by Some years ago I made up my mind to ascertain how many manuscripts there are in the libraries of Istanbul. I walked from library to library and bade the librarians to give me the exact official numbers of the manuscripts entrusted to their care. They did, and after I had finished with all the libraries, I added up the figures given to by the librarians. The total sum was about 124,000. This is an enormous figure. No capital in the East nor the West can boast to preserve such an amount of manu- scripts. Istanbul is the first center of Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts in the world, and it is one of the incontestable merits of the Turkish conquerors of Constantinople to have saved these rich treasures of Islamic Culture in their new capital from destruction and dispersion. The history of the individual libraries of Stambul remains to be written. Most of them are pious foundations of the sultans, of vezirs, secretaries of state, shaikhulislams and others. The selection made by these great collectors proves in many cases that they were possessed of a remarkably high standard of connoisseurship and scholarship. One of the higly learned
Oriens – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1953
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