In March, the Institute held a book launch to celebrate the publication of Ismaili and Other Arabic Manuscripts by Delia Cortese. This important work forms a supplement to the two-volume catalogue of Arabic manuscripts produced by Adam Gacek in 1984 and 1985. Adam Gacek was the Librarian at the Institute at that time. Since then the Library has made a considerable number of new acquisitions in Arabic and Delia Cortese’s catalogue brings things up to date with listings of a further 188 manuscripts. The majority of these belong to Fatimid and post-Fatimid Yemeni literature including manuscripts by significant and hitherto unknown authors from Syria.
Dr. Cortese completed her first degree in Oriental Studies at the University of Naples, following this with a doctorate on the eschatological doctrines of the Persian Ismailis from their origins to the 9th/15th century. Delia Cortese is currently a Lecturer in Religious Studies at Middlesex University and is undertaking a further catalogue for the Institute Library of the Zahid Ali collection of over 225 Arabic manuscripts from the 8th to the 20th centuries. This should be available in 2001.
The launch party was attended by about 80 distinguished guests, many of them from the leading libraries such as the British Library, the Bodleian Library Oxford, Cambridge University Library, the Wellcome Institute, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and al-Furqan Foundation to name but a few. Representatives from leading specialist book dealers such as Bernard Quaritch and a wide representative cross-section of Governors, staff and students from the Institute were also present. Prof. Azim Nanji welcomed visitors and Dr. Duncan Haldane outlined the importance of this catalogue both to the Library’s current work and its relevance to future developments.
Guests were able to enjoy an accompanying exhibition of 30 manuscripts almost entirely of works catalogued by Delia Cortese as well as an opportunity to view some other manuscripts such as an interesting two volume copy of the Qur’an from Badakhshan dated 1104 AH/1693 CE.