Turkish manuscripts and the Publication of their catalogues

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Ramazan Şeşen

Article contents:
The history of Turkish manuscripts
Studies conducted on Turkish manuscripts  
1- Studies on the preparation of catalogues of Turkish manuscripts outside Turkey
2- The studies carried out in Turkey for the cataloguing Turkish manuscripts

Turks contributed to the literature of Islamic science not only work written in Arabic and Persian, but also from the middle of the fifth/eleventh century, thousands of works in Turkish, written in the Arabic script. Their contribution is to be found in almost all branches of science in the Islamic world. Today, Turkish is one of the three most important languages of culture in the Islamic world. More than 150 million Muslims use various dialects of Turkish.

At present, there are approximately 60,000 Turkish manuscripts in the libraries of Turkey, not including manuscripts containing more than one work. There are 28,106 Turkish language, 129,121 Arabic language, and 8,776 Persian language manuscripts in the libraries of Turkey under the General Directorate of Libraries; these figures exclude manuscripts containing more than one work and Turkish manuscripts in libraries under other administrations. There are 9,941 Turkish language, 6,963 Arabic language, and 1,615 Persian language manuscripts in the Library of Istanbul University. In the Topkapı Palace Museum Library there are 3,088 Turkish language, 9,043 Arabic language, and 939 Persian language manuscripts. This amounts to a total of 41,135 Turkish language manuscripts, including the Turkish manuscripts in the two above-mentioned libraries. There are approximately 5,000 Turkish manuscripts in Dār al-Kutub in Cairo. The figure is about the same for the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. There are numerous Turkish manuscripts in the British Library, the Chester Beatty Library, and in the libraries of the Vatican, Berlin, and St Petersburg, as well as in many other European libraries.

There are, naturally, many manuscripts in the countries of former   Soviet Ūnion, in Iran, China and India, which were for a long time under Turkish rule, but there is little information available about their number. A works in the field of Turkish literature similar to the works of Brockelmann and Sezgin in Arabic literature, and the works of Browne and Storey in Persian literature is sorely needed.

The history of Turkish manuscripts

The Uighur State which was established in Central Asia in 745 AD has an important place in Turkish history. Under the influence of Persian culture, it adopted the Aramaic writing system, and for the first time in history Turkish was written down. Under the Uighur State, Turkish became the language of bureaucracy in which the official correspondence of the state was carried out. In the same period, books such as Altun Yaruk, Sekiz Yūkmek, and Kuanşı im Pusar were translated from Sanskrit and Chinese into Turkish. The Uighurs influenced the Eastern Kara Khanids in the west in the fourth/tenth century, so that they too wrote their correspondence in the Uighur alphabet in Turkish. In the thirteenth century the Mongols had Uighur scribes (bahşış) in official state affairs and through these Uighur scribes Turkish culture influenced China, Iran, and even Korea.

The Holy Qur’ān was translated into Turkish in the tenth century during the Samanid period. Today, there is a fragment of a Turkish translation of the Qur’an in Mashhad Library, which, according to one story, was translated for the mother of Mahmūd of Ghaznah (d. 420/1030).

In the fifth/eleventh century a government official by the name of Yūsuf Khāşş Hājib wrote an important work in verse in Turkish entitled Qutadhghu-bilig, in which he explained the ideal government administration. This work is a voluminous siyāsat-nàmah. Three copies of it have survived to the present day: one in Uighur and the two others in the Arabic alphabet. There are various critical editions of this work. Another important work which was composed in this century during the era of the Kara Khanids was the Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk. Written by Mabmūd al-Kāshgharī for the  purpose of indicating the richness of the Turkish language, this great work  was composed between the years 464 and 466/1072 and 1074, and was presented to the Abbasid caliph Qā’im bi-amr Allāh. It is a dictionary of the Turkish language which explains the meanings of the words in Arabic, and contains many proverbs, poems, and idioms.There is a copy in the ‘Ali Emīrī Library and it has been published in volumes by Kilisli Rifat.

Besides this work, Kāshgharī wrote another book entitled Jawàhir al-nahw fi lughāt al-Turk, but no copy of it has been found yet.

Ahmad b. ‘Ali al-Yūghnākī (Yuknakī) is another author who wrote in Turkish in this period. He wrote a naşîhat-nāmah in Turkish in the Uighur alphabet, entitled ‘Aybat al-haqā’iq, which was published by Reşid Rahmetī Arat. The Sufi poet Ahmad al-Yasawī (d. 1166) also had a great influence on the Turks’ acceptance of Islam during the era of the Kara Khanids.  Ahmad al-Yasawī was the founder of the Sufi order of Yasawiyyah. His poems have been collected and published under the title of Dīwān-i hikmet.

