Talk:Illuminated manuscript/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Proposed sub-category renaming: Psalters to Illuminated psalters

This will enable the articles on printed psalters etc to go in a recreated Category:Psalters, whilst the great majority of the existing category, which are articles on individual illuminated MS, stay in the renamed category, as a sub-category of Illuminated manuscripts. See discussion above. The proposal is being discussed at CfD here Your opinions are invited - Johnbod 23:53, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

I was thinking we could have just created Category:Illuminated psalters and populated it with the 14 or so articles, leaving category:Psalters with 2 articles and one subcategory. The CfD seems like one extra step (but I guess it saves us the time of moving the cat for those 14 or so articles). But then again, CfD could be a good thing to get more imput from other editors. Anyway, I'll support the CfD.-Andrew c 00:30, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks - yes its just laziness! Johnbod 02:59, 28 February 2007 (UTC)


I may coming back late to this discussion, but here are my thoughts.

On the issue of illuminated versus non-illuminated manuscripts. I strongly believe that any category scheme should make it clear if a manuscript is or is not illuminated. We currently have more articles on illuminated manuscripts because, except for a few notable examples, many of the articles on individual manuscripts were created be me, and I am interested in illuminated manuscripts. However there are many non-illuminated manuscripts that should have articles, and, given time, they will. A huge percentage of Medieval manuscripts are not illuminated. In my mind there should be a parallel structure of manuscript and illuminated manuscript categories, with for example "Category:Illuminated Gospel Books" being a subcategory of "Category:Gospel Books".

As has been noticed many important illuminated manuscripts are not textually important. However I see no problem with a manuscript like the Codex Amiatinus, which is important to both art-historicians and textual critics, being in both Category:Biblical manuscripts and Category:Iluminated biblical manuscripts.

On the issue of a category for "Christian texts", I have no problem with this as a category as long as it understood that almost every text written in Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire during the Middle Ages and Renaissance is a Christian text. This includes not only the obvious Biblical texts, and service books, but also things like histories, romances, legal texts, scienific texts, poetry and much else. They are all so informed by a Christian world view that they cannot be considered anything but Christian. In my view, If we have a Christian manuscript category, it should be at level that includes the following: Classical manuscripts, Christian manuscripts, Jewish manuscripts, Islamic manuscripts, Indian manuscripts, and Meso-American manuscripts. Although list may require some tweaking (for example, I'm not certain that "Indian manuscripts" is not a sub-category of "Islamic manuscripts", my ignorance in this area is vast), every pre-modern illuminated manuscript should fit into one of these categories. We can argue on an individual basis which category to put things like Carolingian copies of Terence and later Spanish copies of Meso-American texts.

As I have indicated above, I think that a clear eye must be maintained on the difference between text and manuscript. A text can exist in multiple copies and forms. A manuscript is a unique physical item. This distinction is often lost, but should be maintained.

I also think that having a multiple ways of categorizing manuscripts is important. The Lindisfarne Gospels is:

  • A Gospel Book
  • From the 8th century
  • produced at Lindisfarne
  • in the Insular style
  • by a man named Eadfrith
  • which was once owned by Durham Cathedral
  • and Sir Robert Cotton
  • and is now in the British Library.

I can see valid reasons why readers might want to read about other manuscripts that fit any of the above categories, and we should, as far as is reasonable accomodate them. (I will note that this is the only manuscript known to have been produced by Eadfrith, so perhaps he wouldn't need a category, but other illuminators, such as the Limbourg brothers did produce multiple manuscripts, which we should help interested readers find.) Although we might not yet have the articles to fully populate such a scheme, it would be easier to start errecting it now, so that we don't have to tear down whatever grows in its place and create it when there are enough articles to fully populate it. Dsmdgold 05:01, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

