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September 18, 2014

Private Henry Augustus Moore of Company F, 15th Mississippi Infantry Regiment

Private Henry Augustus Moore of Company F, 15th Mississippi Infantry Regiment

This photograph shows a Confederate soldier during the American Civil War (1861−65). He is identified as Private Henry Augustus Moore of Company F, 15th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. Moore is wearing a grey coat with short, one-inch wide bars across the chest, a uniform based in part on regulations prescribed by the state of Mississippi. He holds a short artillery sword and a sign that reads “Jeff Davis and the South!” Jefferson Davis was a former senator from Mississippi who was inaugurated president of the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1861. The “N” on the sign is reversed, presumably because the photographer wrote the letters in reverse so that they would appear correctly in the image but failed to do so with the N. A resident of Water Valley, Yalobusha County, Mississippi, Moore enlisted on April 23, 1861. The 15th Mississippi Regiment was organized at Choctaw, Mississippi the following month. The regiment saw action at the Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky in January 1862 and at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee the following April. In July 1863 the 15th Mississippi was ordered to serve under General Joseph E. Johnston in the Vicksburg Campaign. Moore was wounded and sent home to Water Valley to recuperate. He died 11 days later, on August 14, 1863, with his wife and five children at his bedside. A remnant of the 15th Mississippi surrendered to Union forces in April 1865, at the end of the war. The photograph is from the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs at the Library of Congress. The collection includes more than 1,000 special portrait photographs, called ambrotypes and tintypes, representing both Union and Confederate soldiers during the war.

Unidentified African American Soldier in Union Uniform with Wife and Two Daughters

Unidentified African American Soldier in Union Uniform with Wife and Two Daughters

In May 1863, U.S. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton issued General Order Number 143 creating the Bureau of U. S. Colored Troops. This photograph shows an unidentified African American soldier in a Union uniform, with his wife in dress and hat, and two daughters wearing matching coats and hats. The image was found in Cecil County, Maryland, making it likely that this soldier belonged to one of the seven United States Colored Troop regiments raised in Maryland. The photograph is from the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs at the Library of Congress. The collection includes more than 1,000 special portrait photographs, called ambrotypes and tintypes, representing both Union and Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War (1861−65). The photographs often show weapons, hats, canteens, musical instruments, painted backdrops, and other details that enhance the research value of the collection. Among the rarest of the images are those of sailors, of African Americans in uniform, and portraits of soldiers with their families and friends.

Unidentified Girl in Mourning Dress Holding Framed Photograph of Her Father

Unidentified Girl in Mourning Dress Holding Framed Photograph of Her Father

This photograph shows a girl holding a framed image of her father. Judging from her necklace, mourning ribbons, and dress, it is likely that her father was killed in the war. The man in the portrait is recognizable as a Union cavalryman with a sword, wearing a Hardee hat (the regulation hat for enlisted men). The photograph is from the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs at the Library of Congress. The collection includes more than 1,000 special portrait photographs, called ambrotypes and tintypes, representing both Union and Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War (1861-65). The photographs often show weapons, hats, canteens, musical instruments, painted backdrops, and other details that enhance the research value of the collection. Among the rarest of the images are those of sailors, of African Americans in uniform, and portraits of soldiers with their families and friends.

Crown of Roses, Issue 1, August 1904

Crown of Roses, Issue 1, August 1904

Klílā d-warde (Crown of roses) was a magazine issued in Mosul (present-day Iraq) between August 1904 and July 1908. It was published by the Dominican Fathers, in the neo-Aramaic language using an East Syriac script, which was common to the Chaldean Catholics of the region. It contained devotional articles, with occasional coverage of cultural topics. The magazine was produced by a small staff of clergy based in Mosul. The Dominican presence in the city goes back to 1750, when Pope Benedict XIV sent a group of Italian friars to establish a church and to provide for the needs of Chaldean Catholics. The Italians soon were replaced by French Dominicans, who in 1856 established a press in order to produce school texts, spiritual works, and Arabic literary works. Dominican printing continued in Mosul until 1914. In all, 48 issues of Klílā d-warde were published. The complete run is preserved in the Iraqi National Library and Archives.

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The History of Modern France

The History of Modern France

Tarikh Faransa al-Hadith (The history of modern France) is a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte rather than, as suggested by the title, a general history of France. The author states that “France is the closest country to us in the Orient commercially and linguistically. We have chosen this topic as serviceable history, that is, the fundamental art upon which public policies, action, and planning are based.” The book is more than 1,000 pages long. Introductory chapters briefly cover geography and history to the 1770s, as well as the French Revolution, leading to the detailed biography. The length and precise detail of the narrative suggest that the work is a translation, but there is no indication of an original, nor are there any notes to help with identification. A comment on the title page mentions that “one hundred pages were compiled by Khattar al-Dahdah,” a Maronite contemporary. The author, Salīm al-Bustānī (1846−84), was the son of the famous scholar and teacher Buṭrus al-Bustānī. He is best known as his father’s alter-ego at the periodical al-Jinan (Gardens), published in Beirut from 1870. The Bustānīs, father and son, are but one example of several leading Lebanese modernist families of the 19th century. Other prominent writers and publishers were the Taqlā brothers, founders of al-Ahram (The pyramids) newspaper, and the Naqqāsh brothers, Mārūn and Niqūlā, who were essayists and playwrights. The book contains numerous engraved or woodcut illustrations derived from French paintings or other originals.

