From Tigris to Jerusalem
East Syriac Poetic Notes from the Ottoman Time1
The poems published and studied here – most of them for the first time – represent literary tastes of East Syriac educated circles of the Ottoman period. These text collections appeared as later additions in the manuscripts written by ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gāzartā, the Uniate East Syriac Church poet and the second patriarch (1555-1570). These small texts, usually having very little or even nothing to do with the main manuscript text, represent a kind of verse notes made by different pilgrims, and reflect popular poetic tastes of the period. Short poems, especially quatrains, are an ideal form for such poetic activities. Judging from their great number, the spread of short poems was constantly increasing since the time the Syriac Renaissance, when they were first borrowed from Arabic and Persian poetry. Apparently, the multi-lingual poems of the Mongol period (second half of the 13th-early 14th century) – the heyday of the Syriac tradition in the Islamic period – were treated as appropriate models to portray contemporary cultural life of the multi-lingual Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire.
In recent publications, primarily by Heleen Murre-van den Berg2 and David Wilmshurst,3 the East Syriac manuscript tradition of the Ottoman period has been researched and analyzed, which has enabled other scholars in the field to make judgments about the circulation of texts in this period. Both works accumulate a huge bulk of material that is contained in hundreds and even thousands of manuscripts in numerous collections around the world. As Murre-van den Berg pointed out, it was in the Ottoman period – starting with the mid-16th century that the Syriac manuscript production recovered after previous social catastrophes of late 14th-early 15th centuries. As shown in her work, surviving manuscripts produced in the 16th century clearly outnumber any produced before.4 The scholar explains this with the relative political and economic stability that was reached with the emergence of the Ottoman Empire that unified all the Near East.
This relatively stable situation also resulted in an intensification of travelling within the empire. It is from this period on that the East Syrian monastery in Jerusalem, with the church of Mart Maryam, is known to have been a popular visiting place for numerous pilgrims that made their way from the area of modern Iraq, Iran and South-East Turkey to the holy city.5 The history of this cloister has been studied in a few recent publications.6 According to them, this East Syrian church that served as a monastery was located somewhere to the north of the Holy Sepulchre in the area of the present Christian quarter.7 In the seventeenth century, it was more and more involved in the activities of the Catholic missionaries from different orders that were active in this city.8 In 1718, the Nestorian Patriarch Elīyā (1700-1722) sent the priest Kanun of Telkepe to organize the repair of books and ritual objects kept in the “holy dwelling place of Mart Maryam, which is the church of us Nestorians.” The list formed by this priest counted one hundred manuscripts,9 forty-nine of which are still in Jerusalem now. Most of them are kept in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate library;10 the list, which had been incorporated into the manuscript Jer. Syr. 5, written in 1660 in Alqosh, was discovered and published by Adolf Rücker.11 Another three are part of the Saint Mark’s Syriac Orthodox Monastery library,12 and three more are located in the Vatican library.13
The manuscripts existing in the above-mentioned collections, as well as those in other libraries contain precious information about the literary and social life of East Syriac communities in the Ottoman period. Sebastian Brock published an important article based on the East Syriac manuscripts donated or written in Jerusalem.14 He carefully registered and classified them, having translated a few colophons and records found in them. Pilgrims from different parts of the Ottoman Empire used to commission and donate manuscripts to the churches and monasteries they visited, leaving information concerning themselves in colophons and in records made in earlier manuscripts. 15
Since the time those materials were published, numerous collections, including St. Mark’s Monastery library, were digitized by the HMML team16 and thus became available to the scholarly community. This has enabled scholars to edit, translate, and analyze the texts of this type. In the present paper, short versified texts are discussed that were written in this period by East Syriac clerics in different districts of the Ottoman Empire. Most of them are clearly written on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, whereas a few others might have been composed in a different place, but nevertheless reflect the spiritual life, manuscript circulation, and visits to religious places in that period.
The texts being discussed here are later additions in the manuscripts written by ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gāzartā, the Uniate East Syriac Church poet and the second patriarch (1555-1570). This outstanding author and scribe created a number of poems and manuscript copies that are the subject of a separate study I am currently working on and planning to publish them in a series of papers, which contain critical edition of his poems.17 The current paper nevertheless concerns only two manuscripts copied by him, to which later verse notes were added. They are namely SMMJ 159 in Saint Mark’s Monastery of Jerusalem,18 and DCA 00065 in the Chaldean Archdiocese of Alqosh, both digitized by HMML. The latter, being the Metrical grammar by Bar ʿEbrōyō, was copied in 1553,19 whereas the former, a collection of texts in Arabic, was produced in 1556.20
ʿAbdīšōʿ of Ātēl: Jerusalem, 1644 CE
ʿAbdīšōʿ, bishop of Ātēl is best known due to his numerous pilgrimages to Jerusalem, commissioning and donating manuscripts to the East Syrian monastery. He is known to have visited the holy city at least three times – in 1614, 1644, and 1651 CE, and he is mentioned in manuscript colophons and notes.21 One such note, in a manuscript in the library of the Jerusalem Patriarchate (Jer. Patr. Syr. 19), written in 1660 CE, says that it was commissioned by ʿAbdīšōʿ, bishop of Ātēl at the request of our brethren in Jerusalem, while another note mentions his three visits to Jerusalem.22
Another manuscript, containing collections of Palladius, written by monk Hōrmīzd, currently in the library of St. Mark’s Monastery (SMMJ 200), has a colophon (fol. 258v) saying that the former was written in Jerusalem in the Nestorian monastery of the blessed Mary (Mart Maryam) in either 1644 or 1651 CE.23 It also mentions the name of the bishop being discussed here:
ܒܗܝ ܫܢܬܐ ܕܟܸܬܼܒܹܿܬܼ ܠܲܟܼܬܼܒܼܐ ܗܢܐ . ܐܝܼܬ ܗܘܼܘ ܬܪܝܹܢ ܐܦܣܩ̈ܘܿܦܐ ܒܥܘܼܡܪܐ ܕܝܼܠܢ ܢܣܛܘܿܪ̈ܝܢܐ ܚܕ ܡܪܝ ܥܲܒܼܕܝܼܫܘܿܥ ܕܡܢ ܟܲܪܟܼܐ ܐܵܬܿܝܹܠ . ܘܐܚܪܢܐ ܡܪܝ ܐܵܬܼܵܢܵܣܿܝܼܣ ܕܡܢ ܐܬܪܐ ܕܘܿܪܡܝܸ ܡܢ ܩܪܝܬܐ ܓܘܿܓܬܵܦܵܐ .
In the same year I wrote this book two bishops were staying in our Nestorian cloister: one of them Mār ʿAbdīšōʿ of the town of Ātēl, and another one is Mār Athanasius from the region of Ūrmī, from the village of Gūgtāpā.
Gūgtāpā, like most of the Ūrmī district, was a part of the Qūdshānīs patriarchate, as mentioned by Wilmshurst. According to him, the bishops of this region were better educated than the rest of the same patriarchate.24 A traditionalist hierarch named Elīyā is reported to have lived there even in 1856.25 He is recorded as a rival of any contacts with Catholics and was supporting the American mission instead; he died in 1863.26 The diocese seems to have lapsed there by late 19th century.27
The stanzas ascribed to ʿAbdīšōʿ, bishop of Ātēl published here are written on the blank leaves that are found between the main texts. They are continued on the following leaf (fol. 131r), where they are rubricated in red ink, unlike the initial ones that are entitled in black (fol. 130v). Both parts seem to be written in the same hand or in very similar ones. They are clearly a later addition to the manuscript written by ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gāzartā in 1566. Thematically, stanzas on both folia concern the motif of exile, and have similar imagery. No less important is that in the title it is mentioned that the author composed them while he was visiting Jerusalem in 1643/4 (fol. 130v; see also here below). Thus, one can be sure that these short pieces were copied in association with pilgrimage.
The motif of exile was rather common for the late Syriac poetry and is well-known since the time of the Syriac Renaissance. Thus, Khāmīs bar Qardāḥē (active late 13th century) composed a poem full of nostalgia for Arbela, his native city. Another piece, a long mēmrā on the same subject was composed by Dāvīd Pūnīqāyā (active late 15th century), a West Syriac poet.28
It is quite possible that the biographic events of the author’s life, namely, his pilgrimages to Jerusalem made him write these stanzas. In all likelihood, it is for that reason that wandering and living in exile are treated not merely negatively (see below, poem 1, 2, 3), as is usual for such type of poetry, but also as useful and even necessary for the personal development. Thus, one may point out that this small set of texts exemplifies a reflection of a pilgrim’s experience, where a common complaint motif alternates with admitting a great significance of pilgrimage or any kind of travel (see below, poem 4, 5, 6). It is also noteworthy that the attitude towards the subject – wandering and exile – changes in this small text collection, starting from its second half (see below, poem 4). One can only guess whether it is a result of the author’s concept, coincidence or just a reflection of the chronological sequence the pieces were composed.
