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Collections News (page 3)

Collections News (page 3)

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Most of the collection of the Dominican Friars of Mosul, Iraq (DFM) has been available in HMML Reading Room for some time now. Recently, catalogers at HMML have completed cataloging for a new batch of manuscripts from DFM that were not previously available. These new manuscripts primarily contain texts in  Arabic, Arabic Garshuni, and Syriac, but there are also a few in Turkish, Persian, and even Swedish. Some of the manuscripts (such as DFM 00930) contain provenance notes demonstrating how the manuscripts were moved or added to the collection as a consequence of conflict.

Some highlights of the new additions include Arabic translation of the French play Fanfan et Colas (DFM 00828); new histories of the Chaldean Church (DFM 00822);  Arabic poems  by  ʻAlī Maḥmūd Ṭāhā (DFM 00820) that were turned into famous songs, and many Islamic works such as Anwār al-Bawāriq fī tartīb Sharḥ al-Mashāriq (DFM 00933), and more works of Mawlid al-nabī (DFM 00927). Among the Syriac manuscripts, there are new witnesses to neo-Aramaic poems (known as dorekyātā, see DFM 00899 and DFM 00877) and medical texts that circulated widely in the Syriac tradition (DFM 00838, DFM 00942, and DFM 00943). The collection also includes a 12th- or 13th-century copy of the Gospels according to the Harklean version (a revised translation of the New Testament from the 7th century, DFM 00829). View now

Cataloging is now complete on HMML's digitized manuscript collections from Yemen. These images were provided to HMML by the Zaydi Manuscript Tradition project (ZMT) at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. They include 735 manuscripts from fourteen different libraries across the northern highlands of Yemen, primarily private family and scholarly libraries, but also several mosque and institutional libraries. The dated manuscripts in these collections range from 1118 to 1984 CE, and they include texts from the full history of the Zaydī legal and theological tradition, along with Qurʼans, devotional texts, and works from other branches of Islam. Almost all of the manuscripts are in Arabic, with a small number in Persian.

As a result of its relative isolation and unique traditions, the Zaydī community has preserved important literature from early Islamic schools of thought such as the Muʻtazilīs, while maintaining a rich scholarly tradition of its own. Unlike most Shīʻī traditions, the Zaydīs recognized an unbroken chain of imams (religious and political leaders) well into the 20th century, and they have historically placed a strong emphasis on choosing imams with scholarly knowledge. Thus, many of the most important texts in these collections were written by imams, including an autograph manuscript in the hand of the imam al-Manṣūr billāh, dated 1214 CE. Other texts are the work of other scholars, including some that attest to controversies and conflicts within the Zaydī community. One of the most important of these controversies was sparked by the arrival of Wahhābī ideology from central Arabia in the 18th century, and Zaydī authors took strong positions on both sides of this debate. The Yemeni collections in HMML's Reading Room preserve these texts and make them available to scholars around the world, most of whom cannot access Yemen itself due to the ongoing war in that country. View now

The manuscript collection of the Société des Missionnaires de Saint Paul (SPFH), located in Ḥarīṣā, Lebanon, is now available online in the Reading Room. This Melkite Greek Catholic collection contains many biblical and liturgical manuscripts, and it also includes a considerable number of Islamic works.

While Joseph Nasrallah cataloged part of this collection in 1958, around 200 manuscripts are cataloged for the first time, including more than 20 works of the famous al-Yāzijī family. SPFH also offers some "firsts" for Reading Room, such as Ḥammīn's Ghanīmat al-safar (in SPFH 00359); Ibn Ṭufayl's Risālat Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān (in SPFH 00347); the Arabic version of Dīwān Qays ibn al-Mulawwaḥ (Majnūn Laylá, in SPFH 00400); and many more. View now

Exactly 50 years ago, a HMML microfilming team led by Father Urban Steiner, OSB, was photographing the manuscript collection at the University of Innsbruck. They photographed about 680 manuscripts and several fragments there from late November 1972 to early February 1973.