Tales of Heroes and Great Men of Old

Tales of Heroes and Great Men of Old

Siyar al-Abtal wa-al-Uzama’ al-Qudama’ (Tales of heroes and great men of old) introduces young readers to classical mythology. It typifies many publications of the British and American missionaries in the Levant in the mid-to-late 19th century. Uplifting humanistic writing of this kind was new to the Middle East. It grew directly from the children’s book movement in Britain in the first half of the century, led by the British Tract Society, which later reinforced the efforts of American missionaries to the Middle East, such as Cornelius Van Dyck. The book includes such stories as “Jason and the Golden Fleece,” “The Battle of Thermopylae,” “Hector and Achilles,” and a description of the Olympiad. The author claims that the stories and myths illustrate “numerous ethical benefits such as control of our appetites and rejection of vengeance, injustice and blame in all their forms.” He declares further that “Greek morality exemplifies Christian morality in that it offers clear demonstration of self-respect and regard for the needs of others over our own needs.” Publication of the book was the result of cooperation between the British Tract Society, which provided funds, and the American Press in Beirut, which printed this generously illustrated book. Copies presumably were distributed at Protestant schools and churches operated by both British and American missionaries. Neither the author nor translators are named in the book, but the edition of 1883 mentions that it was written by S.S. Pugh, a British author of edifying books. Secondary sources identify the translators as Ya’qūb Sarrūf and Faris Nimr, classmates and later instructors at the Syrian Protestant College. They co-founded the influential periodicals al-Muqtataf (The selected) and al-Muqattam (The Muqattam Hills) and were granted honorary doctorates by New York University.

Soothing the Desire to Learn About Speech from Other Languages

Soothing the Desire to Learn About Speech from Other Languages

This publication is a dictionary of words, idioms, and proper names taken into Arabic from other languages. It includes personal names from scripture and literature, their supposed derivations, and examples of usage. Place-names are included, along with guides to variant pronunciation. With its intriguing title, Shifa’ al-Ghalil fi-ma fi-Kalam al-‘Arab min al-Dakhil (Soothing the desire to learn about speech from other languages)  is a fascinating lexical history of classical and colloquial Arabic. The author, Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad Al-Khafājī (1571 or 1572−1659), was born in Egypt and received his early education from his father, a distinguished scholar. Al-Khafājī continued to study in many fields and was licensed to teach both Shafi’i and Hanafi texts. The title page of the book provides details of his career, which differ significantly, however, from those contained in standard biographical sources. It is doubtful, for example, whether Al-Khafājī ever attained the elevated rank of Qadi al-Asakir [sic] (chief judge) or Shaykh al-Islam, as claimed in this work. Rather, he was appointed by Sultan Murad IV to more modest judgeships in Thessaloniki and later in Egypt, which appointment he subsequently resigned in order to travel to Istanbul, Damascus, and Aleppo. After clashing with a local religious authority in Aleppo, he returned to Cairo, where he spent the rest of his life, presumably as a teacher. He is the author of several surviving manuscripts including a biographical dictionary of contemporary writers and a diwan of poems. This edition of Shifa’ al-Ghalil was printed at the Bulaq Press in Cairo in 1865, a time of transition of ownership and administration under Egyptian ruler Isma’il Pasha (reigned 1863−79).

The Book of Sublime Marvels of the History of Constantinople

The Book of Sublime Marvels of the History of Constantinople

Kitab al-Tuhfah al-Saniyah fi-Tarikh al-Qustantiniyah (The book of sublime marvels of the history of Constantinople) is a historical miscellany, which opens with a brief history of the city of Constantinople from earliest times to the author’s own day. It includes descriptions of noteworthy features, such as impressive buildings, gardens, cemeteries, bazaars, and opulent residential quarters. This portion of the work might be considered a guidebook for Arab visitors. The author expresses his admiration for the city and praise of the sultan in a way that seems aimed at binding the Arab reader to Ottoman imperial authority. The book follows traditional literary practice by referring to the city by its historical name, Constantinople (Ataturk officially renamed the city Istanbul in 1930). This first section of the book is followed by a genealogy of the Ottoman dynasty reaching back to the time of Adam. The third, and by far the longest, section of the book is a catalog of mankind’s achievements in government, industry, and the arts up to the 19th century. It is arranged in alphabetical order and is intended for the general reader. The book is dedicated to Sultan Abdülaziz (reigned 1861−76). Virtually nothing is known of the author except that he was a Maronite Christian from the historic Lebanese town of Dayr al-Qamr. The book was published by al-Ma’arif Press in Beirut.

Demonstration of the Truth

Demonstration of the Truth

Izhar al-Haqq (Demonstration of the truth) is a work of Islamic apologetics that broke new ground in the Muslim approach to the Bible and to Christian doctrine. Written by Indian Shia scholar Rahmatullah al-Dihlawi (circa 1817−91), it received the approbation of the Ottoman sultan, Abdülaziz (reigned 1861−76). It was printed in 1867 at the imperial press in Istanbul for distribution among Arabic-speaking Muslims. Rahmatullah based his innovative approach on analysis of European Protestant historical or higher criticism, i.e., on reinterpretations and reformulations of biblical historiography made by European theologians themselves. This was a major departure from the customary defense of Islam made by reference predominantly to Muslim scripture. The book is said to have grown out of arguments put forward by Rahmatullah in his 1854 debate with German missionary Carl Gottlieb Pfander (1803–65) in Aligarh, India. Debate continues among Muslim scholars regarding textual and interpretive portions of the work. This edition includes brief laudatory introductions in Arabic and Ottoman Turkish, and the author himself supplies an important introductory essay. The detailed colophon and the high-quality printing point to the care taken in the production of the book. Presented here are two volumes bound as one.