The poems contain a number of Persian loan-words (poem 1ܫܹܟܵܪ ‘sugar’; poem 1 ܦܲܪ̈ܣܚܹܐ ‘farsaḫ’). As in the vocalization of the stanzas by Ṭalyā of Qūrānā published here (see below), these lines demonstrate absence of clear quantitative opposition of a-ā (poem 1 ܫܹܟܵܪ ‘sugar’ for Persian šakar).
ܒܒܼܵܥܘܼ ܐܘܿ ܡܵܪ̈ܝ ܨܲܠܵܘ ܥܠܝ ...
ܗܲܟܲܢܵܐ ܣـــــܗܸܕܘ ܡـــــــܢܲܣܝ̈ܢــــــܐ ܕܥܲܩܸܒܼܘ ܘܫܲــܪܪܘ܇  ܕܐܲܝܢܵܐ ܕܡ̣ܢ ܒܝܹܬܼ ܐ̄ܚܝܢ̈ܘܗܝ ܘܪ̈ܚܡܘܗܝ ܦܪܝܼܫ ܗܘ̣ ܒܲܦܓܼܪ. ܚܲܫܝܼܫ ܒܟܼܠܝܘܿܡ ܘܠــــܐ ܣܿܟ ܡܸܬܦܨܚ ܠܸܒܹܿܗ ܠـــــܓܼܡܵܪ܇ ܘܡܲܪܝــــــܪ ܚܸܢــــــܟܹܗ ܐܵܦܸܢ ܢܹܐܟܼܘܿܠ ܕܸܒـــــــܫܵܐ ܘܫܹܟܵܪ ܀ ܗܟܼܢ ܐܲܡـــــܝܼܪ ܡ̣ܢ ܩܲܕܡ̈ܝܹܐ ܕܠܸܒܿ ܒــــــܠܸܒܵܐ ܪܓܝܼܫ܇  ܘܐܵܦܸܢ ܦܲܪ̈ܣــــܚܹܐ ܕܠܵܐ ܡܸܢــــܝܵܢܵܐ ܡ̣ܢ ܚܲܒܼـــܪܹܗ ܦـــــܪܝܼܫ. ܡــــܐ ܪܲܒܼܬܼܵܘܵܢ ܠܸܒܵܐ ܗܵܘܢܵــܐ ܡـــــــܠܸܟ ܢܲܦܼܫܵܐ ܚـــــܒܼܝܼܫ܇ ܡܸܚܕܵܐ ܪܵܚܡܹܗ ܩܕܡܵܘܗܝ ܡܸܬܬܿܨܝܼܪ ܘܡܸܢܹܗ ܡܸܬܬܿܡـــܝܼܫ ܀
Stanzas by ʿAbdīšōʿ, bishop of Ātēl he composed in Jerusalem in year 1955 of Greece30
“Oh, my lords, pray for me!” 31
1. As all the experienced witnessed, who investigated and confirmed, anyone in the flesh who is separated from his neighbors and friends, suffers every day, and his heart doesn’t rejoice at all. And his palate is bitter even if he eats honey and sugar.
2. It is told by the earlier ones that a heart feels [another] heart, even when one is separated from his friend by endless farsakhs. 32 When in the chamber of the heart, the mind, the king of the soul, is confined, all at once his friend would be felt as soon as he is depicted before him.
ܟܠ ܐܝܢܐ ܕܝܢ ܕܐܝܼܬܼܘܗܝ ܒܐܬܼܪܐ ܕܢܘܟܪܵܝܘܼܬܼܐ. ܚــــــܝܘ̈ܗܝ ܓܲـــــــܡܲܪ ܐܢــܘܢ ܒܐܲܟܼܣــܢܵܝܘܼܬܵܐ. ܠܵܐ ܡܬܼܦܨܲܚ ܣܟ ܠܒܗ ܟܲܝܒܿܐ ܡܠܸܐ ܟܪܝܘܼܬܼܐ. ܐܦܢ ܢܲܡܠܟ ܘܢܹܐܚܘܿܕ ܫܘܼܠܛܵܢ ܟܠܗܿ ܒܪܝܼܬܼܵܐ܀
Then, with God’s help we are writing a few metrical strophes on exile
Everyone who is in a place of exile and finishes his days in wandering, his heart, sore and full of sorrow, never rejoices, even if he possesses and obtains the power over the whole of creation.
ܡܲــــܪܝܼــــــܪ ܐܲܬܼܪܐ ܕܢـــܘܼܟܪܝܘܼܬܼܵܐ ܥܲܠ ܢـــــܘܼܟܼܪܝܐ. ܘܒܐܲܡــܝܼܢ ܟـــــܡܝܼܪ̈ܢ ܐܦܘ̈ܗܝ ܒـــــܐܟܼܣܢܵܝܘܼ ܐܲܟܼܣܢܵܝܵܐ. ܘܐܡܬܼܝ ܕܡــܬܕܿܟܪ ܐܲܬܼܪܹܗ ܘܐܢܵܫܘ̈ܗܝ ܢܿܦـــܠ ܒــܒܸܟܝܵܐ. ܘܡܬܿܬܿܪ̈ܥܢ ܠܗܝܹܢ ܕܸܡܥܵܘ̈ܗܝ ܒܕܡܘܼܬܼ ܡܥܝܼ̈ܢܐ ܕܡ̈ܝܐ܀
Bitter is the place of exile for an exile. And continually sad is the wanderer’s face while wandering. And when his land and people are mentioned, he falls in sobbing. And tears flow down, resembling water streams.
ܐܲܚ̈ܝ ܐܬܼܪܐ ܕܢـــܘܼܟܼــܪܵܝـــܘܼܬܐ ܟــــܡܵܐ ܡܲــــܪܝܼܪܵܐ. ܐܝܼܬܼܘܗܝ ܘܐܝـــــܢܐ ܕܒܹܗܘܸ ܡــــܕܲܝــܪ ܣـܢܝܼܩܘܼ ܐܪܐ. ܕܠܒـــــܗ ܩܲܫـــܝܐ ܢܸܗܘܸܐ ܒܲܕܡــܘܼܬܼ ܟܐܹܦ ܫܵܡܝܼܪܐ. ܕܟܼܠ ܐܘܼܠܨܢ̈ܝܼܢ ܢܣܲܝܒܿܪ ܘܠܐ ܣܟ ܢܦܣܘܿܩ ܣܒܪܐ܀
My brothers, how bitter is the place of exile, [but] is the one who lives in it indigent? His heart becomes hard like a diamond that would bear any hardships, never losing hope.
ܐܚܪܢܐ ܥܲܠ ܩܘܼܠܵܣ ܢܘܼܟܪܵܝܘܼܬܵܐ
ܐܝܢܐ ܕܨ̇ܒܐ ܕܣܓܝ ܢܗܸܐ ܪܚــܝܼܡ ܥܲܠ ܐܢــــܫܘܬܐ. ܡ̣ܢ ܐܬܪܗ ܠــــــܡ ܢـܫܲܢܹܐ ܘܢܸܚܹــܐ ܒܐܲܟܼܣـــܢܵܝܘܼܬܼܵܐ. ܕܡ̣ܢ ܓܵܘ ܙܠـܦܬܗ̇ ܡܐ ܕܡــــܫܬܲܢܝܐ ܡــــܪܓܵܢܝܼܬܐ. ܡــــܬܝܩܪܐ ܛܵܒ ܡ̣ܢ ܒـــܢܝܢ̈ܫܐ ܕܟܼܠܗ̇ ܒـــܪܝܼܬܐ܀
Another one, in praise of exile
One who wants to be really amiable to mankind, Would leave his place and live in wandering. As a pearl has been taken from its shell, It is well honored by people of the whole creation.
ܐܚܪܢܐ ܥܲܠ ܕܠܐ ܙܵܕܩ ܠܐܢܫ ܕܣܓܝ ܢܟܲܬܪ ܒܐܪܚܘܼܬܐ
ܡ̈ܝܐ ܐܡــــܬܼܝ ܕܣܓܝܼ ܡܟܼܬܪܝܼܢ ܒــܓܘ ܩܵܒܝܼܬܐ. ܘܠܐ ܡܬܐܼܫܕܝܼܢ ܦܐܿܚ ܡܼܢܗܘܢ ܪܝܹܚ ܣܪܝܘܼܬܐ. ܗܟܵܢ ܘܐܝܢــــܐ ܕܲܡܟܼܬܪ ܠـܗ ܒـــܚܕܐ ܕܘܼܟܿܬܐ. ܡܸܬܒܿܨܪ ܪܲܒܿܬܼ ܐܦــܢ ܢܸܗܘܹܐ ܡـܗܝܼܪ ܒܚܸܟܡܬܐ܀
Another one, that it is not appropriate for anyone to delay traveling
Water that stays in a pool for long and does not pour out, a smell of stench comes from it. Thus, one who remains at the same place, much degrades, even if he is proficient in wisdom.
Ṭalyā of Ḥakmīyā, and Hermez: Jerusalem, 1654/5 CE
Unlike all other texts that are being published and translated here for the first time, this one was rendered in the article by Sebastian Brock.33 Since the original has not yet been reproduced, and also because of the poor condition and handwriting of the text (see fig. 1) and uncertainty of some names, it makes sense to publish it in both Syriac and English. Besides, the text is a rather important document on pilgrimage and the church history of East Syrians of the Ottoman period.
