The ruler of Sharjah, a mega city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has donated 12,000 rare books on Islamic arts - some books as old as 100 years - to the Emirate's House of Wisdom (HOW). These publications will soon be available to the readersonline.
According to reports in UAE’s local newspapers, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, recently acquired the personal library of the German Couple German Professor Richard Ettinghausen and Dr Elizabeth Ettinghausen. He then donated it to the HOW. The German couple are the most renowed writers on Islamic Art and Culture and architechture.
The collection houses titles written in more than 10 languages, including Arabic, English, German, Japanese, Urdu and Russian.
The big donation from Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has contributed to enriching the local and regional libraries and institutions, and to position HOW as a well-known destination for researchers.
HOW, a state-of-the-art library, is the UAE's new cultural building to be named the UNESCO World Book Capital 2019 of Sharjah.
His library includes books written in more than 10 languages, including Arabic, English, German, Persian, Japanese, Urdu, French, Spanish, Turkish, Russian and Italian. It is full of rare research on art in the Arab and Islamic world, including Turkey, Iran, India and Spain.
Several limited editions that are over 100 years old have also been added to the new collection.
One of the prized possessions is a rare 1888 edition of Hazar Kitab-e Mustab-e Wasaya-Yi Khwajah Nizam al-Mulk, written by the Persian vizier Abu Ali Hassan ibn Ali Tusi, known as Nizam al-Mulk Goes. One of only two copies listed globally, this book is a treatise on governance and political science.
Other rare books are the 1898 large-style publication on Oriental glassware and Islamic decoration and jewelry by Gustav Schmoranz; and an original edition (1910), a very rare catalog on Islamic art and the decorative arts, titled Die Austelung von Mesterwerken Muhammednischer Kunst in München. The book was edited by Friedrich Sarre, a prominent German Orientalist and art historian, and the Swedish cultural historian and art collector F.R. Martin has done it. This collection will be unveiled in a special exhibition.
A team of experts at HOW is now classifying the books in the collection to be displayed in a special exhibition that will be open to researchers, book lovers and the general public. These will include high-value manuscripts and publications in various languages on the history of Islamic arts.
HOW director Marwa Al Akroubi expressed her gratitude to the Sharjah ruler, saying the new and rare collection is "a testament to the works of a wise leader who understands the true value of books".
One prized title in the collection is a rare 1888 edition of Haza kitab-i mustatab-i Vasaya-yi Khvajah Nizam al-Mulk, penned by Persian vizier Abu Ali Hasan ibn Ali Tusi, better known as Nizam al-Mulk. One of only two copies listed globally, this book is a treatise on governance and political science.
An 1898 large-style publication on Oriental glassware and Islamic decoration and ornaments by Gustav Schmoranz is another noteworthy title. An original 1910 edition, the book – titled Die Ausstellung von Meisterwerken muhammedanischer Kunst in Munchen – is edited by Friedrich Sarre, a prominent German Orientalist and art historian, and FR Martin, a Swedish cultural historian and art collector.
A team of specialists at the House of Wisdom is categorising the collection and preparing to present it in a special exhibition. A date for the exhibition has not been revealed yet but it will be open to the general public.
Thanking the Sharjah ruler for his gesture, Marwa Al Agroubi, director of the House of Wisdom, said his “unwavering support of books, authors and libraries” helped the emirate receive UNESCO’s coveted World Book Capital title in 2019.
"The House of Wisdom is a true representation of the title and the inspiring vision of Sharjah Ruler," she said.
Inaugurated in December, the library has more than 300,000 books across its 12,000-square-metre site.