Seeking Illumination in the Book of Kells in Dublin, Ireland
Dating back to the beginning of the 9th century, the Book of Kells is among the most exquisite of medieval manuscripts. On its 340 folios, Celtic monks demonstrated their mastery of calligraphy and illustration, taking ornamentation beyond ornate to the most elaborate extremes of detail. The text's seemingly submissive role is evidenced by occasional mistakes and missing parts... perhaps indicating that the readers already knew all the words by heart. As the printing press took off, illuminated manuscripts disappeared and painting found its way to a better medium than book pages. Still, this medieval art form continues to inspire believers and nonbelievers alike. Even today, at a time when the book as a physical object is slipping away, designs from the Book of Kells pop up on everything from corporate logos to anime to tattoo art.