A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document that is written by hand — or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten — as opposed to being mechanically printed or reproduced in some indirect or automated way.More recently, the term has come to be understood to further include any written, typed, or word-processed copy of an author's work, as distinguished from its rendition as a printed version of the same. Before the arrival of printing, all documents and books were manuscripts. Manuscripts are not defined by their contents, which may combine writing with mathematical calculations, maps, music notation, explanatory figures or illustrations.
The study of the writing, or "hand" in surviving manuscripts is termed palaeography. The traditional abbreviations are MS for manuscript and MSS for manuscripts,while the forms MS., ms or ms. for singular, and MSS., mss or mss. for plural (with or without the full stop, all uppercase or all lowercase) are also accepted. The second s is not simply the plural; by an old convention, it doubles the last letter of the abbreviation to express the plural, just as pp. means "pages".
A manuscript may be a codex (i.e. bound as a book) or a scroll. Illuminated manuscripts are enriched with pictures, border decorations, elaborately embossed initial letters or full-page illustrations.
The mechanical reproduction of a manuscript is called facsimile. Digital reproductions can be called (high-resolution) scans or digital images.
Before the invention of woodblock printing in China or by movable type in a printing press in Europe, all written documents had to be both produced and reproduced by hand. Historically, manuscripts were produced in form of scrolls (volumen in Latin) or books (codex, plural codices). Manuscripts were produced on vellum and other parchment, on papyrus, and on paper. In Russia birch bark documents as old as from the 11th century have survived. In India, the palm leaf manuscript, with a distinctive long rectangular shape, was used from ancient times until the 19th century.
Paper spread from China via the Islamic world to Europe by the 14th century, and by the late 15th century had largely replaced parchment for many purposes. When Greek or Latin works were published, numerous professional copies were made simultaneously by scribes in a scriptorium, each making a single copy from an original that was declaimed aloud.
The oldest written manuscripts have been preserved by the perfect dryness of their Middle Eastern resting places, whether placed within sarcophagi in Egyptian tombs, or reused as mummy-wrappings, discarded in the middens of Oxyrhynchus or secreted for safe-keeping in jars and buried (Nag Hammadi library) or stored in dry caves (Dead Sea scrolls). Manuscripts in Tocharian languages, written on palm leaves, survived in desert burials in the Tarim Basin of Central Asia. Volcanic ash preserved some of the Roman library of the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum.
Ironically, the manuscripts that were being most carefully preserved in the libraries of antiquity are virtually all lost. Papyrus has a life of at most a century or two in relatively moist Italian or Greek conditions; only those works copied onto parchment, usually after the general conversion to Christianity, have survived, and by no means all of those.
Originally, all books were in manuscript form. In China, and later other parts of East Asia, woodblock printing was used for books from about the 7th century. The earliest dated example is the Diamond Sutra of 868. In the Islamic world and the West, all books were in manuscript until the introduction of movable type printing in about 1450.[ clarification needed ] Manuscript copying of books continued for a least a century, as printing remained expensive. Private or government documents remained hand-written until the invention of the typewriter in the late 19th century. Because of the likelihood of errors being introduced each time a manuscript was copied, the filiation of different versions of the same text is a fundamental part of the study and criticism of all texts that have been transmitted in manuscript.
In Southeast Asia, in the first millennium, documents of sufficiently great importance were inscribed on soft metallic sheets such as copperplate, softened by refiner's fire and inscribed with a metal stylus. In the Philippines, for example, as early as 900AD, specimen documents were not inscribed by stylus, but were punched much like the style of today's dot-matrix printers. This type of document was rare compared to the usual leaves and bamboo staves that were inscribed. However, neither the leaves nor paper were as durable as the metal document in the hot, humid climate. In Burma, the kammavaca, Buddhist manuscripts, were inscribed on brass, copper or ivory sheets, and even on discarded monk robes folded and lacquered. In Italy some important Etruscan texts were similarly inscribed on thin gold plates: similar sheets have been discovered in Bulgaria. Technically, these are all inscriptions rather than manuscripts.
