Current Issue Article Abstracts
Fall 2018 Vol. 3.2
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What happens when a vernacular language like Hindi begins to be committed to writing, entering the realm of a manuscript culture that was formerly monopolized by 'cosmopolitan' languages like Sanskrit, Arabic, and Persian? How did the pioneering vernacular intellectuals of Hindi adopt, adapt, combine, or challenge conventions and practices from existing Indic and Islamicate manuscript traditions? This paper examines manuscripts containing works of religious scholarship produced by two Hindu sects in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century North India in order to map intellectual networks, glean information about the training of religious scholars, reconstruct performative contexts, and refine our understanding of what distinguished "religious" scholarship in this time from other areas of enquiry, such as literary theory or philosophy. Using techniques of both 'close' and 'distant' reading on a corpus of approximately three hundred manuscripts, I outline the major features that distinguished manuscripts of vernacular scholarly works during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from manuscripts containing other types of text, highlighting those elements that reveal the shape of intellectual networks, the dynamics of performance contexts, and the role of paper manuscripts as notes or 'currency' of intellectual, social, and political exchanges. In the process, I offer reasons to re-examine commonly held scholarly assumptions about the religious literature and culture of this period.
'All Estates and signiories wich haue had and doe beare rule ouer men, haue either byn and are Comon weales or Monarchies': thus begins Sion MS L40.2/E24, preserved in Lambeth Palace Library, London. Written in clear anglicana, it offers a translation of Machiavelli's Prince. It is a welcome addition to the already known English manuscript translations preceding Dacres's printed version. The codex shows how the scribe paid attention to historical allusions in the text. It offers a faithful and elegant translation; the layout may offer interesting suggestions as to the modalities of reading in early modern England. This article presents hypotheses on the manuscript's provenance, compares this translation with four contemporary versions, and discusses its possible use.
This is a biography of a collection of eleven Arabic manuscripts at the library of the Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale (UNO). These manuscripts do not contain otherwise unknown or even rare texts, since the titles in the collection exist in dozens of manuscript copies in northern African libraries in addition to printed editions. While the bulk of their content may be known to historians, the objects themselves have led rich social lives that merit attention. Like many biographies, however, the story of these objects suffers from a lack of detail. In this article, I suggest that if approached in the aggregate, the long-term provenance of Arabic manuscript collections like this one have a fascinating story to tell about their social histories. Even in the absence of every detail, these objects have much to say about the multiple and overlapping historical contexts through which they have moved.
I begin by showing how these manuscripts at the UNO started their lives as Italian papers, situating them in the world of maritime and terrestrial trade that linked the northern and southern coasts of the Mediterranean from the 17th-20th centuries. I then demonstrate how the production and circulation of these texts speaks to widespread intellectual networks of a Muslim minority community and its manuscript culture in the Maghrib during the 18th and 19th centuries when the Ottoman empire attempted to exercise influence over the region. Finally, I show the ways in which these manuscripts were participants in the process of European (specifically, Italian) colonization and colonial knowledge production in northern Africa at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. By placing the aggregated biographies of the manuscripts in dialogue with the history of the broader Mediterranean world, I show how Arabic manuscript collections like this one have much to offer historians.
This article shows that a group of loose folios kept in two different institutions, the Newark Museum and The Walters Art Museum, originally belonged to an Ethiopic Gospel book dating to the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century. The study examines and analyses the Canon Tables and miniatures that once belonged to this Gospel book to draw conclusions concerning both their features and the broader history of Gospel illumination in medieval Ethiopia.
