Collection of Slavonic and Foreign Language Manuscripts
The Collection of Slavonic and foreign medieval and modern manuscripts includes over 1700 manuscripts, the majority of which are described in the relevant catalogues. These are mainly books of ecclesiastical and dogmatic content, for liturgical use and for the daily needs of the monastic life: gospels, psalters, apostles, liturgicons, missals, miscellanies, etc. The secular and educational literature, translated and original, include works from Antiquity, the Middle Ages and, through the European Enlightenment, up to the Bulgarian National Revival period – the Roman of Alexander, the Troy Parable, historical works, letter-writing samples, manuals, dictionaries, chrestomathies, different treatises, etc.
The Collection of Slavonic manuscripts, containing Bulgarian, Serbian, Wallachian, Moldavian and Russian books, presents a complete picture of the history and literature of the Middle Ages, the period of Ottoman rule and the Bulgarian Revival. Preserved are witnesses of the history of the Bulgarian language and the development of the South Slavonic Cyrillic script, as well as different records of the common and cultural history not only in Bulgarian lands, but also in the Balkans. Major Bulgarian cultural centres through the centuries are presented with their production – Tarnovo and the surrounding monasteries in the 13th and 14th centuries, the literary school in the Rila monastery in the 14th–15th centuries till the end of the hand-written tradition in the 18th century, Sofia and its monasteries, Lovech and Lovech monastery, Kuklen monastery, some of the monasteries on Mount Athos, the Bachkovo monastery, the literary centres in Etropole and Adjar village, Plovdiv, Kotel, etc and also the small scriptoria in all Bulgarian lands. In the signed manuscripts one can see the names of men of letters such as priest Dobreisho, priest Ioann, priest Gerasim, Mardarii of Rila, monk Spiridon, hieromonk Visarion of Debar, Peter Grammarian, hieromonk Daniil of Etropole, Avram Dimitrievich, daskalos Nedjalko and his son daskalos Filip, Yosif Bradati, Nikifor of Rila, hieromonk Pamvo of Kalofer, Peter Tsarski, priest Puncho, Sofronii bishop of Vratza (priest Stoyko Vladislavov) and others.
The Collection of Greek manuscripts, most of which were provided for liturgical purposes, reflect the relations of Bulgarians with the Greek Patriarchate in Constantinople, the ecclesiastical centre under whose jurisdiction the Bulgarian lands were during the time of Ottoman domination. However few, the books reflect the cultural traditions of Byzantium. The data about the origin of the Greek manuscripts in the Library are very scant. Most of them were donated or purchased from different regions of Bulgaria (Arbanasi, Bachkovo monastery, Varna, Pomorie, Sozopol, etc) and were written by Bulgarians. Some manuscripts originate from the monasteries on Mount Athos – Vatopedi, Hilandar, Zograph and others, where Bulgarian monks have lived.
A valuable part of this collection are Cantica Ecclesiastica (18th–19th century) – 34 anastasimatarions, katabasiai, heirmologions, etc, most of them written in Bulgaria, with fine Greek neumes.
The beginnings of the Collection of Slavonic and foreign language manuscripts go back to the establishment of the Library in 1878 when the Collection was kept in a special bookcase in the Director’s office. Specialists from the Ministry of Public National Education and from the Library, collected and bought Slavonic, Greek and other foreign (non-Slavonic) manuscripts, incunabula and newspapers and magazines from the Bulgarian Revival Period to organize the Collection. Among the first acquisitions were manuscripts donated by Sofia bishop Meletii Zografski, Prof. Marin Drinov, Petko R. Slaveikov, Nayden Gerov and the manuscripts from the Library of Bulgarian Literary Society in Braila. Many manuscripts and old books, discovered and collected from various churches and monasteries in the Bulgarian ethnical territory came in the Library through the Bulgarian Exarchate in Constantinople, Ministry of Public Education, the National (later Archeological) Museum in Sofia and by the joint efforts of Bulgarian scholars and public figures such as Vasil Ikonomov, Dimo Karadimov, the merchant Toma Zaikov, etc. Part of the Greek manuscripts in the collection was in Ochrid from where they were brought to the Library by the enlightened public figure Eftim Sprostranov.
The United Bulgarian Bank donated the collection UBB and the Bulgarian Multimedia Company made a donation of the collection BMC in 1995.
The Special Department for Manuscripts and Old Printed Books was created in 1948 with Dr. Manio Stoyanov as its first Head and subsequently underwent various changes. In January 1978 by the Director’s order two departments became autonomous – Manuscripts, with the attached to it National Archeographic Commission, restored in 1977, and Old-Printed, Rare and Precious Books. Eminent professionals in the field of codicology and paleography such as Prof. B. Tsonev, Dr. M. Stoyanov, Prof. H. Kodov and Prof. Bojidar Raikov have been heads or members of the staff in the Department.
