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Khizana Beta

Bibliotheca Arabica's Reference Work on the Arabic Manuscript Tradition

Khizana aims to be a comprehensive bio-bibliographical reference work on agents and works related to Arabic manuscripts, focusing on the period between the 12th and the 19th centuries CE. As a reference work on Arabic literature, it integrates sources relevant to Bibliotheca Arabica. The most important source types are:

  • data from manuscript catalogues (print & online)
  • data from biographical and bibliographical works and
  • manuscript notes on owners, readers, etc.
Using graph based technologies, special emphasis is laid on providing evidence (i.e., provenance) for every piece of information. Work on the

Khizana will be expanded continuously in the next years. Currently, the following entries are available (including possible duplicates):









 General Remarks

Domain Model
The main entity types are currently person, work, manuscript and manuscript noteplace will be implemented at a later date. The entities are linked to each other and take on corresponding roles, e.g. a person can take on the role of an author, owner, scribe, etc. Our domain model is subject to continuous enhancement.
Entry Cards
Each entity type (person, work, manuscript, manuscript note) has got its own entry card. In the process of data integration, entities are becoming more and more linked to each other. These internal links are made visible by text highlighting.

Person: ابن أبي اللُّطْف
Factoid Provenance
Each piece of data is provenanced by one or more sources. The provenance buttons appear when you hover over an entry. They look like this:

The provenance may include more than on element, i.e. a chain of sources. This is the case when a source explicitly refers to another source, and we have reconstructed this chain in a machine-readable way.
The figurative mark of our logo is inspired by a bookshelf in the library of the Ottoman scholar and judge Saʿdī Celebī Efendī (d. 945/1539), illustrated in ʿĀshiq Celebī's Mashāʿir al-shuʿarāʾ, MS Millet Ktp., Ali Emiri Efendi, Tarih, n. 772, fol. 418v.
Machine Readability
The primary goal of our data integration efforts is to create standardised, machine-readable data, not complete reproductions of catalogue information. Among other things, we atomise data, e.g. we extract personal names from biographical records, automatically convert them to Arabic, and add Linked Open Data, such as missing information in the Hidjri calendar format.
Mistakes/ Data Artefacts
Due to the high proportion of automatically processed data, artefacts may occur that are immediately apparent to a human observer. We cannot correct all of them manually, but we prioritise those that occur regularly and can therefore be corrected automatically. Our research platform is also a test lab where making mistakes is part of the learning process.
Manuscript Notes Notation System and Editorial Standards
Manuscript Notes Notation System
This system was followed increasingly over the years, but early usage may vary.
[   ] loss of text due to destruction (intentional or material damage)
(   ) illegible or unsure. Exception: fractions in prices, e.g. “(ثلث)”
< > subsequent addition or insertion
... omission (used in colophons)
Editorial Standards
The following remarks are meant to give a brief overview of the editorial standards that guided the transcription of manuscript notes by the main contributor to this collection.
Since this has been a long-standing project, which was started already in 2008 although it picked up speed considerably over the past few years, the creation of these standards was a fluid process that consolidated over several years. Be aware that the standards (and certainly the quality) in some early notes may vary slightly but that the time of cataloging is not marked in the individual entries.
In general, texts were copied faithfully line by line. In some instances of stylized and decorative writing, this may mean that some words or phrases are broken up or out of order.
Defective writings are not normalized (Ibrāhīm could be found as ابراهيم or ابرهيم) and mistakes are left as found in the manuscript. These mistakes are corrected in the annotations and authority files when they concern Authority Records.
Punctuation is a difficult topic. Overall, sharing the traits of other documentary sources, a general lack of punctuation might be more common than its vigorous application. Most notes tread a middle ground and punctuate some words or letters without regularity. A complete diplomatic edition of these habits would have been impossible, so readers should be aware that many pointed words are in fact not and could possibly be read in different ways. In many instances, I have supplied different options for possible punctuations in the main text. At other times, I might have left a word unpointed in the main text and provided possible readings in the comments.
The cataloging of colophons has seen the greatest evolution throughout my work. In the beginning, I completely ignored them, because catalogers usually make a credible and competent effort at presenting the information contained in them and I wanted to spend my time in libraries as efficiently as possible. However, over time it has proven beneficial to at least compare my own readings with those of the catalogues and I have come to catalogue them with growing faithfulness. But, unlike other manuscript notes, of which I attempt to capture every letter completely, in the case of colophons I concentrate on elements of importance (people, places, institutions, dates, functional phrases) and skip most formulaic content. Therefore, one may find a range of different from a simple date in transliteration, taken from a catalogue, to a faithfully copied text of many lines. The latter approach is by now more numerous than the former. Notably, unlike with other manuscript notes, colophons are usually not transcribed line by line.
Seal impressions have occupied a growing place in this collection. During my early work, pressed by limited time in libraries, whenever I could get all the information from a handwritten note, an additional seal impression attached to it was often deemed superfluous. Therefore, many seal impressions might not have been recorded at all. This initial approach has been quickly rectified. Over the years, I have also come to adopt increasingly elaborate descriptions of key elements (outer shape; shape and positions of cartouches and inner fields; ornaments like flowers, knots, stars, or tendrils) that hopefully allow to identify possible matching seals even without an image. Still, more than twelve thousand seal impressions have been entered so far (May 2023), often even when the text was undecipherable.
B. Liebrenz
Script The default script (writing system) of our data is Arabic. Romanisation (LC, IJMES) may yield additional results. We are working to ensure that searches in Arabic script return all results, but this is a work in progress.
Results As the data is only partially authority controlled, the list of search results may contain several hits for the person or work you are looking for. Automated authority control, i.e. virtually merging identical entities, is one of our main tasks for the coming years.
Advanced Search Additional search functions will be implemented as soon as a sufficient amount of standardised and authority controlled data is available.
Sources & Data Resources
We are integrating data from manuscript catalogues (print & online), bio-bibliographical reference works as well as manuscript notes on owners, readers, etc. Data from other sources, such as historical catalogues, is also integrated wherever possible. The focus is on Arabic-language manuscripts, with Persian and Ottoman-Turkish manuscripts considered where possible. So far, data from the following sources have been integrated:

