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Red Terror against Islamic Manuscripts: The Case of the Manuscript Collection of Salmān Mumtāz

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This paper discusses the communist repression against manuscripts and their owners in Azerbaijan. It focuses in particular on the lost manuscript collection of the philologist, writer, and collector, Salmān Mumtāz (1884–1941). His desire for knowledge, together with his proficiency in a dozen or so languages, and his social status as a merchant brought him into possession of a valuable manuscript collection, which became famous beyond Azerbaijan. Upon his arrest in 1937 as an ‘enemy of the state’, his manuscripts were confiscated and subsequently lost within the walls of the offices of the NKVD, the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, the Communist Secret Police. In the present paper, a first attempt is made to determine the contents of Salmān Mumtāz’s library. The attempt is based on his research on Azerbaijani literature in general and the archival materials of the KGB in particular. More specifically, it examines the criminal case file concerning Salmān Mumtāz, which includes attestations of contemporary scholars and family members about his library as well as a partial list of the contents of his collection.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Oriental Studies, Baku State University, Baku, Azerbaijan


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