Established in 1745 and known today as the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Tirol (ULBT), the library holds manuscripts from all over the province of Tyrol and the formerly Austrian area of South Tyrol. At the time of HMML’s work, the only catalog for the collection was a handwritten card file, of which a copy was made and kept at HMML for visitors. Today, the ULBT is one of the best documented collections in Central Europe, with a 10-volume printed catalog. The newly added records in vHMML/ReadingRoom include links to this newer (and fuller) information. The collection includes a variety of genres and languages, ranging from illustrated Latin Psalters to German chronicles. It includes many manuscripts with sermons, commentaries, correspondence, hagiographies, and dictionaries, as well as legal, historical, and scientific works. View now

“The next stop was Kremsmünster Abbey. When I arrived, the porter immediately told me that the abbot wanted to speak to me on the phone, whereupon I was set for the next treat of bad news. But his first words on the phone were: Willkommen in Kremsmünster.  Sie werden in Kremsmünster anfangen (“Welcome to Kremsmünster. You will begin your work here”). Brother, what a day that was for me, to hear such good news with my own ears.”

Father Oliver Kapsner, OSB; from: A Sense of Place II (Collegeville, MN, 1990)

When Abbot Albert Bruckmayr, OSB, gave Father Oliver permission to microfilm the medieval manuscripts at Kremsmünster Abbey in late 1964, he could not have imagined the monumental accomplishments that would result. HMML’s preservation work with manuscripts had steadily grown and moved into new areas in the subsequent six decades. At Kremsmünster, a Benedictine Abbey dating back to the eighth century, Father Oliver’s team had to start their photographic work from scratch. In the process, they preserved 433 codex manuscripts and about 67 manuscript fragments dating from the eighth to the 17th centuries, whose descriptions are now available in vHMML/Reading Room.

The first manuscript filmed, Codex Cremifanensis 1 (View now ), contains over 30 texts and serves as a nice example of how complicated manuscript books can be. The Kremsmünster manuscripts represent a broad range of monastic texts on hagiography, liturgy, Biblical studies, theology, philosophy, canon law, and other fields. Before long, Father Oliver’s team was working at several other Austrian abbeys and monasteries, with support from Kremsmünster’s librarian.

Cataloging of the Syriac manuscripts from the APSTCH KONA collection is now complete. This important collection of over two hundred manuscripts belongs to the Konat (Konattu) family in Pampakuda, India. Many of the manuscripts in the collection were copied by or for members of the Konat family, especially Mattai (Mathen) Konat. Several manuscripts in the collection were brought from the middle east, but most of them were produced in India. As such, this collection provides valuable insight into the scribal culture of Christian communities in India.

Most of the manuscripts in this collection are written in the West Syriac (Serto) script that is commonly associated with the Syriac Orthodox tradition, but a number of the manuscripts, especially those from the 18th century, are written in the East Syriac script typically associated with the Church of the East. In this regard, even the handwriting of the manuscripts reflects the shifting ecclesiastical influences of some Christian communities in India along with the liturgical diversity of these communities. Likewise, the number of manuscripts containing grammatical works and dictionaries in Syriac, Malayalam, and Malayalam Garshuni attests to the linguistic diversity of Indian Christians. Of the whole collection, the majority of these manuscripts are liturgical in content, and most were produced in the 18th or 19th centuries, but several manuscripts are even older. For example, APSTCH KONA 00033 is an invaluable witness to the Ktābā d-húdāye of Bar Hebraeus copied in the year 1290 CE. Other manuscripts, such as APSTCH KONA 00316, 00317, and 00318, contain important letters from leaders of the Indian churches, providing important primary sources for the modern history of Christianity in India. Taken as a whole, the APSTCH KONA collection is an unrivaled treasure trove of manuscripts, particularly for anyone interested in the history and liturgy of the Indian churches that were influenced by the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.

