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
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.