This pilgrim note found in manuscript SMMJ 159 (front flyleaf iir) was composed and written by a priest named Hermez, which is apparently, a Turkicised version of the popular Iranian name Hōrmēzd - as follows from the final invocation to pray God for him (see below, stanza 5). The note relates that three persons visited Jerusalem: one of them, a priest named Ṭalyā from the village of Ḥakmīyā, near Gāzartā returned to his place, while the author of the verses remained in the Holy City together with his deacon to serve Lord and His mother until they obtained the sacred fire (stanza 4). Despite the corruption of the first line one can see the digits that seem to be a date in the Seleucid era as is usual in Syriac manuscripts (see below, stanza 2).34 Then we see 1966 AG as the dating of the described event, which corresponds to 1654/5 CE, as read by Brock.35 According to Wilmshurst,36 among East Syrian priests mentioned in the manuscript records or notes that survived from the Ottoman period there are two or three priests named Ṭalyā. If the dating of this note is read correctly, here one faces the earliest mentioned among them.37 Most problematic is the correct reading of the deacon’s name. Brock and Wilmshurst assume that ʿAbdeh d-Māryā (“servant of the Lord”) mentioned in the same line with the word ‘deacon’ is his name (see below, stanza 3; see also fig. 1).38 On the other hand, as is seen from the picture, kzwm is found in the same verse right before the words ܫܡܗ šmeh (“his name”). I would assume that it is the name of the deacon. In the book by Wilmshurst, a person named Kāzūm, son of Nīsān from Tel Asqōf is mentioned.39 Most likely, they were two persons with the same name rather than the same one, as the second is reported to live much later than the deacon mentioned in the note being discussed, namely in early 18th century. The name on the note in SMMJ 159 is vocalized with the first rūkkākhā, so that the correct phonetic image might be Khāzūm (Ḫāzūm), while ʿ Abdeh d-Māryā is most likely just his epithet, “servant of the Lord”:
And a deacon with them from the district of Tḥūmā, whose name is Khāzūm (?), servant of the Lord, deacon and Jerusalem pilgrim 40 (see below, stanza 3).
Most likely, the text has a poetic character, and strophic form. In fact, some of the asterisks – or to be precise, crosses in this case – that are used for stanza division might have been omitted in some places here, given the poor condition and the character of the text that was added as an impromptu note to an earlier manuscript. Since the very top of the folio is missing, one can assume that the initial line was completely lost, whereas the first one present that was following after it is heavily corrupted now. In this case the first stanza might have consisted originally of four lines, like in most similar poems, and just like the rest of this piece. With some exceptions, each stanza has a common rhyme at the end of each verse; all lines have seven syllables, which is quite typical for simple strophic poems.
The places mentioned in the note are located in the Tḥūmā in Hakkari region, one of the tribes of that district, with its central village named Tḥūmā Gawāyā.41 This whole region is well known to have belonged to the Church line founded by Yōḥannān Sūlāqā in the mid-sixteenth century, and whose patriarchal seat was located in the village of Qūdšānīs in the same district by the early 17th century.42 The village of Ḥakmīyā (or rather Ḥakamyā, following the vocalization in the poem) near Gāzartā, from where the priest Ṭalyā originates cannot be precisely located.43 Therefore, it is not known for sure whether these persons belonged to the same patriarchate, or if they communicated and made a pilgrimage, belonging to the two rival East Syriac Church lines, which is also theoretically possible. This fact is not amazing though, but rather proves that the split within the Church did not necessarily mean much for ordinary believers.
From the standpoint of spelling, the text does not display the initial alaph, when a particle precedes the word: ܒܬܪܵܐ ܕܓܼܵܙܪܬܐ “ in the region of Gāzartā” (stanza 2); ܠܡܗ “to His mother” (stanza 4).
Ṭalyā of Qūrānā (?): Monastery of Yaʽqōb Ḥbīšā (Jacob the Recluse) near Seert, before 1736 CE
A priest named Ṭalyā is mentioned as an author of several poems found as later additions in the manuscript DCA 00065 (fol. 129v, 144r; see figs. 2a-b, 3), none of which have published so far. Furthermore, two quatrains on his death are written on the flyleaves of the same manuscript in a different hand. They mention 1736 CE as the date of his passing away, which might mean he was a different person from Ṭalyā of Ḥakamyā (or Ḥakmīyā) mentioned in SMMJ 159 (see above), who visited Jerusalem in 1654/5 CE. From the standpoint of chronology, he could be the same Ṭalyā that visited the church of Mart Barbara in Karamlish in 1735 and commissioned a manuscript for it.50
Poems on the death of the piest Ṭalyā (DCA 00065, fol. 2r)
ܒܲܫܢܵܬܸ ܐܲܥܠܘ ܕܝܹܢ ܠــــــܡܵܘܠܵܕܗ ܕܝـــܫܘܿܥ ܡــــܪܝܐ܇ ܦܛܪ ܡ̣ܢ ܥܲܠܡܵܐ ܡܲܠܦܢ ܡــــܗܝܼܪܐ ܩــــܫܝܫ ܛܲܠܝܐ. ܒܝܪܚܵܐ ܚܙܝܼܪܢ ܠܓܘ ܡܪܝ ܝܲܥܩܘܒܼ ܡܫܲܡܗܵܐ ܡܥܲܠܝܵܐ܇ ܡܪܢ ܢܒܣܡܝܼܘ܊ ܥܲܡ ܩܲܕܝܫܘ܊ ܒܡܠܟܿܘܼܬܝ ܫــــܡܝܐ ܀
Thus, in the year 1736 after the Nativity of Jesus Christ, priest Ṭalyā, a skillful teacher, passed away from this world in the month of Ḥzīrān inside [the monastery of] Mār Yaʽqōb, the famous and elevated. May our Lord give him delight in the Kingdom of heaven with His saints.
ܐ̄ܚܪܢܐܡܪܝܐ ܡܪܢ ܚܘܼܣ ܥܲܠ ܢܦܫܹܗ 51 ܕܟܵܗܢܵܐ ܘܡܲܠܦܵܢ܇
ܡ̣ܢ ܓܸܗܢܐ ܘܚــــــــــܘܼܪܩ ܫــــܢ̈ܐ ܦܲܨܵܐ ܠܹܗ ܘܠܵܢ. ܘܥܲܡ ܩܕ̈ܝܼܫܝܟ ܒــܡܠܟܘܬܝ ܪܘܡܵܐ ܢܸܚܙܝܘ܊ ܬܡ̇ܢ܇ ܫܘ܊ ܠܲܫܡܵܟ ܕܬܸܫـــܡܼܥ ܩܵܠܵܐ ܕܒܲܝܫܿܐ ܘܣـܘܼܠܵܐܢ ܀
Lord, pity the spirit 52 of the priest and teacher! Relieve him and us from gehenna and the gnashing of teeth! So that we may see him there, in the kingdom on high, among Your saints. Glory to Your name, for You listen to the voice of the pauper and trash.
ܫܠܹܡܘ ܬܪ̈ܥܐ ܘܨܠܘ ܥܠ ܥܝܼܣܐ ܕܪܟܿܒ ܘܟܼܬܒ ܐܢܝܢ
The stanzas are finished, and pray for ʿĪsā, who composed and wrote them.
The poet’s place of death mentioned in the first of these two quatrains as “Mār Yaʿqōb” may be with a large degree of certainty identified with the monastery of Mār Yaʿqōb Ḥbīšā (Jacob the Recluse) near Seert (Arabic: Isʿird) that had been for a while a residence of the second East Syriac patriarchate line found by Yōḥannān Sūlāqā in mid-sixteenth century.53 Such an identification is supported by the ownership notes written in this manuscript (see fig. 3b; DCA 00065, fol. 144v) upside down in both Syriac and Arabic. In Syriac:
ܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܟܬܒܐ ܗܢܐ ܕܡܥܠܬܐ ܕܠܓܪ̈ܡܛܝܩܐ ܕܥܘܡܪܐ ܕܡܪܝ ܝܥܩܘܿܒܼ ܚܒܝܫܐ
This is an introductory book of grammar owned by the monastery of Jacob the Recluse.
هذا كتاب الغرماطيق هو مال مَريعقوب الحبيس الذي هو كرسيً عظيم لمطرنية الكلدانية علي جانب مدينة اسعرد
This book of grammar is a property of the monastery of Mar Jacob the Recluse, the great See of the Chaldean metropolis, near Seert.
These notes might have been made no earlier than the early 19th century, when this monastery became a residence of a Chaldean metropolitan.54 Then, in 1895, its library was transferred to Seert, and might have perished there during the massacre of 1915.55 The manuscript under discussion apparently left this collection earlier, merged with the library of the Chaldean diocese of Alqosh under unknown circumstances, and so has reached us.
Thus, the author of the verses published below, named Ṭalyā, might have been a priest who visited the monastery of Jacob the Recluse near Seert and died there. Although there is no evidence of their connection to Jerusalem, they were added to the earlier manuscript as the poet visited the monastery near Seert, apparently, for a pilgrimage.
