The interest of Prince Elector Augustus in other countries is demonstrated by the twenty-three travel books recorded in the Library's 1580 catalog, among them a volume entitled, Stories from the New World and Indian Kingdoms. The 1590 Customs of the Savages in Virginia is dedicated to Prince Elector Christian I. The first manuscripts from a different culture were added to the collection 100 years later as part of the "Turkish Booty" from the wars against the Ottoman Empire at the end of the seventeenth century. Supplementing them were manuscripts sent by diplomats in Constantinople during the time of the Polish-Saxon Union. In 1789 the Mayan Codex, which is the Library's most valuable possession, was acquired in Vienna.
In the nineteenth century, manuscripts from other cultures were acquired. These included seventy Tibetan, Kalmuck and Mongolian manuscripts from a German missionary in 1839; three Ethiopian manuscripts in 1845; palm-leaf books from Southeast Asia in 1848 and 1855; and finally, Chinese and Japanese books from a Saxon official of the Prussian Trade Expedition to East Asia in 1862.
"Muhammed splits the moon," an illustration in a Falnameh, a Persian book of prophesies
Leipzig Orientalist Heinrich Fleischer's 1831 catalogue of oriental manuscripts in the Königliche Bibliothek included a Falnameh, a Persian book of prophesies, often used to predict such things as the course of a journey or the success of a business deal. How the manuscript came the library is not known, but a notation indicates it came to Vienna around 1700, during the Turkish wars. The varying styles of painting, format, and texts suggest the leaves are of differing origin, probably based on Persian models in Turkey. It can be dated to the late sixteenth century.
Artist and scribe unknown Falnameh Persia, late sixteenth century, pp.73, 74 Watercolor and script (182)
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