The Life of Cornelius Van Dyck

The Life of Cornelius Van Dyck

Hayat Kurnilius Fan Dayk (The life of Cornelius Van Dyck) celebrates the life and achievements of American missionary, scientist, physician, and educator Cornelius Van Dyck (1818−1895). Born in Kinderhook, New York, Van Dyck received his degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1839 and left for the Near East the following year. His initial assignment was the intensive study of Arabic, the language of instruction at the Protestant schools. He also completed his study toward ordination and began work on the Bible translation that would be published some 20 years later. His mastery of Arabic was legendary and his writings had considerable influence on the development of an economical and precise prose style from the flowery poetics that preceded it. Van Dyck’s career was bound up with developments at the Syrian Protestant College, later the American University in Beirut, including its printing press, museum, and observatory, which he helped to finance from his private medical practice. In 1882 he resigned from the faculty in protest over the “Darwin issue,” which arose when Professor Edwin Lewis in his commencement address made what were interpreted as favorable references to Charles Darwin’s theories. This book offers an overview of Van Dyck’s career, followed by commemorative essays and poems by friends, students, and colleagues, many of which were read at Van Dyck’s golden jubilee in the Levant in 1890. The list of presenters includes some of the most prominent names in Arab culture of the 19th century. Illustrations include a photographic portrait as frontispiece, a bust in the garden of Saint George Orthodox Hospital where Van Dyck was chief physician, and a photograph of his gravestone. There is a ten-page annotated bibliography of his works.

Pearls, or Selections of Fond Memory and Immortal Imprint

Pearls, or Selections of Fond Memory and Immortal Imprint

Al-Durar wa-hiyya Muntakhabat al-Tayyib al-Zikr al-Khalid al-Athr (Pearls, or selections of fond memory and immortal imprint) is a memorial volume that collects the political and literary writing of the influential Arab nationalist Adib Ishaq (1856−85). Born in Damascus, Ishaq was a precocious youngster who received his formative education in Arabic and French at the French Lazarist school there and under the Jesuits in Beirut. His family’s strained circumstances forced him to leave school for work as a customs clerk. Excelling at languages, he supplemented his income by writing and translating and eventually dedicated himself to poetry, translation, and what today might be called advocacy journalism. He moved to Egypt in 1876, where he joined the circle of the well-known political agitator Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, whose Masonic interests he shared and to whose causes, such as criticism of Western imperialism, he devoted much of his writing. Singly or with like-minded colleagues, such as Salim Naqqash (with whom he produced Arabic plays), Ishaq established newspapers of opinion. His outspoken writings resulted in his being exiled from Egypt. He took up residency in Paris, but at the end of his life he returned to Lebanon, where he died at age 29. Ishaq’s restlessness as a traveler was matched by the variety of his literary and political interests. He collaborated with Naqqash in writing plays and wrote or translated novels. His novel Charlemagne is included in this set of readings, which was compiled by his brother, ‘Awni Ishaq. The volume contains a biography of Adib and numerous panegyrics to him by leading Muslim and Christian writers. The comprehensive selection of readings demonstrates his place in the evolution of Arabic letters and journalism from ornate poetry and rhymed prose to the modern political essay employing a wholly new format and lexicon.

Islamic Civilization in the City of Peace

Islamic Civilization in the City of Peace

Hadharat al-Islam fi Dar al-Salam (Islamic civilization in the city of peace) is a work of historical imagination, written as a straightforward narrative free of stylistic adornments. The city referred to is Baghdad. The book straddles the transition in Arabic literature from baroque, poetic metaphor to a modern, economic prose style. Treatment of the subject is also innovative. Rather than an essay on glories of the Abbasid period (750−1258), the work is presented as the tale of an anonymous Persian traveler writing home about conditions in the largely Persianate empire. Drawing upon dozens of Arabic historical and literary sources, it describes the cityscapes and the cultural and political life of Basra and Baghdad. As is suggested by the title, the author, Jamīl Nakhlah Mudawwar (1862−1907), seeks to reconstruct the atmosphere of this golden age of Islamic achievement. Each conversation or detail of geography is referenced to the medieval source that inspired the scene. They include such contemporary sources as Kitab al-Aghani (The book of songs by Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣbahānī, 897 or 898−967), the geography by Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī (circa 1179−1229), and Kitāb alf laylah wa-laylah (The 1001 nights, most of which date from the eighth to the 14th centuries). Abbasid Baghdad was under the rule of the Iranian (and Shi’i) family, the Barmakids who, until their displacement in the early ninth century, built Baghdad into the opulent political and cultural capital of history and legend. Mudawwar brings a new approach to its history in this popular account. Little is known of the author, except that he was born in Beirut and spent his creative life in Cairo. The work was printed at the press of the newspaper al-Muqtatif, which helped to finance the publication.

