Archive for the ‘Thousand and one nights’ Tag

More Sindbad in Garšūnī   3 comments

A few months ago I highlighted on this blog an acephalous copy of The Seven Voyages of Sindbad in Garšūnī from a manuscript in Aleppo. I have recently found in my continuing cataloging of the manuscripts of the Church of the Forty Martyrs, Mardin, another copy, but very significant is the fact that this recent copy is complete, including the beginning! Here is the start of the work:

CFMM 306, ff. 65v-66r

The complete text is on ff. 65v-109r (foliation supplied by me, as the pagination is inconsistent) and the rest of the manuscript consists of hagiographic or legendary texts (including more Aḥiqar). I failed to mention in the previous post on this work that there are also two Garšūnī copies of it in the Mingana collection:

  • Mingana Syr. 146, ff. 45-65 (Cat., vol. 1, col. 328). The beginning is missing. It is worth pointing out that Mingana 146 also contains a rather obscure story called “The Persian King and his Ten Viziers,” another copy of which follows the Sindbad story in the Mardin manuscript; Mingana gives no incipit, but the title matches the Mardin copy exactly.The rest of the Mingana manuscript, perhaps from around 1700, contains, incidentally, very many hagiographic and legendary stories also known in the Forty Martyrs collection.
  • Mingana Syr. 463, ff. 79r-121v (Cat., vol. 1, col. 828). The manuscript is dated May 2130 AG and 1234 AH (= 1819 CE). Mingana again gives no incipit, but the title of the rubric matches the Mardin copy above exactly.

So this makes four (at least partial) copies of Sindbad in Garšūnī, and there are almost certainly more in HMML’s hitherto uncataloged manuscripts, if not elsewhere. I stress that all four of these copies are not incorporated into the Alf Layla wa-Layla “cycle” (right word?), but isolated and copied with saints’ lives and other stories. There is literary and textual investigation to be done here, but it will have to wait for another day.

Sindbad in Garšūnī   2 comments

The story of Sin(d)bad the Sailor, in Arabic Sindbād al-baḥrī, is known, at least nominally, in various incarnations (such as this 1958 film), but it was especially the French adaptation of The Thousand and One Nights (Alf layla wa-layla) by Antoine Galland, into which the story of Sindbad had been inserted, that first made the series of his seven voyages familiar in Europe. Recently, while looking over a Garšūnī manuscript from the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo containing The Colloquy of Moses, a text that survives in a few languages and on which I have been collecting some evidence, followed by a short, as yet unidentified, religious text, I came to the next work, the beginning of which was missing. The first rubric I found, a few folios into this new text, was simply “The third story [ḥikāya]”, but upon reading a bit of it, it was immediately clear that the text was The Seven Voyages of Sindbad. I had no Arabic text to check it against, and I still do not have one, but the text here is most certainly the same collection known from European versions of The Thousand and One Nights. The text in the folio images below corresponds, for example, to vol. 6, pp. 37-38, of the first edition of Richard Burton’s version of the stories. The text in this manuscript, SOAA 124(m), goes from ff. 98r-165v, and brings the codex to an end. The beginning, as intimated above, is missing: the story is extant from partway into the second voyage to the end. Some folios are missing elsewhere in the text, in addition to the initial lacuna. There are at least two scribes for the manuscript, in this text and the rest of the book, neither of whom recorded a date, but it is not, I think, particularly young.

Unexpected finds such as this make cataloging and manuscript-rummaging delightful work, and they also serve, especially in their accumulation, to remind us of the multifarious quality of a people’s literary (and thus, cultural) corpus.


U. Marzolph, “Sindbād (the sailor),” in Encyclopaedia of Islam, vol. 9, pp. 638-640.

Ff. 117v-118r

Ff. 118v-119r

%d bloggers like this: