Lady Elwood in the Red Sea: #3 Streets, Market, Costumes and a Bible

Between 1825 and 1828 an English lady named Anne Katharine Elwood accompanied her husband, a colonel in the British service, to India. On this trip they stopped at Hodeidah an Mocha on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Her account is quite detailed, including her visits with women in Hodeidah and Mocha.  Her full text, published in 1830, is entitled Narrative of a Journey Overland from England by the Continent of Europe, Egypt, and the Red Sea to India, including a Residence There, and Voyage Home, in the Years 1825, 26, 27, and 28. The discussion of Yemen is in Volume 1, which is available at archive.org.

For Part #1, click here.  For Part #2, click here.

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Digitisation Project of Yemeni Manuscripts at Leiden University Libraries

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Dutch Consul Cornelis Adriaanse (on the right, sitting against a tree) in Yemen with his hosts, early 1930s (UBL Or. 26.374)

by Arnoud Vrolijk, Curator of Middle Eastern Special Collections

The Yemeni manuscripts of Leiden University Libraries are now being digitised as part of The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition, a project coordinated by Professor Sabine Schmidtke (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton).

For a number of years a war has been raging in Yemen, which not only devastates cities and villages, but also brings the population on the verge of famine. Only few people in the Netherlands are aware that Yemen has a rich culture which is now under heavy pressure. Historical buildings are being destroyed, but much less visible is the damage inflicted on the written heritage, the backbone of an ancient civilisation.

From times immemorial, Yemen has been the home country of the Zaydis, an early community in Shi’ite Islam. Until 1962 the imams, the religious leaders, were simultaneously the rulers of Yemen. Contrary to expectation, Zaydi Islam has never lived in isolation: there were extensive contacts with the Sunnis in the north and, for example, the Shi’ites of Iran. Their cultural treasures in the domains of religion, science and literature have been preserved in the Arabic manuscripts of Yemen. These handwritten books have an individual style that sets them off against the mainstream traditions of the Middle East.

Yemen has always had a rich library tradition. At present it is impossible to ascertain the current state of the collections. As a result, scholars from Yemen and abroad are now basically cut off from their source materials. In Europe and America, however, there are relatively small but important collections of Yemeni manuscripts. Most of these were collected in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by scholars, diplomats and travellers.

For the rest of this article, click here.

Lady Elwood in the Red Sea: #2 A House in Hodeidah

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View of Red Sea Port of Yanbu‘ (from Elwood’s book)

Between 1825 and 1828 an English lady named Anne Katharine Elwood accompanied her husband, a colonel in the British service, to India. On this trip they stopped at Hodeidah an Mocha on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Her account is quite detailed, including her visits with women in Hodeidah and Mocha.  Her full text, published in 1830, is entitled Narrative of a Journey Overland from England by the Continent of Europe, Egypt, and the Red Sea to India, including a Residence There, and Voyage Home, in the Years 1825, 26, 27, and 28. The discussion of Yemen is in Volume 1, which is available at archive.org.

For Part #1, click here.

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علاَمة الفلك الزراعي في اليمن القاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي

