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علی مشهدی رفیع
آمار بازدید
The term “Depth of Description” (DoD), which is sometimes referred to as “Fullness of Description” (FoD) in archival science, means the level of detail about the contents of a collection in a finding aid or catalog record. 1 SAA Dictionary: depth of description, 2005-2021, URL: https://dictionary.archivists.org/entry/depth-of-description.html
Although this concept is of utmost importance to cataloguers and could be such decisive that affect directly the structure of records as well as the arrangement of information in them, Depth of description is primarily dependent on modality of the archive’s guidelines. 2 Shakhsi, 2015: 11. Furthermore, selecting subjects and arrangement of information in catalogue records were something more or less flexible in pre-modern era in the absence of any universal standard or thesaurus. In other words, the main factor in determination of DoD in descriptive catalogues prepared for pre-modern archives was mostly users’ seeking behavior and archivists’ experiences in “Archival Retrieval”, which includes locating materials or information at the archive for the sake of returning them for use. 3 Duranti & Franks, 2015: 82-83.
Thus, one of the main sources for extraction of any pre-modern standard or in general, guideline or instruction regarding DoD in cataloguing Persian written documents and official correspondences is solely the existing catalogues of each historical era, with regard to which we are facing an obvious lack of systematic academic studies concerning traditional archives in the persianate world.
One of the very rare publications, which concentrates itself on the content analysis of the pre-modern Persian document catalogues, was published in 2014 at the Ganjine-ye Asnad Quarterly of the National Library of Iran by Mohsen Qosi and Habobibolla Azimi, in which the authors tried to present a basis for the categorization of the existing catalogues and their typology.
Having a look on the published catalogues of Persian manuscripts collections and reviewing the relevant publications, it is quite obvious that the frequency of the remaining traditional catalogues of documents from eighteen and nineteen centuries in Iran, namely Qajar era, is more than the previous periods and rarely we come across examples of such catalogues from Safavid as well as pre-Safavid era.
Besides, each of the aforementioned rare examples of Safavid document catalogues are prepared for a single type of document, which varies over a wide range of written objects from legal contracts to correspondences among famous political figures. In other words, in each of these examples, documents of the same type that fit into a general category are listed and described or even gathered.
Furthermore, most of the existing examples could also be considered as gatherings usually in codex form of certain documents, which are categorized in European diplomatics under the term “register”. 4 de Hamel & Bergeron-Foote, 2015: 29
Accordingly and based on the categorization introduced by Qosi and Azimi in 2014, the existing Safavid document catalogues can be placed in the following categories:
• Dafater-e Shar’iah دفاتر شرعیه - (register of religious-legal documents);
• Sarih-al-Melk صریح الملک - (register of real estate deeds);
• Ketabche-ye Mowghufat کتابچه موقوفات - (register of endowments);
• Dafater-e Kholud دفاتر خلود - (register of governmental decrees and official correspondences);
• Registers prepared for other financial documents. 5 Qosi Kahu & Azimi, 2014: 28

