A Mughal Shahnamah – British Library Blog

By Ursula Sims-Williams, Asian and African Collections

More: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2016/06/a-mughal-shahnamah.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29

This copy of the Shāhnāmah is thought to date originally from the 15th century. Unfortunately it has no colophon but it was extensively refurbished in India at the beginning of the 17th century when the 90 illustrations were added. These are numbered consecutively 1-91, only lacking no. 37 which, together with a gap of about 150 verses, is missing at the beginning of the story of Bīzhan and Manīzhah between folios 201v and 202r. The manuscript was altered again in the first half of the 18th century when elaborate paper guards and markers were added. The magnificent decorated binding, however, dates from the early 17th century.

Advertisements

Marking the Aftermath of the Massacre at Karbala: New manuscripts of the Mukhtarnamah – British Library Blog

6a017ee66ba427970d01b7c7e1a990970b-800wi

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2015/10/marking-the-aftermath-of-the-massacre-at-karbala-new-manuscripts-of-the-mukhtarnamah.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#sthash.eQmAOrfY.dpuf

How the ‘Panchatantra’ travelled the world thanks to Persian and Arabic narrators Few books have been narrated, written, re-written, translated and adapted as much as this collection of tales of wisdom. Anu Kumar

In the year 570 CE, a Persian physician named Burzoy or Burzoya (Burzawayh in Arabic) living in the Sassanid kingdom of Persia travelled to India in search of a book of wisdom: a book greatly sought by then King of Persian Khusroy  I (Anoshagruwa or “the immortal”) who ruled from 531 to 579 CE. Burzoy succeeded in his endeavours, returning to Persia with the knowledge he had gained. His book was in turn written down by the king’s wazir, Wuzurgmihr and included, at Burzoy’s own request, the story of his journey to India.

http://scroll.in/article/758031/how-the-panchatantra-travelled-the-world-thanks-to-persian-and-arabic-narratorsch

03 February 2015

A Mamluk Manuscript on Horsemanship

During the rule of the Mamluks who ruled in Egypt and Syria from 1250 to 1517, the presence of Crusaders coming from Europe seems to have stimulated a great interest in the military arts, weaponry and cavalry training among rulers in the Near and Middle East. The cavalry training was designed to improve the skills of soldiers who practised jousting exercises and equestrian games to prepare them not only for battle against the Crusaders but also for entertaining large crowds of spectators in specially-built stadia or hippodromes.

Add 18866_f113r
A horseman impales a bear, from Book three of Nihāyat al-su’l which gives instructions on using lances. Dated 773/1371 (Add. MS. 18866, f. 113r)
 noc

A fourteenth-century Mamluk manual on horsemanship, military arts and technology from the British Library’s collection of Arabic manuscripts (Add. MS 18866) has just been uploaded to the Qatar Digital Library. Its author, Muḥammad ibn ‘Īsá ibn Ismā‘īl al-Ḥanafī al-Aqṣarā’ī, died in Damascus in 1348. The colophon states that this near contemporary copy of the manual was completed on 10 Muḥarram 773 (25 July 1371) by the scribe Aḥmad ibn ‘Umar ibn Aḥmad al-Miṣrī, but it is not certain whether in Egypt or Syria. The manuscript came into the Library of the British Museum (now British Library) in 1852, having been purchased at the auction of the estate of Sir Thomas Reade, one time jailer of Napoleon Bonaparte (for more on the manuscript’s provenance see our earlier post ‘Sir Thomas Read: knight ‘nincumpoop’ and collector of antiquities’). A very similar illustrated copy of the same work, dated 788/1366, is preserved at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (CBL Ar 5655).

