Project for the digitisation and online presentation of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscripts at Leipzig University Library
From October 2012 until January 2015, the remaining Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscripts at
Leipzig University Library that have not been catalogued and/or digitized yet, will be subject to a final online
cataloguing and digitization process. Thereby, all Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscripts at Leipzig
University Library will be online accessible by 2015. This project works with an abbreviated cataloguing
template is complemented with complete digital images.
The project is supported by the German Research Foundation
(Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG).
Parts of the University Library’s holdings have been previously catalogued and digitised in two projects:
The following collections at Leipzig University Library are part of the project:
376 manuscripts of the former Senate Library (Ratsbibliothek), which was renamed Municipal Library
(Stadtbibliothek) in 1831. In 1962, they became part of the University Library. This collection has the
It has been catalogued in detail by Heinrich Leberecht Fleischer (1801-1888) in his Latin catalogue “Codices
Orientalium Linguarum”, published in 1838. This catalogue can be read and downloaded, alongside an abridged
English translation, on this website under “Historical Catalogues”.
302 manuscripts belonging to the University Library. They have been catalogued by Karl Vollers (1857-1909)
in “Katalog der islamischen, christlich-orientalischen, jüdischen und samaritanischen Handschriften der
Universitätsbibliothek zu Leipzig“, published in 1906. This collection has the classmark
. The catalogue can be read and downloaded on this website under “Historical Catalogues”.
17 manuscripts belonging to the University Library which have not been catalogued by Karl Vollers. They have
301 manuscripts that have been acquired by the Orientalist Oskar Rescher (1883-1972) in Istanbul between
1925 and 1931. They have the classmarks
51 manuscripts from the collection of the Leipzig sinologist and linguist Hans Georg Conon von der Gabelentz
(1840-1893) which have been acquired by the University Library in 1965. They have the classmark
- 4 manuscripts with Ms.-classmarks that previously have been integrated in the European manuscript holdings
17 manuscripts from the estate of the Iranologist and Orientalist Wilhelm Eilers (1906-1989). They became
part of the University Library in 2003 and have the classmark
1 Persian manuscript, previously belonging to the Apel family from Leipzig. It was bought by the University
Library in 2006 and has the classmark
A collection of approximately 54 single folios, mainly consisting of Ottoman-Turkish fermans. They have the
- The 488 manuscripts of the Damascene family library “Refaiya”, which have been acquired for the University
Library in 1853, have been catalogued, digitised, and studied in the scope of the research project
“Refaiya”. They are accessible online under www.refaiya.uni-leipzig.de.
The abbreviated cataloguing template does not include a description of the text’s content,
information on further copies in other libraries, editions, or translations. The description of the binding is
short. There will be only information on the occurrence of watermarks, illuminations, and miniatures, these
features won’t be described in detail.
Project period: 01.10.2012 – 31.01.2015
Project for the Cataloguing and Digitising of 55 Islamic Manuscripts
This project is sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research
Foundation) for the purpose of establishing a database-supported index of and
digital access to Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts recently acquired by
the Leipzig University Library. This project is part of the DFG's "Cultural
Heritage" programme in the field of Scientific Library Services and Information
The project will set up a database-supported index and provide digital access
to a group of about 55 Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts. The Leipzig
University Library purchased these manuscripts in 1995 and 1996. In this pioneer
project, for the first time Arabic script will be integrated into a database that
will also feature German and American transliteration systems. This will provide
scholars of Oriental Studies worldwide with access to a hitherto unknown pool of
The variety of disciplines covered in the manuscript collection, the origins of
some works from early periods of Islamic scholarship, the age of the copies and
their historical proximity to the respective author, as well as the elaborate
decoration, deserve special attention. A key place in the collection will be taken
by one of the oldest known Ismaili manuscripts in the world, the Kitāb al-Zīna by
the Ismaili author Abū Hātim al-Rāzī (d. 322 H. / 934 AD).
