Return to Kashgar – the Jarring Collection of Uyghur Manuscripts

Jarring, G. (1986). Return to Kashgar: Central Asian memoirs in the present. Duke Univ Pr.


From the Central Asia Book Series:

This inaugural volume in the Central Asia Book Series is a travel memoir by the distinguished Swedish scholar and diplomat, Ambassador Gunnar Jarring. His account of two extended visits to Sinkiang (Eastern Turkistan) separated by a half-century interval gives this work an extraordinary perspective. Particularly informative and interesting are Dn Jarring’s unique observations and insights, based on his extensive knowledge of the area and the Central Asian Uighurs and their language. Gunnar Jarring served his native Sweden as a diplomat—several times at the ambassadorial level—in posts in India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, the United States, the United Nations, and the Soviet Union.


Abstract (from the Lund University Library)

Return to Kashgar – the Jarring Collection of Uyghur Manuscripts Kashgar was a major crossroads for trade and culture along the Eurasian Silk Route for thousands of years, a place where Turkic, Persian, Arab, Chinese and other groups interacted. The Lund University Library is privileged to hold some 600 handwritten books from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries from cities in this region like Kashgar, Urumchi and Yarkand. Containing about 1500 titles, presumably the largest collection in the world, this so-called Jarring Collection was mostly acquired in Kashgar in 1929-1930 by the Swedish philologist and career diplomat Gunnar Jarring (1907-2002), while doing research for his doctoral thesis on Turkic languages. 

The Jarring Collection currently consists of 595 literary and documentary manuscripts. Many are miscellanies; there are some 1500 titles. All in all, it is presumably the largest collection in the world. It includes everything from single leafs and rolls to bound and unbound volumes. The manuscripts date from the sixteenth to the twentieth century and most of them are written on local paper from Khotan.

The works are primarily in late Chaghatay (Uyghur’s antecedent language) and early modern Uyghur (Middle and Modern Turkic respectively), but also in Arabic, in Persian and in other languages like Mongolian, Tibetan, Urdu and Uzbek. Political unrest, wars, revolutions and modernizations have been hard on the written cultural heritage of this area and the premodern literary, linguistic and cultural heritage is not publicly available to the Uyghurs or to the world. The Jarring Collection is therefore one of the few places where the descendants of the Kasgharians and the general public can access this rich cultural heritage.


You can also access some of the manuscripts and annotations hereAnnotated Turki Manuscripts from the Jarring Collection Online project



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