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Monday, April 23, 2007

Princeton University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

Princeton has the largest collection of Islamic manuscripts in North America and one of the finest such collections in the Western world. The Princeton University Library holds some 11,000 volumes of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish manuscripts. While the world of Islamic learning is the chief emphasis, there are also illuminated Qur’ans, Persian illustrated manuscripts and miniatures, and other examples of Islamic book arts. Among the most famous examples of Persian painting are the 16th-century Peck Shahnamah and Muin Musavvir's 1673 portrait of the Safavid-era painter Riza ‘Abbasi.For published descriptions of manuscripts, see (1) Philip K. Hitti, Nabih Amin Faris, and Butrus ‘Abd al-Malik, Descriptive Catalog of the Garrett Collection of Arabic Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library, Princeton Oriental Texts, vol. 5 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1938); (2) Mohammed E. Moghadam and Yahya Armajani, under the supervision of Philip K. Hitti, Descriptive Catalog of the Garrett Collection of Persian, Turkish and Indic Manuscripts Including Some Miniatures, Princeton Oriental Texts, vol. 6 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1939); (3) Rudolf Mach, Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts (Yahuda Section) in the Garrett Collection , Princeton University Library, Princeton Studies on the Near East (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977); and (4) Rudolf Mach and Eric L. Ormsby, Handlist of Arabic Manuscripts (New Series) in the Princeton University Library, Princeton Studies on the Near East (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987). These four printed catalogs and the unpublished checklist supersede earlier printed catalogues or descriptions by Enno Littmann (1904), Nicholas N. Martinovich (1926), and Ernest Cushing Richardson and Nabih Amin Faris (1934). Thousands of additional Islamic manuscripts (including most of Princeton’s approximately 2,000 Persian and 900 Ottoman Turkish manuscripts) are described in the Preliminary Checklist of Uncataloged Islamic Manuscripts in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library (2004). For a checklist of a recently acquired collection on Arabic calligraphy, go to William J. Trezise Collection of Arabic Calligraphy. For descriptions and selected digital images of Arabic papyri at Princeton, go to the Princeton University Library Papyrus Home Page. Early printed Islamica in the Rare Books Division may be searched online in the Princeton University Library Main Catalogue. For digital images of 277 Persian miniatures in five illustrated Shahnamah manuscripts, dating from 1544 to 1674, in the Manuscripts Division, go to “The Princeton Shahnama Project” at<>The manuscripts include Garrett Islamic MSS. 56G, 57G, 58G, and 59G, which were the gift of Robert Garrett, Class of 1897; and the “Peck Shahnamah” (Islamic Manuscripts, Third Series, no. 310), which was bequeathed to Princeton in 1983 by Clara S. Peck, the sister of Fremont C. Peck, Class of 1920.


Princeton University Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, New Jersey 08544 USA
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
Tel: (609) 258-3184
Fax: (609) 258-2324

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