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كلمة المهندس محمود إبراهيم الصغيري – رئيس الجمعية الفلكية اليمنية
في حفل تكريم : علاَمة الفلك الزراعي في اليمن القاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي والباحث الفلكي الشاب الأستاذ عدنان علي عبد الخالق الشوافي – في مركز الدراسات والبحوث اليمني – صنعاء – صباح الإثنين 26/11/2018 م
أخوة الوفاء للعلم والعلماء في الديار اليمنية
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
حين يستدعي الإنسان مراحل تفكيره أومعارفه ببعض القضايا تتبلور لديه أصول بداياته المعرفية وأيضاً قيمتها . وفي المجال الفلكي ربما كان مهماً أنْ أشير إلى انَ المعرفة بالفلك وتأريخه ومراحله وأيضاً أعلامه لم تكن واضحةً في الذهن قبل العام 1979م . وفي إبريل / نيسان من ذلك العام 1979م وأثناء حضور الندوة العالمية الثانية لتاريخ العلوم عند العرب التقيت ولأول مرة بباحث مهم على الصعيد الفلكي هو الدكتور ديفيد كنج وأهداني محاضرةً مطبوعة له باللغتين العربية والانجليزية عنوانها: ( حول تاريخ الفلك في العصر الوسيط في اليمن )- كان قد ألقاها في وقت سابق من ذلك العام في صنعاء – وهي المحاضرة – الدراسة التي نشرتها لاحقاً في العدد الأول من مجلة الإكليل – صفر 1400 للهجرة – يناير /كانون الثاني 1980م – وقد ألحقتها بتعليق للأستاذ المحقق عبد الله الحبشي كان عنوانه : ( حول مؤلفات أهل اليمن في الفلك ) .
وفي العام 1980 م ذاته كتبت لإذاعة صنعاء مسلسلاً إذاعياً عنوانه : ( الهبوط  على سطح القمر ) وفيه الكثير من المعارف الفلكية والمنجزات التقنية والطبية … وبالرغم من ذلك لم أنتبه إلى حقيقة يمنية مهمة في المعارف الفلكية وكانت قد بدأت تتوفر في المكتبات  اليمنية منذ العام 1979م .
وبعيد قراءتي ولعدة مرات مقالة علاَمة التأريخ اليمني القاضي محمد بن علي الأكوع الحُوالي بعنوان : ( قصيدة البحر النعامي في الأشهر الحميرية وما يوافقها من أغدية ) – في العدد المزدوج ( 3-4) من مجلة الإكليل – رييع 1401 للهجرة الموافق 1981م .ً وأقول عدة مرات من القراءة للمقالة المذكورة لأنني في واقع الحال كنت مصححاً لمسودات مقالات المجلة وفي كل أعدادها إضافة إلى رئاسة التحرير ..
وبعد المقالة عن البحر النعامي أفقت على حقيقة فلكية يمنية عميقة وهائلة وهي أنَ أهل اليمن يمتلكون تقويماً خاصاً بهم يختلف عن سائر تقاويم الشعوب ( التي انحصرت تقاويمهم بين الشمسية أو القمرية ) ؛ وتفرد اليمنيون ومن زمن غير معلوم حتى الآن بتقويم زراعي لا يرتبط بجرم سماوي واحد وإنَما بجرم سماوي هو القمر من جهة وبمجموعة نجوم الثريا من جهة أخرى ( في حسابات تُسمَى القرانات) .
نعم إنَ الإنسان لايرى فعلياً (أو لايفهم) إلاَ ما يعرف
وبعد نشر المقالة المذكورة أدركت عيناي عملاً مهماً كان متوفراً وشائعاً في مكتبات صنعاء ووجدته في إحدى مكتبات شارع 26 سبتمبر وهو :
(الدائرة الفلكية الزراعية في اليمن ) للقاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي . وبفضل هذا العلاَمة الكبير وخلال حوالي أربعة عقود من الزمان شق التقويم الزراعي اليمني طريقه إلى الحياة الفكرية الفلكية والزراعية في داخل اليمن وخارجها .
ومن المهم هنا الإشارة إلى عَلمٍ من أعلام الفلك الإسلامي هو :
الدكتور دانيال مارتين فاريسكو الذي أنجز الكثير من البحوث والمؤلفات عن الفلك الزراعي في اليمن ( وهو ما يُسميه الفلك الشعبي) وكان القاضي يحيى العنسي من أبرز مراجعه وذكره بالاسم

Continue reading علاَمة الفلك الزراعي في اليمن القاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي

Lady Elwood in the Red Sea: #1 Landing in Hodeidah

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Between 1825 and 1828 an English lady named Anne Katharine Elwood accompanied her husband, a colonel in the British service, to India. On this trip they stopped at Hodeidah an Mocha on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Her account is quite detailed, including her visits with women in Hodeidah and Mocha.  Her full text, published in 1830, is entitled Narrative of a Journey Overland from England by the Continent of Europe, Egypt, and the Red Sea to India, including a Residence There, and Voyage Home, in the Years 1825, 26, 27, and 28. The discussion of Yemen is in Volume 1, which is available at archive.org.

