The National Library of Finland is the oldest and largest scholarly library in Finland.
It is responsible for the collection, description, preservation and accessibility of Finland’s printed national heritage and the unique collections under its care. On this page, you will find an introduction to some of its special collections: The Collection of Oriental Manuscripts, The Tibet Collection, The Mannerheim Collection and The Donner Collection. Some of these resources are digitalized and can be found on the online repository, Doria.
If you seek more information on Asiatic Collections in the National Library of Finland, kindly see the book by Harry Halén, Handbook of Oriental Collections in Finland (London 1978).
The Collection of Oriental Manuscripts
The Collection of Oriental Manuscripts contains, for example, manuscripts in Arabic, Persian and Turkish. The collection is based on the manuscripts acquired by the explorer G.A. Wallin (1811–1852) during his trips to Arabia. Wallin’s diaries, notes and other materials are included in personal archives. The collection also includes materials derived from G. J. Ramstedt (1873–1950), such as Mongolian manuscripts. The materials in the collection are varied ranging from papyri, parchments and palm leaves to writing on pieces of clay. In addition, the collection contains the manuscripts brought with C. G. E. Mannerheim (1867–1951) from his trip to Asia, which are deposited at the library of the Finno-Ugrian Society. These may only be studied with a permission of the society.
The Tibet Collection
The first part of the Tibet Collection was donated by Tibetan Lama Tsetul Pema Wangyal in 1993. Lhasa Kanjur is included in the donation. It is known as a printed edition under the name Zhol-Kanjur i.e. Zhol bka´gyur dpar ma literary collection, which was assembled into its current format in 1934. The collection includes text editions of wooden plates copied by photographing in the 1990s. The Lhasa-Kanjur Collection has a total of 100 volumes (1,359 texts): Vinaya (13 vol.); Prajñāpāramitā (21 vol.); Ratnakuta (6 vol.); Avatamsaka (6 vol.); Sūtra (30 vol.); Mahāparinirvanasūtra (2 vol.); Tantra (21 vol.); dKarchag (1 vol.).
The rest of the literature, around 200-300 volumes (3,458 texts) have been received as individual donations in the 21st century. The Tibet Collection thus consists of the following parts: Lhasa edition bka’ ‘gyur (= kanjur); bstan ‘ gyur (= tanjur); other Tibetan scientific literature; commentaries on the canon, and cut sheets.
The Japonica Collection
The Japonica Collection consists of several donations received in the 20th century. Finnish researchers of Japanology have played a central role in forming the collection. The collection has around 600 titles in 2,000 volumes.
The Donner Collection
The Scientific Library of Professor Otto Donner (1835-1909) and his son Dr. Karl Reinhold (Kai) Donner (1888-1935), an extensive and valuable collection of linguistics and ethnology, was donated to the University of Helsinki in the 1930’s.
In this connection, a separate collection of Chinese literature was created, called nowadays the Donner collection. Otto Donner had commissioned Hugo Lund, a Finnish sinologist, to acquire for him representative classics and reference works, during Lund’s stay in Beijing in 1899 and 1901. The collection contains in total 71 titles (= 2565 volumes) and 17 small “notebooks” (pocket books of that time); f.e. reprints of ancient works, poetry, dictionaries and dynastic histories.
Most of them are printed in 1890’s in Guangzhou (Guangzhou), Shanghai and Beijing.
C.G.E. Mannerheim’s Fragment Collection
In 1906 C.G.E. Mannerheim got an assignment to ride through Silk Road and Tian Shan to Peking. His real mission was to gather political and military intelligence but he passed himself as an explorer. During his journey Mannerheim gathered old manuscripts and fragments. Almost all fragments in the collection are Buddhist. They probably come from the ruins of some Mahãyana temple or monastery. C.G.E. Mannerheim fragment collection is valuable addition to the research of early phases of Buddhism in the Turfan region.
The fragments are organised according to their language (links open in Doria):
Finno-Ugrian Society has deposited this collection with the National Library of Finland. It is photographed by Professor Masashi Oguchi from Hosei University. Documents are published with their permission. Research of the original fragments requires a permission from the Finno-Ugrian Society (find them here).