Orientalisches Seminar, Seminarbibliothek mit Malaiologischem Apparat, Schiabibliothek und Max Freiherr von Oppenheim Stiftung


The Orientalisches Seminar of Universität Köln houses the manuscripts of the Max Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung which had survived the Second World War unscathed, as well as the institute’s own manuscripts, which were acquired by Professor Abdoldjavad Falaturi (1926−1996) during his travels. The two collections comprise a total of 581 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Syriac, Coptic and Ethiopian. The Islamic manuscripts in both collections cover all the major areas of religious and secular scholarship.

Collection history

Werner Caskel (1896−1970), the first professor at the Seminar in Cologne, had been in the 1920s an employee of the Orient-Forschungsinstitut in Berlin, which was founded by Max Freiherr von Oppenheim and transformed into a foundation in 1929.

When acquiring manuscripts, von Oppenheim did not only pay attention to thematic diversity and rarity, but also to the variety of script types and ornamental design. Of the total of 266 manuscripts that Professor Falaturi acquired for the Seminar, the majority come from Iran. Since Shiite manuscripts tend to be underrepresented in European collections, the manuscripts of the Oriental Seminar are of particular importance. Since 1996, a systematic description of the manuscripts has been carried out within the framework of the KOHD project.


  • Beate Wiesmüller, Islamische Handschriften, Teil 4, Handschriften der Max Freiherr von Oppenheim Stiftung (Kölns), Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 2005 (VOHD, Band XXXVII,4).
  • List arranged by languages and collections