In the Western world, from the classical period through the early centuries of the Christian era, manuscripts were written without spaces between the words (scriptio continua), which makes them especially hard for the untrained to read. Extant copies of these early manuscripts written in Greek or Latin and usually dating from the 4th century to the 8th century, are classified according to their use of either all upper case or all lower case letters. Hebrew manuscripts, such as the Dead Sea scrolls make no such differentiation. Manuscripts using all upper case letters are called majuscule, those using all lower case are called minuscule. Usually, the majuscule scripts such as uncial are written with much more care. The scribe lifted his pen between each stroke, producing an unmistakable effect of regularity and formality. On the other hand, while minuscule scripts can be written with pen-lift, they may also be cursive, that is, use little or no pen-lift.
Islamic manuscripts were produced in different ways depending on their use and time period. Parchment (vellum) was a common way to produce manuscripts.Manuscripts eventually transitioned to using paper in later centuries with the diffusion of paper making in the Islamic empire. When Muslims encountered paper in Central Asia, its use and production spread to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa during the 8th century.
The development of scripts in the Islamic empire, demonstrates the transition from an oral culture to convey information to written. Traditionally speaking in the Islamic empire, Arabic calligraphy was the common form of recording texts. Calligraphy is the practice or art of decorative handwriting.The demand for calligraphy in the early stages of the Islamic empire (circa 7-8th century) can be attributed to a need to produce Qur'an manuscripts. During the Ummayad period, Kufic scrips were typically seen in Qur'an manuscripts.
Islamic manuscripts include a variety of topics such as religious, medical, astrological, and literature.
A common religious manuscript would be a copy of the Qur'an, which is the sacred book of Islam. The Qur'an is believed by Muslims to be a divine revelation (the word of god) to the prophet Muhammed, revealed to him by Archangel Gabriel.Qur'an manuscripts can vary in form and function. Certain manuscripts were larger in size for ceremonial purposes, others being smaller and more transportable. An example of a Qur'an manuscript is the Blue Koran. The Blue Koran is ceremonial in nature, which a Hafiz would utilize. It has gold Kufic script, on parchment dyed blue with indigo. Many Qur'an manuscripts are divided into 30 equal sections (juz) to be able to be read over the course of 30 days . The Chinese practice of writing on paper, presented to the Islamic world around the 8th century, enabled Qur'ans to be begin to be written on paper. The decrease in production costs of Qur'an manuscripts due to the transition from parchment to paper enabled Qur'ans to be utilized more frequently for personal use/worship, rather than just ceremonial settings.
Many early illustrated Arabic manuscripts are affiliated with scientific subjects. Scientific manuscripts discuss a variety of topics including but not limited to astronomy, astrology, anatomy, botany, and zoology.The development of early illustrated scientific manuscripts began under the Islamic Abbasid dynasty in Baghdad in approximately the mid 8th century. This development is primarily attributed to the translation of Greek scientific and learned works, and the pursuit of original scholarship in science, medicine, and philosophy in Arabic. An example of an Arabic scientific manuscript is the Book of the Fixed Stars by Abd al-Rahman b. Umar al-Sufi. This manuscript is a catalog of stars and their constellations, commissioned by the patron the Buyid prince Adud al-Dawla. The Book of the Fixed Stars based most of its content on Ptolemy's Mathematik Syntaxis (Almagest), which was translated from Greek to Arabic during the 9th century. Al-Sufi's included his own observations of Ptolemy's material into this manuscript as well.
Most surviving pre-modern manuscripts use the codex format (as in a modern book), which had replaced the scroll by Late Antiquity. Parchment or vellum, as the best type of parchment is known, had also replaced papyrus, which was not nearly so long lived and has survived to the present only in the extremely dry conditions of Egypt, although it was widely used across the Roman world. Parchment is made of animal skin, normally calf, sheep, and/or goat, but also other animals. With all skins, the quality of the finished product is based on how much preparation and skill was put into turning the skin into parchment. Parchment made from calf or sheep was the most common in Northern Europe, while civilizations in Southern Europe preferred goatskin.Often, if the parchment is white or cream in color and veins from the animal can still be seen, it is calfskin. If it is yellow, greasy or in some cases shiny, then it was made from sheepskin.
