Islamic Paleography and Codicology workshop: a Summary

From Monday September 11th to Friday September 14th, the Islamic Studies Library had the pleasure to host an Islamic Paleography and Codicology workshop co-organized with the Institute of Islamic Studies, and the McGill Islamic Studies Students Council.

Participants had the opportunity to listen to inspiring and enlightening lectures, some of which involved the display and manipulation of manuscripts and rare books from the McGill Library and Archives collections.

Day 1 of “Islamic Paleography and Codicology Workshop”: An Introduction to the Arts of Bookmaking

Guests lectures were delivered by internationally renowned scholars in the field: Professor François Déroche from Collège de France (Paris, France) and András Riedlmayer from the Aga Khan Program Fine Arts Library at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). Professor Déroche’s presentation focused on a research he has been conducting on three mammoth Qur’ans from the Ommeyad and Abbasid periods. Andras Riedlmayer’s lecture focused on the arts of illuminating and illustrating manuscripts in the Islamic World, and concluded with a fascinating section on the fake illuminated manuscripts market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other lectures covered various aspects of the production of manuscripts (such as writing supports, scripts, illuminations and illustrations, covers and bindings), as well as some challenges that arise when working with manuscripts (such as identification, location, attribution, etc.). And all sessions of the workshop were very well attended by members of both the McGill community and the wider community.

Day 3 of “Islamic Paleography and Codicology Workshop”: The Persian Manuscripts Tradition

Special thanks go to the Institute of Islamic Studies, the Post-Graduate Students’ Society, McGill Libraries and Archives  and the Dean of Arts Development Fund for supporting this event.

Muslim Heritage: Discover the golden age of Muslim civilization

Muslim Heritage is a web portal launched by the “Foundation for Science and Technology and civilisation” (FSTC) in 2002. This is one of its major projects in the study of Muslim heritage with the purpose of advancing human civilization. It is an online education community of Muslims and non-Muslims, which aims to raise awareness on the relevance and importance of Muslim heritage. The portal contains thousands of peer reviewed articles, numerous reports and essays, as well as news on Muslim heritage related topics and events.

The portal is well organized and materials are classified based on main subjects (i.e. Science, environment, culture and people, etc.) and then sub-classified (i.e. Astronomy, chemistry, Medicine, Architecture, Art, Agriculture, Geography, etc.). Moreover the searching features helps to retrieve information in different formats faster and easier.

The idea for the founding of the FSTC was initiated by a professor of Mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester, with the hope to establish an organization to research inventions and the cultural roots of early discoveries that originated in non-western world and which still affect our world. This organization is a non-political, non-sectarian and non-religious in approach and its mission is stated as:

  • To foster an accurate understanding of the thousand years of exceptional advances in science, technology, medicine and the arts made by men and women within the Muslim World from the 7th century onwards.
  • To generate social cohesion, cultural awareness and respect through the exploration of Muslim and World heritage and how it is woven into our global society and civilization so that we all share and benefit from this heritage.
  • To promote science and learning as an alternative to negative or extremist behavior.

This academic channel aims to discover and shed light on Muslim civilizations and heritage and therefore is designed to study most Muslim countries and cultures. The diversity in their approach is reflected by the various gathered resources all made accessible through this portal. For example, the Architecture and Art section covers geographical locations from China to Syria, Turkey and Iran.

  

Muslim Heritage can be find on social media via : Twitter Facebook Email

Qatar Digital Library

Qatar Digital Library (QDL) is a growing repository for over 500,000 historical and cultural records of the Gulf and wider region. The Archives is available online and includes wide range of materials: maps, manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs and much more, complete with contextualized explanatory notes and links, in both English and Arabic.

The QDL was made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding on Partnerships between Qatar Foundation, Qatar National Library and The British National Library. The aim of this partnership is to make a world-class resource freely available for everyone, for general audience and academic researchers.

The site was launched on 27 October 2014. According to Cogapp, an industry-leaders in producing software for online archives and museums who designed and developed the software; the interface is user friendly and it is accessible across multiple devices, including mobiles, tablets and desktops. Everything is shareable on social media. All items can be zoomed to explore incredible details. It also allows the user to conduct a highly filterable search; 150 facet options are available to refine the search. The site and content meet archival standards and accessibility criteria.

The repository also include 147 articles to explore, all grouped under Articles From Our Experts which can be filtered by topic, geographical location and time period. Switching from Arabic to English is possible through the language tab located on top of the page.

“This is going to result in a whole new generation of historians, a boom in the historiography of the Gulf. This is profound; this moment right now is a milestone in the history of the region.”— Dr James Onley, Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern History, University of Exeter
“Students, scholars – whether here, in the Gulf region or indeed anywhere on the planet – will be able to explore this material, find new learnings from it, make new connections and make new discoveries.”— Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library

 

 

 

 

Egyptian Caricatures Archive / أرشيف الكاريكاتير المصري

In May 2018, the French Centre for Economic, Legal, and Social Study and Documentation (CEDEJ) based in Cairo, Egypt, launched in association with Bibliotheca Alexandrina a new portal to host its rich collection of Egyptian caricatures.