Emanations of Musk from Beiruti Verse

Emanations of Musk from Beiruti Verse

Al-Nafh al-Miski fi-al-Shi’r al-Bayruti (Emanations of musk from Beiruti verse) is a collection of verse by the prolific Lebanese poet Shaykh Ibrāhīm al-Aḥdab. The author was first and foremost a traditionalist in his literary as well as his legal career. The poems are of various rhyme schemes and meters and display mastery of classical prosody. They are primarily madh (praise) commemorating the achievements of public figures or personal acquaintances. Examples include “Commending His Excellency Muhammad Rushdi Pasha, Governor of Syria,” “Praising Prince ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri on the Festival of ‘Id al-Adha,” and “Congratulations to the Distinguished Ibrahim Efendi, Chief of the Beirut Commercial Office on His Promotion in Grade.” Such encomiums were often commissioned for declamation at weddings, returns from the pilgrimage, or to elicit a reward for the poet, as happened when he received medals and other adornments in precious stones. More important than al-Ahdab’s versifying was his membership in the Jami’at al-Funun (Society of [Useful] Arts) and editorship of its journal Thamarat al-Funun (Fruits of the [useful] arts), the first Lebanese Muslim journal to confront the growing number of political and religious journals published by Christian reformers or missionaries. This organ, along with al-Jawa’ib (Responses) of Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq (circa 1804−87), presented counterviews in support of Muslim interests and in sympathy for Ottoman authority. The journal flourished in the last quarter of the 19th century.

Ascent to Success: Commentary on the Light of Clarity

Ascent to Success: Commentary on the Light of Clarity

Maraqi al-Falah Sharh Nur al-Idah (Ascent to success: Commentary on the light of clarity) is a handbook for worship according to the Hanafi legal tradition by Egyptian legal scholar Hasan al-Shurunbulali (1585 or 1586-1659). The work, frequently reprinted, is a comprehensive guide to the rituals prescribed by Abu Hanifa (699−767), the founder of the Hanafi school of Islamic law. Topics such as ritual purity, fasting, and pilgrimage are covered in great detail. Hanafi jurisprudence is the predominant tradition in Central and South Asia, Turkey, and many other regions. Al-Shurunbulali was born in the Nile delta and educated at al-Azhar in Cairo, where he eventually became a prominent teacher.  In this work, Al-Shurunbulali comments on his earlier writing on the same subject entitled Nur al-Izah (Light of clarification). Texts on law and ritual are often accompanied by marginal commentaries, and Maraqi al-Falah is no exception. In this case the commentary is provided by Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tahtawi, an early-19th century Hanafi scholar. Al-Tahtawi was born in the Upper Egyptian town of Tahta and educated at al-Azhar. His commentary here is on the same subject as the two other works in this volume. He seems to have had a falling out with certain Hanafi teachers but was eventually restored to their good graces. Historian al-Jabarti mentions that Al-Tahtawi’s father was a Turk, which may account for his inclination towards Hanafi law. The book was printed in Cairo at al-Khayriyah Press established by Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahid al-Tubi and ‘Umar Husayn al-Khashshab in Khosh ‘Ati Lane in the vicinity of al-Azhar mosque.

History of Nadir Shah Afshar

History of Nadir Shah Afshar

Waqiat-i Nadiri (literally “Events of Nadir”) is a historical manuscript that chronicles the political and military career of Nādir Shāh, who was born in 1688 and rose to power in Iran during the 1720s; he became shah in 1736. He is known as a military warrior famous for his campaigns in Iran, Afghanistan, northern India, and Central Asia. He was assassinated by his officers in June 1747. The name of the author of this work, Mohammad Mahdi Munshi ibn Mohammad Nasir (also seen as Mahdī Khān Astarābādī), appears on page four. Mahdi Khan was a court secretary, historian, and close confidante of Nādir Shāh, whom he accompanied on many of his campaigns, so the work is an important historical source. The manuscript is organized chronologically and recounts about 100 military and political events. The preliminary pages contain a preface outlining the political events in Iran and Qandahar (or Kandahar) that led to the Afghan invasion of Isfahan in 1722 and the emergence of Nādir Shāh as a ruler who would confront and eventually defeat the Afghans and other enemies. The preface is followed by a biography of Mahmud Hotaki, an Afghan commander who defeated the Safavids and briefly ruled in Isfahan. The last part of the manuscript covers the reigns of Ali Shah and Ebrahim Shah, nephews of Nādir Shāh, each of whom claimed the throne in Isfahan for brief times in the aftermath of Nādir Shāh’s assassination. In the manner typical of Persian court historiography, the author emphasizes throughout the restoration of order, the introduction of justice, and the defeat of the enemies of the state. The margins contain notes, probably by anonymous readers. Various poems and verses from the Qur’an appear throughout the text. The manuscript is written in different styles of broken nastaliq, the calligraphic Persian script. All of the events recounted have a rubricated title and are organized and described in terms of their outcomes or final causes, usually in a page or a half page. The manuscript is numbered in pencil in the Indo-Arabic numeral style, probably by an anonymous reader.