Ottoman Libraries
Ottoman Libraries

During the time of the Seljuks, Khwārazm was considerably Turkified, and the Turkish dynasty of the Khwārazmshāhs was established. In this period, the great scholar Mahmūd b ‘Umar al-Zamakhsharī (d.538/1144) flourished in Khwarazm. He wrote his Muqaddimāt al-adab for the purpose of teaching Arabic to the people of Khwarazm and the Turks and he supplied interlinear Turkish translations of Arabic words in his book. Nūri Yūce has published this work, various copies of which have survived to the present day. Some works are attributed to Hakīm Sulaymān ‘Atā’ (d. 582/1186), the greatest follower of Ahmad al-Yasawī, among them Bakirgan kitabı, Ahirzaman kitabı, and Meryem kitabı. These works, extant today, exist in various manuscripts and have been published several times. The most important work written about the Turkish language is Tibyān al-lughāt al- turkī alā lisan Qanghlī by Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Qays.

Turks settled in Anatolia in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. During this period, Turkish was spoken in the Seljuk palaces of Anatolia, Iran, Syria. and Iraq, in military camps, and among the Turkish people, but Arabic  and Persian were used in official state correspondence. However, shar’iyyah (kadi) sijills must have been kept in Turkish as well. The fact that Arabic and Persian were accepted as the official languages prevented the writing of books in Turkish. In these centuries, as a result of the long wars between the Turks, Byzantines, Armenians, Georgians, and the Crusaders, anonymous legends were composed inTurkish among the people of Anatolia. These are Dānishmend gāzī destanı, Battal gāzī destanı and Dede Korkut destanı. Various copies of these works are extant today and have been published.

The oldest book with a known author from this period is a medical work entitled Tuhfat-i mubārizī, by Hakīm Bereket, a physician originally from Khwàrazm. Hakīm Bereket first wrote a medical book in Arabic, entitled Lubab al-nukhab. He later translated this work into Turkish upon the order of Mubariz al-Din Khalīfah Alp Ghāzī (d. 622/1225), the rule of Amasya.  Hakīm Bereket also wrote a medical book in Turkish entitled Khulāşah der ‘ilm-i tibb.1

The Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century had a profound influence on the development of Turkish in Anatolia. The Mongols had Uighur scribes in their service, and these scribes used Turkish instead of Persian in their communication with the people of Anatolia. Moreover, when the Anatolian Seljuk State weakened and local rulers declared their independence, most of them did not know any language other than Turkish, and so they encouraged the use of Turkish in state affairs. Qaraman-oghlu Mehmed Beg, one of these rulers, who took Konya in 676/1277, ordered that Turkish be used in the affairs of the imperial council and the state bureaucracy. The other principalities in Anatolia followed the same practice. Shortly afterwards, Turkish became the language of bureaucracy in Anatolia, and continued to develop after the establishment of the Ottoman principality in 1299. In the fifteenth century Turkish became a language of bureaucracy and science thanks to the Ottomans in the west and Timurids in the east. Works on various subjects were written in Turkish and many books were translated from Arabic and Persian into Turkish.

Ottoman Libraries
Ottoman Libraries

Turkish poetry also developed in Anatolia in the thirteenth century.  Mawlānā Jalāl al-Din Rūmī wrote some of his poems in Turkish. Sheyyād Hamzah’s Şalşalnāmah, which relates the combat between ‘AIī b. Abî Talib  and the giant by the name of Şalşal, was written in 643/1245. Mawlāna’s son Sultān Valad (d. 1312) wrote Turkish poems in various works. These poems were collected and published under the title of Dīwān-i Turkī-yi Sultan Valad. Al-Maqālat, by Hajji Bektāsh Valī (d. 1271), is another important work in Turkish written in this century.ıt has also been critically edited.

It appears that in the thirteenth century, mystics who aimed to educate people made a great contribution to the development of Turkish in Anatolia. Among these mystics, it was Yūnus Emre (d. c. 1325) Who used Turkish most clearly and eloquently. The dīwān of this famous poet has survived until the present day and has reprinted time and again. He is considered to be one of the most eloquent users of Turkish even today. His dīwān indicates that Turkish was a very productive language in the thirteenth century. Shaykh Ahmad Faqīh of Konya was another important Turkish poet of that century. He settled in Konya after the year 628/1231. His poem entitled Charknāmah has survived to the present day and has been published.

 Turkish continued to develop in the fourteenth century during the period of the Ottomans. Both the Ottomans and the Anatolian rulers protected the Turkish language. Orhan Ghazi had his waqfiyyah dated 761/1360 prepared in Turkish. Commentaries were written on the suras al-Fātihah (1) and Tabāraka (67) for Inanc Oghullari in Denizli. Qişāş-i anbiyā’, Tazkirat al- awliyā’ and Kalīlah wa Dimnah were tanslated for Mehmed Beg (707—734) of Aydin Oghullari. Mahmūd b.Mehmed translated a work from Persian entitled Bāz-nāmah, dedicating it to Mehmed Beg of Menteshe Oghullari (1300—1424). Mehmed b. Mahmūd al-Shirwānī translated a work entitled llyāsiye, dedicating it to Mehmed Beg’s son llāys Beg. The Qabus-nāmah and the Marzubān-nàmah were translated for Germiyān Oghullari (1300-1423). Sheyhoghlu wrote his mathnavī entitled Khurshīd.nāmah.  The number of books written in Turkish or translated into Turkish and dedicated to the Ottomans in the fourteenth century was more than fifty.  In this period, among the well-known figures who wrote works in Turkish were Gūlshehrī, Sheyhoghlu, Āshiq Pasha, Kemaloghlu. Sūleymān Çelebi, Ishāq b. Muārd, Qādī Burhān al-Dīn, Ahmedī. Ahmedī Dāī. and Nesīmī. In the fifteenth century the number of works written in Turkish and translated into Turkish in Anatolia was more than a hundred. In the fifteenth century Ūmūr Beg b. Tīmūrtāsh, who lived during the period of Muārd II, donated a collection of thirty-three volumes of Turkish books to the mosque that was built in Bursa on his orders.

Numerous works were written in Turkish relating to the Turkish language in Syria and Egypt under the rule of the Ayyubids and Mamluks between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. Turkish was one of the languages spoken in the palaces of the Ayyubids and the Mamluks. The majority of Mamluks did not know Arabic well; a record by al-Maqrīzī shows that Sultan Qalāwūn (1279—1290) was of this group. Consequently. greater importance was attached to Turkish. Houtsma published a book written in Turkish and Arabic in Egypt during the thirteenth century. Also in this century a Turkish scholar, Bilik al-Qibchākī wrote a book called Al-Anwàr al-mudī’ah on language and ethnography. Around the same time, ‘Imād al-Dīn Dawūd b. ‘Alī b. Muhammad al-Warrāq al-Mişrī wrote a book in Turkish entitled Al-  şahīh min al-durrah al-mudī’ah. These two works are mentioned in the book entitled Bulghat al-mushtāq fî lughat al-Turk wa-al-Qifchak which was discovered by Jean Deny in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. The most important work written in the field of Turkish language in Egypt in the first half of the eighth/fourteenth century was Al-Idrāk li-lisān al-Etrāk by Abū Hayyān al-Andalusī (d. 744/1343). The grammar and syntax of the Turkish language has been published. Abū Hayyān wrote three other books: Al-Af’āl fi al-lisān al-Turkī, Zahr al-mulk fi nahw al-Turk and Al-Durrah al-mudī’ah fî al-Iughat al-Turkiyyah. These works, however, have not survived to the present day. Abū Hayyān’s teacher Fakhr al-Dīn al-Divrighī (d.713/1313) wrote another important work entitled Qawā’id lisān al-Turk.

Muhammad al-Ba’lī (d. 702/1302) who lived in the same period, wrote another valuable work entitled ‘Umdat al-qawiyyah fī al-lughat al- Turkiyyah. The author Ibn al-Muhannā of the same period wrote a Turkish dictionary, Hilyat al-insān wa-halbat al-lisān, in which he mentions three Turkish dictionaries which no longer exist. Al-Itqānī (d.758/1357) from Turkestan taught courses in the madrasah which was establised by the Amīr Suyūrghatmish in Cairo in the fourteenth century. Upon al-ltqānī’s death, there arose the need for a mūderris who knew Turkish, and as a result Mahmud b. Qutlūshāh began to teach courses.

Turkish also developed in the areas under Mamluk rule under the patronage of the Circassian Mamluks. When the first Mamluk sultan Barqūq (784/1382—801/1399) came to Aleppo, he asked for a scholar who would read Turkish books to him. During this period, books were translated into Turkish in the areas under Mamluk rule. Darîr al-Erzurūmī completed Manzūm siyer-i Nebī tercūmesi in the Mamluk region the years 779—791/1377—1388. He also translated the work entitled Futūh al-Shām, which is attributed to al-Wāqidī, in 795/1393 in Aleppo. Around the beginning of the fifteenth century, a Turk by the name of Muhammad b. Baydur translated an important work on mysticism by Abū Nasr b. Tahir b. Muhammad al-Sarakhsī into Qipchak Turkish. Another important work which was translated into this dialect was Al-Baytarat al-wādih fî ma’rifat şifīt al-khayl. The composition and translation of Turkish works in Egypt and Syria continued at an increasing rate until the First World War. Today there are rich collections of manuscripts and printed works in Dar al-Kutub in Cairo.

Between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, the composition of works in Turkish also continued in the area of the Golden Horde and Transoxiana.  The great Turkish poet ‘Ali Shir Nevā’ī, who lived at the end of the  fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century, defended the superiority  of Turkish over Persian in his work entitled Muhakamat al-lughatayn. In the sixteenth century, the great Ottoman chronicles were written in Turkish, and classical poets of Turkish literature such as Fuzūlî and Bāqī flourished, and the Bābūr-nāmah was written in India.

It was in the fifteenth century that Turkish developed into an independent language of bureaucracy and science. It became the third important language of culture in the Islamic world beside Arabic and Persian. Turkish developed as a language of bureaucracy and science thanks to the Ottomans in the west and the Timurids in the east. A study of works (apart from the Qur’ān) translated into Turkish in the fifteenth century, some of them translated into Turkish three or four times, found thirteen on medicine, thirteen on history and geography, twenty-two on literature and mysticism, seventeen on religious sciences, three on astronomy, two on zoology, two on the art of warfare, and one each on geometry, music, mineralogy, and the interpretation of dreams. With the exception of one or two books, copies of  all of these have survived to the present day. Most of these books were translated for the Ottoman sultans and the princes in the sultans’ circle. In  this period, some great translators flourished such as Darīr al-Erzurūmī, Sheykhī, Ahmed-i Dā’ī, Ibn ‘Arabshāh, Mūsa b. Hajji Huseyn al-Iznīqī,  Mahmūd b. Muhammad b. Dilshād al-Shirwanī and Sharaf al-Din Sābūnjuoghlu. They were not translators, but were, at the same time, the most distinguished scholars in their fields. From the fifteenth century onwards, the writing of Turkish compositions and translations continued more rapidly. Dating from the seventeenth century, the number of the books written in Turkish was in no way inferior to the number of books written in Arabic and Persian. Kashf al-zunūn and its supplements, Osmanli Mūellifleri and Eski harflerle basılmış tūrkçe eserler katalogu, which was published by Seyfeddin Ôzege, are three good arguments for the above observation.  

Studies conducted on Turkish manuscripts  

Selimiye Mosque in Edirne

Muslims established several libraries during the Umayyad period. ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-Azīz (d. 101,020) took a book of medicine translated during the reign of Marwān I from the treasury of books (khazā’in al-kutub) of the Umayyads. Copies of this book were made on his orders. Later on, well- known libraries such as the Bayt al-Hikmah at the beginning of the Abbasid period, and the Şiwān al-Hikmah and the Dār al-’Ilm during the reigns of the Samanids and the Fatimids, were established. However, we do not know whether or not there were Turkish manuscripts in these libraries. As stated above, Turkish manuscripts written in the Arabic alphabet appeared in the eleventh century. It appears that there were Turkish manuscripts in the libraries of the Seljuks and the Mamluks. There were Turkish manuscripts in the libraries built during the period of the Anatolian Seljuks, the Ilkhanids, and the Timurids. However, none of these libraries have survived to the present day. As stated previously, Umur Beg endowed a small collection of thirty-three volumes of Turkish books to the mosque, which was built on his orders in Bursa, in the first half of the fifteenth century. Some Turkish manuscripts, dating from the same period, which bear the records of possession of Yıldırım Bayazid, Chelebi Mehmed, and Murād II have survived until now. There were certainly Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscripts in the library founded by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror (d. 886/1481) in the Topkapı Palace. Since Muslims considered Islamic culture as a whole, they did not classify the manuscripts in the libraries which they established as Arabic, Persian, or Turkish, but followed a miscellaneous classification of the books in the three languages according to their subjects.  Kashf al-zunūn and its supplements do not classify the works according to languages. It was only in the nineteenth century that the classification of sources according to languages began in European libraries, and in some libraries founded in Turkey during the twentieth century the practice has also been adopted. The library which was established by ‘Alī Emīrī in 1916 is the first example of this.

The practice of cataloguing Turkish manuscripts dates back to considerably older times. In the Ottoman Empire during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Arabic, Turkish, and Persian books were catalogued in the waqfiyyahs in a mixed way according to their subjects; the waqfiyyahs of the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne best illustrate this practice. At first, the same idea was dominant in Europe. Turkish manuscripts were regarded as an integral part of Islamic culture and were catalogued together with Arabic and Persian manuscripts. The first separate catalogue of Turkish manuscripts was the Gotha catalogue prepared by W. Pertsch and published in 1864.  This was followed by. al-Daghistānī’s catalogue of the Turkish manuscripts  in the Kutubkhānah Khidiwiyyah, and Rieu’s catalogue of the Turkish manuscripts in the British Museum. Similar catalogues then started to be published in Turkey, but in many countries Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscripts are still catalogued together. Kut has published an article on the catalogues of Turkish manuscripts, in which he mentions 334 catalogues and articles.2 In this paper some of the important catalogues and articles will be cited together with some new additions. These studies will be listed in two groups: publications outside Turkey, and publications within Turkey.

