Glossary of Terms*
A foliate motif much
used in medieval art and derived from the depiction
of the acanthus plant.
||Book containing the sung portions of the
Divine Office. Such books are often large in format, so that they could
be used by a choir.
||A sheet of writing support material
(generally parchment or vellum) folded in half to produce two leaves
|Book of Hours
A book, also called
a primer or horae, for use in private devotions.
Its central text, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin (or
Hours of the Virgin), is modeled on the Divine Office and represents a
shorter version of the devotions performed at the eight canonical hours:
Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline.
||A border surrounds text and/or image and
may occupy margins and intercolumnar space. Some borders are in
paneled from, others are composed of foliate decoration or bars, the
latter often sprouting plant forms and known as foliate bar borders.
A full border surrounds an image or text on all sides, while a partial
border frames only part of the leaf (usually one side).
||A service book containing the texts
necessary for the celebration of the Divine Office, which is the cycle
of daily devotions (prayers of the canonical hours) performed by members
of religious orders and the clergy.
||Enhancing the smoothness and shininess of
a surface such as metallic pigment by polishing with a burnisher--a
smooth, hard stone (such as agate), metal , or bone set into a handle.
||A music book used by soloists who led the
congregation in responsive singing of the Psalms.
(see Hair Side)
|The side of a sheet of parchment or
vellum that originally faced the animal's flesh. This is generally
whiter and softer than the hair side
||A formal text script.
||The principal choir book used in the
|Hair side (see Flesh Side)
||The side of a sheet of parchment or
vellum that once carried the animal's hair. This side is generally
darker than the flesh side and may carry speckled traces of
||Illumination, from the Latin
illuminare, "to enlighten or illuminate," is the embellishment of a
manuscript with luminous colors (especially gold and silver).
||An enlarged and decorated letter introducing an
important section of a text.
||A decorative device that fills the
remainder of a line not fully occupied by script.
||The litany is a series of invocations for deliverance
and intercession usually addressed to the Trinity, the Virgin, angels,
apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins, individually and as groups.
||The word manuscript, literally "handwritten," has come
to be used to describe a book written by hand.
||An independent illustration, as opposed
to a scene incorporated into another element of the decorative scene
such as a border or initial.
||The Book of Psalms.
Psalters were used for private devotions before the Book of Hours became
||The front side of a leaf.
||A title, chapter heading, or instruction
that is not strictly part of the text but which helps to identify its
components. Red ink was often used to distinguish such elements.
||A writing room. The term is
generally used of the place in a monastery or church where books are
||Instead of paper for writing and
illuminating books in the Middle Ages, parchment was used, a material made from
animals (sheep, goat, cow, squirrel, and possibly even cat); vellum is a
type of fine parchment made from tender young calves. The term is often
used generically to denote animal skin prepared to receive writing.
||The back side of a leaf.
||An initial partly or wholly
composed of animal forms.
From: Brown, Michelle. Understanding Illuminated
Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms. Los Angeles: The J. Paul
Getty Museum, 1994.