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April 15, 2019

155 Persian Manuscripts Dating Back to the 13th Century Now Online


From Atlas Obscura:


Centuries of Persian Manuscripts, Now at Your Fingertips

The Library of Congress has made 155 rare Persian manuscripts, lithographs, and books dating back to the 13th century available online for the first time.

The collection of illuminated manuscripts includes texts such as the Shahnameh, an epic poem about pre-Islamic Persia likened to the Iliad or the Odyssey, along with written accounts of the life of Shah Jahan, the 17th-century Mughal emperor who oversaw construction of the Taj Mahal.

Other manuscripts focus on religion, philosophy, and science.

Some are written in multiple languages, with passages in Arabic and Turkish.

This wide range highlights just how cosmopolitan the collection is.


"We nowadays are programmed to think Persia equates with Iran, but when you look at this it is a multiregional collection," says Hirad Dinavari, reference specialist for the collection at the library’s African and Middle Eastern Division. "It's not homogenous, many contributed to it. Some were Indian, some were Turkic, Central Asian. Various people of various ethnic groups contributed to this tradition."

One example of the mashed-up diversity within the collection is History of the Origin and Distinguishing Marks of the Different Castes of India, by James Skinner, an Anglo-Indian lieutenant-colonel in the British military in the early 19th century.

The book is a true "cultural fusion," says Dinavari.

About two-thirds of the manuscript focuses on the tribes, traditions, and professions unique to Hindu India — yet the book is written in Persian, but with terminology popular in languages used in India.


It addresses the lives of everyday people, who weren't often featured in such exquisitely assembled and illustrated books.

Most of the collection was acquired by the library during the 1930s, from Kirkor Minassian, an art dealer.

Around 40 items were showcased in 2014, just before the digitization process began, with a special focus on materials that are too fragile for display.

The project is almost entirely done; there are just 15 or so manuscripts left to get the digital treatment.

The idea is that putting all of these materials up together will help connect past and present.

"What we are trying to do is show a writing tradition of the Persian world, essentially going back to look at the ancient manuscript, but also bringing it into the modern world," says Dinavari, "We are trying to show continuity, we don't want it to seem like it's some antique relic."

April 15, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

How does your garden grow?

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I don't have any interest in gardening nor do I live in the Pacific Northwest so why does a blog about the confluence of those two Venn diagrams get pride of place here in boj?

Besides which the blog — which began in 2008 — and its associated Facebook page stopped being updated in 2017.

It's because when I was answering a question from a reader about hedge clippers, I had my Crack Research Team®© drill down on the subject and they came back with this excellent analysis of two Fiskars products, one of which I had and the other which I'd never heard of until then.

I found the review quite informative and very well written, so I took a dive into the rest of the site and Bob's your uncle.

There are tons of product reviews and comparisons, many of which are illustrative videos.

The grand panjandrum of North Coast Gardening is one Genevieve Schmidt, a landscape designer who lives in Arcata, California.

There's a lot of material of interest on her website for anyone interested in gardening.

Fair warning: there goes the day.

April 15, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Google Chrome Easter Egg

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I was just sitting and daydreaming in front of my computer when I happened to focus on the little array of nine tiny square colored boxes at the far left of the bookmarks bar on Chrome (above and below).

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It's been there since the first time I loaded Chrome, years ago — I've tried and failed to delete it since I never click on it; it opens up into this:

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Not until just now did the penny drop: those nine tiny squares are a miniaturized view of a face of Rubik's Cube.

OMG, so great.

I never noticed it before switching to Dark Mode in Chrome: I think the combination of the contrast of the array with the black background along with the happenstance of that particular instant just staring at it absentmindedly occasioned the gobsmacking moment.

April 15, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Where is this?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: bigger than a bread box.

Another: in the Northern Hemisphere.

April 15, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

World Timeline Tape

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From the website:


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This double-sided 10-foot tape measure has measurements in inches and centimeters on one side and an illustrated history of the world on the other.

Starting with the formation of stars and galaxies, then dinosaurs and moving on to the evolution of mankind, we end up at the modern age of smartphones and electric cars.

Measure your historical knowledge while you DIY.

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Features and Details:

• Auto-lock

• 2.4" wide

• For ages 3+ [covers everyone in my audience]


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April 15, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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