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Let's explore a bit further East and browse our exquisite #Persian language resources.
@SOASLibrary has 15,000+ published items in/about Persian on its shelves.
@SOAS_SpecColl hold a very fine selection of manuscripts, rare books, periodicals and archives in Persian.
#SOASLangs ImageImageImage
Want to know more about #Persian?
Halt here and get's captivated by the history of that beautiful language recounted by Narguess Farzad for @SOAS Languages for Lockdown series, in 3 episodes:
One of our shining stars of #Persian manuscripts is Ms10102: a sumptuous Mughal Court copy dated 978 AH (1570 CE) of the famous Anvār-i Suhaylī (Lights of the Canopus) by Ḥusayn Vāʻiẓ al-Kāshifī, also known as Fables of Bidpai.
#SOASLangs #Persian #Manuscripts #Mughal ImageImage
Its stories belong to the venerable tradition of moralising animal fables.
They originated in India with the Sanskrit पञ्चतन्त्र Pañcatantra (Five Treatises) but it was their 8th century translation in Arabic كليلة ودمنة Kalīlah wa-Dimnah by Ibn al-Muqaffa that popularised them. ImageImageImage
From then, other translations in #Persian and #Syriac circulated.
In the late 15th century Ḥusayn Vāʻiẓ Kāshifī was commissioned by the Timurid court to produce another, simplified, version in Persian.
This version gained tremendous popularity.
#SOASLangs #Persian #Mughal Image
Mughal Emperors in India ordered several luxurious copies to be made of Kāshifī's Anvār-i Suhaylī .
SOAS Ms 10102 is one of those precious copies.

Feast your eyes on the 27 sumptuous miniatures of that regal copy at

#SOASLangs #Persian #Mughal #fables ImageImageImage
Have a go at reconstructing this puzzle of one of the miniatures in Ms10102 Anvār-i Suhaylī :

...and discover the shocking scene right in the middle of the idyllic garden scenery and exquisite foliage!

#SOASLangs #Persian #Manuscripts #Mughal #whodunnit Image
You can zoom in the complete picture there:, and maybe tell us what you think is being depicted?

Hint: La Fontaine re-used and introduced this story from the انوار سهيلى to Western audiences in his fable "L'Ours et l'Amateur des Jardins"... Image
Another staple of #Persian literature is the #Shāhnāmah-ʼi Firdawsī شاهنامۀ فردوسی or “Book of Kings” by #Firdawsī. This epic (in every aspect) poetic work narrates the history of Persia since the dawn of time to the Muslim Arab conquest of Persia in the early 7th cent. A.D. Image
The #Shāhnāmah contains approx. 50,000 verses/bayts, each consisting of 2 hemistiches/misra‘. Completed in eastern Iran in 1010, Shāhnāmah is a work of mythology, history, literature & propaganda: a living epic poem that pervades and expresses many aspects of #Persian culture.
@SOAS_SpecColl hold 7 illuminated manuscripts of the Shāhnāmah, dating from the 16th to the 19th cent. and with various style of illustrations (Persian, Central Asian & Indian).
None are digitised yet, so enjoy the sneak peeks we can offer here of our 16th c. Shāhnāmah (Ms25294), ImageImageImage
...and from our (possibly) 17th century copy of the #Shāhnāmah (Ms 21381 with a recognisably Central Asian style of illustrations.

Here a victorious Kay Khosrow gives the Turanians safe conduct after their defeat, preferring benevolence over revenge... Image
Ambling a bit more amongst our #Persian #manuscripts as we review some of our #MECAC #SOASLangs holdings, here is a dazzling, nearly 600 years old, manuscript :
Divān-i Jāmī (Ms 25293) جامي ديوان
They are the collected poems of the famous poet and mystic Jāmī (1414-92). Image
Nūr al-Dīn 'Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī ranks alongside Sa'dī & Ḥāfiẓ as one of the greatest Persian poets.
This copy is dated 941 AH (1535 CE) and was very likely produced in Herat, Afghanistan, where Jāmī spent the later part of his life.
See more of it here: ImageImageImageImage
Appetite whetted?
You can find more @SOASLibrary to read on #Jāmī at, and on #Persian language, literature & poetry more generally at

Or contact @SOAS Centre of Iranian Studies chaired by @Narguesssoas at! ImageImage
Another 15th c. #Persian manuscript reminds us of the vast extent of the #Persianate world:

Ms46458 ( ظفر نامه Ẓafar′nāmah by Sharaf al-Dīn ʻAlī Yazdī (d. 1454) relates the history of #Timur, the Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the #Timurid dynasty. Image
Having come to @SOAS_SpecColl by way of the Ottoman Empire & Russia, well-worn, bearing innumerable owners stamps and notes (yet to be deciphered), this copy of the Ẓafar′nāmah speaks (in #Persian) of long travels, transmission of knowledge and power storytelling...

