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Portraits of N. V. Gogol: 1809–1909
This collection of portraits of Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809–52) was published under the auspices of the Society of Lovers of Russian Literature for the centenary of the birth of Gogolʹ, a Ukrainian-born Russian playwright, novelist, and writer of short stories. The book is divided into two parts: an annotated list of the known portraits of the writer on pages 3–15, followed by reproductions of each portrait. The portraits trace Gogol’s life in chronological order, from 1827 before he was well known, until his death in Moscow in ...
The Spiritual Couplets
The most significant contribution of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (popularly known in Persian as Mawlānā, and in English as Rumi, 1207–73), the renowned poet and mystic of Iran, to Persian literature may be his poetry, and especially his famous Masnavi (The spiritual couplets). This work, which is said to be the most extensive verse exposition of mysticism in any language, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problems in metaphysics, religion, ethics, mysticism, and other fields. Masnavi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism and their relationship to the ...
The Book of Kings
Shahnameh Baysonqori is a copy of Shahnameh (Book of kings) composed by the highly revered Iranian poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). The importance of Shahnameh in the Persian-speaking world is comparable that of Homer’s epics in the West. The book recounts in verse the mythological history of ancient Persia and tales of the famous heroes and personalities of Iranian history, from legendary times to the 7th-century reign of Yazdgerd III, the last king of the Sassanid dynasty. The tales are based on earlier historical works, but are mixed ...
Priest Puncho Miscellany of 1796
This intriguing manuscript was written in the vernacular Bulgarian of the late 18th century and was intended to be printed. The content of the manuscript consists of literary texts compiled from older manuscripts, Russian printed books, apocrypha, a reworked version of the first real Bulgarian chronicle, Paisiĭ Khilendarski’s Istoriia slavianobolgarskaia (Slaveno-Bulgarian history), as well as texts of unspecified or unknown origin. The illumination, although stylistically naive, is very rich. It includes two self-portraits of the scribe and compiler Puncho, together with numerous miniatures, some of them with unusual iconography ...
Bashkioi Copy of “Slaveno-Bulgarian History”
This handwritten copy of Paisiĭ Khilendarski’s Istoriia slavianobolgarskaia (Slaveno-Bulgarian history) was made in 1841 by the priest Vasilii Manuilov. In addition to the main text, the manuscript contains accounts of two miracles of the Holy Mother. First published in 1762, Paisiĭ’s history encouraged the Bulgarians, who had been under Ottoman rule for centuries, to discover their national consciousness and to embrace the Bulgarian language. The work was so influential that it was copied by hand and excerpted many times without Paisiĭ being identified as the author or his ...
Anthology of Ḥakīm Ruknā Masīḥ
This diwan (a collection of poems in Arabic or Persian, usually by a single author) of Persian poems by physician and poet Ḥakīm Ruknā Masīḥ dates from 1638. “Ḥakīm” is an honorific for a wise man or physician. “Masīḥ” (the Christian), which appears elsewhere in the manuscript, was a pen name of the author. It is believed that the poems were dictated by the author to his calligrapher. The manuscript is in four sections, containing qasidas (odes), ghazals (lyric poems), rubaiyat (quatrains), and muqatta't (poetic fragments). The first two ...
Collected Poems of Aisha Durrani
This work is a lithographic print, published in Kabul, of the collected poems of 'Āyisha Durrānī, an Afghan poetess from the Durrani family, who was active in the second half of the 19th century. The poems include qasidas (a lyric form) and ghazals (a metrical form expressing the pain of loss and the beauty of love), and are arranged alphabetically according to qāfiya (the effect of rhyme). The collection was compiled during the reign of 'Abd al-Raḥmān Khān, emīr of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901. The Durrani family led a ...
Ghazal by Sa'di
This calligraphic fragment contains a ghazal (lyric poem) by the Persian poet Shaykh Sa'di (died 1292 [691 AH]). The verses describe a lover's search for his beloved and his request that she show herself to him. The verses are written in nasta'liq script using white, light blue, red, and yellow ink on a blue paper. Rangin (colored) inks add variety to the composition and are found in a number of calligraphies produced during the 16th century. The corners left open by the intersection of the diagonal verses ...
Verses by Jami
This calligraphic fragment includes verses composed by the Persian poet Jami (died 1492 [897 AH]), whose full name, Mawlana 'Abd al-Rahman Jami, is noted in the topmost panel. In larger script appears a ghazal (lyric poem) in which a lover sighs about the lack of news from his beloved. The central text frames are bordered on the right and left by illuminated panels and contain a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain) written in smaller script. The quatrain encourages true and eternal love of God rather than passing infatuations: "Every beautiful ...
Ghazals of Asifi
This calligraphic fragment includes a variety of ghazals (lyric poems) from the Compendium of Poems (Divan) of the Persian poet Asifi. A student of the famous poet Jami (died 1492 [897 AH]) in Herat, Asifi remained in the Timurid capital city until his death (1517 [923 AH]), even during and after the Uzbek invasions. These particular verses on the fragment's recto and verso portray a lover's madness and his complaints about the pains of separation from the object of his affection. At the end of the first verse ...
