Handscrolls of Buddhist Hell
12th Century, Japan.
Late Medieval maps and charts.
Medieval world 1000 feet below the surface
Every now and then you read a story about medieval times that you are sure is made up. Here is one, but it’s not. At 1000 ft below the surface, no more than ten miles from the Polish city of Krakow, lies the Wieliczka salt mine. It’s a labyrinth of chambers and lakes, but also a place with stables for horses, a chapel (with chandeliers made of rock salt), a salt-sculpted hall seating 400, and an amazing frieze with a scene of the Last Supper, carved in a wall of rock salt (top pic). A total of nine levels contain a combined 300 kilometres (186 miles) of tunnels and some 3,000 rooms. The most astonishing thing? Much of it dates from medieval times: the structure was completed c. 1280 - and produced table salt until six years ago. A world buried below the world: am I the only one thinking Mines of Moria here?
Pics: the Frieze in the Wieliczka salt mine (I’m not sure about its date) is from Wikipedia (here), the rest from tourist websites. More about this fascinating site in a recent CNN article, here; and on the United Nations World Heritage website, here (but don’t touch the pics).
Black Hours, Bruges, c. 1470
This Book of Hours, referred to as the Black Hours, is one of a small handful of manuscripts written and illuminated on vellum that is stained or painted black.
The black of its vellum—the very thing that makes the codex so striking—is also the cause of some serious flaking. The carbon used in the black renders the surface of the vellum smooth and shiny—a handsome but less than ideal supporting surface for some of the pigments.
The anonymous painter of the Black Hours is an artist whose style depended mainly upon that of Willem Vrelant, one of the dominant illuminators working in Bruges from the late 1450s until his death in 1481.
Digital Facsimile at the source link.
this is… pretty… fucking… metal….
The Chained Library of Zutphen
I took these pictures during a visit to the 16th-century chained library of Zutphen, in the east of the Netherlands. It is one of three such libraries still in existence in Europe. Nothing much has changed here for 550 years.
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, - BSB Cod.icon. 340, f. 33r. Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen der acht Inventionen zum Ringelrennen in den Aufzügen gehalten 1596 anläßlich der Taufe der Prinzessin Elisabeth von Hessen, 1600.
Emblematic Alchemy in English verse, with an English version of the Visio mystica of Arnold of Villanova – Ripley scroll*
*Sir George Ripley (ca. 1415–1490) was an English author and alchemist.
Birth of purgatory
Medievalist Jacques Le Goffdefines the “birth of purgatory”, i.e. the conception of purgatory as a physical place, rather than merely as a state, as occurring between 1170 and 1200. Le Goff acknowledged that the notion of purification after death, without the medieval notion of a physical place, existed in antiquity, arguing specifically that Clement of Alexandria, and his pupil Origen of Alexandria, derived their view from a combination of biblical teachings, though he considered vague concepts of purifying and punishing fire to predate Christianity.
While the idea of purgatory as a process of cleansing thus dated back to early Christianity, the 12th century was the heyday of medieval otherworld-journey narratives such as the Irish Visio Tnugdali, and of pilgrims’ tales about St. Patrick’s Purgatory, a cavelike entrance to purgatory on a remote island in Ireland. The legend of St Patrick’s Purgatory written in that century by Hugh of Saltry, also known as Henry of Sawtry, was “part of a huge, repetitive contemporary genre of literature of which the most familiar today is Dante’s”; another is the Visio Tnugdali.
Other legends localized the entrance to Purgatory in places such as a cave on the volcanic Mount Etna in Sicily. Thus the idea of purgatory as a physical place became widespread on a popular level, and was defended also by some theologians.
image: Image of a fiery purgatory in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Ancient text gives clue to mysterious radiation spike
His search found the eighth-century entries in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle at the Avalon Project, an online library of historical and legal documents hosted by Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Scrolling down to the year ad 774, Allen found a reference to a “red crucifix” that appeared in the heavens “after sunset”.
From historical and legal texts, collected by William of Malmesbury. 1129.
Door & well, Châteauneuf-en-Auxois castle, Burgundy, France.
Original by charallais on flickr.
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