Paulo Orosio   Detalle (1)

Paulus Orosius, shown in a miniature from the Saint-Epure codex.

Detail map of Bobbio, Emilia-Romagna, Italy Overview map of Bobbio, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

A: Bobbio, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

The Bobbio Orosius Contains the Earliest Surviving Carpet Page in Insular Art

Circa 625 CE

A rather unsatisfactory image of the carpet page of the Bobbio Orosius. Lacuna are shown in white.

The Bobbio Orosius (Milan, Bibliotheca Ambrosiana MS D 23. Sup.), an early seventh century Insular manuscript of the Chronicon by the fourth century Gallaecian priest, historian and theologian Paulus Orosius, was probably written in the scriptorium of Bobbio Abbey.  

"It contains the earliest surviving carpet page in Insular art. The carpet page is on folio 1v. Although it is simpler in design than later carpet pages and contains motifs not found in later carpet pages, it shows a subtlety of pattern and alternation of colors common to Insular manuscripts. It consists of a large central rosette surrounded by four corner rosettes, all contained within a rectangular frame. The vertical panels of the frame contain cable motifs; the frame on the left has a single larger cable of white on pink, while the frame on the right has two smaller cables of white on pink separated by a yellow bar. The upper and lower panels are broken into smaller square panels separated by thin bars. The smaller panels are composed of chevrons and triangles that alternate in pink and yellow. The side top and bottom panels continue to the right edge of the frame. Above the left vertical frame there are two square frames containing circular motifs; the top with a cross inside a circle, and the bottom with a rosette. The cross within the circle in the top panel is similar to the cross within a circle found in the center of the carpet page on folio 192v of the Book of Durrow. Six concentric circles surround the central rosette. The page is faded and damaged so that it is difficult to be certain of its original appearance. It has been suggested that the carpet page is later addition to the manuscript" (Wikipedia article on Bobbio Orosius, accessed 10-29-2013).

The Bobbio Orosius appears in a catalogue of the Bobbio monastery library prepared in 1461. When the Biblioteca Ambrosiana was founded by Cardinal Federico Boromeo in 1609 the monks at Bobbio gave the manuscript to the Ambrosiana, where it remains. 

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