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2000-2001 Visiting Fellows

Professor Amri Shikhsaidov
Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography
Daghestan Center of Russian Academy of Sciences

From 10th of October till the 25th of October 2000 I had been working in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (Princeton University Library) and studying the collection of arabic manuscripts, being in possession of Imam Shamil - the leader of the national-liberation movement in the 1820-1850s.

I became acquainted with nearly all manuscripts of this collections, with their contents, material and technical characteristics and made general description of the manuscripts and necessary extracts. I paid also attention to the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the manuscripts of different branches of science and the description of the most popular and significant works, spread in Daghestan in the XIXth-century.

Imam Shamil's manuscripts, kept in Princeton University Library (Garret Collection - Jahuda Section), includes more than 120 works on different fields of knowledge: Tafsir, Hadith, Arab grammar, Muslim Law (Shafi'i mazhab), Sufizm, Muslim Cult, Theology, Logic, Poetry etc. The manuscripts are dated from the XIVth-century to the XIXth-century.

Shamil's collection of manuscripts appears before us as a valuable monument of Muslim culture and science characterized a level of education in the Medieval Daghestan. Several manuscripts were copied by Imam Shamil himself and it shows a level and breath of his interests.

The peculiarity of the collection is that a great number of treatises belongs to Imam as-Safi'i juridical school. It contains also many sufi's treatises and the works of the Daghestanian authors of the XVII-XIXth centuries, who wrote in the Arabic languages, in that number formerly unknown.

The materials of the collection reflects the activity of Daghestanian medrese's and their founders in organization and duplicating of valuable manuscripts, the most popular and significant works, spread in Daghestan that time.

The Shamil's collection in the possession of Princeton University is unique and one of the largest and valuable monuments of Arabic Manuscript Culture of Daghestan and the Caucasus on the whole in the XIXth-century.

It is also a valuable source of Muslim Culture, reflecting a level of science and education in one of the provinces of Muslim World.

My work at this collection is part of the work of Daghestanian orientalists in creation of catalog of Imam Shamil's Library. We are planning also in the future to analyse the Manuscript Tradition of Daghestan in the XIXth-century.

We propose also to study the general questions of handwritten book culture in Daghestan (the copyists, the schools of copyists, the medrese and their role in spreading of Arabic manuscript culture, colofon, unwan, paper and so on). And we hope very much to continue our work in Princeton University Library once more.

Being a 2000-2001 fellowship winner, I'd like to thank Friends of the Princeton University Library Fellows for financial support, without which my arrival to the USA and my work at Princeton University would be impossible. I thank John Delaney, chairman of the Friends Fellowship Committee, Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, very much for their support and constant help in my work. Thanks to your help and support my work was successful and fruitful.


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