Object Alone

Obj. ID: 18539
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Munich Ibn Rushd Commentaries, Spain, early 15th c.

© BSB, Photographer: Unknown,
Summary and Remarks

The main decoration was carried out by two hands, the Scribe and the Artist, following the writing of the text, and appears in the first six quires at important divisions. The decoration consists of filigree panels enclosing the initial words. Out of the 11 initial word panels those in the first three quires (fols. 1, 4, 7, 12v, 20v) were decorated by the Scribe. His panels are filled with filigree penwork forming a background to the letters in a unified dense composition. By contrast, the other panels by the Artist (fols. 16v, 25v, 34v, 39, 46v, 47) frame the letters with filigree penwork, leaving the initial words on the parchment ground.


Both filigree compositions show a fan-shaped club motif and scroll design, but they differ in style. That by the Scribe, despite its density, is delicately and precisely executed, integrating human and animal heads within the main fields and in the marginal flourishes. The filigree design by the Artist is somewhat simpler and stiffer. The undulating scrolls are replaced by straight and angular stalks (e.g. fol. 39), and the use of alternating deep blue and red colours divides the panels into compartments (e.g. fols. 46v, 47); only a few figures are integrated in the marginal flourishes.  



The fan-shaped filigree type is an early phase of filigree decoration, originating in an area under strong French influence. For example, the filigree design appears in the Paris Pentateuch (BnF hébreu 36; Sed-Rajna 1986/87, fig. 1) written in 1306 inPoligny in the Duchy of Burgundy. A later phase of filigree scroll- work consisting of a spiral pattern occupies the filigree panels of the Ashkenazi manuscripts produced during the years 1330-40 in the Upper Rhine region, for example the Vienna-Jerusalem Mahzor (ÖNB cod. hebr. 163 - NLI Heb. 8°5214), the Vienna SeMag (ÖNB cod. hebr. 34/I-II) and the Cambridge Hagiographa (CUL MS Ee 5.9) (op.cit., figs. 2-6).

It is interesting to note that the fan-shaped filigree design appears in several Hebrew manuscripts from Spain and Provence from the mid-fourteenth century on, for example in the Spanish or Provençal Maimonides of 1340-60 (BnF hébreu 689; Garel 1991, No. 28), the King's Bible of Solsona, 1384 (BL King's 1; Narkiss 1982, No. 22, figs. 333-4), or the Catalan Haggadah of Cambridge, c.1400 (CUL Add. 1203; op.cit., No. 18, figs. 308-9).

The late phase of this type of filigree is highly stylised and is found in manuscripts from the end of the 15th century, for example the Portuguese Lisbon Maimonides, 1471-72 (BL, Harley 5698-9; op.cit., No. 41, figs. 395-402). However, the decoration of the Munich Ibn Rushd is closer to the middle phase, and is similar to the London Spanish Mahzor of the early fifteenth century (BL, Or. 5600; op.cit., No. 39,

figs. 390-2).

הקשבFor some unknown reason the decoration of theMunichmanuscript was never completed. The sections of the second and third books were not decorated although space has been allocated for it.


The manuscript belonged to the orientalist Johan Albrecht Widmanstetter (1506-1557), and was acquired by Duke Albrecht V in 1558, together with his library. 


11 image(s)

sub-set tree:

