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TALK The Manuscript Corpus of the Majmaʿ al-Gharāʾib: A Case Study in Textual Transmission — Guglielmo Zucconi

06.06.2024 | 12:00

Research colloquium Beatrice Gruendler

Originally penned in Balkh in the 1560s, the Majmaʿ al-Gharāʾib is an encyclopaedic compendium containing short, thematically arranged snippets of information on a wide range of topics, from history and geography to witty retorts and chronograms. The work proved exceedingly popular in both Central Asia and India, as shown by a surviving manuscript corpus numbering close to one hundred copies, some made as late as the early twentieth century.

The surviving corpus, which includes three distinct translations into Turki/Chaghatay, is remarkably diverse. Consisting as it did of non-narrative, self-contained chapters, the Majmaʿ could easily be rearranged by copyists without the need to alter the text. Indeed, a partial survey of the extant manuscripts shows that the structure of the work was subjected to frequent changes, with chapters being moved, omitted, merged and split. However, despite these rearrangements, the integrity of the text was, to a large extent, successfully preserved.

By examining both text and paratextual elements – colophons, as well as marginalia left by copyists and readers – the talk will focus on what can be gleaned about the mechanics of manuscript transmission, and the mechanisms which were in place to govern and restrict textual diversity.

Guglielmo Zucconi is a doctoral candidate at the University of Vienna, as well as a researcher at the Institute of Iranian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IFI – ÖAW).


The Kalīla and Dimna research colloquium continues the series of presenting international guest speakers in alternation with Close Reading Sessions on text editing questions. Colloquium sessions are being held in a hybrid fashion combining personal encounter with the advantages of remote access. Participants meet every Thursday from 12:15 to 1:45 pm (CET).

Colleagues, visiting scholars, and students (Arabic Studies or related disciplines) are cordially invited to participate. We especially welcome researchers based elsewhere than Freie Universität Berlin to join us for any one (or more) sessions.

For registration and session link, please mail to: johannes.stephan@fu-berlin.de

Zeit & Ort

06.06.2024 | 12:00

Freie Universität Berlin, Seminar for Semitic and Arabic Studies
Fabeckstraße 23/25, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem

Room –1.1062 (souterrain), or remote participation via WebEx.