The Rising of the Propitious Twin Stars, and the Amalgamation of the Oceans

The Rising of the Propitious Twin Stars, and the Amalgamation of the Oceans

This manuscript is volume one of Matla us-Sadain wa Majma ul-Baahrain (The rising of the propitious twin stars and the amalgamation of the oceans) by 'Abd al-Razzāq Kamāl al-Dīn ibn Isḥāq al-Samarqandī (1413−82). The book offers a semi-official account of the political history of the late Mongol khanates and Timurid polities in the Caucasus, Iran, Khorasan, and Mawarannahr. Volume one documents the period from 1316, when Abu Said Bahadur Khan, the last great Mongol khan, came to power in Persia, to the death in 1405 of Timur, founder of the Timurid line. This period is central to the history of the region as a time of important social and political transitions. The work recounts how the Mongol khanates disintegrated, various local Mongol and non-Mongol lineages competed for supremacy, and the Timurid lineage established itself as the dominant political and social group. This volume describes Timur, his rise to power, and his immediate descendants. Timur was succeeded by his son Shahrukh, under whom Razzaq prospered as a legal courtier, trustee, and ambassador. Razzaq’s ambassadorial missions took him to various places in Eurasia, for example to Calicut in the southwest of India in 1442. The major figures and events described in volume one of Razzaq’s work are also described in other contemporary texts. Volume two recounts the reigns of Shahrukh and his descendants, and covers the accession to the throne of Sultan Ḥusain Bāyqarā Chorasan and other events to which the author was eyewitness. The descriptive preface praises God, Muhammad, and the four guided caliphs in Islam. It explains that Razzaq long had wanted to write a history but was prevented from doing so by political instability and other problems. However, one year at Nowruz (New Year) his old friend Shikh Maza al-Din Husain encouraged him to finish writing his text. The events are described chronologically, using the Islamic calendar. The title of each event, verses from Qur’an, and poems all are rubricated. Events usually start with one of the following phrases: “mention of,” “the event of,” and “sending of.” Pages are numbered but numbers do not show on some early pages because of water damage; folio 11 is missing.

Poetic Collection of Tarzi

Poetic Collection of Tarzi

Diwan-i tarzi (Poetic collection of Tarzi) contains verses by Ghulām Muḥammad Ṭarzī (1830−1900), mostly concerning piety, ethics, politics, and society in 19th century Afghanistan. Tarzi came from a distinguished background; he belonged to the Mohammadzai sub-lineage of the Durranis, one of two main Afghan Pashtun lineages, the other being Ghilzai. Because of their connections to Muḥammad Yaʻqūb Khān, Tarzi and his family were exiled from Afghanistan in 1882−83 by Abd al-Raḥmān Khān, a kinsman of Yaʻqūb Khān and a rival to the Afghan throne. The feeling of desolation occasioned by Tarzi’s exile pervades many of the poems. Each poem is specific in theme, meaning, and place. One poem, for example, extols the verse of Mirza ʻAbd al-Qādir Bīdil, the famous Persian poet and Sufi who was instrumental in the development of “Indian-style” Persian poetry in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In another poem, Tarzi praises the wedding of Muḥammad Yaʻqūb Khān, who in 1879 was briefly amir of Afghanistan, after he signed the Treaty of Gandamak recognizing British control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs. Each poem has a rubricated title that indicates where it was written and its purpose. On page 336, for example, it is stated that “this ghazal is written in Kandahar in response to Neamat Khan.” A few poems are not titled, but each is distinguished by its conclusion with the author’s pen name tarzi (stylist). The volume itself is not titled. The names and personal library stamps of several owners and readers, including that of Abdul Rauf Khan Tarzi, a descendant of the author, appear on the cover and last pages. The book is in two sections: the main one is of ghazal (lyric) verses, while the last 50 pages are in rubai (quatrain) form. The script includes several versions of Persian nastaliq, such as clear nastaliq, broken nastaliq, and uneasy nastaliq. The paper is of different qualities and colors; most text appears on plain cream paper laid down on a marbled backing. Pages have penciled Persian-Arabic numerals inserted by a reader. The marginal notes may be the author’s own or by anonymous readers. The final text is a prose piece, in which Tarzi emphasizes his virtue, sorrow, and loyalty.

The Collected Works of Mullah Rahmat Badakhshani

The Collected Works of Mullah Rahmat Badakhshani

Divan-i Mullah Rahmat Badakhshani (The collected works of Mullah Rahmat Badakhshani) is a divan of Khwaja Rahmat Ullah Badakhshani, a late-19th-century poet from Badakhshan, Afghanistan. The book’s main section includes several forms of ghazal (lyric) poetry. They include ghazal-e char dar char (ghazals in four by four), ghazal-e ka tama-e huruf ash hech nuqta nadara (ghazal poems where the words have no diacritical marks), and ghazal-e laf-o nashr-e muratab (a form in which the subject of the poem appears in the first lines and is then described in detail in the rest of the poem). Some other forms appear in the supplementary section, pages 103−11, such as musalas ghazals (with three-line rhythms), mutazad ghazal (where the verses can take opposite meanings), and rubai (quatrain) poems. The author’s pen name, Rahmat, often appears at the end of each stanza. The section also includes some prose, in which the author talks about an imaginary garden, gardening, and different flowers that “look like paradise.” Rahmat explains that this special garden does not exist in known places. The last few pages contain information about the poet and his family. His father Mirza Ismail appears to have been a state official and the family was khwaja’zada (descended from Muhammad). Rahmat seems to have been a literary servant or courtier of the local rulers in Qaţaghan, the political center of northeast Afghanistan, but the biographical section is incomplete; the last two pages are missing from this copy. These pages would have clarified for readers that Emir Abdur Rahman Khan, the ruler of Afghanistan, had ordered Crown Prince Sardar Habibullah Khan to collect and publish the works of Rahmat. Matba-e dar al-Sultanah-e Kabul, the Royal Printing Press of Kabul, published the book by lithography in 1894. The pages are numbered, and on page 112 a red-colored hand-written verse by an anonymous author reads: “I provide/write this book for three reasons; do not politicize, misuse, or hide it.”

