Collections and services

The Orient and eastern collections

Books and manuscripts in oriental languages, books on the Orient, and oriental images.

Orient and eastern collections: manuscripts

Portrait of Murasaki Shikibu. Part of Onna Kasen-e. Portraits of immortal poetesses. Kanbun period (1661-1673)

Portrait of Murasaki Shikibu. Part of Onna Kasen-e. Portraits of immortal poetesses. Kanbun period (1661-1673)

The eastern collections held at the Richelieu Library (Site Richelieu) include manuscripts in more than a hundred ancient and modern languages.

These are among the world’s most important collections in terms of their diversity, quality, and size, and are continuing to grow. 

They are characterized by the following:

  • a variety of forms and media: codexes, rolls, bone fragments, palm leaves, parchment, paper, etc.
  • around a hundred different languages and alphabets: Africa, North and South America, from Anatolia to Nepal, and from Malaysia to Japan 
  • ancient languages: ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, Syriac, Sabean, Samaritan, etc.

They represent a rich pool of sources for studying the history, literature, languages, iconography, and religions of these cultures.

The most valuable collections include the following:

  • Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit, etc. manuscripts brought back by Paul Pelliot (10,000 pre-11th century pieces), a few very old stampings and xylographic books (printed in relief using engraved wooden plates), and a Chinese language collection
  • fragments of the Dead Sea manuscripts 
  • manuscripts in Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopian, Hebrew, Persian, Syriac, and Turkish purchased by emissaries to the Levant as far back as the 16th century 
  • 17th century illuminated Japanese manuscripts (Nara ehon
  • illuminated manuscripts of the Maqamat of Hariri (Arabic), the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi (Persian), the Miraj Nameh (Turkish), the Hebrew Bible, etc. 
  • Egyptian papyri and inscriptions from the pyramids 
  • orientalists’ collections (Asselin de Cherville, Antoine d’Abbadie, Marcel Griaule, etc.)
Digital resources

Thursday, July 31, 2014

See also


Where to consult the documents ?

Manuscripts Department

Ask a librarian

SINDBAD is a free virtual reference service providing document references and factual information. Ask a librarian (SINDBAD)