1- Studies on the preparation of catalogues of Turkish manuscripts outside Turkey

J. S. Assemamanus, Biblioteca Orientalis Clementino Vaticana… turcicos , Rome, 1719—1728.

S. E. Assemanus Catalogus codicum Bibliothecae Vaticanae arabicorum, persicorum, turcicorum, Rome, 1831

J. Uri, Bibliotheca Bodlieiane manuscriptorum orientalium ... turcicorum, Pars Prime, Oxford, 1787.

A catalogue or Arabic Turkish and Persian manuscripts. The private collection of W. B. Hodgsen, Washington, 1830.

A. Kraft Die arabischen, persischen und tūrkischen Handschriften der  K. K. Orientalishen Akademie  zu  Wien,Vienna, 1842.

W.Pertsch, Die tūrkischen Handschriften der Bibliothek zu Gotha, Vienna,1864. G. Flūgel , Die arabischen, persischen, tūrkischen Handschriften der Kaiserlichen und Königlishcen Hofbibliothek zu Wien, I-III, Hildesheim, 1865-1867. Al.Daghistani, ‘Ali Hilmī Efendi, Fihrist al-kutub al-turkiyyah al-  mawjūdah fi al-Kutubkhànah al-Khidiwiyyah, Cairo, 1888.

C.Rieu, Catalogue of the Turkish manuscripts in the British Museum, London, 1888.

E. Sachau, H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish ... manuscripts in  the Bodleian Library, Oxford„ 1888.

E. Kal, Persidskie, arabskie i tjurskie rukopisi Turkestanskoy publicanoj  Biblioteki, Tashkent 1889.

D. Codrington, Catalogue of the Arabic, Persian, Hindustani and Turkish  manuscripts in the Library of the Royal Society, in JRAS, 1892, pp.  501-569.  C. Lindsay, Handlist of oriental manuscripts, Arabic, Persian, Turkish,  1898.  E. Blochet, Catalogue de la collection des manuscrits orientaux: arabes,  persans, turcs formée par M. Charles Schefer, Paris, 1900.

E. Blochet, Catalogue des manuscrits arabes, persans et turcs offerts à la Bibliothèque Nationale par M. J. Decourdemanche, Paris, 1909.

D. B. Macdonald, The Arabic and Turkish manuscripts in the Newberry Library, Chicago, 1912.

K. V. Zettersteen, Die arabischen, persischen und tūrkischen  Handschriften der Ūniversitàts Bibliothek zu Uppsala, I-II, Uppsala,  1928-1935. N. N. Martinovich, Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts in the  Columbia University Library, in JAOSIXL (1929), pp. 219—233.

E. Blochet, Catalogue des manuscrits turcs à la Bibliotèque Nationale,  I-II, Paris, 1932-1933.

A. A. Semenov, A descriptive catalogue of the Persian, Arabic and  Turkish manuscripts preserved in the Library of Middle Asiatic State University, Tashkent, 3 vols, Tashkent, 1935—1956.

J. R. Walsh, The Turkish manuscripts in New College, Leiden 1939.

M. Graves, Collections of Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts in the United States and Canada, American Council of Learned Societies,XV, August 1950.

E. Rossi, Elenco dei manoscritti turchi della Bibliotheca Vaticana, Vatican, 1953.

A. F. L. Beeston, Catalogues of the Persian, Turkish, Hindustani and Pushtu manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, I-III, Oxford , 1954.

J. Aro, Die arabischen, persischen und tūrkischen Handschriften der

Universitàts Bibliothek zu Helsinki, Helsinki, 1958.

V. Minorsky, The Chester Beatty Library: a catalogue of the Turkish manuscripts and miniatures, Dublin, 1958.

K. Dobraca, Kataloğ arabskih, turskih i persijskih rukopisa, Sarajevo, 1963, 1979.

M. C. Sultanov, Elyaznalar kataloğu: tarih, coğrafya, edebiyat, I-II, Baku, 1963.

M. Guboğlu, Catalogue dokumentalar turcesti, Bucharest, 1965.

S. Prvi, Catalogue of the Arabic, Turkish, Persian manuscripts, Sarajevo 1965  T. Majda, Kataloğ rekopisow tureckich, perskich, Warsaw„ 1967.

B. Flemming, Tūrkische Handschriften, Part I, Wiesbaden 1968.

Kekeli ve enstitūsūnde arapça, turkçe, farsça yazmalar kataloğu,Tiflis,

1969  W. D. Simirnov, Manuscrits turcs de l’Institut des Langues Orientales, Amsterdam,, 1971

AI-Jubūrī, Fihris al-makhtūtāt al-turkiyyah al-mahfūzah fi Maktabat al-  Awqāf, Baghdad 1972.

L. Nemay, The Rescher collection on Arabic, Persian and Turkish  manuscripts in Yale University Library Gazette, VIII/II, October 1972, pp. 57-99

H. Sohrweide, Tūrkische Handschriften und einige in der Handschriften  enthūlten persische und arabische Werke, Wiesbaden, 1974.

