Manuscripts Treasury Istanbul Turkey,
According to estimates, there are five hundred thousand manuscript books, most of them single editions, in Turkey’s libraries and museums. I do not think that any other country can boast of such an inheritance of manuscripts recording its own culture from the past. None of the world’s well-known libraries have a collection of manuscripts surpassing a hundred thousand, and even those that there are gathered from many countries, whereas Turkey has nearly half a million manuscript books which are all the work of her own artists. An unimaginable treasury of manuscripts, nearly all of which aro decorated with gold, and the writing, bindings, and miniatures of each book a masterpiece in itself. Not one resembles any of the others, each is a unique work of art. We are a nation of book lovers. In the past large libraries were opened for the benefit of the people. There the works of scholars, writers and poets were read and studied. These books were not only considered to be decoration but to be read and taught to others. Masters of several branches of art developed separately over the years, contributed to the making of one book: The calligraphers wrote it, the gliders decorated it with colored paints, and the bookbinders bound it. However, we have not made the good use of this treasury that it deserves. Instead of sitting down and studying them, we preferred to exhibit the books in museums and preserve them in libraries. Whereas the Europeans have translated many of our manuscripts works into their own language and published them, in many instances together with the original text. In recent years we too have taken a step forward. A program aimed at translating into modern Turkish basic works of Turkish culture or those written in the old Arabic script to present to the new generations has been started. The most extensive collections of manuscript books are in Topkapi Palace, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, the Suleymaniye and Beyazit State Libraries and Konya Mevlana Museum. The books in the Treasury, Ahmed the Third, Agalar Camii, Emanet, Baghdad, Revan Kosku and Sultan Resat Libraries are of great value for their calligraphy, bindings and gilding. Among these works are the Sehname, Hunername, Hamse-i Nizami, Fatih Album, Suleymanname, Semailname-i Ali Osman, Surname, Humayunname and many others, which are illustrated by such famous masters of Turkish miniature painting as Mehmed Siya’h Kalem, Nakkas Osman, Nigari, Naksi, Levni and Kalender. The books and albums in Topkapi Palace contain a total of 3,533 miniatures. It is like finding oneself in a paradise of books with their beautiful leather and lacquered bindings. It is impossible to decide whether to read them or caress them or look, ai them.
It is not enough to feel proud of these books, we should appreciate their value and make good use of these treasures.