As part of the research project of the RSCF No. 22-18-00295 “Electronic library of Arabographic manuscripts from archival, library, museum and private collections of Russia”, the authors conducted an archeographic expedition in the summer of 2022 to the Kayakent, Akhtynsky and Suleiman-Stalsky districts of the Republic of Dagestan with the aim to identify private and mosque collections of manuscripts and books for their subsequent description and digitization. Two private collections, belonging to K.M. Kamalov and Sh.Yu. Magomedov, were identified in the Kayakent district of Dagestan. They comprise around forty volumes of manuscripts and early printed books, as well as handwritten documents: assembly records, letters, registration of legal transactions, etc. Both collections have a common origin and are fragments of collections belonging to local religious figures: the last pre-revolutionary qadi of the village of Alhajikent, Qadi-Agay and his relatives Abuzar-qadi, local alim of the first half of the 19th century, Abdul Wahab Sheikh and Sheikh Mirza. The part of the collection of Sh.Yu. Magomedov was lost in the 1980s. The content of the collections is mainly represented by works in Arabic in the fields of grammar and stylistics of the Arabic language, Muslim law, dogmatics, occult sciences. Due to the loss of its part, the Sh.Yu. Magomedov’s collection covers the period between 1747-1748 to the first third of the 19th century, while in the collection of Kamalov K.M. there are earlier copies of manuscripts, which, according to paleographic characteristics, can be attributed to the middle of the 17th century. Our paper focuses on the few manuscripts in the Turkic languages, identified in the collections.


As part of the research No. 22-18-00295 “Electronic library of Arabographic manuscripts from archival, library, museum and private collections of Russia” in the summer of 2022, an expedition was conducted to the Kayakent, Akhty and Suleiman-Stalsky districts of the Republic of Dagestan in order to identify private and mosque collections of manuscripts and books for their subsequent description and digitization.

In the village of Alhajikent (the Kayakent district of the Republic of Dagestan), two private collections were identified, then fully digitized and described. These collections contain more than forty manuscripts, lithographs and old printed books, as well as numerous documents. In the course of the conducted research – attribution and analysis of manuscripts, interviewing the owners of collections, etc., – we managed to find out the history of the formation of the studied collections, study their composition, determine genre diversity and chronological periods, as well as identify several Turkic manuscripts, which, despite their small number, allow us to draw a number of general conclusions about the influence of Turkic culture and the language of the region under study.

The history of the collections

Currently, the manuscripts and books belong to two residents of the village of Alhajikent: Kamalutdin Magomedovich Kamalov (born in 1960), Candidate of History, Principal of the Karanayaulskaya Secondary school, a local historian who is deeply passionate about the history of his native village and district1, and Sheikh Yusupovich Magomedov (born in 1958), mullah of the Alhajikent mosque. Despite the fact that the manuscripts are in the possession of different people, the history of their origin is associated with the same personalities.

Fragments of the collection of Sh.Yu. Magomedov might have belonged to several prominent religious figures of the village. Some of the books were collected by his father Yusup (born in 1907), who received a religious education in the Avar village of Sogratl (the Gunib district of Republic of Dagestan), spoke Arabic and was a mullah in Alhajikent. Yusup, due to the early death of his father, became a pupil of the famous Alhajikent qadi and alim qadi-Agai. The cultural memory of the inhabitants of the village retained memories of the high authority of Agai – he is compared with the famous qadi Ali Haji al-Akushi (the end of the 18th century – 1858)2. Qadi Agai could have bequeathed some manuscripts to his disciple Yusup, and he subsequently handed them over to his son Sh.Yu. Magomedov.

Some of the books could also have been passed to the current owner through Abuzar-qadi, a local alim of the first half of the 19th century, and religious figures Abdul Wahab Sheikh (son of Qadi Agai) and Sheikh Mirza, who did not become widely known in the region. All of them were related to each other, as well as to Sh.Yu. Magomedov on his mother’s side. Many documents, owner’s seals and letters confirm the fact of their possession of the books.

In the 80s of the 20th century, part of Magomedov’s collection was lost. According to villagers, it was taken out by Salav Magomedsalikhovich Aliev, a teacher of the Kumyk language at Dagestan State University. Having promised to deliver books for study to the DSU, he probably appropriated them, since there are no records of books brought from the village of Alhajikent in the university’s book depository. It can be assumed that he took the earliest copies, since the collection consisted mainly of manuscripts and books of the 19th – first half of the 20th century.

