Christine Cox

Archive for April, 2015

Left-Handed Monks

Wondering about how many manuscripts have been identified as having been written by lefties.

Things Medieval

Did you know that, despite the sinister (pun fully intended) associations of left hands, some scribes were actually left-handed? Paleographers know this because unlike right-handed scribes, for whom writing involved pulling the pen and ink across the writing surface, writers who held the pen in their left hands would have had to push the ink over the surface. This forced them to completely change their ductus, or the way in which they execute strokes. This according to Malcolm Parkes, in Their Hands Before Our Eyes: A Closer Look at Scribes.

Parkes also explains that handwriting can be used to determine how many words at a time copyists held in memory while turning their attention from the exemplar to their sheet, since words held in memory together tend to be aligned vertically, while stopping the motion and turning the gaze to the exemplar causes a break in the aligment.

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3rd Century: Earliest woodblock-printed fragments

Bookbinding, Miniatures, Writing and Paper
(Timeline project)

From some time before 220 – Earliest woodblock printed fragments to survive – silk printed with flowers in 3 colors (China)

This post is part of an ongoing series on bookbinding, miniatures, writing and paper since the year 1. Please consider it a kick-start for your own private timeline and a springboard for further research. See my blog for the rest of the series.

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