September 5, 2014

Portrait of Three Young Men from Túquerres, Túquerres Province

Portrait of Three Young Men from Túquerres, Túquerres Province

This watercolor by Manuel María Paz (1820−1902) shows three young men wearing ruanas (ponchos). Locally made from alpaca, vicuña, or llama wool, these garments are known for their bright colors and their warmth. The scene is set at the edge of the town of Túquerres in Túquerres Province (present-day Nariño Department), in southwestern Colombia. The town is located on a high Andean plateau some 3,000 meters above sea level. The watercolor is typical of Paz’s work, which captured the diversity of the population of Colombia and depicted the daily activities and traditional customs of the country’s different ethnic, racial, and social groups. Paz was born in Almaguer in the province of Cauca. He joined the Colombian army at a young age and showed exceptional skills as a cartographer and painter. In 1853 he took over the role of draftsman of the Comisión Corográfica (Chorographic Commission) formerly held by Henry Price (1819–63). The commission, which began work in 1850, was tasked with studying the geography, cartography, natural resources, natural history, regional culture, and agriculture of the Republic of New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama). Paz worked under Agustín Codazzi (1793–1859), the Italian-born geographer and engineer who co-founded and directed the commission. In 1859, at Codazzi’s death, Paz was among the collaborators who took on the task of reviewing, completing, and publishing the work that the Comisión Corográfica had undertaken since 1850. As a draftsman, Paz executed watercolors and drawings that were very exact and strove to represent the places and people of Colombia in a naturalistic and objective style. These pictures constitute invaluable documentary records for the history and culture of Colombia. They also provided information pertinent to drawing up the maps that were one of the main objectives of the Comisión Corográfica. More than 90 paintings by Paz are preserved at the National Library of Colombia.

History of Shah Abbas the Great

History of Shah Abbas the Great

This early 19th-century manuscript contains a history of Shāh ʻAbbas (1571−1629, reigned 1588−1629) and his predecessors, composed in the late 16th or early 17th century by a contemporary. The manuscript most likely was written in Iran. The paper is a light cream, glazed laid stock. The text is written in nasta'liq script, 23 lines to the page, in black ink, with red ink used for headings, keywords, and some punctuation. Catchwords appear on verso pages. ʿAbbās I, also known as ʿAbbās the Great, was one of the most successful rulers of the Safavid dynasty (1502−1736). He expelled Ottoman and Uzbek invaders from Persian soil and transferred the capital of the empire from Kazvin to Isfahan, which he then developed into one of the world’s most beautiful cities. He introduced reforms that improved the lives of his subjects and cultivated new commercial and diplomatic relations with the European powers. Persian artistic achievement also reached its high point during his reign, as carpet weaving, ceramics, painting, and the production of illuminated manuscripts all flourished under his patronage.

Supplication Attributed to Caliph Ali

Supplication Attributed to Caliph Ali

Caliph ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (circa 601−61) is one of the most revered religious and holy figures of Islam. His honorary name, Amīr al-Mu‘minīn, translates from Persian as the “prince of the believers.” Written works by ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and sayings attributed to him are sacred to the Shiite faithful, particularly among Persian speakers. Shown here is an illuminated 18th-century manuscript copy of the Munājāt (Supplication) of ʻAli ibn Abī Ṭālib. Included are both the original Arabic and a translation into Persian. The text is written on a moderately heavy cream-colored paper in gold (folio 1b and 2a) and black ink (folio 2b to the end) within five borders. The borders are colored in, from the outermost to the innermost, in blue, red, gold, red, and green. The pages are divided into four boxes to accommodate the main text and the translation, three containing two lines and one containing one line, or seven lines for each page. The Arabic text, in naskhi script, is in larger boxes with elaborate interlinear decoration; the Persian translation, in nastaʻlīq script, is in narrower boxes with panels of floral decoration on either side. An unknown Persian text appears on folio 1a, part of which is missing along the left margin due to trimming and on the upper-right margin due to damage to the first folio (mended with some loss of this text but no damage to main text). The name and date “Vahīd Ḥusaynī 1209” (1794 or 1795) appears at the lower-left corner of the written area of folio 7b; an unknown Persian text in a later hand appears on the endpaper.

Collection of Persian Poetry and Prose

Collection of Persian Poetry and Prose

This manuscript in Persian is an untitled Sufi text on meditation containing both poetry and prose. It was completed in early 1520, probably in Herat (present-day Afghanistan) or Mashhad (present-day Iran). The colophon, which is in Arabic, gives the name of the scribe, Mīr 'Alī Ḥusaynī Haravī (circa 1476−1543). The manuscript is on a firm cream-colored paper inlaid into light cream (folios 1−8) or pale greenish-blue margin paper, with the writing enclosed within alternating gold and cream (or green) bands with black ruling. The margin paper is profusely decorated with floral and animal motifs. The text is in nastalīq script, eight lines to the page. The binding is contemporary leather with medallions. A former owner’s stamp appears on folio 1a. Sufism, a mystical and introspective interpretation of Islam that emerged after the initial spread of the religion, combines Islamic teachings with gnosticism. The practice embraced the idea of enlightenment through spiritual knowledge, informed by pre-Islamic Greek, Zoroastrian, and Indian spiritual practices. By the 13th century, Sufi thought in the Persian-speaking world was expressed primarily through poetry or in poetic works of prose, such as this treatise.

