Tag Archives: Biographical literature

Between historians: Ibn Tulun on al-Maqrizi

As an historian, Ibn Tulun often stood on the shoulders of giants. Among the authorities he mentions, we frequently find the Damascene great ones: al-Safadi, al-Dhahabi, Abu Shama, Ibn Qadi Shuhba (often by his nisba al-Asadi) and, first and foremost, Ibn Asakir. This post introduces another important name in history, yet one which was not concerned with Damascus as such: al-Maqrizi.

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How important was Ibn Tulun’s uncle Yusuf?

The funding period of the research cluster Dyntran: Dynamics of Transmission draws to a close very soon. The exchanges in this cluster have proven influential on my research since its inception in 2015. The focus on the social and especially familial contexts of writing has become a core element of several recent publications.

As I am currently working on the chapter for the final edited volume in which I try to develop these ideas further, I have revisited Ibn Tulun’s own familial network. It is not as extensive as the one I discussed in my Dyntran Working Paper. In fact, it is rather small and the most prominent character is Ibn Tulun’s uncle Jamal al-Din Yusuf. Today’s post will present and discuss an unpublished biography of him. Continue reading

Let’s talk survival bias

How many manuscript copies were produced of any given texts? How many were circulating at any given time? When were they lost, discarded or destroyed?  How often are the works penned on their pages cited in other texts by the same or different authors? These questions lie at the very heart of our epistemology and are usually subsumed under the term ‘survival bias’. Continue reading

Biography of a Crustacian

Sometimes, I just wish I could follow all those leads that Ibn Ṭūlūn has dispersed amongst his many works… . Well, maybe in another project. I have pointed it out before that Early Modern Damascene biographers might secretly have been jokers or a little bit too fond of animal life. Wouldn’t it be enjoyable just to explore that in more detail? For those who plan to do so, definitely check out the Blog Colonizing Animals, and in particular its annotated Beastly Bibliography. Continue reading

Biographical Dictionaries I: Ibn Ṭūlūn’s Ghuraf al-ʿaliyya

Biographical dictionaries are at once one of our central sources for prosopographical data – not only on the Mamluk era – and a genre that is often work-intensive to explore. The authors tried to arrange the masses of data they accumulated on several hundreds to even thousands of individuals from the past and their own times as good as they could. Most often, they are arranged either chronologically (by year of death) or alphabetically, or in a combination of the two (divided into generations – ṭabaqāt). Continue reading