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A newly discovered Yasna manuscript

A newly discovered Yasna manuscript from Yazd, Iran

© 2015 Saloumeh Gholami

The newly discovered Avestan manuscript contains an illuminated Yasna ceremony and belongs to the Dinyār family in Yazd, Iran. Prof. Alberto Cantera has already confirmed that the new manuscript is a Yasna manuscript. The only other known Yasna manuscript of a comparable age is kept at the British Library.

Even though the manuscript has no colophon, according to Alberto Cantera it is most probably by the hand of Mihrabān Anōšīrwān Wahromšāh and should be dated around 1630. The scribe’s hand as well as the illuminations also show a close relation to the Vīdēvdād Sāde of the same scribe, dated to 1647 CE / 1016 Y, kept today in the British Library.

This manuscript is discovered and purchased by Vahid Zolfaghari and is now kept in his private collection. Prof. Alberto Cantera and his team at the Avestan Digital Archive (ADA) project seek to publish and make the manuscript available publicly.

Yasna manuscripts contain the long liturgical text recited during the daily performance of the Yasna, the central ritual in Zoroastrianism. It was originally composed in the ancient Iranian language of Avestan between the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE. Different types of Yasna manuscripts are available, those transmitted with the Pahlavi translation (i.e. Pahlavi-Yasna), those without a translation (i.e. Yasna Sāde) and those with the Sankrit translation (i.e. Sanskrit Yasna). Among the manuscripts of the Pahlavi-Yasna one can distinguish two lines of transmission, namly the Indian Pahlavi-Yasna and the Iranian Pahlavi-Yasna.


Avestan text criticism

Cantera, Alberto. 2014. The problems of the transmission of the Avesta and the tools for Avestan text criticism (TATEC). In Tara Andrews & C. Macé (eds.), Analysis of ancient and medieval texts and manuscripts: Digital approaches, 95-116. Brepols.

The Avestan manuscripts contain the recitatives of several Zoroastrian liturgies that are today still celebrated. These Liturgies took shape around the sixth century BC, long before they were written down for the first time.

Today we know of more than 300 manuscripts, including Avestan texts, but the true number is probably much higher since the tradition of producing manuscripts has continued until recently and the production of copies of parts of Avestan manuscripts is part of the instuction of Zoroastrian priests.

Using the tools proposed in this article will offer a more realistic picture of the complex processes of the Avesta transmission, over and above the simplistic stemmata produced by Geldner solely on the basis of the agreement in error, since errors spread in the Avestan transmission not only through the process of copying from written sources, but also through the influence of ritual practices.


Books as material and symbolic artifacts in religious book cultures

Books as Material and Symbolic Artifacts in Religious Book CulturesBooks as Material and Symbolic Artifacts in Religious Book Cultures

Käte Hamburger Kolleg, Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr University Bochum: 28 & 29 May 2015

The Käte Hamburger Kolleg Workshop on Books as Material and Symbolic Artifacts in Religious Book Cultures will analyze the connections between books and manuscripts as material artifacts and the formation of religious book cultures before the printing era. It will also explore the ways in which, in religious book production, the medium, in its forms of “human and institutional interactions,” influences the transmission of the religious message, allowing for the material format to receive further alterations from the religious message itself. Finally, this workshop will investigate interactions between modern religious groups and the very academic books which describe them.

Programm of The KHK Workshop on Books as Religious Artifacts (May 28-29, 2015)

Thursday, 28 May 2015

  • Costantino Moretti (Paris): “Non-Textual Uses in Buddhist Medieval China”
  • Grégoire Espesset (Bochum): “Petitioning in Pre-Modern Taoist Liturgy”
  • Vladimir Glomb (Bochum): “Sagehood for Young Boys: Confucian Primers in Traditional Korea”
  • Shervin Farridnejad (Berlin): “The Zoroastrian “Holy Book”: The Understanding and Construction of the Avesta as a Book in Zoroastrian Tradition and Oriental Studies”
  • Kianoosh Rezania (Bochum): “The Zoroastrian “Pahlavi Book”: The Genesis of the Dēnkard in the Early Abbasid Period”
  • Marie Efthymiou (Aix-Marseille): “Suras Collections in Central Asia: From Manuscripts Used in Daily Devotions to Teaching Subject in Quranic Schools”

Friday, 29 May 2015

  • Ksenia Pimenova (Bochum): “Ethnographers, Their Books, and Their Shamans: The Scripturalization of Post-Soviet Tuvan Shamanism”
  • Mareile Haase (Bochum): “The Zagreb Mummy Wrappings: An Etruscan Linen Book from Egypt”
  • AnneMarie Luijendijk (Princeton): “Put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time (Jer. 32:14): On Saving and Discarding Sacred Books”
  • Flavia Ruani (Ghent): “Books of Protection, Books of Perdition: Book Imagery in Ephrem the Syrian’s Heresiology”
  • Eduard Iricinschi (Bochum): “No one in Rome really has time to attend readings (Pliny, Letters, 3.18.4): The Anxiety of Publishing Books in Late Antiquity”

Judeo-Persian manuscripts in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America

Moreen, Vera Basch (ed.). 2015. Catalogue of Judeo-Persian manuscripts in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Études Sur Le Judaïsme Médiéval 63). Leiden/Boston: Brill.
The intellectual legacy of the ancient community of Iranian Jews rests in several large but neglected Judeo-Persian manuscript collections. The largest in the West, and the third largest collection in the world (198 manuscripts), belongs to the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York. Primarily a work of reference, this Catalog informs scholars in the fields of Judaica and Iranica about the range of subjects (history, poetry, medicine, philology, etc.) that engaged Iranian Jews between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. It reflects the intellectual parameters of Iranian Jewry by describing the extent to which they were acquainted with classical Jewish texts while they were deeply enmeshed in the literary and artistic sensibilities of their Iranian environment.

About the Author:

Vera Basch Moreen, Ph.D. (1978), Harvard University, is an Independent Scholars who has taught Islam and Judaism Islam at several colleges. She specializes in the history and culture of Jews in the Muslim world, primarily Iran. In Queen Esther’s Garden: An Anthology of Judeo-Persian Literature (New Haven, 2000) is among her many publications.

انتشار اولین شماره «بساتین»

بساتین، نشريه‌اي علمي ـ تخصّصي در موضوع نسخه‌هاي خطي اسلامي است، اين نشريه در زمينه مطالعاتِ کتاب ‌شناختی، مباحث نسخه ‌شناسی، تاريخ علم مسلمانان، کتابخانه‌هاي تراثي، مجموعه‌داري کتب خطي و اسناد کهن، ترجيحاً با محوريّت ميراث مکتوب کهن شيعه و معرّفي آثار فرهيختگان مسلمان، به صورت دو فصلنامه، به سه زبان فارسي، عربي و انگليسي، منتشر مي‌گردد و قلمرو فعاليتِ آن نيز شامل تمامي حوزه‌هاي متنوّع کتاب‌ شناختي آثار تراثي، نسخه شناسی (دانش کوديکولوژی)، تصحیح متون کهن، فهرست نویسی نسخ خطي و اسناد کهن، در قالب و ساختاري پژوهشي است.

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