Saturday, August 11, 2012

Genelogies of the Erles of Lecestre and Chester, 16th Century

Miniature of two knights bearing shields with the emblems of Leicester and Chester

This is the shortest codex at facsimilium, so far: only 20 leaves with the genealogy of Robert Dudley -Earl of Leicester- tracing his descent from the Earls of Leicester and Chester, beginning with individuals of the 11th and 12th centuries, and providing the heraldic devices of the principal members of these families.
About Robert Dudley, was an English nobleman and favourite of Elizabeth I from her first year on the throne until his death: On 18 November 1558, the morning after Elizabeth's accession, he witnessed the surrender of the Great Seal to her at Hatfield and became Master of the Horse on the same day (an important court position entailing close attendance on the sovereign).
Codex, (layout, script and binding details below), best leaves:

Robert Dudley is mentioned in the introduction but does not appear within the genealogy tree, as noted in a late 16th- or early 17th-century hand note (right side)

Related references/details about the codex:
  1. McGeoch, Barbara. A study of a genealogical manuscript of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. MA thesis, City University of New York, 1974. Link to book (google books) here
  2. Provenance (source::University of Pennsylvania as they host a digitized copy of the codex) as follows, Sold to H. P. Kraus by a London book dealer before 1964; consigned by Kraus to Sotheby's, 1964 (unable to check on sotheby's webpage). Sold to Madeleine Pelner Cosman by Sotheby's, 1964. Finally, was sold by Les Enluminures (Paris and Chicago), 2007. Les enluminures web page doesn't have a search engine, couldn't make further investigations here...
  3. Codex physical description (same source Penn Univ): 20 .aper leaves; 219 x 165 mm. bound to 223 x 170 mm. Layout: Written in 25 long lines, ruled in lead; double vertical and single horizontal bounding lines in pale red ink. Script: Written in a hybrid secretary bookhand. Binding: Contemporary stiff vellum with five cords sewn through and visible on spine and one cord now gone at tail of spine; holes for two missing ties on fore-edge of covers.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Calila and Dimna", or the Arabic translation of Panchatantra (14th Century)

This is an amazing (due to the large amount of richly illustrations, I counted more than 73 full -or almost- pages on a total of 268 vellum pages) Arabic copy of The Panchatantra, -The Five Principles-, an ancient Indian collection of animal fables in verse and prose. The original Sanskrit work, which some scholars believe was composed in the 3rd century is attributed to Vishnu Sharma. It is based on older oral traditions, including "animal fables that are as old as we are able to imagine", and the Buddhist Jataka Tales.

As far as I could investigate, first arabic translation -8th Century- was issued by the Iranian (province of Fars) Ibn al-Muqaffa', a Persian Zoroastrian philosopher converted to Islam.

This codex was issued in Egypt during 14th Century and, as said before, really impress because of its large amount of richly colored illustrations. There’s also a latin translation of the Panchatantra -through the Arabic translation- ordered by Spanish King Alfonso X the wise, when he still was a Prince (as was crowned in 1252, that leads to set the date of composition in 1251 what would convert this other latin translation into the first prose-fiction work written in the Iberian Peninsula).

This first Latin translation in Spain was more oriented to prince's education through the eastern method of questions and answers between the king and a philosopher, but told by and featuring animals: an ox, an lion and two jackals called Calila and Dimna, which are who tell the majority of the tales. This structure is used later in Don Juan Manuel's Tales of Count Lucanor.


Related external links:
  • Online english tranlation for Panchatantra, hosted by University of Chicago (translated by Arthur W. Ryder), links to books 1 to 5 here.
  • Jataka Tales of the Buddha, retold by Ken & Visakha Kawasaki -not illustrated- link
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica (topic Ibn al-Muqaffa' discussed & articles, with related images) here
  • BIOs: Vishnu Sharma, Ibn al-Muqaffa', King Alfonso X the wise (links to wikipedia), provided.