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Orientalistic fund

Orientalistic fund (fund of printed books in Arabic, Turkish, and Persian languages)

Orientalistic fund contains printed books in Arabic, Turkish (Arabic, Ottoman, Latin letterings), and Persian languages, as well as books printed in Arabic lettering in general, such as Bosnian arebica.

This fund consists of around 25.000 monographs of which nearly 20.000 library units are cataloged and made available to readers. Among them are exceptionally valuable, old and rare books that, along with printed text, almost regularly include a seal, a handwritten word, or a verse by their owners or readers.

Especially significant are the earliest copies of books printed in the first Ottoman State Print Press by Ibrahim Muteferrike (1727) that worked all until 1742, producing approximately 12.000 volumes. Gazi Husrev-bey Library preserves 10 out of the first 17 publications by Ibrahim Muteferrike, so called Turkish incunabula of which some are presented in several copies. The most notable ones are:

1.Kitāb-ı Lügāt-ı Wanqulu (Vankulu lugati dictionary printed in 1728) by Mehmed, son of Mustafa el-Vani (1592) O-55, O-56

2.Tārīḫ-i Miṣr-i ḡadīd.(History of Egypt, printed in 1729) by Suhejli-efendi O-3451

3.Ahvâl-i gazevât der diyar-i Bosna (Ahval-i Gazevati der diyar Bosna, better known under the title of Tarih-i Bosna, printed in 1741) by Omer Novljanin who lived in the 18th century. Those are the oldest printed books in the Library, O-2679, and O-9895.

The Library also preserves the first printed copies of the first state Vilayet Printing Press in Bosnia and Herzegovina established in 1866 that printed the first Bosnian textbooks, official, and periodical publications. In the orientalistic fund, there are 14 volumes of this printing press issued in the period of 1282/1886-1341/1922. Books and periodicals printed comparatively in two letterings and two languages (Latin/Arabic letterings-Bosnian/ Turkish languages) represent a particular curiosity of the Library.

It is important to mention the Islamic Printing Press Ltd. founded in July of 1905 which worked without interruption until 1948 and printed almost every Bosniak newspaper. The fund includes its nine publications printed in Arabic lettering and published in the period of 1908-1938.

The orientalistic fund has also kept 150 publications by Hajji Muharrem-efendi Bosnevi ( Muharem Smajiš of Sarajevo) who worked outside Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Istanbul. His printing press was operational in the 19th century, from 1273-1309/1856-1892.


Together with the European fund, the orientalistic fund of the Library shares a valuable and rare collection of alhamiado literature that includes literature in Bosnian language written in Arabic lettering called Arebica. The name derives out of Arabic word al-a‘ajamiyy meaning foreign, non-Arabic.

Our territory had been marked by abundant examples of alhamiado literature for as long as three and a half centuries. Arebica lettering had many times been adjusted to the phonetics of Bosnian language. The literature printed in this lettering and kept in the Library mainly deals with religious, ethical, and didactical subjects.  The oldest printed copy of a work in Arebica that can be found in the Library is Maktab Calendar from 1307-1308/1889-1890.

The printed collection in oriental languages is composed of the classical Islamic scientific works (such as akhaid, akhlaq, hadith, tafsir, fikh, history of Islam, Islamic culture and civilization); social sciences, (philosophy, ethics, history, sociology, politics), as well as linguistics and literature (Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Bosnian). However, there are also a few volumes of work in exact sciences (architecture, mathematics, medicine) that can be useful for the readers.

The fund is complemented with books printed in Cairo, Istanbul, Riyadh, Kuwait, London, Paris, Leiden, Herndon (U.S.A.), Moscow, and other places.  The Library is particularly proud of the early editions of the first Ottoman Printing Press by Ibrahim Muteferrike founded in 1726, and of the first editions of Vilayet Printing Press, the oldest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, founded in 1866. Together with books of modern age, they represent documents of one time and one people, its literacy and its intellectual thought. 

This fund has been enriched with the donations of private libraries of Bosnian ulama and intellectuals, the largest being those by  Mehmed Handžić, hafiz Asim Sirćo, Abdulah Bušatlić, Salim Muftić, Osman A. Sokolović, Sinanudin Sokolović, Šaban Hodžić, Džemal Čehajić, and many others.

Books are available to all interested users of the Library, with the assistance of librarians, for selection, copying or scanning of a selected text. Cataloging and processing of this fund is managed by librarian Fatima Tinjak.