Egyptian Caricatures Archive/أرشيف الكاريكاتير المصري makes available 12,000 humorous drawings published in Egyptian newspapers between 1970 and 2010. This invaluable collection of primary source materials now available in Open Access to researchers and the general public.

The caricatures have been catalogued by the CEDEJ Library allowing for the database to be searched by different fields:

  • title of caricature
  • date of publication
  • title of newspaper where it was published
  • topic (drop-down menu)
  • author
  • keyword.

Images are provided in JPEG, and can easily be downloaded and saved.

 

At the time of our visit the interface was only accessible in Arabic, but according to the official announcement made by CEDEJ, the implemention of the English and French interfaces is scheduled for Octobre 2018.

Iran’s Cultural Heritage sites (Virtual tour)

Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism organization of Iran (ICHTO) was founded in 1985 and is administered by the government of Iran. The institution ICHTO is responsible in co-operation with UNESCO in safeguarding, preserving and promoting the cultural, natural, tangible and intangible heritage of Iran.

ICHTO provides information (mostly in Persian) on different heritage sites within Iran and they have recently added a virtual guided tour (in English and Persian) of different sites.  UNESCO’s website also provides full descriptions of these protected sites.

Each country’s heritage showcases part of its identity, history, culture and values as well reflecting a source of inspiration and life. The world of today was received from previous generations and cultural heritage and artifacts are gifts of their knowledge and life. These not only carry a fascination to observe, but are also valuable sources from which to learn about how civilization, culture and humanity has changed and developed throughout history. However much of this heritage is irreplaceable, unique and fragile.

For example, the Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

“The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, in the north-west of the country, consists of three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith: St Thaddeus and St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor. These edifices – the oldest of

Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran @UNESCO © Sorush Angabini

which, St Thaddeus, dates back to the 7th century – are examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions. They bear testimony to very important interchanges with the other regional cultures, in particular the Byzantine, Orthodox and Persian.”

UNESCO with the collaboration of state parties all around the world aims to protect the cultural heritage that bears such Values, which are important to be protected for future generations. For that reason the state parties are responsible to identify, promote and take necessary measures to safeguard their heritage as well as to present them to UNESCO along with a complete nomination file containing their Outstanding Universal Values, history and complete introduction to the respected cultural heritage. If all the required criteria are met than that site may be inscribed on the World Heritage list of UNESCO.

Twenty-two cultural sites of Iran are inscribed on the UNESCO’s list. These sites can be browsed on ICHTO’s website based on their geographical location. By clicking on the name of the site the virtual tour and map of the site will be accessible.

Golestan Palace (Iran (Islamic Republic of)) @UNESCO © Sorush Angabini

 

Discover Islamic Art

Discover Islamic Art is an initiative of the Museum With No Frontiers in collaboration with 14 countries from around the Mediterranean. Islamic objects, monuments and historical sites from the northern, southern and eastern shores are brought together in a virtual museum; to complete the collection, relevant Islamic items from museums in Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom are included as well.

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

“The exploration of the history and art of Islam in the Mediterranean aims to create a more complete knowledge of the historical relationship between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and to make this information accessible to the general public in the countries represented in the consortium and beyond. The consortium’s aim is to promote deeper understanding between the peoples of Europe and their Muslim communities and the Islamic world on their doorsteps, and ultimately to celebrate the contribution of Islamic civilisation to world culture and art.”

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

Objects and monuments in the Permanent Collection can be sorted by country, period/dynasty, partner or date. Sorting by country provides related content such as timeline that ranges from 400 A.D.to 2000 A.D.

 

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

In the Database, different categories like location, provenance, architect/artist/Master, Materials/Technique can be selected while entering the search criteria. Date range and language will narrow down the search. Glossary and spelling feature facilitate getting the correct spelling of the transliterated Arabic terms used in the database.

 

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean exhibition is set up with the support of the European Union. The virtual exhibition groups objects, monuments and historical sites under dynasties or themes. A download option is available once you start exploring the topic.

 

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

Artistic Introduction: Islamic Art in the Mediterranean provides guidelines that “will help readers to begin to visually identify the various traditions of Islamic architecture in the Mediterranean region”.

Partners, Timeline, Learn with MWNF, and My Collection are additional links that are worthwhile exploring.

8th Edition of Montreal Orientalys Festival (August 2-5, 2018)

The programme of the 8th edition of Montreal Orientalys Festival was just announced and is now available on their website:

For the past seven years, Orientalys has aimed at providing a platform to showcase North African, Middle Eastern, and South East Asian cultures and traditions in Quebec. The festival will take place in the Old Port of Montreal on Thursday August 2 from 6 to 11 p.m.,Friday  August 3 from 3 to 11 p.m.,Saturday  August 4 from 12 to 11 p.m.,Sunday  August 5 from 12 to 11 p.m.

The programme includes dancing performances and concerts, as well as a wide variety of interactive activities for children and/or adults (such as cooking and handicraft workshops). Orientalys is free and open to everyone.

