The Deed For Endowment: Rab’ I-Rashidi (Rab I-Rashidi Endowment) 13th Century manuscript

Documentary heritage submitted by the Islamic Republic of Iran and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2007.

© Tabriz Central Library
The Leather Cover of the Rabbe Rashidi Manuscript

Tabriz, a city some 600km northwest of the Iranian capital Tehran, was in its heyday 700 years ago, the capital of the Mongol dynasty in the Islamic Republic of Iran and a regional intellectual and cultural hub under Il-Khan Mahmud Ghazan (1295-1304). Ghazan Khan’s wazir, or Lord Chancellor, Khajeh Rashid al-Din Fazlollah Hamadani, was a brilliant doctor and mathematician. He was the author of the monumental Persian-language history, Jami al-Tawarikh, and founded an academic complex known as the Rab' i-Rashidi, or Suburb of Rashid, on the outskirts of Tabriz. This contained a paper mill, library, teaching hospital, orphanage, caravanserai, textile factory, teachers’ training college and seminary and attracted students and thinkers from as far away as China. The purpose of this endowment, or waqf, was to ensure that as many of the scientific treatises authored by Rashid al-Din or which fell into his possession, could be copied as protection against destruction.

The document for submission to the Memory of the World Register is the Deed of Endowment of the Rab' i-Rashidi, and details the justification for the complex, the management system, administration and the budget of the endowed properties, which included land in present-day Afghanistan, Asia Minor, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq and Syria.

The manuscript is 382 pages long, of which the first 290 pages were written by Rashid al-Din himself, and the rest by the Governor of Tabriz, Abdullah Bin Mohammad Tabrizi and two scribes. Due to the vast scope of the endowed properties and the high value of them as well as the high status of the Rab' i-Rashidi, this manuscript is of universal significance. Moreover the institution of the waqf, or endowment, is a central pillar of Islamic society, and this Deed therefore provides an important record of political and economic administration in Central Asia at a time of great dynamism and change.

Historical records show that five copies of the original manuscript were made under the supervision of Rashid al-Din. Four were destroyed or were used to improve the current manuscript, which is therefore the only extant copy of the Deed. The manuscript was kept in the private house of the Serajmir family in Tabriz until 1969, when the Iranian National Heritage Society bought it and the Society of National Honors, Iran, recognized and registered this manuscript as national heritage in 1975.

The significance and high status of the manuscript can be seen by the gorgeous and costly materials used in its execution. Tabriz under the Ilkhanids became a centre of book production and manuscript illustration and this important document was treated with appropriate care. The cover page is elaborately designed with gilded calligraphy. Its provenance has been confirmed by Islamic scholars throughout the centuries, including Hassan bin Sadid-Aldin (Allameh Helli) in the 14th Century.
In 1971 a facsimile version of the manuscript was printed and 1000 copies published for scholarly reference. The original manuscript is kept sealed in the Manuscripts Section of the Central Library in Tabriz, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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