For a step-by step process of how these books were prepared, including copying and illumination, watch this video provided by the Getty Museum.
Vellum comes from the Latin word vitulinum which means “of calf”/ “made from calf”. For modern parchment makers and calligraphers, and apparently often in the past, the terms parchment and vellum are used based on the different degrees of quality, preparation and thickness, and not according to which animal the skin came from, and because of this, the more neutral term "membrane" is often used by modern academics, especially where the animal has not been established by testing.
Because they are books, pre-modern manuscripts are best described using bibliographic rather than archival standards. The standard endorsed by the American Library Association is known as AMREMM.A growing digital catalog of pre-modern manuscripts is Digital Scriptorium, hosted by the University of California at Berkeley.
Merovingian script, or "Luxeuil minuscule", is named after an abbey in Western France, the Luxeuil Abbey, founded by the Irish missionary St Columba ca. 590.Caroline minuscule is a calligraphic script developed as a writing standard in Europe so that the Latin alphabet could be easily recognized by the literate class from different regions. It was used in the Holy Roman Empire between approximately 800 and 1200. Codices, classical and Christian texts, and educational material were written in Carolingian minuscule throughout the Carolingian Renaissance. The script developed into blackletter and became obsolete, though its revival in the Italian renaissance forms the basis of more recent scripts. In Introduction to Manuscript Studies, Clemens and Graham associate the beginning of this text coming from the Abby of Saint-Martin at Tours.
Caroline Minuscule arrived in England in the second half of the 10th century. Its adoption there, replacing Insular script, was encouraged by the importation of continental European manuscripts by Saints Dunstan, Aethelwold, and Oswald. This script spread quite rapidly, being employed in many English centres for copying Latin texts. English scribes adapted the Carolingian script, giving it proportion and legibility. This new revision of the Caroline Minuscule was called English Protogothic Bookhand. Another script that is derived from the Caroline Minuscule was the German Protogothic Bookhand. It originated in southern Germany during the second half of the 12th century.All the individual letters are Caroline; but just as with English Protogothic Bookhand it evolved. This can be seen most notably in the arm of the letter h. It has a hairline that tapers out by curving to the left. When first read the German Protogothic h looks like the German Protogothic b. Many more scripts sprang out of the German Protogothic Bookhand. After those came Bastard Anglicana, which is best described as:
The coexistence in the Gothic period of formal hands employed for the copying of books and cursive scripts used for documentary purposes eventually resulted in cross-fertilization between these two fundamentally different writing styles. Notably, scribes began to upgrade some of the cursive scripts. A script that has been thus formalized is known as a bastard script (whereas a bookhand that has had cursive elements fused onto it is known as a hybrid script). The advantage of such a script was that it could be written more quickly than a pure bookhand; it thus recommended itself to scribes in a period when demand for books was increasing and authors were tending to write longer texts. In England during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, many books were written in the script known as Bastard Anglicana.
From ancient texts to medieval maps, anything written down for study would have been done with manuscripts. Some of the most common genres were bibles, religious commentaries, philosophy, law and government texts.
“The Bible was the most studied book of the Middle Ages.”The Bible was the center of medieval religious life. Along with the Bible came scores of commentaries. Commentaries were written in volumes, with some focusing on just single pages of scripture. Across Europe, there were universities that prided themselves on their biblical knowledge. Along with universities, certain cities also had their own celebrities of biblical knowledge during the medieval period.
A book of hours is a type of devotional text which was widely popular during the Middle Ages. They are the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscripts. Each book of hours contain a similar collection of texts, prayers, and psalms but decoration can vary between each and each example. Many have minimal illumination, often restricted to ornamented initials, but books of hours made for wealthier patrons can be extremely extravagant with full-page miniatures. These books were used for owners to recite prayers privately eight different times, or hours, of the day.
