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In: Traces of Ink
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Abstract

The Kitāb ʿuyūn al-ḥaqāʾiq wa-īḍāḥ al-ṭarāʾiq (‘The best of true facts and the explanation of their ways’) was composed in the 13th century by Abū al-Qāsim al-ʿIrāqī, best known for his alchemical works. This peculiar handbook counts 30 chapters and includes many different streams of tradition: pseudo-Platonic magic, medicine, pharmacology, sleight of hand, and crafts. This chapter focuses on the recipes for coloured metallic inks and invisible ones (chapters 18 and 23) and provides an edition and a commented English translation of these sections. The kind of edition proposed here — a ‘laboratory-edition’ — is devised as a specific tool for interdisciplinary research on premodern science and technology and as preparatory work for the replication of these recipes.

Open Access
In: Traces of Ink
In: Mesopotamian Medicine and Magic
Traces of Ink
Open Access
Experiences of Philology and Replication
Volume Editor:
Traces of Ink. Experiences of Philology and Replication is a collection of original papers exploring the textual and material aspects of inks and ink-making in a number of premodern cultures (Babylonia, the Graeco-Roman world, the Syriac milieu and the Arabo-Islamic tradition). The volume proposes a fresh and interdisciplinary approach to the study of technical traditions, in which new results can be achieved thanks to the close collaboration between philologists and scientists. Replication represents a crucial meeting point between these two parties: a properly edited text informs the experts in the laboratory who, in turn, may shed light on many aspects of the text by recreating the material reality behind it.

Contributors are: Miriam Blanco Cesteros, Michele Cammarosano, Claudia Colini, Vincenzo Damiani, Sara Fani, Matteo Martelli, Ira Rabin, Lucia Raggetti, and Katja Weirauch.
In: Gendered Touch
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Abstract

A short treatise attributed to Ibn al-Ǧazarī (born Damascus 751/1351) deals with what was considered necessary knowledge about the art and craft of penmanship. Along with linguistic and antiquarian remarks, scribal practices, and social applications of writing, an entire section is devoted to the preparation of inks. The selection of recipes includes different ink typologies and technical approaches to ink making, with a preference for metallic compounds; the manipulation of metallic substances often absorbed technological aspects of alchemical practice. This article provides an edition and a commented English translation of the section on inks in the Book on the Art of Penmanship, as preserved by its unique manuscript witness, MS Berlin Sprenger 1918. A recipe for the distillation of an artificial golden ink has been replicated in order to better understand the interaction between the text and the chemical reality behind it.

Open Access
In: Journal of Islamic Manuscripts
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Abstract

In the course of the 9th and 10th centuries, the Arabo-Islamic world acquired a massive amount of knowledge from the antique and late antique traditions. In order to reconstruct the historical circumstances in which this transfer of knowledge took place, we are often forced to rely on the narratives that frequently accompany technical texts. The frame tale attached to The Treasure of Alexander (Ḏaḫīrat al-Iskandar) is a complex narrative that glues together an anthology of technical texts in ten chapters. Its alchemical section contains, among other things, instructions for preparing four different ‘sharp waters’, characterized by an increasing degree of intensity. Such ‘waters’—possibly acid and corrosive substances—were supposed to be used in the treatment and dyeing of different minerals and metals. This paper offers a critical edition and English translation of the passages dealing with the four ‘waters’ and their role in different alchemical procedures in The Treasure of Alexander. Special attention is paid to those textual clues that may link the contents of The Treasure to the Graeco-Egyptian alchemical tradition of ‘divine water’.

Open Access
In: Nuncius
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Abstract

The Great Book of Talismans (MS Paris BnF Ar. 2250) composed by Apollonius of Tyana is one of the Greek texts that have reached us in its Arabic recension. The Arabic not only preserves a part of the text lost in Greek, but it may bear witness to a more ancient layer of the textual tradition than the Byzantine one, along with the clues to a refined intellectual operation to recontextualize the whole work in the cultural milieu of reception. The kind of public talisman prepared by Apollonius – a metallic plaque or statue inscribed with magical names, either buried or placed on an elevated spot, sometimes protected by a shrine – became a model for talisman making. Some of Apollonius’ talismans, moreover, circulated as erratic textual blocks, entering the Arabic Hermetic literature and, more generally, texts on natural sciences and the technical literature. This paper reconstructs the transmission of the Great Book of Talismans, and offers an anthology of the talismans that Apollonius realized for a number of Near Eastern cities (Alexandria, Antioch, Emesa, Ephesus, Edessa), along with three comparanda that concretely exemplify the fluidity in the transmission of these materials.

Open Access
In: Nuncius
In: Journal of Islamic Manuscripts
Author:

With the help of three case studies, this article presents ink recipes in their material and literary context. By discussing the value of textual variants and problematic passages in recipe collections, on the one hand, and their intellectual context on the other, a philological and historical approach can offer a solid ground for new scientific approaches to manuscript studies. The reconstruction of the literary history of these materials helps in mapping routes for the transmission of technical knowledge in the pre-modern Eastern world. This article also aims at making Arabic sources available to a larger scholarly public in an English annotated translation. Specialists can profit from the linguistic data, as well as from the discussion of the application of textual criticism to technical materials.

In: Journal of Islamic Manuscripts