W.8, Mondsee Gospel Lectionary
This eleventh-century Gospel Lectionary was written in a clear Carolingian minuscule in Regensburg, Germany. Its remarkable treasure binding, which is original to the manuscript, is extremely fragile due to the Byzantine or Islamic silk that constitutes the spine; therefore it is not possible to image the entire manuscript. The cover, which alone has been photographed, is a rare survival and a rich example of Ottonian art. Bound in silver, the front cover displays an impressive mastery of filigree, segments of which have been gilded. A variety of textures and substances, including niello bosses in the corners, ivory plaques depicting the four Evangelists, gemstones (now lost), and a golden image of the Crucifixion beneath a polished rock crystal, give the cover an opulence rarely seen in medieval bookbinding. The back cover, necessarily flat to lie on the altar without damaging the decoration, consists of a sheet of hammered and gilded silver, engraved with an image of St. Michael slaying a dragon. This image has traditionally led to an association with the abbey of SS. Peter and Michael in Mondsee, Austria, but its more recent attribution to Otloh, a scribe active in Regensburg, suggests that it is more likely of German manufacture.
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Upper board outside
Lower board outside
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