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.
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
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.