This 'Tacuinum Sanitatis' is a medieval Latin version of Ibn Butlan's treatise on health; it contains tens of illustrations of everyday life conditions including the one above, originally titled 'Wake', or the state of being awake. The book and miniatures probably date back to the 11th century - a couple of centuries later, somebody would also add a German translation of the text below the Latin one. These miniatures let us into medieval houses and workshops - and perhaps there was no real difference between the two - letting us see how people slept, ate, worked, and loved. The architectures depicted are all characterized by a lack of real typological differentiation between rooms - kitchens double up as working spaces, bedrooms as offices, stables as living rooms and vice versa. At the same time, though, the houses present a strong individual linguistic expression in terms of decoration and colours. Furniture and textile elements are used to construct privacy as well as a rudimentary functional hierarchy between spaces. Animals and humans coexist. Women work just as much as men. The book is also the product of early Arab scholarship and supremely sane and modern in terms of the kind of advice it gives: no hocus pocus, just medicinal herbs and a lot of good advice on how to eat well, sleep peacefully, and get along with the rest of the world. The good life.
This looks almost too modern: