How do you study the history of young people? What can primary source documents reveal? What limitations do they pose? What light can the history of young people shed on the past? This essay aims to serve as a guide to finding, interpreting or “reading” primary sources on young people from ancient civilizations to the present.
This panel painting represents an innovation in the history of western European painting and a moment in religious iconography: depiction of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus in Byzantine icons was traditionally symbolic. In the past, the figures were not humanized, but represented the qualities of divine beings and episodes in sacred history. This painting from the late 13th century by... Read More »
The image by 13th–century illustrator al-Wasiti (fl. 1237) is from the Maqamat (Assemblies), a collection of stories of a picaresque hero. In the upper half of the illustration, a boy in a short tunic and cap with tiraz embroidered bands, leads animals yoked to the saqiyya, a geared water-raising device that irrigated fields and gardens. The boy grasps the tail of the animal and carries a... Read More »
In this painting of a kuttab, or primary school, boys sit on a mat or carpet huddled close together with their writing boards. Boys, and sometimes girls, learned to recite the Qur'an at an early age, as well as the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic in schools called kuttabs. It might be held in a mosque, a building especially for the purpose, or an open courtyard, as in West Africa.... Read More »
The image by 13th–century illustrator al-Wasiti is from the Maqamat (Assemblies), a collection of stories of a picaresque hero. The author, al-Hariri (1054-1122 CE), is an important figure in Arabic literary history. The illustrations belong to the Baghdad School of miniature illustration, and depict scenes of ordinary life. The scene illustrates aspects of a village life. Al-Wasiti used a... Read More »