New exhibit: The Persianate Literary Heritage

The Persianate Literary Heritage: Hidden Treasures from McGill’s Collections celebrates McGill University’s rich collection of manuscripts, miniatures and lithographs in Persian (Farsi). From the Middle Ages onward, the use of New Persian, or Persian written in Arabic script, became widespread in the central and eastern lands of Islam, not only in Iran and Central Asia, but also in Anatolia and India. And, while Persian epic and mystical poetry remain particularly revered constituents of the Persianate literary heritage, Persian was also the language of choice for countless bureaucrats, historians, philosophers,  theologians and scientists throughout the centuries.

Laquer Case image

The Persian Literary Heritage exhibit highlights some of the most beautiful and unique pieces of literature, art, thought and history in McGill’s Persian collections. Indeed, the collection as a whole consists of 334 volumes and 81 fragments of primarily orphaned leaves. Many of these are illustrated and illuminated, testifying to the diversity,
elegance and scope of Persianate artistry. The collection ranges from the mid-14th century to the early 20th century, and geographically from Iran to Turan (Central Asia) to India. In addition, there is a representative collection of lacquer bookbindings and qalamadans (pen boxes). McGill’s Persian collection has a history that pre-dates the founding of the Institute of Islamic Studies (IIS) and the Islamic studies Library (ISL) in 1952. By the 1930s, the collection already included several hundred manuscripts, orphaned leaves and lithographs. The acquisition of Persian materials was the work of the University Librarian, Gerhard R. Lomer, and the private Montreal collector F. Cleveland Morgan who actively patronized the New York dealer Hassan Khan Monif. Furthermore, the distinguished Russian scholar of Ismailism, Wladimir Ivanow, was instrumental in developing the Blacker-Wood Persian Collection. Working for Casey A. Wood, the ophthalmologist, bibliophile and McGill Library benefactor, Ivanow brought together an exquisite collection of manuscripts on all aspects of Islam, including the natural and supernatural worlds; several of these manuscripts are included in this exhibition.

Curators: Sean Swanick (Islamic Studies Liaison Librarian) and Heather Empey (McGill School of Information Studies, graduate, MLIS’14)

Free Access through August to the Universal Database of Russian Islamic Studies

Eastview has just provided the community with access to the database.

Some of the contents include:

“Over one million people identify themselves as Muslim in the Russian Federation, making Islam the second largest religion in Russia behind Russian Orthodoxy. With archives dating back to 2004, this unique collection delivers access to this influential community’s most important publications on:

  • Islamic organizations in Russia and abroad
  • Political and economic developments in the Muslim regions of Russia
  • Current state of Islamic education in Russia, and more…”

Take a look at the database yourself. Click here to login. At the prompts, enter:

 Username: ISLtrial

Password: ISLtrial

This free trial is valid until August 31, 2014.

Let us know your experience!

South Asian newspapers

Another new addition to McGill’s electronic resources is the South Asian newspapers database. Created by the Center for Research Libraries and Readex, it ” features titles published in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Languages include English, Bengali, Gujarati, and others. Titles include such key publications as: Amrita Bazar Patrika (Calcutta), Bankura Darpana (Bankura, India), Madras Mail (Madras), Tribune (Lahore, Pakistan) and the Ceylon Observer (Sri Lanka). A complete list of titles is available on Readex’s site.”

For further information, read here.

South Asian newspapers.

 

New resource: Mideastwire

The ISL has recently acquired a new online resource, Mideastwire.com. Established in 2005 and based in Beirut, the database covers the 22 Arab countries’ newspapers (around 50 publications) by providing translations of important and noteworthy articles. The archives only go back to 2005 but it is a highly valuable addition for students and researchers of current and contemporary events.

For further information and comparison with some other news resources on the Middle East have a read through Brian Whitaker’s 2005 article in The Guardian.

Mideastwire.com (need McGill log-in.)

Islamic and Middle East Studies Subject Guide (in the newspaper section).

Al-Monitor: the pulse of the Middle East

Launched in February 2012, Al-Monitor features reporting from and analysis on Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey by prominent journalists and experts from the Middle East. Al-Monitor uncovers trends while covering the news. To do so, it established partnerships with two dozen regional media, including al-Ayyam, al-Hayat, al-Masri al-youm, al-Nahar, Maariv, Milliyet, etc…

If you subscribe you will receive a daily brief summarizing events in the Middle East directly in your inbox. Check it out!

Al-Monitor- The Pulse of the Middle East(1)

16 Arabic Lithographs digitized

The Islamic Studies Library is currently displaying an exhibition featuring a fascinating selection of Arabic lithographed books from McGill Islamic Rare Books Collection. This Collection includes many examples of lithographed books in Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Urdu, dated from the eighteenth century until the mid-twentieth century. The Arabic lithographed books exhibition includes sixteen items encompassing the different periods, calligraphic styles, graphic designs, and publishing houses from the Muslim world and Europe.

The physical exhibition is freely accessible in the Islamic Studies Library during opening hours from April 1st to September 30th 2014. In addition, all 16 items have been digitized, and are now accessible online. Let us know what you think!