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Yemeni Agates

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image courtesy of Rahman Taha

Zayd al-Faqih has published online a history of the Yemeni agate on the website al-madaniya.

Here is the start of the article:

Yemen has been known since ancient times for its agate and incense trade, as well as trade in other precious stones such as onyx and jade. However, agate has achieved broader fame as a leading precious stone amongst many other valuable gems, incense and spices, including coffee beans. Yemeni agate arrived in Europe early; mentions include in Aristotle’s writings (384 – 322 BC), which state that the finest agate and onyx were brought from Yemen. The Book of Crowns of the Kings of Ḥimyar, by Wahb ibn Munabbih (655–728 AD), states that Shaddad ibn Amr, from the people of Ād, built his palace from onyx stones. History books state that when al-Muzaffar al-Sulayhi became ruler of Yemen, he sent gifts to his Fatimid allies, including 70 swords with agate handles, 12 knives with onyx blades, 5 agate adorned garments and a large number of  precious stones. Abu al-Hassan al-Hamdani (893–945 AD) writes that the art of forming and using onyx for adorning and lining reached its peak during his time, and was used to make bottles, cases, sword handles and plates…

Continued here.

A Boy’s View of Mocha Coffee

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Trolling through archive.org can yield surprising and very obscure finds. Such is the case for this Orientalist book by Daniel Wise from 1885. The author has written it for boys (not sure if girls were on his mind) about a trip that a boy could make from Boston to Baghdad and back again. The author splices information from various travel accounts into his fanciful narrative, which has a missionary side as well.

What I found of interest was a brief discussion of coffee, probably taken from Niebuhr’s late 18th century travels.  There is nothing new here, but the style is fun to consider. It is interesting to note that even back then it seems that not all Mocha coffee was coming from Mocha.

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Film on Yemen Coffeehouses

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The Yemeni filmmaker Zakaria Mohammed has recently produced a short film on Yemeni coffeehouses, described on the website al-madaniya and also available on Youtube.

Cafes is a short documentary about Samaser, the old and modern cafes in Sana’a. The film chronicles these spaces in a beautiful and artistic way, and weaves their history, development and social role for the elderly and youth alike. In his film, Zakaria Mohammed focuses on the social and cultural importance of cafes for young men and women who have turned to them because of today’s war and crisis – especially as the country lacks safe spaces and suffers from a decline in leisure and recreational spaces. In addition, they value the facilities and services that these cafes are able to offer, against a background of collapsing public services across the country. Electricity and an Internet connection are among the main services that cafes provide, and that many people across the country have been unable to access at home. In his story, Zakaria oscillates poetically between the past and the present. Through a series of clips he conveys the suffering of his generation to the world, and highlights the ways in which youth resist the circumstances of war and escape their painful reality.

Continue reading here.

AIYS at MESA Update

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The annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) in San Antonio, Texas, is only a little over a month away. Yemen will be well represented this year, both in AIYS sponsored panels and individual papers. The AIYS General Information meeting, to which all are invited, will be Friday, November 16, 4-5 in room Mission B (2).

Here are the panels and papers on Yemen:
Friday, November 16, 11-1, AIYS Panel
(5224) Anthropology in War-Torn Yemen: Challenges, Dilemmas, and Alternative Methodologies.
Organizers: Susanne Dahlgren and Marina de Regt
Chair: Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Hobart & William Smith Colls.
Marina de Regt, Vrije Universiteit-Amsterdam-Finding Ways to Work on Yemen: A Plea for Engaged Scholarship
Susanne Dahlgren, U of Tampere/National U of Singapore-Securitized Yemen: Studying a Popular Revolution in the Shadow of War, Drones and Terrorism
Nathalie Peutz, NYU-Abu Dhabi-Fieldwork in a Yemeni “Village” Displaced and Constituted by War

Saturday, November 17, 8:30-10:30
(5307) Unorthodoxies Shi’ism, Sufism, Feminism
Michael Dann, U of Illinois-Zaydi and Imami Appropriations of Early Shi’i Hadith Narrators

