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Psalm 1, in a Psalter f.2r

Psalm 1, in a Psalter f.2r

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1190

Shelfmark: Additional MS 36929

Item number: f.2r

Length: 17.7-00-00 00:00:00

Width: 12.5-00-00 00:00:00

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

This psalter was made in Ireland (Armagh?), probably in the late 12th century to judge from the style of the script. The scribe signed his name on one of its pages: 'Cormacus wrote this psalter: pray for him'. Its decoration shares some features of manuscripts from Armagh, but it combines stylistic elements seen in 8th- and 9th-century illumination (in masterpieces such as the Book of Kells) with current styles. Containing canticles or verse passages from the Bible, such as Deut. 32:1-43, as well as the Book of Psalms, it was used as a prayerbook or hymnal in church services. The incipit of Psalm 1, 'Beatus vir' ('Blessed the man'), nearly always receives rich decoration. In this psalter, the first letter becomes a fantastic purple beast, its burnished body shining against the bright red ground and yellow interlace. Animal and human heads sprout from the edges of the interlace, in a late version of a style current in the 9th century. Human heads and angels emerge from initials and interlace in the Book of Kells, probably made about 800. The remaining letters of the first word ([Be]atus) are elaborately woven together. The letter renders magnificent the written as well as the sung words of the Psalms.

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