Ashrafīya (Ash) Historical catalogue, data provided by Konrad Hirschler. See also Hirschler: Medieval Damascus – Plurality and Diversity in an Arabic Library – The Ashrafīya Library Catalogue, Edinburgh 2016.
AUB (Aub) Library Catalogue, American University of Beirut. Arabic Manuscripts only.
Brockelmann Index (Bro) Index of persons and works from Carl Brockelmann: History of the Arabic Written Tradition, Index Vol. 3-ii, Brill, 2018.
Daiber (Dai) Daiber Collection Database, Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo.
Damascus, National Library (Dam)
al-Ḥāfiẓ, Muḥammad Muṭīʿ: al-Fiqh al-ḥanafī. 2 vols. Damascus 1980–1981.
Ḥamārina, Sāmī Ḫalaf: aṭ-Ṭibb wal-ṣaydala. Damascus 1969.
al-Ḫaymī, Ṣalāḥ Muḥammad: al-Ṭibb wal-ṣaydala. Damascus 1981.
al-Ḫaymī, Ṣalāḥ Muḥammad: ʿUlūm al-Qurʾān al-karīm. 3 vols. Damascus 1983–84. Vol. 1 (Vol. 2 & 3 WIP).
al-Ḥasan, ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd: al-Falsafa wal-manṭiq wa-ādāb al-baḥṯ. Damascus 1970.
al-Ḥimṣī, Asmāʾ: ʿUlūm al-lugha al-ʿarabīya. 2 vols. Damascus 1973.
al-Māliḥ, Muḥammad Riyāḍ: al-Taṣawwuf. 3 vols. Damascus 1978–1982. Vol. 1 only.
al-Raiyān, Ḫālid: al-Tārīḫ wa-mulḥaqātuhu. Damascus 1973.
al-Ṣabbāgh, Muḥammad Saʿīd: al-ʿUlūm wal-funūn al-muḫtalifa ʿinda l-ʿArab. Damascus 1980.
al-Sawwās, Yāsīn / Murād, Riyāḍ: Qism al-adab. 2 vols. Damascus 1982.
Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī (Iah) Historical catalogue, data provided by Konrad Hirschler. See also Hirschler: A monument to medieval Syrian book culture – The library of Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī, Edinburgh 2019.
Marʿašī (Mar) Ḥusaynī, Aḥmad : Fihrist-i nuskhahā-i khaṭṭī-i Kitābḫāna-i Buzug-i Haḍrat-i Āyatallāh al-ʿUẓmā-i Marʿashī Najafī, Qum 1975ff., Vol.1-32 (only). Supplemented by data from Aghabozorg (, now and Fankhā.
Onomasticon Arabicum (Ono), Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes, CNRS.
Princeton (Pri) Princeton University Library Catalog, Arabic Manuscripts only. Supplemented by data from ʿĀyish, Muḥammad: Fihris al-Makhṭūṭāt al-ʿarabīya fī Jāmiʾat Princeton. 12 vols., 2011 (Ayi).
Tehran Melli (Mel) Anwar, Abdollah: Fihrist nusaḫ-i ḫaṭṭī-i Kitābḫāna-i Millī (A Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the National Library), Tehran 1977ff. Reconstruction based on Fankhā and Aghabozorg (, now
Zirikly (Zir) al-Ziriklī, Khayr al-Dīn: al-Aʿlām. 15.ed., Beirut 2002, aligned with al-Maktaba al-shamila.
We are constantly refining our data in terms of quality assurance, machine readability, authority control, etc. These data enhancements, along with application updates, are released approximately every two months. Data generated from new sources is published at least once per year at the end of Q4, if possible, an additional update is realised at the end of Q2. There is currently no automated workflow for regularly updating data when taken from agile databases.
Our long-term goal is to make long-term relationships visualisable in order to be able to generate and verify research theses. However, this requires more data from more sources as well as their integration, atomisation, standardisation and linkage. We are still at the very beginning here — see the preview of the “raw” network graph at each entry.


