An Arab diaspora magazine from the 1950s.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Library (MBRL) pavilion at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) venue at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), is housing around 18 rare literary pieces (Treasures of the Library Exhibition).
They are being displayed for the first time outside the Library’s premises. “MBRL’s participation in the 32nd ADIBF (May 22 – 28) is in line with its constant desire to keep track of the latest developments across all fields and disciplines, while supporting its plans to inform the public and the visitors about the knowledge treasures in the Treasures of the Library Exhibition, including its rare pieces, manuscripts and atlases that embody the world’s finest intellectual works over the centuries,” says the Library.
The Treasures collection houses around 300 collectibles in all, including ancient and rare books, atlases, and manuscripts, some of which date back to the 13th century, in addition to rare early copies of the Holy Quran, early editions of classic prints, and Latin translations of scientific sources dating back to the Islamic Golden Age.
Volumes being shown at ADIBF are: Ibn Khaldun Muqaddimat Ibn Khaldun (Ibn Khaldun’s Prolegomena) Paris, 1858, which is the first edition of the Arabic text, published by the French orientalist Étienne Marc Quatremere; Ibn Sina (Avicenna) Liber canonis.
De medicinis cordialibus, Venice, 1562, an early illustrated Latin edition of Ibn Sina’s al-Qanun fi’l-Tibb (Canon of Medicine); Holy Qur’an, section of a Qur’an from Egypt or Syria, 8th Century AH/14th Century CE, which is a large example of a Juz (Part of the Qur’an) written during the Mamluk period; Braun and Hogenberg Civitates Orbis Terrarium (Atlas of Towns and Cities), Cologne, 1593-1594, considered a gem of urban cartography with plates that offer vast panoramas of cities across Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America; J. K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, London,1997, which is the first edition of the first book in the famous Harry Potter series; Walt Disney, The Adventures of Mickey Mouse, Philadelphia, 1931, first edition of the first Mickey Mouse Book; Ghessin Saito and Hasgawa Settan, Edo meisho zue (Famous sites in and about Tokyo),
Tokyo, 1834-1836, one of Japan’s greatest illustrated books highlighting the country’s famous landmarks; Arabian Nights or The Alif Laila or Book of a Thousand and One Nights, Calcutta, 1839-1842, a rare and early complete Arabic edition of the Arabian Nights published by Sir William Hay Macnaghten in Calcutta (now Kolkata); Leo Tolstoy’s Voyna i Mir (War and Peace), Moscow, 1868-1869, being the first edition of the classic novel War and Peace which has the reputation of being a “faction” (fact plus fiction), a poem and a historical chronicle, all at once; Abu-l Qasim Firdawsi’s Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), Lucknow, 1874, being a large, lithographic edition of a beautifully illustrated edition of the Shahnameh, the great Persian epic; Girault de Prangey, Monuments arabes et moresques de Cordoue, Seville, et Grenade, Paris, 1836-1839, an impressive hand-coloured publication on the Arabian Antiquities in Spain; Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote de la Mancha, Madrid, 1780, the famous Ibarra edition known for its fine illustrations which were produced by Spain’s foremost artists at the time; Robert Melville Grindlay’s Scenery, Costumes and Architecture Chiefly on the Western Side of India, London, 1826-1830, the first edition of one of the most beautiful colour plate books on India; Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Isma’il al-Bukhari’s Sahih al-Bukhari, Egypt, 8th century AH/14th century CE, a section of the most authentic collection of Hadith written during the Mamluk period; Du Fu, Du Gongbu shi ji (Anthology of Du Fu’s poems) Songling, Qing Dynasty, 9th year of Kangxi (1670), the first edition of Zhu Heling’s commentary on the poems of Du Fu, considered the greatest Chinese poet of all time; Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Ibn ‘Arabshah Kitab ʻAjaib al-maqdur fi akhbar Timur (The History of Tamerlane), Leiden, 1636, the first Arabic edition of an important eyewitness account of the life of Tamerlane (Timur), the Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire; Johann Bayer’s Uranometria (Celestial Atlas) Augsburg, 1603, first edition, which is also the first work to cover the entirety of the celestial sphere; Shaker Solomon’s As-Salwa ‘The Entertainer’, Detroit, 1950, which is an issue from an Arab diaspora magazine published in the United States.
The Treasures of the Library Exhibition displays a unique collection of knowledge treasures, including ancient and rare books, atlases and manuscripts, and lifesaving medical treatises, some of which date back to the 13th century. Each piece represents rich human experience that invites us to broaden our minds and learn from the knowledge gained by others. Also among the pieces on display is the first edition of Atlas Maior, the celebrated achievement of the 17th century Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu.
Published in 1662 in 11 volumes, the atlas includes around 600 individual maps. Experts believe that the Atlas Maior is the richest atlas ever - it is certainly one of the most beautiful atlases of all time.The exhibition also includes the first edition of Napoleon’s Description de l’Egypte, an 18-century encyclopaedic register of Egyptian history and archaeology. Published in 34 volumes, it was co-produced by a team consisting of hundreds of artists, scholars, critics, and other specialists during Napoleon Bonaparte’s military campaign in Egypt 1798-1801. Thus the masterpiece is a highly significant milestone in the history of French publication, as well as being a valuable record of 18th-century Egypt.
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