This paper furthers my argument that the scribe was also the artist of the underdrawings of the miniatures in the Pearl-Gawain manuscript and includes a re-assessment of the role of the colorist/s. Previously the 12 miniatures framing Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in London, MS Cotton Nero A.x (art. 3), the only version of these poems extant, were largely dismissed. The miniatures do not convert the texts pictorially; rather, they place the poems within a larger icongraphic framework individually and as a whole. It is true that the painted layers, often unevenly applied, obscure many important details that are thematically significant, as shown in scientifically enhanced images that help to recover some of the outlines of the underdrawings. Taking into account the analysis of the pigments used, a closer look at the role of the colorists (likely more than one, judging from the overlays and differing levels of skills) it appears that the painted layers sometimes support the interpretations of the scribe-artist: at other times they appear to offer competing readings. The result is that the miniatures provide multilayered visual readings that interconnect and link motifs by repetition and contrast to unify the poems at various levels for engaged audiences. This is exemplified by a close look at the seascapes, landscapes, and courtly settings, as well as at preaching scenes and related sacramental issues, along with the presentation and role of women, all reconceptualized in line and color.
This study focuses on three Armenian gospel books with sideways-oriented illustrations dating from between the 11th and 14th centuries that are part of the ARMENIA exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum of Art between September 21, 2018 and January 13, 2019, and briefly discussed in the printed catalogue of that exhibition. With the aim to supplement that publication, it provides codicological descriptions and digital diagrams of the illustrated prefatory matter of the manuscripts in question. The three diagrams give visual overviews summarizing the layout and sequence of the sideways-oriented illustrations, and thus supply a critical tool for comprehending these books themselves as medieval works of art.
A Psalter from Maillezais at Maynooth
pp. 431 - 438
A Psalter from the third quarter of the fifteenth century is preserved in the collections of St Patrick's College now housed in the Russell Library at Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland. The psalter was evidently made in a Benedictine monastery in south-west France, probably Poitou. One particular saint occurs in both the calendar and the litany. St Rigomer, though little known elsewhere, was specially venerated at Maillezais in the marshes of bas-Poitou, where the abbey, founded c.1000, was provided with incoming funds from pilgrims by the transfer there of the saint's relics c.1020, and they were given a place of special importance in the chapel to the south of the main altar. The monks at Maillezais had a good library of which there is a catalogue from the end of the twelfth century. Of the small number of these books that still survive one is identified as a Maillezais book because it includes a mention of St Rigomer. It is extremely likely that the psalter now at Maynooth came from Maillezais. This journey cannot have been direct. Maillezais suffered heavily in the Hundred Years War and the French Wars of Religion and the books from the monks' library were probably dispersed in the 1560s. What happened to the psalter between this time and when it arrived in Maynooth probably in the first half of the eighteenth century is moot, but we can now be reasonably certain of its place of origin as well as knowing where it is housed now.
A Dossier of Texts for the Augustinian Hermits of Lucca
pp. 439 - 469
In 1506, the vicar general of the diocese of Lucca authorized a notarized dossier of texts, most of them papal, favoring the observant house of the Augustinian Hermits in that city. Some of these texts had themselves been notarized to make them useful in litigation. Along with the papal letters, there are previously unknown letters of Enrico del Carretto, bishop of Lucca (d. 1323), and Alexander de S, Elpidio, a prior general of the Hermits. The probable moving force in this compilation was Antonius de Meliis, a leading figure among the observants. This dossier was later copied into a manuscript which was located at the Augustinian convent in Crema. The manuscript is now found at the Van Pelt Library of the University of Pennsylvania.
The University of Pennsylvania possesses the largest collection of Sanskrit and vernacular Indian languages in the Western hemisphere. In 2014, UPenn was awarded a three-year Preservation and Access Grant (PW-51547-15) from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), entitled "Providing Global Access to Penn's Indic Manuscripts." The project was completed in 2017, within the scheduled three-year period for the award. The original terms of the grant stipulated that staff at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (now absorbed by the Kislak Center) at Penn Libraries was to catalog, rehouse and digitize its Indic manuscript collection, building on efforts from previous years. The collection highlights Penn's historical commitment to traditional Sanskrit studies and also includes a broad range of vernacular sources including Pali, Prakrit, Hindi, Awadhi, Bengali Marathi, Gujarati, Marwari, Persian, Tamil, and Telugu. In this article I outline some of the recent history leading up to the NEH project, including my own involvement as project cataloger and collection consultant. I will then give an overview of the project and highlight some of its scope, content, and significance. Finally, I will consider some possibilities for promoting the collection in the future.
List of manuscripts cited
pp. 505 - 508