University of St Andrews

University Library Special Collections



Oriental manuscripts

Images of the Oriental manuscripts Collection

The Library holds a small, but fine, collection of oriental and eastern manuscripts - devotional, literary and other works, as well as several fine Qu'rans. These have been mainly gifted to the University over the years, enhanced by some recent acquisitions. Written in a variety of languages, including Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Greek (including several of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri), Burmese, Coptic, Singalese, Pali and Tamil, the manuscripts vary in date from the 1st century AD to the 19th century. Examples include a 16th century Shahnamah, a very unusual scroll form of Sadi’s Bustan, a Timurid Qu’ran, an Ethiopian psalter, an intriguing Hebrew scroll which seems to have been made out of several different manuscripts, an Indonesian batak foldout text, Burmese magic texts, a richly coloured Tibetan religious text and a lavishly illustrated Book of Wonders.

Recent work has been undertaken to improve the catalogue records for the Arabic and Persian manuscripts, and records are currently being added to a union catalogue of Islamic manuscripts called Fihrist.

Descriptions are available in the online catalogue and several have featured on our blog Echoes from the Vault in the last year.

Manuscript or muniment?

Not quite sure what the difference is? Learn about how to distinguish between our different archival collections.

Collection development policy

Discover how the Special Collections Division makes decisions on the development of its manuscript and muniment collections.

Current projects

Read about the exciting projects the Archive team is currently working on, and those that have been completed recently.