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LIBRARY OF ARABIC LITERATURE

Mission to the Volga

ABU ZAYD AL-SIRAFI Foreword by ZVI BEN-DOR BENITE Translated by TIM MACKINTOSH-SMITH

AHMAD IBN FADLAN Foreword by TIM SEVERIN Translated by JAMES MONTGOMERY

Lively depictions of the natural life, peoples, and kingdoms around the Indian Ocean

Traveling eastward, we discover a vivid human landscape—from Chinese society to Hindu religious practices—as well as a colorful range of natural wilderness—from flying fish to Tibetan musk-deer and Sri Lankan gems. The juxtaposed accounts create a kaleidoscope of a world not unlike our own, a world on the road to globalization. In its ports, we find a priceless cargo of information. Here are the first foreign descriptions of tea and porcelain, a panorama of unusual social practices, cannibal islands, and Indian holy men—a marvelous, mundane world, contained in the compass of a novella. “These accounts are full of fascination and wonder…” —Times Literary Supplement

ABU ZAYD AL-SIRAFI was a seafarer who moved from the Persian port-city of Siraf to Basra in 303 H/915-916 AD. He wrote the second half of Accounts of China and India, supplementing an earlier section written by an unknown mariner and merchant fifty years earlier. TIM MACKINTOSH-SMITH is a noted British travel author, best known for his trilogy on the renowned Moroccan world-traveler Ibn Buttutah, which earned him a spot among Newsweek’s top twelve travel writers of the past hundred years. APRIL 2017 146 PAGES PAPER • 978-1-4798-3059-6 • $15.00T (£11.99) TRAVEL WWW.NYUPRESS.ORG

A R A B I C O F

¯ i Ab¯u Zayd al-S¯ir af¯

translated by tim mackintosh-smith foreword by zvi ben-dor benite

L I B R A R Y

L I B R A R Y

O F

A R A B I C

L I T E R AT U R E

The ninth and tenth centuries witnessed the establishment of a substantial network of maritime trade across the Indian Ocean, providing the real-life background to the Sinbad tales. An exceptional Accounts of China and India exemplar of Arabic travel writing, Accounts of China and India is a compilation of reports and anecdotes about the lands and peoples of this diverse territory, from the Somali headlands of Africa to the far eastern shores of China and Korea.

L I T E R AT U R E

Accounts of China and India

Mission to the Volga Ah·mad ibn Fad·l¯an

translated by james e. montgomery foreword by tim severin

A riveting travelogue from Baghdad to the Central Asian steppe

Mission to the Volga is the earliest surviving instance of sustained first-person travel narrative in Arabic—a pioneering text of peerless historical and literary value. In its pages, we move north on a diplomatic mission from Baghdad to the upper reaches of the Volga River in what is now central Russia.

In this colorful documentary from the tenth century, the enigmatic Ibn Fadlan relates his experiences as part of an embassy sent by Caliph al-Muqtadir to deliver political and religious instruction to the recently-converted King of the Bulghars. During eleven months of grueling travel, Ibn Fadlan records the marvels he witnesses on his journey, including an aurora borealis and the white nights of the North. Crucially, he offers a description of the Viking Rus, including their customs, clothing, body painting, and a striking account of a ship funeral. Together, these anecdotes illuminate a vibrant world of diversity during the heyday of the Abbasid Empire, narrated with as much curiosity and zeal as they were perceived by its observant beholder. “A compelling account which is the earliest firsthand description of travel from the Muslim world.” —Times Literary Supplement

IBN FADLAN was a member of a diplomatic mission sent by the Abbasid caliph al-Muqtadir in 309-310 H/921-922 AD to the king of the Volga Bulghars. His is the only existing record of that mission. TIM SEVERIN is a British explorer, film-maker, and lecturer. JAMES E. MONTGOMERY is the Sir Thomas Adams’s Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity Hall.

APRIL 2017 180 PAGES PAPER • 978-1-4798-9989-0 • $15.00T (£11.99) TRAVEL SPR I NG 2017 • NY U PRESS

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NYU Press Spring 2017