Reviews

This beautifully printed album constitutes a tentative catalogue of the manuscripts of the Qur’an preserved in the collection of Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography at the Dagestan Research Centre of the Academy of Sciences of Russia, in Makhachkala. The author, a major historian of Arabic-script and language manuscript books in the Northern Caucasus, provides a substantial introduction to the main manuscript collections of Dagestan (“Rukopisnye kollektsii Dagestana,” 5-40), in which he evokes the history of private libraries, from eleventh-century CE madrasas to present-day public research institutions. The bulk of the text is however devoted to a description of the collection of the IHAE of Makhachkala, and the history of the copy of its main manuscripts in Dagestan. Special paragraphs deal with the collection’s most ancient manuscripts (an early-twelfth-century Sihah of Jawhari, an early-sixteenth-century copy of works by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali), then to the main categories represented in it: Qur’ans and Qur’anic literature; law and jurisprudence; works by authors from Dagestan itself (from the Sufi encyclopaedia Rayhan al-haqayiq wa bustan al-daqayiq to the works by a wide range of local scholars). The 209 manuscripts of the collection are distributed as follows: literature (42); grammar (38); jurisprudence (22); Sufism (16 items); logic (16); rhetoric (14); commentary of the Qur’an (8); Hadith (8); syntax (8); tawhid (6); Qur’an psalmody (5); lexicography (4); metrics (4); fundaments of law (4); interpretation of dreams (1). Being constituted of gifts collected during expeditions, the Institute’s collection provides an interesting insight into the state of private libraries and into the circulation of manuscripts in the early Soviet period. A special part of this composite article deals with the history and composition of several famous private libraries of manuscripts and lithographed editions, studied during varied expeditions to several districts of Dagestan (those of Ch. Charanov in Mogoh; of the former madrasa of Sograt, a major centre of learning in Dagestan; of Magomed Sirazhudin [b. 1933] in Akhalchi). A second, much shorter article by the same author provides an overview of Qur’an copy in Dagestan (“Rukopisnye Korany Dagestana,” 41-4), with particular interest in the activity of southern districts, the production of which has benefitted from a better conservation and scholarship tradition. The catalogue itself (pp. 45-163) offers descriptions and a selection of high-quality colour illustrations of manuscripts of the Qu’ran from the eleventh to the twentieth century, with mention of format, foliation, paper’s quality, technique of copy, style of calligraphy, date of copy, copier’s name when available, technique and quality of the binding, followed by a short bibliography of previous publications. In all, this modest but skilfully edited and beautifully printed book brings a useful insight into the history of book copying and book binding in Dagestan during a millennium since the early eleventh century.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-1.1.B-13