Along with Bibles, large numbers of manuscripts made in the Middle Ages were revieved in Church[ clarification needed ]. Due to the complex church system of rituals and worship these books were the most elegantly written and finely decorated of all medieval manuscripts. Liturgical books usually came in two varieties. Those used during mass and those for divine office.
Most liturgical books came with a calendar in the front. This served as a quick reference point for important dates in Jesus' life and to tell church officials which saints were to be honored and on what day. The format of the liturgical calendar was as follows:
an example of a medieval liturgical calendar
|January, August, December||March, May, July, October||April, June, September, November||February|
|Kal. (1)||Kal. (1)||Kal. (1)||Kal. (1)|
|IV Non. (2)||VI Non. (2)||IV Non. (2)||IV Non. (2)|
|III Non. (3)||V Non. (3)||III Non. (3)||III Non. (3)|
|II Non. (4)||IV Non. (4)||II Non. (4)||II Non. (4)|
|Non. (5)||III Non. (5)||Non. (5)||Non. (5)|
|VIII Id. (6)||II Non. (6)||VIII Id. (6)||VIII Id. (6)|
|VII Id. (7)||Non. (7)||VII Id. (7)||VII Id. (7)|
|VI Id. (8)||VIII Id. (8)||VI Id. (8)||VI Id. (8)|
|V Id. (9)||VII Id. (9)||V Id. (9)||V Id. (9)|
|IV Id. (10)||VII Id. (10)||IV Id. (10)||IV Id. (10)|
|III Id. (11)||V Id. (11)||III Id. (11)||III Id. (11)|
|II Id. (12)||IV Id. (12)||II Id. (12)||II Id. (12)|
|Id (13)||III Id. (13)||Id. (13)||Id. (13)|
|XIX Kal. (14)||II Id. (14)||XVIII Kal. (14)||XVI Kal. (14)|
|XVIII Kal. (15)||Id. (15)||XVII Kal. (15)||XV Kal. (15)|
|XVII Kal. (16)||XVII Kal. (16)||XVI Kal. (16)||XIV Kal. (16)|
|XVI Kal. (17)||XVI Kal. (17)||XV Kal. (17)||XIII Kal. (17)|
|XV Kal. (18)||XV Kal. (18)||XIV Kal. (18)||XII Kal. (18)|
|XIV Kal. (19)||XIV Kal. (19)||XIII Kal. (19)||XI Kal. (19)|
|XIII Kal. (20)||XIII Kal. (20||XII Kal. (20)||X Kal. (20)|
|XII Kal. (21)||XII Kal. (21)||XI Kal. (21)||IX Kal. (21)|
|XI Kal. (22)||XI Kal. (22)||X Kal. (22)||VIII Kal. (22)|
|X Kal. (23)||X Kal. (23)||IX Kal. (23)||VII Kal. (23)|
|IX Kal. (24)||IX Kal. (24)||VIII Kal. (24)||VI Kal (the extra day in a leap year)|
|VIII Kal. (25)||VIII Kal. (25)||VII Kal. (25)||VI Kal. (24/25)|
|VII Kal. (26)||VII Kal. (26)||VI Kal. (26)||V Kal. (25/26)|
|VI Kal. (27)||VI Kal. (27)||V Kal. (28)||V Kal. (26/27)|
|V Kal. (28)||V Kal. (28)||V Kal. (28)||V Kal. (27/28)|
|IV Kal. (29)||IV Kal. (29)||III Kal. (29)||III Kal. (28/29)|
|III Kal. (30)||III Kal. (30)||II Kal. (30)|
|II Kal. (31)||II Kal. (31)|
Almost all medieval calendars give each day's date according to the Roman method of reckoning time. In the Roman system, each month had three fixed points known as Kalends (Kal), the Nones and the Ides. The Nones fell on the fifth of the month in January, February, April, June, August, September, November and December, but on the seventh of the month in March, May, July and October. The Ides fell on the thirteenth in those months in which the Nones fell on the fifth, and the fifteenth in the other four months. All other days were dated by the number of days by which they preceded one of those fixed points.
