c 1475-1500 Gregorian Chant - Puzzle initials - Kyrie - Gloria


Original leaf from a large manuscript Spanish Gradual on animal parchment. (533 x 370mm – 21 x 14.5”)

The manuscript text and music (5 lines of music on a five-line stave) were beautifully executed by hand over 500 years ago in the 15th century!!!  Spain, c. 1475-1500.

Extensively embellished:  There are two elegant puzzle initials in red & blue with elaborate internal & external geometric "puzzle design" (in the Moorish influenced Mudejar style) in intricate red & violet penwork. There are also three elaborate knot-work (cadel) initials  – two have very intricate internal designs in violet.

“A pen with a long slit - half or three-quarters of an inch - was used for drawing these flourishes” (Reference: Mudejar Ornament in Manuscripts, by Frances Spalding, p. 4, Hispanic Society of America, 1953,).  Aside from the pen a sizable amount of talent was also required to produce this amazing fluid puzzle design!

The illuminated “K” begins the Kyrie: “Eyrie eleison…” (Lord have mercy). 

The elaborate knot-work “X” continues the Kyrie: “Xriste…” (Christ have mercy). 

The next elaborate knotwork “K” continues  “Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy). 

The illuminated “G” begins the Gloria “Gloria…” (Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth…).

Graduals contain the musical chants for the proper of the Mass: introits, graduals, tracts, alleluia, offertory and communion verses, and sequences for special feasts. They may also include chants for the ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and for the introductory ‘asperges’ rite.

As is usual with Medieval and Renaissance parchment, the hair side of the leaf is darker than the flesh side, but may take ink somewhat better.  The differences in tone caused scribes to arrange their quires so that the hair side of one sheet faced the hair side of the next, and the flesh side faced the flesh side.

A very fine and handsome leaf in excellent condition and with bold calligraphy.



  • Inventory# IM-12900
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