October 6, 2010

On Explaining the Wiqaya Book

This book by Ubaydullah ibni Masood Taj ush-Shari’a (also known as Taj ush-Shari’a the younger, died 1346 [747 AH]) was written to explain an earlier work by the author’s grandfather and mentor, Mahmoud ibni Sadr ash-Shari’a (the elder), the monumental Wiqayat ar-Riwaya min Masa’il al-Hidaya (The trusted narrative on issues of guidance), which is often shortened to al-Wiqaya (Book). Both works are about Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence) in the Hanafi school of thought. The work was transcribed by Hassan b. Mahmood in 1588 (996 AH). 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 collection of 284 manuscript volumes and 365 print volumes that reflect the development of Islamic civilization from its inception to the early 20th century. The manuscript is item 59 in Jozef Blaškovič, Arabské, turecké a perzské rukopisy Univerzitnej knižnice v Bratislave (Arab, Turkish, and Persian manuscripts in the University Library, Bratislava).

A Brief Essay on the Quadrant Known as Muqantarat

This manuscript on astronomy and surveying describes the sine quadrant and parallel circles. Its author is unknown. The work explains how to measure topographic heights, know prayer times, and determine the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, toward which Muslims pray. The date of transcription is unknown, but was possibly in the 18th century. 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 collection of 284 manuscript volumes and 365 print volumes that reflect the development of Islamic civilization from its inception to the early 20th century. The manuscript is item 303 in Jozef Blaškovič, Arabské, turecké a perzské rukopisy Univerzitnej knižnice v Bratislave (Arab, Turkish, and Persian manuscripts in the University Library, Bratislava).

The "Fatḥīyah" Essay on Using the Mughayyab Quadrant

This treatise by Badr al-Din al-Maridini (born 1423), better known as Sibt al-Maridini, includes an introduction, 20 sections, and a conclusion. The treatise discusses a range of issues in astronomy, surveying, and mathematics. It describes the sine quadrant and parallel circles, and explains how to measure the width of a river, the angle of a star, the depth of a well, or the height of a mountain. Al-Maridini, whose parents were from Damascus, was born, raised, and educated in Cairo late in the Mamluk Dynasty (1250–1517). 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 collection of 284 manuscript volumes and 365 print volumes that reflect the development of Islamic civilization from its inception to the early 20th century. The manuscript is item 295 in Jozef Blaškovič, Arabské, turecké a perzské rukopisy Univerzitnej knižnice v Bratislave (Arab, Turkish, and Persian manuscripts in the University Library, Bratislava).

An Essay on the Tilt of the Mujayyab Quadrant

This two-page manuscript by Ibrahim ibn Mustafa al-Halabi (died 1776) is about the sine quadrant and parallel circles. 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 collection of 284 manuscript volumes and 365 print volumes that reflect the development of Islamic civilization from its inception to the early 20th century. The manuscript is item 298 in Jozef Blaškovič, Arabské, turecké a perzské rukopisy Univerzitnej knižnice v Bratislave (Arab, Turkish, and Persian manuscripts in the University Library, Bratislava).

Gospel Book from the Bamberg Cathedral (Reichenau Gospel)

The gospel from the cathedral of Bamberg is one of the most important masterpieces of book painting from the Benedictine abbey on the island of Reichenau in Lake Constance in southern Germany. In the 10th and 11th centuries, this abbey was the site of what was probably Europe’s largest and most influential school of book illumination. Book production reached its artistic peak between around 970 and 1010–1020, a period known as the Ottonian Renaissance (after Otto I, Otto II, and Otto III, German kings and Holy Roman Emperors of the Saxon dynasty who ruled during this time). These richly illustrated codices were in most cases commissioned by high-ranking persons. This manuscript was made for Emperor Henry II (ruled, 1002–1024), the successor of Otto III, who presented it to the Bamberg Cathedral. The gold cover is one of the most beautiful examples of Ottonian book binding. The principal theme of medieval bindings—the Glorification of Christ—is represented by gold work of extraordinary artistry. The cross of triumph, with a large oval agate at its center, dominates the composition. The introductory picture shows Christ, as victor and source of life, in the Tree of Life, surrounded by the symbols of the evangelists. In the lunettes of the evangelists, the symbol of each evangelist is linked with one of the major events of salvation. The iconography of the manuscript, with its rich and unusual array of references, is unique in Reichenau illumination. The illuminated manuscripts from the Ottonian period were inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 2003.

Publication of Offices

The Notitia dignitatum is a state paper that documents virtually the whole of the civil and military organization of the Roman Empire as it existed after the reforms of Emperor Diocletian (ruled, 284–305). The manuscript contains chapters on the high state offices, and each chapter is preceded by pages of illustrations depicting the insignia of the officials in these offices and objects characteristic of their functions. The original of the document, probably written around 425 in Rome, is lost, as is a copy from the Carolingian period. The Carolingians, who ruled much of present-day Western Europe in the 7th and 8th centuries, were acutely conscious of being the successors to the rulers of the Western Roman Empire, which probably accounts for their interest in this document. The lost Carolingian copy is known to have been in the library of the Speyer Cathedral until the 17th century. A number of copies of this document, all done in the 15th and 16th centuries, have survived. Among the best is this copy, which was completed in 1542 for the Count Palatine Ottheinrich of Neuburg. The count did not like the Renaissance-style imitations of the insignia plates that he found in his copy and had a set of illustrations more faithful to the originals added at a later date.