The piece is a typical sample of a mourning (or funeral) madrāšā addressed on the death of the poet’s brother (see fig. 2a-b). As it is usual for this genre, it has a refrain of short lines (ʿūnāyā), and several stanzas (bātē) of a rather complex and variable metrical structure. The evolution of the madrāšē was recently discussed in detail by Murre-van den Berg.56 The genre itself, which previously included a broad range of strophic hymns, was reused by the Syriac Renaissance authors for funeral services. Such poets as patriarch Elīyā III (1176-1190) and Īšōʿyahb bar Malkōn, metropolitan of Nisibis (active late 12th-early 13th century), are known to have contributed to this development. Numerous madrāšē were composed not only in Syriac, but also in Arabic and Neo-Aramaic.57 Most of these hymns have a marking for what kind of persons they are meant to be performed: priests, deacons or laymen, male or female.
Later on, in the 15th-16th centuries, this new use of this type of poems was employed by numerous authors, among whom are Īšōʿyahb bar Mqaddam, a 15th-century metropolitan of Arbela,58 ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gāzartā, the second patriarch of the East Syrian Uniate Church, and Israel of Alqosh (active 1575-1630).59 The former composed a number of funeral madrāšā on different persons, which might have been the further development of using this genre. Although mourning poems on the death of a precise person are not unknown to earlier Syriac tradition, and such a famous poet as Khāmīs bar Qardāḥē (active late 13th century) addressed one to his dead son,60 they usually belong to a different type of poem in terms of form and structure. The present piece is rather close to the poems composed by ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gāzartā, and in all likelihood, was impacted by his works. Among the Chaldean patriarch’s madrāšē, is the one on the death of Yōḥannān Sūlāqā, the first Chaldean patriarch, who died in 1553, as well as a funeral hymn on the ‘martyrs of Union with Rome’.61
Since the poem is a later addition to the manuscript – an autograph of ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gāzartā – the space on the folio was not enough for it, and the last lines of the text (see stanza 9) were written in the right and upper margins with a few glosses inserted there from outside, in the same hand as the rest of the text.
The text consists of nine six-line stanzas, making a variable rhythmic pattern. Thus, each verse within the stanza has nine to twelve syllables. Each stanza has its own rhyme at the end of each line that uniting all the lines within it. The poem’s content is rather typical for its genre that combines a lamentation and a prayer for the deceased person.
ܥܠ ܐܚܘܼܗܝ ܟܝܵܢܵܝܵܐ܇ ܬܵܘ ܚܒ̈ܝܼܒܝ ܫܵܘܝܐܝܬܼ܇ ܢܸܣܓܿܘܿܕ ܠܹܗ ܠܡܪܢ܇ ܘܢܫܒܿܚ ܠܹܗ ܥـܦܝܼܦܐܝܼܬ. ܕܗܘܼܝܘܼ ܫܘܒܼܗܪܢ܇ ܒ̈ܬܐ܇
ܢــــܒܼܟܹܿܐ ܘܢܲܝܠܹܠ ܘܢܸܬܿܬܿܢــــܚ ܒـــــܕܡ̈ܥܐ ܚܢܝ̈ܓܼܬܐ. ܥܲــــــــܠ ܥܲܒܼܕܵܐ ܕܪܵܥܝܼ ܠـــــܡܪܹܗ ܒــــܟܠܗܝܹܢ ܘܲܠܝ̈ܬܼܐ. ܕܕܲܒــــــܪܗ ܡܵـــــــܘܬܵܐ ܡܼــــــــܢ ܓܵـــــܘ ܐܵܚـــــــܘܼܬܐ. ܘܚܲܒܼـــــــܫܹــܗ ܒــــܩــܒــܪܐ ܐܲܝܟ ܥــــܝܵܕ ܐ̄ܢـــܫــــܘܼܬܵܐ. ܘܐܲܠܒܿܫܵܢـܝ ܚــــܫܵܐ ܘܡܪ̈ܪܐ ܥܲܡ ܣــــܘܿܓܼ ܟــــــܪܝܘܼܬܐ. ܘܠܵܐ ܦܲܫ ܒܝܼ ܚܲܝــܠܵܐ ܕܐܗܡܘܿܣ ܡ̣ܢ ܝܲܕ ܡـܚܝܼܠܘܼܬܼܐ ܀
ܢܸܒܼܟܿܘܿܢ ܥܲܡܝ ܥــܠܲܝܟ ܒ̈ܢܝ ܛܼܘܗܡܵܐ ܕܝܼܠܵܟ ܘܕܼܵܕ̈ܬܐ.  ܘܢـــــܠܒܿܫܘܼܢ ܐܒܼܠܵܐ ܥܲܡ ܚܲܫܵܐ ܟــــܠ ܒ̈ܢܝ ܪܲܚܡܘܼܬܐ. ܕܫـــــܘܒܼــــܗܪܐ ܗܘܸܝـــــــܬܿ ܠـــــــܟܠܗ̇ ܐ̄ܚܝܵܢــــܘܼܬܐ. ܘܐܲܦ ܪܘܼܡــــــܪܵܡܐ ܠــــــܟܼܠܗܘܿܢ ܒـــــــܢ̈ܝ ܫــــܪܒܬܐ. ܥܲܠ ܗܕ ܡܒܲܣܸܡ ܠܵܟ ܝܘܼܣــــܛܘܿܣ ܒܲܓܢܘܿܢ ܓـــــܐܘ̈ܬܐ. ܘܬܡܵܢ ܥܲܡ ܚـــــــܢܘܿܟ ܘܐܠܝܼܵܐ ܢܸܥــܒܕ ܠــــܟ ܡܢܵܬܐ ܀
ܒــــــܥܢ̇ܐ ܡـــــܢܵܟ ܡــــــــܪܢ ܡـــــܪܐ ܕܥــــܠ̈ܝܐ.  ܘܡܦܝܼܣܢܵܐ ܠܪ̈ܚܡܐ ܕܝܼܠــــܟ ܕܝܹܢ ܝـــــܫـــــــܘܥ̈ܝــــــܐ. ܐܡܲܬܼܝ ܕܐܬܝܹܬܿ ܠـــــܢـــــܘܼܚܵــــــܡ ܡ̈ܠـــــܝܼܠـــــܝܹـــــܐ. ܘܲܠܡܸܬܕܵܢــــــܘܼ ܠـــــــܟܼـــــܠ ܥــــــــܦـــܪ̈ܢـــــܝـــــܐ. ܗܲܢ ܥــــܒܕܐ ܕܲܥܢܲܕ ܒܲܫــــܡܵܟ ܠܵܐ ܢــــܬܼܚــܙܹܐ ܒــــܘܵܝܹ̈ܐ. ܘܢــܫܡܲܥ ܡܸܢܟ ܕܬܹܐܡܼܵܪ ܠܹܗ ܕܬܵܐ ܥـܘܿܠ ܠܵܟ ܠـܚ̈ܝܐ ܀
ܒـــܝـܘܡܵܐ ܕܡـــܒܘܼ̈ܥـــــܐ ܓــܝ̈ܙܝܢ ܡ̣ܢ ܓܵܘ ܝܵܬܹܒܼܬܵܐ.  ܘܡـܝܵܐ ܕܒܝܡ̈ܡܐ ܝــܒܫ̇ܝܼܢ / ܥܲܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܘܬܐ.[fol. 130 r] ܘܐܲܪܥـــــܐ ܟـــــܠــــܗ̇ ܦܲܝܫـــــܐ ܐܝـــــــܟ ܚܲـــــــܒܿـܬܐܵ. ܘܡܸـــܬܼܩܲـܦـــــܠܵܐ ܠܵــــܗ ܘܗܲܘܝܵـــــܐ ܐܲܝــــܟ ܡــــܓܲܠܬܐܿ. ܒــــــــܗܘ̇ ܝܘܵܡܵܐ ܚܘܼܢ ܚــــــܢـܢܐ 62 ܠܗܵܢ ܒـــܪ ܐܲܕܡܬܵܐ. ܘܲܠــــܚܘܒ̈ܘܗܝ ܗܘܼܝ ܡܚܲܣܝܵܢܐ ܒـــــــܪ̈ܚܡܐ ܘܛܲܝܒܘܼܬܐ ܀
ܒܝܵܘܡܐ ܕܗܵܢ ܥـــــــܠܡܵܐ ܡܸܫܬܿܓܹܫ ܘܙܝ̇ܥܝܢ ܒܪ̈ܝܬܐ.  ܘܡــــــــܬܼܒـــــܠܗܹܐ ܐܟܼܠܩܲܪܣܵܐ ܣܲܢــــــܐܵܐ ܕܐ̄ܢــــܫܘܼܬܐ. ܘܢܦ̇ܠ ܒــــــــــــܒܸܗܬܐ ܐܲܦ ܒــــــܪܥــــــܝܼܠــــــــܘܼܬܼܐ. ܘܛ̇ܪܹܦ ܠــــܚܲــــــܕܝܹـــــــــܗ ܘܦܵܐܹܿܫ ܒܲــــــܗܝܼـــــــــܬܵܐ. ܗܵܢ ܥܲܒܼܕܵܐ ܢـــܥܘܿܠ ܥܲܡܵܟ ܠــܓܼܵܘ ܗ̇ܝ ܡܸــــܫــــــܬܘܼܬܵܐ. ܘܢܸܬܒܲܣܲܡ ܒــــܓܼܵܘ ܗܘ̇ ܣܡܵܟܼܵܐ ܕܒــــܢ̈ܝ ܡــܠـــܟܿܘܼܬܵܐ ܀
ܒܝܘܡܵܐ ܕܢــܗܝܪ̈ܐ ܟـــܠܗܘܿܢ ܐܝـــــܟ ܛܪ̈ܦܐ ܢܬܪܝܼܢ.  ܡ̣ܢ ܫــــــܡܝܐ ܒܦܘܩܕܵܢ ܡـــــܪܢ ܘܥܲܠ ܐܪܥـܐ ܢܵܚܿܬܼܝܼܢ. ܛـــــܒ̈ܐ ܒـــــــܪܡــــܙܵܟ ܠـــــܫܡܲܝܵܐ ܣܲܠـــــــــܩـــــܝܼܢ. ܘܒـــــܝــــܫ̈ܐ ܒــــــܐܪܥܵܐ ܫــــــܢ̈ܝܗܘܿܢ ܡــــــܚܲܪܩـــܝܼܢ. ܒـــــــܗܘ̇ ܝܵܘܡܵܐ ܚـــــܘܼܢ ܚܲܢܵܢܵܐ ܠـܗܵܢܵܐ ܒܲܪ ܐܢـــܫ̈ܝܼـــܢ. ܘܐܲܣܹܩܵܝܗܝ ܠـــــܥܹܠ ܡ̣ܢ ܟـــܝܼܡܵܐ ܘܐܲܦ ܡ̣ܢ ܡܲܠܘܫ̈ܝܼܢ ܀
