Institut für Iranistik / Institute of Iranian Studies Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
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Kulturwandel in Iran und iranisch geprägten Gesellschaften

Creation of a Catalogue of the Manuscript Fund of the Institute of History, Ethnography and Archeology, Qaraqalpaq Branch of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences

Finanziert durch die Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung
Projektleitung: Dr. Paolo Sartori

Project Description
The Institute of History, Ethnography and Archeology (henceforth IHEA) of the Qaraqalpaq Branch of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences holds the richest manuscript collection of Qaraqalpaqstan, an autonomous republic within the Republic of Uzbekistan. It has been described as be the result of a rather recent collection activity since the mid-1990s (cf. Ashirbek Muminov, “Fonds nationaux et collections privées de manuscrits en écriture arabe de l’Ouzbékistan,“ Cahiers d’Asie centrale, 7 (1999), 29). Since then, it appears that over the last decade the collection has been growing by embodying a few sister manuscript collections. In this respect, the efforts of the regional branch of the Academy of Sciences in the preservation of the Arabic-script sources should be emphasized as it has promoted a policy of unification of the manuscript collections, which led to the transfer of the items held at the Research Library (fundamental’naya biblioteka) of the Academy to the IHEA. Subsequent additions consisting mainly of private collections, which have been collected from the neighboring rayony (most notably from Chīmbāy and Khwāja-īlī), have subsequently enriched the collection thereby amounting to nearly 500 volumes (codices), each of which consisting of various works.
The core of the manuscript collection reflects the madrasa curricula of the 18th and 19th centuries. Its lion’s share is represented by Islamic juristic literature (uṣūl al-fiqh) since the dynasty of the Qunghrāts appear to have strongly promoted the establishment of madrasas everywhere in the region as well as patronized jurists in dispensing justice in accordance to sharīʿa among the local tribes. Indeed archival evidence gives, in this respect, a snap-shot of a top-down policy of promotion of sharīʿa among the Qazaqs and the Qaraqalpaqs.
The disciplines of Qur’anic exegesis (tafsīr), Arabic grammar, logics (manṭiq) and theology (kalām) appear prominently. A minor portion of the collection consists of Persian poetry. In addition, there are a few local histories on Khorezm and the Amu-Darya Province. These latter manuscripts deserve particular attention as the genre of “regional history” as such never really boomed in modern Central Asia as it had done in the Volga-Ural regions. In sum such collection should be considered as a tool indispensable for the historian of the cultural history of the region under the Qunghrāts as it apparently includes remnants of private libraries of local īshāns and madrasa instructors. The manuscript collections of the IHEA deserves attention also for other reasons. Indeed, it includes a substantial number of items penned during the Soviet period, most notably in 1950s and the 1960s. We can group these late holdings roughly as follows: a) religious texts in Arabic and Qaraqalpaq written in the 1950s and 1960s. The bulk of this corpus comprises a wide range of genres: prayers, exegesis (tafsīr), maqāmāt, risālas, and poetry; b) unpublished folklore literature, mainly Qaraqalpaq poetry (in Arabic script) showing major discrepancies with its later Cyrillic edition. Therefore, this collection can be used as a major source for the history of the transmission of Islamic culture in the immediate aftermath of the Stalin period in Qaraqalpastan. The unpublished folklore literature can, instead, serve the purpose of studying the production of a local Qaraqalpaq lore as it proves indispensable to find out what was originally fixed on paper and to what extent it differed from the edition appearing in Cyrillic later.







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