The manuscripts contain texts in Arabic, Persian and Ottoman-Turkish and show an
amazingly broad spectrum as far as the content is concerned, which comprises almost
all traditional Islamic fields of knowledge. With a few exceptions, the manuscripts
are mostly complete and well preserved. That many of these manuscripts came from the
libraries of private scholars or families is suggested in several manuscripts by the
many comments, some of which span over several generations, from the previous owners.
The place of origin seems to be the gulf region, Yemen and Iran.
Duration of the project: 1.5 years. Start: August 2006.
Codicological Recording and Cataloguing
Associate: Beate Wiesmüller, MA
The cataloguing of the manuscripts at the Leipzig University Library was carried
out by a scholarly associate who would give a preliminary identification and a
codicological/artistic assessment of the manuscript.
The way of proceeding with the presentation of the manuscripts depends on the
internationally recognised guidelines developed by the KOHD (Cataloguing of Oriental
Manuscripts in Germany), albeit in reduced form. Thus, incipit, explicit and
comprehensive descriptions of the book decoration and illumination of the respective
manuscript are omitted because they are directly available to the observer/user.
The database which emerged on this basis should serve as a catalogue with the
possibility to search for various criteria, as an internal tool, and as the basis
for further research. The presentation is made of an outer and an internal, textual
Description of texts
|Number of Volumes / Composite manuscript||Date of Death
|Writing Material||Subject Matters
|Reference to Book Decoration and Watermarks||Completeness
|Page numbers||References to further Exemplars and/or Editions
|Format||Abbreviated table of contents
|Text Area||Notes and Remarks in the manuscripts
|Number of Lines and Columns||
|Information about the Copy||
If a work can no longer be identified, the incipit will be reproduced in the
original language in place of the author’s name and the title of the work.
Because the online catalogue is intended for the international research community,
the transcription appears in the standard DMG form (German Oriental Society)
as well as in the scholarly Library of Congress system. The unique features of the
respective manuscripts which are listed, i.e. textual key-pages, illuminations,
colophons, etc., will be linked with the appropriate scanned images.
Elisabeth Fritsch, MA (Digitalisation)
Dr. Thoralf Hanstein (Team Coordinator, Design and Content Creation)
Jens Kupferschmidt (IT Coordinator)
Abde Ssamad Karmoun (Application developer)
All of the metadata and the scanned pictures should be processed using the MyCoRe
system (http://www.MyCo.Re.de) which focuses on the special needs of digital
libraries and archive solutions. This system has already proven itself on similar
storage projects and, among other things, has a flexible, configurable metadata
model; an internal, hierarchical data system; a hierarchical classification system;
as well as user and rights management. The core of the software is governed by the
conditions of GNU (General Public License) and the MyCoRe group is moving forward
with further developments as an open-source project.
The masters of the scanned images are being shown at a ratio of 1:1 and a resolution
of 300 dpi; colour and size scales are being included. The colour depth is set at 48
bit. The well-distributed TIFF file-format is recommended for the masters of the
scanned pictures, because they guarantee full compatibility with all commonly used
systems. In the database, before entering the scanned pictures, one can find edited
versions (cropping, brightness, contrast in comparison with the original) and
versions in which the resolution was reduced (300 and 96 dpi and thumbnails in
Jpeg format in order to put them on the internet).
The data presentation mask had to be adjusted to the unique characteristics of the
Arabic (above all writing from right to left) and to the scholarly phonetic
transcription of Arabic termini. Thus, this project finds itself on new territory,
because until now either various non-standard writing styles were employed, or it
was with a great deal of programming effort that separate functioning solutions
were found that, however, were not compatible with other projects.
Flexible search methods were sought after. Those seeking information should be able
to choose, for example, between using a filter and a keyword search (parametric and
free-text searches, based on the indexing of the manuscripts) or combining those.
To this will be added the possibility of “direct browsing” in the inventory list.