Tobias Nunlist, Andreas Kaplony und Tobias Heinzelmann (eds.): Arabische, turkische und persische Handschriften.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Perho, Irmeli
Pub Date: 01/01/2009
Publication: Name: Acta Orientalia Publisher: Hermes Academic Publishing Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Hermes Academic Publishing ISSN: 0001-6438
Issue: Date: Annual, 2009 Source Volume: 70
Topic: NamedWork: Arabische, turkische und persische Handschriften (Collection)
Persons: Reviewee: Nunlist, Tobias; Kaplony, Andreas; Heinzelmann, Tobias
Accession Number: 300652477
Full Text: Tobias Nunlist, Andreas Kaplony und Tobias Heinzelmann (eds.): Arabische, turkische und persische Handschriften. Katalog der Handschriften der Zentralbibliothek Zurich, Band IV. Wiesbaden (Harrassowitz), 2008. xxix, 359 pp. ISBN 978 3 447 05489 8.

The catalogue describes 94 items belonging to the collections of Zentralbibliothek Zurich. Some of the items contain several texts, which increases the total number of actual texts described to 157, consisting of 99 Arabic, 47 Ottoman Turkish and 11 Persian texts. Dr. Tobias Nunlist has described the Arabic and Persian texts, whereas Dr. Tobias Heinzelmann has concentrated on the Ottoman Turkish texts. The third editor, Prof. Andreas Kaplony, has acted as a supervisor of the project.

The core of the collection consists of manuscripts (Ms. Or. 1,4 and 14) donated by the German Orientalist Christianus Ravius Berlinas (1613-1677) in appreciation of the work of the Swiss Orientalist Johan Heinrich Hottinger (1620-1677). Further manuscripts were donated by soldiers and merchants who had obtained the manuscripts during their travels in Muslim countries. According to Tobias Nunlist, the library has never had an actual accession policy regarding the Islamic manuscripts but has depended solely on occasional donations (p. xx).

Even though the collection is small, it covers a wide range of subjects. The largest thematic area is Islam: there are several copies of the Qur'an, tafsir and books on prayers, homiletics, doctrines, Sufism and Islamic law. Literature-both poetry and prose-and history are less prominent, whereas natural sciences are relatively well represented with 25 texts. In addition, there are texts on grammar, rhetoric, lexicography and a few Ottoman documents.

The catalogue is arranged in numerical order according to the library call numbers of the individual manuscript items. The description follows the standards set for KOHD (Katalogisierung der Orientalischen Handschriften Deutschlands). The entries begin with a description of the physical appearance of the manuscript: binding, paper, size etc. The text is kept in a small font size. A larger font is applied in the subsequent lines, where the name of the author is given in transcription and the title of the text both in Arabic script and in transcription. The beginning and ending of each text is followed by a short comment on the content of the text and references to some parallel texts in other libraries.

The entries give all the necessary information in an orderly fashion, but the layout could be more user-friendly. Relevant subheadings (author, scribe, copying date etc.) would have been desirable and would have helped the users to focus on the information that they find interesting. As it is, a user interested in the name of the copyist has to carefully read a block of text printed in a small font to find the correct name among other names: persons appearing in the text, owners and donators.

The illustrations at the end of the volume are not many, but they are well chosen, presenting various types of manuscripts and illustrating not only the texts themselves but also stamps, charts and owners' notes. All in all, the catalogue is a valuable contribution to make also the small and less known collections available to scholars working with the literary heritage of the Islamic world.

Irmeli Perho

Copenhagen
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