Book lists come in many different formats and shapes and they are thus a crucial venue into understanding how institutions or individuals classified their holdings. For the pre-Ottoman Middle East we have a comparatively low number of documentary book lists, but one of the largest to have survived is the book endowment of the Damascene scholar Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī Ibn al-Mibrad (d. 909/1503). This talk will consider the symbolic resources available to such an individual for securing his family’s position within the city. Towards the end of his life Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī endowed his large personal library in the central space of Damascene Ḥanbalī identity, the ʿUmarīya Madrasa in the Ṣāliḥiyya Quarter. The list of the titles endowed as well as many of the manuscripts themselves were carefully constructed to insert the family into a long genealogy of Ḥanbalism in its late medieval Damascene form. Though ultimately not very successful – the family remained a rather average player in the city – the manuscript evidence is a splendid example of how claim to status was translated into the making of lists and books.
Of Catalogues and Endowments: How to Transmit Your Private Library in 15th-Century Damascus
Konrad Hirschler (Freie Universität Berlin); Chair: Islam Dayeh (Freie Universität Berlin)
Freie Universität Berlin, Holzlaube, Room 2.2051, Fabeckstr. 23-25, 14195 Berlin
Konrad Hirschler is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. His research focuses on Egypt and the Levant in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods with a special interest in social and cultural history. He is the author of Medieval Damascus: Plurality and Diversity in an Arabic Library (2016), The Written Word in the Medieval Arabic Lands: A Social and Cultural History of Reading Practices (2012) and Medieval Arabic Historiography: Authors as Actors (2006). Among his co-edited volumes are Alliances and Treaties between Frankish and Muslim Rulers in the Middle East (2013) and Manuscript Notes as Documentary Sources (2011).