Sonderforschungsbereich 950

Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe

09/2014manuscript of the month

Writing with the Air

Light falling through the cut-out script on fol. 49v. of
manuscript A 42

At first glance, this book looks much like any other Arabic manuscript. Upon opening the fine brown leather binding with its protective flap, a typical feature of Islamic books, the first few pages present the reader with a text written in a clear and conventional hand. Not long after opening the volume, however, a couple of lines announce a most unusual reading experience: “Read letters without ink / Rather, the air has become its ink (iqra’ ḥurūfan bi-lā midād / qad ṣāra ḥibran la-hā l-hawā إقرأ حروفاً بلا مداد / قد صار حبراً لها الهوأ)”. What exactly is this supposed to mean? What did the unsuspecting onlooker encounter when he turned the pages written with letters made of air?


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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.

Advertisement and further information

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.


2 December 2014, 6pm | Lecture Series
China Time 2014
Prof. Dr. Claus Peter Haase
Freie Universität Berlin
Kalligraphie der arabischen Schrift – künstlerische Entfaltung und dogmatische Beschränkung
Writing as Art - Calligraphy in China and in the West
House of Photography, Deichtorstraße 1-2

6 January 2015 6pm | Lecture Series
China Time 2014
Prof. Dr. Stephan Müller, Universität Wien
„Performative Schreibakte. Über Schrift als Handlungsform in abendländischen mittelalterlichen Handschriften“
Writing as Art - Calligraphy in China and in the West
House of Photography, Deichtorstraße 1-2

16-17 January 2015 | Workshop
China Time 2014
Worldwide Calligraphy
Writing as Art - Calligraphy in China and in the West
Participation is free, please register online.
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

16 January 2015 |
Panel Discussion: Kalligraphie Global
China Time 2014
Worldwide Calligraphy
Writing as Art - Calligraphy in China and in the West
House of Photography, Deichtorstraße 1-2

22 January 2015 6pm | Lecture
Father Columba Stewart, OSB, DPhil
Saint John's University, USA
Activities of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

29 January 2015 6pm | Lecture
Prof Dr Imke Mendoza
University of Salzburg
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

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