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Islamic Empire: Religious Text, Mosque Customs and Public Behavior


The Hadith, or ways of the Prophet Muhammad, were collected upon his death from those who were close to him in life. Known as the Companions, these people played a key role in filling in the sayings and practices of Muhammad and his behaviors, recording them for future generations. Many of the Hadith collected from the female companions detailed the Prophet’s ways concerning proper public... Read More »

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Islamic Empire: Religious Text, Women Sura


This Sura (or chapter) of the Qur’an, known as al-Nisa’, or “Women,” details a variety of legal rights and restrictions for Muslims in the realm of marriage, inheritance, and other male-female relationships. Containing verses on polygamy, property maintenance, and child custody, it is one of the foundation chapters for the development of sharia, or Islamic law, vis-à-vis women’s legal rights,... Read More »

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Italian accounts of the Black Death


Several chroniclers wrote about the Black Death in their own town or region. They described the symptoms of the disease, which they generally called "the mortality," how it arrived with portents of warning from the East, and how many people it killed. Some accounts are long and embellished with the descriptions of townspeople's actions, but most are brief, providing little more than the dates... Read More »

Detail of "The Priest Saigyo" a painting of an older man in a flowing black robe underneath Japanese text

Japanese Text Initiative

Perhaps the greatest contribution of this site is its search engine, which enables the reader to search multiple texts, in English, for common topics or phrases. This feature makes these literary texts very useful to historians locating references on specific topics.

Kuwera Relief Panel at Candi Mendut, Java


The carved stone relief is from the interior of Candi Mendut, a Buddhist temple in Central Java. Mendut was built during the early Shailendra dynasty in about 824 CE. It may have been built on the site of a Hindu temple from a previous century. The rectangular, stone temple is 26.4 meters (86.6 feet) tall and is constructed on a 2 meter (6.5 feet) platform. The surrounding wall is covered with... Read More »

The image is of "Child with Fox Mask; Gosho Doll" from the museum's collections.  It is a small, white porcelain figure of a child wearing a textile decorated with flowers.  A separate image of the doll on the site shows a fox mask for it to wear.

Kyoto National Museum

The museum site is accessible and user-friendly. It will be particularly valuable for instructors looking to mobilize a collection of images and objects from ancient through early modern periods of Japanese history for student exploration.

Lady of the Bridge, Tale of Genji Painting Scroll


The greatest work produced during the Heian era was The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, lady-in-waiting to Empress Akiko. Considered the world’s first novel, Genji is written as an absorbing portrait of Heian court life, the splendor of its rituals, and aesthetic culture. The Tale of Genji has been, through the centuries, the subject of visual illustration and... Read More »

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Linen Towel with Indigo Woven Border


Italian noblewomen presented soft, absorbent, linen towels with indigo woven borders to birthing mothers during the 14th century and later. The cultural context of the towels is illustrated in Italian paintings of the period depicting childbirth customs such as presentation and use of the towels. For example, this fresco by Paolo di Giovanni Fei, Birth of the Virgin Mary (1380)... Read More »

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Long Teaching Module: Bhakti Poets


This teaching module outlines the Bhakti Movement - a Hindu religious movement originating in the 6th century CE that was inspired by a number of prominent women poets. The module contains an essay that provides an overview of history and significance of the Bhakti and a number of images and samples of Bhakti poetry. The primary sources referenced in this module can be viewed in the Primary... Read More »

Title page of the Decameron

Long Teaching Module: Children during the Black Death


The Black Death was the first and most lethal outbreak of a disease that entered Italy during the end of 1347 and the beginning of 1348 and then spread across Europe in the following few years. It is generally accepted (despite recent arguments to the contrary) that this most famous medieval epidemic was caused by bubonic plague. This disease, which was identified in the late 19th century, is... Read More »