Arabic

Overview

The Arabic collection counts around 93,500 printed volumes of original-language literature and 3,100 manuscripts. Annually, around 800 to 1,000 Arabic monographs are added. The stocks were built up systematically over the centuries according to scholarly criteria, representing important resources for research and education on a national and international level.

Geographic focus

Geographically, the acquisition of monographs and periodicals is focused on North Africa (Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauretania, Sudan), the Middle East (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria) and the Arabian Peninsula (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi-Arabia).

Main focuses of content

The main focus of the content of original-language acquisitions is on humanities – philosophy, religion (Islam, Christian Orient), history, archaeology, linguistics and literature, ethnic studies, architecture and art and classic text editions. A broad range of secondary literature in west European languages is acquired on Oriental studies, Arabic studies and Islamic studies.

Manuscripts

The Oriental and Asia Department manages the Arabic manuscripts technically (acquisition, subject information, guided tours, exhibitions), while the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books administrates them and is in charge of their use. The Oriental manuscripts can be consulted in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books.

At present, the acquisition policy for Arabic manuscripts is determined by the scholarly relevance of texts and their aesthetic-museological aspect.

Manuscript catalogues

  • Cod.arab. 1058 – 2770
    Information about new acquisitions of Arabic manuscripts up to 2008 can be found in the Repertorium der orientalischen Handschriften (repertory of Oriental manuscripts).
    Repertorium der orientalischen Handschriften

As of the acquisition year 2009, new acquisitions have been entered in the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue, bearing the classification mark Cod.arab. Digital copies of Arabic manuscripts can be searched via the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue or the Digital Collections.

OPACplus/BSB Catalogue 

Digital Collections

Literature on individual manuscripts can be found in the "Forschungsdokumentation Handschriften" (research documentation manuscripts).

Forschungsdokumentation Handschriften

Rare Arabic printed works

In the Arabic-language, the first impression "Kitāb ṣalāt as-sawā’ī“, Fano 1514 (Rar. 1348) is available, as well as a significant number of early prints, rare prints and unique copies.
Kitāb ṣalāt as-sawā’ī. Fano, 1514  (Rar. 1348)

Also the second book with an Arabic text, the multilingual "Psalter Psalterium Hebreum, Graecum, Arabicum, Chaldaicum“, Genoa 1516 (ESlg/B.plygl. 3 m), is held by the library.

The Arabic prints of the Typographia Medicea in Rome can also be found in the library's collection almost in their entirety.
Avicenna: Libri V. canonis medicinae Abu Ali principis filii Sinae, alias corrupt. Avicennae ... Rome, 1593.
Zanǧānī, ‚Abd-al-Wahhāb Ibn-Ibrāhīm: Liber tasriphi. Rome, 1610.
Idrīsī, Muḥammad Ibn-Muḥammad: Fī ǧuġrafīya ‘l-kullīya Geographie (De geographia mundi). Rome, 1592.
Ibn-Āǧurrūm: Kitāb al- Āǧurrūmīya fi ‘-naḥw (Grammatica Arabica). Rome, 1592.
Nāṣir-ad-Dīn Ṭūsī: Taḥrīr uṣūl li-Ūqlīdis (The elements of Euclid). Rome, 1594.
Ibn-al-Ḥāǧib, ‘Uṯmān Ibn-‘Umar: Kāfiya. Rome, 1592.

Arabic works printed predominantly in Europe and some rare Arabic printed works of the 16th and 17th century initiated by Christians in the Near East, mirror the gradual expansion of book printing in Arabic letters.
Also the early Koran editions produced in Europe can be found in the library, among them the very rare edition of the Surah 1 – 2, 66 by Johann Andreas Danz of 1692 (4 L.as. 32), and the St. Petersburg Koran of 1790 (ESlg/2 A.or. 39),  the Kazan Koran print of 1803 (A.or. 554-1/6) and the  Liège Koran of 1829 (2 A.or. 41); moreover, Koran prints of the 19th century from the Orient, among them also stone prints, such as for example a lithography of 1897/98 from Tehran, the 30 parts (ǧuz‘) of which are written narrowly on a double page in each case (Res/2 A.or. 2001.6).
Rare edition of Surah 1 – 2, 66 by Johann Andreas Danz of 1692  (4 L.as. 32)
Kazan Koran print of 1803  (A.or. 554-1/6)
Liège Koran of 1829  (2 A.or. 41)

Numerous printed works from the Bulaq print shop in Cairo, the American Press in Beirut and the English Press in Malta, as well as Arabic stone prints of Iranian origin from the 19th century, when book printing became generally accepted in the Orient, are represented in a broad scope. In 2015, two Arabic block prints were acquired, which form part of the bibliographically rarest works.
Res/A.or. 88.2022
Res/A.or. 88.2023

Searching for Arabic prints

The Arabic prints can be searched in the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue. The original script has been implemented as well for some years. The digital versions of the Arabic prints can be located using the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue as well.

