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Caro Minasian

Collection of Persian and Arabic Manuscripts


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Citations to Standard Works
Standards for Manuscript Description
UCLA Near Eastern Collections
On-line Cataloging Project


  The Minasian Collection of Arabic and Persian manuscripts (number 1147) is one of the most extensive post-classical Islamic manuscript collections in the United States. The collection primarily consists of works related to the studies of theologians and scholars at centers of learning in Iran during the 17th and 18th centuries, and is especially notable for works of Shi?i theology, Arabic and Persian language and literature, and Islamic science and philosophy. The manuscripts mainly date from the 14th to the 17th centuries, but a substantial number are much older. Most are well preserved and many are exquisitely decorated with fine calligraphy and illumination. They include works written in Arabic and Persian, as well as many Arabic texts with Persian annotations.The collection contains both individual works and collections of treatises bound in single volumes (majm??as). These majm??as are especially important to the study of Iranian and Islamic intellectual history in general and to the study of Arabic and Persian philosophy, logic, and theology in particular. The majority are commentaries on, or refinements of, classical sources, but the collection is also rich in works of Shi?i theology and jurisprudence, tafasir, ?adith literature, lexicography, philology, poetry, the natural sciences, and practical arts such as equestrianism and cookery. They include works by such eminent scholars as al-Kullayni, al-?aduq, Ibn Babawayh, al-?uyu?i, Firuzabadi, Sa?di, Jami, Ibn Sina, al-?usi, Dawwani, Shaykh al-Baha?i, and Mulla ?adra. As a whole, the Minasian Collection reflects the diversity of scholarly endeavors and the development of intellectual trends in medieval Islamic thought, but the collection is especially valuable as a comprehensive view of the dynamics of Shi?i theology and the curriculum employed by Shi?i seminaries in the 17th and 18th centuries. It includes many unedited and unpublished works, autographs by major scholars, as well as unique copies of canonical sources that call for further study, comparison and editing.  The collection also includes a large number of royal, government, and legal documents--letters, decrees, and contracts of various types-- but these remain unstudied. This part of the collection may prove to be of unique importance for the study of the social, religious, and political history of Iran and Shi?ism, and to a lesser extent, of the Middle East in general.

  At the time of its acquisition in 1968, the Minasian Collection comprised about 600 Persian works in disciplines other than medicine (1), 120 Persian medical manuscripts , 120 Arabic medical manuscripts, 2000 Arabic works in disciplines other than medicine, 500 Turkish, 5 Urdu, 1000 Arabic and Persian majm??as.

   The majm??as were produced (that is, copied, collated, and bound) in the city of Isfah?n in Iran, which from the 16th to the 19th century was the most important center of Islamic learning in Iran, if not in the Near East in general. All of the manuscripts are written in black ink on hand-made papers of various types, thickness and sizes, usually with headings in red ink. Many retain their colophons. A considerable number have frontispiece illuminations and illustrations of the highest quality. Many calligraphic styles are used, but most manuscripts are written in Naskh, Nastal?iq or Shikastah. The collection also contains numerous examples of ornate leather bindings characteristic of the arts of the book during the post-classical period.Many of the manuscripts are in folio size, with carefully hand-stitched regular 8/16-folio quires, many are in the one-half folio size, and some in quarter folio size. Most are well preserved; a few show water damage, termite holes, and signs of heavy use, including marginal comments in both Arabic and Persian.


  Subjects covered by the manuscripts include the following:


The Minasian Collection records can be accessed from the Browse screen using "DP numbers." These are manuscript numbers in D?nish-Pazh?h, Mu?ammad Taq? and Ism???l ??kim?. Nuskah’h?-i kha???. vol. 11 &12. (corporate author D?nishg?h-i Tehran) Tehran: Kit?b’kh?nah-yi Markaz? va Markaz-i Asn?d (1980). This Persian-language catalog, which surveys all UCLA Near Eastern Collections and gives the titles of works in their original language, describes bound works in the collections in summary form.

 Reference is also made to the following standard works:

Abbreviation   Full Citation
?gh? Buzurg   ?gh? Buzurg al-?ihr?n?, Mu?ammad Mu?sin, 1875-1970. Dhar??ah ilá ta??n?f al-Sh??ah, ta?l?f Mu?ammad al-shah?r bi-al-Shaykh ?gh? Buzurk al-?ahr?n? (1936-1986).
(Fihristv?rah-?i figh)
  Danish’pazhuh, Muhammad Taqi.; Sharifi
Gurgani, Abu al-Fath,Publication: [Tehran] : Shirkat-i Intisharat-i
`Ilmi va Farhangi, vabastah bih Vizarat-i Farhang va Amuzish-i `Ali, 1989.
Storey   C.A. Storey, Persian literature; a bio-bibliographical survey (1958-1971)

Standards for Manuscript Description

Names, titles, and transliteration:  Names of authors and scribes and titles of works are transliterated following the principles of the Library of Congress, but all records contain names and titles in the vernacular language of the manuscript, whether Arabic or Persian. When vernacular forms of names have been abbreviated by custom, we give both the common and the longer form.

Dates:  Dates of manuscripts are always given in Hijr?, but life dates for authors (combined with the LC authority form of the name) often appear in C.E. form. A small number of Armenian and Persian manuscripts in the Minasian Collection have C.E. dates. When a manuscript has no date it is marked "n.d."

Attribution:  Texts in the Minasian Collection are frequently commentaries on classical sources, and that fact is noted in the record abstract whenever the primary source can be identified. The author of the text is frequently the commentator, but other roles such as scribe are given, following 3-character relator codes in conformity with MARC standards. When no personal name appears in the manuscript, the record is marked "unknown."

 Descriptive Metadata: Records follow the Dublin Core standard for descriptive metadata. Selection and use of elements is shown in the sample record below:

Creator   Romanized form.
    Vernacular form (Persian or Arabic).
    Other names by which the creator is commonly known.
Contributor   References the manuscript number and page in the D?nish'pazh?h catalog.
Date   Date on which the manuscript was completed (in Hijr?)
Description   Abstract characterizes the work, noting whether any portions of the text are missing.
    Citations to standard reference works.
    Microfilm number.
Format   Number of folios.
Identifier   Corresponds to the number of the manuscript, and divisions made for individual works within that manuscript.
Language   Language and script.
Rights   UCLA Library: Special Collections
Source   box and manuscript number.
Subject   Library of Congress subject headings.
Title   romanized form.
    vernacular form.
Type   manuscript or work.

UCLA Near Eastern Manuscript Collections

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Near Eastern Collections Cataloging Project

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(1) Persian and Arabic medical manuscripts from the Minasian Collection are now held at the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library(Collections 1117 and 1062) and have been microfilmed as part of a National Library of Medicine preservation project. See:

A.Z. Iskandar. A Descriptive List of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1984.

Lutz Richter-Bernburg. Persian Medical Manuscripts at the University of California, Los Angeles: A Descriptive Catalogue. Malibu, Undena Publications, 1978.

(2) For studies of Yahya Ibn Habash Suhrawardi and the Illuminationist tradition, see The Book of Radiance: A Parallel English-Persian Text (Bibliotheca Iranica. Intellectual Traditions Series; No. 1), edited and translated by Hossein Ziai; Hossein Ziai, Knowledge and Illumination: A Study of Suhrawardî's Hikmat al-Ishrâq. Brown Judaic Studies 97; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990. Pp. xi, 223; and "Source and Nature of Authority: A study of Suhrawardî's Illuminationist Political Doctrine." In, The Political Aspects of Islamic Philosophy, edited by Charles Butterworth. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992, pp. 304-344.