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Ethiopian Manuscripts in the National Library of Russia

Study of Ethiopian Manuscripts in Russia

The study of Ethiopian manuscripts began in the first half of the 19th century. It has developed into the domestic science of the language, history and culture of the historic Ethiopia, that is now part and the pride of the St. Petersburg School of Oriental Studies. At the same time, there was issued the first description of nine Ethiopian manuscripts, compiled and published by Academician Bernard Dorn, Director of the Asiatic Museum and later a librarian of the Imperial Public Library (Dorn B. Ueber die a ethiopischen Handschriften der öffentlichen Kaiserlichen Bibliothek zu St.-Petersburg (lu le 26 octobre 1837) // Bulletin scientifique publié par l’Académie Impériale des Sciences de Saint-Pétersbourg, Saint-Pétersbourg; Leipzig, 1838. T 3. Сol. 145-151). The same descriptions were included in the Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts and Block-prints of the Public Library, published under the editorship of B. Dorn ( Dorn B. Catalogue des manuscrits et xylographes orientaux de la Bibliothèque Impériale Publique de St. Pétersbourg, St. Pétrsbourg, 1852). Academician, Professor of St. Petersburg University P.K. Kokovtsov described 23 Ethiopian manuscripts received by the library before 1889 (Kokovtsov P.K. Short Сommentary on Ethiopian Manuscripts of the Imperial St. Petersburg Public Library // Proceeding of the Eastern Branch of the Imperial Russian Archaeological Society, St. Petersburg, 1889. Vol. 4, pp. 106-111).

In the 20th century, two fundamental descriptions of the St. Petersburg collection of Ethiopian manuscripts were compiled. In the third volume of «Ancient Ethiopian Written Records», Professor of St. Petersburg University, B.A. Turaev published a catalogue of «Ethiopian Manuscripts in St. Petersburg», which contains 28 manuscripts of the Imperial Public Library, as well as one from the collection of the Imperial Society of Lovers of Ancient Literature and 24 books from St. Petersburg Theological Academy (B.A. Turaev. Ethiopian Manuscripts in St. Petersburg. Ancient Ethiopian Written Records; III. SPb., 1906. T. 3).

V.M. Platonov included in his catalogue 5 manuscripts and a description of the scroll which, at the time, belonged to S.B. Tchernetsov, but now stored in the our library (V.M. Platonov. Ethiopian Manuscripts in the Collections of St. Petersburg. Catalogue. SPb., 1996). Since 1996, the collection of manuscripts was enriched with another 6 manuscripts, 5 of which were not included in the above mentioned publications. Two of them were listed in the catalogue of the new acquisitions of the Manuscripts Department, which was published in 2004 (New Acquisitions of the Manuscripts Department of the NLR (1994-2000). Catalogue. Part 2. St. Petersburg, 2004, pp. 234-235).

In addition, the Ethiopian manuscript collection of the NLR was actively examined by S.B. Tchernetsov and V.M. Platonov who for many years worked at the National Library of Russia as a librarian. This study has been reflected in a number of articles dealing with the Ethiopian manuscripts in St. Petersburg (V.M. Platonov, S.B. Tchernetsov. Ethiopian Manuscript Book // Handwritten Book in the Culture of the East. The first book. Moscow, 1987, pp. 201-240. (Series «Culture of the East. Materials and Research»); V.M. Platonov. Notes on Ethiopian Manuscripts. I: Five Undescribed Ethiopian Manuscripts of the SPL // Oriental Collected Articles [SPL]. L., 1990. Vol. 4. Pp. 80-84; V.M. Platonov. Ethiopian Synaxarion for the First Half of the Year (Eph. n. p. 23) as a cource on the history of Eastern Ethiopia, // Oriental Collected Articles [SPL]. St. Petersburg. 1993). Issue 5. Pp. 156-179).