H. Hasandedic, Kataloğ, arabskih, turskih perzijskih rukopisa, Mostar,  1977.

M. Gôtz, Tūrkische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1979.

L. W. Dimitrieva, A. M. Muginov, and-S. N. Mogatov, Opisanie  turkshikh rukopisey, 1—111, Moscow, 1965—1980.

A. ‘‘Abd al-Latīf Harīdī, al-Fihris al-waşfī al-mufaşşal lil-makhrūfit al-  Turkiyyah wa-al-Farīsiyyah bi-Jāmi’at Muhammad b. al-Su’ud al-Islāmī,  Riyadh, 1407/1987

[Nasr Allāh Mubashshir al-Tarazī, Muhammad Ihsān, Fihris al- makhrūtāt al-Turkiyyah al-’Usmāniyyah bi-Dār al-Kutub al-Qawmiyyah fī al -Qāhirah, Cairo, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991.

Apart from these, several articles have been published about Turkish manuscripts in the libraries of Italy and various other locations in Europe.  One of them is Tayyib Gökbilgin’s article entitled "Italya kūtūphanelerindeki bazı Islāmi ve tūrkçe yazmalar"3. The miscellaneous catalogues of the libraries of Shaykh al-Islām ‘Ārif Hikmat and the Mahmūdiyyah in the city of Madinah have been prepared by duplication. A list of Turkish manuscripts in the libraries of Jordan and Qatar has been made, and catalogues of the manuscripts in the libraries of Iran are numerous. We know of some documents in Turkish in North African countries. Some catalogues of Turkish manuscripts in the Soviet Union have been mentioned, but there will certainly be a large number of uncatalogued Turkish manuscripts.

2- The studies carried out in Turkey for the cataloguing Turkish manuscripts

It appears that the number of Turkish manuscripts in Turkey is about one third of the Arabic manuscripts. The Turkish manuscripts constitute more than 60,000 volumes. Persian manuscripts are approximately one fifth of the number of Turkish manuscripts. All libraries in Turkey were established during the Ottoman period and the period of the Turkish Republic. Waqfiyyahs of endowed libraries dating from the sixteenth century provide information on the title of the book, its author, the style of calligraphy, and whether the book is complete or not. The books are not numbered in these waqfiyyahs, book numbering began after the year 1242/1826 when the Minisry of Waqfs was charged with the administration of libraries. It is possible to follow this development in the waqfiyyahs and catalogues of the Köprūlū Library4. The catalogues which were prepared after the transfer of the libraries to the Ministry of Waqfs provided some information about the books following the call numbers. This information is nearly identical with the records in the waqfiyyahs.

The Damad Ibrahim Paşa Library was the first manuscript collection in Turkey to have its catalogue published. The concise catalogue of this library, which was called a ‘defter’, was published in Istanbul in 1279/1862.  This was followed by the publication of the defter of the Rağib Paşa Library in 1285/1868. Later on, during the period of ‘Abdūlhamid II, the catalogues of some other collections in Istanbul were published. 1303—1312/1885—1894 witnessed the publication of defters of about fifty collections. These concise catalogues only give brief information about the title and call number of the book, name of the author, language, and style of calligraphy. If there are printed works in the collection, the defter provides information about them as well. In these defters no differentiation has been made as regards language, following the same practice as in the waqfiyyahs and the earlier catalogues of manuscripts.

Many of the Turkish manuscripts in collections in Turkey dating from the end of the Ottoman period have been published. Researchers such as Ziya Gökalp, Salih Zeki, and Fuad Kôprūlū gathered information on a great many Turkish manuscripts; this work was continued, in the period of the Republic,  by scholars and turcologists who assembled under the leadership of  F. Köprūlū, and numerous manuscripts were introduced and summarized in Tarih-i Encūmeni Mecmuası and Tūrk Tarih Encūmeni Mecmuasl. Owing to an upsurge of research on history and language during the period of the Republic, many Turkish manuscripts were examined and even published. At the same time, thousands of manuscripts were dealt with in graduation and masters theses, PhD dissertations, and inaugural lectures and some of these theses have been published. Sūheyl Ūnver and Ahmed Ateş also brought to light a great many Turkish books as a result of research in the libraries of Istanbul and Anatolia. On the occasion of the 22nd Congress of Orientalists, which was convened in Istanbul in 1951, a group of scholars conducted research in numerous libraries of Anatolia. Their findings were published under the title Une liste des manuscrits choisis parmi les  bibliothèques de Bursa, Akşehir, Bor Gūlşehri, Nevşehir, Niğde, Ūrgūp,  Konya, Manisa, Akhisar5. In 1940, studies began towards the publication of catalogues of Turkish manuscripts in the libraries in Turkey; a committee under the direction of the Ministry of Education prepared card indexes. Three catalogues were published: Tūrkçe tarih-cografya yazmaları kataloğu (Istanbul, 1943—1962), Tūrkçe yazma divanlar kataloğu (Istanbul, 1947—1969) and Tūrkçe hamseler kataloğu (Istanbul, 1961). Although these catalogues do not contain all of the manuscripts on the above mentioned subjects in Turkey, they are works of considerable scholarly value. As a result of the cataloguing work of Fehmi Karatay, Topkapı Sarayı Kūtūphanesi tūrkçe yazmalar kataloğu (2 vols, Istanbul, 1961) was published.

