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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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Memoirs of Babur
This book is a lithograph edition of the Persian translation of Bāburnāmah (Memoirs of Babur), the autobiography of Ẓahīr al-Dīn Muḥammad Bāburshāh (1483–1530), the first Mughal emperor of India. Bāburnāmah originally was written in Chagatai Turkish and was translated into Persian during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The translation was undertaken by Bairam Khan (died 1561), an Afghan bureaucrat and military commander who served under Emperor Humayun and who was briefly appointed regent over his successor, Emperor Akbar, when Akbar was a child. This book was printed ...
The War of Kabul and Kandahar
Muḥārabah-ʼi Kābul va Qandahar (The war of Kabul and Kandahar) is an account of the First Afghan War (1839–42) by Munshi ʻAbd al-Karīm, an associate of Shāh Shujāʻ, the emir of Afghanistan. Mawlawī Muḥammad ʻAbd al-Karīm was an Indo-Persian historian from Lucknow, India, who was active in the mid-19th century. He was a prolific munshi (writer, secretary, and language teacher) and translator. He rendered into Persian from Arabic such works as Tārīkh al-Khulafā (History of the Caliphs), by al-Sūyūtī (1445–1505) and a history of Egypt by Ibn Iyās ...
Book of Effects of Drugs
This work is a lithographic print of a manuscript containing a treatise on pharmacology. It was produced in Kabul, in the Royal Printing House, by Ṣāliḥ ibn Ṣāliḥ Muḥammad and Sardār Gul Muḥammad Khān. Ṣāliḥ ibn Ṣāliḥ Muḥammad was an officer and commander from the Muhammadzai clan in the Pashtun tribal confederacy that ruled Afghanistan in the Barakzai period (1826–1973) after the fall of the Durrani Dynasty in 1842. Sardār Gul Muḥammad Khān served as the chief editor of the printing press in Kabul, where his activities included publishing ...
Worthy Advice in the Affairs of the World and Religion: The Autobiography of Emir Abdur Rahman Khan
This work is an autobiography of 'Abd al-Raḥmān Khān, emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901. It is styled, however, as a manual of advice and a mirror for princes. It is divided into 16 chapters, which are arranged according to the topics on which the author provides advice and worthy examples, in this case drawn from his own conduct. Subdivision by topic of this kind mimics the pattern of books in the advice genre. The colophon dates the work to the month of Muharram of 1303 AH (October–November ...
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 ...
Copy of Hoondee in Payment of Moorcroft’s Ransom
This photograph of a hondee, or hundi, is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. A hundi is a Hindi word for a negotiable financial instrument, such as a bill of exchange or promissory note, by which the signer authorized the recipient to pay a specified sum of money to a third party. This document, in English and Persian, was a ransom payment for 11,000 rupees, signed by the English explorer William Moorcroft (1767–1825) on December 20, 1824 ...
Literary Essay by Jāmī
This lithographic print is a literary essay by Nūr al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī (1414–92), a great Persian poet, scholar, and mystic, who lived most of his life in Herat (present-day Afghanistan). The work is exceptional for being written in prose at a time when most fine Persian writing was in poetic form. Extensive commentary and critical notes are printed in the margins. There are also some handwritten notes in the margins, but most of these were lost when the work was rebound. Lithographic printing was invented in Europe in ...
The Anguish of Nations
This work is a history of Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan), written by Said Mir Mohammed Alim Khan (1880–1944), the last emir of Bukhara. Between 1785 and 1920 Bukhara was ruled by eight emirs of the Manghit dynasty. After the Russian conquest of Samarkand in 1868, the emirate of Bukhara became a Russian protectorate. Alim Khan assumed power in 1910, following the death of his father, Abdulahad Khan. Alim Khan was overthrown by the Red Army in September 1920, went into exile, and eventually settled in Kabul, Afghanistan. The title ...
The History of the World-conquering Nāder
Tārīkh-i jahānkushā-yi Nādirī (The history of the world-conquering Nāder) is a historical study of Iran and Afghanistan during the reign of Nāder Shah (1736−47), written by a contemporary. Nāder was born in 1688 into a humble pastoral family. He established his reputation as a skilled military commander in fighting with Afghan forces that had invaded Iran in 1719 and that for a time occupied Isfahan. He assumed the throne as ruler of Iran in March 1736. His reign was marked by wars with the Afghans, Mughals, Dagestanis, and Ottomans ...
General Map of the Turkish War Theater
This map, published in Berlin in July 1916, shows the Turkish theater of World War I. It is based on an 1884 map in French of the Asian provinces of the Ottoman Empire by German geographer and cartographer Heinrich Kiepert (1818–99). The map contains additional notes in German and its coverage of existing and projected railroads is updated to 1916. The Ottoman territories, shown in pink, include present-day Turkey, Cyprus, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, as well as Saudi Arabia. The Ottoman Empire, or Turkey as it was ...
Two of the Master Jāmī’s Works on Prosody; Anonymous Treatise on Astronomy
This Persian manuscript dated 1025 AH (1616) contains two works on prosody by Nūr al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī (1414–92), as well as an incomplete, anonymous work on astronomy. Jāmī was a great poet, scholar, and mystic who lived most of his life in Herat, present-day Afghanistan. The 69 leaves of the manuscript are on a variety of papers: thin, pink-colored laid paper (folios 1a−31b); cream-colored laid paper (folios 32a−35b); pink-colored laid paper (folios 36a−37b); cream-color laid paper (folios 38a−40b); light-green-colored laid paper (folios 41a−45b ...
Selections from the Shāhnāmeh of the Learned Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsi, May he be Blessed and May his Sins be Pardoned
This manuscript from the early 17th century contains selections from the Shāhnāmeh (Book of kings), the epic-historical work of Persian literature composed at the end of the tenth century by the poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). This beloved epic of pre-Islamic Persia (present-day Iran) was widely read in Persia, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. The manuscript contains three half-page paintings showing different battles. The text is preceded by an introduction and table of contents (folios 1b−6b) and is written in black ink in a nastaʻliq script. The pages are ...
An Enclosed Garden of the Climes
Hadíkatu-l Akálím (An enclosed garden of the climes) is a compilation of geographic and historical information by Murtaz̤á Ḥusayn Bilgrāmī (circa 1729−95), also known as Sheikh Allahyar Usmani. Bilgrāmī was employed as munshi (secretary) to Captain Jonathan Scott, Persian secretary to Warren Hastings (1732−1818), the first British governor-general of India. Scott commissioned Bilgrāmī to write the book, which is mainly a work of geography but which also includes information on history, biography, and literature. It emphasizes Afghanistan, India, and Iran, but Europe and other parts of the ...
The Book Known as “The Sulṭānī History”
Tārīkh-i Sulṭānī (The Sulṭānī history) is a historical study of the Afghan people and the rulers of Afghanistan from the beginnings of Islam to the mid-19th century. The work was published as a lithographic print in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) in 1881. This copy has been rebound, with “Ṣaḥāfī Sulṭān Muḥammad, Kabul" gold-stamped on the back cover. The title page and pages 3−4 are damaged and repaired with no loss of text. The last page (page 291) has been repaired and missing text added in ink in a later hand ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...