1902 Encyclopedia > Libraries > Libraries - Modern Libraries - India, Singapore, Netherlands East Indies, China and Japan

(Part 10)


Of Indian libraries it is sufficient to notice those that have importance for Oriental letters. At Calcutta the Sanskrit college has 1652 printed Sanskrit volumes and 2769 Sanskrit MSS., some as old as the 14th century; there is also a large collection of Jain MSS. A catalogue is now being prepared for publication. – The Arabic library attached to the Arabic department of the Madrass was founded about 1781, and now includes 731 printed volumes, 143 original MSS. and 151 copies; the English library of the Anglo-Persian department dates from 1854, and extends to 3254 volumes. – The library of the Asiatic Society of Bengal was founded in 1784, and now contains 15,000 printed volumes, chiefly on Eastern and philological subjects, with a valuable collection of 9500 Arabic and Persian MSS. A catalogue is now passing through the press.

At Bombay the library of the Bombay branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, established in 1804 as the Literary Society of Bengal, is now an excellent general and Oriental collection of 40,000 printed volumes and 200 MSS., described in a printed catalogue of 1875. The Moolla Feroze Library was bequeathed for public use by Moolla Feroze, head priest of the Parsis of the Kudmi sect in 1831, and consisted chiefly of MSS. is Arabic and Persian on history, philosophy, and astronomy; some additions of English and Jujarati works have been made, as well as of European books on Zoroastrianism. A catalogue has been printed.

The library of Tippoo Sahib, consisting of 2000 MSS, fell into the hands of the British, and a descriptive catalogue of them by Charles Stewart was published at Cambridge in 1809, 4to. A few were presented to public libraries in England, but the majority were placed in the college of Fort William, then recently established. The first volume, containing Persian and Hindustani poetry, of the Catalogue of the Libraries of the King of Oudh, by A. Sprenger, was published at Calcutta in 1854. The compiler shortly afterwards left the Indian service, and no measures were taken to complete the work. On the annexation of the kingdom in 1856 the ex-king is believed to have taken some of the most valuable MSS. to Calcutta, but the largest portion were left behind at Lucknow. During the siege the books were used to block up without, &c., and those which were not destroyed were abandoned, and plundered by the soldiers. Many were burnt for fuel; a few, however, were rescued and sold by auction, and of these some were purchased for the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Perhaps the most remarkable library in India is that of the raja of Tanjore, which dates from the end of the 16th or beginning of the 17th century, when Tanjore was under the rule of the Telugu Naiks, who collected Sanskrit MSS. written in the Telugu character. In the 18th century the Marhattas conquered the country, and since that date the library increased but slowly. By far the greater portion of the store was acquired by Sharaghoji Raja during a visit to Benares in 1820-30; his successor Sivaji added a few, but of inferior value. There are now about 18,000 MSS. written in Devanagari, Nandinagari, Telugu, Kannada, Granthi, Malayalam, Bengali, Panjabi or Kashmiri, and Uriya; 8000 are on palm leaves. Dr Burneell’s printed catalogue describes 12,375 articles.

Thanks to the enlightened policy of the Government of India, we are beginning to know much more respecting native libraries than was possible a few years ago, and since 1868 a yearly sum of 24,000 rupees has been granted to carry on the work of searching for Sanskrit MSS. The first part of a list of those in private hands in southern India has been published by Dr G. Oppert; it contains a description of 8376 MSS., and another volume is in course of preparation. Dr Buhler, in his investigation of Santimath’s library at Cambay, found 300 MSS. of great antiquity, six dating from the beginning of the 12th century. A pandit has examined the Sanghavina Pada Library in Pathan, and a catalogue has been prepared for printing. A copy of the oldest Sanskrit dictionary, the Savata Kosha, of which only one other copy (at the Bodleian) is known, was found here. Dr Buhler also purchased 429 volumes for the Government. Inquiries made in Behar have not met with much result. Notices of Sanskrit MSS. in the presidency of Bengal have been prepared under the direction of Dr Rajendralala Mitra; seven fasciculi (1000 pp.) have been printed, describing 842 articles. The same scholar has also printed a catalogue (755 pp.) of the library of the maharaja of Bikanir, describing 2000 Sanskrit MSS.; and his analysis of the Sanskrit Buddhist literature of Nepal will shortly be published. The total number of Sanskrit MSS. acquired in this presidency is now 1612, some of which are new to Europeans. Two catalogues of 180 Sanskrit MSs. discovered in the North-Western Provinces and Oudh during 1878-80 have been prepared, and the following libraries (containing many important texts) of the Punjab have been examined: - that Pandit Rikkikesha, of 500 books; Pandit Jwala Datta Prasada, 2500 MSS., the largest collection in the province; and Pandit Dilaram, 430 MSS. The efforts of Dr Forchhammer will probably bring to light many valuable Sanskrit MSS., both in Upper and Lower Burmah.

The Raffles Library at Singapore was established as a proprietary institution in 1844, taken over by the Government in 1874, and given legal status by ordinance passed in 1878. It now contains 11,000 volumes in general literature, but books relating to the Malayan peninsula and archipelago have been made a special feature, and since the acquisition of the collection of J. R. Logan in 1879 the library has become remarkably rich in this department.

The library of the Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen at Batavia contains books printed in Netherlandish India [Netherlands East Indies], works relating to the Indian Archipelago and adjacent countries, and the history of the Dutch in the East. There are now 20,000 printed volumes and 1630 MSS. of which 243 are Arabic, 445 Malay, 303 Javanese, 60 Batak, and 517 on lontar leaves in the ancient Kawi, Javanese, and Bali languages, &c. The last edition of the catalogue appeared in 1877; printed catalogues of the Arabic, Malay, Javanese, and Kawi MSS. have also been issued.

China.- The Great Imperial was founded by K’in Lung, 18th century, and from a catalogue which has been issued appears to have contained about 12,000 works, extending to 168,000 volumes. There are many provincial libraries in China, and the chief Buddhist monasteries also possess collections of books.

Japan. – The library of the Tokio Fu (municipality of Tokio) at Leido,in the old Chinese university, contains 63,000 Chinese and Japanese volumes, and 5000 European, principally English and Dutch. The reading-room is supplied with native papers, and the chief foreign periodicals. The library is open for purposes of reference, and books may be borrowed by special permission. The Asakusa Library, now occupying the former fireproof rice storehouses of the shogun, is one of the oldest in the country, and is reported to contain 143,000 volumes, including many ancient books and MSS,; an entrance fee of about 1/2d. is charged here. The Imperial University has a good collection of European and Japanese science and general literature. The libraries of the large temples often contain rare books of value to the philologist, and many of the leading towns throughout the country are provided with free libraries. Lending libraries of native and Chinese literature have existed in Japan from very early times.

Read the rest of this article:
Libraries - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries