Minassian Islamic Leaf Collection

Over the past dozen years, Library renovation, space reallocation, and staff changes have led to the fortuitous rediscovery of valuable materials acquired long ago, even before Rare Books and Special Collections moved to the newly completed Firestone Library in 1949. One such rediscovery is a collection of early Qur’ānic and Persian decorated manuscript leaves (19 items), dating from the ninth to eighteenth centuries. Below one can see one of the nineteen: a bifolium of an early Qur’ān written on parchment in Kufic, the oldest of Arabic calligraphic scripts. Krikor Minassian (1874-1944), a New York dealer in Islamic manuscripts and Near Eastern art, probably assembled this collection by the late 1920s or 1930s and donated it to Princeton around 1940. The Library accessioned it in May 1945 (AM 13658). Minassian was a native of Kayseri, Turkey, and remained active in the international market for decades. He formed other Islamic leaf collections, which are in various American libraries, such as the Library of Congress and Brown University’s John Hay Library. It is likely that particular leaves in the Princeton collection were from the same manuscripts as those in these collections. The Minassian Collection has been rehoused and designated Islamic Manuscripts, Third Series, no. 885. When cataloging has been completed, it will be digitized and added to the growing Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts. At least a dozen additional Islamic manuscripts were found along with the Misassian leaves. For more information, contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, dcskemer@princeton.edu

Kufic bifolium

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