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Oriental Collection
History of the Oriental Collection
The court library already comprised one of the most important collections of oriental literature upon its foundation, due to the Widmanstetter and Fugger collections acquired before. Whereas the collection hardly grew during the 17th and 18th centuries, a substantial volume was added in the 19th century through the secularisation of Bavarian monasteries, the transfer of the Mannheim court library to Munich and some private purchases. In the course of the secularisation, the library acquired oriental manuscripts and prints, among them the world-famous   Babylonian Talmud. The holdings of the Mannheim court library added approximately 560 valuable Hebrew and Yiddish prints to the library's collection. The advent of modern Orientalism in the middle of the 19th century also brought about a substantial expansion of the oriental collection. The most spectacular acquisition took place in 1858 with the purchase of the library of the French Orientalist Etienne Quatremère, which comprised 1250 Islamic manuscripts and numerous oriental prints. The further important purchases taking place in the 19th century were the acquisitions of the collections of the Orientalist Marcus Joseph Mueller, the Indologist Martin Haug, of the traveller of Yemen Giuseppe Caprotti, as well as of the Indologists Julius Jolly and Ernst Trumpp. The collection was continuously expanded throughout the 20th century and, by the exception of the oriental bibles, survived the Second World War mostly unharmed. In the last third of the 20th century important acquisitions, particularly of magnificent Koran manuscripts, complemented the oriental collection.
The Yiddish collection, which was acquired primarily after the Second World War, is of great importance. The Hebrew collection ranks among the most important collections of the world in this field, and was one of the few Hebrew libraries to survive the Second World War. The collection of early oriental printed works is outstanding. It comprises numerous incunabula from the beginning of oriental book printing in Europe and in the Orient. The collection comprises i. a. books from the monastery al-Schweir in Lebanon, of the Mueteferrika printing shop in Istanbul, the Maltese printing shop, the Bulaq printing shop in Kairo and the American printing shop in Beirut. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek owns almost all early Koran prints from the Orient and the Occident.
Furthermore, the collection comprises a great variety of series in Sanskrit published in Europe, but also in India, since the past century. Buddhism represents a special area of collection emphasis, in particular the editions of the Buddhist Canon in different languages.
The Tibetan texts encompass an original block print of the so-called Lhasa Kanjur and a complete set of copies of all printed slabs held by the East-Tibetan monastery of Derge.