Autor: Torsten Wollina

New Publication on Narratology in Arabic Historiography

Finally, Mamluk Studies 15: “Mamluk Historiography Revisited – Narratological Perspectives” is out. The edited volume brings together twelve articles on perspectives on specific works or larger clusters of works. My own contribution, “The Changing Legacy of a Sufi Shaykh: Narrative Constructions in Diaries, Chronicles, and Biographies (15th–17th Centuries)”, investigates the development of how knowledge on one specific person was shaped and adapted with growing temporal distance. The person in question was introduced here in several posts during February 2018: Mubārak al-Qābūnī al-Ḥabashī. The article adds … Continue reading New Publication on Narratology in Arabic Historiography

Placing Ibn Tulun: Evidence from the Majallat al-Majmaʿ al-ʿilmi al-ʿarabi

As I have indicated before, the age when Ibn Tulun was most widely read might well have been the early 20th century. Ahmad Taymur had copies and photographic reproductions made of several of his works, and historians like ʿIsa Iskandar al-Maʿluf and Salah al-Din al-Munajjid also collected his works. Al-Munajjid also edited several texts within the series Rasaʾil al-Tarikhiyya. And finally, both him as well as others described and discussed Ibn Tulun’s works in the pages of the central organ of Syrian or even Arab … Continue reading Placing Ibn Tulun: Evidence from the Majallat al-Majmaʿ al-ʿilmi al-ʿarabi

Visualizing Education and Knowledge Organization with Palladio 2

To be frank, there was something wrong with the visualizations in the last post, and I did not feel like letting that stand. Thus, here I address some of those issues. This is how the network should look or, at least, the main cluster of it. In the last post, I stated that some grammatical as well as the mathematical disciplines were not connected to the main cluster and that turned out to be wrong. But since they are indeed connected, everything gets – … Continue reading Visualizing Education and Knowledge Organization with Palladio 2

Visualizing Education and Knowledge Organization with Palladio 1

After having looked at Ḥadīth transmission recently, I wondered about the other side of knowledge transmission, namely the wider curriculum of the ʿulamāʾ. Thankfully, Ibn Ṭūlūn talks at length about his own education in his autobio/-bibliography al-Fulk al-mashḥūn. There he lists ḥadīth studies and 25 other disciplines. In total, works relevant to 27 disciplines appear (ʿilm al-qiraʾāt is not listed but works are mentioned). Ibn Ṭūlūn received their information through 104 named and two unnamed interlocutors (one “shaykh” and “some Nīsabūrīs”). There are 109 works … Continue reading Visualizing Education and Knowledge Organization with Palladio 1

Visualizing female actors in Hadith networks with Palladio

Perhaps more than any other area of permodern Arabic literature, genres concerned with ḥadīth transmission offer themselves for a network approach. Even small collections provide a plethora of names and put them in relation to each other. Someone hears one tradition from someone and then relates it to someone else, thereby turning from a “target” in one relation to a “source” in the next. While the individual chain of transmission might only give diachronic relations, a survey of a larger number of chains might also … Continue reading Visualizing female actors in Hadith networks with Palladio

Into a bicycle history of the Middle East

And now, to something completely different: the bicycle in Middle Eastern History. Whereas today the bicycle is – arguably – mostly known as a vehicle for leisure, around 1900 it was not only a major means of individualized transportation but it also stipulated the restoration and expansion of road networks that would make the automobile viable, and bicycle races inspired public attention and drew crowds that today seem unimaginable. Moreover, this early history of the bicycle is intricately connected to histories of colonialism, modernity, and … Continue reading Into a bicycle history of the Middle East

Let’s talk survival bias

How many manuscript copies were produced of any given texts? How many were circulating at any given time? When were they lost, discarded or destroyed?  How often are the works penned on their pages cited in other texts by the same or different authors? These questions lie at the very heart of our epistemology and are usually subsumed under the term ‘survival bias’. Works that survive longer obviously have a greater chance at being read, recited, reproduced, acknowledged. And it is today commonly assumed … Continue reading Let’s talk survival bias

Visualizing Ibn Tulun’s manuscript corpus: (1) From Palladio towards Gephi

It has been a while since I presented my first visualizations of Ibn Tuluns manuscript corpus with Palladio. Palladio is an easy-to-learn tool that works in your browser and thus is independent of your operating system. You just put your data in several simple tables and upload them there. Then you create the relevant connections between the tables in the interface. Basically, all you need is one table for the entities to be connected (nodes) and one for the connections between them (edges). Also, … Continue reading Visualizing Ibn Tulun’s manuscript corpus: (1) From Palladio towards Gephi

Thoughts after Workshop: ‘Colophons and Scribal Cultures across the Early Modern World’

On 2 July, I was attending the workshop ‘Colophons and Scribal Cultures across the Early Modern World’ at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. The workshop was organized by Christopher D. Bahl and Stefan Hanß and brought together ten researchers from the UK and Germany discussing manuscripts and manuscript cultures, and its connections to print cultures. The workshop took a deliberately transregional perspective, addressing “a variety of languages and regions ranging from Europe to the Middle East, South Asia, and the Americas”. Centered around the colophon, … Continue reading Thoughts after Workshop: ‘Colophons and Scribal Cultures across the Early Modern World’