Since 1982, the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art, and Culture (IRCICA) has been conducting studies on manuscripts. Up till now the IRCICA has published a Catalogue of Islamic Medical Manuscripts in the Libraries of Turkey (Istanbul, 1984) and a Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Kôprūlū Library (Istanbul, 1986). The Catalogue of Islamic manuscripts in Cyprus is in press.

Besides the stated works, the following studies on Turkish manuscripts in Turkey are also important:

Behçet Gönūl Necatigil, Istanbul kūtūphanelerindeki al-Shaqā’iq al-  Nu’maniyye tercūme ve zeyilleri, TM, VII—VIII (1945) 136-168.

Ahmed Ateş, Burdur-Antalya ve havalısı kūtūphanelerinde bulunan  tūrkçe, arapca ve farsca bazı mūhim eserler, TDED, II/1—2 (1947)  171-191.

Bursalı Mehmed Tahir, Osmanlı Mūellifleri, Istanbul, 1333—1342.

A. Adıvar, Osmanlı Tūrklerinde Ilim, Istanbul, 1941, 1982.

Tibor Halası Kun, Die Mameluk Kiptschakischen Sprachstudien und  Handschriften in Istanbul, KCSA, III/2, 79 ff.

S. Tekindağ, Izzet Koyunoğlu Kūtūphanesi’nde bulunan Tūrkçe yazmalar  I, TMXVI, 133-142.

Muharrem Ergin, Bursa kitaplıklar ındaki Tūrkçe yazmalar arasında.  TDED, II/1-2, 110-120.

Z. Velidi Togan, Tūrkiye kūtūphanelerindeki bazı yazmalar, ITED, II/I  (1956-57) 59-88.

Nihal Atsız, Istanbul kūtūphanelerinde tanınmamıs Osmanlı tarihleri Tūrk Kūltūrū Dergisi Būlteni, Vl/1-2 (1957) 47-81.

Ismet Parmaksızoğlu, Manisa Genel Kūtūphanesi tarih-coğrafya yazmaları kataloğu, Istanbul, pp.47.

N. Atsız, Ebūssuud bibliyografyası, Istanbul, 1967.

N. Atsız, Ali bibliyografyası, Istanbul, 1968.

N. Atsız, Kemalpasha-oğlunun eserleri, ŞM, VI (1966) 71—112, VI  (1971) 83-135.

N. Atsız, Birgili Mehmed Efendi bibliyografyası, Istanbul, 1970.

Tuncer Gūlensoy, Bursa Haraccıoğlu kitaplığında bulunan Tūrkçe  yazmalar ūzerine notlar, Tūrk Dili Araştımaları Yıllığı- Belleten,1971  pp 231-246.

‘Abdūlbaki Gölpinarli, Mevlana Mūzesi yazmalar kataloğu, Ankara, 1967,  1971, 1972. The fourth volume has not been published yet.

Ramazan Şeşen, Tūrkiye kūtūphanelerinde bulunan bazı nadir Tūrkçe  yazmalar, Tarih Enstitūsū Dergisi, IX (1978) 373—404.

A. R. Karabulut, Kayseri Raşid Efendi kūtūphanesi Tūrkçe, Farsça,  Arapça yazmalar kataloğu, Kayseri, 1982.

R. Şeşen, C. Akpınar, C. Izgi, Islamı tıp yazmaları kataloğu, ed. E. Ihsanoğlu, Istanbul, 1984 (IRCICA Publication).

R. Şeşen, C. Akpınar, C. Izgi, Kôprūlū kūtūphanesi yazmalar kataloğu, Istanbul, 1986 (IRCICA Publication).

Gūnay Kut, Tercūman Gazetesi Kūtūphanesi’ndeki Tūrkçe yazmalar  kataloğu, Istanbul, 1989.

Since 1978, a commission under the direction of the Ministry of Culture of the Turkish Republic has been conducting a study entitled The Union Catalogue of Manuscripts in Turkey. Between 1980 and 1991, the catalogues of the collections of Adıyaman, Giresun, Ordu, Rize, Ali Nihat  Tarlan, Antalya Tekelioğlu, Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa, Adana Ilhalk Kūtūphanesi ve Mūzesi, Amca-zade Hūseyin Paşa, and Amasya Beyazit have been prepared and published in this series. However, the series does not reflect the same quality of scholarship as the previously published Tūrkçe Tarih cografya yazmaları kataloğu, Tūrkçe yazma divanlar kataloğu, and Tūrkçe hamseler kataloğu, a result of the lack of qualified personnel. Turkish, Arabic, and Persian manuscripts are classified in a miscellaneous way according to subjects in each collection, not according to language.

