M-85. Introduction to Islamic Manuscripts - Advance Reading List

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  • Preliminary Advices

    The following readings are recommended, with the exception of the pages in Bosch et al., Islamic Bindings and Bookmaking, which are strongly recommended.

  • Overviews (for general historical and cultural orientation, as needed)

    Robinson, Neal. Islam: A Concise Introduction. Richmond, UK: Curzon Press, 1999.

    Cook, Michael. The Koran: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

    Lapidus, Ira M. A History of Islamic Societies. Third Edition. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Updated version of a classic study.

    Bloom, Jonathan and Sheila Blair. Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power. New York: TV Books, 2000.

    Wright, Elaine. Islam: Faith, Art, Culture. London: Scala Publishers. 2009. A narrative introduction, primarily to the origins and practices of the faith, told through the history of the Islamic book as represented by the collections of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin.

    Internet Islamic History Sourcebook: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/islam/islamsbook.asp

    See also the Wikipedia entry “History of Islam”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Islam


  • Islamic Manuscripts: Overviews

    Pederson, Johannes. The Arabic Book. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984. Alas, this short and seminal book is long out of print, but should be available in university and other institutional libraries, and through ProQuest’s Ebook Central platform.

    Aityeh, George N., ed. The Book in the Islamic World: The Written Word and Communication in the Middle East. Albany: SUNY Press, 1995. See especially pp. 33–55 (Franz Rosenthal, “‘Of Making Many Books There is No End:’The Classical Muslim View”).

    Gruber, Christiane J., ed. The Islamic Manuscript Tradition: Ten Centuries of Book Arts at Indiana University Collections. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2010. Chapter 1 by Gruber is a good overall introduction, drawing on the university’s collections.

    Dictionary of Art 16: “Islamic art. III. Arts of the book” (pp. 271–359). Divided into specific sections for calligraphy, painted decoration, painted illustration, &c., written by numerous specialists. A very useful introduction, albeit in the encyclopedia mode. The individual sections have been reprinted in alphabetical order in the three-volume Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture, edited by Jonathan M. Bloom and Sheila S. Blair. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. See I:292–99 for “Book, arts of the” and “Bookbinding.”

    Bloom, Jonathan and Sheila Blair. Islamic Arts. London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 1997. Manuscript arts covered in chapters 2, 6, and 10 (chronological introductions).
    Irwin, Robert. Islamic Art in Context. New York: Abrams, 1997. Manuscript arts discussed in chapters 7 and 8 (more discursive than Bloom/Blair).

  • Islamic Manuscripts: Codicology , Materials and Techniques

    Bloom, Jonathan. Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World. New York and London: Yale University Press, 2001. Wide ranging in its discussion, and with popular appeal.

    McWilliams, Mary and David J. Roxburgh. Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, c.1600–1900. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2007. An succinct account of calligraphy and calligrapher’s tools.

    Roxburgh, David J. Writing the Word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur’an. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2007. A succinct account of calligraphy styles.

    Bosch, Gulnar, et al. Islamic Bindings and Bookmaking. Chicago: Oriental Institute, 1981. Available to download at: https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/islamic-studies. Catalogue of a pioneering exhibition. See especially pp. 1–84 for an overview of manuscript production.

    Deroche, François, ed., Islamic Codicology: An Introduction to the Study of Manuscripts in Arabic Script. London: Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, 2006. A very detailed overview, written by and for specialists. Originally published in French, 2000.

    Gacek, Adam Gacek.Arabic Manuscripts: A Vademecum for Readers. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2009. Myriad topics, discussed in encyclopedic form. For example, pp. 62–64: “Codex” and “Codicology.”

  • Islamic Manuscripts in the Free Library of Philadelphia

    Simsar, Muhammed Ahmed. Oriental Manuscripts of the John Frederick Lewis Collection in the Free Library of Philadelphia. Philadelphia, 1937. A descriptive (and now rather outdated) catalogue of FLP’s core collection.

  • Online Resources

    University of Michigan Library Research Guides: Islamic Manuscript Studies: http://guides.lib.umich.edu/islamicmsstudies. An invaluable resource, including listings of collections of Islamic manuscripts in North American, collections and catalogues online, and bibliographies.