The formation of the collection of K.M. Kamalov is also connected with the religious figures mentioned above: Abuzar-qadi, with whom he was related on his father’s side, as well as with Qadi Agai and Abdul Wahab Sheikh. Given the numerous family ties within the village, it can be assumed that the split of the collections was the result of the fact that many manuscripts were handed over to the descendants of the scholars. In addition to the studied materials, some of the collections could be stored at other residents of the village and were not shown to us as during our 2022 summer expedition.

Structure of the collections

In total, there are 19 store items in the collection of K.M. Kamalov – manuscripts and lithographs. When describing, each work from the composite manuscripts was considered separately. Thus, we described 27 works. The manuscripts range between the second half of the 17th century to the first decade of the 20th century. Most of them (15 out of 16) are in the Arabic language. All manuscripts were copied in Dagestan by local copyists. The manuscripts of the 18th – mid-19th centuries are most often found in the Kamalov’s collection; that can easily be explained by the fact that it was during this period that the above-mentioned collectors lived, and the fragments of the collections came into possession of the current owner. The earliest manuscript according to paleographic data (paper and style of writing) dates back to 1660–1680 and is a work “Hall al-Ijaz” on Muslim law by a Dagestani scholar-alim Jamal al-Din 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Baghdadi al-Targuli al-Dagistani. The most recent manuscript was copied on Russian paper with a stamp and filigree “Tovarischestvo G” in 1910–1911 and is the work of the famous Middle Eastern alim, a representative of the Shafi’i school of law, Abu Yahia Zakariya b. Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Zakariya al-Ansari (1420–1520) in the field of tajwid.

As for the genre variety of the collection, the largest number of manuscripts (9 works, i.e. about half of the collection) is devoted to Muslim law (al-fiqh) and its theory (usul al-fiqh), which is not surprising, given the occupation of the collectors. Four times we came across manuscripts on the Quranic studies, in particular, tajwid, three times – tafsir, and two works that we attributed to the subject of “classification of sciences”. The rarest works are those related to the grammar and stylistics of the Arabic language (one for each genre), as well as hadith (also one manuscript). The collection contains one Quran dating AH 1287 (02.04.1870–21.03.1871), containing assembly records and records of historical events – tawarih. There is also one later poetic composition “Manzuma” (dated to the beginning of the 20th century).

There are three lithographs in the collection, two of which were published in 1910 and one in 1914 in the Islamic Printing House of Muhammad-Mirza Mavrayev in Temir-Khan-Shura (now Buynaksk of Republic of Dagestan) in Arabic and Kumyk. The reasons for the coexistence of early printed books, lithographs and manuscripts in the collections of Dagestani alims are explained in detail by the expert in the field of Islamic manuscripts, Shamil Sh. Shikhaliev3.

The total number of storage units in the second Sh.Yu. Magomedov’s collection is 20; 31 works were described. As mentioned earlier, due to the loss of part of the collection, the remaining manuscripts mostly date back to the end of the 18th – 19th centuries. However, there are also several early manuscripts, which for some reason remained. This is a work on Muslim law Risala fi-l-fiqh of an unknown author, copied on European vergé paper, with pontuseaux and watermarks, according to paleographic characteristics, dating 1740-1750. The earliest and noteworthy among the rest of the collection of manuscripts is a work on the interpretation of dreams by Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Sirin al-Basri (653-729), copied on Dagestan artisanal paper in AH 1160 (1747-1748).

As in the first collection, most of the manuscripts here were copied in Arabic (except two in Turkic languages) in Dagestan by local copyists. Nevertheless, there is a significant difference between the two collections – the genre variety. If in the first collection many works were devoted to Muslim law, then in the second collection there is a clear predominance of grammatical treatises. The grammar and stylistics of the Arabic language are presented in ten works by various, mainly Middle Eastern authors. Six works are devoted to Muslim law. It should be noted that they are very standard, and almost every collection of manuscripts have them due to the high authority of their authors for the Shafi’i legal school4Kanz al-raghibin sharh Minhaj al-talibin (found twice) by Jalal al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Mahalli (1389-1460) and Tuhfat al-mukhtaj sharh al-minhaj (found twice) by Shihab al-Din Ahmad b. Muhammad Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (1503-1566) and several collected works of unknown authorship.

