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Title in Arabic:] Kitab 'Aja'ib al-maqdur fi-akhbar Taymur. Ahmedis Arabsiadae. Vitae et Rerum Gestarum Timuri, qui vulgo Tamerlanes Dicitur, Historia. Latine vertit, et adnotationes adjecit Samuel Henricus Manger.
Leeuwarden: at the shop of H. A. de Chalmot, 1767–72 - 2 volumes in 3, quarto (200 × 150 mm). Contemporary cat's-paw calf, double rules to boards in blind, spines richly gilt in compartments separated by raised bands, red and green morocco labels to second and third respectively, all edges red, marbled endpapers, green satin bookmark to each volume. Raised bands very slightly rubbed, bookplates removed from front pastedowns, pages of vol. I quire G transposed (printing-shop accident); paper flaws not affecting text at vol. I 2S3-4, vol. II 2H3 and 4C3; marginal soiling to vol. II pp. 429-32. An excellent copy, internally crisp and clean, well-preserved in a handsome contemporary binding with the gilt tooling and red edges strikingly bright. Arabic and Latin parallel text. Engraved head- and tailpieces throughout. First edition thus of the most importance source for the life of the great conqueror Timur (1336-1405). Timur was born in Kesh, modern-day Uzbekistan, into the Turco-Mongol Barlas tribal confederation, and built an empire stretching from Anatolia in the west to Kashgar in the east. This edition, prepared by Dutch orientalist and theologian Samuel Hendrik Manger (1735-1791), comprises an annotated and improved edition of the Arabic text (first published in 1636), alongside the first edition in Latin. Manger's parallel text has never been superseded and in the author's own time served as the standard version for scholars across Europe, in particular the majority who did not know Arabic, with Edward Gibbon using it for the chapter on Timur in the Decline. Manger consulted various manuscripts to improve on the 1636 edition, and his text is supplemented with glosses from a range of other historical accounts. The author Ibn 'Arabshah (1392-1450) was deported to Samarkand as a young boy when Timur conquered his home city of Damascus around 1400. In Samarkand he was trained as a court secretary, and studied under the great scholars of Central Asia, learning Persian, Turkish and Mongol. Travelling through the Crimea he stopped at Adrianople, where he entered the service of Ottoman sultan Mehmed. He returned eventually to Damascus, completing his account in 1435. "After a brief preface the work explains the significance of Timur's name and then traces his life and career step by step. The rulers whose kingdoms Timur annexed are discussed in detail and their territories described. The plundering, devastation, and ferocious cruelty which Timur unleashed wherever he met with any resistance are scrupulously depicted. The exiling to Samarkand of the skilled craftsmen, scholars, artists, and so on, whom he encountered on his campaigns is also described Ibn 'Arabshah examines Timur's character, abilities, and conduct towards friend and foe, and offers a relatively objective assessment. Finally he gives a valuable account of the intellectual world of Samarkand with a list of famous scholars, lawyers, shaykhs, interpreters of the Koran, doctors, and artists whom he had seen or of whom he had heard" (Encyclopaedia Iranica). Considered "one of the highlights of late-Classical Arabic literature" (Miller, p. 257), Ibn 'Arabshah's account is also of great historical importance for its frank description of elements of Timur's reign otherwise known only through court hagiographies: "Timur is represented as a cruel and profligate tyrant, but towards the end his great qualities are appreciated. The book contains valuable descriptions of [Timur's court at] Samarkand and its learned world" (Encyclopaedia of Islam). It has also been demonstrated that Christopher Marlowe, in writing Tamburlaine, "selected many incidents and details from his probable Western sources that most likely have their bases in Ibn 'Arabshah" (Miller, p. 258). Fairly well-held institutionally, but of great rarity in commerce, with no appearances in auction records. Schnurrer 166; Howard Miller, "Tamburlaine: The Migration and Translation of Marlowe's Arabic Sources," in Travel and Translation in the Early Modern Period, ed. Car
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2017-10-05           Check availability:      ZVAB    

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