Scribal Arts

Calligraphy, illumination, paper making, bookbinding, printing, and related sciences and arts

"Nasta’liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy" at the Sackler

Islamic art does not depict the human form, but it often finds its greatest inspiration in calligraphy. A new exhibit at the Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. is devoted to nasta’liq, Persian calligraphy developed from the 14th to 16th centuries. Nasta’liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy will be featured at the gallery from September 13, 2014 through March 22, 2015.

Early Christian charm found in Manchester library

A 6th century papyrus, identified as an early Christian charm, has been discovered among the documents in the University of Manchester's John Rylands Library. The charm is considered "the earliest surviving document to use the Christian Eucharist liturgy - which outlines the Last Supper - as a protective charm."

Oldest known siddur displayed in Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum recently played host to the Book of Books exhibition which featured the world's oldest siddur, a 1,200-year-old Hebrew manuscript still in its original binding. (photo)

Mary, Queen of Scots letter sells for US$28,000

On September 18, 2014, RR Auction, in Boston, Massachusetts, auctioned a private letter from Mary Queen of Scots transferring control of her property, Wassy Castle, located in eastern Champagne, France, to her maitre d'hotel, Jacques de la Montaigne. The letter was sold to a private bidder for US$28,750 (UK£17,472). (photo)

SCA Calligraphy and Illumination Calendar Published

The Labours of the East, a 2015 calendar with artwork by scribes of the East Kingdom to benefit the Royal Travel Fund, goes on sale today from the East Kingdom Gazette.

First English book brings more than £1m

The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye is considered to be the first book ever to be printed in English. A translation of a French book by William Caxton, the 1474 English edition sold recently at auction for more than £1m. (photo)

New documents added to British Library's digitalization project

The British Library reports that it has released its latest list of digitized documents for summer 2014.

Medieval treasures among books of auctioned library

Heywood Bright, liberal British politician, was a collector of rare books. Recently his library, including several previously unknown or incomplete medieval treasures, was auctioned by Christie's.

Recall alert: QoR® Synthetic Ox Gall watercolour paint medium

Health Canada reports that Golden Artist Colours has issued a recall notice for "QoR® Synthetic Ox Gall which is designed to be used with artists' watercolour paints in small amounts to improve the flow and wetting. The product contains the preservative MIT which can cause skin rash or blistering."

Was the Black Prince really so evil?

British school children all know about the evil Black Prince Edward of Woodstock, who put to death 3,000 innocents after the siege of the French town of Limoges in September 1370. But the discovery of a letter written by Edward may change his image forever.

Sackler Gallery presents Persian Calligraphy exhibit

The Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. will present Nasta'liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy beginning September 13, 2014. The exhibit will showcase Persian calligraphy from the 14th-16th centuries.

Securing the precious Magna Carta

Chris Woods, director of the  British National Conservation Service, has a daunting task: to assure the safety of the precious Lincoln Magna Carta during its tour through the United States in 2014.

New BM digitization includes medieval "comic book"

Among over 1000 new manuscripts placed online by the British Museum is The Guthlac Roll, a history of St. Guthlac told in graphic novel style "using a series of images in roundels with labels." Mark Strauss of i09 offers his views on the manuscript.

Hengwrt Chaucer online

The earliest known manuscript of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, housed at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, has been digitized and is now available online. (photo)

15th century Torah sold at auction for US$3.87 million

“The volume represents the very first appearance in print of all five books of the Pentateuch as well as the first to which vocalization and cantillation marks have been added,” said the Christie's auction house catalogue about the sale of a Torah, printed in Hebrew in Bologna in January 1482. An anonymous buyer paid US$3.87 million for the book. (photo)

St. Sabas seal found in Jerusalem

St. Sabas, a leader of the monastic movement, was a very important person in Jerusalem during the Middle Ages. Recently a lead seal, bearing his image and dating to the 13th century, was discovered during an archaeological dig in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood of Jerusalem. (photo)

Getty art books for download

Silfren, from the Kingdom of Lochac, reports that the Getty Publications Archives is offering free digital backlist titles for download. Items available include exhibition catalogs and symposium papers as well as art books.

