Carpet pages

A beautiful element of the insular illuminated manuscripts from the 7th Century monasteries, is the “carpet pages” preceding the gospels. Each of the pages are decorated with exquisite and fine geometric patterns thought to imitate the woven prayer rugs of the time and providing the reader the same spiritual experience when reading the Bible, as did prayer rugs for those kneeling on them for prayer.

There are exquisite surviving examples like the Lindisfarne Gospels and Book of Kells. Similarly there are also beautiful surviving examples of Hebrew, Islamic and Egyptian Coptic carpet pages, albeit they are not generally called that. It is speculated that the monastery carpet pages were introduced to scribes in monasteries, through contact and trade with the east.

A closer look at the Cosmati pavement in Westminster Abbey also reminds us of a “carpet page” laid down in stone. What do you think?