Vol. 12 No. 3 September 2006

Manuscripta Orientalia. International Journal for Oriental Manuscript Research.


D. James. Juda al-Khatt. The Excellence of Calligraphy. Al-Zabidi's Summary of the History of Calligraphy. A Translation of the Final Chapter of the Author's Hikmat al-Ishraq (Cairo, 1184/1771), with an Introduction - 3
N. Kazansky, E. Kriuchkova. Translating Buddhist Texts into Hellenistic Koine (Marginal Notes to the Greek Translation of Ashoka's Edicts) - 15
V. Kisliakov, T. Moiseeva, E. Rezvan, M. Rodionov. "Returning from Distant Journeys": on the History of Gathering the Muslim Collections of MAE RAS (Middle East and Central Asia). I - 22

I. Alimov. The Work by Zhou Cheng: "Research on the Eastern Song Capital": Information on Temples and Joss-Houses - 57



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D. James

Juda al-khatt. the excellence of calligraphy. Al-zabidi’s summary of the history of calligraphy. A translation of the final chapter of the author’s hikmat al-ishraq (cairo, 1184/1771), with an introduction

The article is devoted to the personality of the 18th century Indian Muslim scholar Murtada al-Husayni al-Zabidi al-Hanafi. He came to Ottoman Egypt in 1752 and spent there the rest of his life. His work on the art of calligraphy, called the Hikmat al-ishraq ila kuttab al-afaq, was composed for the calligrapher Hasan al-Rushdi, who after the death of Isma‘il Wahbi in 1773 – 1774 became Chief Writing-Master. In the Hikmat al-ishraq the author was trying to link two separate calligraphic traditions – the earlier Arab/Mamluk one with the Ottoman one, which by the 19th century was dominated in Egypt. The Hikmat al-ishraq is, after all, a handbook on the practical science of calligraphy, and Hasan al-Rushdi may well have collaborated with al-Zabidi in the production of its technical chapters, the overall aim being to improve the art of calligraphy in the province and re-affirm its twin historical sources.

Keywords: Murtada al-Zabidi, Hasan al-Rushdi, Egypt, Cairo, calligraphy, Arab, Ottoman, Mamluk


N. Kazansky, E. Kriuchkova 

Translating buddhist texts into hellenistic koine (marginal notes to the greek translation of ashoka’s edicts)

The spread of the Greek language after Alexander the Great’s campaigns led to the emergence of numerous situations of bilingualism, many cases of which were recorded by ancient authors. As a rule we have no bilingual texts available outside Egypt. The only exception is the area known as the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms. The earliest evidence of bilingualism is the inscriptions of Ashoka for which Greek equivalents have been found. In the Hellenistic era, contacts between the Middle Indo-Aryan dialects (Prakrits) and Greek took place on the periphery of the two cultures. In this connection, the authors note the particular significance of Gandhara, which played a special role in the formation and spread of Buddhist ideas to Middle and Central Asia. The authors focus on the question of whether the Greek translations of Ashoka’s edicts should be included in the overall picture of the irradiation of Buddhism from Gandhara.

Keywords: bilingualism, Greek, Prakrit, Ashoka, Gandhara, Buddhist, Buddhism


V. Kisliakov, T. Moiseeva, E. Rezvan, M. Rodionov

“Returning from distant journeys”: on the history of gathering the muslim collections of MAe ras (near and middle east). I

The invaluable ethnographic, anthropological and archaeological collections kept at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography RAS (Kunstkamera) are some of the fullest and most interesting in the world. They were formed over almost the entire history of the first Russian state museum and accumulated a series of wonderful monuments connected with the traditional culture of the Middle and Near East. The history of the formation of the collection, like the history of individual exhibits, is closely connected with the history of Russia’s relations with countries in the region, with the history of scientific expeditions, diplomatic and trade journeys to the Muslim East. The Muslim collections of MAE RAS continue to be added to today as a result of systematic scholarly and expedition activity. Besides the history of gathering of the MAE Muslim collections, a special attention is paid to the collections on the people of Egypt and North Africa and the series of Arabic-Muslim astronomical instruments acquired by the Lomonosov Museum which became a part of MAE since 1993.

Keywords: MAE RAS, Kunstkamera, M. V. Lomonosov Museum, Muslim, Islamic, Arab, Middle East, Near East, North Africa


I. Alimov

The work by zhou cheng:“research on the eastern song capital”: information on temples and joss-houses

The religious life of Chinese society was distinguished by its diversity, which increased especially in the period of the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), when, besides Buddhism and Daoism, numerous minor local popular cults blossomed. Interacting with the main religious and philosophical teachings, local cults became the foundation of what is customary called Chinese religious syncretism. Beliefs in diverse spirits brought numerous temples into being. The book by the Qing author Zhou Cheng “Song dong jing kao” contains important information on the city of Kaifeng, which for more then 170 years was the eastern capital of Song China, as well as about its temples (ci) and joss-houses (miao).

Keywords: Zhou Cheng, Chinese, Song Dynasty, Kaifeng, temple, joss-house



Dr. Igor A. Alimov - Head of the Department of East and Southwest Asia of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences, specialist in Far Eastern ethno cultural texts. Author of the series of monographs in the field.

Dr. David James is the author of several works on the arts of the Islamic book, especially calligraphy and illumination. He was lecturer in Arabic at University College, Dublin, Islamic Curator of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin and Curator of the Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London. Now he lives and works in Spain.

Prof. Dr. Nikolay Kazansky - Full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Institute of Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, specialist in classical philology and Indo European Studies. Author of the series of monographs in the field.

Dr. Vladimir N. Kisliakov - Senior Research Fellow of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, specialist in the history of the Museum collections and Russian ethnological studies, author of the series of works in the field.

Dr. Evgeniia R. Kriuchkova - Senior Research fellow at the Institute of Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, specialist Bengal linguistics, author of the works on linguistic geography of Hindustan.

Mrs. Tatyana M. Moiseeva - Head of the "Lomonosov Museum", department of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Ac