Vol. 12 No. 2 June 2006

Manuscripta Orientalia. International Journal for Oriental Manuscript Research


D. James. A Note on the Awlad al-Hilu: a Scribal Dynasty of Fas (Fez) - 3
N. Terletsky. A Little-Known Work About a Bukhara Mazar - 8
A. Kudelin. Arabic Literature: Poetics and Stylistics. VII: "Life of the Prophet" by Ibn Ishaq-Ibn Hisham as a Monument of Medieval Arabic Literature. Attempt at a Literary Analysis - 36
V. Kryukova. Interpretation of Tajik Wedding Embroidery: Ritual, Image, Text - 50
E. Revunenkova. Sulalat-us-Salatin: the Krusenstern Manuscript - 58



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D. James

A note on the awlad al-hilu: a scribal dynasty of fas (fez)

On the basis of the Muhammad al-Manuni’s book on the history of writing, published in 1991, the author systematizes the information about the al-Hilu family, and adds a few comments and additional information, based on other sources. The al-Hilu family were scribes, illuminators and binders who worked in the city of Fas from the mid 18th century down to the 20th, though they were probably active before 1700. There were two “branches”: one working in the area of manuscript production and the other consisting of distinguished scholars. The final member of the al-Hilu family recorded by Manuni was Muhammad b. al-‘Arabi al-Hilu. He was a reviver of the traditional art of book binding in the city of his ancestors, Fas, where he had several pupils. In 1915 he was invited by the Moroccan Fine Arts Administration to teach the traditional art of book binding. Perhaps their descendants are still practicing today.

Keywords: Islamic manuscript, manuscript production, book binding, al-Hilu, Morocco, Maghrib, Fas, Fez, scribe, illuminator, binder, Muhammad al-Manuni


N. Terletsky

A little-known work about a bukhara mazar

The article focuses on three differently named copies of the same work from the Saint Petersburg Institute of Oriental MSS collection. The work is devoted to the rules of making a pilgrimage to the tomb of Khwaja Ka‘b al-Akhbar, to the piety of this doing; in it there are also some legends related to the life and work of that righteous Muslim. Mazar, which is connected with his name, is located at a 30 km to the north-east of Bukhara (Kaganskiĭ district near the Tashrabad qishlaq). Despite many inaccuracies and errors that occur in the text of the work and also the spurious nature of the hadiths cited in it, it still remains an interesting source for studying the places of pilgrimage and worship in Central Asia and is of undoubted scholarly value.

Keywords: manuscript, pilgrimage, Kunstkamera, Hermitage, Institute for Oriental Studies, Central Asia, Bukhara, mazar, Persian


A. Kudelin

Arabic literature: poetics and stylistics. vii: “life of the prophet” by ibn ishaq—ibn hisham as a monument of medieval arabic literature. Attempt at a literary analysis

The monument “Life of the Prophet” (al-Sira al-nabawiyya) by two authors Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham is well known historical source, but it has been studied to a much lesser degree as a literary monument. The author aims to show the main tendencies in the study of the monument. He analyses all most important research works where the essential elements of the approach to the “Life of the Prophet” by Iby Ishaq—Ibn Hisham as a literary monument are outlined. The changes of the poetry functions with the coming of Islam represent, in the author’s opinion, a starting point for understanding the important elements of the process of fictionalization not only of poetic material of Sira, but also of the whole work. The author shows that Sira by Iby Ishaq—Ibn Hisham presents in general a work where considerable number of elements has features peculiar to components of a literature monument.

Keywords: Arabic literature, Arabic poetry, Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham, al-Sira al-nabawiyya


V. Kryukova

Interpretation of tajik wedding embroidery: ritual, image, text

Since antiquity, fabrics and items made out of them have not just been used for utilitarian purposes, but also to express important ideas filling the spiritual world of society. In Central Asia in the bride’s house the woman herself, her mother and other female relatives prepare a set of items for the wedding; three objects from the set are united in the circle – the bolinpoš covering of the head of the bed with a picture of the world tree – the axis for the world, depicted in its centre, a royjo sheet with embroidery in the form of the gates of a temple or the gates of paradise and also zardewor, which is decorated with the arcade of the heavenly dwelling of the gods. In the ornamentation of these items a direct citation of the images of ancient Zoroastrian temple architecture can be seen. The ideas which were once the basis for temple construction continued their existence after the Muslim conquest of Central Asia, in the life of traditional ritual items.

Keywords: Zoroastrian, Muslim, Central Asia, Iranian, Tajik, Yazidi, Kurd, wedding, marriage, fabric, embroidery, ritual


E. Revunenkova

Sulalat-us-salatin: the krusenstern manuscript

The article presents a manuscript of Sejarah Melayu or Sulalat-us-Salatin (“Genealogy of Sultans”) – the most famous Malay work in the genre of historical prose, known in international Malay studies in many copies and several publications. The manuscript entitled “History of Malays from Ancient Times to the Conquest of Malaya by the Portuguese” is kept in the archives of Saint Petersburg Institute of Oriental MSS. It was brought to St. Petersburg by I. F. Krusenstern in 1799. The Krusenstern copy dated to the end of the 18th century seems to be the earliest one .

Keywords: manuscript, Malay, Indonesian, Malacca, Johor, Sumatra, I. F. Krusenstern, historical prose



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.

Dr. Victoria Yu. Kryukova - Senior research fellow of the Department of Central Asia Ethnography of Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg), specialist in Zoroastrianism, author of numerous publications in the field.

Prof. Dr. Alexander B. Kudelin - Full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the World Literature Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), specialist in the history of the Arabic literature, author of the series of monographs in the field.

Prof. Dr. Elena V. Revunenkova - Head of the Department of Australia, Oceania and Indonesia of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian of Academy of Sciences, specialist in ethnography and languages of Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as in shamanism, author of numerous publications in the field.

Mr. Keith E. Small is currently a post-graduate student and part-time lecturer at the Centre for Islamic Studies at the London School of Theology, Northwood, Greater London. He is pursuing doctoral studies in the New Testament and the Qur'an. His research interests are in textual criticism in the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament and the Qur'an, as well as issues of comparative textual history and canonicity.

Mr. Nikolay S. Terletsky - Junior research fellow of the Department of Central Asia Ethnography of Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg), specialist in the history and culture of Central Asia.


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