We hold manuscripts, printed books, journals and other resources in Turkish and Turkic languages.
Authors and Calligraphers. Divan-i Baki. Collected poems of Baki, late 10th/16th century. ©The British Library [Or.7084, 1r].
First of all there is the numerical and historical importance of the Turkic peoples, with a spread - in cultural terms - from Sarajevo to Kashghar. Most of the lands in between have at some time been under Turkish rule. The Seljuks, Mamluks, Timurids, Moghuls, Ottomans, and Qajars were all Turks. Secondly, the Turkic peoples have their own distinctive cultural forms, both within and outside the matrix of Islamic civilization. Modern research shows that the best of their literature, art, crafts and architecture bears comparison with the best of other Muslim peoples. Turkish rulers and patrons played a leading part in sustaining a form of Sunni Islam that prevailed for centuries. Thirdly there is the geopolitical importance of the Turkish world today, from the Republic of Turkey on the border of Europe and Asia, modernizing apace, to the newly independent states of Central Asia and northern Azerbaijan, the Tatars and other peoples within Russia's borders, and the Uighurs.
What, then, can the Library offer to those concerned with Turkish and Turkic studies? What are our collections like? Where are they? What has been done to augment and document them? It is hoped that the following pages will provide basic answers to these questions.
Introduction to the Oriental Language Collections