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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An African Scriptorium? The Qurʾans of Harar and Their Globalizing Milieu
by Mirza, Sana Y., Ph.D., New York University, 2021, 480; 28256229
Abstract (Summary)

A major center of Islamic learning, the city of Harar was also a nexus of key trade routes linking the highlands of Ethiopia to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Largely unknown to historians outside of the Horn of Africa, the city was home to an extraordinary manuscript tradition which produced hundreds, if not thousands, of manuscripts between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Within this corpus, the numerous Harari Qur’an manuscripts, often containing endowment notices and colophons, provide rich material with which to consider multidirectional circuits of artistic interchange across the early modern Red Sea and Indian Ocean and their role in shaping local artistic idioms.

This dissertation provides a chronology of the decorated Qurʾanic manuscripts, investigating the local cultural and religious traditions that shaped them. It then explores their evident relationship to the artistic traditions of Egypt, Yemen, India, and even Southeast Asia and West Africa. The networks linking these regions and the artistic relationships that they fostered allowed for a complex spectrum of negotiated identities within and across states and empires. This dissertation historicizes and localizes these negotiations by a comprehensive art historical analysis of the extraordinary Harari corpus. It offers both a micro-study of localized manuscript production and a study of larger transregional connections and circulations manifest in the Harari manuscripts. The dissertation aims to address a glaring lacuna in the subfields of African and Islamic art history by offering a diachronic analysis of manuscript production in a dynamic center that lay at the intersection between different cultural, economic, political, and religious networks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Flood, Finbarr B.
Commitee: Fauvelle, François-Xavier , Meier , Prita , Regourd, Anne, Soucek, Priscilla P., Zekaria, Ahmed
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 82/9(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, African Studies, Islamic Studies
Keywords: Calligraphy, Ethiopia, Harar, Islamic Art, Manuscript, Qur'an
Publication Number: 28256229
ISBN: 9798582575634
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