OPACplus/ BSB catalogue

History of the Arabic collection

Outset in the 16th century

Purchase of the private library of the Orientalist Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter

The beginnings of the Arabic collection go back to the foundation of the Munich Court Library in the year 1558 by Duke Albrecht V. The founding act of the Munich Court Library was constituted by the purchase of the private library of the highly educated and polyglot diplomat and Orientalist Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter (1506 – 1557), who was one of the pioneers of Oriental studies and belonged to the few experts on the Arab world in the 16th century. More than 450 years ago, around 50 – a fairly substantial number at the time – Arabic manuscripts were acquired by the Court Library, among them splendidly illuminated Korans from Islamic Spain and from Morocco, and very rare Arabic early printed works.

Important works from the collection at the time of its foundation

Andalusian Koran. Seville, 1226  (Cod.arab. 1)
Two Maghrebi rulers' Korans. Fes?, 1306  (Cod.arab. 2 and Cod.arab. 3)
Kitāb al-asābi‘ li-Ibrūqrāṭ, šarḥ Ǧālīnūs. Ḥunain Ibn-Isḥāq (translator). Maghreb or Spain, 1079  (Cod.arab. 802)
Kitāb ṣalāt as-sawā’ī (Arabic book of hours). Fano, 1514  (Rar. 1348)

17th and 18th century

From the collection history in the 17th and 18th century it is known that also Arabic works arrived at the library during this period, among them no small number of looted items from the Ottoman wars, part of which came to the library on a circuitous route, as well as some important early printed works. The Oriental stocks of the library also profited from the abolition of the Jesuit order in 1773.

19th century

Secularisation

The beginning of the 19th century marked a further apex in the history of the collection. Through the secularisation of the Bavarian monasteries in 1803 the then Royal Court and State Library acquired an enormous amount of valuable manuscripts and prints, among which there were also precious Arabic manuscripts. The most widely known Arabic manuscript from the secularisation is the Koran of Père Lachaise, the confessor of Louis XIV, of the 14th century (Cod.arab. 6). Five Koran manuscripts are from the monastery of Benediktbeuren, among them a Koran from Persia of the 16th century (Cod.arab. 12).

Mannheim Court Library

Almost at the same time, in 1803/04, the Mannheim Court Library passed on by Elector Karl Theodor (1742 – 1799) was transferred to Munich and incorporated in the collections of the Munich Court Library. Also from the Mannheim Court Library, Arabic works came to the Munich Court Library, for example an Arabic-Malayan Genesis (Cod.arab. 233).

Acquisition policy since the second third of the 19th century

Whereas all acquisitions of Arabic manuscripts had taken place rather by chance up to this point, the acquisition policy changed completely in the second third of the 19th century: When the Orientalist departments were founded at the universities, which required relevant literature for research and education, the Munich Court Library started acquiring materials in targeted manner and in accordance with a certain collection profile. The library staff received corresponding technical and philological training.

Book and manuscript collection of the French Orientalist Etienne-Marc Quatremère

Exactly 300 years after the purchase of Widmanstetter's library, the most spectacular acquisition in the Oriental field took place in 1858, which was decisive for the status and growth of the collection and its reputation: the purchase of the famous book and manuscript collection of the French Orientalist Etienne-Marc Quatremère (1782 – 1857). This gigantic acquisition was not without controversy. In order to fund the purchase of the collection, the library director at the time, Karl Halm (1809 – 1882), sold a number of partly very valuable duplicates, among them a Gutenberg bible, which would on no account be regarded as "duplicates" from today's point of view. Quatremère's book collection originally comprised around 50,000 volumes and 1,250 Oriental manuscripts, among them 685 Arabic manuscripts, plus 250 Occidental manuscripts. After 20,000 duplicate titles had been sorted out still in Paris, the manuscripts and the remaining 30,000 printed works, among them numerous, partly very rare Arabic prints, were incorporated in the Munich library collection.

