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Illuminating Sanctity

The Body, Soul and Glorification of Saint Amand in the Miniature Cycle in Valenciennes, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 500

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Maria R. Grasso

Maria R. Grasso’s monograph on the twelfth-century illustrated vita of Saint Amand, Valenciennes, Bibliothèque municipale MS 500, presents new information regarding its contents. The author’s discovery and analysis of a second almost complete set of preliminary drawings beneath another set of the same drawings demonstrates that important alterations were made prior to the execution of the cycle. Grasso’s discussion includes the probable reason for the change: the isolation of the terminating folio depicting the soul of Amand. This important devotional image is the focus of detailed analysis since the soul of Amand rests in the lap of a male figure she convincingly identifies as Christ, an extremely unusual placement for the soul of a saint, demonstrating the creativity of the artists.

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Edited by Stephen Bulman and Valentin Vydrine

The Epic of Sumanguru Kante contains the Bamana text and English translation of griot Abdoulaye Sako’s oral narrative of the life of Sumanguru, recorded in 1997 in Koulikoro (Mali), together with explanatory notes, a scholarly introduction, and sections on the Bamana language and musical accompaniment. Sumanguru is a familiar figure within Manding epic oral traditions about ancient Mali. But while these narratives generally focus on Sunjata Keita, Sako’s oral poem is rare in according Sumanguru the central role. In so doing he includes hitherto undocumented episodes relating to Sumanguru’s life and role as the ruler of Soso, the little known state said to have flourished in the western Sudan between the fall of ancient Ghana and rise of ancient Mali.

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Adam Knobler

This book examines the relationship between medieval European mythologies of the non-Western world and the initial Portuguese and Spanish voyages of expansion and exploration to Africa, Asia and the Americas. From encounters with the Mongols and successor states, to the European contacts with Ethiopia, India and the Americas, as well as the concomitant Jewish notion of the Ten Lost Tribes, the volume views the Western search for distant, crusading allies through the lens of stories such as the apostolate of Saint Thomas and the stories surrounding the supposed priest-king Prester John. In doing so, Knobler weaves a broad history of early modern Iberian imperial expansion within the context of a history of cosmologies and mythologies.