The Royal Library of Denmark: Oriental digitized materials

The Oriental Collection

The Oriental collections in The Royal Library of Denmark comprise manuscripts, block prints, and printed books in languages of Asia and North Africa. A total of 5.000 items  from the 10th century forward. The collections are acquired for research in language, religion, and culture in its widest sense, including history.

Digital editions from the Oriental Collections were chosen for their beauty, rarity, calligraphy, bindings etc.

These materials are made available online and are subdivided into the following groups:

Digitized Arabic materials
  • Qur’an and other religious texts
  • Shafi’i fiqh
  • Shi’a works
  • Linguistics
  • Literature
  • History
  • Medicine and natural science
  • Magic
  • Printed books: literature

الاصول – Geometry

تصوير صور الكواكب – Astronomy

Digitized Persian materials
  • Manuscripts
  • Avesta and Pahlavi
  • Printed books

Rivayat – Ceremonial rites

Digitization of Urdu manuscripts
  • Narrative work in rhyming couplets
  • Qissai Benazir aur Badremunir or Sihr al-bayan by Mīr Ghūlam Hasan Dihlī [1727-1786 CE] (Copy from 1829 with illustrations)

Narrative work in rhyming couplets قصه بى نظير و بدر منير

Japanese manuscripts
Tibetan manuscripts
Mongolian manuscripts
Indian manuscripts
Sinhalese manuscripts
Oriental visual art

 

Availability
The manuscripts can be made available at Reading Room West, after previous arrangement (e-mail: kontaktbiblioteket@kb.dk)

Copies, photographs etc.
Requests for slides, scans and other types of reproductions should be directed to The Photographic Studio. Permission to reproduce is normally given, provided that it is for a non-commercial purpose and The Royal Library is duly credited.

Ajam Media Collective

We aim to re-imagine publishing, telling new stories of West Asia and its diasporas through essays and emerging research.

Launched in 2011, Ajam Media Collective is an online forum designed to highlight representations of West Asia within Western media.

Ajam started as a blog for graduate students with an interest in West Asia. This is the collective effort of five people from different fields, ranging from academia to filmmaking, music and journalism. By employing diverse skills and knowledge, they provide greater access to the more complex and nuanced discussions and debates within in the academy in the region, which they refer to as Ajamistan. The underlining premise is that this region, while part of the Middle East, is under-represented in Western and online media.

Ajam in Arabic means ‘otherness’ and for this reason the term ‘Ajamistan’ was coined to refer to a geographical area from Turkey in the West and to Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Afghanistan and South Asia in the East. A common thread among these countries is the influence of Persianate culture and heritage present during the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal eras until the 18th to 19th centuries. In addition, since Persian was the language of culture and literature, these countries were influenced and continue to reflect various elements of Persianate culture.

 

“Ajam Media Collective is committed to uniting authors from various backgrounds and disciplines to promote diverse critical views on culture, politics, and society, emphasizing the region’s importance as a thriving cultural center whose multiple realities are too often obscured by the popular Western and global media.”

 

Therefore, this online platform focusses on covering cultural and society related matters in this region, as well as shedding light on contemporary and historical issues via informed analysis, by offering semi-scholarly resources from academics, activists and student input. Ajam also provides access to contemporary research and debates in various topics, such as, Urban Geography, Cinema, Gender Studies, literature, history and others.

Moreover, in order to offer a holistic insight and to cover the respective topics comprehensively, a diverse range of formats are used to present various topics and insights, such as podcasts, longer essays of film analysis, photo essays, blog articles and music. This vast range of information can be accessed by region as well.

The Arab Image Foundation

The Arab Image Foundation’s evolving collection contains more than 500,000 photographic objects. The work of over 250 amateur photographers and 700 professional photographers and studios, the objects date from the 1860s to the present day, and span 50 countries

Objects in the AIF collection reflect a range of genres and styles – including documentary, reportage, industrial photography, fashion photography, etc.

