national-revivalist concept of Slovak history.

Botanical Notebook of Linnaeus

The Swedish natural scientist Carl von Linné (1707–78) prepared his notes and pen drawings on botanical systems in Stockholm from 1750 to 1751. Also known by his Latinized name of Carolus Linnaeus, Linné was the creator and founder of botanical and zoological taxonomy. He devised a two-part system of Latin names (the so-called binominal nomenclature) for classifying all organisms based on their characteristics, using the name of the genus followed by the species name. This system, which is still in use today, was developed in his work Systema naturae (System of nature), the first edition of which was published in 1735. Presented here is one of Linné’s botanical notebooks, preserved in the Slovak National Library. It consists mainly of handwritten notes, along with sketches of plants or particular parts thereof. In 1753, Linné published his masterpiece in two volumes and 1,200 pages, Species plantarum (Plant species). In this work, he listed all of the plant species that had been discovered up to that time (nearly 6,000 in all) and classified them into about 1,000 genera. This was the first time that plants had been classified and named using the binomial nomenclature.

Peasant Yard in Valaská Village

Sedliacky dvor vo Valaskej (Peasant yard in Valaská Village) is one of the oldest and most valuable treasures by Jozef Murgaš (1864‒1929) in the collection of the Slovak National Library. This oil painting by Murgaš shows a light-filled village yard with a poor wooden cottage and farmyard buildings framing a courtyard with a cradle tripod at its center. Murgaš completed the painting in about 1895, while he was still a chaplain, after returning to Slovakia from his studies in Munich. The painting has no signature or copyright markings. Murgaš, who was a Roman Catholic priest, studied art in Budapest and Munich and created a number of altarpieces. He moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1896 to minister to local Slovaks and was a signatory to the 1918 Pittsburgh Agreement supporting the creation of Czechoslovakia. He is mostly remembered as an inventor, primarily as a pioneer of wireless telegraphy, a field in which he held a number of patents. He also invented the spinning reel for fishing rods.

Portrait of Ľudovít Štúr

Ľudovít Štúr (1815‒56) was a Slovak politician, philosopher, historian, linguist, writer, poet, journalist, editor, and pedagogue. He was the most important representative of Slovak national life in the first half of the 19th century and one of the leading members of Slovak National Uprising of 1848‒49. Štúr was also the key figure in codifying the modern Slovak language. Presented here is the earliest oil portrait of Štúr by the artist Jozef Božetech Klemens (1817‒83), based on an 1861 lithograph of Štúr by the Czech artist, actor, and director František Kolář (1829‒95). Klemens was an important painter, sculptor, engineer, and scientist of the 19th century and, like Štúr, a major figure in the Slovak national revival. His artistic significance rests primarily on his portrait paintings. In Slovakia, 2015 was declared “The Year of Ľudovít Štúr” to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Note about the Construction of a “Takiyah-khanah”

This large piece of paper, constructed of a number of separate sheets pasted together, includes four lines of writing in nastaʻliq script. At the top appears the number 786, which in the abjad (letter number) system is equivalent to sum total of the letters appearing in the bismillah (in the name of God). In other words, the number 786 at the top of the page functions as an initial “In praise of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent,” immediately before the text's main contents. The four lines immediately below state that a certain Muhammad ‘Ali ordered the construction of a building intended for the dhikr (commemorations) services and matam (mourning) ceremonies of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn. Such a building is called a takiyah or takiyah-khanah, and is used for the staging of taʻziyah (Shiʻi passion plays) reenacting the events at Karbala in 680. Takiyahs were built by Shiʻi communities in Iran and India during the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the most famous takiyahs was ordered built by Muʼavin al-Mulk in Kermanshah (southwestern Iran) in 1895−96. A lavishly decorated and multipart complex, it was constructed for a variety of religious events and performances linked to Imam Husayn’s martyrdom.

Verses by Amir Khusraw Dihlavi

This calligraphic fragment includes a number of verses written by the poet Amir Khusraw Dihlavi (circa 1253−1325), whose name is noted in the upper-right corner of the central text panel as “li-Amir Khusraw.” The verses describe the permanence of love as a flower bud in perpetual blossom, and read: “This so beautiful, pleasing one in the rose garden / (May God place) a thorn in my eyes if one of them (the flowers) is similar to you / I enter and leave the garden a hundred times / (and) because of my distress I do not know which flower is in bloom / The dust of Kisra became a flower and the bejeweled crown turned to dust / The name of the lover still (remains) on every door and wall.” The text panel is framed by a number of other verses held in registers on a pink or blue ground painted with gold designs and is pasted to a larger sheet of blue paper with deer and flowers painted in gold. The composition is backed with cardboard for strengthening. In the lower-left corner and on the two horizontal lines of text below the central panel the calligrapher, Muhammad Husayn al-Katib (“the writer”), has signed his work with his diminutives and his request for God’s forgiveness of his sins. He also states that he completed the calligraphic panel in the year 998 AH (1590). Muhammad Husayn appears to have been active during the reign of the Safavid Shah ʻAbbas I (reigned 1587–1629).