Islamic Art and the University Collections
The University of Cambridge houses world-class collections of Islamic art. Largely preserved in the University Library’s Rare Books Collection and the Fitzwilliam Museum (but with unique manuscripts in some of the college libraries), Cambridge’s Islamic works span multiple centuries, diverse geographies and media. Generously supported by the HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies, the principle drive behind the new research and outreach project is to make this vast and relatively underused collection accessible not only to the students of the university but also and much more urgently to the wider Cambridge community. Secondly, the project aims to collaborate with the University of Edinburgh’s Alwaleed Centre in outreach efforts through the work of research fellows in Islamic material and literary culture of the two institutions.
So far in 2018 Deniz has run several lectures in Cambridge’s museums and the Institute of Continuing Education, and began working with the University Library’s Yasmin Faghihi in planning a future Islamic Art exhibition in collaboration with the Edinburgh Alwaleed Centre. The exhibition will focus on the various Quran manuscripts, from miniature scrolls to lavishly illuminated under princely patronage, in the Cambridge and Edinburgh collections. It aims to coincide with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and will be housed in the Edinburgh University Library’s exhibition space and will later travel to the UL. The second aim of the collaboration is to include Edinburgh’s collections under the UK-based online Islamic manuscript database, Fihrist. The third and final aim is to correctly identify and catalogue an intriguing collection of late-eighteenth-century Ottoman manuscripts that have recently been acquired for the Edinburgh Library’s Special Collections. Below are photographs from the collaborative team’s first and remarkably fruitful meeting in Edinburgh hosted by Rachel Hosker and Tom Lea, where the team examined early Abbasid and Mamluk Qurans, and a collection of intimate manuscripts, Bible translations, and Turkish-language manuals that belonged to the Dickson family, Scottish missionaries that resided in Astrakhan in the early half of the nineteenth century.
First collaboration with our colleagues at Edinburgh
In early August Deniz went up to the Edinburgh Alwaleed Centre accompanied by Yasmin Faghihi from the Cambridge University library.
The aim was collaboration with colleagues from the Edinburgh centre in investigating and documenting items from the collection of Ottoman and Persian manuscripts held there.
The second meeting to better define the collaboration will take place in Cambridge on October 31, 2018.
For more on the outreach activities please see our outreach pages here.