Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Codicological Factoids

I spent all of last week at Stanford attending the Islamic Manuscript Association's Introduction to Islamic Codicology workshop, taught be the expert in the field. I would strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the subject matter. The approach of the course was largely taxonomic, but that meant that we worked systematically through all of the relevant technical vocabulary insofar as it is currently understood (read: a lot less well than for western European codicology).

It doesn't make for a hugely compelling post, but here are a few of the punchiest, pithiest factoids I gleaned:

  • Arabic has a verb — zakhrafa — the base meaning of which is "to forge," but which can be used used more specifically to mean "to forge Qur'ān manuscripts in polychromatic ink."
  • Kabīkaj is the jinn of papyrus, invoked at the beginning of copied codices to protect the book from insect damage.

  • Opening supplications are often genre-specific formulae. For example, an astronomical text will begin by praising the God who created the heavens and earth, whereas Qur'ān commentaries will begin by praising the God who ennobled the reader with His book or who caused the truth to be known.
  • "The best way to read a difficult passage is not to freak out."

1 comment:

  1. I beg to differ on how you worded one phrase above. Gacek is 'one' expert in the field. If asked, 'the' expert in the field is François Déroche. A second 'the', Jan Just Witkam. Just names--and bibliographies under those names--one may wish to take into account.
    Pretty unfortunately, I can't come up with any Arabic name in this field.