In the context of library science, a manuscript is defined as any hand-written item in the collections of a library or an archive. For example, a library's collection of hand-written letters or diaries is considered a manuscript collection. Such manuscript collections are described in finding aids, similar to an index or table of contents to the collection, in accordance with national and international content standards such as DACS and ISAD(G).
In other contexts, however, the use of the term "manuscript" no longer necessarily means something that is hand-written. By analogy a typescript has been produced on a typewriter.
In book, magazine, and music publishing, a manuscript is an autograph or copy of a work, written by an author, composer and/or copyist. Such manuscripts generally follow standardized typographic and formatting rules, in which case they can be called fair copy (whether original or copy). The staff paper commonly used for handwritten music is, for this reason, often called "manuscript paper".
In film and theatre, a manuscript, or script for short, is an author's or dramatist's text, used by a theatre company or film crew during the production of the work's performance or filming. More specifically, a motion picture manuscript is called a screenplay; a television manuscript, a teleplay; a manuscript for the theatre, a stage play; and a manuscript for audio-only performance is often called a radio play, even when the recorded performance is disseminated via non-radio means.
In insurance, a manuscript policy is one that is negotiated between the insurer and the policyholder, as opposed to an off-the-shelf form supplied by the insurer.
Major U.S. repositories of medieval manuscripts include:
Many[ which? ] European libraries have far larger collections.
A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many pages bound together and protected by a cover. The technical term for this physical arrangement is codex. In the history of hand-held physical supports for extended written compositions or records, the codex replaces its immediate predecessor, the scroll. A single sheet in a codex is a leaf, and each side of a leaf is a page.
In textual studies, a palimpsest is a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, from which the text has been scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused for another document. Pergamene was made of lamb, calf, or goat kid skin and was expensive and not readily available, so in the interest of economy a pergamene often was re-used by scraping off the previous writing. In colloquial usage, the term palimpsest is also used in architecture, archaeology, and geomorphology to denote an object made or worked upon for one purpose and later reused for another, for example a monumental brass the reverse blank side of which has been re-engraved.
Parchment is a writing material made from specially prepared untanned skins of animals—primarily sheep, calves, and goats. It has been used as a writing medium for over two millennia. Vellum is a finer quality parchment made from the skins of young animals such as lambs and young calves.
Palaeography (UK) or paleography is the study of ancient and historical handwriting. Included in the discipline is the practice of deciphering, reading, and dating historical manuscripts, and the cultural context of writing, including the methods with which writing and books were produced, and the history of scriptoria.
Vellum is prepared animal skin or "membrane", typically used as a material for writing on. Parchment is another term for this material, and if vellum is distinguished from this, it is by vellum being made from calfskin, as opposed to that from other animals, or otherwise being of higher quality. Vellum is prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. The word is derived from the Latin word vitulinum meaning "made from calf", leading to Old French vélin, "calfskin".)
Calligraphy is a visual art related to writing. It is the design and execution of lettering with a broad tip instrument, brush, or other writing instruments. A contemporary calligraphic practice can be defined as "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner".
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented with such decoration as initials, borders (marginalia) and miniature illustrations. In the strictest definition, the term refers only to manuscripts decorated with either gold or silver; but in both common usage and modern scholarship, the term refers to any decorated or illustrated manuscript from Western traditions. Comparable Far Eastern and Mesoamerican works are described as painted. Islamic manuscripts may be referred to as illuminated, illustrated or painted, though using essentially the same techniques as Western works.
Uncial is a majuscule script commonly used from the 4th to 8th centuries AD by Latin and Greek scribes. Uncial letters were used to write Greek, Latin, and Gothic.
Islamic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting and calligraphy, based upon the alphabet in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. It includes Arabic Calligraphy, Ottoman, and Persian calligraphy. It is known in Arabic as khatt Islami, meaning Islamic line, design, or construction.
Western calligraphy is the art of writing and penmanship as practiced in the Western world, especially using the Latin alphabet.