An ijāza for Ibn Mufliḥ

Akmal al-Dīn, a scion of the prominent Ḥanbalī Ibn Mufliḥ family, was mentioned here several times before and was probably the most visible of Ibn Ṭūlūn’s students in terms of engagement with his writings. Ibn Mufliḥ copied them, annotated and rubricated them, and also added material to some of them. Among the evidence of their student-teacher relationship survives an ijāza Ibn Ṭūlūn penned for Ibn Mufliḥ after the latter’s discussion of some chains of transmission he had received from him (for the transcripts, see … Continue reading An ijāza for Ibn Mufliḥ

Ijāzas or Samāʿāt?

Almost a year ago, I first wrote about Ibn Ṭūlūn’s teaching certificates (ijāzāt) and made a somewhat loose promise: I could identify five teaching certificates (ijāza) in Ibn Ṭūlūn’s handwriting. The four I have seen are between two and five pages long and were all written between 922/1516 and 943/1536. I hope to present all of them here in the near future. In the meantime, one more item has received an entry and in March 2018 I finally got my hands on the final … Continue reading Ijāzas or Samāʿāt?

Thoughts after Workshop: Textual Analysis Using Stylometry (AUB, 24-25 April)

On 24 and 25 April 2018, David Wrisley organised a workshop on “Textual Analysis Using Stylometry” at the american University of Beirut. The workshop was given by Maciej Eder, an Associate Professor at the Institute of Polish Students at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, Poland, and and at the Institute of Polish Language at the Polish Academy of Sciences. For those who are not familiar with the term stylometry (as was I before the workshop), it is a method of textual analysis that does not focus on … Continue reading Thoughts after Workshop: Textual Analysis Using Stylometry (AUB, 24-25 April)

Medieval Damascus: Was there no garbage problem ever?

Reading two articles on Medium, one about rat kings and another about an early car named by its creator Horsey Horseless and which featured “a life-size replica of a horse head, down to the shoulders, and attaching it to the front of a carriage“, I got into thinking. I have to add here that I am no specialist in this field. More specifically, together these articles made me wonder what did Medieval Damascenes do with their garbage and how did they avoid to have recurrent garbage … Continue reading Medieval Damascus: Was there no garbage problem ever?

The history of MS Tarikh Taymur 631: vol. 1 of al-Ghuraf al-ʿaliyya

Still these Cairene manuscripts. Among others, they have one volume of Ibn Ṭūlūn’s biographical dictionary, al-Ghuraf al-ʿaliyya fī tarājim mutaʾakhkhirī al-ḥanafiyya. The British Library holds the second volume of the work. I have spoken about this work before here and here. Also, Guy Burak made use of an Istanbuli copy of it in his dissertation, The Abū Ḥanīfah of his time? Islamic Law, Jurisprudential Authority and Empire in the Ottoman Domains (16th-17th Centuries).As can be seen from the collections where they are held nowadays, the different volumes … Continue reading The history of MS Tarikh Taymur 631: vol. 1 of al-Ghuraf al-ʿaliyya

Biography of a Crustacian

Sometimes, I just wish I could follow all those leads that Ibn Ṭūlūn has dispersed amongst his many works… . Well, maybe in another project. I have pointed it out before that Early Modern Damascene biographers might secretly have been jokers or a little bit too fond of animal life. Wouldn’t it be enjoyable just to explore that in more detail? For those who plan to do so, definitely check out the Blog Colonizing Animals, and in particular its annotated Beastly Bibliography. Ibn Ṭūlūn’s latest biographical … Continue reading Biography of a Crustacian

Teaching ḥadīth: Ibn Ṭūlūn and the Thulāthiyyāt genre

This week I return to Garret Davidson’s dissertation on post-canonical ḥadīth transmission. Davidson offers a wonderful overview of the genres involved in establishing elevated, i.e. short, chains of transmission and the status that these brought for people who had access to them. While these genres could amount to very different scopes and sizes, it is safe to say that in this context small-scale hadith collections occupied a central position. These often would include the most elevated and thus sought-after chains a well-aged transmitter had … Continue reading Teaching ḥadīth: Ibn Ṭūlūn and the Thulāthiyyāt genre

A whole Majmūʿa copied? MS Majāmīʿ 315

In March, I returned to the Dār al-Kutub in Cairo and spent a whole week with their collection. Ibn Ṭūlūn’s name pops up very often in the different collections of the Dār al-Kutub. The earliest acquisitions are certainly found in the Taymūriyya Library, whereas the general collection seems to have made a bulk order of Ibn Ṭūlūn autographs only by the early 1930s. Aḥmad Taymūr did not only acquire “originals”, however; he also created copies. One modern way of bridging the gap between both … Continue reading A whole Majmūʿa copied? MS Majāmīʿ 315

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