Verses by Hilālī
This calligraphic fragment includes three distinct text panels all executed in Nasta'liq script: one written in black ink on blue paper, another in white ink on beige paper with two illuminated triangles (or thumb pieces) in the upper and lower corners, and a third (lowest on the page) written in black ink on beige paper. All three panels were cut out and placed together, provided with a gold frame, and pasted to a larger sheet of paper decorated with flecks of gold. The blue text panel includes verses composed ...
Three Bayts (Verses) to a Loved One
This calligraphic fragment includes three bayts (verses) of poetry in the main text panel and ten verses around this panel, creating a textual frame decorated with gold vine and leaf motifs. The entire calligraphic piece is pasted to a paper decorated with blue geometric and vegetal motifs highlighted in gold. The central text panel is topped by an illuminated rectangular panel and includes a decorative triangle in the upper left corner. The verses in the central panel are written in nasta'liq script on a white ground decorated with ...
The Rose Garden
The Persian poet and scholar Muṣliḥ ud-Dīn Sadī Shīrāzī (circa 1213-1292) is known primarily as the author of Gulistan (The rose garden), one of the great masterpieces of Persian literature, which he completed in 1259. The work has a didactic and ethical character, and is still widely read, in the original Persian and in translations in many languages. This manuscript copy is written in the ta’liq script in two different hands, and contains numerous explanations and remarks in the margins and in the text. The manuscript is dated 1585 ...
This manuscript, most likely from the second half of the 19th century, is a collection of poems by the great Persian poet Urfi, who lived and worked in Mughal India in the late 16th century (died 1591), and who was known for his splendid and deeply melancholy qasidas (odes). Urfi had a great influence on the development of poetry in Turkey and throughout the Ottoman Empire. The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava, Slovakia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO ...
The Book of Taliesin
The Book of Taliesin contains a collection of some of the oldest poems in Welsh, many of them attributed to the poet Taliesin, who was active toward the end of the sixth century and sang the praises of Urien Rheged and his son Owain ab Urien. Other poems reflect the kind of learning with which the poet became associated, deriving partly from Latin texts and partly from native Welsh tradition. This manuscript preserves the texts of such famous poems as “Armes Prydein Fawr,” “Preiddeu Annwfn” (which refers to Arthur and ...
The Black Book of Carmarthen
The Black Book of Carmarthen (so called because of the color of its binding and its connection with the Priory of Saint John the Evangelist and Teulyddog, Carmarthen) is thought by modern scholars to be the work of a single scribe writing at different times before and about the year 1250. This makes it one of the earliest surviving manuscripts written solely in the Welsh language. Apart from a small group of triads relating to the horses of legendary Welsh heroes, the Black Book is essentially a poetry manuscript. It ...
The Life of Meriasek
Until recently, when Beunans Ke came to light, Beunans Meriasek was the only known saint's play in Middle Cornish. St Meriasek was of Breton origin. The play presents his career, starting with his early education in Brittany and his arrival in Cornwall, recounting the various miracles he performed, then moves on to his return to Brittany, where he became Bishop of Vannes and eventually died a Christian death. Incorporated into the narrative are a number of individual tales, including incidents from the life of St. Sylvester and a miracle ...
Anthology of Rumi’s Poetry
Divan-i Mawlavī Rumi (Anthology of Rumi’s poetry) is a collection by the great Persian poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, popularly known in Persian as Mawlānā and in English as Rumi (1207–73). The collection includes poems on Sufism, supplications, and philosophy. The manuscript does not have a title page. Every poem is individual and self-contained, and the name of the poet appears at the end of most of the poems. Nothing is known of the copyist, although it is thought that this volume is 19th century.
Shirin and Khusraw
Shirin va Khusraw (Shirin and Khusraw) is a story written in the 12th century by Shaykh Nizami Ganjavi (circa 1140-1202), based on a tale found in Shahnamah (Book of kings), the epic-historical work of Persian literature composed at the end of the tenth century by the poet Firdawsi (circa 940–1020). The legend was well known before Firdawsi and further romanticized by later Persian poets. The story chosen by Nizami was commissioned by and dedicated to the Seljuk Sultan Tughrul and to the sultan’s brother, Qizil Arsalan. This copy ...
Treatise on the Rules and Meters of Poetry
Risalat-i‘Urūḍ va Qafiyah (Treatise on the rules and meters of poetry) is about rules and conventions to be followed in writing good poetry. The manuscript, copied in Kashmir, India, in 1677 (1088 AH) from a work by an unknown author, discusses different aspects of the writing of poetry and elucidates the different elements and considerations used in creating good poetry.
Book of Amusements for 1846
Book of Amusements for 1846 was the second in a series that began publication the previous year, in 1845. The anthologist, Konstantin Ognianovich (1798–1858), was a Serb who believed in education for Bulgarians and who contributed to the Bulgarian National Revival by producing poetic works and popular anthologies that encouraged reading and Bulgarian national pride. Part of the tradition of calendar publishing, the volumes in the series led the transformation of the genre from an earlier focus on light content to the production of popular anthologies with serious content ...