This fine 13th-century Gospel lectionary was owned by and likely created at the Monastery of St Nicholas in Pentrochonte, north of Berat (Albania). It contains headpieces in gold and colours, as well as well-preserved portraits of the four Evangelists at the beginning of the volume.
The portrait of Matthew retains a covering of embroidered silk, sewn into the parchment. This covering was intended to protect the inks in the illumination from rubbing against the opposite page when the manuscript was closed.
It is housed in a fine binding of brown leather containing an embossed silver and gold plate on the front cover, depicting Christ enthroned and the four Evangelists.
The manuscript remained in the possession of the Monastery of St Nicholas until 1399, when it was given for safekeeping to Theodore Mouzachos, Lord of Berat between 1389 and 1412, along with numerous other manuscripts, itemised on a book-list preserved on the first folio of the manuscript. The British Museum acquired it from J. S. Dawes, chaplain at Corfu, in 1904.
- Article by:
- Georgi Parpulov
Byzantine scribes and authors refer repeatedly to book collections and libraries. Georgi Parpulov outlines what private, monastic and imperial libraries were like in medieval Byzantium.