Title page of a collective manuscript containing several writings by the founder of the Zaydi state in Yemen, Imam al-Hadi ila l-haqq (d. 910). The codex (copied around 1200 CE) is one of the oldest among the Yemeni manuscripts of the Munich Caprotti collection.
The Institute for Advanced Study, the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML), and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, announce that digital copies of 53 additional South Arabian manuscripts are now available online through vHMML (Virtual HMML) Reading Room and the digital repository of the Bavarian State Library. Convenient access is further provided through the Digital Portal of the Zaydi Manuscript Tradition website at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. The digitization has been generously funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities.
The South Arabian manuscripts held by the Bavarian State Library were brought together by the Italian merchant Giuseppe Caprotti, who arrived in Yemen in 1885 and spent the next 34 years there. During his sojourn in South Arabia, Caprotti collected 1,790 manuscripts. A small portion, 157 manuscripts, was offered in 1901 through the mediation of Eduard Glaser to the Bibliotheca Regia Monacensis at Munich (now Bavarian State Library), and the purchase was concluded in 1902. The bulk of the Caprotti collection belongs, since 1909, to the Biblioteca Pinacoteca Accademia Ambrosiana, in Milan, and another portion of 280 manuscripts was donated in 1922 to the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
“With close to 1,800 codices, the Caprotti collection is the largest collection of South Arabian manuscripts outside Yemen, and it is very helpful that some more of this precious material is now available to scholars worldwide in digital form,” said Sabine Schmidtke, Professor of Islamic intellectual history in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study.
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There are two new articles on Yemen in the latest Arabian Humanities.
“El-Ḫelfe, la fenêtre
ou al-Miḥḍār, grand poète du Ḥaḍramawt”
by Claude Audebert et Fatima Al-Zawya
Des imams et sultans au Yémen réunifié : un tour d’horizon vexillologique
À paraitre en novembre 2019
By Hervé Calvarin
There is also a review:
A website called The International Treasury of Islamic Manuscripts contains basic information on almost 250 Yemeni manuscripts, most in the Glaser collection in Vienna and Berlin. You can search these by clicking here. Several of the manuscripts listed are digitized and available to view online. An example is: النفحة الندية فى توالى ايام الاشهر العربية والرومية والفارسية . This is described as follows:
“The author Muḥammad b. Aḥmad Ibn al-Imām gives instructions on how the following tables (ff.40v-94r) for the years 1215/1800 to 1241/1825 are to be used. Every year is dealt with on four pages, and on each page the Arabic, Greek, and Persian months and their days are juxtaposed. Then the four seasons, beginning with autumn, are listed in ff.94v–96r with their appropriate lunar mansions; ff.97r-100 provide tables on the length of day and night; 101v-131r, with every page divided into three columns, indicate the first day of each month for the years 1242/1826 to 1300/1883. Corrections of احمد بن يحيى المفتى الحبيشى, as necessitated by the leap years in calculating the beginning of the new year, from the year 1266/1849 to 1300/1883.”
AIYS member Sam Liebhaber (Middlebury College) will deliver a talk on the Yemeni poet Muḥammad al-Zubayrī at Leeds University on Saturday, July 13.
The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition project, based at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, has issued a recent report on the ZMT’s ongoing efforts to capture the Yemeni manuscripts in Italian libraries and provide open access to them.
V. Sagaria Rossi & S. Schmidtke, “The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition (ZMT) Project. Digitizing the Collections of Yemeni Manuscripts in Italian Libraries,” Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies (COMSt) Bulletin 5/1 (2019), pp. 43-60.
An online version of the paper is available at https://www.aai.uni-hamburg.de/en/comst/pdf/bulletin5-1/43-60.pdf as well as
One of the classic Yemeni songs by ‘Alī al-Anisī is his طاب اللقا . Here is a recent remake of this classic, published by Aḥmad al-Ashwāl. For the poem by Muṭahhar al-Iryānī, click here.
For a performance by al-Anisī, click here.
Culminating its support for Yemen’s cultural heritage, AIYS has recently printed and published Qāmūs al-‘urf al-qabīlī fī al-Yaman (Dictionary of Tribal Customary Law in Yemen) in three volumes. This is a remarkable work aimed to fill a gap in the Yemeni literature. The author is Ahmed al-Gabali, a senior researcher at the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research.
Ahmad Gabali with Dr. Salwa Dammaj in the AIYS office
This dictionary is the first of its kind in the Yemeni literature. It is designed to gather, document and explain terms and idioms regarding tribal norms and rules in different regions of Yemen from north to south and from east to west. The author conducted a nationwide field survey in the most famous tribal regions in Yemen. Study of the available literature provided a key resource for the content. This was based on original tribal documents, works by Yemeni authors, as well as studies by foreign researchers. In addition, geographical and historical literature was consulted as a reference to support the work. Local folk poetry in several Yemeni regions also proved valuable help for explaining the terms and concepts. Generally speaking, the content of the dictionary is based on reliable and credible sources and authentic references. It will serve as a main reference for researchers in the future.
The author Aḥmad Ṣāliḥ al-Gabalī has been a sociology and anthropology researcher at the Yemen Center forStudies and Research since 2004. He received an M.A. degree in Bulgaria in 1988. His previous publications include studies of the terms hajar and jawār in ancient Yemen as well as the Contract of Medina written during the lifetime of the Prophet. He began research for this book on Yemeni tribes in 2006.
Continue reading Dictionary on Tribal Customary law in Yemen
Twisting the “Strings” and Punishing the “Pearls”
The Editing Errors by the Historian Author Redhouse
concerning the Historian Narrator Alī b. al-Ḥasan al-Khazrajī
The most famous history of Rasulid Yemen is ‘Uqūd al-lu’lu’īya fī ta’rīkh al-dawla al-Rasūlīya by the court historian ‘Alī b. al-Ḥasan al-Khazrajī (d. 1410 CE). This was published in a widely used edition by Brill from 1906-1918 in five volumes, but there are later editions edited by Muḥammad ‘Alī al-Akwa‘ and also by ‘Abd Allāh al-Ḥibshī. Unfortunately the Brill edition has multiple errors in both the translation and Arabic text. I have created a webpage discussing the errors in the edition, the range of editions available and a biography of Sir James William Redhouse (d. 1892), who was the translator.
I encourage anyone who uses this edition to send in errors they have noticed to be added the webpage.
One of the indigenous forms of Arabic poetry in Yemen is called ḥumaynī. For those who have not read the chronicle of Yaḥya b. al-Ḥusayn (d. 1100/1689) entitled Ghāyat al-amānī, it might be of interest to note that he claims the first appearance of this poetic form in the year 838/1434-5. This reference appears to be to the first collection of this poetry, since such a local form would not originally have been written. I attach the relevant pages from the edited text by Muḥammad al-Akwa‘ published in 1388/1968 in Cairo.
Congratulations to Flagg Miller on the Arabic translation of his ethnographic study of cassette poetry. The English original is available here.