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Xinjiang Islamic manuscripts collection

Identifier: ubl166

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises twenty-nine Islamic manuscripts acquired in Kashgar, Yarkand, Yangi Hisar and Turfan in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. On the basis of the texts and the physical appearance of the manuscripts, however, it appears that part of them originate from major centres of Islamic learning further West, such as Samarqand and Bukhara. One manuscript belongs to the ethnic Chinese Hui tradition.

The little collection appears to reflect the religious interests of the educated elite of the region with texts on Islamic dogma, exegesis of the Qur’an, fiqh, Friday sermons, prayers, Sufi poetry, Arabic grammar and astronomy. It would not be too far-fetched to assume that the manuscripts were used in the curriculum of local madrasas until the early decades of the twentieth century. The languages used are Arabic, Persian and Eastern Turkic. There is a marked preponderance of Turkic in the manuscripts of Xinjiang origin as compared with the manuscripts from the Samarqand-Bukhara area.


  • Creation: 1795-1901

Language of Materials

Arabic, Persian, Eastern Turkic ('Turki')

Conditions Governing Use

Regulations that apply during the use of these materials can be found on the website of Leiden University Library.

Biographical / Historical

Frederick de Jong (b. 1944) was from 1988 to 2009 professor of Islamic languages and cultures at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

De Jong’s career is marked by his profound interest in Islamic mysticism, not only in the 'heartland' of Islam, but also in what is sometimes referred to as the 'periphery' of the Islamic world. His initial publications are on Sufi orders in Egypt, but later on he focused his attention on the Islamic tradition of Xinjiang. As a by-product, he published a conversation manual and a grammar of the New Uyghur language.


29 items (1 metre)

Abstract in Dutch

Een collectie van 29 islamitische handschriften, verworven door Frederick de Jong, hoogleraar Islamitische talen en cultuur aan de Universiteit van Utrecht, in de Xinjiang Uygur autonome regio (Volksrepubliek China) gedurende zijn reizen in de periode 2001-2008.

Abstract in English

A collection of 29 Islamic manuscripts, acquired by Frederick de Jong, professor of Islamic languages and cultures at Utrecht University, in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region (People’s Republic of China) on his travels between 2001 and 2008.

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

The bibliographic records of the manuscripts can be found in the Leiden online catalogue. The easiest way to access them is by shelfmark.

Custodial History

De Jong acquired the collection during his travels in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region (China) between 2001 and 2008.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was purchased in December 2009, with a partial grant from the Friends of Leiden University Library.


No future additions are expected.

Related Materials

The collection Xinjiang Islamic Manuscripts is part of the larger collection of Oriental and Islamic manuscripts of Leiden University Library.


  • Scheper, K. & A. Vrolijk, Made in China. Physical aspects of Islamic manuscripts from Xinjiang in Leiden University Library, in: Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 2 (2011), p. 50-69.


Individual items from the collection can be requested at the Special Collections Reading Room by submitting the appropriate classmark (Or. 26.657 – Or. 26.685).

Processing Information

After its receipt, the collection was registered under classmarks Or. 26.657-Or. 26.685. The manuscripts were catalogued by Arnoud Vrolijk.

In the summer of 2010 Karin Scheper presented the collection at the annual conference of TIMA (The Islamic Manuscripts Foundation) held in Cambridge (UK), focusing on the bindings and other physical aspects of the manuscripts and their role in establishing the collection’s provenance.

In the autumn of 2010 the collection was packed in made-to-order boxes in anticipation of further conservation measures.

The only manuscript of Hui origin, a takhmis on al-Busiri’s Burda, was extensively cleaned in 2010.

Collection guide of the Xinjiang Islamic manuscripts collection (1795-1901)
Collectie Islamitische handschriften uit Xinjiang
Arnoud Vrolijk en Karin Scheper, 2010
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het Engels.

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

Witte Singel 27
Leiden 2311 BG Netherlands
+31 71 527 2857