‘Ajā’ib al-aqālīm al-sab‘ah عجائب الأقاليم السبعة Suhrāb سهراب

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The record is made up of Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. iv+68+iv. It was created in 15 Rabī‘ I 709. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: Oriental Manuscripts.

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Content

Treatise on mathematical geography for cartographers by Suhrāb (سهراب; see f. 3, line 1) composed between between 902 and 945 (see LeStrange, 'Description of Mesopotamia and Baghdād', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society [1895], p. 2).

The full title as given on the title page (f. 2r) is Book of the Wonders of the Seven Climes to the Ends of the Inhabited World; How the Cities Are Arranged, the Seas Surround Them and Their Rivers Bifurcate; Knowledge of Their Mountains and Valleys, Roads and Paths by Sea and Land, and All that is Beyond the Equator; Longitude and Latitude by Means of the Ruler, Calculation and Enumeration; A Study of All that is Mentioned Clearly (كتاب عجائب الأقاليم السبعة إلى نهاية العمارة وكيف هيئة المدن وأحاطة البحار بها وتشقق أنهارها ومعرفة جبالها وأوديتها وطرقها ومسالكها في بحرها وبرّها وجميع ما وراء خط الاستوا والطول والعرض بالمسطرة والحساب والعدد والبحث على جميع ما ذكر بجلاء).

According to the colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. (f. 67v, lines 4-8, transcribed below), this copy was made from the copy of a copy of a correct copy that Ibn al-Warraq (ابن الوراق, probably the bibliographer Ibn al-Nadīm [ابن النديم], d. ca 995) said was in the handwriting of the Syriac bishop and lexicographer al-Ḥasan ibn Bahlūl (الحسن ابن بهلول, called here ابن البهلول, better known by his Syriac name Bar Bahlul [ܒܪ ܒܗܠܘܠ]; fl. 10th century) translator from Syriac into Arabic of the Kunnāsh , or medical compendium, of Ibn Serapion (ابن سرابيون; fl. 9th century).

Due to the mention of Ibn Serapion in the colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. , scholars have often attibuted this work to Ibn Serapion. The colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. does not, however, mention Ibn Serapion in order to identify the author of the ‘Ajā’ib al-aqālīm al-sab‘ah , but rather to identify Bar Bahlūl. Furthermore, since the physician Ibn Serapion is thought to have written his Kunnāsh in 873, while the geographer Suhrāb is thought to have written the ‘Ajā’ib al-aqālīm al-sab‘ah some time between 902 and 945, it is not likely that these two books are the works of the same author (see Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam [Leiden: Brill, 1970], p. 102 and LeStrange, 'Description of Mesopotamia and Baghdād', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society [1895], p. 2).

This copy was completed on 15 Rabī‘ I 709/23 August 1309 by an unnamed scribe (see colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. , f. 67v, line 7, transcribed below). It was the only copy known to the editors of the ‘Ajā’ib al-aqālīm al-sab‘ah , Mžik and LeStrange, who were unaware of Or. 10975.

This copy contains the following diagrams and illustrations:

  • Table of the latitudes of the seven climes (جدول عرض الأقاليم; f. 4r);
  • Template for the construction of a world map, with graduated borders and the climes labelled (f. 4v);
  • Template for the plotting of cities and way stations on a map (f. 5r);
  • Twenty-five tables containing the names of cities with their latitudes and longitudes, arranged by clime (ff. 6r-9v);
  • Illustration of the Citidel of Sārūs ibn Kandamān (قلعة ساروس ابن كندمان), apparently not drawn by a professional illustrator, but by the scribe who added the rubricated headings and overlinings on ff. 2v-10r.

The text is followed by a poem of eight lines (f. 68v) entitled The Great Reckoning of Praise, a Poem Written Above the Head of the Prophet (حساب الحمد الكبير قصيدة مكتوبة فوق رأس النبي), copied, according to a marginal note, by Murād ibn al-Ḥāj (مراد ابن الحاج).

Begins (f. 2v, lines 2-4):

إن أحسن ما افتتح به الكلام في كل رغبة ورهبة وحاجة حمد الله تعالى

الحمد لله مفلج ومدحض الباطل وما حقه الذي اختار لنفسه الإسلام دينًا فأمر

به وحاطه فوكّل بحفظه وضمن أظهاره على الدين كله ...