The Crown Jewel

The Crown Jewel

This manuscript of Durrat al-tāj (The crown jewel) is a Shiite prayer book, consisting of prayers to be said when making a visitation to the tomb of Caliph ʻAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (circa 601−61). ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib is one of the most revered religious and holy figures of Islam. His honorary name, Amīr al-Mu‘minīn, translates from Persian as the “prince of the believers.” Written works by ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and sayings attributed to him are sacred to the Shiite faithful, particularly among Persian speakers. The manuscript was probably written in Iran, possibly in the 17th century. The paper is of a thick, cream-colored polished Middle Eastern style, without distinctive chain or laid lines, and no watermark. The text is written in black ink in naskhī script, nine lines on each page, with gold decorations between lines. The borders of the written area are lined with black ink, with profuse decoration outside of the written area. The text is rubricated. The title was added by a later hand. There is no colophon. The binding is referred to as chahargusheh, meaning a frame binding made around a Kashmiri shawl dating from the first half of the 1700s (circa 1740s).

Dahomey

Dahomey

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Dahomey is Number 105 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Dahomey (present-day Benin) was an African kingdom that arose most likely in the second quarter of the 17th century. It became a protectorate of France in 1892. In 1904 it became a French colony, part of the Government-General of French West Africa. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, and economic conditions. Social and political conditions are covered in Number 100 in the series, French West Africa. The study discusses the delineation of Dahomey’s border with the British colony of Lagos (present-day Nigeria) to the east and Togoland (then a German colony) to the west. It briefly describes the main ethnic groups living in the country, including the Fong (Fon), Mina, Aja (Adja), Nago, Mahi, Bariba, Dendi, Hausa, and Fulbe (Fulani) peoples. The total population of the colony is given as approximately 900,000. The section on economic conditions discusses the economic potential of the colony, based on its agricultural wealth and the prospects for increased production of palm oil, cocoa, rubber, and other products. Kotonu (Cotonou) was the colony’s main port, with steamship connections to Le Havre, Marseilles, Hamburg, and Liverpool. Dahomey became the independent Republic of Dahomey on August 1, 1960; it changed its name to Benin in 1975.

Japan

Japan

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Japan is Number 73 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Written by John Harington Gubbins (1852−1929), a former British Foreign Office official and secretary of the British Legation in Tokyo, the book is one of the few volumes in the series published under the name of an individual author. It is mostly a political history of Japan, with a brief section on contemporary social and political conditions. The study covers the entire sweep of Japan’s recorded history, from the sixth century and the introduction of Buddhism from China to the outbreak of World War I and Japan’s declaration of war on Germany of August 23, 1914. Topics covered include the early history of Japan, the feudal system and the establishment of Tokugawa rule, early relations with European powers and the closing of Japan, and the modern era. Topics discussed under the latter include the visit of Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 and the opening of Japan to foreign trade, the Meiji Restoration of 1868−69, war with China in 1894−95, the Anglo-Japanese alliance of 1902, and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904−5. The section on social and political conditions discusses the two main religions of Japan, Shintoism and Buddhism, and emphasizes the role of the former as the recognized court and state religion and an important source of imperial power and legitimacy.

Upper Senegal and Niger

Upper Senegal and Niger

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Upper Senegal and Niger is Number 107 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Upper Senegal and Niger was a French colony, established in 1904 as part of the Government-General of West Africa, which, with the adjacent Military Territory of the Niger, comprised the territories of the present-day states of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso. This study covers both the colony and the military territory. The book includes sections on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. It stresses the importance of the Niger River, which “traverses the colony in the great arc of the Niger Bend, running north-east to Timbuktu, and thence downwards to the Nigerian people.” It briefly describes the different peoples living in this sparsely populated region, including Tuaregs, Moors, and Songhays (Songhai). The latter are described as “a great historic people,” who “were once the rulers over a vast negro empire which included the whole Sahara.” The study recounts the rivalry between Britain and France for control of the territory, the boundary settlements with adjacent British colonies worked out in 1898 and 1899, and demarcation of the boundary with the neighboring German colony of Togoland. The economic section describes road and railroad construction by the French and the workings of the agricultural economy. It notes that in 1914 “there were in Upper Senegal and Niger alone 2,000,000 cattle and 3,000,000 sheep and goats.”

Macao

Macao

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Macao is Number 81 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Macau was at that time a colony of Portugal, leased by China to the Portuguese as a trading port. The book includes sections on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on political history covers the arrival of the Portuguese in around 1515 and the development over the centuries of relations between China and the Portuguese colony. The section on economic conditions notes that the “industry of Macao is mainly in Chinese hands” and that the “chief industry is opium, which the colony imports raw (opio crù) and prepares for exportation (opio cosido).” The final chapter, “General Remarks,” notes that “Macao owes its whole importance to the fact that it is a port; but as such it cannot long remain of much value, for the harbour is being silted up by the alluvium brought down the Canton [Pearl] river….” Macau was returned to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1999 and, along with Hong Kong, is one of two special administrative regions in the PRC.

