Sonderforschungsbereich 950

Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe

08/2014manuscript of the month

Of Travels and Travails in Blank Spaces:
The Fate of Ioan of Kratovo’s Four Gospels

Ioan of Kratovo’s Four Gospels
(HACI 34, fol. 10a)

This well-preserved Church Slavonic version of the Four Gospels (HACI 34) copied in 1562 has always been a very valuable object. Not only is it rich in art produced by the famous Orthodox calligrapher and illuminator Ioan of Kratovo (fl. 1526–1583), but the manuscript is thickly clad in precious metals; the binding alone, which is silver and gold-plated, weighs 14 kilogrammes. We can partially reconstruct the story of this manuscript from the various notes that are to be found in its margins. Some of these marginal accounts are written in rough handwriting; it is surprising that such a beautiful book, which once commanded sacral powers, is littered with childish scrawls. There is a particularly interesting contrast where a luxuriously illuminated page is bordered by an inscription that was added by someone called Petre, who apparently belonged to a family of boza-sellers (boza was a fermented beverage popular in the Balkans during the Ottoman period). How did the rude handwriting of a boza-seller find its place in this ceremonial book, whose handling was the privilege of the clergy?


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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

Exhibition: Tora – Talmud – Siddur.
Hebrew Manuscripts of at the State Library

For the very first time the extensive and important collection of Hebrew manuscripts in the State and University Library Hamburg are being presented to the public in an exhibition. With a total of c. 550 manuscripts the collection ranks among the largest worldwide. A selection of 80 manuscripts and 5 early prints will be on display, demonstrating the abundance and characteristics of the collection. The exhibition was curated in cooperation with CSMC. It is open to the public from 18 September until 26 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.

Workshop: Iconicity of the Script
31 October - 1 November 2014

Scripts and writing systems are more than neutral transmitters of the words that are encoded by them. When words that were previously spoken and transmitted orally are written down, they gain a new, visual and material dimension. The iconic component with which the script can be endowed in this process has a hermeneutic, as well as an aesthetic, potential. The aim of this workshop is to explore how the visual and iconic potential of script has been used in manuscript cultures in Asia, Africa, America, and Europe.
Details and Registration


31 October - 01 November 2014 | Workshop
Iconicity of Script
Details and Registration
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

06 November 2014 6pm | Lecture
Dr Annabel Teh Gallop
British Library
The Art of the Qur’an in Southeast Asia
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

07-08 November 2014 | Workshop
Changing Praxis in the 19th-century Malay Manuscript Ecology
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, Room 2002

11 November 2014, 6pm | Lecture Series
China Time 2014
Prof Dr Lothar Ledderose
Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg
China - die Welt der Zeichen
Writing as Art - Calligraphy in China and in the West
House of Photography, Deichtorstraße 1-2

18 November 2014, 6pm | Lecture Series
China Time 2014
Dr Uta Lauer
University of Hamburg
„Mit einem Strich – Die Ästhetik chinesischer Kalligraphie“
Writing as Art - Calligraphy in China and in the West
House of Photography, Deichtorstraße 1-2

19-22 November 2014 | Conference
Manuscripts and Archives
The international conference 'Manuscripts and Archives' will be held at CMSC from 19-22 November 2014. Participation is free, please register online.
Outline und Registration
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

25 November 2014 6pm | Lecture Series
China Time 2014
Prof Dr Amy McNair
University of Kansas
“Death by Transcription? A Letter by Yan Zhenqing (709-785)”
Writing as Art - Calligraphy in China and in the West
House of Photography, Deichtorstraße 1-2

27 November 2014 6pm | Lecture
Dr Máire Ní Mhaonaigh
University of Cambridge
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

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