The Special Collection of Altaic Literature in Goettingen

The Special Collection of Altaic Literature in Goettingen

Johannes Reckel

(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)

The University Library of Goettingen was founded in 1734. It houses many special collections of books and manuscripts from the Middle ages to modern times.

One of the special collections is the Georg von Asch Sammlung, collected by Georg v. Asch (1729 to 1807) over many decades and finally donated to Goettingen University. V. Asch was bom in St.Petersburg. He studied medicine in Germany (Tuebingen and Goettingen) and moved back to Russia in 1750 where he joined the Russian National Service as a doctor. Since 1771 he sent books, manuscripts, maps, ethnographic material such as native clothing, skulls etc. in large quantities to Goettingen University. He had close contacts not only with scholars in Goettingen, where he became a member of the Academy of Sciences, but he had similar contacts with Russian scholars. A large part of the collected material came from Siberia, Mongolia and China. Among this material are some Mongolian and Oirat documents, including a pater noster in Oirat. Alltogether there are 189 ethnological items, 176 printed volumes and manuscripts, 179 maps preserved today.

Since 1960s the State and University Library at Goettingen is collecting all modern publications in Altaic languages and about the Altaic speaking peoples. Goettingen thus has the largest collection of Korean books, including North Korean books in Germany, but also a very large collection of Uighur, Kazach, Kirgis, Mongolian and Oirat, Sibe and Manchu material from Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Manchuria. Among them is a complete Manchu Tripitaka in handmade prints from the original woodblocks as preserved in the Palace Museum in Peking. The only modern Manchu language newspaper the Chabchal Serkin from Ili is represented in bound volumes since 1980. We also collect modern schoolbooks in Uighur, Sibe, Mongolian etc.