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In pursuit of shadows: al-Ḥariri’s Maqāmāt


Date of creation
  • 2013   Gregorian
Preferred title

In pursuit of shadows: al-Ḥariri’s Maqāmāt   English  

Work type Single work
Non-literary work Commemorative work
Work manifested Article
Work genre Textual work

Adult, serious


Focusing on the well-known 1237 Maqāmāt copied and illustrated by Yahya b. Mahmud. b. Yahya. b. Abi al-Hasan b. Kurriha al-Wasiti (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, Ms. Arabe 5847), this essay reexamines the question of the interaction between al-Hariri’s text and al-Wasiti’s interpretation of it through a cycle of narrative paintings. The absence of such an approach can be explained by scholarly judgments going back to D. S. Rice’s essay of 1959—in which he argues that the images are a distraction—mostly restated in subsequent studies by Richard Ettinghausen (1962), David James (1974), and Oleg Grabar (1984). Grabar concluded that “the purpose and success of the story lie exclusively in its language, not in its narrative,” an assessment that gave license to the interpretation of al-Wasiti’s paintings as indices of contemporary culture and society. This essay considers the various effects of the paintings on the text and its meaning, and examines the interplay between truth and fiction, a tension that was at issue since the immediate reception of al-Hariri’s work.

Diamond   W 236113

Created at 30-01-2020 by Dalal Adib (IDEO)

Updated at 30-01-2020 by Dalal Adib (IDEO)

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