Reviews

Although modest in size and published in a small format (14.5×20.3 cm), this catalogue has been carefully and beautifully edited, and enriched with numerous black-&-white and colour illustrations. The text is introduced by a short but precise history of the Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts of the Scientific Library of the Moscow State University, from the early 1830s to our days. This historical overview casts light on the composition of the main private libraries (respectively, those of Russian Orientalists I. I. Levanda, P. Ia. Petrov, and V. S. Pecherin) that became the fundament of the present-day collection. The bulk of this collection of thirty four manuscripts (11 Arabic, 15 Persian, 7 Turkic, + 1 “Christian” ― a Gospel according to St Luke in Kazakh language) is made of treatises of Hanafi jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Arabic and Persian lexicography and epistolography (insha’), classical ethics, Persian and Turkic poetry (by Firdawsi, Sa‘di, Jami, Qasimi, Hatifi, a Turkic translation of the “Gulshan-i raz” by Shabistari), religious and gnostic literature (including a “Tufan-nama” by Nishat), history, geography and travels (including a Crimean and an Ottoman guides to the hajj), and medicine from a wide geographical area from the Ottoman Empire and Crimea to Central Asia, and on a chronological scale that goes from the sixteenth to the late nineteenth century. To be noticed in passing: works classified as “belles-lettres (khudozhestvennaia proza)” could have taken place in a section on didactical or ethical literature (such is the case of the Persian Anwar-i Suhayli by Wa‘iz Kashifi, or still of the Arabic Amthal al-ma‘ani li-Luqman al-hakim copied in Dublin in the 1860s out of printed sapiential texts). From the viewpoint of Central Eurasian studies, readers will be especially interested in two Arabic manuscripts of Crimean origin (an early eighteenth-century treatise of jurisprudence in Arabic, a mid-eighteenth century Turkic guide for the hajj), and in several historical texts of Central Asian origin: a copy dated 1191/1777 of the early eighteenth-century Ta’rikh-i Sayyid Raqim; an Iranian copy dated 1227/1812 of the Majalis al-‘ushshaq, a late fifteenth-century collection of biographies of Sufi saykhs. A specific subcategory of the catalogue is constituted by literature produced by non-Muslim specialists of Oriental studies: such is the case of a partly burnt copy of the famous 1842 “Tatar Chrestomathy” by Martinian Ivanov, the run of which was almost completely destructed in a fire at the typography. In all, if the collection can hardly rival with those of more significant Oriental libraries in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Central Asia, it provides us with interesting clues on the content of private libraries of nineteenth-century Russian specialists of Arabic, Persian and Ottoman studies. It detailed introduction in the present catalogue also contributes to enhance its intrinsic interest.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-1.1.B-14