November 3, 2011

Civil Alphabet with Moral Teachings

Civil Alphabet with Moral Teachings, published in 1710, is the first official Russian civil alphabet. Also known as the “ABC book of Peter the Great,” it was aimed at simplifying the Russian alphabet and was produced after many years of experiments conducted by Dutch and Russian experts under the guidance and with the direct participation of Tsar Peter the Great (reigned, 1682–1725). This copy of the alphabet is of particular interest, as it contains corrections to the composition and form of the letters, handwritten by the tsar. The back of the binding has instructions from Peter, in which he decrees that certain crossed-out letters and symbols are not to be used in printing civil books in the future. The alphabet includes Slavic printed and handwritten letters, moral teachings from the Holy Scriptures, and tables of correspondence relating ecclesiastical and arithmetical numbers to the ecclesiastical, Arabic, and Roman numbering systems. The document is part of the collection of the Moscow Synod Press and is held in the Russian State Historical Archive, St. Petersburg.

A Historical, Geographical, and Statistical Description of the Russian Empire. Volume 1, Book 3. Olonetsk Province

This work by the historian and statistician Ivan Ilych Pushkarev (1808–48) is a historical and statistical description of the Russian province of Olonetsk, containing information about its geography, people, economic development, and government institutions. It was conceived as a fundamental work based on the materials of the ministries and statistical committees of the provinces. Pushkarev planned to publish 18 volumes with the descriptions of 76 provinces, regions, and districts, and a concluding historical and statistical description of the Russian Empire as a whole. However, he had time to prepare only four parts of the first volume, which focused on the Russian North. The first two parts were produced in collaboration with other authors, but Pushkarev alone wrote the third and fourth parts, which describe Olonetsk and Vologda in the northwest. This book includes a description and map of the province, coats of arms, and layouts of towns and drawings of Petrozavodsk, the Alexandro-Oshevensky Monastery, the Kivach waterfall, the Vytegra and Mariinsky Canal, and the village of Solomenny. Also included are tables indicating distances between cities, statistical data, and texts of old records. This copy is in the Yeltsin Presidential Library, in St. Petersburg.

Amplification of the Poem, the Burdah, Or the Expansion of the Bright Stars in the Praise of the Finest of Mankind, the Prophet Muhammad

This manuscript is a copy of the poem in honor of the Prophet Muhammad, which is popularly known as Qaṣīdat al-burdah (The poem of the mantle). It was written by Sharaf al-Dīn Muḥammad al-Būṣīrī (died 694 AH [1294 AD]). The poem has a takhmīs (amplification, or expansion of the poem) by Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad al-Fayyūmī. The amplification and the text of the Qaṣīdat al-burdah were written in Naskh and Thuluth scripts respectively by Riḍwān ibn Muḥammad al-Tabīzī in 767 AH (1366 AD), probably for the Mawlawī (Mevlevi) Library in Konya, Turkey. The manuscript is written in a single column of 12 lines, with catchwords outside of the text frame added by a later hand. The illuminated title page includes a patronage statement. The manuscript is from the Walters Art Museum and is designated Walters W. 581.

Along the Russian Arctic Regions: Adolf Nordenskiöld's Voyage around Europe and Asia in 1878–80

This illustrated book by Eduard Andreevich Granstrem (1843–1918), a Russian writer of popular histories for young people, recounts the first successful navigation of the Northeast Passage, accomplished by the Finnish-born geographer and Arctic explorer Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1832–1901) on the steamship Vega in 1878–79. A possible northern passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans had been discussed since the early 16th century, but Nordenskiöld was the first navigator to travel the entire water route along the northern coast of Europe and Asia. Accompanied by three other ships, the Vega left Karlskrona, Sweden, on June 22, 1878 with a crew of 21 men, plus a complement of officers and scientists. After sailing along the northern coast of Siberia, Nordenskiöld and his crew spent the winter frozen in the ice near the Bering Strait. They continued on to Japan in the summer of 1879, reaching Yokohama on September 2. Nordenskiöld returned to Sweden via the Suez Canal, reaching Stockholm on April 24, 1880, thereby circumnavigating the continents of both Asia and Europe. Granstrem’s book also describes Russian and foreign expeditions in the Arctic Ocean prior to the late 19th century. This copy is in the Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg.

A Historical, Geographical, and Statistical Description of the Russian Empire. Volume 1, Book 4. Vologda Province

This work by the historian and statistician Ivan Ilych Pushkarev (1808–48) is a historical and statistical description of the Russian province of Vologda, containing information about its geography, people, economic development, and government institutions. It was conceived as a fundamental work based on the materials of the ministries and statistical committees of the provinces. Pushkarev planned to publish 18 volumes with the descriptions of 76 provinces, regions, and districts, and a concluding historical and statistical description of the Russian Empire as a whole. However, he had time to prepare only four parts of the first volume, which focused on the Russian North. The first two parts were produced in collaboration with other authors, but Pushkarev alone wrote the third and fourth parts, which describe Olonetsk and Vologda in the northwest. This book includes a description and map of the province, coats of arms, and layouts of towns and drawings of Vologda, Saint Cornelius Monastery, the square in the town of Gryazovets, the Spaso Prilutsky Monastery, and the ancient cathedral and former house of the Stroganovs in Sol’vychegodsk. Also included are tables indicating distances between cities, statistical data, and texts of old records. This copy is in the Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg.

Bosnian Book of the Science of Conduct

Bosnian Book of the Science of Conduct is a work that lists 54 religious duties that each believer must know about, believe in, and fulfill, followed by advice on what a religious person should and should not do. Published in 1831, the handbook is by the Bosnian author and poet 'Abdulwahāb b.' Abdulwahāb Žepčewī, also known as Ilhami or Ilhamija. Born in Žepče in 1773 (AH 1187), Ilhami was executed in Travnik in 1821 by order of Dželaludin-paša, the Ottoman pasha of Bosnia in 1820–21. In his poetry, Ilhami had openly criticized Dželaludin-paša’s harsh rule over the Bosnian population. The book is printed in Arebica (also referred to as Arabica), the variant of the Perso-Arabic script used to write the Bosnian language, mainly between the 15th and 19th centuries, after the inclusion of Bosnia in the Ottoman Empire and its adoption of Islamic civilization and culture.