In 2016, the AIF embarked on a major drive to digitize its collection, which is housed in Beirut. Since then, 28,000 photographs from its collection have been digitized.

The new AIF website launched in May 2019 with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Beirut, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and The Ford Foundation.

  • Images of collection items (25,000 so far) are now available to access and use.
  • All website content is available to view without registering for an account. In the near future, users will be able to register to download or bookmark images.
  • The website’s fresh, user-friendly interface and improved search function.
  • An interactive online catalogue offering image tagging and commenting, and display options.
  • A lab for digital experimentation and online residencies.

AIF Collection.

Tour the Lab

Explore projects, events and more.

Engage with the AIF

  1. Guided visits of the AIF
  2. Resources, The AIF Library
  3. Internships & Volunteering
  4. Consultancy
  5. Residencies at the Arab Image Foundation

Image Use Guidelines

Image policy covers image use, privacy rights, crediting and more.

The Foundation hopes to generate critical thinking about photographic, artistic and archival practices, promoting its collection as a rich resource for research, reflection and the creation of new works, forms and ideas.

Pierre de Gigord collection of photographs of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey, 1853-1930

French businessman Pierre de Gigord compiled an important collection of Ottoman-Era photographs in the eighties while traveling in Turkey. This collection of more than 6,000 photographs taken by over 165 photographers documents the late years of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. The bulk of the collection is urban sites in Constantinople (Istanbul), the Balkans, Bursa and Smyrna (Izmir) as well as sites in Greece, Egypt, Palestine, India and China. In addition to photographs, the collection includes a few pamphlets and offprints about photography in the Ottoman Empire and a small collection of photographic ephemera. Pierre de Gigord collection of photographs now housed in the Getty Research Institute was recently digitized and made openly available to the public. The digitization project prioritized images from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (up to World War I).
A detailed finding aid available on the Getty Library website gives access to a descriptive summary, biographical and historical notes, a lengthy description of the scope and content of the collection as well as to a container list.

Individual descriptive records (see below) are very detailed showing at first sight if the material is accessible online and allowing to link directly to the digital images. They can be printed, saved, shared and cited directly from the database (export to RIS format, Bibtex, Endnote, Easybib, and Refworks).

Albums can be browsed and images viewed in a custom-made reader displaying one page/one image in the middle column, a clickable list of pages/images on the left-hand side, and a summary of the descriptive record on the right-hand side. Images can be downloaded, printed, enlarged up to actual size and turned left or right.

As in any digital collection use restrictions apply. If the website states that “digital images and files saved from this website should be suitable for most purposes”, more information is available on the Library Reproductions & Permissions page.

Islamic Painted Page

Islamic Painted Page is a huge free database of Persian, Ottoman, Arab and Mughal paintings, illuminations, decorated Qur’an pages, book bindings as well as figurative paintings in manuscripts, albums and on single pages. The Database covers examples of the painted page dating from about 700 to 1900 CE and from over 270 collections worldwide.

The database is the work of Stephen Serpell MA MSc, a graduate of Oxford who works in Ipswich, UK. The website has been made possible with support from Iran Heritage Foundation, The Islamic Manuscript Association, German Research Foundation DFG and the Centre for the Studies of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC)

Some interesting features of the Islamic Painted Page:

  • Database Hints: The database provides a toggle button show/hide DB search hints, 8 hints are displayed to facilitate the search process.

  • Searching: The database offers users several options to search: by picture description, by collection and accession number, by place and date, by original author and title, or within a publication.

Also on the homepage, users can click on Go to search form which is an advanced search, allowing them to use any combination of criteria.

Here is an example of a result page for search by picture description only.

  • Links: The database offers links to assist finding online images, but some collections are much more fully digitized than others. Links will only work for items that have been digitized.
  • Transliteration: The database offers users the option of fully-accented Library of Congress transliteration, or “Anglicised” IJMES). In many cases Arabic script versions are also included.
  • Definitions: a short list of descriptions used in entries and their meanings.
  • Resources: In MS Excel format, users can download collections list, authors and titles list and publications list. The database is still being expanded, so the lists will continue to grow.