ܒܝܵܘܡܐ ܕܐܣܛܘܿܟܼܣ̈ܐ ܐܪܒܥܐ ܕܛܲܟܹܣ ܗܸܘܐ ܐܲܣܛܘܲܣ.  ܩــــــــܢܿܝܢ ܠܲܝܬܵܝܘܼ ܟـــܠܗܘܿܢ ܘܐܲܦ ܚܲܪܒܿܝܼܢ ܩـــܘܪ̈ܝܣ. ܘܬܼܠــــــــܚـــــــܝܼـܢ ܛـــــܘܼܪ̈ܐ ܡܼـــــܢ ܡܵܟܹܗܹܢܵــــــــܣ. ܕܟܐܹܢـــــܘܼ ܘܩــــܝ̇ܡـــܝܢ ܒـــــــܢـܝܢ̈ܫـــــܐ ܠܲܡــــܛܵܣ. ܘܙܲܡـــــܪܝܼܢ ܩܕܵܡܝـــــܟ ܪ̈ܘܚܵܢــــܐ ܐܲܝـــܟ ܙܡܵܪ ܣܹܝـܪܢܵܣ. ܗܵܢ ܥܲܒـــܕܐ ܢܸܙܡܲܪ ܥܲܡـܗܘܿܢ ܫــــܝܼܪܬܼ ܘܕܘܼܟܿܣــــܝܼܣ ܀
ܒـــــܝܘܡܸܐ ܕܒܹܗ ܟـــܘܼܪ̈ܣـܘܬܐ ܬܪ̈ܥــܣܪ ܣܵܐܹܡ ܐܵܢܬܿ.  ܘܠܫܠــــܝܚ̈ܐ ܒܢ̈ܝ ܬܪܒܝܼܬܵܐ ܥــܠܝـܗܘܿܢ ܡܵܘܬܿܒܼ ܐܢـــܬ. ܘܠـܝـــــܗܼ̄ܘܕܝ̈ܐ ܒــــــܐܹܕܢـــــــܗܘܿܢ ܡــــــܪܦܹܐ ܐܢـــــܬ. ܕܢـــــܬܒܲܥــــܘܼܢ ܥــــܝܲـܪܬܗܘܿܢ ܘܲܠـــــܗܘܿܢ ܕܐܢــــــܬ. ܒـــــܗܘ̇ ܝܵܘܡܐ ܡـܪܢ ܝــــܫܘܿܥ ܚܘܼܢ ܐܝܟ ܕܲܡܥܕ ܐܢܬ. ܘܪܲܚܹܡ ܥܲܠ ܥــــܒܕܟ ܗܢܐ ܐܝـــܟ ܕܐܢـــܬܿ ܝ̇ܕܥ ܐܢܬ ܀
ܒܗܘ̇ ܝܵܘܡܐ ܕܬܘܼܒ ܠܵܐ ܡܪܲܡܸܫ ܘܐܦܠܵܐ ܣܵܟ ܥـܪܹܒ.  ܘܠــــــܝܬܿ ܐܟــــــܘܬܗ ܒـــــܐܝــــܡ̈ــــܡــــܐ. 63 ܘܠــــــــــــܐ ܢــــــــܦܵܠ ܬܚܝܬ ܕܢــــܝܲܒܹܫܗܝ ܫـــــܪܸܒ. ܥܲܒܕܟ ܗܢܐ ܐܫܘܵܝܗܝ ܘܐܓܪܹܗ ܒــܛܝܒܘܼ ܡܢ ܐܝܕܵܟ ܢܣ̇ܒ. ܕܐܫܬܝ ܠܕܡܵܟ ܡ̣ܢ ܟــــܣܵܐ ܘܪܐܙܐ ܕܦـــــܓܼܪܟ ܩــــــܪܹܒܼ. ܢܥܘܿܠ ܥـܡܟ ܠــܓܢܘܢܵܐ ܘܬܡܵܢ ܫـــܡܹܗ ܢــــܬܼܟܿܬܹܒܼ ܀
[fol.129v] Madrāšā composed by young priest Ṭalyā on his natural brother
Come, brothers, properly, worship our Lord, and glorify Him with a double strength, for He is our boast!
 Let us cry, sob and weep with sorrowful tears about a servant that pleased his Lord in all appropriate ways. For death has robbed him from brotherhood and imprisoned him in a grave according to human custom. And it dressed me in bitter sufferings and sad mourning. 64 And there is no power in me left so to escape weakness.
 Your family and aunts 65 are weeping with me about you. And all the friends are dressed in grief and passion, since you were the boast of all your kinsmen and a glory of all your family members. That is why Justus 66 pleases you in the chamber of delights, and there He gives you a share with Enoch and Elijah.
 I ask you, oh Lord of the heights, and plead also the friends of yours, 67 Jesus, when you come to resurrect the rational ones, and to judge all the earthly ones, may that servant, who died in Your name, not be seen in sorrows. And may he hear You say to him: “Come and enter the life!”
 On the day streams cease on the inhabitable earth, [fol. 130r] And the water in the seas dries up, as well as in rivers, and the earth stays deserted, and gets rolled together as a parchment scroll, on that day be clement, oh the Clement one, to this son of the soil, and be absolver of his transgressions through your mercy and grace.
 On the day this world is disturbed and the creatures terrified, and the slanderer, the hater of the humankind is scared, and falls into shame and shivering, beats his breast and he stays ashamed, may this servant of yours enter the banquet with you and rejoice at this feast for the sons of the Kingdom.
 On the day when all the orbs fall down, like leaves, from the sky at the order of our Lord, and go down to the earth, the good ones will arise to heaven at your command, and the evil ones will gnash with their teeth on the earth. On that day be clement, oh the clement one, to this son of humans, and elevate him above the Pleiades and the Zodiac.
 On the day, when the four elements that were forming support come to non-existence, and villages are ruined, mountains are destroyed by the device of the justice, and people fly up, and the spirits sing before you like Sirens, may this servant sing an ode and doxology with them.
 On the day you set the twelve thrones, and You will seat the Apostles, the sons of the teaching, there. And you will enfeeble the Jews’ ears, so that they demand the revenge for you to them, and you judge them. On this day, be clement, our Lord, as you are accustomed, and have mercy on this servant of Yours, as you (better) know.
 On that day, when it never becomes evening or dusks, and none is like it among other days. And it won’t fall down to be dried by drought, 68 Hold your servant worthy of reward out of grace, and may he take it from your hand. Since he drank Your Blood from the chalice and approached the mystery of your Body, may he enter the chamber with you, and may his name be written there.
On the rear flyleaves of the same manuscript, five quatrains ascribed to the same author, the priest Ṭalyā, are written in the same hand (see fig. 3a-b). They represent the clear influence or even an imitation of the Syriac Renaissance poetic models. First of all, it is at that time that this form was first exploited by this literary tradition. Such renowned authors of the 13th century as Yūḥannōn bar Maʿdanī (died 1263), Grīgorīūs bar ʿEbrōyō (1226-1286) in the West Syrian Church and Khāmīs bar Qardāḥē (active late 13th century) in the East Syrian tradition contributed to its development, and the first of the three seems to have been the inventor of this new poetic style.
