Making books as an archival practice

Usually, posts are published on Sundays. This is an exception because today (when this is published) is my birthday. And I thought this enough to change the rule for once (and it’s more of a guideline anyway). In this post, we return to one person who has fascinated me for a while now and who has been featured here before: the Damascene book collector ʿAbd al-Salām al-Shaṭṭī. However, this time we are not just interested in his connections to Ibn Ṭūlūn manuscripts but rather in how he engaged with manuscripts for the sake of archival practices.

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The archival biography of MS TCD 1514

Manuscripts have their own biographies. And those are not defined by their respective points of creation nor by the place where they end up. A book bio can be much more topsy-turvey or bodacious, depending on how you want to frame it. And often enough, we can only reconstruct parts of such a biography, exactly because they became embroiled in their own adventures at different points. This much is certainly true for the item which today is referred to as MS 1514 in Trinity Library, Dublin.

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Into Ibn Ṭūlūn’s Endowed Library (Part 2)

Co-authored by Melis Emre

One earlier post has outlined several obstacles in assessing Ibn Ṭūlūn’s book collection in contrast to the books he himself authored. Together with Melis Emre, a master student of Konrad Hirschler, I revisit this question here, complicating the differentiation between books Ibn Ṭūlūn owned and arguably read, and those he endowed. In short, he did not only buy books for himself but also to re-endow them in the ʿUmariyya madrasa, thereby reconstituting certain histocrical corpora.

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Collecting Books: Where is its place in scholarly biographies?

One thing that has frustrated me for a while now is how most collectors of Arabic manuscripts are portrayed in biographical entries. To be more succinct, while the collections are usually mentioned, this often happens as an afterthought. According to such biographical entries, everything else a collector did in their life was more important / interesting than their collection. This is a common feature shared by articles on Wikipedia, in encyclopedias, and other scholarly publications (with the obvious exceptions from book and library history).

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