[Lat.: ‘Little key of painting’]
Medieval compendium of recipes. It possibly originated in northern France or Germany. Like the Compositiones variae, it can be related to knowledge of ancient Egyptian origin and early Greek alchemist texts. Some of its recipes are literal translations of texts in the Leiden papyrus (3rd century ad; Leiden, Rijksmus. Oudhd., MS. X). The Mappae clavicula has descriptions of the nature and preparation of various minerals, herbs, woods, stones, and chemicals. It contains recipes for making glues, solder, and pigments and many recipes of a metallurgical nature. It also has instructions for dyeing both textiles and skins for parchment in purple, for writing in gold and silver and for making gold leaf.
The most complete copy of the Mappae clavicula is in a 12th-century manuscript (Corning, NY, Mus. Glass, Phillipps MS. 3715), which was published in transcript in 1847. An earlier copy is dated to the 10th century (Sélestat, Bib. Human., MS. 17), while the earliest fragments of the ...