Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Book of Examples

[click images for larger versions]

Buch der Beispiele, Passionsgebet 'The Book of Examples, Passion Prayer' by Antonius von Pforr in ~1480 is codex 84 from the Codices Palatini Germanicus - the oldest body of German manuscripts; online at the University of Heidelburg.

von Pforr was a cleric, author and lawyer (and may have only been the translator here - I saw reference to a John of Capua as author but this is by no means certain from the translational difficulties). The 'Book of Examples' is, from what I can gather, a translation of the Pancatantra - the most famous collection of fables from India. The Pancatantra was a five book compilation of predominantly animal fables, originally meant as instructive lessons for Indian royalty in morals and the science of practical life. It was widely translated in Europe in the middle ages.

Buch der Beispiele is over 400 pages long, with painted miniatures every few pages and some 'light' illumination work. The only overtly religious symbology I remember seeing was a full page painting at the end depicting Christ on the cross. Otherwise the above illustrations are a fair cross section from this interesting work. Unfortunately there is no thumbnail page and it took great perseverence to view perhaps 1/2 to 2/3 of the manuscript pages - more to do with connection difficulties than anything. This is by far the most difficult post I've put together and has taken 24 hours to get it online - that's a local whinge and nothing to do with the website really. But note that zooming on any of the pages opens the image as a pdf file.

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