Manuscript in Arabic Script Intensive Course


Discovering and Preserving Our Heritage


Andalucía . Spain . 2-7 April  2017

Under the umbrella of the protocol of collaboration signed on 2008 between Dar al-Hekma University and Azzagra Cultural Foundation, the two institutions are organising an intensive summer course on Islamic Manuscripts. 

More than two million manuscripts from the many eras and territories of Islamic civilisation have survived to our day. They are a testimony to the legacy of more than 1,400 years of human intellectual production, culture, religion and social interaction. This heritage is rich and diverse. We are able to read and study texts that were written by Christian authors in Arabic language or by a muslim from al-Andalus in Aljamiado. We are able to enjoy the miniatures that illuminate Persian poems or to study the economical relations between different countries from the administrative letters of the Ottoman Empire. All of those samples have something in common, all were written in Arabic characters, all were a part of Islamic civilisation.

This important heritage is now found all around the world, in private and national libraries, in museums and on the shelves of houses, much of it not in the best conditions. It needs to be researched, protected, preserved and disseminated. Most importantly there should be people prepared for this work, people that have the knowledge and skills to be able to undertake this important and specialized endeavour.

We believe that al-Andalus was a notably important part of Islamic Civilization. It’s eight centuries of history left and important legacy not only in the Iberian Peninsula but in whole world. Cities were founded with emblematic monuments such as mosques, synagogues and churches. They remain as a sign of the connivence or intolerance, depending on the time. We can read the walls of its palaces, and see in the people customs and language the remain from that time, even after many centuries.

The course aims to give students a basic understanding of the history of knowledge production in the Islamic world, highlighting the production of manuscripts, their physical structure and their content. Students will gain an overview of the current situation of this manuscript legacy, and the cultural, social and political impact of their survival or loss; using the history of al-Andalus as a central example for this study. The course will include basic practical training in preservation of manuscript collections.

Course content

The course will focus on the following subjects

  • Manuscript production 1. From the Mosque to the Madrasa. Islamic Manuscript Culture.
  • Manuscript production 2. Introduction to the codicology of manuscripts in Arabic script; writing supports, Arabic palaeography and calligraphy, inks and pigments, structures, ornamentation and arts of the book.
  • Manuscript Collections. Current situation of manuscripts in Arabic script in the world; Creation of private collections in Europe, the foundation of national libraries in the Arab world, manuscripts in conflict. 
  • Manuscript Heritage protection; preservation, conservation, digitisation and research.

Other activities   

  • Practical workshops

Each one of the main sections of the course will have practical workshops that will support the study and will give the student a better understanding on the materia.

Manuscript Ornamentation and Production

  • Illumination of Manuscripts. Miniatures.
  • Islamic Geometry. Basic Islamic Patterns.
  • Arabic Calligraphy.

Manuscript Preservation

  • Manuscript Handling.
  • Basic Cleaning Techniques.
  • Manuscript Digitisation.
  • Visits to Islamic monuments and manuscripts collections in Spain
  • Visit to Alhambra Palace and Generalife.

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