With the library of Quatremère, four Arabic illustrated manuscripts came to Munich, among them the famous manuscript of the cosmography by Muḥammed Ibn-Zakarīyā al-Qazwīnī: ‘Aǧā’ib al-maḫlūqāt wa-ġarā’ib al-mauǧūdāt (The Miracles of Creation. Wasit, 1280) (Cod.arab. 464) and a later version of the 18th century (Cod.arab. 463) and the widely known manuscript of the Kalīla wa-Dimna (Egypt or Syria, 1310 – 1350) (Cod.arab. 616) and a later version of the 16th/ 17th century (Cod.arab. 615).

Important examples of acquisitions of the 19th century

Koran of Père Lachaise  (Cod.arab. 6)
Koran of the 16th century from Persia  (Cod.arab. 12)
Arabic-Malayan Genesis  (Cod.arab. 233)
Cosmography by Muḥammed Ibn-Zakarīyā al-Qazwīnīs. Wasit, 1280  (Cod.arab. 464)
Cosmography by Muḥammed Ibn-Zakarīyā al-Qazwīnīs. version of the 18th century  (Cod.arab. 463)
Manuscript of the Kalīla wa-Dimna. Egypt or Syria, 1310 – 1350  (Cod.arab. 616)
Manuscript of the Kalīla wa-Dimna. version of the 16th/ 17th century  (Cod.arab. 615)

20th and 21st century

Glaser collection

At the beginning of the 20th century, the purchase of a convolute of 157 Yemeni manuscripts from the Glaser collection, which had been compiled by the Italian explorer Giuseppe Caprotti († 1919) in Yemen, merits special mention. Part of the collection has been implemented in the portal of the Freie Universität Berlin "The Digital Bab al-Yemen: The Glaser Collections".
The Glaser Collections: Bringing Together the Islamic Heritage of Yemen

Second World War

The Oriental collection largely escaped destruction during the Second World War, since the manuscripts could be saved by moving them in time. Nevertheless, the "Biblia" part of the collection, which also contained Bible prints in Oriental languages, fell victim to an air raid.

Final third of the 20th century

A new, extremely prolific period for the expansion of the collections of Oriental manuscripts and printed works started in the final third of the 20th century, when the collection could be complemented by important acquisitions, in particular magnificent Koran manuscripts. Thus, the number of manuscripts alone has more than doubled since 1972, from 1,340 then to over 3,100 today. In 1973 alone, almost 650 Arabic manuscripts were acquired.

Collection of the Islam scholar Richard Gramlich SJ

In 2003, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek received a unique library as a permanent loan: the collection of the renowned Islam scholar Richard Gramlich SJ, containing predominantly rare works on Sufism, above all valuable stone prints in the Arabic language.

Bequest by the Orientalist Theodor Menzel

The donation of 175 Islamic codices, among them around 20 Arabic ones, from the personal collection of the Orientalist Theodor Menzel (1878 – 1939), came as a particular blessing in 2011.

In the 21st century

Despite budget cuts, the collection of Arabic manuscripts could be further expanded and complemented in recent years – not least thanks to the support by generous sponsors. In 2013, nine sheets of a Kufi Koran from the 9th century could be bought at an auction (Cod.arab. 2814).

Important acquisitions since 1965

Kufi Koran with 200 sheets. 9th century  (Cod.arab. 2569)
Gold Koran. Iraq, around 1200  (Cod.arab. 1112)
Koran in Eastern Kufi. Iran, late 11th century  (Cod.arab. 2603)
 ♦   Ilkhanid Koran in Gold letters. Iraq or Iran, 14th century  (Cod.arab. 2676)
 ♦   Timurid Prince's Koran. Herat, around 1430  (Cod.arab. 2621)
Koran of the Ottoman Prince Murad. Iran, 16th century  (Cod.arab. 2640)
Late Safavid Koran. Iran, Herat?, 1714  (Cod.arab. 1118)

Literature

Reismüller, Georg: Hundert Jahre Bayerische Staatsbibliothek im Dienste der Wissenschaft vom Orient. In: Die Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in den letzten hundert Jahren. München, 1932. p. 25-30.

Striedl, Hans: Die Bücherei des Orientalisten Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter. In: Kissling, Hans J. (ed.): Serta Monacensia: Festschrift Franz Babinger. Leiden: Brill, 1952. p. 200-244.

Bojer, Hermann: Einiges über die arabische Druckschriftensammlung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Franke, Herbert (ed.): Orientalisches aus Münchener Bibliotheken und Sammlungen. Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1957. p. 77-87.

