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Manuscript of Kalila Wa Dimmna

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Published on Sep 14, 2008

•Manuscript of Kalila Wa Dimmna By Abdulla Ibin Muqqaffa.
•Studied and written by Dr.Yahiya Ibn Junaid.

The second oldest illustrated copy known of Kalila
wa Dimna is the one of the late King Faisal bin
Abdul Aziz, may Allah have mercy upon his soul.
This copy is currently preserved in King Faisal
Center for Research and Islamic Studies. It was
transcribed in 747 Hijra. including its 96 miniatures.
This magnificent copy represents the models of the Mamluke portrayal school and,
the general pattern of the manuscript reveals that it was
written in an elegant and refined Neskhi script, called
Naskhi Warraqi, with each page comprises 15 lines
in average, while some words are fully vocalized,
and there are some marginal commentaries and
notes on a number of pages. The miniatures and
ornaments are perfectly executed and their colours
were skillfully used. Each miniature expresses
directly the main line of each one of the tales. It
is noticed that the miniatures or portrays included
in this copy are mentioned within the context in
general rather than referring to specific places.The
miniatures are mostly preceded by titles to explain
their contents, such as (the portray of Dimna talking
to the Ox) (the portray of a man digging the treasure
and other men moving it)... etc.
Looking analytically at drawing no.1 (a man digging
the treasure) we see the motion of portraying
persons which is very close to reality in showing the
motion of the foot, the hands' movement, the face
expressions in addition to the different garments of
people in the miniature. The various colours used
have added a strong sense of harmony between the
variant aspects of the miniature.
Among the nice drawings is the one that represents a
conversation between a man and a bird. It shows the
man riding a moving horse while pointing his finger
at the bird which is listening to him carefully while
the horse is in a state of movement.
There are, moreover, two plants in front and
behind the horse. Another miniature, representing a
conversation between Dimna and the Ox, showing
Dimna standing on a high place while addressing
the humble and all ears Ox. The Ox was drawn in
red colour with two golden horns and a golden rope
with a golden bell hanging from its neck. Another
fine miniature, representing a lion attacking a
donkey at its back side while there is a jackal
waiting to have his share. The artist skill is
exceedingly obvious in portraying the donkey
in a state of panic and fear by turning his head
towards the lion. Among other fine miniatures
in King Faisal's copy, is a miniature portraying
a lion, a wolf and a crow preying upon a camel.
It is almost the same miniature that one finds
in the McGill University's copy but with only
one difference; the McGill University's
copy contains a crow, while King Faisal's
copy contains a jackal instead. This
particular miniature of King Faisal's copy
is artistically well executed by the artist;
therefore, it is artistically far superior in
quality and design than the miniature of the
McGill University's copy.
The last fine miniature but not the least is a
miniature showing, a monkey on a tree and
a male tortoise lifting his head in the sea
while conversing with each other.
The artist's interest in nature seems to
concentrate on portraying the tree in a way
much minute than the animals.
Most of the miniatures in this copy are highly
expressive, precise and of high value among
similar artworks of Arabic manuscripts.
At the colophon we find the signature of
the copier and the date of transcription. At this
colophon, we read the following: "the book of
Kalila wa Dimna was completed on the 26th of
Safar, 747 Hijra. May Allah's peace and blessings
be upon our Prophet Muhammad, His Household,
His Companions, His Wives, and His virtuous
descendants and upon those who righteously
follow them till the day of Judgment. Written
by the most insignificant among Allah's servants
and the most needy to His mercy; Muhammad
ibn Ali ibn Salim ibn Ahmed al-Hanafi, may
Allah forgive them all».
Verily, this unique copy of Kalila wa Dimna,
with its miniatures and its complete colophon
make it one of the most precious copy so far
known all over the world.
This reflects the deep knowledge and interest of
the late king Faisal about the Arabic and Islamic
heritage. Only a person of a very fine taste and
of a special appreciation of the Islamic arts
would acquire such a copy.

•Manuscript of Kalila Wa Dimmna By Abdulla Ibin Muqqaffa.
Studied and written by Dr.Yahiya Ibn Junaid.

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