Add 18866_f292r
The colophon giving the name of the scribe Aḥmad ibn ‘Umar ibn Aḥmad the Egyptian (al-Miṣrī) and the date of completion as 10 Muḥarram 773 (25 July 1371). Although the scribe was Egyptian, it is not certain whether the manuscript was copied in Egypt or Syria (Add. MS 18866, f. 292r)
 noc

The title-page names the work Nihāyat al-su’l wa-al-umnīyah fī ta‘allum a‘māl al-furūsīyah (‘An End of Questioning and Desiring [Further Knowledge] concerning Learning of the Different Exercises of Horsemanship’) which is an example of furūsīyah, a popular genre of mediaeval Arabic literature embracing all aspects of horsemanship and chivalry. The manuscript itself deals with the care and training of horses; the weapons which horsemen carry such as the bow, the sword and the lance; the assembling of troops and the formation of battle lines.

Add 18866_ff93-4
Diagram of a parade ground (Add. MS 18866, ff. 93v-94r)
 noc

This early dated manuscript from the Mamluk period is a veritable treasure in itself containing some of the most magnificent examples of Mamluk manuscript painting. It includes eighteen colour paintings depicting horses, riding equipment, body armour and weapons and twenty-five instructive diagrams on the layout of a parade ground, dressage and various military insignia. Beyond the military and equestrian arts, the paintings in this manuscript are full of details relating to contemporary costume and decorative style. It is one of the highlights of the British Library’s illustrated Arabic manuscripts and is notable also for its beautiful calligraphy and tooled leather Islamic binding that is likely to be contemporary with the manuscript.

Add 18866_bindingBrown goat-skin binding with envelope flap decorated with blind-tooled circular designs on both covers and flap; probably 8th/14th century with signs of later repair (Add. MS 18866, binding)
 noc
Below is a list of the manuscript’s eighteen paintings. For most of them the author provided his own captions which are given below. Please click on the hyperlinks to see the full images:

Add 18866_0201
(f. 97r) ‘Illustration of two horsemen whose lance-heads are between each other’s shoulder-blades’.
 noc

(f. 99r) ‘Illustration of a number of horsemen taking part in a contest, their lances on their shoulders’.

(f. 101r) ‘Illustration of a horseman taking part in a game with a lance, the lance-head being in his hand and its shaft to his rear’.

(f. 109r) Without caption; a horseman carrying two horizontal lances.

(f. 113r) Without caption; a horseman impales a bear with his lance.

(f. 121r) ‘Illustration of a horseman performing a sword exercise’.

(f. 122v) ‘Illustration of a horseman with a sword in his hand and his sleeve wound over his hand as he rises out of his saddle and strikes with the sword’.

(f. 125r) ‘Illustration of a horseman with a sword in his hand with which he strikes from the horse’s ear as far back as its right croup’.

(f. 127v) ‘Illustration of a horseman with the edge of the sword under his right armpit, the hilt in his left with the reins’.

(f. 129v) ‘Illustration of a horseman with a small shield around his neck and a sword in his hand which he brandishes to left and right’.

(f. 130r) ‘Illustration of a horseman with a hide shield over his face, the sword edge under his right armpit and the hilt on his left’.

(f. 131v) ‘Illustration of a horseman with an iron helmet on his head, with a sword. A fire is lit on the helmet, the sword blade and in the middle of the shield’.

(f.132v) ‘Illustration of a horseman with a sword in his right hand, its blade on his left shoulder and a sword in his left hand whose blade is under his right armpit’.

(f. 134r) ‘Illustration of a horseman with a sword in his left hand and its tip under his left arm pit’.

Add 18866_f135r
(f. 135r
) ‘Illustration of two horsemen wheeling around, with a sword in each one’s hand on the horse’s back’.
 noc

(f. 136r) ‘Illustration of a horseman with two swords and two small hide shields, on up at his face and the other in his hand with the sword’.

(f. 138v) ‘Illustration of a horseman with a lance in his hand which he is dragging behind him, and a shield in his other hand’.

Add 18866_f140r
(f. 140r) ‘Illustration of four horsemen, each one with a sword and a hide shield, and each one carrying his shield on his horse’s croup’.
 noc

Further reading

G.Rex Smith, Medieval Muslim Horsemanship: A Fourteenth-century Arabic Cavalry Manual, London, The British Library, 1979.

