The total number of the Muslim collection (in Arabic, Persian and Turkish/Turkic languages) is more than 3,000 volumes, of which Persian manuscripts are about one third, in a wide range of subjects. Among the most interesting are copies of the Shahnama by Firdausi, illustrated with 29 miniatures, in the first Turkish prose translation by Medhi, dedicated to sultan Osman II (1618-22), the autograph of Shah Tahmasp’s horoscope (26 Dhu 'l-Hijja 919/22 February 1514) by 'Ali b. Husain al-Kashani, a richly illuminated Divan of Sa'di, copied in Rabi' II, 919/June 1513, and many others.The Persian and Arabic manuscripts formed the basis of the collection of St Petersburg Imperial University, when these first Oriental languages started to be taught in 1816. In 1819, the Oriental Department of the University library was established, where about one hundred rare books and thirty five manuscripts were transferred from the Oriental Department of the Museum of Peter the Great (Kunstkamera). The next great acquisition occurred in October 1854, when the Faculty of Oriental Languages was opened at the Imperial Saint Petersburg University. However, this event met some very significant obstacles, chiefly that the newly opened Faculty in the capital was expected to replace the corresponding departments in several provincial institutions, namely Kazan University, Richelieu lyceum in Odessa and the First Kazan gymnasium.By 1858, all these three collections were transferred to the Oriental Library of Saint Petersburg University, where the part previously belonging to A.Kazem-bek (1802-70), former professor of the Kazan University and the first head of the Faculty of Oriental Studies of St Petersburg University, was and still is one the most significant and valuable.During the following decades the collection increased in different ways, mostly by donations or acquisitions. The repertoire of the books to be bought in Persia, Central Asia (Turkestan) or India, where students and professors were sent with the financial support of the University, did not depend only on their personal interests. The lists of possible new acquisitions were discussed by the Faculty committee, approved and then delivered to the researchers. Such lists were known in all significant book bazaars in Isfahan, Teheran, Bukhara, Tashkent, Khiva, Bombay, Calcutta and elsewhere. The gradual growth of the collection continued until the revolutionary events of 1917. After that, during the period before the Second World War, when all state educational and research institutions suffered the hardships of political influence and changes in academia, the collection survived, and was even enriched with several items, which came to the library after chaotic and very often unknown expropriations of private collections. At the moment, the only published information about the collection can be extracted from three hand lists, published by Carl Salemann and Baron Victor Rosen in 1888, by Alexander Romaskewitz in 1925 and by Abdurrahman Tagirdjanov in 1967. Professor Tagirdjanov was compiling the catalogue raisonné of the Persian collection, but managed to publish only its first volume on history and geography, in 1962. Since then, no further work was attempted for more than 30 years, until a new cataloguing project currently being directed by Dr F. Abdullaeva, of the Iranian Philology Department, together with Mrs Deryagina, head of the Manuscript Department, Oriental Library, Saint Petersburg University.
Bibliography: C.Salemann, V.Rosen. Indices alphabetici Codicum Manuscriptorum Persicorum Turcicorum Arabicorum qui in bibliotheca Imperialis Literarum Universitatis Petropolitanae adservantur. Petropoli. A.D. MDCCCLXXXVIII.A.Romaskewicz. Indices alphabetici Codicum Manuscriptorum Persicorum Turcicorum Arabicorum qui in bibliotheca Imperialis Literarum Universitatis Petropolitanae adservantur. Supplementum. Leningrad. A.D. MCMXXV.