For more information see: 

“Historiography of Early Modern Ottoman Europe” (HOE) Database

Bibliographical Database Historiography in Ottoman Europe (15th until 18th centuries)

The modern historiography practices in Western Europe is different from historiographical traditions in ancient world. These practices does not necessarily reflect nor acknowledge the existence of rich historiographical traditions. On the other hand Sources that formed the cultural frameworks of Ottoman Europe were mostly religious writings, however the polyglot historiography of that region sheds light to the secular part of writings, which are considered as important primary sources for social and cultural researches. Therefore the Bibliographical Database Historiography in Ottoman Europe (15th until 18th centuries)  HOE was launched by the Department of the History of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey and the University Library of the Ruhr-University in Bochum to fill the gap and to provide a comprehensive bibliography on the historiographic texts written in all languages of Ottoman Europe for the period of 1500 to 1800.

HOE database provides meta-data on various published and unpublished primary and secondary historiographical sources of Ottoman Europe (ex. chronicles, histories, hagiographies, inscriptions, maps…) which can be found under the “Main section” of the database. Information about particular collections and references, can be found under the “Tool section”. This database also offers information about content, manuscripts as well as author, title and edition of the materials. When available this information is linked to online resources too.

Egyptian Press Archive of CEDEJ

The Egyptian Press Archive of CEDEJ is an initiative of the Centre d’Études et de Documentation Économiques, Juridiques et Sociales (CEDEJ) based in Cairo and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) consisting of scanning and publishing online press articles collected and curated by CEDEJ over the past 40 years.

This online archive includes more than 500,000 press clips authored by more than 17,000 journalists and reporters and published by more than 170 publishers. This incredibly rich and vast collection is discoverable by author, publisher, subject or date of publication (via the timeline). The list of subjects is based on the themes and subjects used by CEDEJ when initially constituting the collection. Results display in the form of a list, highlighting search terms, and articles open in the BA online reader in a new tab. In the right-hand-side column, related articles to those displayed in the results’ list are suggested.

The website is available in Arabic, English, and French.

A Piece of Heart and a Piece of Art: Damascus Room

Damascus Room, Syria, Damascus, 1766-67/ AH 1180, Wood (poplar) with gesso relief, copper and tin leaf, glazes and paint, plaster with stone paste inlays, and multicolored stones; installation (approx) 240 x 180 x 144 in.© Museum Associates/LACMA

The story began in the fall and early winter of 2011-12, when Linda Komaroff, Curator and Department Head at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), decided to pursue an acquisition of a period room from eighteenth-century Damascus, Syria. Komaroff is one of the people who makes LACMA a very unique institution. In Unframed post titled Preserving Small Piece of Damascus, Komaroff describes the new acquisition:

The Damascus Room came to signify more than the unique opportunity to acquire a rare work of art that would become a destination for museum visitors but the very embodiment of what LACMA is as an encyclopedic art museum. Although the room was removed from Syria nearly thirty-five years ago, the notion that we would be helping to preserve a small part of the cultural history of one of the world’s oldest, continuously occupied cities, intensified my interest in bringing the room to Los Angeles so that its story can be told and appreciated in this twenty-first-century city.

The room was dissembled in 1978 from one of the courtyard houses located in the al- Bahsa district, which was later demolished in order to accommodate the growth of the city of Damascus. The room was then exported from Syria to Beirut, Lebanon where it remained in storage for over 30 years. It somehow made its way to a London warehouse where it was found by Komaroff. Although the room was maintained in its original state, some restoration was required and an armature was created to make the room self-supporting so that it could be installed in an already-existing space or reinstalled elsewhere. Komaroff describes the Damascus Room thusly:

Damascus Room, Syria, Damascus, 1766-67/ AH 1180. © Museum Associates/LACMA

It has multicolored inlaid stone floors, painted wood walls, elaborate cupboard doors and storage niches, a spectacular arch with plaster voussoirs decorated with colored inlays that served to divide the room into upper and lower sections separated by a single tall step; and an intricately inlaid stone wall fountain with a carved and painted hood. The painted wood surfaces are embellished with a particular type of relief decoration known in Arabic as al-‘ajami (“meaning non-Arab or foreign”) or as pastiglia in the West.

The restoration work was undertaken in collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and with the support provided by the Friends of Heritage Preservation, LACMA. The reassembling of the Damascus Room was a two-year project completed in December 2015. The room was on display at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from 2016–2018 and will be returned to Los Angeles to tell its story to a new audience.The reconstruction of the Damascus Room has been one of the Linda Komaroff’s curatorial career:

Being in the room is a joy; it exudes a kind of beauty, warmth and comfort, which is in keeping with its original function as a place for welcoming guests. But that joy is tempered by the sadness of the continuing deterioration of daily life in Syria, the diaspora of its citizens, and the destruction of its historic monuments. For now, the room must play one more role as a preserver of memories of Syria, as so beautifully expressed by the Syrian-American hip-hop artist and poet Omar Offendum, whose performance* was recorded in the room.

* Video attribution: www.lacma.org