July 23, 2012

The Greater "Life of Animals"

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. Shown here is the greater version. 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.

Brussels, Important City in the Netherlands, Capital of the Duchy of Brabant

This late-18th century French map shows Brussels, at that time an important city in the Spanish Netherlands and the capital of the Duchy of Brabant. The map shows the borders of the city and the Senne River. The location of the city on the river made it an important commercial center for trade between France and the Germanic states. In 1695, Brussels was attacked by the army of Louis XIV, and suffered heavy damage. It remained under siege off and on until it was captured by the French in 1746. Brussels became the capital of Belgium when it became an independent country in 1830, and in 1958 was made the seat of the European Economic Community, the precursor to today’s European Union.

Nursery Tales, Traditions, and Histories of the Zulus in their Own Words: With a Translation into English, and Notes by the Rev. Canon Callaway. Volume 1

Nursery Tales, Traditions, and Histories of the Zulus in Their Own Words is a compilation of Zulu literature gathered by the Reverend Henry Callaway (1817–90) in the Natal region of South Africa in the late 1850s and 1860s. Callaway left the United Kingdom in 1856 to become a Church of England missionary. In 1858 he settled near the Umkomanzi River in Natal and began to study the Zulu language, religious beliefs, and oral traditions. As Callaway mastered the language, he wrote down tales dictated to him by native storytellers. The English translations of the stories appear in parallel sections next to the original Zulu text. Callaway was intensely committed to recording as accurately as possible the particularities of the Zulu language and literature, as they had been before any exposure to European influences, but he was also impressed by the “unexpected relationships” between Zulu tales and corresponding legends among other peoples. These relationships, he wrote in the preface to the work, “will more and more force upon us the great truth, that man has every where thought alike, because every where, in every country and clime, under every tint of skin, under every varying social and intellectual condition, he is still man…, one in his mental qualities, tendencies, emotions, passions.”

Dutch Writers from South Africa: A Cultural-Historical Study, Part I

Hollandse skrywers uit Suid-Afrika : 'n kultuur-historiese studie. Deel I (Dutch writers from South Africa: a cultural-historical study, Part I) is a compilation of works by authors of Dutch origin living in South Africa between 1652 and 1875. The book, published in 1934, traces the development of the Afrikaans language, beginning with the transplantation of Dutch culture to South Africa. Topics covered include the influence of other European countries, especially France, on the development of Afrikaans, and the output of important diarists, novelists, and journalists. Among the authors whose works are included are Jan van Riebeeck, Pieter de Neyn, Jacob Wikar, H.D. Campagne, M.C. Vos, and Louis Trichardt. The volume includes a comprehensive introduction by the editor, literary scholar Elizabeth Johanna Möller Conradie (1903–39). The continuation of this work, Hollandse skrywers uit Suid-Afrika: 'n kultuur-historiese studie. Deel II (Dutch writers from South Africa: a cultural-historical study, Part II), covering the period 1875–1905, was published in 1949.

Sketches Representing the Native Tribes, Animals, and Scenery of Southern Africa: From Drawings Made by the Late Mr. Samuel Daniell

Samuel Daniell (1775–1811) was an English painter and draughtsman who arrived in South Africa in December 1799. He was appointed secretary and artist for the expedition of 1801–2 from the Cape of Good Hope to Bechuanaland led by P.J. Truter and William Somerville. On his return to England, Daniell published, with the assistance of his uncle, the painter Thomas Daniell, and his brother, the painter and engraver William Daniell, African Scenery and Animals (1804–5). He later moved to Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), where he made sketches of scenery and people and eventually died of tropical fever. Following his brother’s death, William published Sketches Representing the Native Tribes, Animals, and Scenery of Southern Africa, a collection of 48 engravings based on drawings Samuel had made in Africa. The texts accompanying each illustration are by Somerville and Sir John Barrow, a British geographer and explorer who also participated in early British expeditions in southern Africa. Samuel Daniell sketched animals from life in their natural habitats, and his work was praised for its accuracy and attention to detail. The book also includes sketches of people encountered on the expedition and several vivid landscapes.

The Gentleman Digger: Being Studies and Pictures of Life in Johannesburg

The Gentleman Digger is a fictional work set in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1889. Following the discovery of gold in the 1880s, Johannesburg became a boomtown that attracted miners and prospectors from all over the world. The book depicts the rapid growth of the city and the squalor, glitter, drunkenness, and crime that characterized the early mining camps. The book’s author, the Comtesse de Brémont (1864–1922), was born Anna Dunphy to Irish parents in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the age of 17, she married the Comte de Brémont, a French medical doctor. Widowed in 1882, she began a career as a journalist and writer. She worked in Kimberley and Johannesburg in the 1880s and in the 1890s divided her time between London and South Africa. Her other books include a volume of sonnets and poems, a memoir of English poet Oscar Wilde and his mother, Lady Wilde, and two other books about Africa: The Ragged Edge: Tales of the African Gold Fields (1895) and A Son of Africa: A Romance (1899).