The history of Iranian cities through their books: What Ms. Köprülü 01589 tells us about 8th/14th century Shiraz

Document Type



Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London


What can the history of books tell us about Iranian cities and their histories? This article introduces the manuscript of a multi-text compilation (majmūʿa) for the purpose of illustrating its potential usefulness as a source for studying the social and cultural history of Shiraz in the turbulent period that followed the collapse of Mongol rule in the area. We specifically seek to show that Köprülü 01589, now housed in Istanbul, helps us to see how books were produced and consumed, and provides insight into the operations of a busy workshop for copying texts. Despite the rarity and historical significance of several of the pieces that it contains, the availability of images of the manuscript for some time in Istanbul and Iran, and attention to it in catalogues, it has not received scholarly attention as a whole.1 Although this article is only a preliminary study of a single manuscript, we believe it is important for the current volume in showing what manuscripts can reveal of the social world that produced them, the networks of people and ideas that animated city life, and the cultural resources of specific times and places. Furthermore, our approach to Köprülü 01589 can be expanded and applied to other manuscripts originating in Shiraz and other cities.


Eurasian Studies