Jerusalem 1000-1400: Four Gospels in Arabic from the British Library Blog

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n a recent post in our Medieval Manuscripts blog (Every People Under Heaven), Cillian O’Hogan wrote about the early 13th century Harley Greek Gospels and the 12th century Melisende Psalterand its ivories which are currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a stunning exhibition Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven. With some 200 exhibits from 60 lenders from all over the world, the exhibition tells the story of Jerusalem, a polyglot city and cultural centre during the Crusades, the rule of the Ayyubids and the Mamluk Empire. In this post I will highlight one of our Arabic loans, Add.MS.11856, a translation of the four Gospels, copied in Palestine in 1336.

More: http://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/2016/11/jerusalem-1000-1400-four-gospels-in-arabic.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29

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Remembering Louay Kayali: Life Is On The Streets.

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the match seller/The Match Seller by Louay Kayali/

Louay Kayali was a Syrian modern artist, a brilliant painter born in Aleppo in 1934. He began painting at the age of eleven and held his first solo exhibition when he was eighteen.

Kayali died in 1978, from burns incurred from his bed catching fire, reportedly from a cigarette (he suffered from depression, leaving many to think it was suicide).

Kayali studied art at the Accademia di Belle Arti, and met Syrian artist Wahbi Al-Hariri there – they would remain friends for the rest of Kayali’s life (Al-Hariri became his mentor). Later on, Fateh Moudarress (also mentored by Al-Hariri) and Kayali represented Syrian modern art at the Venice Biennial Fair.

laundrette/The Laundrette/

Kayali graduated in Rome in 1961 and returned to Syria where he started his career as a fine arts professor at Damascus University, where Fateh Moudarres also taught.

Kayali’s artwork changed during his life, he…

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The 9th-Century Islamic “Instrument Which Plays by Itself”, From Hyperallergic by Allison Meier on April 12, 2016

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In 2009, Tokyo’s Waseda University built a fedora-sporting flautist robot powered by cranked air. But this is only the most recent attempt at a mechanical, flute-playing musician. In the 9th century, the Banū Mūsā brothers in Baghdad wrote a treatise describing their “instrument which plays by itself.

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Cover of ‘Allah’s Automata’ (image courtesy Hatje Cantz) (click to enlarge)

Their innovative machine is described in Allah’s Automata: Artifacts of the Arabic-Islamic Renaissance (800-1200), recently published by Hatje Cantz. The book accompanies an exhibition of the same name, currently on view at the ZKM (Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe) in Germany, that includes a reconstruction of their instrument. While automata had their golden age in Europe from the 16th to 19th centuries — which saw the creation of such devices as the clock of Diana in her chariot that rolled across a table and shot an arrow — in the Islamic world their peak was from the 9th to 13th centuries. The most famous, also reconstructed for Allah’s Automata, is the 12th-century elephant water clock. The shapes of its various hydraulic elements could be interpreted as symbols of the international trade that facilitated its creation by Ismail al-Jazari, including an Indian elephant, Chinese dragons, and an Egyptian phoenix riding above a Muslim scholar who writes the time.

 

De Materia Medica served as the primary text of pharmacology until the fifteenth century

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Title page of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscorides, 1554. (Image: University of Virginia) Title page of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscorides, 1554. (Image: University of Virginia)

Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40-90 AD), was a physician in the Roman army, who wrote about herbs in the first century discussing the characteristics of each plant and its use.  His monumental work, written in five volumes in the year 77 AD, known by its Latin title, De Materia Medica (On Medical Materials), described how to make medicine from up to five hundred plants, explaining where to find each plant, how to harvest it, how to prepare it as a drug, and which ailments it will cure.

The book was translated into Arabic in the mid-ninth century at the famous translation institute in Baghdad, the Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom). The original Greek manuscript, subsequently translated into several languages, described most drugs in use at the time, and served as the primary text of pharmacology until the end…

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Fables taught universal values but were adapted to local cultures

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Panchatantra Panchatantra

A long tradition of preparing princes to rule was the genre of literature known as ‘mirror for princes,’ fables with tales in which animals are the leading characters of the stories. These tales, thought to have been introduced to the Muslim world through India, were derived from the Indian Panchatantra (‘The Five Principles’) and Mahabharata written in Sanskrit around the year 200.

 Khalila wa Dimna (Image: Bibliothèque nationale de France) Khalila wa Dimna (Image: Bibliothèque nationale de France)

The tales were adapted and translated into numerous languages including Persian and Arabic, and were illustrated in Kalila wa Dimna manuscripts – from the thirteenth century onward in Arab lands, and from the fourteenth century in Iran.

The tales address the moral education of princes through two jackals, Kalila and Dimna, and a host of other animals as lead characters. These tales also illustrate “universal human strengths and weaknesses, as well as aspirations for justice and truth.”*

Sassanian silver plate, dated 7th century.(Image: British Museum) Sassanian silver plate…

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Arabic Literature in Persian, Persian Literature in Arabic

Kalila Wa Dimna – Original text was written nearly 2,500 years ago in Sanskrit and translated to Pahlavi Farsi and Greek to Farsi and Arabic. My interest is in the wide varied illustrated manuscripts of Kalila Wa Dimna.

ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly

Last week, Iranian journalist Farahmand Alipour (@FarahmandAlipur) had a fascinating interview with Farsi-Arabic translator Ghassan Hamdan:

Kalila w Dimna, a text that traveled from Persian to Arabic. Kalila w Dimna, a text that traveled from Persian to Arabic.

In a wide-ranging talk, the two addressed Hamdan’s personal history, the growing interest in Iranian novels in Arabic, the particular difficulties in distributing novels published in Iraq, and what sorts of Arabic novels are published in Persian.

On that topic:

 According to research conducted a few years ago about Persian and Arabic novels, only 2% of the novels that have been translated into Persian in modern time were Arabic novels. Those Arabic novels that have been translated into Persian usually have historical and religious themes — for example, works of Jurji Zaydan, who is also popular because he has a simple writing style and uses an easy and understandable language. Gibran Khalil Gibran is also popular among Iranians, because the mystic theme in his…

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