The Great Mosque of Gaza (Jāmiʻ al-ʻUmarī al-Kabīr) is the largest and oldest mosque in the Gaza Strip, located in the Old City in Downtown Gaza, and it houses a unique collection of Islamic manuscripts and fragments. The Great Mosque has a long history of destruction and reconstruction that spans from the 7th century to its restoration in 1925 after it was severely damaged during World War I.

Many of these manuscripts were endowed to the Mosque by prominent Palestinian families after World War I; one (OMM 00006) was even returned to the collection in 1964 after it was stolen by a British soldier in 1917. The collection features solely Arabic manuscripts, including some nicely decorated copies of the Qur’an, as well as several treatises in the fields of theology, Islamic jurisprudence, Sufism, life of the Prophets, Arabic grammars, medicine, chemistry, literature, and poetry. View now

HMML has completed cataloging 522 manuscripts from 49 private collections in Iraq digitized in collaboration with the Centre Numérique des Manuscrits Orientaux (CNMO). Most of these collections are small, consisting of between 1 and 9 manuscripts; the largest is the private library of Albīr Abūnā from Erbil, Iraq, consisting of 67 manuscripts, preserving the owner's work as a reader and translator of contemporary religious texts from French into Arabic.

These collections include many modern notebooks and ephemera, which provide a glimpse into the daily lives of people in Christian Iraqi communities over the course of the 20th century, a time of political upheavals and profound sociocultural change in this region. One example showcases the life of the Chaldean priest Ḥannā Yaʻqūb Qāshā, who was murdered in a massacre in the Assyrian village of Ṣawriyā, Iraq, in 1969 along with another 35 children, women, and men. Born in 1919, the young man was ordained as a priest at the age of 24. During his formative years and after his ordination, he wrote his diaries, recording in them his thoughts, prayers, and daily activities. The diaries that cover most of the period from 1939 to 1945 survive in 11 manuscripts of his collection now available in HMML’s Reading Room.

Also preserved among these manuscripts are rare gems from older periods, such as PLKI HD 00001, a manuscript of the Syriac Book of Medicines dating from 1796 (see the Postscript story here:

The cataloging of these manuscripts was a collaborative effort of the Eastern Christian and Islamic cataloging team. View now

Cataloging is now complete on HMML's collections of digitized Islamic manuscripts from Ethiopia. This includes the collection of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES) at the University of Addis Ababa in the nation's capital as well as the Sherif Harar City Museum (EMIP, SHCM) in the eastern city of Hārar. As the historic center of Islamic scholarship and devotional practice in the Horn of Africa, Hārar is where most of these manuscripts were copied. They include devotional and literary works by local Ethiopian authors along with items testifying to the longstanding connections between Hārar and other parts of the Islamic world, primarily Yemen and Mecca.

Particularly common in these collections are Qurʼan manuscripts (often endowed for use at family tombs by wealthy women and men); prayer books by Ethiopian and other authors; and important texts of the Shāfiʻī legal school that became standard in the legal education of the region. On the other hand, the oldest dated manuscript in these collections is by a Ḥanafī legal scholar from Iraq and is dated 1346 CE (EMIP 01539). While most of the texts are in Arabic, there are also valuable testimonies to the Harari and Oromo languages, including works on inheritance law in Harari and devotional works in both languages. Many of these manuscript images were provided by the Ethiopic Manuscript Imaging Project.

As a complement to these manuscript collections that remain in Ethiopia, HMML's Reading Room includes images of nine manuscripts from the region that were donated to HMML in 2021. View now

The Bibliothèque de Manuscrits al-Imam Essayouti constitutes the collection of the Essayouti family, who have been hereditary imams of Timbuktu’s Djinguereber mosque for at least 300 years. The collection includes classic works of Islamic law, Tafsir, Qur’anic science, poetry, grammar, and other subjects, many of them copied by or for members of the Essayouti family.

