Place Names in Colophons and Notes of Yemeni Manuscripts

In: Journal of Islamic Manuscripts
Christoph Rauch Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Germany Berlin

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This article points to some geographical and historical conditions of scholarship and manuscript culture in Zaydi Yemen. The place of copying is only sporadically given in the colophons of Arabic manuscripts. This is confirmed by a systematic investigation into the catalogues of the Berlin collection presented here. In particular, this article discusses the presence of place names in the colophons and notes of Yemeni manuscripts, based on an examination of 750 volumes held in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, and the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. It reveals that manuscripts from the Zaydi tradition were copied in numerous locations, but also shows the relevance of other places with respect to the transmission of knowledge. The wide range of fifty villages and smaller towns that appear in the colophons is significant for Yemen and can be explained by the long tradition of Zaydi scholars settling in the tribal territory in villages (qarya) or settlements called hijra (pl. hijar). The result remains surprising in so far as older catalogues of Yemeni manuscripts seem to be erratic and inconsistent in providing information on places of copying.

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