Sunday, September 30, 2012

"F de La Rose-croix", or the Early Rosicrucian Manuscripts

There’s a huge amount of well preserved documentation -some of them manuscripts like the Anonymous codex I present today- about Rosicrucian Philosophy in all virtual libraries around the world. After my investigation I found that most of them are in US and has a basic explanation: during the previous phases of United States declaration of independence, a lot of philosophers and free-thinker minds escaped from European internal conflicts –frequently related with religion or philosophy- to establish on the new land of America.

Probably one of the best source –at least in terms of Rosicrucian Philosophy documentation- is the Getty Research institute (Los Angeles, CA; US). Let me briefly start with some basic definitions about the term itself: Rosicrucianism is a generic term referring to studies or membership within a philosophical secret society said to have been founded in late medieval Germany by Christian Rosenkreuz. It holds a doctrine or theology "built on esoteric truths of the ancient past", which, "concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe and the spiritual realm."

Rosicrucianism is symbolized by the Rosy Cross, usually represented in the first page of every related Codex 

Some other basic characteristics to understand this Secret Society:
  • Rosicrucianism was -in its origin- associated with Protestantism (Lutheranism)
  • It's opposed to Roman Catholicism.
  • Rosacrucians reject Muhammad, though they traced their philosophy and science to the Moors, asserting that it had been kept secret for 120 years until the intellectual climate might receive it.
  • Early seventeenth century occult philosophers such as Michael Maier, Robert Fludd and Thomas Vaughan studied the Rosicrucian world view (About Michael Maier in particular, I'll post soon a complete article based on its life and Opus, as there's a relatively good part of his Books preserved today in all virtual libraries around the world)
  • Many esoteric and secret societies have claimed to derive their doctrines, in whole or in part, from the original Rosicrucians. Several modern societies have been formed for the study of Rosicrucianism and allied subjects.
  • According to some Historians, it was also influential to Freemasonry as it was emerging in Scotland.

Some related references:
  • Nesta Webster's, "Secret Societies and Subversive Movements", London, 1924, p. 87 and note 37. Book available on the internet, I recommend save prior to read -pdf version-, link here
  • Very good reference for a general overview about Rosacrucianism and its influence: Lindgren, Carl Edwin, The way of the Rose Cross; A Historical Perception, 1614–1620. Journal of Religion and Psychical Research, Volume18, Number 3:141-48. 1995. Link to the article here.
  • Rosacrucianism served as inspiration for Essays, Fictional literature, Conspiracy literature (Umberto Eco, Dan Brown, etc)... for a complete list, I do recommend the final part of the wikipedia article about Rosacrucianism.
  • Web pages: The "Alchemy website" treats about Rosacrucians, link provided. I recommend the "Alchemical symbolism and imagery" section, (click on imagery button).
Apart of the manuscript presented today, I couldn't resist to post some other pages from later European Rosacrucianism books (from the Order of the Golden Down),

Observe the similarity to the first image of this post (from another Rosicrucian codex)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

De Figura seu imagine mundi, 15th Century

Andromeda and Perseus constellations

Original title for this 15th Century jewel is “De Figura seu imagine mundi”, issued in 1456 by Luis de Angulo (Spaniard origin), a.k.a. Louis de Langle (died in Lyon) or even Angulo Ludovicus, in Latin. Couldn’t find details about his bio, but looks clear that Ludovico was mainly focused and got rich skills on Astronomy: He studied, commented and translated the Great “Liber de nativitatibus” or Book of Nativities written by the Spanish Abenezra or Abraham Ibn Ezra -1089, Tudela, Kingdom of Navarra-, probably the most distinguished Jewish men of letters and writers of the Middle Ages.

The codex is basically a detailed astronomy and geography treatise, divided into 3 separated parts: World’s creation, different parts of earth –description- and the stars maps. Copies can be found in Spain (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional), Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris) and in Saint Gallen (Switzerland), Kantonsbibliothek Vadiana.

Centaurus constellation

Related external references:
  • Pousa, Ramon Fernandez, «Una Imago mundi española : Ludouicus de Angulo, De imagine seu figura mundi, Lion, 1456», Revista de Indias, 2, 1941, p. 39-65
  • Hustache, Étienne, « Le monde vu de Lyon en 1456: la cosmographie de Louis de Langle », Lyon, cité de savants, 112e congrès national des sociétés savantes, Lyon, 1987, Paris, Éditions du CTHS, 1988, p. 9-16. Link to google books here.
  • Referenced on article "Imágenes de los decanos en el Liber astrologiae de Fendulus (París, Bibliothèque Nationale, ms. Lat. 7330)" from Documentation Legal Deposit, University of Barcelona. Complete article here. Reference extracted: "The ilustrations of Fendulus Liber astrologiae lived on into the Late Middle Ages. Apart from studying the iconographic filiation among other copies of the work itsefl, the author of this papers tries to demonstrate tha one of thes manuscripts should have been the iconographic source for the decanic images in Louis of Angle Liber de figura seu imagine mundi (c. 1450). The article concludes with a bibliographical essay on the iconography of the Dekanesternbilder".

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The four gospels in Arabic, 18th Century

According to the colophon at the end of the Gospel of John, this copy was completed by Ibrāhīm ibn Būlu ibn Dāwūd al-alabī in Cairo (Egypt), probably in 1723 or 1724 but with a final contribution in 1745 (second identified hand is Jirjis b. Hananiya).
It is written in a clear Nasī Arabic Script (sometimes lacking complete vowel indicators) and in black ink. All the illustrations were provided by the Aleppo illustrator and icon painter Ğirğis bin anāniyā, portray the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as 43 scenes from the life of Jesus. On the back of the last page of text the illustrator included a note that he had completed the illustrations in September 1745.
Codex is richly illuminated with decorative script and floral decorations in 18th century Ottoman style. Main text and quire marks black, introductory benedictions, chapter headings and two liturgical remarks are in red and blue.

The Arabic title, "This book is the holy, pure Gospel and the illuminating, shining Light", is stated at the end of the Gospel of John.
Some technical details regarding the codex: 240 pages in format size 29 x 21 cm with no pagination. Text is written in 2 columns 13,5 (6,5+0,5+6,5) x 20 cm. 21 lines ruled in dry-point. Columns are framed with gold and red lines.