Correguaje Indians Hunting with Blowguns, Caquetá Territory

Correguaje Indians Hunting with Blowguns, Caquetá Territory

This watercolor by Manuel María Paz (1820−1902) shows two Correguaje (now usually spelled Koreguaje) men in Caquetá Department, southern Colombia. The standing man aims his bodoquera (blowgun) at his quarry, while the other man prepares to load his blowgun with a dart. The numbers of the Koreguaje have since dwindled to the point that their survival is threatened. The watercolor is typical of Paz’s work, which captured the diversity of the population of Colombia and depicted the daily activities and traditional customs of the country’s different ethnic, racial, and social groups. Paz was born in Almaguer in the province of Cauca. He joined the Colombian army at a young age and showed exceptional skills as a cartographer and painter. In 1853 he took over the role of draftsman of the Comisión Corográfica (Chorographic Commission) formerly held by Henry Price (1819–63). The commission, which began work in 1850, was tasked with studying the geography, cartography, natural resources, natural history, regional culture, and agriculture of the Republic of New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama). Paz worked under Agustín Codazzi (1793–1859), the Italian-born geographer and engineer who co-founded and directed the commission. In 1859, at Codazzi’s death, Paz was among the collaborators who took on the task of reviewing, completing, and publishing the work that the Comisión Corográfica had undertaken since 1850. As a draftsman, Paz executed watercolors and drawings that were very exact and strove to represent the places and people of Colombia in a naturalistic and objective style. These pictures constitute invaluable documentary records for the history and culture of Colombia. They also provided information pertinent to drawing up the maps that were one of the main objectives of the Comisión Corográfica. More than 90 paintings by Paz are preserved at the National Library of Colombia.

Converted Andaqui People, Producing Pita Fiber in Descansé, Caquetá Territory

Converted Andaqui People, Producing Pita Fiber in Descansé, Caquetá Territory

This watercolor by Manuel María Paz (1820−1902) shows three Andaqui people in Caquetá Territory (present-day Cauca Department), engaged in obtaining pita fiber from the plant Agave Americana. The material was used to make cordage, matting, and rough cloth. The Andaqui lived at the southern end of the Cordillera Oriental. Paz characterizes the people as reducidos, which meant that they lived in a reduction, or mission town, and had become Catholics under the influence of Spanish missionaries. The watercolor is typical of Paz’s work, which captured the diversity of the population of Colombia and depicted the daily activities and traditional customs of the country’s different ethnic, racial, and social groups. Paz was born in Almaguer in the province of Cauca. He joined the Colombian army at a young age and showed exceptional skills as a cartographer and painter. In 1853 he took over the role of draftsman of the Comisión Corográfica (Chorographic Commission) formerly held by Henry Price (1819–63). The commission, which began work in 1850, was tasked with studying the geography, cartography, natural resources, natural history, regional culture, and agriculture of the Republic of New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama). Paz worked under Agustín Codazzi (1793–1859), the Italian-born geographer and engineer who co-founded and directed the commission. In 1859, at Codazzi’s death, Paz was among the collaborators who took on the task of reviewing, completing, and publishing the work that the Comisión Corográfica had undertaken since 1850. As a draftsman, Paz executed watercolors and drawings that were very exact and strove to represent the places and people of Colombia in a naturalistic and objective style. These pictures constitute invaluable documentary records for the history and culture of Colombia. They also provided information pertinent to drawing up the maps that were one of the main objectives of the Comisión Corográfica. More than 90 paintings by Paz are preserved at the National Library of Colombia.

An Andaqui Indian. Miguel Mosquera, Caquetá Territory

An Andaqui Indian. Miguel Mosquera, Caquetá Territory

This watercolor by Manuel María Paz (1820−1902) shows an Andaqui Amerindian, together with a black or mixed-race man identified as Miguel Mosquera, one of a pair of twins who were among the most trusted guides and interpreters with whom Paz worked. Paz captured the diversity of the population of Colombia and depicted the daily activities and traditional customs of the country’s different ethnic, racial, and social groups. Paz was born in Almaguer in the province of Cauca. He joined the Colombian army at a young age and showed exceptional skills as a cartographer and painter. In 1853 he took over the role of draftsman of the Comisión Corográfica (Chorographic Commission) formerly held by Henry Price (1819–63). The commission, which began work in 1850, was tasked with studying the geography, cartography, natural resources, natural history, regional culture, and agriculture of the Republic of New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama). Paz worked under Agustín Codazzi (1793–1859), the Italian-born geographer and engineer who co-founded and directed the commission. In 1859, at Codazzi’s death, Paz was among the collaborators who took on the task of reviewing, completing, and publishing the work that the Comisión Corográfica had undertaken since 1850. As a draftsman, Paz executed watercolors and drawings that were very exact and strove to represent the places and people of Colombia in a naturalistic and objective style. These pictures constitute invaluable documentary records for the history and culture of Colombia. They also provided information pertinent to drawing up the maps that were one of the main objectives of the Comisión Corográfica. More than 90 paintings by Paz are preserved at the National Library of Colombia.