What is a Manuscript?


 Significance of Manuscripts

Manuscripts were very important aspects of medieval society.  They represented major religious, social, and artistic beliefs of the period.  Because manuscripts were very expensive to make, they often served as status symbols.  Most people who owned manuscripts held high-ranking positions in society.  The major themes of manuscripts were religion (particularly Christianity), art, and literary characters.


How a Manuscript is Made


Parchment and Vellum

Parchment and Vellum are terms that are often used interchangably.  Parchment and vellum are writing materials made from the skins of sheep, calves, or goats. They have also been used for painting and occasionally for printing and bookbinding. Vellum is a finer quality parchment.  Parchment was eventually replaced by paper.

Below are some of the steps that are involved in the process of making parchment.

1) Soaking

2) Unhairing

3) Fleshing

4) Re-Liming

5) De-Liming

6) Stretching/Drying/Finishing

 

Paper

Paper is a thin sheet of material made from cellulose fibers.  The earliest known paper still around today was made about AD 150 out of rags and fibers.  Originally created by the Chinese, paper was introduced into Japan in 610.  Paper appeared in Egypt around 800 in the form of papyrus.  Paper differs from parchment because it is made from plants, fibers, and wood pulp.  Paper eventually replaced parchment as the dominant form of writing material.


The Roles of Scribes

Scribes played the most important roles in the production of medieval manuscripts.    Before the invention of the printing press, scribes were people who copied by hand the original works of authors into books.  Scribes did not live a life of leisure; instead, they took their work very seriously.  In fact, they were often punished if they neglected their duties.  Below are some skills that most medieval scribes possessed:

 Scribes used quills made of goose feathers to write their manuscripts.  They also kept pen knives on hand to sharpen the quills when they became dull.

Examples of Manuscripts

 

    An example of a medieval manuscript.

    Illuminated Manuscripts are manuscripts that have colorful illustrations or pictures in them.  They are not intended to convey textual  information from an author to the reader. Their primary function is to serve as decoration which pays tribute to the subject of the book.  Often illuminated manuscripts honored God and other themes of Christianity.


Contributors

Josh McPherson......................................Web Page, research, presentation
Andy Qureshi............................................Research, presentation
Sweta Patel.................................................Research, presentation
Garrett Patton............................................Research, presentation
Mari Powers...............................................Research, presentation

Bibliography

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