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Oriental Manuscripts

Collection Details

Oriental Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

The Library's collections of over 650 items is notable for two Arabic MSS written in Persia in the early 14th century and both illuminated with miniatures extremely important in the relationship of western and eastern schools of art. They are the Jami' al-Tawarikh of the Mongol vizier Rashid al-Din, and al-Athar al-Baqiyyah of al-Biruni. South Asian religious texts are also represented by a collection of 120 MSS on palm leaves - Sanskrit, Tamil and Tibetan. There are also Sanskrit charters on copper plates, and an illuminated Sanskrit MS of the Mahabharata on a roll of silk, 230 feet long. A dozen miscellaneous volumes from Carberry Tower, five miles east of Edinburgh, were presented in 1961, when the house was given to the Church of Scotland as a conference centre. Most notable is Or MS 471, The memoirs of Shah Shujah al-Mulk, after his exile from Kabul, presented by the author to the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone of Afghanistan, who was one of several Elphinstones connected with Carberry Tower.

History and development

Most of these collections are in Arabic or Persian, and were collected in India and gifted or bequeathed to the Library by collectors including David and James Anderson (fl. 1770-1810), colleagues and friends of Warren Hastings; John Baillie of Leys (1772-1833), Professor of Arabic at Fort William College, Calcutta; Robert B M Binning (1814-1891), administrator in the Madras civil service, linguist and traveller (some of Binning's MSS were originally gifted to New College, Edinburgh and have been transferred to the Main Library Special Collections). Others were bequeathed to the Library in 1878 by the Scottish antiquary and book-collector David Laing.

For further information about them and other donors see

http://www.lib.ed.ac.uk/lib/about/bgallery/Gallery/eastern/index.html

Strengths

-

General arrangement and access regulations

Held on closed access in the Library's Strong Room. Access is by enquiry in the Special Collections Department. Consultation of certain rare and valuable MSS is only by prior arrangement.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia.

Languages of material

Arabic, Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, Tibetan.

Subjects

Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Arts, Development, Economics, Education, Environmental sciences, Geography, History, Law, Literature, Medicine, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Science and technology, Travel.

Languages as linguistic focus

Arabic, Hindi, Persian.

Names relevant to the collection:

  • RashŻid al-DŻin TabŻib, 1247?-1318
  • al-BŻirŻunŻI, 973?-1048

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Manuscripts.

Total size of collection

650 manuscript items

Size of collection - vernacular

650 manuscript items

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has stayed the same.

Annual intake

One item every 30 years

Content date range

0 to 0 AD

Collection Catalogue Information

Catalogue

Mohammed Ashraful Hukk, Hermann Ethé and Edward Robertson A descriptive catalogue of the Arabic and Persian manuscripts in Edinburgh University Library (Hertford, 1925) A copy annotated with amendments and additions is maintained at the Special Collections Department Enquiry Desk

Collection printed catalogues

A descriptive catalogue of the Arabic and Persian manuscripts in Edinburgh University Library
Hukk, Ashraful Mohammed.
Hertford, 1925.

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