c 1520 Choir Psalter Leaf - Elaborate Puzzle Initial


Original leaf from a manuscript Spanish Choir (Ferial) Psalter on animal parchment.  (550 x 380mm – 21 ¾ x 15 ¼’’) 

The manuscript text and music (on a five-line stave) were beautifully executed by hand over 450 years ago Signed by the scribe “L. Ruiz” in one of the initials elsewhere in the parent manuscript!!!                       

Spain (Dominican Use), c. 1520.

One exceptional illuminated initial (4 3/8 x 4 ¾’’) in red & blue with elaborate internal & external penwork "puzzle design" (in the Moorish influenced Mudejar style) in red & violet. The internal design contains flowers and fruit; two illuminated initials (3 x 2’’) alternating in red with geometric and floral penwork in violet and blue with red penwork; two intricate knot-work (cadel) initials.

The knot-work “L” opens Psalm 148: “Laudate…” (Praise ye the Lord from the heavens).

The illuminated “B” opens the Canticle of Zachary – Luke 1:68: “Benedictus…” (Blessed be the Lord God of Israel).

The illuminated “I” is part of Psalm 94 (King James 95) 1: “Iubilemus…” (Let us joyfully sing to God).

The elaborate “D” opens Psalm 38 (King James 39) “Dixi custodiam…” (I said: I will take heed to my ways: that I sin not with my tongue…)

The psalms were central to medieval liturgy, and constituted the core of the Divine Office.  In addition to the psalms, a ferial psalter, also known as a choir psalter, contained items of the Divine Office that did not change from day to day, often including the invitatories, antiphons, canticles, short responsories, hymns, and litanies.

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.

Shipped unmatted

  • Inventory# IM-12125