An absolutely fascinating post from the British Museum just popped up in my mailbox. It is related to their exhibition Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs, which actually closes this weekend. The NCMA Art Library purchased a copy of the exhibition catalogue, which arrived two days ago and is currently sitting on my desk. I will actually need to consult it in the next little while for something I am working on….
Bink Hallum, Arabic Scientific Manuscripts Curator, British Library
Marcel Marée, Assistant Keeper, Department of Ancient Egypt & Sudan, British Museum
A page from the 18th-century copy of al-‘Irāqī’s Book of the Seven Climes (British Library, Add. MS 25724, fol. 50v)
Among the many intriguing objects on display in the Egypt: faith after the pharaohsexhibition is an 18th-century copy of the Book of the Seven Climes (Kitāb al-aqālīm al-ṣab‘ah), on loan from the British Library. The book’s 13th-century author, Abū al-Qāsim al-‘Irāqī, believed it held ancient secrets coded in hieroglyphic texts. He was right, but not exactly as he imagined!
Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-‘Irāqī, known as al-Sīmāwī (‘the practitioner of natural or white magic’), was an author of books on alchemy and magic. He lived in Egypt during the reign of the Mamluk sultan Baybars I al-Bunduqdārī (r. 1260–1277). His books were popular and…
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