Kitāb fī al-shaṭranj wa-manṣūbātihi wa-mulaḥih كتاب في الشطرنج ومنصوباته وملحه

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The record is made up of Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. i+132+i. It was created in 6 Jumādá II 655. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: Oriental Manuscripts.

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Content

Anonymous handbook on chess, dealing with its legality, origins, symbolism, classes of players, poetry in praise of chess, poetry to be recited at various stages of play, and chess techniques. The sections on techniques cover chess problems (منصوبات), openings (تعبيات) and puzzles (مخارق). For an outline of the contents, see Murray, 'The Earlier Arabic Literature of Chess', JRAS 69.1 (1937) pp. 171-72.

The work is a compilation of earlier chess manuals by al-‘Adlī (العدلي; fl. mid-ninth century), Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Yaḥyá al-Ṣūlī (أبو بكر محمد بن يحيى الصولي; fl. early tenth century) and Abū al-Faraj Muḥammad ibn ‘Ubaydallāh al-Lajlāj (أبو الفرج محمد بن عبيد الله اللجلاج; d. 970) amongst others.

The author of this compilation is unknown, and the name of the ruler to whom the text is dedicated has been erased (see f. 1v, line 11).

The text contains 215 diagrams of chess problems (منصوبات) and openings (تعبيات), 12 of which have been left blank (i.e. the board has been drawn but not the pieces).

The copy was completed on 6 Jumādá II 655/21 June 1257 (see colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. , f. 132r, lines 4-6, transcribed below).

Contents:

Begins (f. 1v, lines 2-4):

الحمد لله ذي العزة القاهرة الحجة الباهرة. والنعم

المتظاهرة الذي خلق الإنسان علمه البيان فقال سبحانه

وجعلنا الليل والنهار سكن

Ends (f. 131v, line 14-132r, line 1):

وإذا وقع له لعب جيد وهو لا يراه

أنشدت

سيوف لعمري يا لؤي قن غالب حداد ولكن أين بالسيف ضارب

Colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. (f. 132r, lines 2-8):

تم الكتاب

بعون الله ومنته ولطفه

بتأريخ اليوم السادس عشر

من شهر جمادى الآخرة من سنة

خمس وخمسين وستمائة هجرية

والحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد خاتم النبيين

وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم

Extent and format
Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. i+132+i
Physical characteristics

Material: Eastern laid paper

Dimensions: 230 x 160 mm leaf [180 x 105 mm written]

Foliation: Eastern Arabic foliation in black ink; British Museum foliation in pencil

Ruling: No ruling visible; 17 lines per page; vertical spacing 10 lines per 10 cm

Script: Naskh

Ink: Black ink, with rubricated headings and diagrams in red

Binding: British Museum binding (see Thompson, 'The Rich Manuscripts', The British Museum Quarterly 27.1/2 [1963])

Condition: Minor insect damage and some repairs especially into gutter

Marginalia: Few (although see title page, f. 1r)

Seals: ff. 1r and 132v

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 7515

History of this record

Date(s)
6 Jumādá II 655 (AH, Hijri qamari)
Provenance
  • Bāyezīd II (بايزيد بن محمد خان مظفر دائمًا ), Ottoman sultan (reg. 1481-1512), his seal, undated (ff. 1r and 132v; see Chester Beatty Library Islamic Seals Database no. 2 and Suha Umar, Osmanlı Padişah Tuğraları [Istanbul: Cem Yayinevi, 1980] p. 120);
  • Muṣṭafá Ṣidqī (مصطفى صدقي, d. 1183/1769-70), Ottoman bibliophile and poet, his seal (f. 1r; see Chester Beatty Library Islamic Seals Database no. 4);
  • Seal with Kufic inscription ما شاء الله لا قوة إلا بالله, belonging to Muṣṭafá Ṣidqī (مصطفى صدقي, d. 1183/1769-70), Ottoman bibliophile and poet (f. 1r; see Chester Beatty Library Islamic Seals Database no. 3);
  • Muḥammad Sa‘īd (محمد سعيد), his seal, dated 1140/1727-28, with associated inscription that covers most of the page (f. 1r; for edition and Spanish translation of inscription see Libro del ajedrez , ed. and trans. by F.M. Pareja Casañas [Madrid-Granada: Imprenta de Estanislao Maestre, 1935] vol. 2, pp. xxxii-xxxvii; for English translaion of inscription see Murray, A History of Chess [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1913] pp. 354-55).
Immediate source of acquisition

Purchased from Mary Rich (née Mackintosh), widow of Claudius James Rich (1786-1821), 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 (1808-21), 25 March 1825

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 784, p. 351

Select Bibliography

Edition and Spanish translation:

  • Libro del ajedrez, de sus problemas y sutilezas, de auto árabe desconocido. Según el ms. arab. add. 7515 (Rich) del Museo Británico , ed. and trans. by Félix M. Pareja Casañas, 2 vols, Publicaciones de las Escuelas de estudios árabes de Madrid y Granada; Ser. A., núm. 3 (Madrid-Granada: Imprenta de Estanislao Maestre, 1935)

Studies:

  • Forbes, Duncan, The History of Chess: From the Time of the Early Invention of the Game in India, till the Period of its Establishment in Western and Central Europe (London: W.H. Allen & Co., 1860)
  • Latham, J. D. 'Revd Dr. Félix M. Pareja, S. J. (1890-1983)', British Society for Middle East Studies. Bulletin 11.1 (1984), pp 107-08
  • Murray, Harold James Ruthven, A History of Chess (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1913)
  • Murray, Harold James Ruthven, 'The Earlier Arabic Literature of Chess. Libro del Ajedrez, de sus Sutilezas, de Autor Árabe desconcido . Por Félix M. Pareja Casañas. Publicaciones de las Escuelas de Estudios Árabes de Madrid y Granada, Serie A, Núm. 3. Madrid 1935', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 69.1 (1937) pp. 169-76
  • Thompson, J.R. Fawcett, 'The Rich Manuscripts', The British Museum Quarterly 27.1/2 (1963) pp. 18-23
Subjects
Chess--early works to 1800
People & organisations
Bayezid II

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Kitāb fī al-shaṭranj wa-manṣūbātihi wa-mulaḥih كتاب في الشطرنج ومنصوباته وملحه, British Library: Oriental Manuscripts, Add MS 7515, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100030345542.0x000001> [accessed 17 February 2020]

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