Codex – Brunello Cucinelli

Codex – about humanistic culture FW 2016-17

In a splendid monastery on the edge of the Syrian desert, in the stillness of an oasis, a Byzantine priest is bent over a sheet of parchment. The fragrance of jasmine comes in through the window with the breeze. His clear eyes, his mind, his spirit and his hands are concentrated and coordinated on the creative effort made in transcribing an ancient text. The tempo is that of the calm beat of his heart; he knows that it is also thanks to this coenobitic silence that the ancient culture will be passed on to future generations. The parchment sheets are then gathered together and will last for a very long time as they are not as fragile as those made of papyrus.

He has learned from his Arab brothers that writing is not only conveyance of thought, but an art that speaks through symbols, as fascinating as those of the precious miniatures with which he embellishes his manuscript illustrating the tales and legends with figures, showing infinite patience in creating the watercolours, the glazing of the hues, the precision of the details. The exterior of his creation will also be sumptuous; the cover for the parchments will be decorated with precious stones, enamel and gold and lined with velvet. Such a splendid codex is destined to the emperor in Constantinople, the new Rome, so close in spirit and yet so far that it too seems to be a legend.

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The hand of a human being tracing a beautiful letter as a work of art itself, the winged eye concentrated on the harmony of colours and shapes, the calm stillness of a Benedictine cell, the quiet beating of the clock of time that then still corresponded to that of the human heart, are all we should think of when wondering how this ancient world came to us. Artistic sensitivity, an everlasting thirst for knowledge and aspiring to spirituality were its driving force.

The tradition of illuminated codices, the loving care of the amanuenses, represent the humanity that is still in us today. Is there perhaps a separation between Art, Craftsmanship, Science and Technology? The answer lies in these codices. And every time, nowadays, a man devotes himself to the creation of a work of his genius, and creates it with his hands and his mind, the eternal spirit of the ancient amanuenses lives in him. In these times of technology, competing everyday with itself, it is up to us to acknowledge and protect this humanist genius that is the golden dust that allows our dreams and our lives to take flight.