The rest of the works can be attributed to quite diverse genres, for example, two work are devoted to the occult sciences and the magic of letters and numbers: Shams al-ma‘rif wa lata’if al-‘awarif by the Egyptian sufi sheikh Abu-l-‘Abbas Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Yusuf al-Buni al-Maliki (d. 1222), containing spells to summon spirits and genies (on occult texts, see more: [3, pp. 223-249]). The second work of this genre is a collection under unknown authorship (copied in 1880-1890). We also identified works on medicine, dogmatics, hadith, poetry, interpretation of dreams – each in a single copy. It is noteworthy that we did not find a single Quran in this collection, despite the fact that its keeper serves as an imam in a mosque and is quite a religious man. It can be assumed that he considered the Quran too personal and did not want to provide it for our study, which is a common occasion in field research.

In the collection of Sh.Yu. Magomedov there are also printed materials – Tukhfat al-mukhtaj sharh al-minhaj by al-Haytami – an early printed book on Muslim law in three parts, published in Egypt in 1880-1890, and the textbook of the Arabic language Al-Durus al-shifahiyya by Ahmad Hadi Maksudi (1868-28.06.1941), published in Kazan typography in 1912. In addition, numerous letters and documents in Arabic, which were attached to volumes of manuscripts, remained unexamined. Some of them carry important information for the history of the macro-region, but they are not directly related to the Turkic-speaking component of the collection, so they will be discussed in another publication.

Turkic manuscripts and books in the collections

A few manuscripts and books in Turkic languages drew our attention. One of them, from the collection of Sheikh Magomedov, entitled قاموس, is an explanatory dictionary-reference of medicines, various plants (such as jadwar – curcuma zedoaria, badruj – mountain basil, afsintin – wormwood, isfidaj – whitewash, etc.), fruits, minerals and animals, whose names are given partly in Arabic, Persian, Greek (in Arabic graphics; sections (bab) follow the Arabic alphabet). The manuscript was copied in 1880-1890 in Dagestan, the name of the copyist is missing. The format of the manuscript: 17.5×22 cm; Russian factory paper with a stamp; black and red ink (the names of the sections are also highlighted in red ink), naskh script (Fig. 1). Such small medical reference books in Turkic languages of various origins (the author’s name cannot always be identified) are quite common in manuscript collections (for example, collection of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the RAS, Manuscript B 1171 [4, p. 127]).

Another Turkic manuscript in the collection of Sheikh Magomedov is some Turkic poems of religious content (date of copying: AH 1330/1912), which are part of a composite manuscript; numerous letters and out-of-text notes are attached to the manuscript. We assume that the authorship of these poems belongs to the famous Kumyk poet of the 18th century Abdurakhman from the village of Kakashura (or Atliboyun) (in 1909 his verses-turki were published in Temir-Khan-Shura under the editorship of Shikhammat-qadi al-Erpeli). On the title (Fig. 2) there are records of the death of the following persons from the village of Alhajikent: “on 3 Muharram 1366 / 26.11.1946 Hasan Khan the son of ‘Isa was buried. On 16 Zu-l-hijjah 1366/ 30.10.1947 Shamai daughter of ‘Abd ar-Razzaq was buried”. The format of the manuscript is 11 x 18 cm, 7 folios, Russian factory paper with a stamp (the stamp is unreadable), black ink, naskh script, custodes. The manuscript was copied in Dagestan in AH 1330 / 21.12.1911–19.12.1912, the name of the copyist is missing.