By the time this small set of texts was written in the earlier manuscript, the quatrain form became very popular and widely circulated, in particular being very suitable for poetic additions on various subjects due to its brevity. The five short poems under discussion, nevertheless, are close the Syriac Renaissance not just in its formal features, but also in its style. They all are addressed to a beloved, in a physical or mystical understanding or, more likely, using both these semantic layers, that were the contents of the quatrains by Khāmīs bar Qardāḥē, carefully studied by Mengozzi.69 This East Syriac author is also known to have composed a wine ode of mystical character in the summer residence of the Ilkhans – a Mongol dynasty that established its power over Iraq and West Iran after 1258.70
It is well-known that two bilingual poems – a Syro-Persian71 and a Syro-Turkish one72 that were recently studied and edited – are also ascribed to Khāmīs. In the quatrains published below Persian, Arabic, Turkic and Kurdish words are used, and all of them are often met in a same short poem. In contents and style, the group of the poems being discussed here is very close to the Syro-Persian poem ascribed to Khāmīs. The latter is also present in the earliest manuscript of his poems (CCM 419, olim Diyarbakir 91) dated 1394/5, and was published by Mengozzi.73 It is obviously an imitation of popular Persian poetry focusing on wine and love topics. The influence of this Syriac Persianized poetry that developed in the Mongol period is even emphasized in the quatrains by priest Ṭalyā. Thus, in the first one published here, ܟܼܐܢܝܼ ܬܼܿܬܼܿܪ (‘khan of the Tatars’) is mentioned, as an expression of extreme beauty. Grammatically, this is a typical Persian collocation using two glosses of this language connected with iẓāfe (classical Pers. -i, modern Pers. -e), a particle used in the Persian language to link two words together. It is met in these pieces a few times (quatrain 1, ܒܲܕܪܝܼ ܩܡܪ ‘full moon’; quatrain 4, ܫܐܵܗܝܼ ܐܲܟܿܒܲܪ ‘the greatest shah’), as well as lar, Turkic plural formant, is used here for Turkish loanwords. Obviously, this small group of texts was meant to reflect and demonstrate the multilingual and multicultural interaction in the Near East of the Ottoman period, but exploiting the parallelism with the similar situation in the Mongol empire in late 13th century. This also confirms an observation that the Syriac Renaissance literary style was treated as a model for imitation by numerous writers using this language in the later centuries.
In the poems under discussion, both the madrāšā and the quatrains, the instability of opposition of a/ā is clearly seen in the vocalization. Thus, zqāpā is used even in cases when one normally assumes short a (madrāšā, stanza 1 ܐܵܚܘܼܬܐ ‘brother-hood’), while ptā ḥā is met even in some words with ā (quatrain 1 ܛܲܒܼ; here: ‘very’). This uncertainty is valid for the Persian and Arabic loanwords as well (quatrain 1 ܬܼܿܬܼܿܪ ‘Tatars’, cf. Pers. tātār; quatrain 3 ܒܝܼܡܲܪ ‘sick’; cf. Pers. bīmār). The same may be noted about the opposition of e/ē (madrāšā, stanza 1 ܢܲܝܠܹܠ ‘we will cry’). The reason for such a drift in rendering vowels in the text might be the spread of Neo-Aramaic, where the phonematic significance of the quantitative opposition disappeared, and the difference had only a positional character.74 The situation certainly varied in different dialects.75
Versed stanzas composed by the priest Ṭalyā on the subject of love to drinking wine
ܒܐܝܼܡܵܡ ܘܠܠܝܵܐ ܣܵܘܹܢܵܐ ܣܲܓܝܼ ܠـــܕܼܝܠܵܟ ܕܝܼܢܕܵܪ܇ ܘܲܠܗܝܼܩܢܵܐ ܛܲܒܼ ܠܫܘܼܦܪܐ ܕܐܦ̈ܝܟ ܒܲܕܪܝܼ ܩــܡܪ܇ ܕܲܓܼܗܲܪ 76 ܥܝܢ̈ܝ ܠܲܡܚܪ ܒܫܘܼܦܪܟ ܟܼܐܢܝܼ ܬܼܿܬܼܿܪ܇ ܗܵܐ ܟܲܝܦܝܼܢ ܠܵܟ ܒܿܫܐ ܘܨܘܵܪܐ ܫܲܗ ܘܟــــܘܼܢܕܟܵܪ܇
Day and night, I, a debtor 77 of yours, want you very much. And strongly desire the beauty of your face, full moon. My eyes got dimmed by gazing at your beauty, khan of the Tatars! Behold, a shah and a sovereign bow their heads and necks before you.
ܕܝܼܢܕܵܪ Pers. dīndār 1 ‘debtor’; 2 ‘honest, righteous’
ܒܲܕܪ Ar. badr ‘full moon’
ܩܲܡܲܪ Ar. qamar ‘moon’
ܟܼܐܢܝܼ ܬܿܬܿܪ Pers. ḫān-i tātār ‘Khan of the Tatars’
[ـܐܵ]ܒܫـ Turk. bāš ‘head’; with the Syriac post-positive article –ā (displaying St. Emph.) attached
ܫܲܗ Pers. šah ‘shah, king’
ܟܼܘܼܢܕܟܵܪ Pers. ḫūndkār ‘lord, sovereign’ (</ ḫudāvandgār)
ܘܟܼܠ ܒܢ̈ܝ ܐܕܲܡ ܐܝـܬܼܲܝܗܘܿܢ ܠܵـــــــܟ ܩܲܪܵܫܘܼܟܼܠܲܪ܇ ܐܸܡܲܬܼܝ ܕܩـܝܿܡــܝܼܢ ܠ...ܠܪ ܩܵܘܡܬ̄ܲܟ ܗܵܝܵܐܦܸܣـــܝܵܪ܇ ܘܦــــܘܼܡܵܟ ܕܡܿܐ ܠـــــܡܵܐܢܵܐ ܕܕܲܗܒܼܵܐ ܝܵܐ ܫܲܗܣܘܼܘܵܪ܇ ܥܕܲܡܵܐ ܠܐܸܡܲܬܼܝ ܣܢܲܝܬܵܢܝ ܘܠܒܵܟ ܡܹܢܝ ܐܼܝܬܘܗܝ ܣܵܪ܇
And all sons of Adam are connected with you (?) When they stand to … your statue very much (?). Your mouth resembles a vessel full of gold, oh, king of horsemen. How long will you hate me, and your heart will be grieved because of me?
ܩܲܪܵܫܘܟܼ Turk. qarāšūḫ ‘mixed, mingled’
ܦܸܣܝܵܪ Pers. besyār ‘very much’ (?)
ܫܲܗ ܣܘܘܵܪ Pers. šah suvār ‘king of horsemen’
ܣܵܪ Pers. sār ‘grief, sorrow’
ܝܵܐܹܐ ܙܝــــــܘܵܟ ܘܲܡـــــــܬܼܝܼܚ ܩܵܘܡܵܟ ܐܲܝـܟ ܨܲܢـܘܼܒܲܪ܇ ܕܒܲܣܝܼܡ ܛܲܥܡܵܟ ܘܲܚܠܹܐ ܠــܚܸܟܵܐ ܐܝܟ ܡـܝܲ ܟـܘܵܣܲܪ܇ ܘܡ̣ܢ ܪܝܹܚ ܣܵܘܩܵܟ ܡܸܬܼܚـܠܸܡ ܦܓܼܪܵܐ ܕܐܝܼܬܼܘ̄ ܒܝܼܡܲܪ܇ ܘܐܢ ܠܵܐ ܐܚܙܹܝܟ ܡܸܬܿܛܲܠܩ ܠܸܒܿܝ ܟܠܝܘܿܡ ܨܲܕ ܓٕܵܪ܇
Your brightness is honorable, your stature is high like a pine tree. And your taste is pleasant and sweet for palate, like water of Kawther.78 And from the scent of your breath, a body that is sick obtains healing. And if I don’t see you, my heart would fail one hundred [and] four [times] (?) a day.
ܨܲܢܘܼܒܲܪ Ar., Pers. ṣanawbar ‘pine tree’
ܟܵܘܣܲܪ Ar. kawṯar ‘Kawther’ (sacred stream; Qur’an 108:1); rendering ṯ of the Arabic word as s apparently speaks for its borrowing in the Persian pronunciation.
ܒܝܼܡܲܪ Pers. bīmār ‘sick’
ܨܲܕ ܓٕܵܪ Apparently, Pers. ṣad ‘hundred’ + čār ‘four’ = one hundred [and] four; or four hundred, which would be an inversion though.
ܙܝܼܘܵܟ ܦــــــܐܝܵܐ ܡܝܲܬܿܪ ܡܸܢܗ ܕܦــــــــܝܼܪܘܿܙܹܐ ܙܲܝܪ܇ ܘܣܘܿܠܘܓܼܝܼܣܡܵܟ ܛܲܒܼ ܗ̄ܘܼ ܡ̣ܢ ܠܥܲܠ ܫܐܵܗܝܼ ܐܲܟܿܒܲܪ܇ ܘܨܲܠܡܵܟ ܡܦܲܬܲܟ ܒܠܘܠـܘ ܘܐܲܠـــܡܲܨ ܘܕܸܪ ܓٕܵܘܗܪ܇ ܘܪܝܹܚܵܟ ܒܣܝܼܡ ܒܲܕܡܘܼܬܼ ܪܝܹܚܵܐ ܕܡܸܣܟ ܘܥܲܢـــــــܒܲܪ܇
Your brightness is beautiful and more precious than a turquoise necklace. Your syllogism is better than a ruby of the greatest shah. 79 And your image is mixed with pearls, diamonds and gems. Your scent is pleasant, like the scent of musk and ambergris.
