Eighteenth Century Egypt: The Arabic Manuscript Sources.

Author:Schulze, Reinhard

Eighteenth Century Egypt: The Arabic Manuscript Sources does not present, as the title may suggest, an overview of Egyptian manuscripts of the eighteenth century, but assembles nine articles dealing with the history of Egyptian historiography in the 18th century which were presented to a conference in Los Angeles in March 1990. The common question all the papers addressed was the extent to which the famous eighteenth-century Egyptian historian Abdarrahman al-Jabarti borrowed from earlier sources. In fact, until now, al-Jabarti had been viewed as a unique figure in Egyptian historiography, and although he himself admitted that he had made extensive use of other historical manuscripts, his work was seldom seen as a continuation of earlier trends in Egyptian historiography of that period.

At the center of interest stand the so-called "soldiers' accounts" of the "Damurdashi group" (P. M. Holt) of manuscripts. Reviewing this group of manuscripts, Abd al-Wahhab Bakr, in "Interrelationships among the Damurdashi Group of Manuscripts," comes to the conclusion that every text should be regarded as an independent contribution to the " Azab chronicles" (p. 87, n. 4). Daniel Crecelius examines two of the five known soldiers' chronicles and gives various examples of how al-Jabarti made use of them ("Ahmad Shalabi ibn Abd al-Ghani and Ahmad Katkhuda Azaban al-Damurdashi: Two Sources for al-Jabarti's Aja ib al-Athar Fi 'l-Tarajim Wa'l-Akhbar"). He convincingly demonstrates that al-Jabarti used at least these two sources for his description of the years 1688-1756. Daniel Crecelius concludes: "We do not yet know from what sources al-Jabarti drew his information between 1756 and the period in the 1770s when he started collecting his own data" (p. 101). Two other contributions ( Abd al-Rahim Abd al-Rahman Abd al-Rahmin's "Yusuf al-Mallawani's Tuhfat al-Ahbab and Ahmad Shalabi ibn Abd al-Ghani's Awdah al-Isharat" and Andre Raymond's "The Opuscule of Shaykh Ali al-Shadili: A Source for the History of the 171 Crisis in Cairo") examine what may be called "civic chronicles,"(1) which are full of valuable information on the social and cultural history of early eighteenth-century Egypt. In discussing Ottoman Egyptian links in historiography, Jane Hathaway ("Sultans, Pashas, Taqwims, and Muhimmes: A Reconsideration of Chronicle Writing in Eighteenth Century Ottoman Egypt") diligently shows that al-Jabarti followed models of the early eighteenth century rather than...

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