New Publication: Devotional Annotations: Preserving the Family’s Memory in Arabic Manuscripts

Very surprisingly, last week my article in the special issue of Religions on “Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe” was published. The entire publication process was refreshingly professional and fast.

The article investigates lists of life dates, a curious kind of manuscript annotation. It looks in detail at three lists from between the 18th and 19th centuries and contextualizes them with recourse to other, more well-known genres related to memoria, the concern over perpetuating one’s memory after one’s death. Particularly, it investigates the interrelations to biographical literature and consolation treatises but also considers other forms of dealing with memoria and mourning in writing. The article is now available in open access from the website of Religions. You can directly download it here.

At the center of it is a manuscript from the Daiber collection which was endowed by one Muḥammad al-Qarmashlī to the great mosque of Diyarbakir. The manuscript peaked my interest originally because it contains a work on creed by a member of the Ibn Qāḍī ʿAjlūn family from Damascus. This work ends, moreover, with a buyer’s note in Persian, which in turn is followed by the list of life dates on the following double page. As all of the mentioned people seem to have been related to the endower of the manuscript—who also penned one work in this manuscript—which beckons the question of the list’s meaning.

I would regard my own argument and conclusions as preliminary. A larger sample and an in-depth study of the placement of such lists will be needed to understand this practice in full. We would further need to tie it in with the other annotations and other textual engagements (e.g. the compilation of the volume) to draw more significant conclusions.

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