MSS no. 5032, as a possible example for the Safavid registers of governmental official correspondences
MSS no. 5032 at the library of Islamic Consultative Assembly (Iranian Parliament) is a very rare and probable example of Dafater-e Kholud, which represents governmental archiving practices for documents in Safavid Persia. This MSS, which is seemingly scribed by an unknown senior scribe at the Safavid royal court, belonged formerly to Seyed Muhammad Ali Rouzati 6 Seyed Muhammad Ali Rouzati (سید محمد علی روضاتی) (1929-2012) Known as Allameh Rouzati, was a Shiite scholar, bibliographer and biographer from Isfahan and a descendant of Mohammad Baqir Khwansari. After studying in the religious seminaries of Isfahan and Qom, Rouzati began researching and editing religious texts as well as collecting rare books and manuscripts in his private collection. , an Iranian manuscript scholar from Isfahan and is presently kept at the library of Islamic Consultative Assembly. In the meantime, it has been once published in form of facsimile in Farhang-e Iran Zamin Journal (The Journal for the Culture of Iran) by the well-known Iranian Scholar and bibliographer Iraj Afshar in 1978. 7 Afshar, 1978: 179
MSS no. 5032 is oblong in format and 13.5 cm to 25.5 cm in size, which could be considered a typical and common bookbinding format in the Iranian World for notebooks and called regularly in Persian pre-modern literature as “Bayaz” or “Safineh”. Besides, the Perso-Arabic term “Bayaz” that has been firstly used by Afshar in his article for entitling the MSS, is solely a reference to its original bookbinding structure, which comprises of blank folios being bound together to be utilized as a notebook or pocketbook.
According to Afshar’s report, the original number of folios was 347, but due to rupture of its headband, a notable part of the manuscript has been lost and this damage reduced the number of its folios to 123 in the course of time.
This Bayaz (notebook) had been mainly utilized as a register to record the transcriptions of the letters from Safavid king as well as high officials to recipients from other states namely Ottomans, Mughals, Uzbeks, England, Portugal and Batavia. There is a very few number of examples for this sort of notebooks in other collections of Persian manuscripts, among of which two other examples are worthy to mention here.
Firstly, a photographic copy of a Manuscript at the central library of the University of Tehran that has been once introduced by Manouchehr Sotoudeh in Autumn 2002 in his article in Iranshenasi Journal (The Quarterly for Iranian Studies), which is a catalogue of the correspondences between Shah Abbas I and European monarchs, bishops and Padris. 8 Sotoudeh, 2002: 560.
Secondly, another bayaz at the library of Islamic Consultative Assembly with retrieval no. 3455, in which a scribe named Ahmad Gholam at Safavid royal court listed and gathered a series of transcriptions of royal correspondences in his notebook along with his favorite literary texts and private notes.
Although these examples are also quite similar and comparable to each other in terms of layout, size, bookbinding format, content and context, the only feature of MSS no. 5032 that makes it single in kind is the existence of the aforementioned short notes about the physical features and appearance of each letter in the margin of its transcription. In these notes, we encounter a relatively diverse range of information in a very short and concise way, about different aspects of its size, illuminations, paper, color of the inks, scripts and other details about the layout design along with some decisive information on the sender, recipient, correspondent and the date of sending.
Catalogue records represent themselves in form of very short and summarized notes, each of which is written on a couple of baselines in a different direction or in a different size or thickness from the adjacent notes. In other words, by scrolling the lines of each note or writing in a thinner or thicker way, the scribe distinguished the notes of the same page from each other.

DoD in MSS no. 5032
Looking at the notes containing descriptions of the appearance of the letters, we come across different levels of DoD. In most of the annotations, the scribe tried to provide as much as possible with the information about the appearance of the correspondences and the details of how the letters were sent. But Due to his tendency to be concise, in cases where the letters are similar in appearance, the scribe mentioned this similarity by just referring to the first letter of the same physical characteristics.
By analyzing the content of the notes, which are mostly written in form of a continuous paragraph, it can be seen that a typical record of the register in the largest possible case consists of the following entries:
Attributive Information:
1. Type of letter
2. Sender
3. Recipient
4. Subject
5. Date of Scribe
6. Scribe
7. Correspondent

Layout
1. Type of Script
2. Number of lines
3. Line Spacing
4. Length of the Text
5. Width of the Text
6. Title-side (Upper-side) Margin
7. Bottom-side Margin
8. Right-side Margin
9. Left-side Margin
10. Place of Stamp

Material & Illumination
1. Type of Paper
2. Illumination on the Paper
3. Inner Frame
4. Bold Phrases

Size
1. Length of paper
2. Width of paper
3. Size of the Title

Packing
1. Envelope
2. Bag / Cloth case
3. String
4. Lac Stamp
5. Attachments
Figure 1 - The Orders of Information in the Descriptive Notes
Figure 1 - The orders of information in the descriptive notes


Figure 2 - The Frequent Orders of Information
Figure 2 - The Frequent Orders of Information


Given that this is a very diverse set of information that can even be used to reconstruct the physical shape and appearance of the letters, the order of their placement together in each note has been differently arranged by the scribe. So that at first glance it may seem that the order of this information was more a function of his taste than a predetermined order. But by extracting the order of information in each note and examining them from a statistical point of view, some orders can be found as the main taste of the scribe in this regard. (Fig 1 & Fig 2)
Concerning this approach, there is a number of 163 descriptive notes, in which we encounter the following six most frequent orders for the aforementioned set of information:
A= Attributive Information / L= Layout / M= Material & Illumination / S=Size / P=Packing
AMSLP (27)
ASMLP (19)
ASL (17)
ASML (13) / AS (13)
AMSL (12)

