“Iran and its History in the Collections of the Bulgarian National Library Sts. Cyril and Methodius”

On 10 January 2013 the Bulgarian National Library Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Sofia opened an exhibition of Persian manuscripts, early printed books and archival documents to mark the 115th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Iran. The exhibition presented some of the most valuable documents related to the history of Iran in the collections of the National Library and aims to attract the attention of scholars, researchers and anyone interested in Iranian culture and history. The exhibition is part of the programme “Days of Iranian Culture in Bulgaria – 2012/2013” coordinated by the National Library, the Cultural Representative Office at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran  in Sofia and other institutions. Note that the event was also organized with the help of prominent Iranologist Professor Yuri Stoyanov (member of the Department of the Near and Middle East, Faculty of Languages and Cultures in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London).


[Click to Enlarge] The Bahjat al Tavarikh (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

The web site of the National Library has a page dedicated to the event, however this particular page is not available in English version – click here…


[Click to Enlarge] The Borhan-i Qati or Borhan-e Qate (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

The Bulgarian National Library manuscript collection of Near Eastern manuscripts of the Ottoman/Safavid/Afsharid/Zand/Qajar periods is reputedly second in significance only to that housed currently in Cairo. This is mainly due to the fact that in the early post-Ottoman Kemalist period (1920s-1930s), a large quantity of Ottoman-era materials were sent from Istanbul to Bulgaria.


[Click to Enlarge] Bustan or Bostan (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

Following the arrival of the manuscripts to their country, local Bulgarian authorities then placed these in the Bulgarian National Library depots). However, due to the Western isolation of Bulgaria as a result of the Cold War, these culturally rich resources have yet to be studied and observed by scholars and laypeople alike.


[Click to Enlarge] The Gulistan or Golestan (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

By all accounts the Bulgarian exhibition of the Persian collection has been received.


[Click to Enlarge] Mantiq al-Tayr (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

Thanks to the exhibition, many rare manuscripts have been exposed to the wider layperson and academic venues.


[Click to Enlarge] Mavahib-e-Aliyya (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).


[Click to Enlarge] Qisas_al-Anbiya (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).


[Click to Enlarge] Timur Nameh (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).


[Click to Enlarge] Uluq beg astronomical tables (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

Professor Stoyanov will be arranging a presentation of the collection of the Persian manuscript collection of the Bulgarian National Library at the forthcoming Convention of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies (ASPS) in Sarajevo on September 2-6, 2013.


The exhibition of Persian Manuscripts in Bulgaria was well attended and received.