At the moment we have the "religious" category "Psalters" (or soon will have) with an "illuminated psalters" head category. The other (Gospel books, bibles) types have "Biblical manuscripts" for the un-illuminated, but no specific other type-categories for them (I think). Whether these are needed, I don't know, but it should not affect the situation within cat"illuminated manuscripts" either way I think. At the moment, with I think 3-4 illuminated classical manuscripts, the intention is not to divide the whole area into sub-cats (yet) but to do enough to get the main category down to say ? 30 articles. There are other types of category: Chronicles, Fechtbuchs that actually have many more articles now than some of the broader categories you mention, and should I think, branch directly off the main Ill MS category. It would be odd for the fechtbucher to be a sub-cat of "Christian Ill manuscripts", I think. All this rather militates against having the intervening "Christian illuminated Ms category", I feel.
On multiple cross-categories, I think the lesson of Commons is not to bite off more than you can chew, and not to set up categories until you are confident they can be populated (and maintained) properly. Cross-categories can always be done later. As I've said above, despite the heroic ambition, the Commons categories are frustratingly incomplete in terms of population. At the moment it would seem to me we don't have the manpower for anything beyond a single tree of classification by type. Johnbod 05:16, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
I personally do not like the idea of a category named "Christian manuscripts" that includes the history, scientific, and religious texts. However, the general idea may be a great compromise to fix the problem that I have with the previous structure. I would feel better about the subcat "Illuminated Psalters" on the same level as the hypothetical "Illuminated [...] literature" than I do about having the subcat "Illuminated Psalters" on the same level as "Meso-American manuscripts". The former subcats are both types of texts within a similar larger group, where the latter is a subcat for a specific text and a subcat for a larger group (if that makes sense). I just am not sure if I feel comfortable labeling poetry, romantic literature, history, science, and religious texts as all "Christian". I'm not sure what would I would use instead, though. Something like "Western" or "European" but then we have Biblical manuscripts from Egypt and Syria and Israel (though they were at one point part of the Roman empire). Johnbod, what do you think of the idea of putting all the 'western/christian' texts into one category, and creating subcats for the specific types of texts depending on what we have (literature, history, science, etc) in addition to the existing subcats Psalters, Gospel Books, Bibles. If you don't mind this idea, do you have a preference for a category title? Is "Christian illuminated manuscripts" or "Western illuminated manuscripts" or something else ok?-Andrew c 01:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I must say I agree with your objections to this, and still prefer my scheme. The justification for having disparate types of category on the same level is that they contain similar numbers of articles. In my view categorization should be mainly about making it as easy as possible for people to find things. None of the Israeli, Syrian etc manuscripts are illuminated, so no need to worry about them here. Unnecessary sub-cats should be avoided in my view. If the balance of numbers changes (unlikely in the short to medium term in my view) we can rearrange the tree quite easily. Johnbod 01:49, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I just really do not see this one cat as being unnecessary. I think it is essential. Because of the magnitude of christian texts, we already have 3 subcats, and probably could come up with another 3, plus hundreds of miscellaneous texts, it makes the most logical sense to group them together. If we are going to create a subcat for the 3 Jewish manuscripts, and a subcat for the handful of Muslim manuscripts, and a subcat for the 23 articles and 1 subcat for "Mesoamerican" manuscripts, why on earth can't we create 1 subcat for the literally hundreds of articles and handful of subcats that are all "Christian" (or "Western"). Ack, sorry for being redundant. I guess we haven't quite settled this yet. Sorry about all this.-Andrew c 02:05, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
What hundreds of articles are these? As it stands (after the split to illuminated Psalters has been done) the current sub-cats & # of articles on my scheme would stand at (give or take):
  • I Psalters 13
  • I Gospel books 52
  • I Bibles 20
  • Other Xtian c35
  • Mesamerican 26
  • "illustrated ms"10 - actaually 8 fightbooks & 2 chronicles
  • Hebrew 2/3

- that seems a fairly good balance to me. What we are short of is Books of Hours, Gothic Psalters, and Romanesque Bibles. Gospel Books are pretty well covered. I just don't see the problem, I'm afraid. You would be left with ?60-80 articles in the main category, some of which could go to medical-scientific/musical/chronicles - the next sub-cats needed I think. Johnbod 18:05, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

