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The Calligraphic StateTextual Domination and History in a Muslim Society$
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Brinkley Messick

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520076051

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520076051.001.0001

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Spiral Texts

Spiral Texts

(p.231) Chapter 12 Spiral Texts
The Calligraphic State

Brinkley Messick

University of California Press

This chapter departs from a discussion of how notarial practice has been changed by the intervention of the state and goes on to develop a summarizing spatial analysis. The physical features of “spiral texts” provide insights into the general nature of calligraphic practices and the course of discursive changes. The example of the property and accounting registers is dealt, which is kept by the old agrarian state bureaucracies. It also considers the official seals. It then summarizes some further connections between physical and conceptual space, specifically, between the sorts of detailed changes identified in the space of writing and general changes that have occurred in the “space of knowledge.” Within the sphere of formal knowledge, specifically within the discourse of the shari'a, the codification shift had a structure parallel to that occurring between spiral and straight texts.

Keywords:   spiral texts, spatial analysis, calligraphic practices, official seals, shari'a, property, accounting

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