Credit: MUNI

“The Power Of Ink” Exhibition Reveals The Hidden Gems of Moravian Literary Culture

From tomorrow, 23 April, a collection of unique documents about the history of Moravian book culture will go on display in the large hall of the Moravian State Archives at Brno’s Palachovo náměstí, under the name “The power of ink: mediaeval book culture in Moravia”. It will be open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm until 19 May.

Masaryk University and the Moravian State Archives organised the collection, assembling specimens ranging from the oldest Czech manuscripts (9th century) to early printing press examples (15th century). The exhibition was prepared by staff and students of the Institute of Historical Auxiliary Sciences of the Masaryk University Faculty of Arts.

Apart from the Moravian State Archives, the exhibition also features significant loans from the City Archives of Brno, the Provincial Archives in Opava, the Library of the National Museum in Prague, the Moravian Regional Library, the Scientific Library in Olomouc, and a number of other institutions.

“It is a unique exhibition because, for the first time, a number of documents which perhaps last met in such close proximity to each other only sometime in the Middle Ages will now lie next to each other,” explained Dalibor Havel, one of the co-authors of the exhibition. “In addition, we will return to one place, at least for a while, artefacts that left Moravia relatively early in the Middle Ages.” 

Among the many specimens are a number of unique pieces, including the oldest original archival material kept in the Moravian Regional Archives, a fragment of a lectionary from the 9th century containing a collection of Bible readings, Queen Eliška Rejčka’s antiphonary used during liturgical choir, rare manuscripts from the parish library at St. James’s Church, and the Brno law book of Václav z Jihlava from the 15th century.

Even the iconic Rajhrad manuscript will be part of the collection. It was studied by famous Czech historian František Palacký, one of the main figures of the Czech cultural revival during the 19th century, who mistakenly considered it one of the first documents of Slavic national identity.

“For some valuable archives, this means that the public will not be able to see them for a long time. For example, the original Antiphonary of Queen Eliška Rejčka will only be exhibited during the last week of the exhibition, otherwise a facsimile will be on display,” said the director of the Moravian State Archives, Ladislav Macek.

The patrons of the exhibition are the Minister of Interior, the Governor of the South Moravian Region, the Rector of Masaryk University, and the Mayor of Brno.

“This is already the third joint exhibition project that we are implementing with the Moravian State Archive,” stated Petr Elbel, head of the Institute of Historical Auxiliary Sciences of the MUNI Faculty of Arts. “In 2019, we prepared an exhibition about the Italian noble family Collalto in Moravia, which is now of interest to historians from Treviso, Italy, and in 2021 an exhibition about the relations between Moravia and the papacy in the Middle Ages and early modern times. The interest of visitors shows that this is a great way to present the cultural heritage hidden in the Czech archives.”

On selected days, the exhibition will also be thematically accompanied by workshops for schools and the public focused on working with a historic manual printing press, writing in old scripts, and illumination techniques.

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