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Uppsala University Library was founded in 1920 and already from the start collected not only printed books but also manuscripts. The Persian manuscripts are among the most precious collections of this library and were to large extent bought by Swedish researchers and travelers in Turkey and Transoxiana. Other means by which the library acquired manuscripts include donations. Among these are 10-15 manuscripts which were donated by the Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II to the Swedish king Oscar II.

This summer a catalogue of the entire collection of Persian manuscripts in the library Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts has been published for the first time in one volume by the Swedish scholar Ali Muhaddis. In addition to the manuscripts known from the previous catalogues (by C. J. Tornberg and K. V. Zetterstéen), this catalogue also includes manuscripts mentioned for the first time.

The number of manuscript volumes treated in Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts is 459. All of them contain at least one text in Persian. Some volumes contain more than one Persian text and the number of manuscript texts is about 700. The catalogue is in Persian and a shorter version will be published in English in the near future. The catalogue also includes five excellent miniature paintings of Ferdousi’s Shahnama (manuscript O Cels. 1).

Among the most exquisitely decorated Persian manuscripts in the collection is a manuscript from the 18th century that contains Khayyam’s Rubaiyat or quatrains on the art of enjoying life. This manuscript was purchased in Constantinople by the Swedish Legation Secretary, Albrecht Elof Ihre, who brought it home with him on his return to Sweden in 1825.

Ali Muhaddis has also published a CD-ROM of a manuscript of the Persian love-poem Jalal o Jamal. This manuscript is embellished with 34 expensive, colorful and highly detailed miniatures each of which is a unique work of art. It was donated to the Library in 1839 by Count Carl Gustaf Löwenhjelm, who served at one time as a diplomat in Constantinople.

– Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts can be ordered from Uppsala University online.

– Article in Upsala Nya Tidning about the ongoing exhibition of Persian manuscripts in the Uppsala University Library: En skattgömma av rariteter från Orienten.