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Type of Item
The Precious Book on Noteworthy Dates
This short work, entitled Kitāb al-yawāqīt fī ma‘rifat al-mawāqīt, and copied by an anonymous scribe in Shawwāl in June-July 1775 (AH 1168), is attributed to Ḥusayn (or Ḥasan) b. Zayd b. ‘Alī al-Jaḥḥāf, who is said to have dedicated it to Abū ‘Alī Manṣūr al-Ḥākim bi Amr-Allāh, the sixth Fāṭimid ruler (died 996). The manuscript lists the 12 months of the year, each on one sheet, in the form of an almanac. The last page is a one-page guide to the interpretation of dreams, reportedly prepared at the behest ...
The Sanmai-bashi Bridges in Ueno
This nishiki-e (Japanese multicolored woodblock print of ukiyo-e) depicts beautiful women coming and going in front of the Sanmai-bashi Bridges (“three bridges side by side”) in Ueno-hirokōji, Edo (present-day Tokyo). Cherry trees in the woods around Kan’ei-ji Temple can be seen in the distance. Kan’ei-ji Temple was well known as the best cherry blossom-viewing spot in the city of Edo, and even now, many people visit it in the cherry blossom season. In the foreground are the three bridges side by side. The women appear to be taking ...
Letter of Damar Wulan
The Serat Damar Wulan (MSS.Jav.89) is one of the loveliest Indonesian manuscripts in the British Library, with a treasury of illustrations depicting Javanese society in the late 18th century. The pictures are rich in humor and the artist had a marvellous eye for facial expressions and bodily postures (for example, a woman sleeping with her arm across her eyes, a sandal just balanced on a foot). Everyday things are depicted in fascinating detail, from birdcages to garden pots and textiles, with wonderful scenes of music and dance of ...
A New Map of Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton Island: With the Adjacent Parts of New England and Canada, Composed from a Great Number of Actual Surveys; and Other Materials Regulated by Many New Astronomical Observations of the Longitude as Well as Latitude; by Thomas Jefferys, Geographer to the King.
Thomas Jefferys (1710-71) was a royal geographer to King George III and a London publisher of maps. He is well known for his maps of North America, produced to meet commercial demand, but also to support British territorial claims against the French. The period from 1748-63 saw fierce global competition between England and France, culminating in the Seven Years' War, which produced a high demand for maps of the contested territories. This map presents Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island in the wake of the “great upheaval,” when the British ...
The Cusp of Prophetic Lights from the Verified Traditions of Muhammad
This Arabic manuscript, dated 1775, is a collection of the sayings of Muhammad by the scholar as-Sagani (died 1252), who was born in India and served as a diplomatic representative of the caliph an-Nasirbillah to India. The traditions are arranged according to grammatical rules. The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava, Slovakia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997. Safvet beg Bašagić (1870-1934) was a Bosnian scholar, poet, journalist, and museum director who assembled a ...
The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Shunshō (1726–93) was a leading artist of the Katsukawa school ...
Map of the World
This late 18th-century Latin map of the world by the Augsburg map publisher Tobias Lotter (1717-77) is based on an earlier map by the French cartographer Guillaume de l'Isle (1675-1726). De l'Isle was among the group of French cartographers who wrested mapmaking preeminence from the Dutch in the late 17th century. De l’Isle was a child prodigy, having drawn his first map at age nine. He was trained in history and geography, as well as in mathematics and astronomy. He drew extensively on classical Arabic and Persian ...
Hydrographic Map of the Famous Rio de Janeiro Bay Where the São Sebastião City is Situated
This map of the bay of Rio de Janeiro shows the city of São Sebastião, the bay entrance, the island, and the rivers entering the bay. During the colonial period, the city of São Sebastião was an agricultural center and its port was a major shipping point for gold from Minas Gerais. The map is the work of Luis dos Santos Vilhena (1744-1814), who lived in Salvador, where he worked as a teacher of Greek and Latin. Vilhena wrote extensively about life in Portuguese Brazil, often expressing the frustration of ...