Historical Maps of the Middle East in Open Access

Today we are highliting three online resources making freely accessible historical maps of the Middle East: Palestine Open Maps, the Perry-Castañeda Library Map collection, and The Afternoon Map.

Palestine Open Maps is a platform making available and searchable historical maps from the British Mandate of Palestine period (1920-1948). Materials come from a number of institutions like the National Library of Israel, the National Library of Australia, the David Rumsey Map Collection. The platform includes a large collection of 1940s survey maps in the public domain “covering the territory at scales of up to 1:20,000. It also offers great search and overlay capabilities highlighting the human, natural, and urban geography transformations over the past century. Initiated in March 2018 by Vizualing Palestine and Columbia University Studio-X Amman, Palestine Open Maps is now maintained and developed by Vizualizing Palestine in collaboration with individuals. More information about the platform, the map collection or terms of use can be obtained here.

Screenshot of the Palestine Open Maps platform, July 24, 2019.

The Perry-Castañeda Library Map collection at the University of Texas at Austin includes  over 250,000 maps among which a number of historical maps of the Middle East. If only 20% of the overall maps collection has been digitized so far, the effort to make more content available online is continued. Published between 1849 and 1973, The Middle East maps collection cover the Arab World, Turkey and Iran from 500 B.C. to the 1970s. Materials are listed alphabetically by name of locality, and accompanied by a brief description. They can be opened, downloaded or saved in PDF format. More information about the collection or terms of use can be obtained here.

Aleppo [Alep] 1912. From Palestine and Syria… Handbook for Travellers by Karl Baedeker, 5th Edition, 1912.

The Afternoon Map is an Ottoman-Turkish-Middle Eastern-Balkans cartography blog launched and maintained by Dr. Nicholas Danforth, Senior Policy Analyst at Bipartisan Policy Center. The purpose of this academic blog is to publish “original, visually appealing and intellectually engaging maps harvested from archives and libraries around the world.” Maps are systematically introduced and put in historical context, and can easily be downloaded and saved. In addition to historical maps, the blog includes “Home Made Maps” covering a broad range of topics like earthquakes death, folk song, food, borders or trains. Last, The Afternoon Map also posts “Non Maps” (pictural materials like posters or caricatures), and “Articles” on a variety of topics authored by the blog’s owner. For more information about the maps or terms of use, or to contribute to the blog, contact the author.

Screenshot of The Afternoon Map blog, July 25, 2019.

Islamic Manuscripts Scientific Initiative

The  Islamic Scientific Manuscripts Initiative (ISMI) is a collaborative project between researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (Germany) and McGill Institute of Islamic Studies in Montreal (Quebec, Canada) aiming at making available information on Islamic manuscripts in the exact sciences. As such it includes manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and other languages covering a broad range of topics like astronomy, mathematics, optics, mathematical geography, music, mechanics, etc.

Initiated in 1996, the project was over the years funded by numerous government agencies and private institutions. It is currently supported by the Canada Research Chair in the History of Science in Islamic Societies and Compute Canada.

The ISMI database gives access to authors, their works, and extant manuscript witnesses in the various fields of the sciences. links metadata with manuscripts images  When possible, digital images are made public. Designed to facilitate research on these materials, the database allows for great flexibility in cross-searching descriptive fields (author, title, place of production, dates, etc.). Alternatively, the database can be browsed by name, title, place of production but also repository, etc. Results always display as a list where items are clickable.

 When made public, scanned images display in a reader offering single page, double page or thumbnails view. Digital copies include photographs of the binding, flap, spine and page edges allowing for a better codicological understanding of the codex. “Unless otherwise noted all ISMI content can be used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: CC-BY-SA.”

Any questions and/or feedback can be sent to ismi-feedback@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de.

Mizan

The Mizan project is dedicated to promoting and supporting public scholarship and research on Muslim societies with focus on topics that are important to Muslims across the globe. The project’s intent is to provide academic resources and insights to the “informed public” on subjects of contemporary relevance to the Islamic world, from an unbiased, fair and academic perspective.

