Russian Library is Rich in Turkish Literature'
Written by Yelena Teslova

Rare books of Turkish literature are featured in Turkish collection of Russian State Library in Moscow.

Home to nearly 45 million books in 247 languages, Russian State Library located in Moscow is known to be one of the three largest libraries in the world in its category. In the Eastern Civilizations Center of the library, the history of Turkish collection dates back to 1828, the year library was established. Among works Turkish authorities bestowed to Russia are 16 of the first 17 books published in Ottoman period. One of the richest sections in the library, Turkey collection currently features 15 thousand books, 17.500 magazines and archives of newspapers from 10 years ago. Documents concerning some historical events with signatures and notes of senior staff in Ottoman and Republic periods, are among collection items.

A copy of the first book with only 1000 copies printed by Ibrahim Müteferrika in 1729, is also featured in Russian State Library collection. The book ‘Kitab-ı Lügat-ı Vankulu’ in two volumes was written in the 10th century by İsmail Al-Cevheri and was translated into Turkish in the 16th century by Mudarris Mehmed bin Mustafa el Vani known as Vankulu. The first printed book which drew great attention in that period and immediately became sold out, is known to be the reference book for the clerisy of the period.

Another rare book in the library is ‘Tarih-i Hind-i Garbi’ by Emir Muhammed bin Hasanül Mes’udi, the first illustrated book published in the Muslim country. It still remains a mystery as to how Ibrahim Müteferrika managed to publish this book adorned with human and animal illustrations although Islam strictly forbids it.

Another notable work in the collection is ‘Cihannüma’ by Katip Çelebi. Although there are no illustrations in the original print of the book, the book presented to Russian Empire features numerous hand-painted illustrations and maps.

Today, Eastern Civilizations Center collaborates with Turkish Ministry of Culture and Turkish Embassy in Moscow to enrich its book collection even further.

About the author'

Yelena Teslova

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