Journey through the Dante Urbinate: the parchment

We have mentioned the marvelous physical appearance of the Dante Urbinate but here we will focus on one aspect of its physical make-up: the parchment.

The parchment of the Dante Urbinate is likely made of young goatskin of high quality, which would be expected of a luxury model codex. It has no visible seams and in very few places there are small holes, due in part to the tension on the skin during the curing process and in part simply due to its nature. In some places, you can see traces of the effort to rid the skin of hair follicles to make the surface smoother and easier to write upon. The follicle removal was not always done the same way. On some pages, follicles are quite visible, even so as to make a visual effect of the tiny points, without upsetting the design.

Furthermore, on the hairy side of almost all of the pages, it is possible to see the animal’s dorsal line, which is recognizable as a dark stripe that runs across the fold of the two-page spread and on the spine.

Source: La Divina Commedia di Federico da Montefeltro. Il Dante Urbinate. Commentario. 

Illumination from Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia, Ms. Urb. lat. 365, f. 49vr, 1478-1482, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.

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