Among the Arabic manuscripts preserved today in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, MS 13 stands as a witness to the contributions made by Ottoman subjects to the development of early modern orientalism. Catalogued in 1889 by the Spanish historian and orientalist Francisco Guillén Robles, the work is a copy of the Kitāb al- ḥulla al-siyarā’, a biographical dictionary by the medieval Andalusian scholar Ibn al-Abbār (d. 1260). We learn something interesting about the history of this manuscript on the last folio where an Arabic colophon reveals that the copy had been ‘completed by the hand of the presbyter Būlus, son of Ilyās al-Haddār of Laodicea, of the Maronite nation, on 22 April 1765’. Colophons, short passages inscribed by a copyist at the end of a manuscript that present the circumstances of the manuscript’s completion, often end with such information. However, the scribe of...

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