Abul Lais Syed Muhammad  Lutful-Huq, A critical edition of Nihayat al-sul wa’l-umniyah fi ta’lim a’mal al-furusiyah of Muhammad b. ‘Isa b. Isma’il al-Hanafi, Ph.D. diss., School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1955. Download free from British Library Electronic Theses Online Services (ETHoS).

D. Haldane,  Mamluk Painting, Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1978.

E. Atıl, Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press 1981.

Colin F. Baker, Lead Curator, Middle Eastern Studies

– See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2015/02/a-mamluk-manuscript-on-horsemanship.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#sthash.TvR0GZ8c.dpuf

Did You Know: Ibn Sina’s Intellectual contribution to Humanity and Science

Ismailimail

Did you know …

… that the Aga Khan Museum’s collection includes Ibn Sina’s manuscript of Qanun fi’l-tibb
(Canon of Medicine)?

This manuscript dated 1052, is part of an encyclopedic corpus, used as a standard medical textbook in Europe for over 700 years.

Did You Know: Ibn Sina's Intellectual contribution to Humanity and Science

View original post 361 more words

After Harrowing Rescue, Timbuktu Manuscripts to Go on View in Brussels by Rebecca Rothfeld on December 18, 2014

Sixteen original 15th and 16th century Malian manuscripts will go on display Friday at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, The Art Newspaper reported. The exhibition, titled Timbuktu Renaissance, has an exceptional backstory: the precious manuscripts were smuggled out of Timbuktu in the wake of the city’s 2012 takeover at the hands of Islamist rebels.

When the insurgents threatened to destroy libraries and other cultural artifacts they regarded as sacrilegious, Timbuktu Renaissance curator Abdel Kader Haidara organized a clandestine effort to convey Timbuktu’s wealth of historical documents to the Malian capitol of Bamako. Local families helped Haidara export over 350,000 manuscripts, sneaking the contraband out of Timbuktu in vegetable wagons and canoes.

The personal risk to Haidara and his helpers was great. Timbuktu’s extremist regime often favored violent punishment, chopping off the hands of thieves as a warning to other would-be transgressors. Haidara’s nephew, a 25-year-old curator named Touré, narrowly escaped such brutal punishments when the police force caught him with a trunk of manuscripts. Haidara, a refugee in Bamako at the time, orchestrated Touré’s escape from afar. Haidra’s contacts in Timbuktu attested that Touré was a curator with a right to move the manuscripts, and the young man was released. This was not the only such incident — curators and librarians were often stopped and searched by extremist police officers, and once a boat full of books on the Niger River was held hostage by bandits, according to National Geographic.

But Haidara prevailed, and he was rewarded for his efforts with the 2014 Germany Africa Prize. His collection attests to Mali’s rich intellectual history: Timbuktu Renaissance, organized with help from the Ministry of Culture in Mali and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, highlights the nation’s scientific, political, and legal achievements. Western scholars often ignore sub-Saharan Africa’s intellectual legacy, believing it takes no written form — but the manuscripts to be displayed in the exhibition, and the rest of the collection preserved by Haidara, are a testament to the continent’s written heritage.

Timbuktu Renaissance will be on view at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels (Rue Ravenstein 23, Brussels, Belgium) December 19–February 22, 2015.

Tagged as: Mali, Malian manuscripts, Timbuktu

More: http://hyperallergic.com/169921/after-harrowing-rescue-timbuktu-manuscripts-to-go-on-view-in-brussels/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Any+Art+You+Make+Can+and+Will+Be+Used+Against+You&utm_content=Any+Art+You+Make+Can+and+Will+Be+Used+Against+You+CID_df927f6f9b1b6b9dba877bc9d7484a60&utm_source=HyperallergicNewsletter&utm_term=After%20Harrowing%20Rescue%20Timbuktu%20Manuscripts%20to%20Go%20on%20View%20in%20Brussels