Grönbold, Günter: Die orientalischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Bibliotheksforum Bayern 9 (1981), p. 68-84.

Hanebutt-Benz, Eva; Glass, Dagmar; Roper, Geoffrey (ed.): Middle Eastern languages and the print revolution = Sprachen des Nahen Ostens und die Druckrevolution: a cross-cultural encounter: a catalogue and companion to the exhibition: Gutenberg Museum Mainz. Westhofen: WVA-Verlag Skulima, 2002.

Rebhan, Helga: The Bavarian State Library in Munich. In: Gierlichs, Joachim; Hagedorn, Annette (ed.): Islamic art in Germany. Mainz am Rhein: Zabern, 2004. p. 157-160.

Rebhan, Helga: Die Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in München (BSB). In: Gierlichs, Joachim; Hagedorn, Annette (ed.): Islamische Kunst in Deutschland. Mainz am Rhein: Zabern, 2004. p. 157-160.

Rebhan, Helga: Ausstellungen orientalischer und asiatischer Bestände der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Griebel, Rolf; Ceynowa, Klaus (ed.): Information, Innovation, Inspiration: 450 Jahre Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. München: Saur, 2008. p. 639-665.

Rebhan, Helga: Die Bibliothek Johann Albrecht Widmanstetters. In: Schmid, Alois (ed.): Die Anfänge der Münchener Hofbibliothek unter Albrecht V. München: Beck, 2009. p. 112-131.

Ceynowa, Klaus; Rebhan, Helga; Tabery, Thomas: Orientalische Prachthandschriften auf iPad und iPhone: neue App der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Bibliotheksforum Bayern 5 (2011), p. 180-183.

Rebhan, Helga: Emil Gratzl als Orientalist. In: Haller, Klaus; Kempf, Klaus (ed.): Sammeln und Erwerben an der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek: In memoriam Emil Gratzl (1877 – 1957). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2011. p. 79-82.

Rebhan, Helga: Eine Erbschaft, eine Schenkung und Auktionen: Handschriften-Neuerwerbungen für die Orient- und Asienabteilung. In: Bibliotheksmagazin (2013) 1, p. 3-9.

Rebhan, Helga: Auktionszuschlag für Koranhandschriften: Neuerwerbungen der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Bibliotheksmagazin (2014) 2, p. 67-71.

Rebhan, Helga: 500 Jahre arabischer Buchdruck. In: Bibliotheksmagazin (2014) 3, p. 34-40.

Rebhan, Helga: Orientalische und asiatische Handschriften und seltene Drucke der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Ceynowa, Klaus; Hermann, Martin (ed.): Bibliotheken: Innovation aus Tradition: Rolf Griebel zum 65. Geburtstag. Berlin: De Gruyter Saur, 2014. p. 322-333. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/9783110310511 [access on 21/03/2016].

Rebhan, Helga: Gegen reale und vermeintliche Gefahren: zwei arabische Blockdruckamulette. In: Bibliotheksmagazin (2016) 2, p. 44-47.

Exhibition catalogues

The exhibition catalogues present particularly valuable Arabic manuscripts.

Gratzl, Emil: Katalog der Ausstellung von Handschriften aus dem Islamischen Kulturkreis im Fürstensaal der k. Hof- u. Staatsbibliothek. München, 1910.

Dachs, Karl (ed.): Das Buch im Orient: Handschriften und kostbare Drucke aus zwei Jahrtausenden: Ausstellung, 16. November 1982 – 5. Februar 1983. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1982.

Rebhan, Helga; Riesterer, Winfried: Prachtkorane aus tausend Jahren: Handschriften aus dem Bestand der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München: Ausstellung 7. Oktober – 28. November 1998. München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 1998.

Rebhan, Helga (ed.): Wertvolle orientalische Handschriften und seltene Drucke der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek = Precious Oriental manuscripts and rare printed books of the Bavarian State Library: 26th MELCOM International Conference, 24 – 26 May 2004: Ausstellung 24.05. – 18.06.2004. München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2004.

Fabian, Claudia (ed.): Kulturkosmos der Renaissance: die Gründung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek: Katalog der Ausstellung zum 450-jährigen Jubiläum 7. März bis 1. Juni 2008 ... Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008.

Rebhan, Helga (ed.): Die Wunder der Schöpfung = The wonders of creation: Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek aus dem islamischen Kulturkreis = Manuscripts oft the Bavarian State Library from the Islamic world: Ausstellung 16. September bis 5. Dezember 2010. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010.

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