Parma Psalter

MS. Parm. 1870] (De Rossi 510) - Biblioteca Palatina (Parma, Italy)

Alternate Titles:

Tehillim, Parma-Psalter

Facsimile edition
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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Tehillim
Parma-Psalter

Type
Extent / Format

452 pages / 13.5 x 10.0 cm

Origin
Date
Around 1280
Style
Genre
Language
Illustrations

Each of the 150 psalms is illuminated

Former owners

Giovanni Bernardo De Rossi

Short description

The so-called Parma Psalter is considered to be one of the most impressive Hebrew manuscripts in the history of illumination. The Hebrew manuscript was made ca. 1280 in Northern Italy for a wealthy patron. Gorgeous ornamentation with figurative elements, precious gold, and grandiose compositions illustrate the 150 Psalms, which are of special significance for the Jewish religion and culture: the Psalms were recited at particular occasions – in everyday life or for special events. In this way, alongside its status as an outstanding piece of 13th century art, it offers a gorgeous glimpse into medieval Jewish culture!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Parma Psalter

The so-called Parma Psalter is considered to be one of the most impressive Hebrew manuscripts in the history of illumination. The Hebrew manuscript was made ca. 1280 in Northern Italy for a wealthy patron. Gorgeous ornamentation with figurative elements, precious gold, and grandiose compositions illustrate the 150 Psalms, which are of special significance for the Jewish religion and culture: the Psalms were recited at particular occasions – in everyday life or for special events. In this way, alongside its status as an outstanding piece of 13th century art, it offers a gorgeous glimpse into medieval Jewish culture!

The Significance of the Psalms

Codex MS. Parm. 1870 (De Rossi 510) of the Bibilioteca Palatina in Parma, Italy is considered to be one of the most impressive Hebrew manuscripts and a special gem of the collections. The manuscript is a book of Psalms, also known as a Tehillim. One such Psalm-book had great significance for the Jewish religion and culture. The Psalms were spoken at fixed times of day and events, e.g. at weddings, circumcisions, or on the Sabbath. These significant ceremonies are additionally elucidated in the manuscript.

Psalm-Illustrations

The Parma Psalter originated at the behest of a rich northern Italian patron ca. 1280. The 150 Psalms are gorgeously illustrated on the manuscript’s 452 pages measuring 13.5 x 10 cm. Artful ornamentation, sometimes featuring figurative elements, adorn the pages of the Hebrew psalter. The high-quality paintings were additionally ennobled with gold leaf. The gorgeous compositions of the scenes are comprised of magnificently creative pictorial adornments – animals, people, and fantastical creatures for various themes. At the same time, a special focus is placed thematically on music. Therefore, various historical musical instruments, inter alia, are illustrated – something rarely found in the art of the time. These miniatures, which illustrated the content of the Psalms, account for the special charm of the Parma Psalter!

A Rare Psalm-Commentary

The Parma manuscript found itself in the possession of Giovanni Bernardo de Rossi, a significant Christian Hebraist who made the manuscript famous. Alongside the 150 Psalms, the Parma Psalter contains a special feature: the famous commentary by Abraham Ibn Esra. He was an important Jewish poet and scholar of the 12th century. His famous commentary on the Psalms has rarely been handed down from this time. The Parma Psalter presents itself as an impressive testimonial to Jewish scholarship in the Middle Ages!

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