"Of Buying Many Books There is No End”: Towards a History of the John Rylands Library's Collection of Islamic Manuscripts.
Rare are the manuscripts in Arabic script that do not bear a mark attesting to their past, be it a mention of the patron for whom the manuscript was produced, an act of pious donation, possession marks (handwritten or printed by means of a seal), loan statements, readers' notes, certificates of audition, transmission licenses, etc. Yet this is an area of research until now neglected. It is true that these marks, also called para textual elements, are rarely mentioned in the manuscript catalogues, and even less in the editions that focus too often on the content, almost always overlooking the container. Thanks to these para textual marks, it is possible to reconstruct the history of one manuscript in particular but also of a whole collection. The perusal of the collection of Islamic manuscripts held in the John Rylands Library yields several results allowing to reconstruct the itineraries followed by these sometimes multi-centennial objects, to identify the actors of their peregrination from the Islamic lands to their actual repository, and, in some cases too, to enlarge our knowledge of no longer existing Oriental libraries (private or institutional).
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Professor Frederic Bauden
Role: Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies
Organisation: University of Liege, Belgium
Biography: Since 2001, Frederic Bauden holds the chair of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Liège (Belgium). He is responsible for teaching various subjects ranging from language and literature to religion, history to history of art. A graduate of the University of Brussels, he trained at the historical-philological school created by Armand Abel (1903-1973), one of the most famous Belgian Orientalists. Initially, he specialized in Islamic studies, which included publishing a critical edition and annotated translation of a history of the Prophet's close relatives written by Muhibb al-Din al-Ṭabarī, a Meccan author from the thirteenth century.
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Historic Reading Room
The John Rylands Library Deansgate