Oriental Manuscripts in Qalamos

Oriental manuscripts from the archives of the Francke Foundations were added to the Qalamos portal.

Startseite des Portals Qalamos
Startseite des Portals Qalamos

The archives of the Francke Foundations contain 116 manuscripts from the 16th to 18th centuries in Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Turkish. These documents, some of Oriental and some of European origin, are now also searchable in the manuscript portal Qalamos, which went online on June 28, 2022.

Qalamos is the portal for manuscripts and prints from Asian and African script traditions. It holds approximately 150,000 records for more than 110,000 physical objects - written testimonies in a total of 162 languages and 81 scripts (as of June 2022). In the future, the aim is to provide as complete a record as possible of the holdings preserved in German archives, libraries and museums and their digitized copies. In addition, holdings of international cooperation partners will also be presented in the portal.

Qalamos is being developed by the Bavarian State Library in Munich, the Gotha Research Library, the Berlin State Library and the Leipzig University Data Center as part of the DFG project Orient-Digital (duration 2020-2023). In addition, there are cooperation agreements with more than 20 other institutions, including the Francke Foundations.

The goal of the project is the consolidation of information on scattered Oriental manuscripts in Germany and the creation of a homogeneous reference structure. Currently, the focus is on the language groups Arabic, Persian and Ottoman-Turkish. In a planned second project phase, South Asian language groups will be the main focus.

The name of the portal is an artificial word. The ancient Greek word kalamos (κάλαμος) means writing tube. In Arabic and Persian it became, perhaps via the Ethiopian qalam (ቀለም), the loan word qalam (قلم), which already occurs in the Koran. In Swahili, qalam became kalamu. Greek kalamos was adopted as calamus in Latin and as kulmus (קולמוס) in Hebrew; there it can also denote the quill. Sanskrit kalama (कलम) is also derived from it. The name Qalamos combines these spellings and thus indicates the connection of the handwriting traditions.