The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at Penn brings manuscript culture, modern technology and people together.


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Manuscript Monday: Ms. Codex 1566 – Book of hours

Nicholas Herman, Curator of Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania Library, offers a video orientation to Penn Library’s Ms. Codex 1566, Book of hours: use of Metz. This manuscript was written in France between 1375 and 1399, in Latin, with a calendar in French. It includes the Hours of the Virgin, the Penitential Psalms and Litany, and the Office of the Dead.

See the full online facsimile of this work in Penn in Hand.

 


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“Laghuvākyavṛttiprakāśikā” and other Indic manuscripts, now on OPenn

Here is a list of some recent additions to OPenn on January 24, 2017.

(Shelfmark, Title, Date uploaded, Link to OPenn).

39 Items

Univ. of Penn Books & Manuscripts

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Fol. 1v-2r., Ms. Coll. 390, Item 1017 *Laghuvākyavṛttiprakāśikā,* January  24, 2017, http://openn.library.upenn.edu/Data/0002/html/mscoll390_item1017.html

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Manuscript Monday: LJS 392 – Taḥrīr al-majisti

Nicholas Herman, Curator of Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania Library, offers a video orientation to Penn Library’s LJS 392, Taḥrīr al-majisti, by Ṭūsī, Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad (1201-1274). This manuscript was written around A.H. 813 (1411), in Arabic, and it is a 13th-century recension of Ptolemy’s Almagest with the early 14th-century commentary of the Iranian scholar and astronomer Niẓām al-Dīn al-Nīsābūrī.

See the full online facsimile of this work in Penn in Hand.

 


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Middle Eastern Manuscripts on OPenn

With its emphasis on the history of science and the transmission of knowledge across time and geography, the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection brings together many of the great scientific and philosophical traditions of the ancient and medieval worlds. Documenting the extraordinary achievements of scholars, philosophers, and scientists active in pre-modern Europe, Africa, and Asia, the collection illuminates the foundations of our shared intellectual heritage.

The following Middle Eastern manuscripts from the Schoenberg collection have been uploaded recently to OPenn.  They were written between the 10th and 18th centuries, originated in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and cover a wide range of topics including mathematics, medicine, astronomy, and philosophy.  One notable example from the list is  LJS 49 “Rawḍat al-adhhān fī maʻrifat tashrīḥ badan al-insān.” It is an early copy, probably in the hand of the author, of a Persian anatomy treatise originally written in 1396, with chapters on bones, nerves, veins, arteries and muscles, and complex organs. The colophon states that it was completed by the author himself in the month of Dhu’l-Hijja in the year A.H. 813 (1411). The anatomical illustrations are some of the oldest known representations of the body in the Islamic world. Below are two full-page anatomical diagrams of bones (f. 10r) and complex organs including uterus with fetus (f. 30r).

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LJS 49, Folio 10r, Written in Persia

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LJS 49, Folio 30r, Written in Persia

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THE NEEDHAM CALCULATOR (1.0) and THE FLAVORS OF FIFTEENTH-CENTURY PAPER

We at the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies have created a tool that we hope will be useful to manuscript scholars, art historians, incunabulists, and all those interested in the categories and formats of fifteenth century paper, and the impact they had on the sizes of books and works of art as we see them today. We have called this tool the Needham Calculator because it is dependent upon Paul Needham’s classification of categories of fifteenth-century paper.

Here it is: http://needhamcalculator.net

The dimensions of books and works on paper in the fifteenth century are normally given in millimeters. Many people are not fond of millimeters, and for good reason. They are difficult to visualize in quantity (and they are so small that they come in quantity), and the issue is exacerbated in our digital world, through which reproductions are only seen at their original size by accident. We need to be able to visualize the dimensions of a book, a print or a drawing, because this frames the conditions through which the text is read and the image seen. The simple expedient of using centimeters to one decimal place helps in this regard. But more than this, while measuring in millimeters gives the paper’s current dimensions with useful precision, these dimensions more often than not were determined by the binder of a book, or the framer of an image, in a subsequent century. We need to know – if we can find out – the original size of the item, with the implications that this would have for its use, cost, aesthetics, and connoted meanings: will its large scale impress, for example, or will it instead conjure up the poetry of the miniature? Finally, millimeters are an imposed measure that does nothing to reveal decisions made by scribes, artist, and printers, in the creation of their works. The numbers don’t tell us what options were available to them in choosing the size of their paper, nor which ones they actually chose in specific instances.

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Manuscript Monday: LJS 38 – Prayers and commentary

Dot Porter, Curator, Digital Research Services at the University of Pennsylvania Library, offers a video orientation to Penn Library’s LJS 38, Prayers and commentary. This manuscript was written in Turkey, A.H. 889 (1484), in Arabic, with commentary in Ottoman Turkish. It is a collection of prayers in Arabic, each preceded by a commentary in Ottoman Turkish, with a diagram (f. 217v) and information at the end for calculating the direction of Mecca from different latitudes.

See the full online facsimile of this work in Penn in Hand.