Oriental collection

The Oriental collection consists of manuscripts, printed works, and other material originating in non-western language areas and cultures, mostly Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Color drawing of oriental warriors

With a few exceptions, the works in the Oriental collection are written in non-western languages like Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Turkish.

The collection closed for new acquisitions in 2012 and does not have any staff with linguistic or expert knowledge employed.

Access to the materials

The printed materials (books and magazines) are, with a few exceptions, registered in our catalogue and can be searched and ordered from our website. The material can either be borrowed or viewed in the Reading Room.

Manuscripts and other special types of material are to a lesser extent registered in our library system. They can only be ordered for viewing in the Research Reading Room in The Black Diamond

See How to find manuscripts for instructions on how to search and order materials from the collection.

Works that are mentioned in printed catalogues or other sources but are not registered in the library system can be ordered through Ask the Library.

Contents of the collection

In general, the collection can be divided into five main parts with associated language areas: the Near East (Arabic, Persian, Turkish, etcetera), Central Asia (Tibetan, Mongolian, etcetera), South Asia (Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil, etcetera), Southeast Asia (Pali, Thai, Sinhalese, etcetera) and East Asia (Chinese, Japanese, Korean).

Examples of particularly interesting groups of material are:

  • The approximately 100 manuscripts acquired by participants of The Arabian Journey (mentioned above), primarily F. C. von Haven (1727-1763). Some of these works are available in digital form.
  • 14 scrolls from Dunhuang in western China, acquired in 1915. They contain Buddhist texts from the first millennia A.D., some of which are found nowhere else. See the online edition from the International Dunhuang Project.
  • 33 manuscripts containing texts from Avesta and other sources to the Zoroastrian and later Persian religious tradition. These were acquired by Rasmus Rask (1787-1832) on his journeys to Persia and India. These are, to some extent, available online.