ܦܝܼܪܘܿܙܹܐ Pers. p(/f)īrōze ‘turquoise’
ܠܥܲܠ Ar. laʿl ‘ruby’
ܫܵܐܗ Pers. šāh ‘shah, king’
ܐܲܟܿܒܲܪ Ar. akbAr.‘the greatest’
ܠܘܠܘ Ar. lu’lu’ ‘peAr.’
ܐܲܠܡܲܨ Turk., Pers. almās ‘diamond’
ܕܪ Ar. durr ‘peAr.’
ܓٕܵܘܗܪ Ar. jawhAr.‘gem’
ܡܸܣܟ Ar., Pers. misk ‘musk’
ܥܲܢܒܲܪ Ar., Pers. ʿanbAr.‘ambergris’
ܬܵܘ ܚـــــــܒܝܒ̈ܝ ܒܢ̈ܝ ܥܸܢܝܵܢܝ ܐܲܦ ܩܲܪܕܲܫܠܲܪ܇ ܕܢܚܕܐ ܘܲܢܕܘܼܨ ܘܐܲܦ ܢܸܬܼܒܿܣܲܡ ܥܲܡ ܠܸܦ ܫܲܟܿܪ܇ ܕܫܢ̈ܐ ܕܦܘܡܹܗ ܕܡܿܝܢ ܠܸܠܘܼܠܘܼ ܕܕܨܘܼܠܛܵܢܠܲܪ܇ ܕܠܸܒܿܝ ܐܸܬܼܡܗܝܼ ܡ̣ܢ ܣܵܘܝــــܘܬܹܗ ܘܝܼܩܕ ܓٕܝܓܲܪ܇
Come, my beloved ones, my companions and brothers, to rejoice and take pleasure in the sugar lips. The teeth of his mouth resemble pearls of the sultans. So my heart is boiled from the desire of him, and the liver has burnt.
ܩܲܪܕܲܫ Turk. qardaš ‘brother’
ܠܸܦ Kurd. lēv ‘lip’
ܫܲܟܲܪ Pers., Turk. šakar ‘sugar’
ܠܘܠܘ Ar. lu’lu’ ‘pearl’
ܨܘܼܠܛܵܢ (sic!) = ܣܘܼܠܛܵܢ Ar., Pers., Turk. sūlṭān ‘sultan’
ܓٕܝܓܲܪ Pers. jegar ‘liver’
The poems published here represent literary tastes of East Syriac educated circles of the Ottoman period. These text collections appeared as later additions in the manuscripts written by ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gāzartā, the first poet and the second patriarch (1555-1570) of the East Syriac Uniate Church. Thanks to the information found in the poems and other manuscript notes, one can date those pieces rather precisely: 1644 CE for the poems by ʿAbdīšōʿ of Ātēl, and no later than 1736 CE for ones composed by priest Ṭalyā, since that is the date of death given in the poem on his decease. The latter should be definitely distinguished from the priest with the same name from the village of Ḥakamyā (or Ḥakmīyā), who is known as a pilgrim to Jerusalem in mid-seventeenth century, and as a donor of a number of manuscripts to Nestorian monastery of Virgin Mary in this city. Both seem to be clerics of the Qūdshānīs line, founded by Yōḥannān Sūlāqā in the mid-sixteenth century. One may come to such a conclusion based on indirect historical information and the ownership notes in the manuscript DCA 00065, which belonged to the monastery of Jacob the Recluse near Seert, the residence of the patriarchs and then – after their moving to Qūdshānīs – a residence of the metropolitans of the above-mentioned patriarchate line. That is rather substantial information for the understanding of the manuscript transmission within the two existing East Syriac patriarchates at that period. And then it seems also quite natural that both manuscripts used for the versed notes were originally copied by ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gāzartā, a hierarch of this line, which means they circulated within the same patriarchate.
These small texts, usually having very little or even nothing to do with the main manuscript text, represent a kind of verse notes made by different persons, and might reflect popular poetic tastes of the period. Short poems, especially quatrains, are an ideal form for such poetic activities. Judging from their great number, the spread of short poems was constantly increasing since the time the Syriac Renaissance, when they were first borrowed from Persian poetry. Such short poems were definitely associated with the Islamic poetic tradition, and therefore their authors intentionally imitated the latter both in imagery and in numerous loan-words that are met here much more often than in longer versified texts. Apparently, the multi-lingual poems of the Mongol period (second half of the 13th-early 14th century) – the heyday of the Syriac literary tradition in Islamic period – were treated as appropriate models to portray contemporary cultural life of the multi-lingual Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire.
The popularity of this type of text by itself was obviously a result of a long coexistence in Muslim surroundings. Interestingly enough, there is a certain category of such pilgrim poems written by the visitors of Islamic sanctuaries at about the same time. The latter are found as graffiti in numerous architectural monuments in Central Asia and the Near East.80 The subject of such verses may vary from love topics with a possible mystical subtext to autobiographical notes on the pilgrimage. Unlike the latter, the Syriac pieces discussed here – at least some of them – seem to have been written not by their composers themselves, but rather by other persons, which follows from the rubrics. Apparently, such pieces had a relatively wide circulation among educated East Syriac Christians of both Uniate and non-Uniate Churches.
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Fig. 1: SMMJ, 00159 fol. 2r
Saint Mark’s Monastery, Jerusalem, MS SMMJ 00159 fol. 2r. Photos courtesy of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University, Minnesota, USA. Published with permission of the Saint Mark Monastery, Jerusalem. All rights reserved.
pb. Fig 2a: DCA 00065, f. 129v
Chaldean Diocese of Alqūsh, Iraq, MS DCA 00065 fols. 129v, 130r, 144rv. Photos courtesy of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University, Minnesota, USA. Published with permission of the Chaldean Diocese of Alqūsh, Iraq. All rights reserved.
Fig 2b: DCA 00065, f. 130r
Chaldean Diocese of Alqūsh, Iraq, MS DCA 00065 fols. 129v, 130r, 144rv. Photos courtesy of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University, Minnesota, USA. Published with permission of the Chaldean Diocese of Alqūsh, Iraq. All rights reserved.
Fig 3a: DCA 00065, f. 144r
Chaldean Diocese of Alqūsh, Iraq, MS DCA 00065 fols. 129v, 130r, 144rv. Photos courtesy of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University, Minnesota, USA. Published with permission of the Chaldean Diocese of Alqūsh, Iraq. All rights reserved.
Fig 3b: DCA 00065, f. 144v
1 I would like to express gratitude to Sebastian Brock and Peter Zieme for their help in improving the text of this this publication. I am also grateful to Father Columba Stewart, David Calabro, Julie Dietman, and all the HMML team for making the MS images available for this publication. The research was supported with the alumni fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
2 Murre-van den Berg, H.L., Scribes and Scriptures. The Church of the East in the Eastern Ottoman Provinces (1500-1850), Eastern Christian Studies 21 (Leuven: Peeters, 2015).
3 Wilmshurst, D., The Eccesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318-1913, CSCO, Subsidia 104 (Louvain: Peeters, 2000).
4 Murre-van den Berg, Scribes and Scriptures, 81.
5 Ibid, 30, 42, 47-48.
6 Ibid, 30, 42, 53-56, 63-64, 82, 91-92, 105, 133, 279, 286, 297, 311, 315.
7 Ibid, 53; see also Meinardus, O., "The Nestorians in Egypt. A Note on the Nestorians in Jerusalem", Oriens Christianus 51 (1967): 112-129. The latter also gives a clear evidence of an earlier presence of the Nestorian community in Jerusalem, at least, since the 7th century (Ibid: 123-124).
8 Murre-van den Berg, Scribes and Scriptures, 63.
9 Ibid, 64.
10 Chabot, J. B., “Notice sur les manuscrits syriaques conservés dans la bibliothèque du Patriarcat grec orthodoxe de Jérusalem.” Journal asiatique IX, 3 (1894): 92-134.
11 Rücker, A., "Ein alter Handschriftenkatalog des ehemaligen nestorianischen Klosters in Jerusalem" Oriens Christianus III, 6  (1931): 90-96.
12 Dolabani, F. Yu., and Ibrahim, G. Yo., Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts in St. Mark’s Monastery (Dairo Dmor Marqos) (Damascus: Sidawi Printing House, 1994), 264-267, 339-344, 380-381.
13 Vat. Syr. 90 and 151, Borg. Syr. 169. The latter is the famous illuminated lectionary scribed by ʿAṭāyā b. Faraj in 1576 CE; see: Leroy, J., Les manuscrits syriaques à peintures conservés dans les bibliothèques d'Europe et d'Orient. Contribution à l’étude de l’iconographie des églises de langue syriaque (Paris: Geuthner, 1964), 404-408; Giamil, S., Genuinae relationes inter sedem apostolicam et assyriorum orientalium seu chaldaeorum ecclesiam nunc major ex parte primum editae historicisque adnot. Illustratae (Rome: Loescher, 1902), 519.
