Persian Manuscripts : Kalīlah va-Dimnah

Abū al-Maʻālī Naṣr Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥamīd Munshī (fl. 12th c.)نصرالله ابن محمد ابن حمید منشی ابو المعالی, Ibn al-Muqaffaʻ, d. ca. 760

Persian Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'> The author of this unillustrated Persian translation of <i>Kalīlah va Dimnah</i> (Fables of Bidpai), Abū al-Maʻālī Naṣr Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥamīd Munshī Shīrāzī (fl. 12th c.), originally completed it between 538–540 AH (1143–1146 CE). Since he composed and dedicated it to his patron, Bahrām Shāh of Ghazna (b. 1084, r. 1117–1152), it often appears under the variant title of <i>Kalīlah va Dimnah-yi Bahrām Shāhī</i>. He based it upon an earlier Arabic version of Ibn al-Muqaffaʻ, (d. ca. 760), copies of which the John Rylands Library also hold (see (see <a target='_blank' class='externalLink uom-purple' href=''>Arabic MS 2</a> and <a target='_blank' class='externalLink uom-purple' href=''>60</a>)), translated in turn from a now-lost Pahlavi Middle Persian translation of the Sanskrit <i>Panchatantra</i> (Five Treatises). However, Naṣr Allāh did not merely translate that work, but he imaginatively recast and augmented it with quotations from the <i>Qur’ān</i> and <i>Ḥadīth</i> (Prophetic traditions) interspersed with proverbs and lines of poetry in Arabic and Persian. The resulting synthesis proved so influential that it profoundly revolutionized medieval Persian literature. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, completed in 616 AH (1219 CE)—one of two Persian redactions held in the John Rylands Library (see also <a target='_blank' class='externalLink uom-purple' href=''>Persian MS 91</a>)—appears to be the third-earliest copy known to survive. Surprisingly, it predates any surviving Arabic version. Formerly held in the library of Ottoman ruler Sultan Beyāzīd II (b. 1447, r. 1481–1512), then acquired by French dragoman to the Ottoman court, orientalist Joseph Marie Jouannin (1783–1844), who subsequently acquired the volume and had it rebound before presenting it to his friend and fellow scholar Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758–1838).</p>

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