Seasonal News

Ursula Sims-Williams News Leave a Comment

December 16th marked the 119th anniversary of the birth of our founding Trustee Sir Harold Bailey in 1899, just before the turn of the century – as he often reminded us. During his lifetime he regularly held a birthday tea-party on that date to which he invited colleagues and their partners. An especially charming custom was to present each of the ladies with a scented freesia. However, the main attraction was always the cake, a traditional fruit cake on which he had inscribed a word. Usually the word was too obscure to be recognised by most of the guests, but he would always introduce the cutting of the cake with a detailed explanation, making the annual event one of the most memorable pre-Christmas festivities.

Since Professor Bailey’s death in 1996 we have kept the tradition alive alternating it with a biennial Bailey memorial lecture series. This year the closely guarded secret of the cake decoration was revealed by our treasurer Almut Hintze who picked not a word but the number 691, the date, according to the era of Yazdegird, of the oldest dated Zoroastrian manuscript. As she explains

The number is written in the Pahlavi script. It is read from right to left in Semitic fashion and starts with a six, as indicated by the six little hooks. Then it is followed by the sign for a hundred, by two hooks each of which stands for twenty, then by the number for 50 and finally by the word for one, ēk. Now you have to add them all together and you get six hundred, twenty, twenty, fifty, and one, i.e. 691 in total.

You can read the full text of her explanation here.

Meanwhile, as we closed for Christmas and New Year we bade a sad farewell to Jose John who has been at the Trust since 1997. Working first as Bridget Allchin’s assistant she moved to work part-time in the Library. We wish her well and look forward to her return as a volunteer in the New Year.

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all our friends, readers and visitors a very happy Christmas and New Year holiday. We’ll be back on January 7th 2019.

Michaelmas Term 2018 Lecture Programme

Ursula Sims-Williams News Leave a Comment

A new series of lectures at the AIIT begins next Friday 26 October. All are welcome. Lectures begin at 5.30pm, refreshments from 5pm. Unless otherwise indicated, lectures are held at: Ancient India & Iran Trust 23 Brooklands Avenue Cambridge CB2 8BG 26 October: Cambridge Festival of Ideas. Christine van Ruymbeke, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge; Ancient India and Iran Trust. Literary Criticism and the Pendulum of Taste: The Reception of the Anvar-e Sohayli BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL for this event via the Festival of Ideas website 9 November: …

Feasting on the Shahnameh

Munizha Ahmad-Cooke Stories from the Collection 2 Comments

Amongst the manuscripts we hold at the Trust is Abolqasem Ferdawsi’s tenth-century epic Persian poem, the Shahnameh, copied in Samarkand in 1604. When I first applied for the Administrator post, this felt like an added reason to work here, as my name derives from that of Manizheh, the daughter of King Afrasyab and the heroine of the love story ‘Bizhan and Manizheh’ told in the Shahnameh. That this story was housed here reinforced the personal affinity I have always felt with the Trust. However, while I was aware of my …

Ottoman Explorations of the Nile and Evliya Çelebi

Jo Salisbury Book Notes 3 Comments

The trust library was delighted to receive as a gift the newly published Ottoman Explorations of the Nile : Evliya Çelebi’s ‘Matchless Pearl These Reports of the Nile’ map and his accounds of the Nile and the Horn of Africa in The Book of Travels by Robert Dankoff, Nuran Tezcan and Michael D. Sheridan.  This is a new, revised and expanded English edition of the 2010 Turkish publication, which first contextualises Çelebi’s elaborate map of the Nile and his account of his Nile journeys in Volume 10 of his Seyahatname …

Lahore symposium booklet now available

Munizha Ahmad-Cooke News 2 Comments

We are pleased to make available the summaries of talks given at the symposium The History of Lahore and the Preservation of its Historic Buildings, held in Cambridge in October 2017 and organised by AIIT trustee Sir Nicholas Barrington and Dr Abdul Majid Sheikh. The booklet provides informal summaries of the talks as drafted by the speakers themselves, together with pictures of the main monuments discussed. It is planned that an academic volume of the proceedings will be published by the British Association for South Asian Studies, probably in 2020. …