Touching the book again: the Passional of Abbess Kunigunde of Bohemia

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Late medieval readers sometimes interacted with manuscripts in highly physical ways, by rubbing and touching their books. Physical evidence from the books themselves—with signs of repeated abrasion—indicate that such touching must have taken place ritualistically. Formative examples of such rituals were the priest kissing the sacramentary or missal during Mass, and people touching a gospel book in order to make an oath. In the later middle ages, these rituals were expanded and adapted to include other situations and book types but preserved two ideas: that the book was the locus of authority (definitional within an Abrahamic religion of the book), and that figures represented within books could provide a direct conduit to the people they represented. This article considers the Passional of Abbess Kunigunde of Bohemia (National Library of Prague / Národní knihovna České republiky, Praha, Ms.XIV.A.17), a manuscript dating from 1312-14. Users have intentionally damaged several of the images in the book, but seemingly for different reasons. In this brief article I analyse these marks of wear and speculate on how they were formed and why.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCodex und Material
EditorsPatrizia Carmassi, Gia Toussaint
Place of PublicationWiesbaden
PublisherHarrassowitz Verlag
ISBN (Print)9783447109376
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2018
EventCodex und Material – Jenseits von Text und Bild? - Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany
Duration: 7 Oct 20159 Oct 2015

Publication series

NameWolfenbütteler Mittelalter-Studien
PublisherHarrassowitz Verlag
ISSN (Print)0937-5724


ConferenceCodex und Material – Jenseits von Text und Bild?


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