Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Giant Bible of Mainz

Giant Bible of Mainz
Giant Bible of Mainz – Last Handwritten Giant Bible 

The Giant Bible of Mainz is one of the last handwritten giant Bible in Europe representing the culmination of hundreds years of transmission of text through handwritten manuscript. It is a very huge manuscript that was produced in 1452-3, most probably in Mainz or the neighbouring place and was noted for its beauty which was written before the invention of printing in the West with possible connections with the Gutenberg Bible.

The Giant Bible comprises of 459 vellum skin leaves, where each measures about 22 x 16 inches and the pages are ruled fully in faint brown ink serving as guides for the scribe who wrote the text. The text on the other hand are organized in two columns of sixty lines on each page while the letter forms used by the scribe are erect, large laterally compressed black letter type which were common in manuscripts used in the middle and lower regions of the Rhine River though was not exclusive to Mainz.

Tones of two forms of black ink were used for the text while the chapter headings as well as paragraphs were highlighted with alternating red and blue ink in both volumes and the manuscript was bound in full contemporary pigskin, without making it decorative.

Illumination Embellish the Text

Giant Bible of Mainz 1
Text blocks has been secured by nine cords which have head and tail bands of red, white and green silk and the scribe who wrote the manuscript recorded the progress by writing the specific date when it started and finished a particular section of the Bible.

Moreover, he also began his work on April 4, 1452 and completed it on July 9, 1453 which was fifteen month on beginning the project, Another amazing characteristic of the Giant Bible are the illumination which embellish the text where the two volumes are decorated with patterned initial letters, with large letter containing an identifiable scene or figures and gilt-burnished initials.

Moreover finely crafted decorative borders are also seen on five pages of the first volume and while the borders are adorned with a branch, vine and floral patterns it acts as a framework with artistic images of bears, hunters, rabbits, stags, princesses and many more which are all exquisitely designed and painted in bright primary colours.

The border designs indicates evidence that link the Giant Bible to the city of Mainz which are being studied continuously on medieval illuminated manuscripts by experts.

Gifted to the Library of Congress 

The Giant Bible of Mainz was gifted to the Library of Congress on April 4, 1952 which was purchased by Lessing J. Rosenwald, about five hundred year after the manuscript was started. It originally belonged to a curator at the Cathedral of Mainz, Heinrich von Stockheim where his inscription is seen on the first leaf of the manuscript and the same remained in the Cathedral of Mainz till 1631.

Thereafter the Bible was seized by King Gustavus Adolphus II of Sweden as a means of prize of war who gave the Bible to Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar. The Bible then was passed down through members of the duke’s family till 1951 when Rosenwald purchased the same from the bookseller H.P. Kraus for Library of Congress.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.