Wednesday, August 13, 2014


When Is a Book Not A Book?


Book of Dimma is a shrine from 11th century A book is not a book when it's a book containing parts of one book or multiple books. This medieval book reliquary was called a cumdach or a book shrine. For example, the cumdach of Dimma's Book was produced in the twelfth century to encase the eighth century Gospel Book copied by the scribe Dimma.

Another example is the cumdach of Columba's Psalter. It was a copper and silver-plated book shrine that was made in the second half of the 11th century to hold the psalter of St. Columba, a manuscript that was created in the 6th or 7th century.

These shrines were fancy dust jackets, if you will. The cases were meant to directly resemble a book, symbolizing the important manuscripts found inside, and to protect the manuscripts from damage.

The shrines rival the books for super bling. This here on the left is the Gospel book known as the Codex Aureus or the Golden Book. It was made in the 9th century for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles II. The cover of the book is covered with gold, gems, sapphires, emeralds, and pearls.

[Both the images in this post are used with permission. They are copyrighted by Jenny Weston of Leiden University, The Netherlands and taken from http://medievalfragments.wordpress.com.]


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