Munich Ibn Rushd Commentaries | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Early 15th century
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Period Detail
Germany | Munich | Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB)
| Cod.hebr. 208 (Steinschneider 1895, No. 208)
Documentation / Research project
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
Sheepskin, III + 94 + III leaves. The white flesh and yellowish hair sides are distinguishable, and are arranged so that outer hair side faces hair according to Gregory's rule.
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Full page: (237-238) x (175-180) mm.
Text space: (155-160) x (95-100) mm.
Panel Measurements
The first leaves (fols. 1, 2) and especially the last one (fol. 94) are damaged with brown stains. The end and some folios, perhaps quires, are missing (cf. Quires).
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Ibn Rushd (Averroes) commentaries on three books from Aristotle's Natural Philosophy, Hebrew translations from Arabic. First book (fols. 1-46v): brief commentary On Hearing (;ספר השמע הטבעי de physico auditu), translated by Samuel son of Yehudah Ibn Tibbon (1150-1230). Second book (fols. 47-71v): commentary On the Heavens and Universe (ספר השמים והעולם, ספר השני מחכמת הטבע; de caelo), translated by Moses son of Samuel Ibn Tibbon. Third book (fols. 72-94v): commentary on Aristotle's Meteorology (ספר האותות העליונות; de signis superioribus), translated by Kalonymos b. Kalonymos or Shmuel Ibn Tibbon, end mutilated (last words (מה שהיה חבה למציאות החום בתוך המורכב יהא צרובן שנמצא היבש. Also missing is the book (ספר ההויה וההפסד; de Generatione et corruptione), which should have followed the second book (Steinschneider 1893, pp. 130-136, 138-140).
One scribe in dark and light brown ink.
The text is written in semi-cursive Sephardi script.
Number of Lines
The text is mostly written in 24 lines per page.
Ruling in plummet, 24 horizontal and 1+1 or sometimes 2+2+1 vertical lines (e.g. fols. 34v-35). Some horizontal lines are ruled across the entire page (e.g. fols. 15v, 16, 23v, 33).
The leaves were pricked in the outer, upper and lower margins; on fols. 33-38 pricking also appears in the inner margins.
12 quires of 8 leaves each, except for I8-1(fol. 7 is a single leaf); XII8-1 (last folio missing, with text). Quire structure: I8-1 (1-7); II8 (8-15); III8 (16-23); IV8 (24-31); V8 (32-39); VI8 (40-47); VII8 (48-55); VIII8 (56-63); IX8 (64-71); X8 (72-79); XI8 (80-87); XII8-1 (88-94).
Hebrew Numeration
Apparently there was Hebrew quire numeration in the top right corner of the first recto of each quire (e.g. ב' on fol. 8 beginning quire II; ג' on fol. 16, beginning quire III).
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Scribal Notes
Fol. 46v: נשלמו כללי דברי אריסטוט'ל/ בשמע הטבעי קצור בן רשד/ העתקת החכם ר' שמואל ב'ר/ יהודה בן תבון ויבא אחריו/ כללי דבריו בספר השמים/ והעולם בעזרת האל (The abbreviated commentary by Ibn Rushd on Aristotle's book On Hearing is complete, copied by R. Shmuel son of R. Yehuda Ibn Tibbon. It will be followed with God's help by his short commentary on Aristotle's On the Heavens and Universe). Below this, in a separate cartouche in Sephardi cursive script: ספר השמים והעולם קצור בן רשד (Ibn Rushd's abbreviated commentary On the Heavens and Universe). Fol. 71v: נשלם המאמר והספר הנקרא/ השמים והעולם והוא הספר/ השני מחכמת הטבע העתקת ר' משה בר' שמואל בן תבון נע (נוחו עדן)(The book called On the Heavens and Universe which is the second book of Natural Philosophy (Natura Sophia, Metaphysics by Aristotle) is complete, copied by Moshe son of Shmuel Ibn Tibbon, may he rest in Eden).
Trade Mark

Off-white pigskin on cardboard (cf. 114) (248 x 188 mm) by Heinrich Peisenberg, c.1577 (cf. Geldner 1958, pl. LXIV, fig. 85; Haebler 1929, II:64, 268). The front cover is blind-tooled with Ivstitia in the centre holding tipped scales in her left hand and a sword in her right. She stands beneath an arch with two columns, inscribed: Diligite iustitiam qui iudicatis terram Sap. I.

Below her: Aequa Gerit Rectam Liberat Quae Pondere Lancem/Iustitia Immota Firma Tenaxque Manu. The back cover is blind-tooled with the arms of Duke Albrecht V with the initials: SDN QCN (Si Deus Nobis Quis Contra Nos). These centre-pieces on both covers are surrounded by two frames: the inner with alternating unidentified profiles inscribed: MIR, ALE, IOH, ION; the outer one has foliate chains and alternating portraits of St. Paul with a book and sword, inscribed: Apparvit benig(nitas) (Tit. 3:4); John the Baptist with an open book, inscribed Ecce Agnus De(i) (John 1:29); Christ holding an orb with a cross, inscribed Data est mihi om(nis) (Matthew 28:18); and David with a harp, inscribed De fructu ventri(s) (Psalm 132:11; Vulgate 131:11).

The spine has three double cords and head and tail bands.

For a similar binding see Cod.hebr. 114 (CJA Documentation). 

