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.

Fihrist: Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

FIHRIST is an evolving union catalogue, for 11,015 Islamic and other Middle Eastern manuscripts.

The collective holdings of the contributing Libraries of the UK are of substantial intellectual and cultural significance. All contributing libraries have been selectively collecting manuscripts from all subject areas, and of various geographical origins, dating from the 7th to the 19th century CE.

“FIHRIST is a free on-line catalogue for manuscript descriptions.

FIHRIST is not a digital Library”

FIHRIST developed from a pilot-project between Oxford & Cambridge to become               a UK-wide union catalogue. The catalogue is constantly growing in volume, as libraries and research projects are contributing manuscripts descriptions.

The union catalogue provides basic and advanced search options. One can search in English, Arabic or Hebrew by using the additional Keyboard in the search box. When using advanced search, more search options and a list of tips are made available to improve the search results.

In terms of manuscript availability, “if a digital copy of a works exists on-line, a link is provided and maintained by the institution holding the manuscript. To request digital copies, or contact the institution directly, you may use the field Comment on this record at the bottom of every description.” The level of details provided in each entry varies and are changing over time as research progresses.

Sample of an Entry

The user can browse the catalogue by:

  • Classmarks (also called shelfmarks, classification number, etc.)
  • Works
  • People (personal names)
  • Subjects (basic LC subject headings)

While browsing, limiters will varies to best suit each category. For instance, if the user chooses to browse the catalog by classmark, limiters such as language, century, physical form, materials, decoration, institution or collection are made available. Whereas if the user chooses to browse by works, institution & language are the available limiters.