Virtual Collection of Arabic Manuscripts

Arabic manuscripts, Islamic manuscripts, Basagic's collection

The Manuscriptorium virtual collection of Arabic manuscripts consists of manuscripts from the National Library of the Czech Republic and from the Basagic Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava. The Basagic Collection is listed in the Memory of the World list of documentary heritage.

The Basagic Collection contains unique manuscripts and fundamental works of medieval Islamic scholarly literature and belles-lettres, spanning the period from the 12th to the 19th centuries, and prints from two centuries, beginning in 1729. The whole collection contains not only 284 manuscript volumes, but also 365 printed volumes portraying the more than one-thousand-year-long development of Islamic civilization from its origins to the beginning of the 20th century. They are of both Arabic and Persian provenance.

The collection of Arabic manuscripts in the National Library of the Czech Republic contains 200 items. It is a component part of larger holdings of Oriental manuscripts, especially Persian, Turkish, and Indian. The whole collection of Orientalia has ca. 1200 volumes, of which Indian manuscripts, mainly on palm-leaves, form more than a half.

The library possessed a small number of Oriental manuscripts in the 19th century. However, it was not until the 1920s and 1930s that extensive acquisitions of Oriental manuscripts were made. From this time also their rather imperfect first listing has been preserved. More detailed processing took place only towards the end of the 1990s.

The Arabic manuscripts cover various branches of human activity, for example logic, mathematics, religion, politics, law, astronomy, medicine, natural science and literature. Specific information about their acquisition has not been preserved. A brief catalogue was published under a UNESCO Memory of the World project funded by Československá obchodní banka and completed in 1998. The images from Arabic manuscripts in the National Library of the Czech Republic have been, and continue to be, included in various types of UNESCO publicity material. 

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