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Minaret  

Jonathan M. Bloom

Tower attached to a mosque from which the muezzin gives the call to prayer (Arab. adhān). The English term ‘minaret’ derives (via French) from the Turkish minare, which itself derives from the Arabic manāra, ‘a place or thing that gives light’ (cf. Heb. menorah). Medieval Arabic had other terms for the tower attached to the mosque: manār, miاdhana and ṣawma‛a. Eventually all these terms became synonymous, but it seems that at first they had limited geographical currency or referred to different functional types.

With the possible exception of the dome, the minaret is the most distinctive external feature of Islamic architecture, giving a characteristic ‘Islamic’ aspect to the Taj Mahal and to the skylines of Cairo and Istanbul (see Islamic art, §II). Minarets vary in form and materials of construction, from the square towers of North Africa and Spain, through the multi-storey stone spires of Egypt, the pencil-thin stone shafts of Ottoman Turkey and the cylindrical brick towers of Iran, to the monumental combinations of flanged octagonal and cylindrical shafts erected in medieval Afghanistan and India. While the minaret is a common feature of Islamic religious architecture, it is, however, neither necessary nor ubiquitous: some regions of the Islamic world, for example East Africa, Kashmir and Bengal, eschewed minarets at certain times....

Article

Minbar  

[Arab.; Turk. minber]

Pulpit in a mosque, often made of wood or stone. The largest, indeed sometimes the only piece of furniture in a mosque, the minbar derived from the judge’s seat in pre-Islamic Arabia. The first minbar in Islam (c. ad 628–31) is reported to have been the wooden chair with two steps ordered for the mosque of Medina by the prophet Muhammad; from it he preached and led prayers. After Muhammad’s death in 632 it became customary for a new caliph to receive homage while seated on this minbar. The Umayyad caliph Mu‛awiya (reg 661–80) raised the Prophet’s minbar on a six-stepped platform in 670. As a sign of legitimate authority, minbars were used by the Umayyad caliphs (reg 661–750) and their governors as pulpits from which to make important announcements as well as for delivering the Friday sermon. It became customary for the name of the reigning sovereign to be mentioned in the sermon (Arab. ...

Article

Shalom Sabar

In Jewish tradition a minhag (pl. minhagim) is defined as a well-established religious practice or usage, which, though unsupported by Written Law, assumes the force of a binding regulation. However, while the prescriptions of the Written Law are universally accepted by all Jews, a minhag may vary from one community to another. Books recording such variations developed from the Middle Ages (the earliest known work dates to c. 8th century ad) and are generally referred to as minhagim books. A vast literature of this genre was created especially among Ashkenazi Jews, while the Sephardim and Jews of Islamic lands dedicated lesser efforts to recording their particular customs. Illustrated editions of minhagim books flourished among Ashkenazi Jews in Europe especially in the 17th and 18th centuries, printed by Hebrew presses in Italy, Germany, Holland and Bohemia. The most popular editions were generally compiled in Yiddish and thus were accessible to a wide readership, including women and children. These editions were often accompanied by a series of small woodcuts illustrating Jewish holidays, religious observances, ceremonies in the life cycle (circumcisions, weddings, funerals), the Signs of the Zodiac and Labours of the Months....

Article

Christa Grössinger

[Lat. misericordia: ‘act of mercy’]

Hinged choir-stall seat, which, when tipped up, gives support to the clergy, who according to the Rules of St Benedict (6th century) were required to stand during the Divine Offices, consisting of the seven Canonical Hours. The term is first mentioned in the 11th-century Constitutiones of Hirsau Abbey, Germany (chapter 29), when they were confined to the upper rows of the stalls and used by the old and weak monks only, who had previously been allowed crutches. The use of misericords is restricted to western Europe. Their undersides are usually carved, and the earliest surviving examples date from the 13th century (e.g. Exeter Cathedral, c. 1230–60).

In contrast to other church art, the subject-matter of misericords is predominantly secular, illustrating the humorous side of life, proverbs, games, fables, professions, and a vast repertory of grotesques, animals, and plants. Scenes based on the scriptures are few (e.g. Amiens Cathedral, 1508–19...

Article

Missal  

Robert G. Calkins

Book containing prayers, benedictions, invocations, readings, and instructions used in the ritual of the Roman Catholic Mass. The basic service of the Mass contained in the Ordo missae (Ordinary of the Mass) consists of the Mass of the Catechumens, the Offertory, prefaces for the common masses and for high feast days, the Canon of the Mass, in which the bread and wine of the Eucharist are consecrated, and the Order of Holy Communion. Three additional sections provide the devotions required for special occasions. The Temporal (or Proper of Time) contains the feasts that occur on Sundays and are based on the events of the life of Christ. The Sanctoral (or Proper of Saints) contains prayers, lessons, and recitations appropriate for the feast days of special saints occurring on set dates. By the end of the Middle Ages the sequence of feasts in both sections followed the order of the liturgical year, usually beginning with the first Sunday in Advent (the Sunday closest to 30 November). A third section, the Common of Saints, contains prayers, recitations, and lessons for saints or groups of saints for whom there are no special commemorative rites or fixed feast days. The Missal might also contain special votive Masses, such as the Mass of the Dead, and a variety of other benedictions, hymns, and special prayers....

