Manuscripts, calligraphy and seals

There are many digitised manuscripts available through universities and libraries. Here are a few that I have been told about-

The Yemen Manuscript Digitization Initiative- This is a combined project with Princeton Uni & Free University, Berlin. They have been digitising Yemeni manuscripts from private libraries and making them public.

The Islamic Manuscripts Collection at the University of Michigan. There are catalogue details, as well as some pictures up in the Hathi Trust Digital Library, which is where the images of the manuscripts can be located.

The Walters Art Museum- the Digital Walters. Not only are their Persian, Ottoman and Arabic manuscripts but also many European manuscripts.

Vivarium- The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library. This is the digitised collection from Saint John’s Abbey and University. This also includes their coloured microfiche collection.

MENALIB- The Middle East Virtual Library. This is run by State and University Library Saxony-Anhalt in Halle, Germany.

Chester Beatty Library has an interactive seal collection. If you know how to decipher seals, they are looking for your input!

Finally, for those wishing to learn Middle Eastern calligraphy, Calligraphy Qalam shows beginners how to do Arabic, Persian and Ottoman calligraphy.

Some carpet pages


This carpet page is from the Qur’an of Ibn al-Bawwāb, from 11th century Baghdad. It is currently in the Chester Beatty Library, where it has great zoom.

Made in 1153, this Arabic Qur’an has two carpet pages opening the book. Currently in the Harry Ransom Centre in the Books Before Gutenburg section.

A carpet page done by Arghûn Shâh, a well known painter in 1375. Possibly in Cairo (please let me know if you find an exact location).

This is a Jewish carpet page from 15th century Yemen (the date given in the binding is 1469). The first half of the book is a Grammatical introduction or Makhberet ha-Tigan and the second half is Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) with masorah magna and masora parva. It also has other carpet pages in Arabic-

This means that not only Jewish scholars worked on the book, but also Muslim scholars. It is currently in the British Library.
Bibliography
The Qur’anic Manuscripts In Museums, Institutes, Libraries & Collections.
An Introduction to Hebrew Manuscripts by Joseph Gutmann , Evelyn M. Cohen , Menahem Schmelzer , Malachi Beit-Arié. A lecture available to read from the NY Public Library. Via Fathom.
Arabic Art Forms in Spanish Book Production by the Bodleian Library.
Online Gallery: Sacred Texts by the British Library.
Observations on Illustrated Byzantine Psalters by John Lowden. JStor article.
Hebrew Manuscript Painting in Late Medieval Spain: Signs of a Culture in Transition by Katrin Kogman-Appel. JStor article.
Jewish Art and Non-Jewish Culture: The Dynamics of Artistic Borrowing in Medieval Hebrew Manuscript Illumination by Katrin Kogman-Appel. JStor article.

Other online manuscripts

Harvard University in their Open Collections Program, has made available over 280 works, covering language, medicine, literature, calligraphy etc. from many different regions, such as England, Albania, Egypt, Syria and Uzbekistan.

Open Collections Program.

Beautiful works fully digitized and search-able. Highly recommended for research.