The method which should be followed in preparing the catalogues    

Books are described in three manners in the catalogues:  

  1. Catalogues which describe the books very briefly. These only provide information on the title of the book, the name of the author, the call number, the number of folios, and the date it was copied.
  2. Catalogues which are made in a very detailed way. These sources present very detailed information about the author and the books as well as the introduction and chapters of the book. In the last century when books were not widely known, such catalogues were useful. Today, however, when information about numerous books has been made available through publication, such detailed catalogues are no longer necessary.
  3. Catalogues of medium sizes which contain the necessary information for researchers. These catalogues present information on the title of the book the name of the author, important sentences from the beginning and end of the book, the name of the library where the book is located, is call number, the number of the folios, style of calligraphy, the size of the book, the number of lines per page, the dates of copying and composition, as well as important notes and references in the book.  Detailed information is presented only about unique manuscripts. This method has been followed in the Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Köprūlū Library.

The following method should be followed in preparing catalogues of Turkish manuscripts. Catalogues should be arranged according to subjects of the sciences, and the works related to each science should be put in chronological order. The order which was followed in the subject index of Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Köprūlū Library can be observed in the classification of sciences. In this classification, religious sciences are listed first, followed by the social sciences, and lastly philosophy and its branches.  Each volume should be described separately. However, it is inconvenient to describe the volumes according to subjects. The description of manuscripts with mixed contents leads to problems. The exterior description of the manuscript is repeated for each book, and therefore manuscripts with mixed contents should be contained in a separate section. In this case, the classification according to sciences would be incomplete, but this deficiency can be compensated for by a subject index.

Since there are also books with anonymous authors, descriptions of manuscripts should be based on the titles of books rather than the names of the authors.

The following headings should appear in a catalogue entry:  

1. The title of the book: if the titles are different on the title page and in the introduction, the title cited in the introduction should be preferred. If the book has more than one volume, the cataloguer should specify the particular volume that is under study. If a specific title does not appear in the book, the title should be found in reference books.

2. The author of the book: the author’s name should be cited as it is mentioned in the introduction; if there is any missing information. it should be completed by consulting reference works. If the author’s name does not appear in the introduction, one should refer to the title page. However; sometimes the name cited on the title page can be incorrect. The name by which the author is generally known, if any, and the date of his death should be mentioned. In case the date of death is unknown, the century should be mentioned.

3. The beginning of the book: if the book is a well-known work, the first sentence and the sentence following the expression of wa-ba’d should be quoted. If it is a less known work, the important sentences should be quoted from the introduction. The parts of a rare-book may be cited; the list of its chapters may also be given, if it is not very lengthy.

4. The end of the book: the last sentence of the author should be quoted. If the author mentions a record about the date of composition of the book, this should also be quoted.

5. The call number of the book, the calligraphic style, the number of folios, the size of the book, and the number of lines per page should be mentioned. The various kinds of ink which have been used in the text and the characteristics of the gilding and binding should also be mentioned in this section.

6. Colophon: if there is a colophon in the book, it should be quoted. If there is no colophon, the date when the book was copied should be guessed and recorded. This requires expertise. If the date mentioned in the colophon is in the form of a chronogram or a riddle, it should be explained.

7. Records. the records should be divided into two groups. The first is related to the substance of the book and its value as a scholarly work6,  and information should also be given on corrections made in the manuscript. These are records about the person for whom the copy was written, records of ownership, purchase, bequest. etc., and the records of important historical events in the copy.

8. It should be specified whether the book has been published or not.

9. References should be listed at the end.

10. The description of each book should be contained under a registration number.

In the case of manuscripts with mixed contents, the exterior descriptions and records should be mentioned first, then the works should be described one by one. The records related to the texts of the books should also be mentioned here.

The e introduction of the catalogue of each collection should present same information about the history of that particular collection.

Indexes should be placed at the end of the catalogue. The indices which have been included at the end of the Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Köprūlū Library may serve as an example. In this catalogue, eleven kinds  of indexes have been cited concerning the authors, books, sciences, subjects, copyists, the rāwīs, the sāmi’s, the qārīs, places, institutions, the persons mentioned in the records, and the dates of the manuscripts.

Source note:
This article was published in the following book:
The Significance of Islamic Manuscripts: Proceedings of the inaugural conference of Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, 30th November_ 1st December 1991_ English version, 1992, Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, London, UK, pp. 55-71.

Please note that some of the images used in this online version of this article might not be part of the published version of this article within the respective book
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