Decoration Program

The decoration consists of filigree initial word panels which appear in the first six quires of the manuscript, i.e. the first book (fols. 1-46v) and the first folio of the second (fol. 47). It was done by two hands: the Scribe decorated the first three quires (fols. 1-23), and the Artist continued with the following three (fols. 24-47, also decorating fol.16v).

  1. By the Scribe: panels decorated with scrolls of red and blue filigree penwork enclosing titles (fol. 1), initial word (fol. 1), chapter headings (fols. 4, 7, 12v, 20v). By the Artist: title (fol. 47), words within the text (fol. 16v), chapter headings (25v, 34v, 39), an explicit for the first book and an incipit for the second (fol. 46v). Some panels by both Scribe and Artist include human and animal figures (fols. 4, 12v, 20v, 25v, 34v).
  2. By the Scribe: three geometrical diagrams (fols. 87v, 89, 89v) showing shifting relations between a light source (המאיר; fol. 87v), a viewpoint (נקודת הראות; fol. 89v), and a rainbow (קשת הענן; fol. 89), the intersections marked by Hebrew letters.
  3. A later hand, which adds annotations, also adds small penwork drawings (e.g. fol. 28 – a pointing hand and the connecting 'pillar' between the two sections of filigree on fol. 46v).
Suggested Reconsdivuction
Many marginal annotations were written by several later hands in semi-cursive and cursive Sephardi script in various shades of brown ink. Owner’s and librarian's inscriptions: Fol. 1, in the lower margin in light brown ink: Joannis Alberti Widmanstadij (cf. BSB Cod.hebr. 114), and remains of the cropped contents in the upper margin: "… Mundo et meteoris" by Widmanstetter. Lower margin, "Auerroes de physico auditu, de caelo mundo et meteoris" probably by one of the Duke's librarians. Fol. 85v-86: Three nota bene marks in the margins by Widmanstetter (?). Exlibris and library stamps: Front pastedown: an exlibris of the Bavarian Court and State Library (226 x 154 mm) with the arms of Elector Maximilian I (1623-1651) from 1638 (Dressler 1972: B3ab). It is stuck over the earlier exlibris of 1618, before the Duke became Elector in 1623 (Dressler 1972: A3a-f; see Cod.hebr. 21). The exlibris is inscribed in pencil with the contents in German and the signature Cod.hebr. 208, as well as on the first flyleaf and back pastedown. On fols. 1v, 94v: an oval stamp of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek from the 19th century: BIBLIOTHECA REGIA MONACENSIS. On the back pastedown and spine: the library modern sticker: Cod.hebr. 208. Old signatures: Front cover, below Ivstitia, in light brown ink: 4. 29. Lower front pastedown, in brown ink: 4. 29 (Prommer's revision of the Duke's library in 1582-3). Fol. 1, lower margin: 4. 29 (Duke's library, Prommer's signature). Spine: 119 on a sticker, and below, on another sticker, almost effaced 29.
Main Surveys & Excavations
Dressler 1972 F. Dressler and B. Schröder, Die Exlibris der Bayerischen Hof- und Staatsbibliothek 17. bis 20. Jahrhundert, Wiesbaden 1972. Garel, 1991 M. Garel, D'une main forte, Paris 1991. Geldner 1958 F. Geldner, Bucheinbände aus elf Jahrhunderten, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich 1958. Haebler 1929 K. Haebler, Rollen- und Plattenstempel des XVI. Jahrhunderts, vol. II (Sammlung Bibliothekswissenschaftlicher Arbeiten, ed. by K. Haebler, Heft 42 (Series 2, Heft 25)), Leipzig 1929. Narkiss 1982 B. Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts in the British Isles, Jerusalem and London 1982. Sed-Rajna 1986/87 G. Sed-Rajna, "Filigree Ornaments in 14th century Hebrew Manuscripts of the Upper Rhine", Jewish Art, vol. 12/13 (1986/87), pp. 45-54. Steinschneider 1893 M. Steinschneider, Die hebräischen Übersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Dolmetscher: ein Beitrag zur Literaturgeschichte des Mittelalters, meist nach handschriftlichen Quellen, Berlin 1893. Steinschneider 1895 M. Steinschneider, Die hebräischen Handschriften der K. Hof- und Staatsbibliothek in München, Munich 1895, No. 208.
Ilona Steimann Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin; | 2010; 2010
Author of description
Ilona Steimann; Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin; Yaffa Levy | 2010; 2013; 2013
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal; Project Head: Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin |
Language Editor
Christine Evans | 2013
Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation |
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |