Decoration

Detail of 45v

The decoration in Codex Gigas comprises two full-page pictures, two marginal pictures and fifty-seven decorated initials. 

Two full-page pictures represent the Heavenly City (f. 289v) and the portrait of the Devil on the opposite page (f. 290r). These two pages are deliberately planned to show a contrast between a symbol of hope and salvation and a symbol of evil and darkness.

Two marginal pictures can be found to the Antiquities by Josephus Flavius. One is to the prologue and represents the portrait of the author (f. 118r). The second consists of two roundels close to the opening of the Antiquitates (f. 118v). This work starts by quoting the beginning of the book of Genesis In principio (In the beginning), but the first letter I is missing. The picture depicts the Heaven and the Earth and illustrates the start of the Creation story. These are the only literal illustrations in the Codex Gigas.

Initials


 

The elaborate initials are at the beginning of the main texts and their principal divisions.
The most elaborate, in several colours, are at the beginning of the most books of the Bible as well at the beginning of the Chronicle by Cosmas of Prague. They are fully coloured and most of them are decorated with the spirals ended with the stylised leaves and flowers (e.g. ff. 7r, 11v, 15r, 19v, 294r).
Six of the initals are full-page initials. Two are in the Old Testament at the beginning of the Book of Joshua (f. 24r) and Kings (f. 65r), and four are in the New Testament opening the Gospels. The decoration includes also birds or animals. The only initials where the gold was used are to St Matthew (f. 254r) and St Mark (f. 258v).
The beginning of the Pentateuch was certainly decorated with a full-page initial, but this leaf is now missing.

The next most elaborate initials are one of two kinds. The first known as arabesque initials, in two colours, with letters in blue and foliate decoration in red. They occur at the beginning book of the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville (e.g. ff. 201v, 204r, 205v), and at the top of each page of the Calendar with Necrology (ff. 305v-311r). The second are pen flourished initials with letters in one colour and pen-made decoration (e.g. f. 309v).

The other initials, at the beginnings of text or marking divisions within texts, are plain (e.g. ff. 118v, 121r, 240r).

More about decoration in Codex Gigas