Рукописи и ксилографы на восточных языках в научной библиотеке им. М. Горького СПбГУ
10 Ŷ EDITOR’S PREFACE The collection of manuscripts and woodblock prints in Asian languages kept at Saint Petersburg State University Library has many unique characteristics in com- parison with other libraries where Oriental studies is a major focus. Its composition reflects both the history of Oriental studies in Russia and the process of Russia’s ter- ritorial enlargement eastwards. The bulk of the book collection was moved from Kazan University to St. Peters- burg University in 1855. Asian languages were included into the academic curriculum of the Kazan University in 1807 — the year of its foundation. This was not a mere coincidence. In the mid-sixteenth century the Russian state moved eastwards and reached the shores of the Pacific Ocean a century later. Kazan enabled direct contact with the Asian Russian population. The location of the University was in a region at the junc- tion of different cultures. A considerable Turkic population and an Islamic culture was established in this area. The goals of the University included the successfully strengthening of the distant borders of the Russian Empire by establishing contacts with new neighbours. For this the knowledge of the languages spoken by the peoples of the Far East including Mongolian, Chinese, Manchu was required. The fact that in Russia Asian languages and cultures were not something external and foreign but rather constituted an inseparable and important part of the national culture greatly contributed to the progress of Oriental studies in Russia. Russian subjects themselves contributed to the development of learning and book-writing in Asian languages. It is no surprise that when the Kazan University was already the centre of Oriental studies there appeared such scholars as A. K. Kazem-bek and D. Banzarov who combined their native knowledge of Asian languages and traditional Eastern education with the methodology of Russian and Western European scholarship. Books concerned with Russian Asian peoples and foreign countries were continuously presented to the University Library. These books provided the foundation for the study of Eastern religions. While Islam was more or less familiar to Russia, Buddhism was almost unknown. In 1838 with the purpose of training appropriately skilled functionaries the Institute of Asian languages was attached to the Licée Richelieu in the port city of Odessa — Russia’s sea gate to the Ottoman Empire. In 1855 its book collection was moved to St. Petersburg University.