Sonderforschungsbereich 950

Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe

10/2014manuscript of the month

For the Love of Calligraphy:
A Letter by a Chinese Calligrapher

Letter to the Honorable Jingwen of Xizhou
© National Palace Museum (Taipei)

Famed for his calligraphic talent, Mi Fu 米芾 (1051–1107), a scholar-official in 11th-century China, wrote to a friend to offer some precious objects in exchange for an ancient piece of calligraphic artwork that he adored. The outcome was a short letter that still remains today. Although the letter only contains 85 Chinese characters, it is rich in cultural significance, and the style in which it was written demonstrates the writer’s marvelous artistic talent. How are content and form interconnected in such a Chinese letter, or in other words, what was the relationship between the epistolary and the calligraphic in the manuscript?


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Manuscript Identification Service
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Calligraphy live performance by international Artists

CSMC and the Deichtorhallen Hamburg present the world's first joint calligraphy performance by the internationally renowned Artists Wang Dongling (Hangzhou, China), Soraya Syed (London, Großbritannien) and Peter Unbehauen (Hamburg) on 16 January 2015. The performance will be followed by a panel discussion on 'Calligraphy worldwide'.
Admission is free. The performance will begin at 2pm and the discussion, held in English, at 6pm.
Venue: Deichtorhallen Hamburg, House of Photography, Auditorium > Please register
Press release

Job offer:
Research associate for the project 'African voices in Islamic manuscripts from Mali: a study of African languages written in Arabic-based script (Ajami)'

Pending funding, Universität Hamburg invites applications for a research associate for the project 'African voices in Islamic manuscripts from Mali: a study of African languages written in Arabic-based script (Ajami)'. CSMC invites applications for either a postdoctoral research position or a doctoral research position. The position is based in Hamburg and in Mali. Employment will be with the Universität Hamburg.
Application deadline is 1 February 2015.

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Job offer:
Assistant manager for the project 'Safeguarding the Manuscripts from Timbuktu'

Pending funding, Universität Hamburg invites applications for an assistant manager for the project 'Safeguarding the Manuscripts from Timbuctu'. The position is full-time with a one-year fixed contract with a possibiliy for extension. The position is based at the CSMC office in Hamburg and in Bamako, Mali. Employment will be with the Universität Hamburg.
Application deadline is 31 January 2015.

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New Publications

Three new CSMC publications are now available. Two new volumes were published by De Gruyter in the series Studies in Manuscript Cultures: Volume 1 Manuscript Cultures: Mapping the Field and Volume 3 Manuscript, Print and Memory - Relics of the Cankam in Tamilnadu. There is also the new issue no. 5 of the open access journal manuscript cultures, which is available as a free download. Articles in this issue cover manuscript cultures from ancient Greece, China, West Africa, the Middle East and India, as well as natural sciences in manuscript analysis.

Guardian of the Manuscripts from Timbuktu visited CSMC

Dr. Abdel Kader Haїdara visited CSMC on 7-8 October 2014 to discuss further measures for safeguarding the famous Manuscripts from Timbuktu. Dr. Haїdara arrived from Berlin, where the Federal Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier had presented him the German Africa Award of the renowned German Africa Foundation in recognition of his tremendous and continuing efforts for the rescue of this important West African cultural heritage. During his visit Dr. Haїdara not only met with researchers from the centre, but also with the Hamburg Senator for Science and Research, Dr. Dorothee Stapelfeldt, and the Honorary Consul of Mali in Hamburg, Mrs. Bettina Rhensius-Krohn.
Press release of 1.10.2014
Article from the Uni HH Newsletter October 2014

CSMC Awarded a Million Euros for Timbuktu Project

Having successfully completed a 12-month pilot phase, CSMC’s project entitled ‘Safeguarding the Manuscripts from Timbuktu’ is to be funded for five more years with the support of the German Foreign Office and the Gerda Henkel Foundation. CSMC has come to an agreement with Dr Abdel Kader Haïdara, chairman of the NGO 'SAVAMA-DCI' and the person who rescued the manuscripts, which also envisages close co-operation with other financiers and donors such as the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library. The prime objective of the international effort is to rescue the manuscripts from new threats caused by completely different climatic conditions and problematic storage conditions: they need to be taken out of the densely packed boxes in which they were transported to Bamako, and to be stored in an appropriate building in accordance with conservationists’ standards. The project will continue to be run by Dr Dmitry Bondarev, who is currently its scientific co-ordinator.


29 January 2015 6pm | Lecture
Prof Dr Imke Mendoza
University of Salzburg
The Novgorod Birch-Bark Letters - a Medieval Text Genre?
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

30-31 January 2015 | Workshop
Ordering Knowledge: Structuring, Listing and Shelving Manuscripts
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26