Ends (ff. 67r, line 11-67v, line 3):

... فإذا

تكاملت العيون والأنهار وصحّت من أوائلها وجرت إلى أواخر مصبّاتها وتفرّع

بعضها من بعض وصبّ بعضها إلى بعض فقد استتممت عملها واحتجت بعد

ذلك إلى أن تبتدئ بعمل صور المدن العظام المشهورة وكيف هيئة كل

مدينة منها وإخبارها وصفتها ونعتها وشربها وانحراف قبلتها حتى تأتي

على جميع مدن الأرض وبالله نستعين وإن أردت أن تكتب بعد صورة

كل مدينة خبرها فاكتبه إلى جنبها أو حولها فإنه أحسن ما يكون وأظرفه

Colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. (f. 67v, lines 4-8):

نقلت من نسخة نقلت من نسخة نقلت من نسخة صحيحة ذكر ابن الوراق

أنها بخط ابن البهلول الذي أصلح كتاب ابن سرابيون وقوبل بها نسخة أخرى فكانت

فيها زيادة وهي المواضع التي يذكر فيها حدود البلدان وقد كتبناها بعد هذا

الموضع وكتب في منتصف ربيع الأول من سنة تسع وسبعمائة الهلالية

والحمد لله رب العالمين وصلوته على سيدنا محمد النبي وآله الطاهرين وصحبه وسلامة

Extent and format
Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. iv+68+iv
Physical characteristics

Material: Eastern laid paper

Dimensions: 310 x 230 mm leaf [245 x 170 mm written]

Foliation: British Museum foliation in pencil

Ruling: Misṭarah ; 15 lines per page; vertical spacing 7 lines per 10 cm

Script: Naskh

Ink: Black ink, with rubricated headings, tables and overlinings in red on ff. 2v-10r

Binding: Red leather case binding with blind-tooled medallion, pendents and borders

Condition: Minor water damage, worse towards back

Marginalia: Very few

Seal: f. 2r

Written in
Arabic in Arabic script
Type
Manuscript

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: Oriental Manuscripts
Access conditions

Unrestricted

Archive reference
Add MS 23379

History of this record

Date(s)
15 Rabī‘ I 709 (AH, Hijri qamari)
Provenance
  • Semi-legible waqf seal, no date visible (f. 2r);
  • Muḥammad ibn Khalīl [rest of name erased] (محمد ابن خليل), his inscription without date (f. 2r);
  • Muṣṭafá, Secretary to Sulṭan Salīm (مصطفى كاتب سلطان سليم), his inscription dated 1195/1780-1 (this is problematic since the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid I reigned from 1774 to 1789, after whom Sultan Selim III reigned until 1807) (f. 2r).
Immediate source of acquisition

Purchased from Mrs Taylor, widow of Colonel Robert Taylor (1788-1852), Political Resident A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency. in Baghdad (1828-43), 14 April 1860

Related material

Finding aids

Cureton, William and Charles Rieu, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum orientalium qui in Museo Britannico asservantur. Pars secunda, codices arabicos amplectens (London: The British Museum, 1846-71), Item 1309, pp. 603-04

Select Bibliography

Edition:

  • Kit āb ʿaġāʾib al-aḳālīm as-sabʾa des Suhrāb , edited by H.v. Mžik (Wien: 1930, Leipzig)

Partial edition and English translation:

  • LeStrange, Guy. 'Description of Mesopotamia and Baghdād, Written About the Year 900 A.D. By Ibn Serapion. The Arabic Text Edited from a MS. In the British Museum Library, with Translation and Notes', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1895), pp. 1-76 and 255-315

Studies:

  • Sezgin, Fuat, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums , vol. 13 (Leiden: Brill, 2007), pp. 248-52
  • Ullmann, Manfred, Die Medizin im Islam (Leiden: Brill, 1970), pp. 102-03

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‘Ajā’ib al-aqālīm al-sab‘ah عجائب الأقاليم السبعة Suhrāb سهراب, British Library: Oriental Manuscripts, Add MS 23379, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100027677075.0x000001> [accessed 18 November 2018]

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