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A specific feature of the Western Calligraphy is said to be the illuminating of the first letter of each chapter of a book. The idea of illumination of text here, is the integration of the text and ornamentation on the page -patterns, borders, illustrations etc.- so that the text is in a way is enlightened with the addition materials. Yet there’s a more strict deciphering of the concept of illuminated manuscript, that is that the illuminated script only stands for books with either golden or silver ornate. As did the eastern and Asian calligraphy, western calligraphic script too had its strict codes as each character of the western calligraphic type had an accurate stroke order. As it’s regarded as a form of religious art, such rules and shapes seems reasonable.

About the use of gold in the manuscripts, here‘s a short excerpt:

“The application of gold leaf or dust to an illumination is a very detailed process that only the most skilled illuminators can undertake and successfully achieve. The first detail an illuminator mauled over when dealing with gold was whether to use gold leaf or specks of gold that could be applied with a brush. When working with gold leaf the pieces would be hammered and thinned until they were “thinner than the thinnest paper.” The use of this type of leaf allowed for numerous areas of the text to be outlined in gold. There were several ways of applying gold to an illumination one of the most popular included mixing the gold with stag’s glue and then “pour it into water and dissolve it with your finger.” Once the gold was soft and malleable in the water it was ready to be applied to the page. Illuminators had to be very careful when applying gold leaf to the manuscript for fear ruining the color already placed in the illumination. Gold leaf is able to “adhere to any pigment which had already been laid, ruining the design, and secondly the action of burnishing it is vigorous and runs the risk of smudging any painting already around it.” The careless implementing of gold could ruin the labor already placed in the illumination and thus cause the entire folio to be discarded.”




As seen above and below,  the Lindisfarne Gospel book is a highly ornamented one, in which each gospel consists of 15 pages of such written and drawn decorative elements, and used for ceremonial purpose. The pattern designs are pretty sophisticated, fuzed with bird, snake and several other animal illustrations and few decorated initials. The depictions are usually geometrical or stylized imperfect animals.

The decorations reminded me pretty much of a poster for a cabaret theater in France which i’m deeply devoted to: Le Chat Noir‘s, in means of both its typographical elements -yet there’s no usage of calligraphic writing here- and also in color aesthetics.