Sonderforschungsbereich 950

Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe

manuscript of the month

MS Sierra-Texupan, p. 59

Three Cultural Traditions, Two Writing Systems and One Shopping List: The Sierra-Texupan Codex

Once the dust settled after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the year 1521, a new government system was established in Mesoamerica, the region spanning present-day Mexico and Central America. That was the New Spain Viceroyalty. Culturally speaking, this change of administration was especially complicated for the Spaniards because the Aztecs had dominated over a population of seven million in more than three hundred cities in the southeastern part of the region, comprised of the Otomi, Totonac, Mixtec and other peoples. Each and every one of these peoples had languages and dialects of their own. Now Europeans, speaking Spanish, Italian and French, had to communicate with indigenous peoples through Nahuatl, the lingua franca under the Aztecs, while trying to introduce a writing system employing the Latin alphabet to local populations. How did scribes in the region deal with the challenge in communication?


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The Power of Writing – The Manuscript Culture of the Toba-Batak from North Sumatra
19 March – 17 May 2020
MARKK Museum am Rothenbaum

Opening: 18 March 2020, 6 pm

An exhibition focussing on the writing culture of the Toba-Batak has been jointly curated by the Museum am Rothenbaum – Kunst und Kulturen der Welt (MARKK) and the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC). Remarkable is the wide range of manuscripts and other written artefacts the Batak have produced. The exhibits include manuscripts made of tree bark, bone and bamboo as well as handwritten objects primarily serving a magical and/or medicinal purpose. During his stays on the island of Sumatra, Johannes Winkler, a German doctor and missionary, befriended a datu (priest) in the early 20th century and collected most of the artefacts on display.

Two new volumes of the series Studies in Manuscript Cultures (SMC)

In December 2019 two new volumes were published in CSMC’s series Studies in Manuscript Cultures: Dividing Texts by Bidur Bhattarai and The Emergence of Multiple-Text Manuscripts, edited by Alessandro Bausi, Michael Friedrich and Marilena Maniaci.
The vast amount of manuscripts produced in the Indian sub-continent is astounding, revealing a massive enterprise spanning out over a huge geographical space and an immense period of time. Focusing on the visual organisation of texts in Nepalese and Northern Indian manuscripts largely from 800 to 1300 CE, Bhattarai examines in Dividing Texts: Conventions of Visual Text-Organisation in Nepalese and North Indian Manuscripts (SMC 10) the scribal practices, ways of manuscript production, and some aspects of their implementation in ritual contexts across the varying regions of India and Nepal.
The universal practice of selecting and excerpting, summarizing and canonizing, arranging and organizing texts and visual signs, either in carefully dedicated types of manuscripts or not, is common to all manuscript cultures. Determined by intellectual or practical needs, this process is never neutral in itself. The resulting proximity and juxtaposition of previously distant contents challenge previous knowledge and trigger further developments. With a vast selection of highly representative case studies – from China, India, Islamic Asia and Spain to Ethiopian cultures, from Ancient Christian to Coptic and Medieval European domains – the  volume The Emergence of Multiple-Text Manuscripts (SMC 17) deals with manuscripts planned or growing and resulting in time to comprise ‘more than one’.
Both volumes are open access publications.

New Petra Kappert Fellow

Dr. David Durand-Guédy is an independent researcher, based in Tehran. He specialises in the history of medieval Iran, especially the pre-Mongol period. He will be working on two enshā’ manuscripts (“compilation of letters”) produced in 13th-century Iran. Together with Jürgen Paul he will co-organise a workshop dedicated to written artefacts produced for the writer’s own use (By one’s own hand – for one’s own use. Anthologies and Multiple Text Manuscripts, to be held 20-21 February 2020). He will stay at the CSMC until March 2020.


06 - 07 March 2020 | Workshop
Sarada manuscripts title and programme
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26,room 0001

07 March 2020, 5pm | Exhibition
Konsulat Jenderal Republik Indonesia(Hamburg)
Pameran Naskah-Naskah Batak-Ausstellung von Batak Manuskripten.
Konsulat Jenderal Republik Indonesia, Bebelallee 15, 22299 Hamburg

13 March 2020, 2pm | Book presentation
Professor Dr Alessandro Bausi(Hamburg)
Professor Dr A. Bausi RIE IIIB invitation and abstracts NEW:
A landmark in Ethiopian epigraphy

CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

18 March 2020, 6pm | Exhibition Opening
CSMC(Hamburg),MARKK (Hamburg)
The Power of Writing-The Manuscript Culture of the Toba- Batak from North Sumatra; Die Macht der Schrift-die Manuskriptkultur der Toba-Batak Batak.
MARKK,Rothenbaumchaussee 64, 20148 Hamburg

20-21 March 2020 | Workshop
The elusive connection. Manuscripts and rituals of the Bon and Naxi traditions
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

02 April 2020 10am | Informal Talk
Dr Iris Iran Farkhondeh
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 2002

28 April 2020 4pm | Lecture Series
Maps and Colours
Dr Diana Lange (Hamburg), Dr Benjamin van der Linde (Hamburg)
Understanding hand-coloured maps-or why maps and colours should not be studied separately
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

05 May 2020 4pm | Lecture Series
Maps and Colours
Dr Peter Zietlow (Hamburg)
Identifying colourants - Non- and minimal-invasive analysis of pigments and dyes
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

12 May 2020 4pm | Lecture Series
Maps and Colours
Juliette Dumasy-Rabineau (Orléans)
Colours on French local maps from 14th to 16th century
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001