Tablet: Codex Manesse Diamonds

Codex Manesse Card Weaving

Materials: 8/4 Cotton carpet warp, inkle loom, wooden shuttle


This piece is a fairly simple twist-neutral diamond pattern. Twist-neutral refers to the fact that this pattern does not build up twist while weaving because it has an equal number of turns forward and backward. The color choice and design however were purposefully based on the colorful margin illumination of the Codex Manesse.

The Codex Manesse is a wonderfully well preserved text dated to approximately 1340, and an example of a Liederhandschrift, or a German manuscript containing music or songs. The work itself is an anthology of the songs of many Minnesang artists. Minnesang was a style of German song-writing, mainly focused on love songs, that was found in the 12th to 14th century. Similar to troubadours, Minnesangers sang of courtly love and were often courtiers who were were in service or patronage to greater lords. The Codex Manesse features depictions of Minnesangers followed by their works, which provides insight into the social status and standing of Minnesangers. The manuscript begins with the higher status individuals, including kings, dukes, counts, knights, and continues to include commoners and their works. Many of these depictions show the individual in combat, at joust, or at noble leisurely pursuits such as hunting, which are fascinating views into these activities during the 14th century in Germany.


 A page from the manuscript can be found on the cover, and throughout the work, the margins have a distinctive red, blue, and yellow design. I have always loved the art style of this particular work, and wanted to recreate it. As a repeating diamond, the pattern is twist neutral with four turns forward followed by four turns backward. I warped the 12 card pattern using 8/4 cotton carpet warp on my inkle loom, and was able to produce approximately 84 inches of woven band.

Pattern for this design: The weaving itself is a simple diamond pattern of four turns forward, four turns backward.

Right: Detail view of margin illumination from Codex Manesse

Future Projects

As a future project, I think it could be interesting to go through the Codex Manesse and recreate all of the different margin designs. The repeating diamond is my personal favorite, but some pages feature the same pigments with various stripes or diagonals. This could be included with a research project on the Codex Manesse manuscript and the German musical tradition of Minnesang. I found the breadth of social status among Minnesangers surprising, and in my research discovered several Minnesangers who were awarded lands, titles, and accolades for their service. The Minnesanger movement was followed in the later half of the 14th century by the Meistersinger tradition, featuring unaccompanied poetry and lyrics that were structured by a guild and had formulated rules and rhymes that could be studied, rather than merely improvised. Meistersingers were primarily middle-class, and the tradition became a large part of German burgher and merchant cultural life.