Rekhta: An open access collection of sources on Urdu language & literature

Rekhta.org is a free website established by Rekhta Foundation to promote and disseminate Urdu literature with a focus on Urdu poetry. The website’s content consists of texts in Devanagari and Roman scripts as well as Urdu script.

This website provides access to a large and unique online repository of Urdu Poetry with more than 30,000 Ghazals and Nazms authored by over 2,500 Urdu poets from the last three centuries.

For the purpose of preserving rare and popular Urdu books, Rekhta initiated the digitization of Urdu literature, both poetry and prose.

Rekhta.org “has a large number of features that make it extremely user-friendly and provides the reader unparalleled convenience in the ability to browse, search and find relevant content with its customized powerful search facility. It also has the unique feature of an in-built glossary that provides the meaning of every word at just a click. In order to give the uninitiated reader a flavour of the diction and pronunciation, a large number of compositions have been recorded in the voice of poets and professionals and have been provided along with the text.”

Moreover, Rekhta has recently presented the complete works of two great Urdu Poets, Mir Taqi Mir and Mirza Ghalib, as well as all Saadat Hasan Manto’s short stories.

Another section that was added recently is Rekhti, which is Urdu Shayari composed by men employing women’s language.

The interface is available in English, Hindi and Urdu.

Exhibition: Treasures from the McGill Library Ottoman Manuscripts Collection

Morrice Hall Islamic Studies Library, 1st floor, 3485 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0E1, CA

Established in Anatolia in the 13th century, the Ottoman Empire progressively expanded its domination to the Balkans, parts of Southeast and Central Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, and North Africa. At the beginning of the 17th century, the empire ruled over 32 provinces, and a population of approximately thirty million. Encircling the Mediterranean, with Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) as its capital, this incredibly powerful state remained at the center of interactions between the East and the West until 1922. The Ottoman Empire was a region of great demographic diversity including various ethnic, linguistic and religious groups; Arabs, Persians, Turks, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Christians, Sunni and Shi‘i Muslims, among others all inhabited the area under Ottoman rule. Although the language used for official communication was Ottoman Turkish (Turkish written in Arabic script), Arabic –used for administrative, religious, literary and educational purposes–, and Persian –limited to literature and education– were also official languages. Earliest examples of Turkish illuminated manuscripts were produced in the period of the Anatolian Seljuks (13th century). Throughout the centuries, Ottoman scribes and bookbinders developed an Ottoman style of book decoration characterized by the fusion of divergent influences such as Byzantine, Mamluk, Persian, and Chinese.

This exhibition provides beautiful examples of traditional Ottoman handicrafts such as calligraphy (hat), illumination (tezhip), bookbinding (cilt), and paper marbling (ebru), and reflects book art trends of the period and region dominated by the Empire. The selection of manuscripts wouldn’t have been possible without the descriptions provided in two articles about McGill Library’s collections of Ottoman-Turkish manuscripts* and of Qur’anic Codices** authored by Dr. Adam Gacek.

The exhibition was, curated by Anaïs Salamon, Head of the Islamic Studies Library, with the assistance of Jillian Mills and Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian, Senior Library Clerks.

* Gacek, A., and A. Yaycioğlu (1998). “Ottoman-Turkish Manuscripts in the Islamic Studies Library and Other Libraries of McGill University.” Fontanus, vol. 10, 41-63.

** Gacek, A. (1991). “A collection of Qu’anic Codices.” Fontanus, vol. 4, 35-53.