One of the smallest extant medieval Psalters, measuring just 50mm x 37mm.

This miniature Ferial Psalter, written around 1280, shows however that the interest and complexity of a manuscript has nothing to do with its size... 1/12
Representing the end-stage of a miniaturization fad that had been accelerating from the mid-twelfth-century, this manuscript - and others like it - could only have been possible after the introduction of the lens.... 2/12
The Psalter is profusely ornamented, with a range of decoration including ten multi-line, sometimes page-size, puzzle initials in red and blue, with frogspawn penwork and red and blue extensions forming three- and four-sided borders, some with “firework” designs... 3/12
The triple-graded kalendar is of northern French Use (blue, red, black) for the vicinity of Cambrai or, less likely, Arras. The entry for Thomas Becket has been erased, suggesting that the manuscript had moved from France to England by the time of the Reformation.... 4/12
In the 17th century, 65 folios of prayers and Scriptural readings in Greek were added. The script reveals a foreigner with a good knowledge of Greek but who makes some mistakes that reveal his non-native identity: e.g., ἐκλήκτους for ἐκλεκτούς; Λιτάνεια for Λιτανεία.... 5/12
The writer is clearly English since he prays for the strength and success of “our King Charles” and especially for the sovereign’s victory during a time of war. Because King Charles I (1625 - 1649) fought the English Civil War, he seems a likelier referent than Charles II... 6/12
An additional 13 further folios contain a long, and apparently unique and undocumented prayer in English based on the Pater Noster. The date is challenging to ascertain, but the script evokes Roman typefaces of the seventeenth century.... 7/12
The author is clearly an English Protestant, since the prayer expresses anti-Catholic sentiments: “convert the Turks and the Jewes unto the faith ... Repaire & restore thy kingdome where it is decaied, either by Turkish cruelty or popish tyranny or mens ambitions.”... 8/12
On fol. 14r, the tiny face of a horned devil apparently sporting eyeglasses has been incorporated into the marginal decoration in the upper right corner. This illustration just might represent the very earliest depiction of spectacles in all medieval art... 9/12
If it is the earliest, it would also be the very first graphic showing temple bows or strings. Most images of early spectacles (from the fourteenth century), depict instead a rivet-style that pinched onto the nose or else was held in the hand.... 10/12
If this 'devil' is wearing spectacles, what could the sketch mean? The artist seems to commend the technological achievement of book miniaturization, and his self-referential image implies that lenses would be needed both to read so small a manuscript and to produce it.... 11/12
This thread just scratches the surface of the interest and complexity of this beautifully made, much used, much travelled, extensively augmented, miraculously surviving, 750 year old miniature codex, barely two cubic inches in size. 12/12
Four of the 10 intricate penwork initials in red and blue from the Psalter, each no more than about a square cm in size. 13/

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More from @incunabula

1 May
"The Jewish Magna Carta"

The 'Statute of Kalisz' was the first major manuscript project of the artist Arthur Szyk. It celebrates the General Charter of Jewish Liberties, which granted civil and religious rights to Polish Jews when issued in 1264 by Duke Bolesław in Kalisz. 1/4 ImageImageImage
Printed in Paris in 1932, this is a visually stunning production. The integration of text and image is vastly better handled than in Szyk's more widely known Haggadah, and the reproduction of Szyk's artwork is outstanding: crisp, vivid, colorful, impactful. 2/4 ImageImage
The full 500 copies planned of the Statute of Kalisz were never printed, and a large part of the actual printed run was destroyed in the German bombing of Warsaw. Szyk himself stated that only 50 copies existed, and some sources place the number as low as twenty or thirty. 3/4 ImageImage
Read 4 tweets
27 Apr
This is an untouched box of the legendary Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk, made in Japan circa 2014. The company closed down in 2015, and while a version of the chalk is now made in Korea, purists mourn the loss of the unsurpassable original - the finest blackboard chalk ever made. 1/
Mathematicians in particular revered Hagoromo for its unequalled legibility, usability and durability. Here, by @jeremyjkun, is a teary goodbye to Hagoromo. 2/
"I tried it. It was love at first sight. I couldn't believe such a thing existed," says math professor Satyan Devadoss. Since then, he's been a Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk convert." 3/…
Read 11 tweets
25 Apr
In the 90 years since its discovery the unique text of this papyrus (known as P. Michael.4), has defied simple identification. Known as the "Inundation" papyrus, it may be a fragment of an Ancient Greek novel. It describes the annual flooding of the Nile in poetic language. 1/5
"... An area thirty stades in circumference it embraces with Egyptian soil and weaves together with a piling up of black mud. Now this area is a promontory with Poseidon and Nile on either side. It seems to me that around this area human nourishment came into being...." 2/5
Merkelbach in 1958 identified it as a previously unrecorded section of the geographies of Hecataeus of Miletus (c. 550 - c. 476 BC.), the first recorded Greek geographer. 3/5
Read 5 tweets
23 Apr
Today is #StGeorgesDay. St George is one of the most important of all saints in the Ethiopian Church, revered for his martyrdom, and especially for his survival through repeated tortures - he was, above all, one tough 'ol boy.... 1/ #hardtokill
As we progress through this Ge'ez codex of the Life & Miracles of St George, despite multiple impalings, hangings, beatings, roastings and stabbings, St George remains still only mostly dead. And as "The Princess Bride" taught us, mostly dead is still slightly alive.... 2/
Sadly though, in the end actual decapitation was too much to bounce back from, even for St George.... 3/
Read 7 tweets
18 Apr
This is potentially a cultural tragedy happening as we watch in horror - I know this library quite well - if it has indeed been destroyed, the losses are incalculable, from incunables to priceless Africana.
This is the main Cape Town afternoon newspaper. Their ongoing coverage is here:…
As a young man, I spent many happy hours in the Jagger library. Aside from priceless early materials, this is one of the great repositories for archives & documents of anti-colonial and liberation movements in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. This is irreplaceable material. Image
Read 28 tweets
14 Apr
The Tripiṭaka Koreana or Palman Daejanggyeong ("Eighty-Thousand Tripiṭaka") is a Korean collection of the Tripiṭaka (Buddhist scriptures), carved onto 81,258 wooden printing blocks in the 13th century. 1/
It is the world's most comprehensive and oldest intact version of Buddhist canon in Hanja script, with no known errors or errata in the 52,330,152 characters which are organized in over 1496 titles and 6568 volumes. 2/
Each wood block measures 24 centimeters in height and 70 centimeters in length. The thickness of the blocks ranges from 2.6 to 4 centimeters and each weighs about three to four kilograms. 3/
Read 22 tweets

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