Manuscript collections & catalogues

Manuscript collections & catalogues

Manuscript collections and catalogues, listed by countries (alphabetical order of country’s name in English). Descriptions are provided either in English or in French or in both of these languages.

Diwan: Digitised printed and online manuscript catalogues listed by countries provided by Diwan (Association des doctorants en histoire des mondes musulmans médiévaux)

Internet Archive: A large number of printed catalogs of Arabic, Persian and other manuscripts, digitized from copies kept in the libraries of the United States and Canada. Search for example: ‘Arabic manuscripts’ and ‘Texts’

Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation’s Portal gateway to Islamic manuscripts builds upon the significant work already accomplished by the Foundation through its published catalogues. In this collection, users can currently browse and search more than 50,000 manuscript records from over 100 collections private and non private previously published by the Manuscript Centre. The new online platform facilitates the discovery of major ‘hidden’ Islamic manuscript collections. It covers materials from basic hand-lists to comprehensive descriptive catalogues, captured in such detail as incipit and explicit, quality of paper, ink, binding etc.

Islamic Painted Page is a huge free online database of Islamic Arts of the book up to 1750 CE. It contains more than 24.000 detailed references from ober 273 collections worldwide and includes illuminations, decorated Qur’an pages and book bindings as well as paintings in manuscripts, albums and on single pages.


Beit al-Qur’an is a private museum dedicated to Islamic art and to Quaranic
manuscripts (over 500) from different periods and geographic origins. For more
information see an article published in Saudi Aramco World.

Bosnia Herzegovina

The basic collections of Gazi Hüsrev Bey’s Library in Sarajevo consist of
manuscripts in Arabic, Turkish and Persian. They amount to 10,000 codices. The archives hold documents related to the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period of the Ottoman rule. It also has an important collection of 1,400 vakufnamas, and 86 sigils (court records and protocols) from the Sharia Court in Sarajevo. The site gives an access to an online catalogue, which does not contain all information given in the printed one.

Orijentalni Institut U Sarajevu After the destruction of its collection of 5263 manuscrits in 1992, the Oriental Institute currently preserves 101 manuscripts, 52 having been saved from the fire, the others acquired by purchase or donation.


The Holy Monastery of Mount Sinai – Monastère Sainte-Catherine
Présentation de la collection de 3300 manuscrits chrétiens, dont les deux tiers sont en grec et les autres en arabe, syriaque, géorgien, slavon ou encore d’autres langues … Le site se consulte en anglais, en arabe ou en grec. Collection of 3300 christian manuscripts of which two-thirds are in Greek, and the rest in Arabic, Syriac, Georgian, etc. (Shabakat al-makhtûtât al-‘arabiyya) Réseau des manuscrits arabes qui donne accès par une riche gamme de critères a des descriptions de manuscrits conservés dans sept bibliothèques d’Egypte, dont Dar al-Kutub et al-Azhar.


Calames is the union catalogue of archives and manuscripts held in the French university libraries (Bulac is not yet included) and other important national research institutions (Institut de France, Muséum d’Histoire naturelle, etc.). The records are mostly from Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France whose publication began in the 19th century. Thus one may not find original characters or standardised transcritptions. Presently search by languages posts 372 items for Arabic, 201 for Hebrew, 68 for Persian, 53 for Ottoman Turkish and 8 for Armenian.

CCFR (Catalogue Collectif de France) has a separate data base Catalogue général des manuscrits including BnF Archives et manuscrits and Répertoire des manuscrits littéraires français du XXe siècle (Palme). Search by language gives results for Arabic and Hebrew only among the Middle Eastern languages.

Bibliothèque nationale de France has its own database BNF Archives et
manuscrits (BAM) with a search form, including the records of previously published catalogues for Arabic and Turkish where the transcription schemes vary.
Acquisitions made after the published catalogues are directly entered (including Persian), with original characters and standardised transliteration. As for the published catalogues, they are available in PDF format (Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopian, Hebrew, Persian, Syriac, Turkish…) that may be dowloaded.

Présentation des collections de la Bulac de 149 manuscrits persans et 208
manuscrits turcs avec liens vers des catalogues détaillés et de manuscrits arabes (1622 cotes) avec un lien vers le catalogue en cours de rédaction.