Table 1 – The Placement of each Category in the Order of Information in the Notes
Table 1 – The Placement of each Category in the Order of Information in the Notes


Looking at Table 1, we encounter the fact that the Attributive Information is mentioned in all cases without exception at the beginning of the note. Thus, it could be generally said that the Attributive information of the letters is of paramount importance to the scribe, so that he used this category of information probably as a referencing entry for the retrieval of each of the correspondences and played seemingly the role of the main entry in all of the records.
As it can be seen in Table 1, the rest of the categories are seen in all places, but by looking at the statistical Mode of each row that represents the place, in which each of these categories had the most presence, the scribe's most desirable order in prioritizing the categories of information could be extracted as ASMLP.
Well it can be generally said that information on Size and Material and illumination is of second and third priority to the scribe, after which he often described the layout in a relatively detailed manner. Finally, by having a look at the statistical mode for the information related to packing, which is in the fifth place and considering the fact that this category has not been mentioned in 83 cases, it seems that the packing specifications were of the lowest importance to the scribe and he did not consider himself obliged to mention this information in most of the notes.

Measurement system for linear measures
Among the information mentioned in these descriptive notes, a large number are referring to the qualitative characteristics of the letter, such as the type of script, illuminations, and materials, each of which is described in its own terminology. But there is a small body of quantitative information in between that are related to different aspects of size.
Considering that the quantity of length has always been expressed in the persianate society in various units, one of the interesting aspects in content analysis of these notes is examining these notes as a source for the sake of recognizing the most common measurement system for linear measures among the scribes of the Safavid Dar al-Insha (Central Secretariat).
The units used in these notes for describing the length and width of the letters and the dimensions of envelops and cloth cases are in descending order: (ذرع) Zar’, (شبر) Shebr, (گره شاه) Gereh-e Shah, (اصبع منفرج) Asba’-e Monfaraj, (اصبع منضم) Asba’-e Monzam, (پشت کارد) Posht-e Kard.

Figure 3 - Anthropic Units: Zar’, Shebr, Gereh-e Shah, Asba’-e Monfaraj, Asba’-e Monzam
Figure 3 - Anthropic Units: Zar’, Shebr, Gereh-e Shah, Asba’-e Monfaraj, Asba’-e Monzam

(ذرع) Zar’

Zar’ is a term applying to the Persian “cubit”, also called “gaz”.The two most important zar' measuers in the Safavid Persia were the canonic cubit or "zar'-i shar'i" and the cubit of isfahan or "zar'-e esfahani". One canonic cubit amounted to 49.857 cm and according to the fact that a cubit of Isfahan was 8/5 of a canonic cubit, cubit of Isfahan must correspondingly equal 79.5 cm. Zar’ is used in notes to express large lengths such as the length of the original paper. 9 Hinz & Marcinkowski, 2003: 94

(گره شاه) Gereh-e Shah
Gereh is a Persian linear measure amounting to 1/16 of a zar' 10 Hinz & Marcinkowski, 2003: 92 thus amounting to 4.96 cm. However, in the notes, this unit is mentioned as “Geherh-e Shah” which means royal knot. This term indicates apparently a specific type of gereh in Safavid central secretariat that makes it difficult to determine its exact size.

(شبر) Shebr
A linear measure in the Islamicate society and a term applying to “span”, also called “wajab”, which is the distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger. According to Hawkes, wajab equaled 4 gerehs. 11 Hawkes, 2015: 904 Considering that each Gereh is equal to 1/16 zar', then a shebr can be considered equal to 19.84 cm in Safavid Persia.

(اصبع) Asba’
According to Hinz, the term “Asba’” is the finger-breadth and amounted principally to 1/24 of the cubit. But in the present notes, two type of this unit have been used as (اصبع منفرج) Asba’-e Monfaraj, which means the distance between the tip of two open fingers, and (اصبع منضم) Asba’-e Monzam, which means the width of the fingers that are placed next to each other. This method of measuring with human fingers under the term of Asba’ is one of the very rare method for linear measuring in the persianate world and it is very difficult to find another reference for this sub-units in other persian texts. However, considering the normal size of a typical adult human body, it could be assumed Asba’-e Monfaraj (the open fingers) equaled to 6-7 cm and Asba’-e Monzam (the closed fingers) equaled to 1.5-2 cm.
While Shebr, Gereh-e Shah and Asba’-e Monfaraj are used in the notes for medium sizes such as the size of text, title, illuminative elements, etc, the two other unit namely Asba’-e Monzam and Posht-e Kard are used for small sizes such as the width of the marginal spaces or line Spacing the thickness of the decorative lines.

