Turkish Manuscripts

The manuscript collections in Turkic languages are smaller than those in Arabic and Persian, numbering as they do fewer than 500 items. Works in Ottoman Turkish make up the bulk of these collections, but there are a number of examples of works in Chagatai (Eastern Turkish), in particular some of the poetical works of Mīr ʿAlī Shīr Navāʾī, which were composed towards the end of the Timurid period in Herat (modern-day Afghanistan).

MS. Elliott 287 is the first volume in a 5-volume set of Navaʾī’s Khamsah or Quintet made in 1485 for the last ruler of Herat Badīʿ al-Zamān Bahadūr Khan. One of the greatest treasures of the Library, it boasts a magnificent introductory shamsah or sunburst containing a dedication to Badīʿ al-Zamān, as well as a glorious carpet page and gold-speckled paper throughout. It also contains a number of exquisite miniature paintings from the school of Bihzād, one of which has been attributed to the Master Bihzād himself. Two volumes from a further copy of the same work made in Bukhārā (modern-day Uzbekistan) in 1553 have also been digitized, MS. Elliott 318, and MS. Elliott 340.

From the collections of Robert Huntington, MS. Huntington 598 (not yet digitized) is an exceedingly rare copy of the Bakhtyārnāmah dated to 1435 and written in Uighur characters. From the Ottoman Turkish collections one may note the Turkish translation of a Persian Cosmological Treatise at MS. Turk. d. 2 (not yet digitized); and Pīr Raʾīs’s geographical treatise entitled the Baḥriyyah and illustrating the islands of the Mediterranean at MS. D’Orville 42 (not yet digitized).