You are right that we arn't going to have hundreds of miscellaneous Christian texts, but we do have hundreds of Christian texts. Sorry about the confusion. In my mind, having Gospel Books and Psalters in the parent cat is like having the Borgia Group in the parent cat. The Borgia Group most logically fits in the more general subcat of "Mesoamerican" while Psalters and Gospel Books fit in the more general subcat of "Christian". If we are going to start grouping texts based on the cultures they come from, I think we should do the same for the Christian texts. But again, I feel liek I am repeating myself. While this is being settled, I am going to continue moving the Christian texts to the subcat, with the expressed knowledge that it will be renamed. This way we can see what articles we are dealing with, and if we have enough a certain text type to create more subcats (such as the book of hours). Anyway, I found out that Codex Zographensis is only contains the gospels (An Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism by Leon Vaganay p 44).-Andrew c 21:03, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Well currently we have c150? Christian (narrow sense) Ill MS. I wouldn't have done Borgia sub-cat myself, for only 2 MS & a group article, but I don't know much about them. I've absolutely no problem with continuing to move stuff, that's great. I suspect some things, like Bedes, belong in both the Xtian cat & the main cat, as important political histories. What do you think? Also I think a musical category would have nearly 10 members already.
I don't personally expect the number of MS in the whole category to grow especially fast. A lot of the ones already there are stubs, and if I were spending time writing on this area I suspect it would be to improve these rather than add new articles. Having said that, Books of Hours and Romanesque Bibles are surprisingly weak. Obviously it depends what other editors do. Johnbod 22:22, 6 March 2007 (UTC)


The problem with a gallery here is it gets out of hand quickly because people want to upload their images here instead of Wikicommons. Then when it comes time to migrate images over to Wikicommons (because of too many images), they have to be physically moved which takes work and time - they should all be uploaded directly to commons to begin with. And the commons gallery is far superior to the one here, it's confusing to have two galleries. Commons is part of the project, it's not "leaving" Wikipedia, it's all the same thing. -- Stbalbach 16:10, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure it's really true that people will upload images here instead of Commons. This particular Gallery is not currently a shining example, and the two Armenian images recently added, which are not I think on Commons,(in fact they are) may bear out your point (they might be better at Armenian Illuminated manuscript), but there is a place for galleries on WP. It is impossible to write about iconographical matters without many examples of images, and when these are selected and captioned properly they can be a very valuable, indeed essential, part of the article. In fact the ability to use so many images is what gives WP its edge in this area.
The Commons "gallery" - warren of ramshackle buildings would be a better description - of illuminated manuscripts is enormously large (2,000+ images I think) and very difficult to navigate even if you know quite a bit about the subject. Plus of course the information on the description pages varies enormously in quantity and quality. Johnbod 16:34, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree, galleries are OK when they are focused and small and have notable examples that tie in with the text. I may have been hasty in deleting this one, but I have seen how the illuminated manuscript galleries get out of hand on Wikipedia in the past so I am trying to save us effort down the road. Many times when someone uploads a new illuminated manuscript image, they will come here and want to add it to the gallery. The galleries on Commons could be better organized with sub-galleries (organized by date, type, location, etc..) -- Stbalbach 18:01, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
Well the Commons galleries have (see discussion on categorisation above) all those cross-categories (and more), but the trouble is most of them are largely unpopulated & incomplete, & hundreds of images are unsorted in the main category, usually with such poor info on the description page that only an expert who recognised them could sort them by all the right cross-categories. To do it correctly each image has to be given 8 (!!) categories, but many don't exist - "Illuminated Ms by place of creation" has only France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland (!!) and Italy, not the British Isles, the Netherlands or the Byzantine Empire(actually the most important centres for long periods). The whole main sub-category "Illuminated manuscripts by creator" actually has (after filtering through two further sub-cats), only ONE image in it. Don't get me started on it ....
I've been trying to work out (not for the first time) the actual status in policy terms of "article galleries" like this & it's hard to see what, if any, policy there actually is. WP:NOT is concerned with "Gallery articles", I've never managed to find any reference to galleries in the Manual of Style, which the gallery tag refers to, and there are a number of inconclusive & unconcluded discussions like Wikipedia talk:Galleries which mainly discuss User galleries and "Gallery articles". Johnbod 18:24, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
There isn't any policy that I have found that addresses galleries in articles. About a year ago, I attempted to revise WP:NOT to allow galleries as free standing articles, but after much debate the proposal failed to "gain consensus". Ironically, the "no galleries" portion of WP:NOT was inserted, without discussion in the early days. There was enough support for my proposal that if the attempt had been to insert a "no galleries" plank into WP:NOT there would not have been consensus to ban galleries.
However, since, in my opinion, some topics, such as illuminated manuscripts, demand large gallereis, and there is no consensus for allowing free standing galleries, they have to be incorporated into the main articles. For a large topic like this article, the gallery should be carefully selected to represent in as few images as possible the wide variety of existing manuscripts. All of the truly famous manuscripts and manuscript traditions should be represented.
If a gallery is included, I'm not certain that the gallery tag has to be used. During the gallery discussion last year, the possible uses of tables for presenting galleries were presented to me. I played with some of the possibilites of the format, here. (Please note that this gallery is in no way complete, and has lain fallow for quite some time.) I do like that the format allows one more space for descriptive text, and allows larger images. The drawback is that it chews up a lot more screen space than the gallery tag.
Whatever format is used, I would like to see a more carefully thought out gallery in this article. Dsmdgold 20:54, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed - plus the article itself is pretty short for the size of the subject. Also, apart from a few articles like Gospel Book there are no more specialised articles in most areas between this and the articles on individual MS, many of which are pretty good, but in a sluightly random way. I've seen some of your user galleries, which are of course very impressive, but the plain gallery does the job pretty well in my view, so long as the extra info is on the picture description page. Johnbod 23:30, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

