Local Heart, Global Soul

February 11, 2019

Clasped, Chained, Engraved, Micro-Mosaic, …Silver Bibles!

The exquisite detail and workmanship in the tiny bibles on display during my Easter break visit to Zierikzee back in 2017 was amazing.  Some were encrusted with semi-precious stones, leather and silver combined to make intricate patterns even on some of the smallest of it’s parts. Even the clasp to keep the bible closed and thus the pages protected, were engraved or decorated. It’s possible that bibles such as these might be one of the most expensive items in the family home. All of the bibles were standing on glass shelves and for obvious security reasons enclosed in a glass cabinet, so getting photographs with as little reflection as possible was quite a task.

One of the bibles had micro-mosaic figures in each corner of the front cover, quite a few have monogrammed initials worked into the designs or Family names etched into the silver on clasps or within the silver work. Another has an indented flower pattern in the closed pages and a wrist chain, presumably so that this precious object didn’t get accidently dropped into the mud if your horse jolted unexpectedly whilst you were getting into your carriage.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 10, 2019

Illustrating A Book, Bitch!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The reason for my 2017 Easter break visit to the Zierikzee Stadhuis (City council / Town hall) was because I had unexpectedly discovered an information board advertising an exhibition.

The exhibition advert was for a display of bibles… and not just any bibles, but bibles in silver cases, often stunningly engraved with intricate and amazingly detailed designs.

Bibles were usually one of the only “approved” decorated items in the home of the Calvinist (in North America these were known as the “Puritans”), so in upper class families this was also the one outlet for conspicuous expression of wealth or special care of a treasured possession.

The Calvinist lifestyle was austere in the extreme: colour, indulgence, extravagance, decorative objects, hobbies and fun were denounced.

Restrictions were so strict that people could be tried for the offence of dancing!

The exhibition shows us not only the bibles but also around the walls were early photographs where Calvinists were shown holding their beautiful silver encased bibles.

Not every bible here is from the Calvinists however, some are from the Dutch Reformed Church, Catholics and other “branches” of the faith as it was at the time.

The visitor is instantly struck by  the size of the bibles, for the most part they are all tiny, roughly 10-15 cm in height (3-4 inches). Some of the bibles on display were presented with special pages open so that visitors could also see etched or woodcut illustrative pages, those too, although tiny, have exacting detail.

I first watch a short video that details where various bibles are from since this collection includes examples from Germany, France and several other European countries.

There was a lot of additional information in the film too, dates, and a little background about a few of the bibles where it is known.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s not hard to imagine this lady practicing the strict Calvinistic / Puritan ethic of austere living! In reality though, she probably had a very tough life.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Above) The text on the banner the angels are holding is in old German. As a lover of languages Himself took pleasure in digging into his library of language books and dictionaries and found out that it reads: “Strassburgisches Gelang Buch”  which translates into English as “Strasburg Hymn Book”  (Strasburg as in the city in France, and the word we translated as “hymn” could also be literally read as a past tense of “singing“).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Your eyes may be playing tricks on you in the photograph above, the last word isn’t “Bitch”, but rather “Buch” (the German word for “book’ or possibly ‘Buch” as in a Family name).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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