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T h e  V i r t u a l  A b b e y : A  M e d i e v a l  T o u r
Abbey Entrance | Herb Garden | Scriptorium | Wine Cellar

Anthropomorphic Initial Hard Point Pen
Antiphonal Herbal Pigment
Bestiary Historiated Initial Pounce
Boards Hymnal Pricking
Books of Hours Illuminator Psalter
Breviary Initial Purple Pages
Carolingian Ink Rubricator
Colophon Insular Ruling
Diaper Knife Saints' Lives
Divine Office Lead Point Scribe
Drollery Marginalia Script
Evangelistic Portraits Miniature Scriptorium
Exemplar Mise-en-Page Underdrawing
Foliate Initial Oak Gall Vellum
Gesso Outline Drawing Vernacular
Gilding Palimpset Zoomorphic
Gloss Parchment  

Pen - Isadore, the 6th century Bishop of Seville wrote in his Intrumenta scribe calumus et penna, "the instruments of the scribe are the reed and quill." Both instruments were first cured to harden, then cut in a 45-degree angle to produce a nib which was split slightly lengthwise to channel the ink down from the shaft and onto the page. Quills were made from the first five flight feathers (the pinions, seconds and thirds) of a goose, swan, raven or crow. Also see Knife.

Pigment - the coloring agent in paint. It was usually ground and mixed by monastic scribes or their apprentices using mineral or vegetable matter as the preferred media. Starting with a base of glair - a mixture of egg whites and water (sometimes supplemented with gum arabic or honey), pigment was extracted in a variety of methods depending on the color used. Red may have been obtained from cinnabar, or red lead, minium or sandaraca, prepared by heating white lead for several days. Indigo and white lead yielded blue, as did the juice from blue flowers or mulberries. Brown was extracted from burnt wood, and purple from plant or shell-fish dyes. An arsenic compound, orpiment, produced yellow.

Pounce - any variant of white ash, powdered bone or chalk that was rubbed on parchment to raise the nap and provide a good 'tooth' for the quill. Pounce also helped to whiten and degrease the writing surface.

Pricking - the guidelines used by scribes to accurately rule the parchment before settingstarwheel down text; accomplished by 'walking' a pair of dividers (compass) down the page or, later, by a starwheel or parchment runner. A Lead Point and set square were then used to line up the resulting prick marks to ensure the lines were straight and true.

Psalter - a book of Psalms used for both private devotion and in The Divine Office. A common embellishment was a Miniature or Historiated Initial of King David, author of many of the Psalms.

Purple Pages - parchment dyed or painted purple overlaid with gold, silver or white lettering or as a background to illumination. Usually seen in the monastic manuscripts of the Carolingian, Anglo-Saxon periods and later.

Rubrication - the application of rubrics or red lettering to distinguish titles and chapter headings. Sometimes considered a trade specialty, although the rubricator could also be the Scribe. Most often, rubrics were laid down after the main text was completed. From the Lt. rubrium or red.

Ruling - the horizontal lines that guided the scribes hand. Spacing was accomplished by Pricking and the use of a set square. In early scriptoria manuscripts were usually lightly scored by a Hard Point, later by Lead Point and sometimes, by the 1200's, in Ink.

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