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7-10-2015, 07:43

Popularization of the Book of Roads and Kingdoms Mapping Tradition

This form of geographical text became extremely popular in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the original tenth-century geographical texts, along with enhanced and more colorful versions of the maps, were copied prolifically right up until the late seventeenth century. The Ottomans, Safavids, and Mugh-als were all interested in commissioning copies, and many famous scholars, such as the Ilkhanid scholar Nasiruddin Tusi, used versions of these earlier map forms in their work.

The popularization of illustrated geographical manuscripts also influenced the works of late medieval Islamic scholars, such as al-Qazwini (d. 1283) and Ibn al-Wardi (d. 861), authors of‘Aja’ib al-Makhluqat wa ghara’ib al-mawjudat (The Wonders of Creatures and the Marvels of Creation) and Kharidat al-‘aja’ib wa faridat al-ghara’ib (The Unbored Pearl of Wonders and the Precious Gem of Marvels), respectively. Judging by the plethora of pocketbook-size copies that still abound in every Oriental manuscript collection, the Kharidat al-‘Aja’ib must have been a bestseller in the late medieval and early-modern Islamic world. It is therefore significant that copies always incorporated, within the first four or five folios, a classical Islamic world map.

Eventually the classical Islamic world maps also crept into general geographical encyclopedias, such as Shihab al-Din Abu ‘Abdallah Yaqut’s (d. 1229) thirteenth-century Kitab Mu ‘jam al-Bldan (Dictionary of Countries). The earliest prototype of the Yaqut world map is found in a copy of Abu al-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni’s (ca. d. after 1250 CE) Kitab al-tafhim (Book of Instruction). World maps were also used to open some of the classic histories. Copies of such well-known works as Ibn Khaldun’s (d. 1406) al-Muqaddimah (The Prologue) often begin with an al-Idrisi type of world map, whereas copies of the historian Abu Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari’s (d. 923) Ta’rikh al-rusul wa-l-muluk (History of Prophets and Kings) sometimes include a Ptolemaic ‘‘clime-type’’ map of the world as a frontispiece. Similarly, classical Islamic maps of the world find their way into sixteenth-century Ottoman histories, such as the scroll containing Seyyid Lokman’s Zubdetu’t-tevarih (Cream of Histories) produced in the reign of Suleyman I (1520-1566).