On April 13, SIMS Graduate Fellow Hallie Swanson introduced us to Ms. Codex 1958, a composite codex of two works on Persian letter composition from nineteenth-century India.
The works were copied at different times and by different scribes and then bound together.
The first work, Inshā-yi Mādhū Rām, was copied in 1259 (1843) and the second work, Inshā-yi Dilkusha, was copied in A.H. 1224 (1809). How do we know exactly when they were written? Both books have colophons, brief statements that specify when, where, and by whom they were written.
These two manuals provide model template letters that the reader could copy or reuse, letters for various audiences and specified to be appropriate for readers of different social stature – a letter to a Prince would be written in a different style than a letter to a lower-ranking person, even if the topic of the letter was similar.
And these manuals weren’t completely hypothetical. The authors didn’t sit down and invent letters; the sample letters are more likely examples taken from real life correspondence, written in the course of their real work.
Hallie Swanson goes into much more detail in her talk, so we encourage you to watch the recording here.
You can also read the record for Ms. Codex 1968 in Franklin, which links out to digitized copies: https://franklin.library.upenn.edu/catalog/FRANKLIN_9970745763503681
We host Coffee With A Codex every Wednesday at 12pm ET / 5pm GMT on Zoom. For a schedule three weeks ahead, visit our main page here.