Saturday, November 17, 11-1 AIYS Panel
(5057) The Birth of Modern Yemen: Internal Views of the 1960s Civil War
Organizer: Marieke Brandt
Chair: J. E. Peterson, Tucson, Arizona
Marieke Brandt, Austrian Academy of Sciences-A Tribe and Its States: Yemen’s 1972 Bayhan Massacre Revisited
Joshua Rogers, SOAS, U of London-Aid and Taxes: A Political Economy Analysis of the Civil War in North Yemen 1962-1970
Gabriele Vom Bruck, SOAS, U of London-Domestic Photography and Memories of Loss in Northern Yemen
Zaid Alwazir, Yemen Heritage & Research Center-The Third Force’s Role in Yemen’s Peacemaking and Achieving National Reconciliation (1964-1970)

Saturday, November 17, 3-5
(5118) Challenges Facing Yemen’s Millennia-Long Cultural Heritage (Roundtable)
Organizer: Mac Skelton, Johns Hopkins U
Chair: Sama’a Al-Hamdani, Yemen Cultural Institute for Heritage and the Arts
Alexander Nagel, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History
Najwa Adra, American Institute for Yemeni Studies and Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Nathalie Peutz, NYU Abu Dhabi
Sabine Schmidtke, Institute for Advanced Study

Saturday, November 17, 3-5
(5059) Beyond the Written Word: Unity and Diversity across Transmission and Transformation of Medieval Textual Traditions in the Arabian Peninsula
Anne Regourd, CNRS, UMR 7192-Questioning the Birth of a Tradition
Corrado la Martire, U of Cologne-How to Conceal the Tradition into the Text: Tayyibi Isma’ili “Codes of Conduct” (adab al-du’at) between Yemen and India

Sunday, November 18, 1:30-3:30
(5105) The Indian Ocean without Boundaries: A Historical Perspective
Organizer: Daniel Martin Varisco
Chair: Roxani Margariti, MESAS Department, Emory U
Craig Perry, U of Cincinnati-The Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean before 1500: Evidence and Interpretive Challenges
Andre Gingrich, Austrian Academy of Sciences-Local Knowledge in Pre-Colonial Maritime Interactions
Marina Tolmacheva, Washington State U-Managing Monsoons: Mamluk-Era Voyaging East
Daniel Martin Varisco, American Institute for Yemeni Studies-Sailing with and against the Winds: Navigation in the Red Sea Indian Ocean Network in the Ayyubid, Rasulid and Mamluk Eras

Sunday, November 18, 8:30-10:30
(5279) Composing a Community of Words in the Islamic World: From Medieval to Modern
Emily Sumner, U of Minnesota-“In Our Sea Their Sins Must Drive Them”: The Righteousness of the Huthi Zamil

Sunday, November 18,1:30-3:30
(5061) Medical Mobilities and Transformations in the Global Middle East
Shireen Hamza, Harvard U-Stretching the Body: Preparing to Travel in the Indian Ocean World

Egyptian Expedition Yemeni Manuscript List

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In December, 1951, an Egyptian delegation led by Fu’ād Sayyid ‘Imāra, the head of Arabic manuscripts in the Egyptian National library, arrived in Aden on their way to microfilm Yemeni manuscripts. They were received in Ta‘izz by Imam Aḥmad and Foreign Minister Qadi al-‘Amrī and then flew on to Ṣan‘ā’, where they had access to the Western Library of the Great Mosque. They were able to microfilm about 300 manuscripts, including from the collections of the former Imam Yaḥyā and other private collections. This important bibliographic volume is available online.

The topics covered in the manuscripts copied were the following: 110 on kalām, 35 on fiqh and ‘uṣūl, 33 on ta’rīkh, 20 on ḥadīth, 20 on adab, 19 on tafsīr and ‘ulūm al-Qu’rān, 13 on lugha, 8 on Ismā‘īliyya and extreme Shi‘a groups, 5 on various subjects, 3 on qarā’āt and tajwīd, 3 on siyāsa and ijtimā‘ and 2 on manṭiq. Because many of the manuscripts come from royal collections, this is a great asset for anyone studying Zaydi Yemen.

tarikhtarikh2Selections from the Great Mosque Western Library

Continue reading Egyptian Expedition Yemeni Manuscript List

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