Orthodox Book of Hours and Hymns in Arabic

[Book of Hours]. Salat al-Sawa'i [Arabic Book of Hours].

Damietta, Egypt, 1750 CE.

8vo (118 x 172 mm). 324 ff. Arabic manuscript on polished paper. With illuminated 'unwan and gilt and floral borders titling each section. Black naskh script with important words and phrases in red, ruled in gilt and blue. 19th century red morocco triple-ruled in gilt, raised spine bands, gilt turn-ins, and all edges gilt featuring designs in blind. Marbled endpapers.

 8,500.00

An extraordinary Arabic Book of Hours owned by a man named Mikhai'l bin Yaqub bin Ubayd, who was Arab by lineage, Orthodox by faith, Egyptian by birth, and a silk trader by profession, and who died in Cairo in 1800, a year before the final retreat of Napoleon's army from the city. Mikhai'l's identity is known because his grandson, to whom the Book of Hours passed, kept a family record in the endpapers, including deaths and marriages until 1869.

The Book of Hours itself is exquisitely realized, with a beautiful two-page 'unwan in the Arabic manuscript tradition, featuring floral borders and the Christian cross, and housed in a fine later binding. The text is split into fifteen sections, and begins by announcing that with the help of God this Horologion was translated into Arabic by a bishop of Aleppo, Patriarch Aftimos al-Hamawi. The sections themselves cover both prayers and devotions for the hours of the day and months of the year, but also an extensive hymnal, including the Kontakions of the Saints for the period of the whole year, hymns from the Triodion and Octoechos, as well as the Theotokion and the Akathist Hymn. Further canon prayers are included, and the text ends with a series of handy astrological and calendrical tables.

Copied by the scribe Ni'mat Allah ibn Dimitri Qaysi of Ladik, a Turk or Syrian, and completed in the Egyptian port city of Damietta, the manuscript is a beautiful cultural cross-over between the Orthodox faith and the Arabic manuscript tradition.

Condition

Only a hint of exterior wear; gentle toning to text with slight delicacy to paper in some areas. In good condition.