#SOASLangs ImageImageImageImage
On the other end of the 'prettiness' sprectrum, is Ms40912 (, a #Ṣafavid secretary's manual.
Being a multilingual treatise on grammar, rhetoric and calligraphy in #Persian, #Arabic & #Turkish, it leads us to explore the latter of these #MECAC #SOASLangs. ImageImageImageImage
#OttomanTurkish was a sophisticated combination of the #Turkish, #Arabic & #Persian languages, using those 3 concurrently.
It was in effect mainly the language of the rulers, urban elite & lettered subjects of the Ottoman Empire between the 14th and 20th centuries

With the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WW1 and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish element of Ottoman Turkish was emphasised and the Perso-Arabic letters replaced by the Latin alphabet in 1928.
#OttomanTurkish #ArabicAlphabet Image
This linguistic cleft is also reflected in our collections: rare books and manuscripts in @SOAS_SpecColl tend to be mainly in #OttomanTurkish, while the rich holdings on @SOASLibrary’s Main Library open shelves tend to be in and about the “Modern” #Turkish language.

@SOAS_SpecColl hold about 50 manuscripts in Ottoman #Turkish and other #Turkic languages (such as #Chagatai).
Ottoman Turkish had an immense reach due to the intense political, commercial and intellectual activities and exchanges of the Ottoman Empire with the rest of the world. Image
Above and below are pictured maps and text from a 18th century copy of Kitâb-ı Cihânnümâ (ms139868, the famous but unfinished Turkish geography by the Ottoman scholar Kâtip Çelebi (1609-1657).

#SOASLangs #Ottoman #maps #atlases ImageImageImageImage
The range of topics of @SOAS_SpecColl's #OttomanTurkish manuscripts is also quite broad.

Ms381289 (see its record at gathers no less than 34 works by 11 authors on the various subjects such as sciences, linguistics, theology, #geography, cosmology, etc. ImageImageImage
Check out for example the 24th work in Ms381289 (ff.164a-176a): رسالۀ قیافت نامه تفصیل Risale-i kıyafet name-i tafsil, an anonymous treatise on the #physiognomy of nine people.
See the digitised version at

#SOASLangs #OttomanTurkish ImageImageImageImage
@SOAS_SpecColl hold limited editions from the press of the most fascinating printer : İbrahim #Müteferrika (1674-1745), a Hungarian by birth who fell into slavery but later became the founder of the very first #Turkish #press in Istanbul in 1729.

#SOASLangs #OttomanTurkish Image
Among those early prints by İbrahim #Müteferrika is 'Tārīkh al-Hind al-Gharbī al-musammā bi-Hadis-i nev' (A History of the West Indies, an account of the discovery of the Americas), printed in Istanbul in 1142 AH [1729 CE].
It is fully digitised at ImageImage
Check out some of the incredible wood block prints in that Müteferrika book, Hadis-i nev (, featuring dragons, mermens, strange unicorns and what looks very much like a #Waqwaq tree!

#Müteferrika #SOASLangs #OttomanTurkish ImageImage
200 years later, in 1927, a fascinating work on childhood & youth in the late Ottoman Empire is printed in Istanbul: "فالاقا Falaka" by Ahmet Rasim, figures amongst the last examples of a Turkish work printed in Arabic letters:

#SOASLangs #MECAC #Turkish ImageImageImageImage
Speaking of early prints and #MECAC_languages, can you recognize the languages used here by Guillaume Postel in his 1538 work “Linguarum duodecim characteribus differentium alphabetum”?
Find some clues in our catalogue record:

#SOASLangs #Multilingualism Image
This 16th century multilingual work by Guillaume Postel (classmark: EB53.12/7293) looks - amongst others - at the #Armenian language.
It includes the Lord's Prayer in Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Greek and Armenian.
#SOASLangs ImageImageImage
Armenian is one of the hundred of languages and dialects of the #MiddleEast, #Caucasus and #CentralAsia represented in @SOASLibrary and @SOAS_SpecColl , with a small but perfectly formed collection of about 500 items in the Library in or about the #Armenian language

