The study of the written heritage of Islamic civilization is based primarily on the study of extant manuscripts. The necessary first stage of the scientific use, publication, historical, cultural, textual and philological study is the description of manuscripts.
The arabographic collections of manuscripts in Turkish, Arabic and Persian in Russia and particularly in Moscow has been studied insufficiently. For example, in Moscow only the relevant collections of the Moscow State University, Institute of Oriental studies of RAS and the State Public Historical library are fully described. At the same time, there are a number of handwritten arabographic collections in various storages of Russia (in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ivanovo, Novosibirsk and other cities), which are relatively unexplored. For example, manuscripts in Turkic (Turkish, Tatar, the old Ottoman Turkish, Chagatai), Arabic and Persian languages from the collection of the Scientific library of MGIMO(University) of the MFA of the Russian Federation haven’t been described, its catalogue is missing – thus, a significant part of this collection cannot be used by researchers. The total amount of this collection reaches 200 handwritten copies (part of which was copied in Central Asia, Turkey, Iran, Syria); the material is distributed chronologically from the 15th century till the beginning of the 20th century; this collection combines both unique and little-known texts and well known treatises.
Thus, the current state of handwritten research is characterized, on the one hand, by the introduction into circulation of an increasing number of previously unaccounted copies of known texts, as well as new works, on the other — the creation of consolidated large-scale databases that combine the materials of various world collections. This approach is due to the fact that the Museum/library/archive collection is considered primarily as an information resource of historical science, and, respectively, there is a need for structuring and systematization of such funds.
The created portal already functions as a unique library resource and access point to information about Arabic, Persian and Turkic manuscripts and old printed books in Russian collections in the Internet. Currently a free access to digitized copies of the eleven copies of the Qur'an (the full manuscripts and as well as its sections-juz) of the 17‒19 centuries and about a dozen manuscripts of commentaries (tafsirs), prayer books, theological works, collections of poems is provided. The participants of the project who provided the manuscripts, are the Archive of Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Oriental studies of the RAS, Scientific library, MGIMO(University) of the MFA of the Russian Federation, All-Russia State library for foreign literature, State Public Scientific-technological library of the Siberian branch of the RAS in Novosibirsk, Astrakhan regional scientific library, and other.
The manuscripts are presented on the website in high resolution, but without the possibility to download them in whole or in parts. In addition, the watermark is used as an additional copy protection. The structure of the description of each of the submitted manuscripts corresponds to the general principles of the description of such manuscripts: serial number; code of the manuscript; the title of the work in the Arabic script; translation of the title of the manuscript into Russian; the name of the works; the author of the essay: differences in the definition of name, middle name, nickname, place of origin and literary pseudonym are shown; date the writing of the manuscript; for more information about the autograph, a copy of the autograph and so on; name and nickname of the copyist; receipts of former owners, containing names and dates, brief characteristics of other attributes; seals that are stamped on the manuscript; the name of the former owner or a collection, which included the manuscript. We also give: the size of the manuscript, number of pages, information about the oriental catchwords and pagination with possible errors in it, the number of lines per page, text size, characteristics of paper, ink, type of handwriting, decorations and miniatures of the cover (i.e., description of execution and the name of the bookbinder). In addition, in the bibliographic section provides: a mention of the manuscript in the indexes, descriptions, and scientific literature; editions and translations of the works or part thereof on the East and Western languages (especially Russian), reference to other manuscripts of this work in national and international meetings.
The aim of the project is to make the handwritten heritage of the Russian Federation as accessible as possible for scientists, students and postgraduates of specialized Universities, as well as for everyone. The project should contribute to raising the profile of the national school of Oriental studies, and, in particular, Islamic studies. The creation of such an open library of manuscripts, as we think, is of interdisciplinary nature and will contribute to the interaction between different branches of academic Oriental science, as well as, to a large extent, to a better understanding between representatives of traditional religions of our country, to the promotion of tolerance and combating religious extremism.
The authors and developers of the project hope that “Manuscripta Islamica Rossica” will become a reliable source of information for all interested in the history and culture of the countries of the East, the development of Muslim book culture, the history of Islam in Russia.
This project will significantly enrich our ideas about the development of handwritten tradition in Islam with new examples of Oriental manuscripts. Such work can significantly help specialists in the field of Oriental archeography, codicology, sphragistics, historians, philologists, specialists in the history of literature, written culture and art of the peoples of the East.
The official website of “Manuscripta Islamica Rossica” is the part of the Federal historical and documentary educational portal.
Проект выполняется при поддержке Российского Научного Фонда, проект № 22-18-00295 «Электронная библиотека арабографичных рукописей из архивных, библиотечных, музейных и частных собраний России»