The Colophon in Arabic Manuscripts. A Phenomenon without a Name

In: Journal of Islamic Manuscripts
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  • 1 Katalogisierung der Orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland (Arbeitsstelle Jena), a project of the Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen

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The oldest books in the Arabic language bearing a date of completion, which is the most simple form of colophon, originate from the third century of the Islamic era (ninth century ad). The scribes initially confined themselves to a few notes, such as the date, their names and their place of work. However, in the course of time they began to add further information, such as the title of the book and the name of the author, or else they briefly described the original model they had just copied and embellished the colophon with eulogies. Before long, the mode of expression became stereotyped. Later, and to a lesser extent, the layout was designed using certain characteristic forms.

Although a large number of colophons occur in Arabic manuscripts, no technical term denoting them existed in the manuscript age. The existence of the colophon as a separate part of the book seems not even to have been recognized, for at that time the handbooks concerning the proper way of learning and the handling and copying of books fail to mention it at all. Only with the recent emergence of Arab codicology has the colophon been acknowledged and given an Arabic name.

In contrast to this, however, the scholars of the manuscript age did pay considerable attention in the early days to the collation of the copy, comparing it with the original model and coining special terminology to describe the process.

  • 1

    Endreß 1982, 271.

  • 2

    Dreibholz 2003, 19–21.

  • 3

    Şeşen 1997, 191.

  • 8

    Şeşen 1997, 195, no. 10 and 197, fig. 5 (ms. Istanbul, Köprülü K. 43).

  • 10

    See Déroche 2007.

  • 11

    Şeşen 1997, 195 no. 8 (ms. Istanbul, Carullah 44).

  • 13

    Sellheim 1976, 289–291.

  • 14

    SBB.SPK Hs. or. 8081, fol. 414a. The manuscript is described by Quiring-Zoche forthcoming a. See also Quiring-Zoche 2009, 33–43.

  • 20

    Déroche 2000, 339–340.

  • 22

    SBB.SPK Hs. or. 5779, fol. 382a, copied by Khalīl ibn Safar in the Zāwiya Küčük Ayā Ṣūfya in Istanbul in Shǎwwāl 1056 (Nov.-Dez 1646ad). See also Quiring-Zoche forthcoming b.

  • 26

    SBB.SPK Hs. or. 6241, fol. 151b, copied by ʿAbd al-Ghafūr al-Qādirī, dated Friday, Shaʿbān 23rd, 1122 (Oct. 17th, 1710ad). See also Quiring-Zoche forthcoming a.

  • 30

    SBB.SPK Ms. or. oct. 3471, fol. 139b, described by Sellheim 1976, 196–199 no. 53.

  • 31

    Rosenthal 1947, 8–18.

  • 35

    Rosenthal 1947, 13–18.

  • 36

    Gacek 1989a, 53.

  • 37

    Déroche 2000, 337–349.

  • 38

    Gacek 2009, 72.

  • 39

    Gacek 2001, 38.

  • 40

    Gacek 2008, 66.

  • 42

    These are:—Şeşen 1986, 21, and Endreß 1982, 289 (qayd al-farāgh, but Endreß quoted due to a misunderstanding);—Aslanapa 1407/1987, 396 (khātima);—Manūnī 1991/1412, 206 (dhaylah);—Nuṣayr 1994, 350–353 (ḥard al-matn);—Sāmarrāʿī 2001, 20, 171 (taqyīd al-khitām);—Shawqī Binbīn/Ṭawbī 2004, 63 (takhtīm and takhtīmah and ḥard al-matn).

  • 43

    Fuʾād Sayyid 1997, vol. 2, 400.

  • 44

    Déroche 2005, 400sq.

  • 45

    Gacek 1989b, 24.

  • 46

    Gacek 2009, 71–76.

  • 48

    MS. SBB.SPK Hs. or. 8081, fol. 414a, see Arabic text above, ⓕ-ⓖ, and below.

  • 49

    ʿAlmawī 1348/1930, 135; Gacek 2009, 65, 68–69.

  • 51

    Rosenthal 1947, 23. Cf. also Şeşen 1997, 202–205 nos. 24, 25, 26 and fig. 8, 28, and 29, which are all copies of autographs.

  • 52

    For details see Gacek 2009, 65–69.

  • 53

    SBB.SPK Hs. or. 8081, fol. 414a, see above (Arabic text) and fig. 1.

  • 56

    Cited by Seidensticker 2005, 122–124 no. 172.

  • 57

    Quiring-Zoche 2006, 1005–1006. Cf. also Seidensticker 1997, 88–89. For further autographs see Sellheim 1987, 410 (Index); Ziriklī 1986, passim.

  • 58

    SBB.SPK Ms. or. oct. 3471, fol. 139b, see above, and fig. 7.

  • 59

    SBB.SPK Ms. or. oct. 3471, fol. 139b.

  • 60

    Sellheim 1976, 195–199 no. 53.

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