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


Leave a comment

Manuscript Monday: LJS 414 – Astrological compendium

Dot Porter, Curator, Digital Research Services at the University of Pennsylvania Library, offers a video orientation to Penn Library’s LJS 414, Astrological compendium. This manuscript was written in Iran, ca. 1670 (A.H. 1081), in Persian, and it is a collection of astronomical works, including 2 on the astrolabe, a treatise on a horoscope referring to Khawaja Haji Ghulām Ḥusayn and the date A.H. 1047, and an illustrated work on Dhu al-Qarnayn, a Koranic figure later associated with legends of Alexander the Great.

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

 


Leave a comment

Manuscript Monday: LJS 99 – Table of integer square roots

Dot Porter, Curator, Digital Research Services at the University of Pennsylvania Library, offers a video orientation to Penn Library’s LJS 99, a table of integer square roots. This partially baked clay tablet was created in Iraq, between 1999 and 1800 B.C., in Sumerian. It is a table of numbers whose square roots are integers, in Babylonian sexagesimal notation.

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

 


Leave a comment

Manuscript Monday: LJS 235 – Kitāb al-Adwār

Dot Porter, Curator, Digital Research Services at the University of Pennsylvania Library, offers a video orientation to Penn Library’s LJS 235, Kitāb al-Adwār, by ʻAbd al-Muʼmin ibn Yūsuf Urmawī. This manuscript was written in the Ottoman empire during the 16th century, in Arabic, and it is a treatise on the theory of music, including division of frets, ratio of intervals, consonance and dissonance, cycles, rhythmic and melodic modes, and the 5-string oud or lute, with an anonymous commentary.

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

 


Leave a comment

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.

 


Leave a comment

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.

 


Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

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.