(پشت کارد) Posht-e Kard
This unit is one of the most creative units used in the note and refers to a very narrow thickness of a knife blade. Accordingly, it has been used in the note to describe the very narrow distances such as the thickness of the lines of jadwals (the decorative frame around the text), which should probably be a fraction of a millimeter.

As you might see, this approach can lead to a more accurate understanding of the dimensions and size of letters and their related objects such as envelopes, cloth cases and strings. Furthermore, one of the possible applications of this understanding will be in restoration of the objects left from this period, and in a step beyond, further content analysis could also be done on interrelations between the variation of size and the other features and characteristics of the letters from Safavid era, with regard to which, a paper is under publication in the upcoming volume of Ganjine-ye Asnad Quarterly Journal of the National Library of Iran, which I am inviting you all to read that article as a follow-up of my research.

Bibliography
- Afshar, I. (1978). Bayaazi az Makaatib-e Asr-e Safavi (A Notebook of Safivid Correspondences). In I. Afshar, M. Sotoudeh, M. Danesh Pajouh, M. Maghrebi, & A. Zaryab , Farhang-e Iran Zamin (Vol. 23, pp. 179-336). Tehran: Farhang-e Iran Zamin .
- de Hamel, C., & Bergeron-Foote, A. (2015). Diplomatics. New York: Les Enluminures.
- Duranti, L., & Franks, P. (2015). Encyclopedia of archival science. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
- Hawkes, J. (2015). Qāmūs-i Kitāb-i Muqaddas (Persian Bible Dictionary). Tehran: Asatir Publication.
- Hinz, W., & Marcinkowski, I. (2003). Measures and weights in the islamic world an English translation of Walther Hinz's handbook Islamische Maße und Gewichte. Kuala Lumpur: International institute of islamic thought and civilization.
- Qosi Kahu, M., & Azimi, H. (2014). Catalogs of records in the Safavid and Ghajarid eras: an analytical survey. Ganjine-ye Asnad(4), 26-39.
SAA Dictionary: depth of description. (2005-2021). Retrieved from SAA Dictionary (Dictionary of Archives Terminology).
- Shakhsi, L. (2015). Cataloging Images in Library, Archive and Museum. (M. Preminger, Ed.) Oslo: Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10642/3374
- Sotoudeh, M. (2002, Autumn). Fehrest-e Moraselat va Mokatebat-e Shah Abbas Safavi ba Padorian va Salatin-e Farang (The Catalouge of the Correspondences between Shah Abbas I and European Monarchs and Bishops). Iranshenasi Quarterly(14th year no. 3), 560-575.


۱. SAA Dictionary: depth of description, ۲۰۰۵-۲۰۲۱, URL: https://dictionary.archivists.org/entry/depth-of-description.html
۲. Shakhsi, ۲۰۱۵: ۱۱.
۳. Duranti & Franks, ۲۰۱۵: ۸۲-۸۳.
۴. de Hamel & Bergeron-Foote, ۲۰۱۵: ۲۹
۵. Qosi Kahu & Azimi, ۲۰۱۴: ۲۸
۶. Seyed Muhammad Ali Rouzati (سید محمد علی روضاتی) (۱۹۲۹-۲۰۱۲) Known as Allameh Rouzati, was a Shiite scholar, bibliographer and biographer from Isfahan and a descendant of Mohammad Baqir Khwansari. After studying in the religious seminaries of Isfahan and Qom, Rouzati began researching and editing religious texts as well as collecting rare books and manuscripts in his private collection.
۷. Afshar, ۱۹۷۸: ۱۷۹
۸. Sotoudeh, ۲۰۰۲: ۵۶۰.
۹. Hinz & Marcinkowski, ۲۰۰۳: ۹۴
۱۰. Hinz & Marcinkowski, ۲۰۰۳: ۹۲
۱۱. Hawkes, ۲۰۱۵: ۹۰۴
سه شنبه ۱۳ مهر ۱۴۰۰ ساعت ۸:۵۶
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