The Mizan digital initiative attempts to connect emerging Islamic global civilizations, histories, texts and cultural expressions of Muslim identities with a contemporary audience. In doing so, Mizan connects the past and the future by featuring visual culture, law, classical literature and dialogues with the popular culture of modern Muslim societies. Various Mizan projects explore the history of Muslim societies and Islamic cultures while seeking to remain neutral, that is, with no preference for any sectarian perspective or to any particular orthodoxy or orthopraxy.

Part of this project’s mission is to provide an open access, bi-annual journal featuring scholarly and peer reviewed articles, called the “Journal for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations”. This journal sheds light on various aspects of the Islamic world in a thematic fashion and with its first issue in 2016.

Moreover, short features are published every two weeks on the Mizan project’s website targeting more diverse audiences from the public to scholars and researchers in various fields of Islamic Studies. Stories and various aspects of popular culture in the Islamic World are explored in the Pop section of the site covering Video & Film, Graphic Arts, Music and performances and Politics, Fashion & Identity.

The Mizan project is able to provide full and free access to all its publications due to the support of the ILEX Foundation. An interactive platform offers public engagement via a dynamic annotation tool from which to record comments or questions.

Islamic Philosophy Online PHILOSOPHIA ISLAMICA

Islamic philosophy is an online resource dedicated to the study of Islamic Philosophy from Abbasid period to the present.

The website was started in July 2001 and contains hundreds of full-length books and articles on Islamic philosophy, ranging from the classical texts to modern works of Muslim philosophy. Materials are available in Arabic, English, French, German and Latin.

There are various areas to explore the website

  • Articles:  available either in PDF format or as a link
  • General: philosophy resources in PDF format or as a link
  • New publications
  • Philosophers:  a comprehensive list and resources of philosophers who contributed to Islamic philosophy (In chronological order)
  • Utilities: includes citation guide, online encyclopedias with articles on Islamic philosophy, date converter and local time

There is a separate sites for the following philosophers

Al-GhazaliIbn Sina, Ibn RushdIbn Taymiyahal-Kindial-FarabiMuhammad Iqbal.

The site was also a home to the Journal of Islamic Philosophy. This is the first journal born online dedicated to the study of Islamic Philosophy. For more information see the Journal’s page.

 

 

 

 

 

The site is also a home to site for Prof. Mashhad al-Allaf.

Online exhibition: “If Walls Could Speak: The History of Morrice Hall”

After displaying a physical and touch table exhibitions in the Winter of 2018, the Islamic Studies Library is pleased to launch the online version of If Walls Could Speak: The History of Morrice Hall. Accessible from the main page of our blog (see capture below), this online exhibition retraces the history of  Morrice Hall currently home to McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies (IIS), Islamic Studies Library (ISL), and Tuesday Night Café Theatre (TNC).

Using a mix of drawings, photographs, plans and maps, publications, and video, this online exhibition takes you through the history of the building since its construction in 1882: from Presbyterian College, to war hospital, to offices for the International Labour Organization during WWII, to a house for McGill University departments.

The original display was curated by y Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian (Senior Library Clerk, ISL), Jillian Mills (Senior Library Clerk, ISL) and Anaïs Salamon (Head Librarian, ISL) with the help of Gregory Houston (New Media & Digitization Administrator, Digital Initiatives) for the creation of the Touch Table exhibit.

This online version is the result of a School of Information Studies practicum student -Gabriela Cestero-‘s work in the Winter 2019, with the support of Ekaterina Grguric (User Experience and Digital Technologies Librarian, Digital Initiatives) and Gregory Houston (New Media & Digitization Administrator, Digital Initiatives).

Full page screenshot of the “Foundation” page, 2019.

Special thanks go to the McCord Museum, the Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives, and Library and Archives Canada for allowing us to publish photographs from their collections. Please note that copyright rests with them, and that any download or reproduction remains subject to their approval.