Sharjah Ruler donates 12,000 rare books on Islamic art and architecture to House of Wisdom

The donation includes the private library of renowned German historians Richard and Elizabeth Ettinghausen

A staff member from Sharjah's House of Wisdom with one of the books donated by the emirate's Ruler
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Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, has donated 12,000 rare books to the emirate's House of Wisdom.

The donation includes valuable publications on the region’s art and architecture, many of which are more than 100 years old.

The rare titles include the private library of German historians and couple Richard and Elizabeth Ettinghausen, both of whom were specialists in Islamic and Arab art.

Sheikh Dr Sultan recently acquired the Ettinghausens's library and has since donated it to the House of Wisdom. The collection houses titles written in more than 10 languages, including Arabic, English, German, Japanese, Urdu and Russian.

The Ettinghausens were considered two of the world's most renowned academics in Islamic arts and architecture. Their library includes rare research on arts in the Islamic world including in Iran, India, Spain and Turkey.

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates - December 10, 2020: News. Arts. Opening of the House of Wisdom, a high tech new library. Thursday, December 10th, 2020 in Sharjah. Chris Whiteoak / The National

One prized title in the collection is a rare 1888 edition of Haza kitab-i mustatab-i Vasaya-yi Khvajah Nizam al-Mulk, penned by Persian vizier Abu Ali Hasan ibn Ali Tusi, better known as Nizam al-Mulk. One of only two copies listed globally, this book is a treatise on governance and political science.

An 1898 large-style publication on Oriental glassware and Islamic decoration and ornaments by Gustav Schmoranz is another noteworthy title. An original 1910 edition, the book – titled Die Ausstellung von Meisterwerken muhammedanischer Kunst in Munchen – is edited by Friedrich Sarre, a prominent German Orientalist and art historian, and FR Martin, a Swedish cultural historian and art collector.

A team of specialists at the House of Wisdom is categorising the collection and preparing to present it in a special exhibition. A date for the exhibition has not been revealed yet but it will be open to the general public.

Marwa Al Agroubi, director of the House of Wisdom, thanked Sharjah's Ruler for the donation, saying his “unwavering support of books, authors and libraries” helped the emirate receive Unesco’s coveted World Book Capital title in 2019.

"The House of Wisdom is a true representation of the title and the inspiring vision of Sharjah Ruler," she said.

The library, which was inaugurated in December 2020 by Sheikh Dr Sultan, is home to more than 300,000 books across its 12,000-square-metre site.

Updated: August 30, 2021, 12:49 PM