Scope and Contents
The collection of over 700 oriental manuscripts includes some of the greatest treasures of Edinburgh University Library. The manuscripts are mainly Islamic, written in Arabic or Persian, but there are also Jewish Torah scolls, Buddhist texts on palm leaves and Hindu manuscripts.
The Al-Bîrûnî, Rashid al-Din and Mahabharata manuscripts are the best-known items (Or Ms 161, Or Ms 20, Or Ms 510). Other treasures include a beautiful Koran (Or Ms 148) which belonged to Tipu-Sahib, Sultan of Mysore, 1749- 1799 A.D., who was killed in the battle to defend his city, Seringapatam, against the British. Arabic manuscripts include commentaries on the Koran; traditions of the Prophet; prayers; law, general history and biography; medicine, mathematics, philosophy and ethics; and, grammar, rhetoric, poetry, prose, tales, dictionary, and controversy. Persian manuscripts include theology, history, biography, and travel; mathematics and astronomy; ethics, poetry, music, composition and proverbs, tales and romances; grammar and dictionary; and, agriculture and war. Hindustani manuscripts deal with history, poetry, tales and astrology. Turkish manuscripts include material acquired in Astrakhan with several early Ottoman texts, divans of Neva'i and items of dialectical interest. There are also around 100 bundles or parcels of Buddhist works on palm leaves in Burmese, Pali, Sanskrit, Siamese, Tamil, and Tibetan; and Sanskrit charters on copper plates.
Language of Materials
Mainly Arabic and Persian, but also Turkish, Hebrew, Latin, Burmese, Pali, Sanskrit, Siamese, Tamil, and Tibetan. Other languages represented include Ethiopic/Amharic, Armenian, Bengali, Cambodian, Hindustani, Javanese, Malay, Mon, Panjabi, Prakrit, Sinhalese, Syriac and Urdu.