Oriental Department, Legatum Warnerianum


The Oriental Department in the Library of Leiden University houses a considerable and varied collection of Oriental material, consisting of both handwritten and printed pieces, which originate mainly from the Middle East and Indonesia. Smaller collections from Japan, China and India and books and texts in Hebrew and Syriac also form part of the library. The library has been the depository of Oriental books and manuscripts from its very inception in 1586. The first voyage by the Dutch to the Indonesian archipelago, just before the end of the 16th century, resulted for the Leiden Library in the acquisition of a Javanese manuscript on palm leaves, which is now one of the very oldest in existence.

The continuous effort in collecting these materials led to the fact that by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the library already owned one of the main collections of Oriental materials in Europe. Material from the Far East and South Asia was acquired by the library in the course of the nineteenth century, albeit in more modest quantities than that which was collected from those regions where the Dutch traditionally had a greater commercial, political and colonial interest.

Steady purchasing on the international market, which is still being done despite financial strains, has enlarged the Oriental MS collection to its present-day size of some 23,000 pieces. This number can be multiplied many times to arrive at the number of printed materials, which constitute a fairly complete collection of the products of Oriental scholarship over the last four centuries.

Collections of photographs:

Not only Oriental books and manuscripts are deposited in our library. Also substantial collections of photographs were acquired during this century. Two larger collections are worthwile to be mentioned:
The photographs collected by Hotz.
The photographs of the Nederlands Oudheidkundige Dienst.

Research facilities

The catalogues of printed materials
The catalogues of manuscript materials

Other services concerning the Near East:

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Netherland Institute of the Near East
Department of Near Eastern languages and Cultures, Amsterdam (in Dutch)
Middle East Studies: WWW Virtual Library
Exhibition Dead Sea Scrolls
Oriental 'room' Vatican Exhibit