The impressive collection of Bayerische Staatsbibliothek comprises approximately 20,000 manuscripts from all parts
of the Orient and Asia, including texts in Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopian, Burmese, Chinese, Georgian, Hebrew,
Japanese, Yiddish, Korean, Coptic, Manchurian, Mongolian, Pashtun, Persian, Sanskrit, Syrian, Tamil, Tibetan,
Turkish and Zend. Over centuries, the Oriental and Asian collections were built up continually, followed by a
systematic development since the nineteenth century. They represent a rich pool of important resources for
research and education, both nationally and internationally.
The beginnings of the Oriental collection go back as far as 1558, when Duke Albrecht V founded Münchner
Hofbibliothek, later known as Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, by purchasing the private library of Johann Albrecht
Widmanstetter (1506-1557), a highly educated diplomat and one of the pioneers of Oriental studies. As a result of
secularisation in the early nineteenth century followed by a targeted acquisition policy, the collection received
valuable additions, of which the extensive library of the Orientalist Etienne Quatremère (1782–1857) was the most
spectacular. At the beginning of the twentieth century, 157 manuscripts of the Glaser collection were purchased.
The Oriental collection largely escaped destruction during the Second World War and in the twentieth and
twenty-first centuries the expansion of manuscript and print holdings has been successfully continued.