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Author Portrait: Typically the first page in a manuscript that is dedicated to the author or patron and includes an illustration of the author, usually shown at work. 

Book-Binding: The process of binding printed sheets together, typically enclosed with a cover.

Calligraphy: Decorative handwriting or lettering.

Capitals: Large letters at the head of writing columns; inscriptional letters.

Codex: A book constructed of various natural materials, typically parchment but can be bark, palm leaf, or pressed plant pulp, with hand-written and/or hand-illustrated content; a manuscript.

Cover: Encases a book together, typically made of paper, cloth, or wood board covered with leather.

Edition: The total number of works printed from the same set type.

Facsimile: A copy of; copy of a printed or written materials.

Folio: A leaf of paper or parchment, either loose or bound together to form a book.

Gutenberg Printing Press: A printing press that allowed a machine to transfer images and letters on a form onto paper and other materials; making reproduction of books easier.

Iconography: Images and symbols used in art works used to signify meaning often are interpreted and studied.

Illumination: The decoration of sheets in and on a manuscript can include gold and metallic colors; they are used to impact the illustration and the manuscript.

Illuminator: The person who illuminates a manuscript.

Majuscule: Upper-case letters.

Manuscript: “Written by hand,” handwritten book.

Marginalia: Notes or illustrations written or illustrated on the margins of a page.

Miniature: A small-scale picture in a medieval manuscript.

Minuscule: Lower-case letters

Mise-en-page: The composition of a page, design of a manuscript page.

Patron: A sponsor; sponsored the printing and illuminating of a manuscript.

Parchment: A thin/flattened material formed from the prepared skin of an animal; typically used in medieval manuscripts.

Purple Parchment: Sheets of parchment dyed purple, usually illuminated in gold lettering; used as a sign of royalty and wealth.

Quire: A gathering of four sheets of paper or parchment folded to create eight sheets, can be folded once more to create sixteen sheets.

Recto: The front side of a printed page of folio in a book.

Scribe: A penman who would copy the texts of manuscripts.

Script: Written characters designed to reproduce handwriting.

Verso: The back side of a printed page or folio in a book.

Watermark: A mark made on the paper during manufacturing, used as a trademark.


Roman and Early Christian Terms:

Cannon Tables: Function as a glossary/index in the gospels, they indicate where a particular event is described.

Explicit: Closing words of a text in early books.


Early Medieval Terms:

Bestiary: A descriptive allegory based on animals and myths.

Carpet Page: Pages that are mostly covered in abstracted geometrical ornamentation, serves as a visual language.

Psalter: Book of Psalms that are broken up into daily readings.


Gothic Terms:

Apocalypse: A medieval manuscript dedicated to the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament.

“Babewyn”: A combination of marginalia and grotesques, unknown why they were used.

Grotesque: Ugly and distorted images of figures, typically included in the marginalia.

Muldenfaltenstil: A folded drapery style, has a depressed fold, focuses on the pattern the fold.


Late Medieval Terms:

Book of Hours: A book containing prayers to be said at certain hours of the day, were popular in Middle Ages and often were commissioned and given as gifts.

Church calendar: A calendar included at the beginning of a manuscript, would include saint dates, death dates, and birthdays.

Humanism: Idea from ancient philosophy that focused on what it meant to be a human, emphasized on common human needs.

Incunabula: A book that is a combination of a an illustrated manuscript and a printed book, would be printed first and then illumination would be added.


Islamic Terms:

Qur’an: Islamic sacred book, it guides the principles of life and focuses on the aspects of the religion.

Surah: An embellished heading, used to emphasize.


Mesoamerican Terms:

Hieroglyphs: A depiction of an object representing a word, sound, or syllable.

Mexica: Last migrating tribe from the northern areas of Mexico and founded Tenochtitlan.

Screen-fold: Paper is folded like an accordion, rather than folded and bounded.



Prepared by: Iris Gutierrez