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A Mamluk Historian’s Holograph. Messages from a Musawwada of Taʾrīkh

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Abstract The holographic musawwada of the Mamluk historian Ibn al-Furāt’s (d. 1405) universal chronicle Taʾrīkh al-duwal wa ’l-mulūk (covering 1107-1396) survives as a Vienna unicum. In this part-codicological, part-conceptual article, I set the manuscript in textual and historical context and explore the tension between its authority as an autograph, and its lack of authority qua draft. I look at the manuscript as a repository of earlier narratives, a ‘museum of texts’ by virtue of its ‘showcasing’ of earlier reports and marking their provenance. I discuss its concealed impact upon a textual tradition (historiography in Barqūq’s Egypt, 1382-1399). Though it was rough also for its orthographical and grammatical difficulties, its influence on Mamluk historiography was profound, especially through its use by al-Maqrīzī (d. 1442). This article celebrates the survival of an unusual manuscript resonating with authenticity of authorship, and explores the challenges involved in interpreting it as an archaeological object and a text.

Affiliations: 1: Cambridge Muslim College Cambridge


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