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Ikhwan al-Safa

Ikhwan al-Safa

This front piece of an Arabic manuscript, produced in Iraq in 1287 CE, depicts scholars transmitting the philosophical traditions of the Ikhwan al-Safa (Brethren of Purity). The figure in the center is dictating his own work to two disciples who copy it as he speaks, illustrating a central practice in the composition, transmission, and correction of medieval manuscripts. 

The epistles of the Brethren of Purity, which comprise numerous volumes in modern, edited form, take up the cosmological secrets of numbers in the tradition associated with Pythagoras: the correlation of science, symbols, wisdom, and ethnics, and the inner dimensions of interpreting texts. The exact identity of the Brethren of Purity is a matter of debate, though many scholars associate them with the Ismaili Shi`ite school of thought.

Next Button Off Scene from the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi

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