#SOASLangs Image
Check out the 'Notes on Modern Armenian' by Elias Riggs,(1810-1900), published in Smyrna in 1844 (classmark: EB84.570) and digitised at

They refer to Western #Armenian (used by the Armenian diaspora), as opposed to the Eastern variant used in Armenia. ImageImageImageImage
The oldest text in Armenian alphabet is the Bible, translated by Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD.
As it happens, all of our dozen #Armenian manuscripts are liturgic texts, such as this imposing 15th century Armenian Lectionary (Ms41463) in bolorgir script.
See ImageImage
Or this sumptious 16th century copy of the Four Gospels Մարկոսի ավետարանիչ (ms11521), featuring a portrait of the Evangelist Saint Mark.
See it fully digitised at:

#TreasuresofSOAS #SOASLangs #Armenian ImageImageImageImage
Can you guess the language of this other manuscript of the Gospel according to Luke (Ms103392)?

Hint: it was penned in Beirut in 1955 by Asmar Kas Georgius...

#TreasuresOfSOAS #SOASLangs #MECAC_languages ImageImageImage
It is Evangelion qaddishe d Luqa msabrnu, the Gospel of St Luke in #Syriac!
It was presented in 1955 to HM Queen Elizabeth II, who donated it to Sir Ralph Turner, then director of @SOAS.

Note the cute dedicace of the proud father/copyist!
#SOASLangs #MECAC_languages #provenance ImageImageImageImage
#Syriac (ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Leššānā Suryāyā) is a particularly 'successful' dialect of Middle Aramaic of the Northwest Semitic languages.
It competed with Latin and Greek as one of the most important languages of Christianity in the early CE centuries and it spread as far as China. Image
Its alphabet derives from the Aramaic one and is read horizontally, right-to-left.
Syriac played a pivotal role in #translation of #Greek #philosophy texts into #Arabic in the 9th cent. Those were later translated into Latin, notably in multilingual Arab Spain.
#SOASLangs #Syriac
Syriac is still used as the liturgical language of the Syriac Orthodox Church and spoken by its adherents and Assyrian communities in Iraq and Northern Syria.

#SOASLangs #MECAC_Languages #Syriac ImageImageImage
Should you wish to learn more about this fascinating and influential language, you will find a handsome and up-to-date collection on Level B @SOASLibrary (see list at

#Syriac #MECAC_languages #SOASLangs Image
How multilingual can we get, perusing Christian liturgical works amongst @SOAS_SpecColl's manuscripts?

What language(s) can you spot in this 1805 Gospel for example?

#SOASLangs #Multilingualism #MECAC_Languages Image
Well done if you spotted #Arabic and #Coptic!

Ms15568 is Bishārat Mattā al-Qiddīs, a copy of the Gospel according to St. Matthew copied in 1520 (Coptic)/1804 AD that shows signs of heavy use.

Check out the birds decorations on the first page: could those be hoopoes?

#SOASLangs ImageImageImage
The same little bird creeps up as an inhabited initial in Ms13997, a 18th cent. manuscript (on parchment) in #Coptic and #Arabic.
The last work in this manuscript is an anonymous discourse on the Cross, followed by biblical passages.

#SOASLangs #TreasuresOfSOAS #Hoopoe ImageImage
Ms13997 also contains two other works:

- an homily on the invention of the Cross: Maymar ʻalá ẓuhūr al-ṣalīb al-muqaddas ميمر على ظهور الصليب المقدس by Saint Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem (ca. 315-386),

- Benedictions (Barakāt) to be recited on various occasions.

#Coptic ImageImage
#Coptic was derived from Ancient Egyptian & written in a modified Greek alphabet. From the 7th century and the Arab conquest, Coptic scholars started producing works on Coptic grammar & vocabulary, including #Arabic equivalents.
#SOASLangs Image
Gradually Gospels and other religious texts came to be written in both #Coptic and Arabic side by side.
This is the case in Ms13996, a manuscript presumably dating from the 9th century: Fuṣūl min al-Anājīl
or Gospels for Good Friday, Saturday and Easter
Sunday, etc.
#SOASLangs ImageImageImage
Want to learn more about the #Coptic language?

There are hundreds of titles on our open-shelves collection in @SOASLibrary. Check out classmark 'QSB' in our catalogue !

#SOASLangs #Coptic #MECAC_Languages Image
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