Infa Yattara Family Library Collection

This project offers a representative sample of 50 Arabic manuscripts from the Infa Yattara Family Library currently housed in a private facility in Bamako, Mali. It consists of various works in the Islamic sciences, literature, medicine, Qur’an, historical documents as well as treatises in esoteric fields of knowledge. The collection originates from Timbuktu, however, the manuscripts themselves were widely traded and have likely been produced in various parts of the regions surrounding that historical centre of scholarship. Most of the works date from the late 18th to the early 20th century and show the varied nature of manufacture and preservation of manuscripts from this region. There are multiple hands and calligraphic styles represented throughout the collection as is typical of similar private libraries. These items served in the varied scholarly traditions of the region particularly as related to the practice of Islam, as well as documenting social and legal processes within the society. In some instances we see multiple engagements with the texts themselves either through corrections by a master scholar reviewing the work of his students or with commentaries added by readers.

Arrangement: The current numbering of the library's mansucripts was the product of an effort by the NGO SAVAMA-DCI to box and produce a basic handlist of the collection when it was transported from Timbuktu to Bamako for safety reasons in 2012-2015. This has resulted in an official counting of the manuscripts at 3796. However, there are some manuscripts (roughly 300 and many of those are single loose folios) that were not included in this earlier triage effort and have not been provided with item numbers by the library at this point. Additionally, there are instances where certain item numbers may actually have parts of more than one manuscript. For this pilot project the manuscripts which were documented are all from those given numbers under by the SAVAMA-DCI team. Aside from the majority of the Qur'an manuscripts in the collection which were given the first numbers in the listing, there is no systematic ordering of the materials by genre, date, size, or location of production.