Treasures of the Rare Books and Special Collections Library: Manuscripts
Bible. Old Testament. Hebrew.
Italy. Circa 1172.
This is a beautifully written manuscript on the highest quality vellum, with gold chapter headings and some later, added, illuminations. Originally dated to 1272, recent study has shown it to be about a century earlier, making it possibly the oldest known manuscript of Italian origin in Hebrew.
Because of the Jewish prohibition on the depiction of religious images, the original text uses its letter forms which are moulded into shapes, to produce a decorative effect. Common depictions in this way are of temple vessels, columns and other religious objects.
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