From the collection of K.M. Kamalov, we can single out a lithograph (published in Temir Khan-Shura, Mavraev printing house, AH 1328 /1910, Dagestani naskh5, 70 pages, the end is missing), entitled “Yusuf” (يوسف). As follows from the information on the title page, the editor is Abu Sufyan b. Akai ad-Dagistani al-Ghazanishi. “Yusuf” is one of the variants (translated into the Kumyk language) of the most famous poem of the Muslim world created by Kul Gali Qyssa-i Yusuf (“The Story of Yusuf”, 13th century), based on the plot of the Biblical-Quranic legend about Joseph the Beautiful and Zulaikha (Potifar’s wife). It is considered that the poem Kul Gali in poetic terms has a close connection with the Turkic literary tradition of Central Asia – first of all, with the Hikmats of Ahmad Yasavi6 and Ahyr zaman kitabi of Suleiman Bakirgani7 [7; 8, pp. 793-794]; the originality of the language of the poem (combining various elements – both the Oguz and Kipchak ones8) gives the reason to consider this work as part of the common Turkic literary heritage. In the form of a book and a lithograph, Qyssa-i Yusuf was published numerous times (primarily in Kazan). According to N.Sh. Hisamov, “since 18399, the poem has been reprinted about 80 times” [7]. The poem consists of a preface and 17 parts (the lithographic edition of the translation from the collection of K.M. Kamalov exactly follows this structure) – “Yusuf’s Dream”, “The Story of Zulaikha”, “Yusuf’s Departure from Egypt” and so on.

Manuscripts copied in Dagestan, as well as lithographs and old printed books, in Turkic languages still remain insufficiently studied (partly due to their small number in the collections of museums, archives and institutes outside the Republic of Dagestan10). Among the most important tasks of our project is the preservation of the manuscript heritage of the Muslim regions of Russia, as well as the creation of an electronic library, including a consolidated annotated catalog of manuscripts, which will subsequently greatly facilitate their study.

Acknowledgments. The present study was carried out within the framework of the Russian Science Foundation Project No. 22-18-00295 “Electronic Library of Arabographic Manuscripts from Archival, Library, Museum and Private Collections of Russia”.

Благодарность. Статья написана в рамках проекта РНФ № 22-18-00295 «Электронная библиотека арабографичных рукописей из архивных, библиотечных, музейных и частных собраний России».

1. Among his works on the history of the Kayakent district and the village of Alhajikent: [1]

2. From an interview with K.M. Kamalov (materials of the expedition, August 2022).

3. Shikhaliev ShSh. A Series of Lectures within the Framework of the Master's Program “Muslim Worlds in Russia: History and Culture” of the HSE. Available https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTyOpF13d0M&t=10s

4. See: [2, p. 80-133].

5. The structure of the title page design and writing style correspond to the common principles of the design of the Dagestan Arabic-language lithographed book (for more details, see [5]).

6. Ahmad Yasavi (Ahmad b. Ibrahim b. Ali from the city of Yasi/Turkestan, died in 1166/67) is a Central Asian poet of the 12th century, the author of a collection of quatrains Divan-i Hikmat (or the “Hikmats of Yasavi”, i.e. the maxims of Yasavi; the authenticity of the affiliation of these verses is questionable, since many of his followers attributed various texts to him, see: [6, p. 426]), the founder of the Yasaviyya brotherhood, which later spread widely in Central Asia (the ideas of the brotherhood remained popular until the 18th century), and then (indirectly through Yunus Emre) on the territory of Asia Minor – Turkey.

7. Suleiman Bakirgani (or Hakim Ata, d. in Khorezm in 1186) – poet, follower of Ahmad Yasavi.

8. “The language of the extant copies of the novel seems to be mixed; according to morphological features, first of all, those are South Turkic elements, typical for the monuments of Old Ottoman literature of the 14th-15th centuries; the second goes the elements of Western Turkic, and the third – ancient East Turkic, known to us from the works of the Orkhon and Uighur scripts” [8, p. 806].

9. The publication: Kul Gali. Qyssa-i Yusuf. Kazan University tabhanase, 1839. – T.A., I. Ch.

10. According to G. M.-R. Orazaev, “Most of them, obviously, are stored in Dagestan – in particular, in Makhachkala, Derbent, Khasavyurt, Kaspiysk, Buynaksk and other cities and villages” [9, p. 35].



Tatiana Anikeeva

Institute of Oriental studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
Email: tatiana.anikeeva@gmail.com
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0653-3970
SPIN-code: 8157-3646
Scopus Author ID: 57210926303

Russian Federation, Rozhdestvenka st., 12, Moscow, Russian Federation

PhD (in Philology)

senior research fellow, head of the Center of Islamic manuscripts

Ilona Chmilevskaya

Institute of Oriental studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Email: ilonach1905@mail.ru

Russian Federation, Rozhdestvenka st., 12, Moscow, Russian Federation

assistant-researcher of the Center of Islamic Manuscripts

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