Didar: Stories of Middle Eastern Manuscripts

Didar offers a journey into how works in the University of Melbourne’s Middle Eastern Manuscript Collection were produced, collected and traded.

Didar is a Persian word 'to visit’. It is the moment when evocative memories transcend time and place. It is the excitement of hearing from the beloved. It is intimacy with a subject, and the anticipation of a new experience.

About the exhibition

The University of Melbourne's Middle Eastern Manuscript Collection holds some 190 internationally significant volumes with texts on medicine, astronomy, mathematics, poetry and much more. It was collected predominately by Professor John Bowman (1916-2006) who arrived at the University in 1959. Upon his retirement in 1975, the extraordinary collection Professor Bowman amassed was moved to the Baillieu Library, where it existed, safe but invisible, for twenty years.

This beautiful, fascinating and mysterious collection transcends time and place. It is impossible to open the pages of the any of the volumes in the collection without feeling a sense of excitement, wonder, respect, and admiration. Rediscovered by scholars in the Faculty of Arts the collection is now part of rich interdisciplinary studies that have opened up new knowledge about these spectacular texts.

Didar is an exhibition which follows the journey of the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Material Conservation’s research of the University’s rich Middle Eastern Manuscript Collection. Through the eyes of the conservator, history and science blend together to uncover incredible stories. By examining leather, paper, script, ink and illuminations we gain information about the artistic practice, social motivations and the composition of materials. Didar is a showcase of their journey of discovery.

Open 17 March 2022 to 17 February 2023.

WATCH VIDEO: Dr Leila Alhagh from the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Material Conservation discusses the significance and illustrations in the MUL 17 manuscript featured in the exhibition.  Video: Paul Burston

Want to know more?

For more information on the University’s Middle Eastern Manuscripts collection and associated research on the collection

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