To investigate the precious surface landscapes of medieval manuscripts, we have chosen four exemplary subcategories: gold and silver, purple, precious stones, and textiles. In all subcategories, we combine a close-up look at selected individual examples with a perspective that creates an overview of different geographic regions and time periods. Six questions common to the four subcategories are examined: 1) the topology, i.e. the distribution of the decorative elements and ornament on the three-dimensional body of the book; 2) the materials, techniques, and effects of the surface embellishments and their multi-sensory potential; 3) the art of writing – precious materials and script; 4) the iconicity of book ornament; and finally, 5) networks of actions and 6) discourses that determine the perception and semantics of the ornamentality of holy books.