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Codex Purpureus Beratinus 043 ɸ - Beratinus 1

  • Title: Codex Purpureus Beratinus 043 ɸ - Beratinus 1 (Kodiku i Purpurt i Beratit 043 ɸ – Beratinus 1)
    Year: 2011
    Codex Beratinus 1 and 2 were inscribed on the Memory of the World Register following the recommendation of the International Advisory Committee of UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme, in June 2005.

Background note on Codex Purpureus Beratinus 

The “Codex Purpureus Beratinus” is a uniquely precious item of Albania’s cultural heritage; Beratinus 1 is one of the three or four oldest surviving Gospel codices and contains non-standard pre-canonical passages. Beratinus 2 contains Gospel writings from the standard-text period. Its uniqueness stems mainly from its format: gold letters on purple parchment.

It testifies to the ecclesiastical handwriting tradition in Albania in early centuries; a manuscript and evidence of anthropology during the Christianity period, marking the evolution and commitment of narration from the Holy Spoken Word to scriptures, not only in Albania but also abroad. It has survived through many hardships over the years, and given its uniqueness, French, Serbian, Austrian, Italian and German invaders have tried to get hold of it.

The bishop of Berat metropolitan church, Anthem Alexoudes, was the first to bring to light the old manuscript in the second half of the 19th century.. Several Albanian and foreign scholars have made reference to it since then. In the jubilee year 2000, it is listed together with “Codice B” or “Codice Vaticana” and “Codex Sinopensis”.

The “Codex Purpureus Beratinus” was sent to China for restauration in1971 and is now held at the Albanian National Archive

* Description taken from the monograph by Dr. Shaban Sinani, named “Beratinus”, Tirana 2004, as well as registration forms submitted to the “Memory of the World” Program. 

About the design

This commemorative coin was designed in 2005. The same year that Beratinus 1 was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

The original idea of issuing a commemorative coin on this particular item is attributed to the innovative-minded Ms Shpresa Lubonja, now Head of Museum Unitat the Bank of Albania.

A working group* was then established to work on the relevant details of the process and seeing it through, until the final materialization of the commemorative coin. During the whole process of the design, I consulted with Dr.Shaban Sinani, at that time was Head of State Archives, to learn more about the Codex.

As I tried to visualise the coin in my mind, I considered many options, and ran through many ideas, until I chose page 156, which eventually seemed perfect.

Codex is a very precious material preserved for centuries, and I imaged it as a raised jewel in the middle of the coin. ɸ is the letter that identifies the entire manuscript, and the background of the two Celtic columns suggest the shape of the ɸ. I vectorised every letter or neuma and this was the beginning of the work and the continuation of every idea that followed.

The characteristic graph "K", in capitals can be taken as a sign of the word "Kyrios" – Lord. Letter ɸ identifies the entire manuscript and is written in gold.

When the coin was eventually issued in 2011, this was the first time for the Bank of Albania to issue a coloured and high relief coin. Due to technical difficulties, in 2011 regretfully, I had to modify the design, by removing the spherical high relief of the manuscript, some changes in colour and changing the year from 2006 of the initial design to 2011.


Coins were produced by the "Royal Canadian Mint", Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 


* Worging group established based on BoA Supervisory Council’s decision no. 27, dated 30.03.2005 consisting of: Leonard Boçi (Head of Coins Sector); Brikena Berdo (artist, graphic designer at Public Relations Department), Shpresa Lubonja  (numismatist at the Numismatic Museum of the Bank of Albania).