Universitätsbibliothek Gießen


Universitätsbibliothek Gießen preserves 30 Oriental manuscripts in Latin, Arabic, Syriac, Turkish, Ethiopian, Tibetan, Manchurian, Sinhalese and Chinese.

The holdings comprise Latin texts focusing on Oriental languages (Arabic, Syrian, Ethiopian, etc.) and its grammar, as well as texts on grammar in original language. Religious texts, scientific treatises and account books in Arabic are complemented by a calendar scroll. Special treasures include three small Sinhalese palm-leaf manuscripts from Sri Lanka and a Chinese booklet devoted to the description of games. Two objects (Tibetan and Manchurian scrolls) were presumably lost in the war.

Collection history

Due to its disparate nature, Oriental manuscripts at Universitätsbibliothek Gießen do not represent a cohesive collection. Scattered throughout all manuscript holdings and assigned to various subject areas (linguistic, ornamental script, historical, scientific, theological and other manuscripts), the Oriental manuscripts have no specific focus, as they were added to the library rather randomly, either as gifts or acquired from Gießen scholars.

The Gießen collection greatly profited from the donations of several individuals, among them the Orientalist Johann Heinrich Majus der Jüngere (1688−1732) who bequeathed his extensive library to the university, and the lawyer Renatus Karl von Senckenberg (1751−1800) whose large donation of books in 1800 mainly comprised the considerable library of his father Heinrich Christian von Senckenberg (1704−1768, also a lawyer and Reichshofrat in Vienna) including a few Oriental objects. Other donors were the Orientalist Johann August Vullers (1803−1880) and the Gerichtsrat Dr. Friedrich Noellner (1806−1870) who is associated with several pieces, such as the Tibetan and Manchurian scroll that is missing today and the Chinese manuscript that is still in the collection. With the three palm-leaf manuscripts from Sri Lanka, the last Oriental manuscripts were added to the holdings shortly after 1900. If the provenance of the objects is known, this is noted in the metadata of the digital copies.

There is no separate catalogue. Records of the Oriental manuscripts are available in the following catalogues:

Adrian, Johann Valentin:

  • Catalogus mansucriptorum Bibliothecae Academicae Gissensis , Frankfurt am Main 1840.
  • Additamenta ad catalogum codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Academicae Gissensis , Gießen 1862.
  • Katalog der Nachträge zum Gießener Handschriftenkatalog von Adrian (1840) 1840-1952 und der Anmerkungen zu den Handschriften 1840-1975, Gießen 1976.