Article

Shalom Sabar

[Heb.: ‘east’]

Term used among Ashkenazi (west and east European) Jews to designate a decorated plaque hung on the eastern wall of homes to indicate the direction of prayer. The custom of praying while facing east—towards Jerusalem and the Temple Mount—is based on the biblical account of the prayers of Solomon and Daniel (1 Kings viii.38, 44, 48; Daniel vi.10–11). Mizra plaques are known from about the 18th century and are executed in different techniques and various media such as paper (see Papercut), wood or metal. They were made chiefly by students in traditional Jewish schools devoted to the study of the Talmud, rabbinic laws based on Bible interpretation.

A typical mizra consists of appropriate quotations and pictures. Most often, the word mizra is written in large square letters in the centre. As an acronym, mizra gives rise to a phrase that is sometimes included: ‘From this side [i.e. east] the spirit of life’. Also common is the verse ‘From the rising [...

Article

Richard Fawcett, Virginia Jansen, John N. Lupia and Helen Loveday

Group of buildings within which individuals are able to pursue their lives of prayer and self-denial with the moral support afforded by being with like-minded fellows. Although secluded religious communities are found in cultures throughout the world, this article discusses the development of the two principal traditions, Christian and Buddhist.

The earliest Christian monasteries, in Egypt and Palestine, were hardly more than gatherings of separately housed hermits who sought little from each other beyond the knowledge that they were among brethren whose aims were identical with their own. It was perhaps inevitable that the Edict of Milan of ad 313, by which the Church was given official standing within the Roman Empire, should lead to major changes and the beginnings of an organized format for the monastic life, devised c. 320 by St Pachomius and later by St Basil (d 379).

Western monasticism owes the basis of its medieval development to a Rule compiled ...

Article

Mosque  

[Arab. masjid]

Muslim house of prayer. Islam requires no physical structure for valid prayer, which may be performed anywhere, and a minimal masjid (‘place of prostration’) may consist only of lines marked on the ground, but a building constructed especially for the purpose is preferred, in particular for congregational prayer at Friday noon, the principal weekly service. Such a building may be called a masjid or a jāmi (Turk. cami), from masjid al-jāmi‛ (Pers. masjid-i jāmi‛; Urdu jāmi‛ masjid), meaning ‘congregational mosque’. This term is often rendered in English as ‘great mosque’, or ‘Friday mosque’, a translation of masjid-i juma‛, a Persian variant. The word masjid may also be applied to any place where prayer is appropriate, for example the Masjid al-Haram, the enclosed area around the Ka‛ba in Mecca. Large buildings constructed for other religious purposes, such as madrasas and khānaqāhs, usually contain prayer-halls arranged like free-standing mosques. In cities throughout the Islamic world, the daily needs of the residents of particular quarters have been served by small mosques; they are often reduced versions of the major types of mosque that were most popular locally at the time of their construction. This article is concerned primarily with major structures built specifically for congregational prayer. For further bibliography and information on mosques in other types of buildings, ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Ornamental glass shade for an oil lamp, designed to be hung in a mosque. It is usually shaped like a vase, with a bulbous body, a flared neck, a flat base, and applied glass loops from which it was suspended. The form emerged in late 13th-century Syria, and many of the finest examples come from Syria and Egypt. From the 16th century mosque lamps were made in Europe (notably Venice) and exported to the Islamic world.

The inscriptions on mosque lamps generally mention the donor and include the opening lines of the ‘Verse of Light’ in the Qur'an (24.35), which likens God, the light of the heavens and the earth, to a glass lamp. Over a dozen mosque lamps from the three reigns of al-Nasir Muhammad (reg 1294–1340 with interruptions) represent the summit of 14th-century enamelled glass. A band of tall script at the neck with blue lettering on a gilded ground decorated with polychrome scrolls, leaves and buds contrasts with another band on the body inscribed with gold letters on a blue ground with scattered gold blossoms. At least 50 lamps inscribed with the Light Verse and the name of Hasan (...

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Orant  

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Ordinal  

Diane J. Reilly

Handbook, primarily for the Divine Office, which explains the texts and implements used in the liturgy on each day of the ecclesiastical year. An Ordinal gives introductory phrases (incipits) to texts and instructions (rubrics) for the performance of the Mass and the Divine Office. Because the liturgy changes almost daily according to the ecclesiastical season and locally or universally celebrated feast days, the cantor, who was typically responsible for assembling the materials necessary for each service, consulted the Ordinal for instructions about which texts to gather and what actions should be performed. The Ordinal could not replace books that supplied the complete texts and music for the liturgy, such as Sacramentaries, Lectionaries or Antiphonals.

