Publication Announcement: Catalogue of de Gironcourt Collection of Manuscripts

20 May 2014

Dr Mauro Nobili has recently published an exemplary catalogue of the manuscript collection known as the Fons de Gironcourt housed in the Institute de France.  The full scale catalogue which started as an appendix to his doctoral thesis is published within the Series Catalogorum of the Istituto per l’Oriente C.A. Nallino (Roma) and the CNRS – Mondes Iranien et Indien (Paris). It describes in detail the 142 Arabic manuscripts of the collection, analysed in both their physical dimension, i.e. the object manuscript, and the intellectual contents, i.e. the text that they preserve.  The catalogue also includes a map of the places visited by de Gironcourt, several black and white pictures of manuscripts, six colour plates of manuscripts, and twelve reproductions of photos taken by de Gironcourt during his trip, as well as several indexes (titles, authors, senders and recipients of letters, copyists, owners, places of copy, dates of copy, places of production, seals etc…) crucial to navigate such a rich collection as the Fonds de Gironcourt.

Update from Djenne

7 February 2013

In the midst of Mali’s sudden emergence in the world ‘s focus, the Unesco World Heritage city of Djenne sits tranquil in the heart of the Niger delta, just 120 km South of Sevaré, the launching pad for the continued French air strikes into the North of Mali, where pockets of Islamist rebels are still present.

Why does Timbuktu matter?

31 January 2013

Timbuktu sits on the edge of Saharan desert. It was a trading entrepôt in the age when the camel was the only means of transport and it became a centre of commerce in the region; trade in books come to be part of that exchange network. The city and its desert environs are an archive of handwritten texts in Arabic and in African languages in the Arabic script (mainly, Fulani and Songhay), produced, it appears, between the 13th and the 20th centuries. The earliest date of written heritage is still speculation for no scientific tests have been done on inks and paper.

Timbuktu Update

30 January 2013

Since the start of this week there are reports about the destruction of library buildings and book collections in Timbuktu. It sounds as if the written heritage of the town went up in flames. According to our information this is not the case at all. The custodians of the libraries worked quietly throughout the rebel occupation of Timbuktu to ensure the safety of their materials. A limited number of items have been damaged or stolen, the infrastructure neglected and furnishings in the Ahmad Baba Institute library looted but from all our local sources – all intimately connected with the public and private collections in the town - there was no malicious destruction of any library or collection.

Life in Timbuktu under Islamist rule

23 May 2012

An Islamist militant group has taken control of the fabled city of Timbuktu in northern Mali. Although the city was once a centre of Islamic learning, the group has objected to some local practices. So what is their agenda? And will they respect the city’s unique literary heritage? Since seizing the city in March, Ansar Dine has targeted Timbuktu’s precious Muslim heritage. The shrine of a 15th Century sufi saint Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar has been attacked, according to Lazare Eloundou Assomo of Unesco. “The entrance gate of the mausoleum was completely destroyed and burnt,” Mr Assomo told the BBC World Service. “The curtain that protected the shrine was destroyed.”