Catalogue, Institut de recherche de histoire des textes (IRHT)-Section arabe Microfilm duplicates of Arabic manuscripts held in the libraries of the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the United States.


Qalamos provides direct access to metadata and digitised copies of Oriental manuscript collections in Germany and contains about 135.000 datasets describing 120.000 physical objects written in 160 languages and 80 scripts. Qalamos aims at providing the metadata and digitised copies of all manuscript collections kept in German libraries and so called memory institutions.


The Tareq Rajab Museum has a large and important collection of Al Qur’an and manuscripts from all periods and countries (including NW China ) around the Islamic world. The museum possesses some fine examples of the writings of renowned calligraphers. The purpose of the collection is to illustrate something of the history and development of Islamic calligraphy.


Manuscript@CSIC presents the collections of manuscripts in Hebrew, Arabic, Aljamiado, Persian and Turkish conserved in the CSIC libraries, incorporating both its cataloging and digitization. It is an action joint venture between the Institute of Languages ​​and Cultures of the Mediterranean and the East.

Biblioteca nacional online catalogue lacking language as a criterion for searching.


For general information on manuscript libraries and holdings that come under the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, please visit

Koç University Manuscript Collection consists of 685 works in 342 volumes, which are accessible online through Suna Kıraç Library Digital Collections. The collection acquired as donations mainly from scholars such as Fuat Bayramoğlu (1912-1996) who served as a diplomat and was poet and author and Şinasi Tekin (1933-2004) who was an acknowledged Turkish linguist professor and Turkologist.
Manuscripts have originally written in different languages; 359 of these works are in Turkish, 286 of them are in Arabic, 27 of these works are in Persian and the rest 12 are bilingual works (majmuas) in Persian-Arabic, or Arabic-Turkish. Sufism, especially Anatolian/Ottoman Sufism (Bayrami, Melami and Mevlevi paths), Turkish literature, Islamic morality and ethics, Islamic law, Quranic works, fatwas, hadith constitute the main contents of the manuscripts. Among these books, there are many works written by the authors themselves, unique copies as the oldest manuscript in the collection dates back to 735 / 1335. Some of the manuscripts bear valuable contextual information on Anatolian Sufism and on the books, which they have reached through the family lines of their owners. Another characteristic group of materials is the works that are in the early Anatolian Turkish language and literature. The collection compromises a valuable source for especially in terms of language and cultural history studies. In addition to these, a printed catalog in Turkish, named “Koç Üniversitesi Suna Kıraç Kütüphanesi Yazmaları Kataloğu” (Union Catalogue of Manuscripts), is also available to provide accessibility of bibliographic identities of manuscripts.

Sakıp Sabancı Museum Collection of the Arts of the Book and Calligraphy
consists of illuminated Korans, prayer books, calligraphic compositions, albums and panels written by well-known calligraphers, illuminated official documents bearing the imperial cipher of the Ottoman sultans as well as calligrapher’s tools, all produced during a period extending from the end of the 14th century to the 20th century.

For archival holdings, see the online free catalogue of T.C. Devlet Arşivleri (State Archives). Printed holdings of the State Archives are available at the Documentation Database.

United Kingdom

FIHRIST the union catalogue of manuscripts in Arabic script in the UK.
This catalogue provides a searchable interface to basic manuscript descriptions from some of the major manuscript collections in the UK, including Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the British Library. With the continuing contribution of manuscript records from UK libraries, Fihrist aims to become a union catalogue for manuscripts in Arabic script.

United States

Arabic Manuscripts from West Africa: A Catalog of the Herskovits Library
at Northwestern Universtiy. The Herskovits Library contains over 5.000 items and its website provides information about the catalog, which contains entries from four separate collections: The Umar Falke Collection, The John Paden Collection, The John Hunwick Collection, The University of Ghana Collection, and access via NUsearch, Northwestern Library’s discovery search tool.

Rudolf Gelpke’s (1928-1972) collection of Arabic and Persian manuscripts at
The Islamic scholar’s collection consists of 24 bound volumes (ca. 1447-1902)
whose subjects include astronomy and astrology, belles-lettres, grammar, history and theology.

eBethArké digital library collected by Beth Mardutho, this is part of the “online Syriac portal”. Over 1500 items have been digitised (including manuscripts, printed books, archives, audio recordings) so far and more is expected to go online. A collaborative project (State University of New Jersey and Rutgers University).