London’s Courtauld Gallery Shows Off German Miniature Bibles

London
The Courtauld Gallery in London has opened a new exhibition of two of the smallest Bibles you’ll ever see.

“Dess Alten Testaments Mittler” and “Dess Neuen Testaments Mittler” are tiny illustrated Bibles produced by two sisters from Augsburg, Germany, in the late 17th century. It was a time of increased private devotion, when people looked for more from religion than the rituals in the church. Personal Bibles and images hung in the home became popular for those who could afford them and were used as the individual’s way to reach the Divine.

Tiny Bibles like these were generally for children, but the fine quality of the engravings on these examples hint that they were for adults. If you won’t make it to London this summer, you can turn the pages of one of the Bibles and admire the detailed yet miniscule artwork at this webpage.

The exhibit is part of the “Illuminating Objects” series, prepared by postgraduate students on their area of study. “Dess Alten Testaments Mittler: Dess Neuen Testaments Mittler” runs from May 1 to July 22.
London

More Istanbul shopping and dining secrets from Daily Secret

Istanbul secretsLast week, Gadling included Istanbul in our picks for 2012 luxury travel, and introduced you to Daily Secret, a web-based “guide service” offering insider intel to 12 cities, including Istanbul. We got so many more great Istanbul secrets from editor Laura Wells (many with special discounts and exclusive access), we’re posting them for Gadling readers to add to their itineraries. Happy shopping (and tasting)!

Local designer fashion: To buy designer clothing for men & women from multiple up-and-coming Turkish designers, this is a really cool, brand-new co-op: Fashion Tunnel in Galata

Turkish wine: Turkey has amazing wine, but it’s difficult to export as it’s heavily taxed. To try the best Turkish wines (even local sour cherry wine wine, which is delicious) and get ideas for what to buy at duty free, check out Rouge in Taksim. They have free tasting every Saturday, but you can try anything by the glass in the restaurant above, which also serves amazing rare Turkish cheeses and cure meats.

Waterside dining: For a gourmet, organic meal that few know about with a view of the Bosphorus, head to Fark-et-mez in Sariyer. The chef & sous-chef are both Turkish, and Daily Secret members get 15% off their meal. They also have live jazz on certain nights.Travel magazine: One of the most interesting and beautiful magazines (the kind you save) that I’ve ever seen is ‘Cornucopia‘. Written by world-class authors and journalists, the articles cover the history of the former empires of Central Asia, as well as modern figures trying to preserve national treasures. Our members get 10% off the price and they ship worldwide for free!

Rare books: For rare books about Istanbul and the former empires, this bookshop in Kadikoy on the Asian side has any hard-to-find edition, old or new, or they’ll find it, and they ship worldwide.

Artistic home decor: Grand, hand-painted panels & wallpaper that you see in palaces & hotels all over the world is actually made by a company now based in Istanbul. You can visit their trade-only showroom & atelier if you tell them you’re a Daily Secret member when you make an appointment. They’ll ship worldwide without a problem: Iksel in Bebek.

Turkish rugs: Here is the best Turkish antique rug dealer I’ve ever come across with the best prices in the world (I’m a collector and my cousin is an antiques rug dealer, and she agreed)! He is usually only open to ‘trade’, but welcomes our members. You can either leave with a rug, or he ships worldwide at reasonable rates.

Interior design: For handprinted, hand-loomed fabrics and unique handmade furniture, Philadelphia-transplant & textiles expert Elizabeth Hewitt counts Oscar de la Renta and President Obama’s interior designer among her customers. They have everything from scarves to draperies, bed linens, table cloths, and more; all really gorgeous and uniquely central Asian. Her husband & brother-in-law are rug & suzani dealers, and his shop is on the top floor of this store – best place in terms of selection to get tulu rugs (sheepskin rugs, which are very ‘in’ now) and antique suzanis, at literally the best prices in any emerging country.

Subscribe to Daily Secret for more tips in Istanbul and other cities around the world.

Expanding the Memory of the World: great books and other records

books, Chinese, bookWhen we think of UNESCO lists, we tend to think of UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. UNESCO has another list, however, and it just got a lot longer.

The Memory of the World program lists books, inscriptions, libraries, and other documentary heritage to protect them from “collective amnesia” and the ravages of time. Last week the program held its annual meeting and voted to add 45 new entries into the list.

The new additions include the Compendium of Materia Medica, pictured here, which is a Chinese pharmaceutical text written by Li Shizhen (1518-1593 AD). Other additions include the Mainz Psalter (1457), the first printed color book in Europe to be entirely produced with mechanical methods; pictures, text, and records of the Indian indentured laborers in Fiji, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago; and the Epigraphic Archives of Wat Pho in Thailand.

The list now includes 238 items. The entire list is here and a detailed looks at the new additions is here.

[Photo courtesy Li Shizhen]

Preserving the literary treasures of Timbuktu

Mali has been getting a bad rap lately with the kidnapping of a French aid worker and travel warnings about the dangers of terrorism, all thanks to Al-Qaeda’s local band of nutcases. But like everywhere else there are more good people than bad in Mali and they’ve been working hard to preserve a unique literary heritage in the famous city of Timbuktu.

Timbuktu is often thought of as a remote place, but it stands at an important point for the trade routes between West and North Africa. In the Middle Ages it was the center of a powerful empire and home to one of the first universities in the world. Students from all over the Muslim world came hear to learn about science, mathematics, geography, religion, philosophy, and more. Today the leading families of Timbuktu preserve the legacy of that golden age of learning–more than 100,000 handwritten manuscripts dating back as far as the 12th century. They cover a wide range of topics. The one pictured here is a treatise on astronomy.

Now these manuscripts will be available to the public thanks to the Ahmed Baba Institute, a state-of-the-art library built to preserve the crumbling documents and display them to the public. Several exhibitions are planned that will add historical context to one of the world’s more popular adventure destinations. The collection of manuscripts will be a lengthy process. Nobody knows just how many families in Timbuktu and other part of Mali have treasures squirreled away, so the institute should be seeing a lot of growth and changes in the coming years.

An interesting video about the project can be seen here.