More cat stuff, my assessment of what we have

I scanned through the article list and I have come up with this:

  • 3 Virgil
  • 2 Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
  • 3 Dioscurides' De Materia Medica
  • 2 Da Vinci
  • 2 Canterbury Tales
  • 1 Book of Hours
  • 2 Apocalypse
  • 4 Prayerbooks
  • 6 swiss illustrated chronicles
  • 2 Bestiaries (expandable, see List of medieval bestiaries)
  • 5 herbals (including the 3 Dioscurides)
  • 10 Christian/Western music
  • 10 Fechtbuch, some may not be illuminated/illustrated (expandable see Category:Fechtbücher and [[Fetchbuch) possibly this could make a martial arts category
  • 3 unknown Greek
  • 11 greek, combining Dioscurides, Virgil, literature
  • 2 alchemy
  • ~6 history/Chronicles

Then there are a few having to do with mythology/literature, such as the 2 MSS related to the Ulster Cycle, and MS NKS 1867 4° and Codex Manesse

  • ~5 German (not including Christian texts)
  • 2 Hungarian
  • 3 Icelandic

So, should any of these categories be made? I'd say "Swiss illustrated chronicles" and "Illuminated Christian music manuscripts" make the most sense. Working out Fechtbuch may be helpful, but it may not fit into illuminated manuscripts (and we can just put the illustrated Fechtbuch in the illustrated cat, which is basically what we have already). Creating the Greek category may be helpful as well. But until we get more in a category (such as herbals or bestiaries or book of hours) it is probably best to hold of creating the cats. This is just my thoughts after reviewing the category. Any suggestions or comments?-Andrew c 23:06, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, this pretty much agrees with my thoughts above; the music ones make a pretty obvious category (bearing in mind that some liturgical manuscripts have some music also, but I think the distinction is clear enough). The Fechtbucher are all illuminated - this illuminated/illustrated distinction is just nonsense, and the Chronicles make a group (maybe including Bede's history), of which the Swiss Chronicles is (even for me) a reasonable sub-cat. I think these would be enough for now, and we perhaps don't need to do all of them now. Johnbod 00:06, 7 March 2007 (UTC)