UAE: Soon, browse through ‘extremely rare’ 100-yr-old books at Sharjah library

Team KT/Sharjah
Filed on August 30, 2021
Supplied photo

These titles are part of the Sharjah Ruler's massive donation of 12,000 books to the House of Wisdom.

The Sharjah Ruler has donated 12,000 rare books on Islamic arts — including titles that are over 100 years old — to the emirate’s House of Wisdom (HoW). And these publications will soon be available to all.

This massive donation of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, is part of a continued drive to enrich local and regional libraries and institutions and position HoW as the go-to place for researchers and academics.

HoW, a state-of-the-art library, is the emirate’s new cultural edifice that celebrates Sharjah's Unesco World Book Capital 2019 title.

Sheikh Sultan’s HoW donation includes the private library of German Professor Richard Ettinghausen and his wife Dr Elizabeth Ettinghausen — two of the world’s most renowned researchers in Islamic arts and architecture.

Their library is home to titles written in more than 10 languages, including Arabic, English, German, Persian, Japanese, Urdu, French, Spanish, Turkish, Russian and Italian. It brims with rare research on arts in the Arab and Islamic world, including Turkey, Iran, India, and Spain.

Sheikh Sultan had acquired this private library for HoW to serve as an invaluable reference on the history of Arab and Islamic arts.

Several limited editions that are more than 100 years old have also been added to the new collection.

One of the prized items is a rare 1888 edition of Haza kitab-i mustatab-i Vasaya-yi Khvajah Nizam al-Mulk, penned by the 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.

Among other rare books are an 1898 large-style publication on Oriental glassware and Islamic decoration and ornaments by Gustav Schmoranz; and an original edition (1910), very rare catalogue on Islamic art and decorative arts titled Die Ausstellung von Meisterwerken muhammedanischer Kunst in München. The book is edited by Friedrich Sarre, a prominent German Orientalist and art historian, and F.R. Martin, a Swedish cultural historian and art collector.

Collection to be unveiled at a special exhibition

A team of specialists at the HoW is now categorising the collection’s books to be featured at a special exhibition, which 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.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, director of HoW, expressed her gratitude towards the Sharjah Ruler, stressing that the new and rare collection is ‘a testament to the deeds of a wise leader who understands the true value of books’.

“Due to the unwavering support of His Highness to books, authors, and libraries, Sharjah received Unesco’s prestigious World Book Capital title in 2019, in recognition of the emirate’s status, and its relentless efforts to instil the habit of reading and building individual’s capacities. The House of Wisdom is a true representation of the title and the inspiring vision of Sharjah Ruler,” she said.

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