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Made in China. Physical Aspects of Islamic Manuscripts from Xinjiang in Leiden University Library

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image of Journal of Islamic Manuscripts

Leiden University Library recently acquired a small collection of Islamic manuscripts from Kashgar, Yarkand, Yengi Hisar and Turpan in the Xinjiang autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. The twenty-nine manuscripts, collected in the first decade of the twenty-first century by Dr Frederick de Jong, emeritus professor of Islamic languages and cultures, appear to have been used in the curriculum of local madrasas until the early decades of the twentieth century.

Half of these manuscripts have physical characteristics that differ remarkably from what is generally perceived as an Islamic Central Asian binding. To establish whether there appears to be a local bookbinding tradition, and in what respect this tradition differs from the manuscript culture of dominant centres of learning in Central Asia such as Samarqand and Bukhara, the physical aspects of the manuscripts were examined and related to the origin of the text blocks. The comparison could be made at the hand of examples from the same collection that appear to have been produced in these cities.

Affiliations: 1: Leiden University Library Leiden The Netherlands, Email:; 2: Leiden University Library Leiden The Netherlands, Email:


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