Introduction to Manuscripts and Early Print

A page from a Qur'an manuscript.
Qur’an manuscript page
Ink on paper
13 3/16 in x 8 7/8 in (33.5 cm x 22.5 cm);13 3/16 in x 8 7/8 in (33.5 cm x 22.5 cm)
Museum Purchase
Manuscript page from Oxford Bible (Dominican)
ink and tempera on vellum
7 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in (19.7 cm x 14 cm)
Gift of the Estate of Helen B. Hall
Florentine; Italian
MS leaf: Bifolio from a Missal
ink, tempera and gold on parchment
15 9/16 x 21 5/16 in. (39.5 x 54.1 cm);22 3/16 x 28 5/16 in. (56.2 x 71.76 cm)
Anonymous Gift in memory of Mrs. John Alexander
Illuminated Manuscript
ink and gold on parchment
6 1/2 in. x 4 1/2 in. ( 16.5 cm x 11.4 cm )
Gift of J. Frederick Hoffman
Illuminated Manuscript
ink and watercolor on vellum
5 in. x 3 in. ( 12.7 cm x 7.6 cm )
Gift of J. Frederick Hoffman
Palm Leaf from an Unidentified Manuscript with Devanagiri (?) script
incised palm-leaf darkened with coal dust
2 11/16 in x 11 in (6.8 cm x 28 cm)
Gift of Professor Walter M. and Nesta R. Spink
Mohammedan Law, manuscript page
ink on egg-glazed paper

Museum Purchase
Italian; Venetian
Manuscript Leaf
ink on laid paper
13 5/8 in. (34.5 cm)
Anonymous Gift in memory of Mrs. John Alexander
Devimahatmya manuscript page: The Goddess Ambika fights a host of demons
ink and opaque watercolor on paper
4 5/8 in. x 8 1/16 in. ( 11.75 cm x 20.48 cm )
Museum purchase, Acquisition Fund
The painting is part of a manuscript page. The painting occupies the left side of the page while the text occupies the panel on the right. The painting features Devi in the foreground who receives a demon warrior. Devi holds a white trident in one of her four arms while another arm holds a cup. She sits in front of a domed white marble structure, facing the demon warrior, who has a sword and bow and arrow.
Artist Unknown, India, Rajasthan, Sirohi School
A Demon Warrior Worships Devi
ink, watercolor, and gold on paper
5 in x 9 in (12.7 cm x 22.86 cm);14 in x 18 in (35.56 cm x 45.72 cm);5 in x 9 in (12.7 cm x 22.86 cm)
Gift of Professor Walter M. and Nesta R. Spink
Decorative calligraphy, manuscript page
ink on paper
14 1/16 in. x 9 5/8 in. ( 35.75 cm x 24.4 cm )
Gift of Mr. Anand Krishna
This prayer book consists of 20 pages written on the front and back in the Myanmar language. It is decorated in golds and reds with black text.
Artist Unknown
Burmese Prayer Book with Manuscript Pages (total of 20 pages)
paper and paint on wood board
( )
Gift of the Estate of Anne L. McGrew

This portfolio takes a comparative approach to manuscript studies, textual studies, and book history. It includes manuscripts and early print texts from the Ottoman Empire, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Iran, and northern, western and southern Europe. Some use paper, others use an animal skin such as calf or sheepskin. Some are highly decorated with manuscript illuminations and stylized script, others are simply text. Because of its geographic breadth, this portfolio is suitable to textual studies courses in a variety of fields. For courses on the history of the book, it provides a diverse range of manuscript quality, origin, purpose, and text. Taken altogether or in smaller groupings, it raises issues surrounding material culture, premodern historiography, and the production of texts more generally. The presence in this portfolio of manuscripts made well after the spread of the printing press also invites questions about the complex reasons people seek out handmade texts.


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143 Collection Object Sources

Manuscript Leaf (1993/2.11)
Hamadan Carpet (1955/1.183)
Choir Book Page (2006/1.97)
Page of a Missal (2006/1.101)
Man of Sorrows (1949/1.167)

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Creative Commons by-nc-sa (University of Michigan Museum of Art)

Last Updated

February 7, 2020 4:09 p.m.


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