British books barred from leaving England

The British Library has been successful in acquiring the Catholicon Anglicum, a 15th-century English-Latin dictionary, and a printed traictise owned and annotated by John Ponet, thanks to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest which barred the books from export.

Japanese IT company to digitize more Vatican documents

The Vatican Library processes many requests to use documents and manuscripts from its enormous collection, but the increased requests have led to fear that the fragile documents will be damaged. Enter NTT DATA, a Japanese IT company who has been contracted to digitize 3,000 manuscripts at a cost of 18 million euros (US $22.6 million).

Letters of Wallace and Robert the Bruce on display at Stirling Castle

700 years ago the fate of Scotland was being decided. Now, history buffs will be able to read the words of those concerned in the historic events at an exhibit of letters of Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, and others, at Stirling Castle. The exhibition runs until June 2014. (photo)

State Library of Victoria completes digitization project

The State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia has just completed a project to digitize medieval and renaissance manuscripts from its own collection as well as some from the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. The manuscripts are available to view on the library's website.

It's six books in one!

Medieval bookbinders may have been the precursors of eReaders when they developed the dos-à-dos (or "back-to-back") book with two or more separate texts and multi-hinged covers. One example is the beautiful devotional dos-à-dos book owned by the National Library of Sweden which includes six works. (photos)

Kitty 1; scribe 0

Any cat owner who participates in needlework or scribal arts will sympathize with a 15th century Dutch monk who indicated a stain on his work and wrote "Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book." (photo)

"Cradle of the law" to display Magna Carta

In 1214, English barons met in Suffolk to discuss King John and the Magna Carta, a year before it was signed in Surrey. Now the Bury Society will celebrate the event with a display of an original copy of the document at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds.

Illuminated almanac: 15th century iPad?

The Wellcome Library has acquired a rare medical almanac, a "combined calendar, astrological chart and medical textbook," that compacts into a small, folded strip, for UK£100,000 from the Edith Sitwell collection. The illuminated alamnac is believed to have been produced in an English workshop in the early 15th century. (photo)

Matilda Bosvyle de Bella Acqua made Laurel in AEthelmearc

Kameshima Zentarou Umakai, Silver Buccle Principal Herald, reports that at Their Court at the Feast of the Seven Deadly Sins, Their Majesties Timothy and Gabrielle, of the Kingdom of AEthelmearc, offered elevation to the order of the Laurel to Mistress Matilda Bosvyle de Bella Acqua.

Life of King Sawlu told on tablet

Archaeologists working at a site near Mandalay, Burma are excited by the discovery of a 900-year-old stone tablet describing the life of little known Burmese king Sawlu. The tablet acknowleges that the king "ruled the nation by the teachings of Lord Buddha" and mentions a monastery built by donations from Sawlu's wife. (photo)

Cambridge hopes to acquire Codex Zacynthius

In 1821, the Bible Society, in Swindon, England was presented with the Codex Zacynthius, a 6th or 7th century Gospel of Luke. Now the Society is offering the Bible for sale, with Cambridge University as its buyer of choice. In order to acquire the manuscript, Cambridge will need to raise UK£1.1m. (photo)

"Honor and respect" demonstrated at museum medieval fair

The Canton Museum of Art in Canton, Ohio recently held an exhibition entitled Illuminating the World: The Saint John's Bible, centered around a display of the Saint John's Bible, a medieval bible made with modern techniques. In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum hosted a medieval festival featuring members of the Marche of Alderford, the local chapter of the SCA. (photo)

Upcoming Known World events

Master Raven Mayne reports that several Known World events for the Society for Creative Anachronism have been scheduled for 2014.