Ordinals evolved over time, becoming more complex and providing progressively more detailed information about movements and vestments, processional paths and participants. The Ordinal of each region also differed to accommodate local customs and saints. As a handbook, rather than a book used in the liturgy itself, such as a ...

Article

Pala  

Article

Ulrike Liebl

Term applied to life-size wooden sculptures carved in the round and originally always painted, commemorating the entry of Christ into Jerusalem riding on an ass, as recounted in Matthew 21:1–11. There are also smaller palmesel statuettes made of wood, pewter, plaster or ivory that must have served a different function; there is some evidence that they were used as accompanying figures to the actual palmesel, or as toys.

From the Early Christian period, in the Eastern Churches, Christ’s entry into Jerusalem was commemorated on Palm Sunday by a solemn procession, which often resembled the ceremonial associated with the entry of a ruler into a city. In these processions a Gospel book or a consecrated Host was frequently carried as a symbol of Christ, and those taking part carried blessed palm branches and laid garments in the path of the procession. This practice was adopted in the Western Church by the 7th century, but in the Middle Ages the symbols were replaced by a live donkey or a wooden figure. The first documentary evidence of the use of a palmesel comes from a contemporary account dating from between 982 and 992 of the Life of St Ulrich of Augsburg (890–972; extract in Wiepen), but it is uncertain whether this was a three-dimensional figure or a painted image, such as those in use in Italy in the 11th century. Such palmesel processions appear to have been customary in ...

Article

Nigel J. Morgan

Golden branches of roses, some embellished with jewels, symbolizing Christ’s love and Passion, given on rare occasions to persons and places specially favoured by the Pope for services to the Church. Most popes have given no more than four or five during their pontificate and some none at all. The earliest documented example is that granted to Fulk IV Rechin, Count of Anjou (reg 1067–1109), at Angers by Pope Urban II (reg 1088–99) at the time of the First Crusade in 1096. The origin of the custom is unknown, but by the 13th century a special liturgical rite of the blessing of the golden rose had been established. Usually the gifts were to individuals, but on rare occasions since the 14th century they have been given to churches, shrines of the Virgin or even cities. Roses were usually given to persons of the highest rank and, up to the 14th century, exclusively to men, but in ...

Article

Paten  

Peter Springer

[Gr. patene: ‘basin’]

Liturgical implement on which the eucharistic Host is placed before and after consecration. Until the offertory, the paten, a plate-like, shallow bowl, is laid on the cuppa of the chalice; it holds the Host during the oblation and from the Agnus Dei until Communion; when High Mass is celebrated it is held from the Offertory to the end of the Paternoster by the subdeacon. During Mass it lies under the Communion cloth. The materials of which it is made and its consecration are governed by similar regulations as the Chalice. The oldest surviving Western examples date from the 10th century (Nancy Cathedral). The size and form of the paten were influenced by its function. As long as Communion was offered to the people from the same Host as the celebrant, the paten had to be of a size appropriate to this purpose. After the practice of the Fractio panis...

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Lucy Freeman Sandler

Composite volume (Cambridge, Corpus Christi Coll., MS. 53) consisting of a Psalter (fols 1–180) and chronicles of England and Peterborough Abbey (fols 180v–187v) produced in England in the first quarter of the 14th century, richly illuminated by several artists, and followed by a contemporary Bestiary (fols 189–210v) differing in script and format, and illustrated by another English artist. The two sections of the manuscript have been bound together since they were given to Corpus Christi College by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 16th century. Although its place of origin and original destination are uncertain, the Bestiary takes its name from the Peterborough Abbey provenance of the first part of the volume. The manuscript contains accounts of the physical form and habits of animals, birds, reptiles and fish, many supplied with Christian moralizations identified as spiritualiter (that is, spiritual, as opposed to physical), with small text illustrations and decorated initials at the beginning of each of the 104 entries. The animals are represented in profile, sometimes alone and sometimes in narrative situations in which human actors play a role. The elegant script, page layout, and execution of the miniatures and decoration reach the high level of refinement characteristic of the so-called Court style of English illumination, continuing the tradition of such manuscripts as the Alphonso Psalter (London, BL, MS. Add. 24686) of ...

Article

Pew  

Charles Tracy

Term used to designate certain kinds of seating, particularly fixed wooden benches in churches. The provision of permanent seating for the congregation became common only in the later Middle Ages, and it may have been a speciality of England, where most examples survive. Earlier, bench-tables along the walls or encircling the nave piers had provided seating for the old and infirm, but most of the congregation stood, as is still the tradition in the Eastern churches. The earliest surviving examples of fixed wooden pews date from the late 13th century, at St Mary and All Saints, Dunsfold (Surrey), St Mark’s, Mark (Somerset), and St Luke’s, Gaddesby (Leics). Seats for parishioners are recorded at the synod of Exeter in 1287, when the practice of claiming a specific place was condemned, and enclosed ‘pues’ for wives and widows are mentioned in the Visions of Piers Plowman C, vi, 144 (c. 1377–87...