The library is noteworthy for its collection of local fatwas, ijāzahs (teaching licenses granted at the conclusion of studying a text) and historical notes, exchanges of letters between Timbuktu notables, and copies of political and religious treatises by the Fodiawa (founders of the Sokoto Caliphate), the Kunta family, and other regionally important figures. The oldest text in the collection dates to 1615 CE, with the majority of texts written between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. View now

Founded in 1112, this monastery of Augustinian Canons Regular currently possesses a collection of about 430 medieval and modern manuscripts. Of these, HMML microfilmed 125 earlier monastic manuscripts (12th century-17th century) and purchased another 19 microfilms later. HMML also published a printed catalog of these microfilms in 1985 and has made this freely available on the Internet ( Stift Herzogenburg lies on the road linking two of HMML’s other microfilming sites: Sankt Pölten and Stift Göttweig, both of which already have records in Reading Room.

This collection of 144 manuscripts includes sermons, commentaries, hagiographies, legal works, liturgical texts, prayers, and Bibles, among other genres, primarily in Latin and German. View now

The collection of the Syriac Heritage Museum in ‘Aynkāwah, Iraq, has been cataloged and is available in vHMML Reading Room. The 37 manuscripts of the collection are written in Syriac, Neo-Aramaic, Arabic, and Arabic Garshuni. The manuscripts include Bibles, liturgical books, prayers, religious poetry, and a couple Islamic texts. View now

In June 2015, a group of visitors from HMML came to the Augustinian house of Sankt Florian in Upper Austria. There they met Father Karl Rehberger, CRSA (1934-2018), the long-time archivist and librarian at Sankt Florian, but also a tie back to the very beginnings of HMML’s work: Fr. Rehberger recounted for the group how, as a young canon, he had met a Benedictine monk from Saint John’s who had very ambitious plans to microfilm manuscripts across Austria.

Sankt Florian, founded in the 11th century, was the fifth library where Fr. Oliver Kapsner, OSB, and his team worked. There they filmed 545 manuscripts, dating from the 9th to the 17th centuries. The collection reflects the broad range of collecting done at religious communities in the Middle Ages and Early Modern world, including Bibles, liturgical works, and hagiographic works, as well as classical Latin literature, the natural sciences, law, and other areas of study. Highlights include an 11th-century Gospel book (Sankt Florian, codex III,1; microfilm 2227), an 11th-century Bible (Sankt Florian, codex XI,1; microfilm 2458), a 15th-century collection of Saints’ lives (Sankt Florian, codex III,8; microfilm 2235), and several Missals and Breviaries (chiefly 14th-15th century). View now

The collection of the Major Archdiocese of Trivandum (Syro-Malankara Catholic Church) has now been cataloged. This collection is composed of 44 manuscripts, including one from the collection of Mar Ivanios College. The manuscripts are primarily written in the West Syriac (Serto) script, but there are also a few written in the East Syriac script, reflecting the diverse history of Syriac Christianity in India.

The contents of the manuscripts are primarily liturgical, including biblical texts, collections of prayers, and various rites and liturgies for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. These manuscripts are important witnesses for observing the evolving liturgical traditions of Christian communities in India.  Most of the manuscripts were produced in the 18th-20th centuries, but the one held at Mar Ivanios College, a copy of the four Gospels (APSTCH TRIV2 01 00001) is dated to 1563 CE. This manuscript is remarkable because it is one of the earliest surviving Syriac manuscripts that was copied in India. View now

The Syriac manuscripts from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Mannanam, India, have now been cataloged and are available for viewing in vHMML. The library of St. Joseph’s Seminary holds a rich collection of liturgical manuscripts from various traditions of Christian communities in India. In addition to liturgical manuscripts, this collection also boasts an interesting collection of linguistic materials, including various grammars and dictionaries.

One of the most interesting of these grammatical resources is APSTCH MANN 00088, which contains a hand-copied version of the Nomenclator Syriacus, a Syriac dictionary by an Italian Jesuit named Giovanni Baptista Ferrari originally pubished in 1622. The original dictionary contained definitions of Syriac words in Latin, but in this version of the text, the definitions have all been translated from Latin to Malayalam and are written in Malayalam Garshuni. This work, and others like it, testify to the linguistic diversity of the Syriac Christian communities in India. View now

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