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Ever wonder how medieval monks made illuminated manuscripts?


This quick video only scratches the surface of a process that could sometimes take months.

If you’re a fan of How It’s Made, then you may find this video particularly interesting. The Getty Museum produced a short film that demonstrates the elaborate process of bookmaking in the medieval age. They cover everything from creating the parchment from animal skins to binding the pages to the cover.

The majority of scribes in medieval times were monks. Monasteries would usually contain an entire room, a scriptorium, devoted to writing the script and illuminating the page with various colors made from plant materials and precious metals.

The laborious process of creating these books was usually divided among several monks, allowing calligraphers to focus on writing while less skilled hands prepared the parchment. However, it was not unusual for all of the scriptorial duties to fall on one man’s shoulders in the smaller religious communities.

There is something so comforting in watching a craftsman work so methodically. We are so glad that there are still dedicated workers keeping this ancient process alive. After all, this was the only way to make books for more than 1,000 years.

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