BSIP Referencing & Citation System

One of the problems of referencing artworks is being able to look at the original source material and re-create datasets presented by various authors and researchers. Frequently one is left needing access to a huge reference library in order to refer to a given work, or in some cases we are left with the untraceable "Unknown painter, private collection, Spain, 12th Century". These references are frustrating to other researchers and consumers of the research material.

As a significant repository of iconographic material we offer a permanent, academic quality, referencing system that may be used to uniquely identify sources.

BSIP References

BSIP references are a unique and permanent referencing system, allowing precise specification of iconographic sources. The system provides facilities to reference individual depictions of instruments, bows, musicians regardless of the numbers of these depicted in the source. For instance, in a depiction of the 24 Elders of the Apocalypse, each musician (elder), bow and instrument are uniquely identified and may be referred to. The system also provides the means to reference specific images. This represents a breakthrough in iconography research allowing referencing at a granularity previously not available.

Format Specification​​​​

BSIP references are prefixed by 'bsip' in lowercase. Whilst the BSIP systems ignore case when handling references, the lowercase representation has been specifically chosen to make the reference number stand out improving the eye's ability to separate the prefix and the numbers. Uppercase letters have the same height as numbers and whilst not wrong, using uppercase visually buries the important reference number. It is therefore recommended that the BSIP reference is always specified in lower case.

The format of a BSIP reference is:

bsip<ref no>[.​<image-ref>][-{MIB}<object no>]


[] denotes optional an part
{} denotes one of the enclosed characters
<> denotes a value

The characters []{}<> do not form part of the reference and are present here only to describe the format.

<ref no> is the BSIP reference number of the source in the database.

[-{MIB}<object-no>] is and optional object specifier. It consists of one of  M = Musician, I = Instrument, or B = Bow, followed by the object number for that object within the source.

[.<image-ref>] is an optional image specifier. The image-ref is the BSIP reference of the image within the source. Images start numbering from 1 and are assigned sequentially.

NOTE: The bsip text identifier should always be present in a BSIP reference.



The most common usage is a simple reference to a specific iconography source. These are simply "bsip" followed by a number. This is the minimum needed to identify a given source. The references may be expanded in order to specify particular research targets, and/or specific images.

  • bsip2097 = A specific source whose  BSIP reference ID is 2097.

  • bsip2097.5fa0 = A specific image whose BSIP reference ID is 5fa0 belonging to source whose BSIP reference ID is 2097.

  • bsip2097-M2 = A specific musician whose BSIP reference ID is 2 belonging to source whose BSIP reference ID is 2097.

  • bsip2097.1-B1 = A specific bow whose BSIP reference ID is 1 belonging to source whose BSIP reference ID is 2097, specifically referring to its presence on the image whose BSIP reference ID is 1.


Permalink URLS

BSIP offers succinct permalink URLs which refer directly to the work, and can be constructed by just knowing the BSIP Reference. Permalinks are guaranteed to exist for many years and may be relied upon.

The base URL is

The BSIP reference (as described in the format above) is then appended to the above URL. The URLs can include "bsip" identifying text, or may be used without it for even shorter URLs. The above examples would be used as follows:


The first two examples are equivalent and will result in navigating to the same source.