One of the things that really entrances me on our travels is seeing old manuscripts and books. For example in Turkey, you can find hand painted pages from old Islamic texts in some antique and gift shops. We have bought a couple of them on our travels there, and I love the delicacy of these images.

As part of my online collection of interesting articles and research, I have a list of books that feature stunning illustrations. Where possible I have purchased reproductions of the texts. Here is a small sample of some of the books I would love to own.

Kitab al-Bulhan
Kitab al-Bulhan

The Kitab al-Bulhan or Book of Wonders, is an Arabic manuscript dating mainly from the late 14th century A.D. and probably bound together in Baghdad during the reign of Jalayirid Sultan Ahmad (1382-1410). It features astrological, astronomical and geomantic texts with full-page illustrations.

Book of Kells
Book of Kells

Seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity College Dublin on my visit to Ireland many years ago was one of the highlights of my trip. The stunning 8th century manuscript is celebrated for its lavish decoration. The manuscript contains the four Gospels in Latin based on a Vulgate text, written on vellum (prepared calfskin), in a bold and expert version of the script known as “insular majuscule.”

The unfinished manuscript has resided in the Trinity College Library, since 1661, takes its name from the Abbey of Kells that was its home for centuries. Here you can find a full history of the origins and life of the Book of Kells. Apparently, there is also an iPad app you can download (shame it isn’t device independent).

Book of Miracles
Book of Miracles

The Book of Miracles  surfaced a few years ago and made its way into an American private collection. This text is considered one of the most spectacular recent discoveries in the field of Renaissance art. The nearly complete surviving illustrated manuscript, which was created in the Swabian Imperial Free City of Augsburg around 1550, is composed of 169 pages with large-format illustrations in gouache and watercolor depicting wondrous and often eerie celestial phenomena, constellations, conflagrations, and floods as well as other catastrophes and occurrences. It is on my ‘must buy’ list.

At the moment my book collection is just a snippet of my online collection of goodies, but evidentially is another example of my need to hoard information and inspiration. In the coming months, I hope to share with you more wonderment.

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