Kufic script is a style of Arabic script that gained prominence early on as a preferred script for Quran transcription and architectural decoration, and it has since become a reference and an archetype for a number of other Arabic scripts. It developed from the Nabataean alphabet in the city of Kufa, from which its name is derived. Kufic script is characterized by angular, rectilinear letterforms and its horizontal orientation. There are many different versions of Kufic script, such as square Kufic, floriated Kufic, knotted Kufic, and others.
Preserving parchment becomes more difficult when pigments, inks, and illumination are added into the equation. Pigments do not dye parchment; instead, they lie on the surface of the parchment and so are rather fragile. The goal of restoring illuminated manuscripts should be to make them resilient to damage while altering them as little as possible. Each individual manuscript, and even each individual page, must be considered as a separate object with different aspects that must be taken into consideration. This in turn will help determine the best course of preservation or conservation treatment.
Purple parchment, Purple vellum or Codex Purpureus refers to manuscripts written on parchment dyed purple. The lettering may be in gold or silver. Later the practice was revived for some especially grand illuminated manuscripts produced for the Emperors in Carolingian art and Ottonian art, in Anglo-Saxon England and elsewhere. Some just use purple parchment for sections of the work; the 8th-century Anglo-Saxon Stockholm Codex Aureus alternates dyed and un-dyed pages.
Codex Ebnerianus, Minuscule 105, δ 257 (Soden), is a Greek language illuminated manuscript of the New Testament, though missing the Book of Revelation.
Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson B 502 is a medieval Irish manuscript which presently resides in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It ranks as one of the three major surviving Irish manuscripts to have been produced in pre-Norman Ireland, the two other works being the Lebor na hUidre and the Book of Leinster. Some scholars have also called it the Book of Glendalough, in Irish Lebar Glinne Dá Locha, after several allusions in medieval and early modern sources to a manuscript of that name. However, there is currently no agreement as to whether Rawlinson B 502, more precisely its second part, is to be identified as the manuscript referred to by that title.
Minuscule 709, ε154, is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 11th century. The manuscript is lacunose. Scrivener labelled it as 737e.
Humanist minuscule is a handwriting or style of script that was invented in secular circles in Italy, at the beginning of the fifteenth century. "Few periods in Western history have produced writing of such great beauty", observes the art historian Millard Meiss. The new hand was based on Carolingian minuscule, which Renaissance humanists, obsessed with the revival of antiquity and their role as its inheritors, took to be ancient Roman:
[W]hen they handled manuscript books copied by eleventh- and twelfth-century scribes, Quattrocento literati thought they were looking at texts that came right out of the bookshops of ancient Rome".
The Blue Qur'an is a late 9th to early 10th-century Andalusian Qur'an manuscript in Kufic calligraphy, probably created in Spain. It is among the most famous works of Islamic calligraphy, and has been called "one of the most extraordinary luxury manuscripts ever created." Art historian Yasser Tabbaa wrote that the "evanescent effect" of the gold lettering on indigo "appears to affirm the Mu'tazili belief in the created and mysterious nature of the Word of God."
The production of the Quran was first prompted by preachings of the prophet Muhammad, who Muslims believe received revelations from God. Muhammad’s revelations were said to have been recorded orally and in writing, through Muhammad and his followers up until his death in 632 AD. These recordings make up what is known as the Quran, Islam’s most divine text. In Muslim tradition, the text of the Quran is traditionally said to have been compiled by first caliph Abu Bakr and codified during the reign of the third caliph Uthman. According to Corpus Coranicum, a research organisation funded by the Government of Germany, more than 60 fragments including more than 2000 folios are so far known as the textual witnesses (manuscripts) of the Qur’an before 800CE. However, in 2015, experts from the University of Birmingham UK introduced a manuscript which is possibly the oldest manuscript of the Quran in the world. Radiocarbon tests to determine the age of the manuscript revealed that this manuscript could be traced back to between 6th or 7th century. Selected manuscripts from the first four centuries after the death of Muhammad (632-1032CE) are listed below.
Kairouani calligraphy, or Kairouani Kufi calligraphy, is one of the islamic calligraphy styles.
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