The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at Penn brings manuscript culture, modern technology and people together.

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Dispatch from the Manuscripts of the Muslim World project

UPenn Ms. Codex 1904, front cover, blind tooled with flap binding

Kelly Tuttle, cataloger for the Manuscripts of the Muslim World project, has written a great post about Penn’s Ms. Codex 1904 on the Special Collections Processing at Penn blog.  Working from outside to inside and front to back, she begins,

Penn has an eclectic mix of Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Turkish manuscripts that are now being cataloged as part of the Manuscripts of the Muslim World (MMW) project. The project is cataloging and digitizing previously ‘hidden’ materials from Penn and other Philadelphia area repositories. Along the way, lots of fun discoveries are being made about items that have been sitting, uncatalogued, on the shelves for years.

One of the first discoveries we made as part of the MMW project is Ms. Codex 1904, a small format Qurʾān. It measures only 87 mm square and from the outside, it looks much like any other pocket-sized Qurʾān with a blind tooled cover and a flap-style binding. A binding with a flap on the left side that goes over the fore-edge and under the upper cover is quite common for codices produced in the Islamicate world.

Check out the whole post, A Small, Maltese Qurʾān.  The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies and the Penn Libraries are thrilled to be participating in this project!

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Reblog: “Tashrih al-badan” (Anatomy of the body, 14th Century)

Reblogging a post about LJS 49 from facsilium: ancient manuscripts and rare books:

The venous system, with figure drawn frontally and the internal organs indicated.

Mansur ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Yusuf ibn Ilyas, “Mansur ibn Iiyas”descended from a Shiraz family of scholars and physicians. His illustrated treatise, “Anatomy of the human body” often called “Mansur’s Anatomy” consists of an introduction followed by 5 chapters on the 5 main systems of the body: bones, nerves, muscles, veins and arteries; each illustrated with a full-page diagram. The manuscript was a total new for me, as I always thought that Qur’an has severe restrictions regarding human representations. Indeed, it has, especially in Sunni Islam (representation of all living beings).”

Read the rest here

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Manuscript Road Trip: Day 1

First in a new series by Lisa Fagin Davis, introducing collections of medieval manuscripts from across the United States.

Manuscript Road Trip

There has been increasing interest in recent years in identifying, classifying and cataloguing medieval manuscripts in North American collections. With my friend and colleague Melissa Conway (Head of Special Collections at UC-Riverside), I have been working for nearly twenty years on this very topic. Our preliminary Directory of collections in the United States and Canada with pre-1600 manuscript holdings is available as a searchable PDF through the Bibliographical Society of America, at  It’s a great place to start if you’re looking for manuscripts in North American collections.

Over the course of our work, Melissa and I (with the help of more than 200 contributing curators and scholars) have identified 20,000 codices and 25,000 leaves in nearly 500 collections. Many of these have not been catalogued in any significant way; students, take note, there is a lot of cataloguing work to be done! On the other hand, an increasing number…

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