November 29, 2012

Humorous Calendar for the New Year

Petko Rachov Slaveikov (1827–95) was one of the most renowned Bulgarian literary figures of the 19th century. He was a poet, publicist, translator, editor, dramatist, and folklorist. He believed fervently in the ideals of the National Revival movement and many of his works reflect his aspirations for the education of the Bulgarian people and for political and religious independence from the Ottoman Turks. Some of Slaveikov’s most popular works were his humorous calendars, which contained a variety of writing styles, including poems, amusing sketches, and horoscopes. These calendars, along with Slaveikov's newspaper Gaida (Bagpipe), were the foundations of Bulgarian humor and satirical writing.

Bulgarian Folk Songs

Bulgarian Folk Songs is the most important National Revival-era compilation of Bulgarian folk material. Gathered and edited by Dimitrii Miladinov (1810–62) and his brother Konstantin (1830–62), the work contains folk songs, riddles, games, and proverbs from both the western and eastern parts of Bulgaria. The Miladinovs were born in Struga (in present-day Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) in what was then the Ottoman Empire. With its 665 songs, Bulgarian Folk Songs had a strong influence on Bulgarian literature and culture as well as on the development of Slavic folklore studies as an academic discipline. The brothers were arrested for allegedly spreading pan-Slavist ideas in the Ottoman Empire, and both died of typhus in 1862 while imprisoned in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). Both Bulgaria and FYROM claim the Miladinovs as important national literary figures.

Bulgarian Folk Calendar for Leap Year 1868

Bulgarian Folk Calendar for Leap Year 1868 is one of a number of popular folk calendars produced by En’o Kŭrpachev (1833–1916), a publisher in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), during the National Revival era in Bulgaria. The first published Bulgarian calendar appeared in 1818. Over 100 of them were published during the National Revival era alone. The wave of popularity for Bulgarian calendars began in the 1840s and continued long past the end of the Revival period. Calendars were a popular genre of reading material in the 19th century, and included a variety of content ranging from information on holidays and special dates to anecdotes, poems, translations, and lives of the saints. This 1868 calendar has a list of dates and historical events related to Bulgaria, predictions for the new year, an Orthodox church calendar, a directory of fairs to be held that year, and current information about telegraph and postal services and shipping lines. The most interesting piece in the calendar is a poem about the now debunked legend of Ilarion of Tŭrnovo (a Greek) supposedly burning Slavic books in the library of the Patriarch of Tŭrnovo. This tale originated during the National Revival era and was used to vilify the Greek clergy.

Great Universal Geographic Map

Matteo Ricci was born in Macerata, Italy, in 1552. In 1571, he entered the Society of Jesus and began his novitiate at the College of Rome, where he studied theology and philosophy as well as mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy. In 1577, Ricci asked to be sent as a missionary to Asia. He arrived in Portuguese Goa (present-day India) in September 1578, where he was ordained in July 1580. He worked in Goa and in Cochin (present-day Kochi, India) for four years, until he was summoned to join the fledgling Jesuit mission to China. He arrived in Macao in August 1582 and spent the rest of his life in China, living in Zhaoqing, Shaozhou, Nanjing, and Beijing. He spent his last years, 1601–10, in Beijing, where he and fellow Jesuit Diego Pantoja were the first Westerners permitted to enter the Forbidden City. Ricci’s method of winning Chinese converts to Catholicism was, in part, to impress on scholars and officials the scientific and cultural achievements of Christian Europe. At his house in Zhaoqing, he displayed a large Western map of the world. Chinese visitors were astonished to see the Earth depicted as a sphere and to learn that the Chinese Empire occupied a relatively small part of the world. They asked Ricci to translate the map into Chinese, which then was engraved and printed in 1584. All copies of the 1584 map have been lost, as have all copies of a second version that Ricci made in Nanjing in 1599. The map shown here is one of six known copies of the third version of the map, which Ricci made in 1602 at the request of Li Zhizao, a Chinese friend who was himself a cartographer. The 1602 version is the oldest surviving map in Chinese to depict the Americas and to reflect the geographic knowledge acquired by the European voyages of discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries. Shown are the five continents, Europe, Libya (Africa), Asia, America, and the rumored southern continent of Magellanica, and the four oceans, the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic. Ricci filled the map with ingenious annotations in Chinese that reflect the state of Western information (and misinformation) about various countries at the time. He described the Nile as “the longest river in the world. It flows into the sea through seven months. In this country there are no clouds or rain all the year round, hence the inhabitants are skilled in astronomy.” Of Canada he wrote: “The inhabitants are kindly and hospitable to strangers. In general, they make their clothes out of skins, and are fishermen by occupation.” In addition to its notes about particular places, the map contains geographic and astronomical information of great accuracy and sophistication, including a discourse on the size and shape of the Earth, an explanation of the varying lengths of days and nights, a table showing the distances of the planets from the Earth, and inset maps from polar perspectives (both north and south) included to show that the Earth is round.


This text is an Arabic translation of a Christian work originally written in Greek in the 11th century, known as the Pandect (or Pandektes) of Nikon of the Black Mountain. The Greek title of the book means The Universal (Book). The Arabic title, Al-Ḥāwī, has almost the same meaning: The Comprehensive Book. The text is divided into 63 sections and offers an exposition of Christian doctrine and life based on excerpts from the Bible, the church fathers, and church canons. The work was popular among Arabic-speaking Christians, as evidenced by the fact that it also exists in a number of other Arabic manuscripts.

Five Doctrinal Works

This 17th-century manuscript is a collection of five doctrinal works translated into Arabic from Greek. Three of the works are by John of Damascus (died circa 750): On the Orthodox Faith, Dialectics, and Against the Heretics. John of Damascus was often read in both Greek and Arabic (he himself was bilingual, although he wrote only in Greek). The other two texts are by the monk, Paul of Antioch, Bishop of Sidon in the 13th century. They are a letter entitled That the Creator is One and that Christians are not Polytheists (Mushrikīn), and An Outline of the Christian Faith, both of which were addressed to a Muslim reader.