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Vasilyeva O. The National Library of Russia: New Acquisitions of Oriental Manuscripts in 1992—1996 // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 2. No. 4. December 1996. P. 35—47.


The National Library of Russia (henceforth NLR) has a valuable collection of Oriental manuscripts (about 26 thousand items), mainly Hebrew and Arabographic codices and documents. The predominance of the Near Eastern and Middle Eastern materials here, which the author of the present article had a chance to note elsewhere, is a feature characteristic of the collection of the NLR as a whole. It also reveals itself in acquisitions of 1992–1996. During this period 4 Hebrew, 1 Georgian and 43 Arabographic (Arabic, Persian, Old Uzbek, Turkish) manuscripts, 4 block-prints (3 Japanese and I Chinese) and I Chinese painting have been acquired: in 1992 only one item came to the library, in 1993 — 5, in 1994 — 21, in 1995 — 22, and in January 1996 — 4 items. When comparing with the Russian and West European acquisitions of the same period, the Oriental ones demonstrate an obvious tendency of constant increasing. Such a phenomenon can be explained by the recent changes in economic situation in the country, which make the owners part with their family relics. First of all the owners part with the Oriental objects, since these materials usually proves to be less significant for them. As a rule, those who sell Oriental manuscripts do not know the languages in which they were written. At the same time the financial capacities of the NLR make it the only purchaser of Oriental manuscripts in St. Petersburg. Another significant factor for increasing the number of Oriental manuscripts is the renewal of archaeographic activities; we mean not outside (“field”) work, but that within the city, by means of establishing contacts with manuscript collectors and their heirs.

In the reports of The Imperial Public Library (the former name of the NLR), which have been published since 1808, the new acquisitions are presented as the following: first the gifts (collections or single manuscripts) are named, as well as the names of their donators; then a list of collections and manuscripts purchased by the NLR goes (the names of the former owners usually are not mentioned). Here we follow the same scheme...

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