Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Private collection of ceramics and the oldest New Testament manuscript in Arabic

Two brief news reports: An exhibition is being held in the UAE (precisely Abu Dhabi) of a Abdellatif Kanu's private collection of Islamic ceramics (report in Arabic here). On the other hand the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is going to post in its website photos of its oldest manuscript in Arabic of the New Testament (report in Arabic here). The date given in the Islamic calendar is 284 H. We read in the colophon:
وكتب الخاطئ المسكين الضعيف الاثيم اصطافنا يعرف بالرملي..وكتب المسكين في أشهر العجم في أول شهر آذار ويكون من حساب سني العالم على ما تحسبه كنيسة بيت المقدس (القيامة المجيدة) من سنة ست آلاف وثلاثمائة وتسعة وثمانين سنة ومن سني العرب في شهر المحرم من سنة أربع وثمانية ومائتين

It is worth noting that the manuscript is made of 119 folios of parchment and written in Kufi script, the same script used to copy Qur'ans manuscripts at that time.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Naceur Khemir retracing cinematogrphically Paul Klee's steps in Tunisia

I just got this flyer of Naceur Khemir's (a tunisian movie director) retracing the journey of the swiss painter Paul Klee in Tunisia in 1914. The movie will open in Switzerland this week in several theaters. Above is Klee's Hammamet painting located now in the Metropolitan. I don't like particularly Klee's style but it clearly left long lasting impact on a major tendency Tunisian painting. By the way Khemir is himself a painter who seems to belong to the latter tendency, which explains his particular interest in Klee.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Numismatic History of Tunisia / L'Histoire Numismatique de la Tunisie

A new, highly polished, publication (hard cover) has just come to light: volume two of Numismatique et Histoire de la Monnaie en Tunisie (Monnaies Islamiques), publications of Banque Centrale de la Tunisie/BCT (direction: Ali Khiri, coordination scientifique: Abdelhamid Fenina). After volume one (Monnaies Antiques) this time volume two emphasized the Islamic period (up until the French occupation). In addition to a highly valuable catalogue by Professor Abdelhamid Fenina (my old adviser and friend, Professor of history and Islamic archeology at the University of Tunis) of the collection of the BCT, the volume includes a series of articles addressing the coins and monetary history of the various political phases of the Islamic period (Early-Umayyad, Abbasid, Aghlabid, Fatimid, Zirid, Muwahhid-Hafsid, Early Ottoman, and Late Ottoman; see SOMMAIRE). Pr. Fenina and I co-authored an article on the Hafsid period (pp. 119-146; see the ABSTRACT in the first page of the article). I must thank Pr. Fenina for allowing me to take part in this project and for his endurance to finish it especially that he was responsible for the majority of the materials in the book. I must also thank Mr. Khiri whose perseverance was a major factor in finishing this volume.

Actually this is and will be the major reference on the Islamic numismatics and monetary history of Tunisia for years to come. Unfortunately the book will not be commercialized soon since the publishers (BCT) decided to wait for the third and last volume (coins and money of the contemporary period) to get them out to the market at the same time (I must say not the wisest decision, but...).