New Documentary Evidence For the Trade in Papers

A lecture by Anne Regourd, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris

Watermarked papers, which served as media for Islamic manuscripts (codices and documents), were imported from Europe at least since the 13th century. The study of trade in papers brings us, therefore, to Global history. My approach is to treat the papers found in Islamic manuscripts as primary sources, which can be connected to narrative sources and archives, in order to map the routes that papers took as a commodity to the place where they were consumed as media for manuscripts. This novel methodology appears to be especially fruitful in helping us to follow the paths the paper took into the hinterland from the seaports where it arrived. This methodology is the one I follow in this talk. I present research just published on late production papers which were dispatched to the Yemeni and Ethiopian market at the end of 19th and the beginning of the 20th century through the networks of Bohra merchants, whose Companies were mainly based in Bombay (today Mumbai).

Anne Regourd is a historian and an Arabist. She worked on various collections of documents found during excavations (Qusayr, Southampton finds), and conserved in Museums (Edfou papyri; Rémondon collection, The Louvre). She has also published on Epigraphy born on textiles. As a codicologist, she worked on Yemeni and Ethiopian manuscripts, and became specialised in paper studies. She intends to analyse documents of all types with a holistic approach to the objects. With this approach, she has developed a methodology using papers themselves as a primary source for the study of paper trade, see Regourd (ed.), The Trade in Papers Marked with Non-Latin Characters, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 2018.

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Duration: 1:32:08