Material Text Cultures

Profession and Training in Islamic Chancery Practice (adab al-kātib) or: Administration as the Ultimate Discipline


former staff members

Teilprojektleiterin Prof. Dr. Susanne Enderwitz
akademische Mitarbeiterin Dr. Rebecca Sauer





  • Documenting and analysing Qalqašandī’s Kitāb ṣubḥ al-a‘šā (Morning Dawn for a Sufferer of Night Blindness) (14th/15th century) as a handbook of and reflection on the adab al-kātib (administrative culture)
  • Integration of two kinds of materiality: of scripture, text and image – as material used for administration – with the artefacts of presence, status, and habitus of their representatives
  • Readjusting the balance between the religious scholarship of the theologists/lawyers (‘ulamā’), and the profane training enjoyed by civil servants (kuttāb), as complementary and competing forms of “hegemonic knowledge”


Subject of the sub-project is:

  • The Kitāb ṣubḥ al-a‘šā as the climax of the adab al-kātib in its textual and material presence
  • The sources, tradition and reception of the adab al-kātib between the 7th and 15th century
  • The social presence and representation of civil servants since early Islamic times


  • The Kitāb al-a‘šā will be examined from a multi-focal standpoint: as an encyclopaedia for the educated, a handbook for civil servants, a reflection on the profession, a manual for social representation, and from the history of its transmission
  • Parallel to this, a social history of the civil servant between the 7th and 15th centuries will be drawn up on the basis of the adab al-kātib, historical sources, and artefactual material
  • Both works feed into an interpretation of social stratification in the history of the Arabic-Islamic Orient


Subprojects of the 3rd Funding Period

A01 A02 A03 A05 A06 A08 A09 A10 A11 A12 B01 B04 B09 B10 B13 B14 B15 C05 C07 C08 C09 C10 INF Ö2 Z



Completed Subprojects

A01 A03 A04 B02 B03 B06 B07 B11 B12 C01 C02 C03 C04 C06 IGK Ö1



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