Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hebrew Quran Manuscript From Cochin

I was stunned to see a web page which really fascinated me; I was goggling in the net checking for any existing written documents belonged to Cochin Jewish community, as a part of my research. I was just visiting the pages, after having a glance if it is worth I saved the pages or else I left but this page made me to get stuck into it for a long time. Even after reading it thrice I was still in surprise mood.

The web page was about one of three existing manuscripts of Quran. And interesting part is that it was from Cochin, India. Rather than me explaining about that I would like to quote the words from the page.
“In a tour de force of bibliographical sleuthing, Myron M. Weinstein, former Head of the Hebraic Section, using both painstaking scholarship and creative imagination, offers the missing date and even a nineteenth-century provenance. In his "A Hebrew Qur'an Manuscript" in Jews in India, edited by Thomas A. Timberg, Weinstein, in elegant narrative style, leads the reader along a thoroughly documented road, at whose end we are convinced that this Hebrew version is a translation from a Dutch copy which is itself a translation from the French translation of the original Arabic. Weinstein also persuades us that the translator is Leopold Immanuel Jacob van Dort, a Jewish convert to Christianity who was professor of theology in Colombo, Ceylon, and that the scribe was David Cohen, a native of Berlin then residing in Cochin, a city on the southwest coast of India. Weinstein is equally persuasive about the manuscript being written in Cochin in the 1750s or 1760s, probably in 1757, when van Dort was visiting that city, and that is the volume the missionary Joseph Wolff saw in Meshed, Persia, in 183 1, when he encountered a group of Jewish Sufis. Wolff writes:

I met here in the house of Mullah Meshiakh with an Hebrew translation of the Koran, with the following title: "The Law of the Ishmaelites, called the Koran, translated from the Arabic into French by Durier, and from the French into Dutch by Glosenmachor, and 1, Immanuel Jacob Medart, have now translated it into the holy language, written here at Kogen, by David, the son of Isaac Cohen of Berlin."

From Cochin to Meshed to Washington, and who knows where in-between, a  hegira from the ends of the earth indeed!

Check it in the below link

That is really an interesting fact isn’t it?  And even I feel proud to be a cochinite as this happened to be in Cochin.

The word Kogen (Kogin or kotzin as been called by Jewish community of cochin for the name Cochin) made me to recall an incident happened in my encounter with the Cochin jewish community.

It was a Tuesday, just after my lunch I received a call from Thaha saying, Joseph Hallegua one of the oldest member in the community wants to meet me to recreate the seal of Pardesi synagogue, I was taken to a 18  th century mansion, the residence of Joseph Hallegua. His daughter was there to whom I seemed to be an alien even though I had met her many times form the ticket counter of synagogue. I think it might be because she saw me from her home.

Joseph Hallegua took me and Thaha to a table and gave me some papers and the seal. The seal was made of bronze and look very antique in nature. I was very much exited to see the seal and was glad to get an opportunity recreate it. The part of me was to draw the exact replica of it. I have done it in course of time Joseph Hallegua asked me, how is studied Hebrew language and I had narrated the story and I finished drawing the outline then started with writing part, Mr Hallegua gave me a piece of paper in which he tried to draw it and I read it but there was a mistake in it and I found it and showed to Mr. Hallegua he didn’t admit it first but after a healthy argument finally I took a photo of the seal in my mobile and I zoomed it and then showed to him he understood it the word in which he made the mistake was Kogin it was written  קוגין   in the seal but Mr.Hallegua told it is כוגן , even later Thaha took a enlarged Xerox copy imprint of the seal and gave him a copy.

The word Cochin is written kotzin by the new age Hebrew users, ie instead of gimel they use tzadik, even called by any name Cochin is always Cochin.

And here i would like to say that printing and issual of Hebrew translation of Quran is been announced by the King Fahad complex in 2007, hope the works are still going or it would have published, any way i would like to get one copy of it, Inshallah. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Calligraphic Gift for Bar Mitzvah.

Almost a month ago, while i was checking my mail i got stuck with a mail from States, i read it was a calligraphic request, as i anticipated it was also a bit challenging work, the request was from Mr.Yohan Jeffereis from U.S.A it was to create a Bar Mitzvah calligraphic gift with a Indian Jewish and antique touch. so it was interesting too. so gladly i proceeded with the work, with all the Cochin Jewish design and other Indian design specimens we had a discussion and came to a decision and he send me a layout how it has to be.he send me a copy of invitation card too.

The name of the boy is Marcus Binyamin Eller, i scribed his name in golden letters, in a hand made paper which has a rough texture. And to get parchment colour i had used a secret mixture.

And just below that i had made a lotus design, which is a fusion style and two magen davids in it. Then a scroll   with the Torah portion ie, the Lech-Lecha from Bereshith ( Genesis 12:1-2 ) this is the portion which is to be recited by the boy during the ceremony.

The pillar shown here is a replica of the pillar of Aron Kadesh of Cochin Pardesi Synagogue. A combimation of red and golden colour. The floral design given in white colour frame is of Taj Mahal floral design. Finally, after all the work i had just placed a picture which was forwarded by Mr.Jefferies in the place left for the photo.And even the frame he brought from Thailand or Indonesia, i don't remember the place.

Hope he will like it, and you too will.