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Al-Masaalik Wa Al-Mamaalik

Al-Masaalik Wa Al-Mamaalik

Iran, Germany - 1. National Museum of Iran 2. University and Research Library Erfurt/Gotha Research Library Gotha


Al-Masaalik Wa Al-Mamaalik is an important geographical book written in Arabic by Mohammad Farsi Istakhri in the 10th century. It describes the socioeconomic, cultural and political state of Islamic countries from India to Africa. The book has been translated into many languages, and it is the oldest Arabic manuscript, and the oldest Persian translation, that have been inscribed on the Asia-Pacific Memory of the World register. The Persian manuscript has twenty colour and two black and white maps and the Arabic manuscript has twenty geographical maps.

Istakhr describes places he travelled to including Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Zanzibar. Two thirds of the book focuses on Persia and Transoxiana and the boundaries of the Muslim world of the time are described. The book documented a lot of information that was not widely known at the time. For example, it includes the distances and best routes between regions, the religions of the area, the production of agricultural products, trade information and descriptions of monuments and buildings.

Al-Masaalik wa Al-Mamaalik is also evidence that Iranian Muslims of the time had an advanced understanding of geography and cartographic techniques. The existence of a large number of manuscripts of Al-Masaalik in many countries demonstrates the importance of this book. The Arabic and Persian manuscripts are both written in naskh script, a specific calligraphic style for writing in the Arabic alphabet. The Arabic manuscript consists of 75 folios, including 20 maps and the Persian manuscript consists of 138 folios, including 20 colour and 2 black and white maps. The manuscripts were inscribed on the International Memory of the World register in 2015.




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