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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Events and Outreach

Durham Early Modern Group -‘The Emergence of a Textual Entrepôt: The Royal Library of Bijapur in the Seventeenth Century’

25th November 2020, 17:00 to 18:30, Christopher Bahl (Durham)

The Sultanate of Bijapur flourished during the sixteenth century and so did its courtly library: a book collection of which around 400 mostly Arabic manuscripts survive today in the Asar Mahal collection in the British Library, London.

Research has mostly focused on the Iranian learned migrants who brought many of the books in an age of mobility that linked Bijapur and the Deccan region closely with western Asia. This presentation will explore the emergence of Bijapur as a textual entrepôt during the seventeenth century: a lively place of text transmission. Learned communities hailing from the wider western Indian Ocean region left their mark on the collection, which includes manuscripts from all the major Islamicate disciplines of its day. Most significantly, Bijapur was not only a recipient of books. Local courtiers, scholars and Sufi communities shaped its book cultures. By the seventeenth century, they had turned the library into a dynamic space of Arabic learning, attracting scholars from afar to share cultural practices with colleagues as far as Istanbul and Cairo.

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