Auction 8 Manuscripts And rare books
Jun 12, 2019 (Your local time)
 Eliyahu Meni 12, Jerusalem

Manuscripts. Hasidism. Glosses and signatures of the greatest Rabbis. Rare Seforim. Hungarian Jewry, Morocco, Yemen and Persia. Autographs of the greatest Italian. Mandate period. Zionism. Holocaust and the Land of Israel.

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LOT 404:

Manuscript – Extremely Rare Historical Discovery – about the Story of the "Mashhadi Jews" – [1830-40]

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Sold for: $4,500
Start price:
$ 4,000
Auction house commission: 22% More details
VAT: On commission only

Manuscript. Judeo-Persian script. Diwan of the Persian poet Saib Tabrizi. Written in the city of Mashad, Persia shortly before 1830 to 1843. Additional Hebrew dates are integrated into the text (see the enclosed article by Benjamin Richler).

The manuscript contains poems, songs and belles-lettres, handwritten by an expert scribe, who claims that "he had authored 70 books and compositions", and according to Mr. Reuven Kashani, an expert on manuscripts and the history of Persia and Mashad: " ascribe with comprehensive religious and literary knowledge and the content is unknown in any existing manuscript".

On leaf 125, page 2. The writer begins to describe, in first person, the events that are occurring in the city of Mashad in 1839. In his witness, he notes the date, the order of events, the precise number of victims and a detailed description of what happened later! He even rebukes his readers "why all this happened to us".

Until now, only partial and imprecise details were known, from the witness of the converso Smad Aka Ben Yosef Salimani, in a certificate that was published by Mr. Yitzchak Ben Zvi. Enclosed in the long article of Dr. V.Y. Fischel (Kehilat HaAnusim BeParas, Jerusalem 1936, pp. 53-56). In his article, the writer presents, mainly in the footnotes, the sources that were known until then; and they are imprecise! Before us is an authentic document that reveals, for the first time, true information about the events that occurred in Mashad and after which the Jews of the city were forced to become Moslems and some of them escaped the city. The writer himself describes his escape to the city of Karbala.

In 1839, the Jewish community was attacked by Muslims and forced to convert. This incident happened during the Shia holy month of Muharram. The Shias were marching in the streets in memory of Hussein Ibn Ali when a Jewish woman was throwing away the dog she had killed for medical reasons. She was accused of deliberately offending the Shias. There are a number of narratives describing this pogrom, almost all of them related years after the incident. In his research on the pogroms in Persia during the 19th century, Yitzchak Ben Zvi bemoans the fact that almost all the reports are second-hand and not written by eye witnesses. One very brief description in Judeo-Persian was written by a contemporary witness a few months after the pogrom but it includes few details other than the date, 12 Nissan 1839, the number of victims killed (about 32) and the fact that the survivors were forced to convert to the Moslem faith. Other reports compiled a few years after the pogrom from hearsay describe different numbers of victims and contrasting versions of the event. The unique document before us is the only contemporary Hebrew report that survived the pogrom in Mashad and was written by an eye witness and it is much more detailed that the only additional report of a witness in Judeo-Persian which Ben-Zvi had published (Benjamin Richler, Jerusalem, March 2015).

Incomplete copying of the Diwan (collection of poems) of Saib Tabrizi (Mirza Muhammad ali Saib, 1601-1677) one of the greatest poets of Persia in the 17th century. This work, when written in Persian in Hebrew characters, is very rare. In the catalogue of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts only one other incomplete copy is listed (Jerusalem National Library MS 3128). Manuscripts of the residents of Mashad from this period are unknown of in libraries around the world!

Ink on paper. Original binding [with a Genizah in it!]. 13x18.5cm. Fair condition. Wear and tear, stains. Worn binding and detached leaves. The back binding is made of remnants of manuscripts. In a matching new case.

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