The Art of the Islamic Book, from the Leiden Collections

Exhibition of manuscript reproductions from the Leiden University Collection + Talks and Workshops

16 oct 2014
30 nov 2014

Last year marked the 400th anniversary of Leiden University’s chair of Arab Studies. The maturity of the faculty reflects the strong historical ties that have existed between the Netherlands and the Arab World throughout the past four centuries. Nearly forty high resolution photographs of the most extraordinary calligraphies and illuminations found in the Leiden library will be displayed in the Beirut Beige Gallery in Solidere (Downtown)

As part of the opening exhibition, several lectures and workshop will be provided by two guest speakers from the Netherlands: Karin Scheper (Leiden University) and Huda Smitshuijzen–AbiFares (Khatt Foundation).

The book on Horsemanship and Farriery by al-Khuttuli (Kitab al-furusiyya wa’l-baitara by al-Khuttuli) - 743 AH/1343 CE © Leiden University, Special Collections. This double-page red horse is the main illustration in a collective volume with three texts dedicated to horsemanship and veterinary science for horses. A double spread like this - unusual for the depiction of animals - testifies to the importance of the subject-matter in Islamic culture. The addition of names for all the different parts of the horse shows the illustration’s didactic intention.

The Program

Thursday 16 October 2014, The Venue, Solidere

——3pm – 4.30pm: Karin Scheper, Researcher, Leiden University
Understanding Islamic Bookbinding Techniques: Western Misconceptions and Forgotten Methods
——5.30pm – 7pm: Huda Smitshuijzen-AbiFares, Arabic Typographer and Founding Director of the Khatt Foundation
The Dutch-Arab Collaboration in the Development of Arabic Typography from the 17th Century to the Present
Followed by a panel discussion with Dr Samir Mahmoud (AUB), Dr Yasmine Nachabe Taan (LAU), Yara Khoury Nammour (Mohtaraf & NDU), Lara Balaa (Maajoun).

Friday 17 October 2014, The Beige Gallery

——12 – 2pm: Workshop with Karin Scheper on The Islamic bookbinding tradition: developments in materials and techniques
——3 – 6pm: Workshop with Huda Smitshuijzen-AbiFares, The design of messages and symbols that challenge media perspectives of the Arab World, with focus on Lebanon

Saturday 18 October 2014, The Beige Gallery

——12 – 3pm: Workshop with Huda Smitshuijzen-AbiFares, The design of messages and symbols that challenge media perspectives of the Arab World, with focus on Lebanon
——3 – 5pm: Workshop with Karin Scheper on The Islamic bookbinding tradition: developments in materials and techniques

//For more information about the program of the exhibition and the additional activities visit the Netherlands Embassy website at: http://libanon.nlambassade.org.//
To confirm your attendance at the lectures/workshops, please send an email to bei@minbuza.nl before Monday 13 October 2014.

Here below a map of the Beirut Souks highlighting the location of The Venue (for the lectures on Thursday), and the Beige Gallery (for exhibition and workshops) .


400 years of Arabic studies at Leiden University : Imposing collections and varied education

Last year Leiden University celebrates its 400th anniversary of the study of Oriental languages and Cultures. It was in the year 1613 that the chair of Arabic was founded, which makes it one of the oldest in Europe. The reasons for studying Arabic were manifold, from an academic interest in the Arabic language and civilization and the need for religious dialogue (and dispute) to the fostering of commercial and diplomatic ties.

This tradition continues in a dynamic department of Middle Eastern Studies with an international scholarly standing. A range of BA and MA programmes address a wide variety of topics both from historical angles and in view of modern developments. This year the University and the City of Leiden celebrate the history and future of the study of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies in Leiden with a full programme of activities: museum exhibitions, poetry readings, concerts, scholarly meetings and tours.

This longstanding tradition in Oriental Studies is, of course, also reflected in the wealth of the library collections at Leiden University. At present, Leiden University holds c. 4,000 Arabic manuscripts, besides 2,000 manuscripts in Persian and Ottoman Turkish.

The Special Collections of Leiden University

The beauty of Islamic manuscripts is to a large extent defined by the art of calligraphy, miniatures and illumination. These three key-elements also enrich the Islamic manuscripts of the Special Collections of Leiden University. They give evidence of the unity and diversity of decorative patterns in the Islamic world. In order to enjoy the richness of the decorative arts displayed in these manuscripts without having to travel to Leiden, a selection of reproductions of the most beautiful calligraphy, illustrations and illuminations is offered. These aesthetic highlights in reproductions now temporarily return to the cultural context in which they originated. The selection is divided into five themes: calligraphy, depictions of Mecca and Medina and miniatures from scientific works and poetry. The fifth theme focuses on floral and geometric designs: by juxtaposing ornamental highlights from manuscripts to comparable ornament from Islamic architecture, the strong interrelation between the arts is shown.