Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Lindisfarne Gospels Manuscript

"The incipit of the Liber Generationis, Christ's genealogy,
at the start of the gospel of Matthew"

The Lindisfarne gospels manuscript has somehow survived intact for 13 centuries. Bishop Eadfrith dedicated this masterpiece among illuminated manuscripts to the enshrining of St Cuthbert in about 710 A.D. It is part of the Cotton collection at the British Library.
"Incipit page of the gospel of Luke {large jpg}, with interlace, spiral,
and zoomorphic motifs. The cat whose head appears in
the bottom right-hand corner has eaten some birds, and
is stalking those in the bottom border."

In addition to its intrinsic artistic worth in which sacred calligraphy is combined with intricate decoration, the manuscript is also historically important. The "native Celtic and Anglo-Saxon elements blend with Roman, Coptic and Eastern traditions to create a sublimely unified artistic vision of the cultural melting pot of Northumbria in the seventh and eighth centuries". It was thus part of the artistic body of works that helped define a sense of the evolving English national identity.

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