July 20, 2012

A Chart of Part of the Sea Coast of New South Wales on the East Coast of New Holland from Cape Palmerston to Cape Flattery

This map is one of four manuscript charts from the first great voyage of exploration by Captain James Cook, which in April 1770 made the first clear delineation of the east coast of Australia. Sponsored by the Royal Society and the Royal Navy, the expedition had several objectives. Cook was to observe and describe the transit of Venus, chart the coastlines of places he visited in the South Pacific, and record details of the peoples, flora, and fauna he saw. The expedition sponsors also hoped Cook would find and claim for Britain the land then known as terra incognita australis. Cook did not sail close to shore, except in a few places, so the amount of detail shown in the map varied with his ship’s distance from the coast.

The Volcano Smeroe (View from the Passaroeng Residence)

This colored lithograph shows Smeroe (Semeru), the largest volcano on the island of Java. Also known as Mahameru, or the Great Mountain, the volcano erupted at least once a year during the 19th century, and since 1967 has been in a state of near-constant activity. This view from the town of Pasuruan shows a plume of smoke coming from the top of mountain. The Dutch painter Abraham Salm (1801-76) spent 29 years in Indonesia, where he produced many dramatic landscape paintings. This lithograph is one of 15 views of Java, based on Salm’s work, made by the Dutch engraver J.C. Grieve and published in Amsterdam in 1872. The work is from the collections of the KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies in Leiden.

Subscribe to the War Loan! The Army and Navy Expect it from You!

In World War I, all sides used posters as tools to mobilize their populations for the war effort. This 1917 poster, created by the influential German designer and graphic artist Lucian Bernhard, appeals to German citizens to help finance the war with their savings. Bernhard was born in 1883, and his original name was Emil Kahn. After studying at the Munich Art Academy, he moved to Berlin where he worked as a commercial artist. He was best known for his innovative advertising posters for German companies. Bernhard emphasized simplicity as the most important quality of an effective poster. In 1923, he immigrated to New York, where he died in 1972. In his long and varied career, he also designed furniture, wallpaper, and other household products, as well as new scripts for typefaces. After 1930, he devoted himself to painting and sculpture.

Burma Under British Rule

Joseph Dautremer was a French scholar specializing in Asian languages who served for a time as the French consul in Rangoon, the capital of British Burma. Burma Under British Rule is a detailed study of Burma, with chapters devoted to the history, people, physical geography, economy, and international trade of the country. A brief concluding chapter deals with the Andaman Islands, where the British maintained a penal colony. Originally published in Paris in 1912, Dautremer’s book was translated from the French into English by Sir (James) George Scott (1851–1935), a British administrator in Burma and the author of important books on Burma and Vietnam. In his introduction to Dautremer’s study, Scott wrote that “[his] book is much more like a consular report of the ideal kind than a mere description of the country.” One of Dautremer’s major objectives in writing the book was to draw lessons from British experience that the French could use in governing their nearby colonies in Indochina.

July 23, 2012

Life of Animals

This manuscript is a copy of the long version of al-Damīrī’s Hayāt al-hayawān (Life of animals), an encyclopedic work that was widely disseminated in the Islamic world in three versions or recensions—long, intermediate, and short. Muhammad ibn Musā ibn Isā Kamāl al-Din Ibn Ilyās ibn Abd-Allāh al-Damīrī (circa 1342–1405) was an Egyptian tailor who became an author and scholar. Building upon earlier work on animals by Jāhith (780–868), al-Damiri combined the Arabic and Persian literary tradition of animal tales with the legacy of Greece and Rome to offer a comprehensive, taxonomic presentation of the animal lore of his time. Arranged alphabetically by the names of the animals, the work contains more than 1,000 articles and quotes from 807 authors. Included is information on the etymology of animal names, the physical characteristics and habits of animals, and Islamic traditions and proverbs about various animals. Al-Damiri’s work exists in multiple editions in Arabic, as well as in Persian and Ottoman Turkish translations. It also was translated into Latin, and its contents were partially incorporated into the Hierozoïcon sive bipartitum Opus de Animalibus Sacrae Scripturae (Work on the animals of the sacred scriptures), published in London in 1663. The present manuscript was completed in 1459 (AH 863), only a half century after the death of al-Damiri. The manuscript is in two parts. In the last folio of the second part a legal question about divorce is posed and answered according to the Shāfiī school of law.

The Greater "Life of Animals", Volume 2

Kamal ud-Din Al-Damiri (circa 1341–1405 AD, 742–808 AH) was a tailor-turned-scholar. He was born in Cairo and spent most of his life in Egypt. Hayat al-Hayawan (Life of animals) is his best-known work. It is found in two versions, referred to as the greater and the lesser. It includes more than 1050 entries on animals, arranged according to the Arabic alphabet. Some of the entries are long, others are shorter or duplicates. The longest entry, for example, is for the lion, and runs to 11 pages. Other entries are only a few words. Duplication occurs when animals have synonymous names, or when the female or the young of a particular species are named differently. Mammals and birds figure most prominently in the work. The book was one of the works that Ottoman Sultan Selim I ordered printed when he occupied Egypt in 1517 AD.