Chapter

Spiral Texts

Brinkley Messick

in The Calligraphic State

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076051
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520917828 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520076051.003.0013
Spiral Texts

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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

Chapter.  5361 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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