April 5, 2011

On the Art of al-Aroodh

This manuscript book from 1554 is in two sections. The first section is a grammatical work by an unknown author that compares the conjugation of verbs in Arabic and in Farsi, indicating changes in the forms each time a different tense is used, and that also contains a list of the singular and plural forms of many Arabic nouns. The second section of the book is a brief article, in Ottoman Turkish, by an unknown author, on the metrics of Arabic poetry. 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 464 in Jozef Blaškovič, Arabské, turecké a perzské rukopisy Univerzitnej knižnice v Bratislave (Arab, Turkish, and Persian manuscripts in the University Library, Bratislava).

Journal of New Netherland 1647. Written in the Years 1641, 1642, 1643, 1644, 1645, and 1646

Willem Kieft (1597–1647) was a Dutch merchant who was appointed by the West India Company as director-general of New Netherland in 1638. Kieft instituted a harsh policy toward the Indians of the colony, whom he attempted to tax and drive from their land. In 1643, a contingent of soldiers under Kieft attacked a Raritan village on Staten Island in a dispute over pigs allegedly stolen from a Dutch farm. This led to the bloody, two-year conflict known as Kieft’s war, which raged in parts of what is now the New York metropolitan area (Jersey City, New Jersey, and Lower Manhattan) from 1643 to 1645, pitting the Dutch against a confederation of Algonquin tribes. The West India Company removed Kieft from his post in 1647 and replaced him with Peter Stuyvesant, the last director-general of New Netherland before the colony was taken over by the English in 1664. This handwritten journal by an unknown Dutch colonist, from the manuscript collections of the National Library of the Netherlands, is an important source for the study of Kieft’s governorship, the war, and New Netherland in the 1640s.

After Great Hurricane of 1896

This image shows the devastation caused by the Great Hurricane of 1896 that struck the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida. With its 2,200-kilometer coastline, Florida is the U.S. state most vulnerable to these storms. More than 450 recorded tropical storms and hurricanes have reached its shores since European exploration began. The hurricane of September 1896 destroyed most of the residential area of the town of Cedar Key on the upper west coast of the Florida peninsula, killing dozens of residents and destroying most of Cedar Key’s industries. Before making landfall, the storm and its tidal surge overwhelmed more than 100 sponging boats, killing untold numbers of crewmen. The hurricane then crossed the peninsula, leaving a wide swath of destruction until it reached the Atlantic coast at Fernandina, before heading north to Virginia. This image shows survivors, both white and black, in Fernandina, standing atop mounds of rubble, still seemingly shocked by the destruction. Other famous storms in Florida history include the Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston described the devastating flood waters of the 1928 hurricane, which killed more than 2,000 people, mostly migrant farm workers. The 1935 hurricane took the lives of more than 350 World War I veterans working on construction projects in the Florida Keys.

Lotus Sutra

This printed edition of this work from the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) is the sole copy in existence. It was originally in the collection of Fu Zengxiang, and was acquired by the Library of Congress in 1941.

Kangxi Dictionary

This book was compiled by Zhang Yushu, Chen Tingjing, and other famous philologists and linguists from all over China in response to an edict from Emperor Shengzu in the 49th year of the Kangxi era. The work was completed in the 55th year of the Kangxi era. Through diplomats, missionaries, and the 1904 Saint Louis World Exposition, the Library of Congress acquired editions of the Kangxi Dictionary published in 1716, 1780, 1827, and 1878.

The muscles of the left leg, seen from the front, and the bones and muscles of the right leg seen in right profile, and between them, a patella. Drawing by Michelangelo Buonarroti, ca. 1515-1520.

These drawings of the human leg are by the artist Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), whose studies of anatomy are recorded by his earliest biographers, Vasari (1550) and Condivi (1553). Michelangelo reportedly first dissected a cadaver in Florence around 1495, after he had been commissioned to sculpt a crucifix of wood for the church of Santo Spirito. The prior of the church gave him rooms in which he could, by dissection, learn how to render convincingly the muscles of the dying Christ. His last witnessed dissection occurred in Rome in 1548. Such studies were particularly apt for his typical subject matter, the muscular male nude in contorted action. The drawing on the left is a front or anterior view of the left thigh and leg, in which each of the major muscles is carefully drawn in outline and then hatched diagonally to emphasize their shapes. The swelling and tapering shape of the muscles is clearly delineated by the draftsman, as is the compact way in which the muscles interweave with each other. The drawing on the right is a side view of the same structure after the muscles have been cut away from the front of the limb. This work was presented to the Wellcome Library in 1980, in memory of Dr. Robert Heller and Mrs. Anne Heller.