Sonderforschungsbereich 950

Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe

07/2015manuscript of the month

Better than a cat!
The multiple lives of a Qur’an commentary from Yemen

Biblioteca dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana,
Ms. Or. 78a, 1r

Between 1035 and 1054, the last exegete of the Sunni school of Nishapur (Iran), Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī al-Wāḥidī, wrote the Tafsīr al-Basīṭ (Large Commentary). This work was the first one to explain the Qur’an mostly by analysing its words, language and historical context. Three hundred years later, a scribe copied the text into a set of sixteen manuscripts, and seven centuries after that, the seventh volume of the work ended up on the conservation bench. In conservation, having an artefact tell its story is as important as healing its physical form. The material evidence of the present manuscript immediately shows that it must have had a very adventurous life. It was in relatively bad shape, with signs of multiple alterations, embellishments and ownership changes. What exactly happened to this manuscript over the past seven centuries that allowed it to live several different lives, just like a cat?


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Databases now online

CSMC is now taking care of two important manuscript databases in conjunction with the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Hamburg:

The database of the Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project (NGMCP), which is one of the largest of its kind, containing entries on more than 100,000 manuscripts registered between 1972 and 2014 by NGMCP and its predecessor, the Nepal–German Manuscript Preservation Project (NGMPP). Both long-term projects were funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The Index of Armenian Art: Database of Manuscript Illuminations (IAA), which is currently the most important database of illuminated Armenian manuscripts that exists. It was compiled and maintained by Professor Dickran Kouymjian and his staff and was originally located at California State University in Fresno. CSMC is to modernize and expand the database in conjunction with Professor Kouymjian.

Both databases are now available for use by the general public.

Call for Papers for the 2nd international conference on 'Natural Sciences and Technology in Manuscript Analysis'

The 2nd international conference 'Natural Sciences and Technology in Manuscript Analysis' will be held at CMSC from 29 February to 2 March 2016. Deadline for abstract submission is 27 November, 2015.
Call for Papers and registration

MoU between the University of Maiduguri and Universität Hamburg

During a visit of a delegation from the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria, to CSMC, Vice-Chancellor Ibrahim A. Njodi and Vice-President Susanne Rupp of the University of Hamburg signed a Memorandum of Understanding in order to enhance cooperation in the field of manuscript studies and beyond.
Pictures of the ceremony

DFG continues funding the Sonderforschungsbereich 950

On 21 May 2015 the German Research Association (DFG) has decided to continue funding of Sonderforschungsbereich 950 'Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe' / Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) for another four years until June 2019.
Press release by Universität Hamburg (in German)


2-9 October 2015 | Workshop
Workshop on preservation, cataloguing, and digitization of West African manuscripts in the framework of the Malian-Franco-German event “Paroles de sagesse”
Bamako, Bibliothèque Nationale du Mali

5-9 and 12-13 October 2015 | Workshop
Introduction to the literary Telugu
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

19 October 2015 | Workshop
Nikephoros Blemmydes in the Palaeologan Age - Manuscripts, Reception, Scientific Milieu
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

5 November 2015 6pm | Lecture
Prof Dr Charles C. Stewart
Visiting Scholar at ISITA and Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urban
Re-discovering Timbuktu's Manuscript Past: What Happened When that Scholarship Disappeared 300 Years Ago?
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

7 November 2015, 5-12pm | Science Night 2015
Scientists of the CSMC present their work during the 6th Science Night in Hamburg.
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

12 November 2015 6pm | Lecture
Prof Dr Lucille Chia
University of California
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

19 November 2015 6pm | Lecture
Prof Dr Melanie Trede
University of Heidelberg
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

25 November 2015, 11 am | Informal Talk
Dr Michele Cammarosano, University of Würzburg
Computer-aided Analysis of Cuneiform Manuscripts: A Case Study for Quantitative Palaeography
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

26 November 2015 6pm | Lecture
Prof Dr Felix Heinzer
Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001