Legal Notice
The Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig is the provider according to § 5 Telemediengesetz (German Telemedia Act).
The Academy is a public corporation (Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts). It is legally represented by the President.

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04107 Leipzig/ Germany

Telephone: (+49) (0)341 697642 13
Fax: (+49) (0)341 697642 44
Khizana is edited by Dr. Daniel Kinitz & Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm (Bibliotheca Arabica, Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig).

Further Responsibilities
Computer Science/Software Development: Tariq Yousef, M.Sc. (2022/23), Dr. Thomas Efer (2018-2022)
Data Engineering/ Data Integration: Dr. Daniel Kinitz
Manuscript Notes: Dr. Boris Liebrenz

See the credits for a list of contributors and partners.

 Privacy Policy

Thank you for visiting our website and for your interest in our institution. We take the privacy of your personal information seriously and ensure that it is processed in accordance with this Privacy Policy and applicable data protection laws. You can visit our website without revealing your identity. In order to present our website, we only need the data that your browser transmits to our server (see "Logfiles"). No other personal information is collected from you.
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Your rights
You have the following rights in relation to the personal data that we process:
  • The right to know whether we are processing data about you. If we are processing data about you, you have the right to obtain information about the nature and circumstances of the processing (Article 15 GDPR).
  • The right to rectify inaccurate data (Article 16 GDPR) or the right to have your data deleted if the conditions of Article 17(1) GDPR are met,
  • The right to restrict processing (Article 18 GDPR),
  • The right to object to processing under the above conditions (Article 21 GDPR),
  • The right to data portability under the conditions of Article 20 GDPR.
You also have the right to complain to a data protection authority about our processing of your personal data.
Contact Details of the Data Protection Officer
The data protection officer of the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig (SAW) is responsible. Contact details can be found in the SAW Imprint.

 Credits & Acknowledgements

Bibliotheca Arabica's Manuscript Data Lab (data engineering, data integration)
Daniel Kinitz (head), Lisa Dorn (chief assistant), Ossama Saker, Sulamith Voppel, Serra Al-Deen, Ezis Issa
former members: Hala Al Kaisi, Jonathan R. Schmid (+ software development, IT administration, OCR), Parivash Mashhadi, Dorothea Schmidt, Barbara Altmmo, Christoph Gümmer, Tobias Wenzel, Christian Ellwitz

Boris Liebrenz (data curation manuscript notes)

Martin Reckziegel (external software development)

vigo design (logo)

Data Cooperation Partners
American University in Beirut, Dr. Fatme Charafeddine
Brill, Dr. Maurits van den Boogert
Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Prof. Konrad Hirschler/ Dr. Said al-Joumani (Universität Hamburg)
Daiber Collection, Prof. Hans Daiber; Prof. Kazuo Morimoto (University of Tokyo)
Onomasticon Arabicum, Dr. Christian Müller
Princeton University Library, Dr. Deborah Schlein
Qalamos, Chr. Rauch & team, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

This publication is funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Free State of Saxony within the German Academies’ Programme.