A remarkable 19th century codex
“Der Sankt-Johanner Kodex” of Jánossomorja, Hungary is a remarkable 19th century codex of the protestant german minority of Hungary.
It could already be a surprise for many people, specially in the US, that there is a significant number of protestants living in Hungary, not to talk about the fact that many of them belong to german speaking minorities. I’m sure that people will also be surprised to hear that at the end of the 16th century 80-90% of the inhabitants of historic Hungary were Protestant. And Hungary was not alone in the region: Poland, now the most Catholic country in the area, was solidly Protestant, too. The written heritage of the german population of Jánossomorja is a famous cultural heritage of the Moson region.
The “Der Sankt-Johanner Kodex” is a highly significant handwritten codex, that was written for the family, for everyday use. The father would read from the book to the children and to the family on Sundays. It contains prayers and songs, notes referring to important events in the family, secular tales and even recipes. The prayer book that this codex was based on could have been found in every protestant german household even about a hundred years ago. Its genre is closest to the so called Biblia pauperum (“Paupers’ Bible”) a tradition of picture Bibles beginning in the later Middle Ages.
The writer and illustrator
The “Der Sankt-Johanner Kodex” is the work of Johann Anton Lang, and was written and illustrated in 1809 and it is considered to be the most beautifully decorated and most precious example of its kind. The illustrations were painted with paint mixed with egg white, which enables them to shine with very vivid colors. It was bounded in wood and leather, contains 569 pages decorated with 51 illustrations. The images are not only beautiful but tell a lot about the life of the people, the way they dressed and lived their lives, raising the importance of the codex as a source of local history.
The facsimile edition
The most up to date digital printing method ensures the same vivid colors as of the original. All of the materials that are used for the binding of the book, including the glue, were already in use in the time of the original codex. The sheets are sewed on the ribs by hemp strings, the leather used is sheep or goat leather, the buckle straps are from the same kind of leather. The buckles are the work of a goldsmith and are made of copper. The book is the same size and has the same binding as the original codex and it is placed in a special box which is covered in leather as well.