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lluminated manuscripts are beautiful ornate manuscripts utilized in the medieval period mostly in religious texts which ultimately led to the spread of literacy. They have been named illuminated manuscripts as the pictures were often gilded with golds and silvers, which “illuminated” the hand-painted images adorning the text. These texts were of great spiritual importance, and being able to read them was an indication of status. Though these techniques are most commonly known in European, in particular early Christian, literature, the adornment of text adorned with intricate images plated with precious metals was also prevalent in other cultures, such as in Islamic texts.

The Book of Kells, the Chi-Rho page, Meggs.282.

The Book of Kells, the Chi-Rho page, Meggs image 4-7.

The purpose of this blog is to provide general information regarding the practice, history, and cultural importance of the illuminated manuscript. We are hoping to provide concise, accurate, and interesting information regarding this now lost art form.

The blog is composed of three pages to discuss three significant aspects of the history of this art form;

– Culture: In this section we discuss the cultural importance of these texts, and how the production of the manuscripts was affected by rampant illiteracy at the time. We discuss who writes the manuscripts and the scribes which adorn it.

The Book of Durrow, opening page, the Gospel of Saint Mark, 680ce. Meggs, p281.

The Book of Durrow, opening page, the Gospel of Saint Mark, 680ce. Meggs, 4-5.

– Technology: Here, we discuss the technology and techne aspects of the illuminated manuscripts, including the materials and the techniques employed. Modern paper did not exist at the time of the production of these tomes, and they used an assortment of durable and precious materials to create beautifully intricate texts that would provide an immersive experience to both literate and illiterate folks.

The Book of Kells, text page with ornamental initials, c. 794-806ce. Meggs image 4-9

The Book of Kells, text page with ornamental initials, c. 794-806ce. Meggs image 4-9

– Aesthetics: On this page, we exhibit the different aesthetic styles of the illuminated manuscript. As aforementioned, there are multiple visual cultures that made use of the technique of the illuminated manuscript, thus, though using similar techniques, different cultures created quite different aesthetics.

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