Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Medieval Mappae Clavicula Elderberry Paint Recipe

Last year I posted some medieval recipes for blue paint from elderberries here.  And the testing of it as blue paint here.

I am excited to expand the post to include pictures of a manuscript of the Mappae Clavicula, one of the medieval recipe sources I used.  The manuscript is held at Rakow Research Library which is part of The Corning Museum of Glass.   The entire manuscript can be downloaded from their website here.

This picture is provided by the courtesy of the Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass.

This table of contents entry is toward the beginning of the parchment leaves.  The numbers were penned in red ink probably after at least most of the book was written. We'll see the red ink again later.

To me the latin content entry reads:
Indicum colorem facere.
Which can be translated as
To make an indigo color.
In the manuscript we find the page with the description of how to make the blue color.  Note the different colored inks used again.  This time perhaps to designate titles versus instruction.

This picture is also provided by the courtesy of the Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass.

Mostly trusting and heavily relying on the Latin edition found on Corning's website here, on page 28 which can be accessed by typing in 32 of 70 pages in the downloadable pdf, the abbreviated latin probably reads as:
Indicum colorem facere.  Succum de ba(c)cis ebuli collige et diligenter sicca at solem de hoc quod remanserit fac pastillos cum parvo aceti et vini et utere 
According to a magazine I interlibrary loaned, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society held at Philidelphia for promoting useful knowledge, New Series Volume 64 part 4 written by Smith and Hawthorne in 1974 in the article "Mappae Clavicula, a little key to the world of Medieval Techniques", it can be translated as:
97. Making indigo pigment.  Collect the juice of dwarf elderberries and dry it thoroughly in the sun.  From what remains make pastilles with a little vinegar and wine, then use it.
I would have translated "Indicum color facere." as "make indigo color" but high school Latin class was a long time ago now. Perhaps the disagreement with what number of the recipe has to do with either different manuscript versions, mis-translation (probably by me, I'm pretty new at deciphering manuscripts) or the numbering being added either after the book was done by the original scribe or by a different scribe, perhaps even at a different time. I have not finished reading all of the resources on the internet about Mappae Clavicula; maybe I'll eventually find more theories about the differences but I wanted to share the great references provided by the Corning Museum of Glass and it's Rakow Research Library. Go check out that manuscript; it's great!

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