14 Brock, S. P., “East Syriac Pilgrims to Jerusalem in the Early Ottoman Period.” ARAM 18-19 (2006-2007): 189-201.
15 Wilmshurst, D., The Eccesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318-1913, CSCO, Subsidia 104 (Louvain: Peeters, 2000): 67-72.
16 Stewart, C. (OSB), “An Update on the Digitization and Cataloging Work of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML).” Khristianskiy Vostok, 2017: 153-171; on digitizing St. Mark’s Monastery collection see ibid: 160.
17 One of them has already come put; see Pritula, A., “ʿAbdīšōʿ of Gazarta, the First Literate of the Chaldean Church: Poems Dedicated to the Popes of Rome”, Vestnik Sankt-Peterburgskogo Universiteta. Vostokovedenie i afrikanistika, vol. 10, issue 3 (2018): 374-391; https://doi.org/10.21638/ spbu13.2018.307
18 See Dolabani, Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts in St. Mark’s Monastery, 380-381.
19 vHMML link: https://w3id.org/vhmml/readingRoom/view/ 500565
20 See the description in Dolabani, Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts in St. Mark’s Monastery, 339-344; vHMML link: https://w3id.org/ vhmml/readingRoom/view/501291
21 Brock, “East Syriac Pilgrims”: 193.
22 Ibid: 193.
23 Ibid: 191; see also Wilmshurst, The Eccesiastical Organisation , 70, 313.
24 Wilmshurst, The Eccesiastical Organisation , 276.
25 Ibid, 313.
26 Ibid, 314.
27 Ibid, 365.
28 See A. M. Butts, “The Afflictions of Exile: A Syriac Memrā by David Puniqāyā.” Le Muséon 122: 1-2 (2009): 53-80.
30 I.e. 1643/4 CE.
31 Most likely, an invocation addressed to the readers; an indication of tune is also possible.
32 فرسخ farsaḫ - unit of length in medieval Iran equal to 6 km.
33 Brock, ”East Syriac Pilgrims”: 195.
34 Or “era of Greece”, Anno Graecorum, abridged as AG.
35 Brock, “East Syriac Pilgrims”: 195.
36 Wilmshurst, The Eccesiastical Organisation , 58, 71, 124, 220, 308.
37 Ibid, 71, 124.
38 Brock, “East Syriac Pilgrims”: 195; Wilmshurst, The Eccesiastical Organisation , 71.
39 Ibid, 235.
40 For this term see Kaufhold, H., “Der Ehrentitel ‘Jerusalem-pilger’ (syrisch maqdšāyā, arabisch maqdisī, armenisch mahtesi).” Oriens Christianus 75 (1991): 44-61.
41 Wilmshurst, The Eccesiastical Organisation, 285, 297.
42 Ibid, 295.
43 Ibid, 111.
44 = 1654/5 CE.
45 Or Ḥakmīyā (?).
46 For the term ܡܲܩܕܫܵܝܵܐ see Kaufhold, "Der Ehrentitel “Jerusalem-pilger”: 44-61. Most interesting, the Syriac term seems to be constructed following the Arabic model (maqdisī) no earlier than in 13th-14th centuries (see Ibid: 47).
47 Since the end of the lines in the stanza should have a rhyme -ēh, ܢܘܗܪܹܗ should be singular. Therefore, the correct translation might be “until [these] two would bring His light” rather than ‘until [these] two would bring His light’.
48 Here, the stanza division sign – a cross – has almost completely disappeared, and is seen just as a couple of strokes at the very end of the line, after the words ܢܘܗܪܹܗ .The end of the stanza is also confirmed by the rhyme changing that follows immediately thereafter, and marks a new stanza.
49 ܡܲܣــــܠܝܵܐ (contemptible) is a marginal correction in the same hand after the original ܚܛܝܵܐ (sinner) that had been erased.
50 Wilmshurst, The Eccesiastical Organisation, 220.
51 Correction above the line in the same hand: ܪܘܚܗ.
52 Originally: soul.
53 Wilmshurst, The Eccesiastical Organisation , 94.
54 Ibid, 96.
55 Ibid, 96-97.
56 Murre-van den Berg, Scribes and Scriptures, 176-181.
57 Ibid, 177.
58 Ibid, 177.
59 Ibid, 178.
60 See Manna, J. E., ed. Morceaux choisis de littérature araméenne (Mosul: Imprimerie des pères dominicains, 1901), vol. 2, 340; Ḥōšabbā, Š. Ī., ed. Kāmīs bar Qardāḥē. Mīmrē w-mūšḥātā (Iraq, 2002), 329-330; Pritula, A. D., “Khamis bar Qardahe (kon. XIII v.) i arbelskiy literaturiy krug.” Khristianskiy Vostok 6 (12) (2012): 233-236.
61 Murre-van den Berg, Scribes and Scriptures, 178.
62 Added above the line in the same hand.
63 Starting with this line, the text of the poem continues in the margins with the insertion of some extra words. For this reason, the line division is not quite clear here, which also follows from meter and rhyme problems.
64 Literally: mourning of sadness.
65 On the father’s side.
66 I.e. Jesus; cf. Colossians 4:11.
67 Or: mercies of yours.
68 The verse seems to be rather obscure.
69 A. Mengozzi, “Persische Lyrik in syrischem Gewand: Vierzeiler aus dem Buch des Khamis bar Qardaḥe (Ende 13. Jh.).” Geschichte, Theologie und Kultur des syrischen Christentums: Beiträge zum 7. Deutschen Syrologie-Symposium in Göttingen, Dezember 2011. Ed. by Tamcke, M. and Grebenstein, S. Göttinger Orientforschungen, I. Reihe: Syriaca 46 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014): 155-176; Mengozzi, A., “Quatrains on Love by Khamis bar Qardaḥe: Syriac Sufi Poetry.” Christsein in der islamischen Welt: Festschrift für Martin Tamcke zum 60. Geburtstag. Ed. by Griffith, S. H. and Grebenstein, S. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2015): 331-344; see also an edition of the whole poem collection ascribed to Khāmīs: Ḥōšabbā, Š. Ī., ed. Khāmīs bar Qardāḥē. Mēmrē w-mūšḥātā (Iraq, 2002).
70 See Taylor, D. G. K., "‘Your Sweet Saliva is the Living Wine’: Drink, Desire, and Devotion in the Syriac Wine Songs of Khāmīs Bar Qardāhē" The Syriac Renaissance. Ed. Teule, H., Tauwinkl, C. F, et al., Eastern Christian Studies (Leuven / Paris / Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2010): 46-47; Pritula, A., "Zwei Gedichte des Ḫāmīs bar Qardāḥē: Ein Hochgesang zu Ehren von Bar ‘Ebrōyō und ein Wein-Gedicht für die Khan-Residenz" Geschichte, Theologie und Kultur des syrischen Christentums: Beiträge zum 7. Deutschen Syrologie-Symposium in Göttingen, Dezember 2011. Ed. Tamcke, M. and Grebenstein, S., Göttinger Orientforschungen, I. Reihe: Syriaca 46 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014): 424-426.
71 See Mengozzi,“Persische Lyrik in syrischem Gewand“: 173-174.
72 See Pritula, A., "Syroturcica: A Bilingual Poem from the Mongol Time" Christsein in der islamischen Welt: Festschrift für Martin Tamcke zum 60. Geburtstag. Ed. Griffith, S. H. and Grebenstein, S. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2015): 345-357; a critical edition of the text with a detailed commentary on the Syriac and Turkic stanzas is planned to be published by myself in co-authorship with Peter Zieme.
73 Mengozzi, “Persische Lyrik in syrischem Gewand”: 173-174; see also W. Heffening, “Liturgische Texte der Nestorianer und Jakobiten in Süd-Türkischen Mundarten.” Oriens Christianus 11  (1936): 232–235; Mingana, A., “The Early Spread of Christianity in Central Asia and the Far East: A New Document”, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 9, no. 2 (1925): 338.
74 See Tsereteli, K. G., Sovremennyi assiriiskii jazyk . Jazyki narodov Azii i Afriki (Moscow: Nauka, 1964), 22-23.
75 Ibid, 23.
76 In the ms: ܕܲܗܓܼܗܲܪ ; obviously, a mistake.
77 Or: your believer.
78 Apparently, the Quranic sacred stream is meant (Qur’an, 108:1), one of the most popular subjects in Islamic exegetic and poetic tradition.
79 Or, rather: ‘Shah Akbar’. The latter was the famous emperor (1542-1605) of the Great Moghuls’ dynasty in India, which was famous for its precious stones, especially rubies.
80 Yastrebova, O., and Pritula, A., "Muhammad Bashshara: The Saint’s Image in Historical Sources, Folklore, Literature and Epigrpahs." Trudy Gosugarstvennogo Ermitazha. Bukharskii oasis i ego sosedi v drevnosti i srednevekovje , LXXV (2015): 397-398.