Slavonic manuscripts, over 1500 items, which could be differentiated by territory and language:
– Bulgarian Cyrillic manuscripts from the 11th to the 19th centuries; the oldest MS in the collection is the ENINA APOSTLE from the 11th century (NBKM 1144). A number of manuscripts from the 13th c. are preserved, among which could be mentioned ARGIROV TRIODION (NBKM 933) and GOSPEL LECTIONARY (VELES GOSPEL, NBKM 18). One of the most interesting and valuable manuscripts from that group is the DOBREISHO GOSPEL (NBKM 17). Of the 14th-century manuscripts the most precious are those connected with the literary work and reforming activities at the monasteries on Mount Athos and around Tarnovo; representative of the Tarnovo Literary School is the MISCELLANY OF 16 ORATIONS OF GREGORY THE THEOLOGIAN; a FOUR GOSPELS (NBKM 22) with miniatures of the Evangelists also belong to that period. The SHOPOV-KARADIMOV PSALTER (NBKM 454 + 1138) is witness of the Athonite revised version of the Slavonic translation of the Psalter. PATRIARCH EVTIMII’S LEITOURGICON (NBKM 231) is of special interest for the history of Bulgarian literature and Bulgarian medieval history. The end of the manuscript tradition in the 18th century was marked by monuments important for Bulgarian literary culture such as ISTORIA SLAVYANOBALGARSKA of Paisii of Chilendar preserved in THE FIRST SOFRONII (KOTEL) COPY of 1765 (NBKM 368), equally significant for Bulgarian literary culture.
– South Slavonic manuscripts (from present day Macedonian and Serbian lands) from the 12th to the 19th century: SOFIA ILLUSTRATED OF ALEXANDER (NBKM 771) from the 15th century is among the rare examples of illustrated copies. One manuscript, written in Croatian Glagolitic script is also kept in this collection.
– Wallachian and Moldavian manuscripts from 15th to 18th century; in their major part they follow the tradition of the Tarnovo Literary School.
– Russian manuscripts; represented by few copies, among which the lavishly illuminated BUSINCI GOSPEL (NBKM 52) from the 16th century.
The Slavonic collection contains a large number of fragments (including single folios) of manuscripts; also included are few charters from the 15th-17th centuries issued by Wallachian and Moldavian rulers. The major part of that collection belongs to the Library and is signed “NBKM” (Nacionalna Biblioteka “Sv. Sv. “Kiril i Metodij” / St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library”), while the two detached collections are signed respectively “OBB”(Obedinena Bulgarska Banka / United Bulgarian Bank)” and “BMC (Balgarska Multimediina Kompanija / Bulgarian Multimedia Company).
Foreign language manuscripts, differentiated by language into the following collections and bearing corresponding shelf-marks:
– Greek manuscripts from the 10th-19th centuries; the collection comprises 159 Greek manuscripts of which the last ten are not registered in the catalogue, published by M. Stoyanov. Very important for the paleographers are the late 10th-century parchment fragment of GOSPEL LECTIONARY (NBKM Gr. 2) , the 12th-century PROPHETOLOGION (NBKM Gr. 18), a TYPICON (NBKM Gr. 56) from the 14th century and a LEITOURGIKON (NBKM Gr. 41) from 1736 A.D.;
– Latin manuscripts – the collection contains 8 manuscripts from the 13th to the 19th centuries, the oldest one being the ROMAN MISSAL (NBKM Lat. 1) from the 13th c. Very valuable is the LATIN ANTIPHONARION, given to the National Library by the world famous pianist Yuri Bukov.
– Romanian manuscripts – 8 manuscripts from the 17th and 18th centuries;
– German manuscripts – the collection contains 4 manuscripts from the 18th and the 19th centuries;
– Italian manuscripts – the collection comprises 3 manuscripts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Here should be mentioned IL NAUTICO from 1758 (NBKM Ital. 2).
To the foreign-language collection also belong one Armenian manuscript – ARMENIAN FOUR GOSPELS from 966 (NBKM Arm. 1), one Georgian manuscript from the 18th century, a copy from the Bachkovo Monastery Typikon (NBKM Georg. 1), and three Hebrew scrolls from the 15th-17th century.
The Manuscripts and Old Printed Books Department offers to its readers a collection of microfilms and microfiches reproducing part of the Library manuscripts, identified as Bulgarian and manuscripts of Bulgarian origin kept in other local and foreign libraries (the Vatican Apostolic Library, the National Library of Austria, the British Library, the monastic libraries on Mount Athos, the National Library of France, etc.) These surrogate copies are subject to digitization, which has been started recently. Selections of manuscripts from the collections of the Scientific Archive of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Church-Historical and Archival Institute in Sofia, Ivan Vazov National Library – Plovdiv and Rila monastery are also presented in photocopies.
Some of the most renowned manuscripts have separate editions.
Catalogues, Inventories, Publications
The content of the major part of the two Collections, excluding the latest acquisitions, is described in the five-volume Descriptive Catalogue of Slavonic Manuscripts, the Union Catalogue of the Bulgarian Manuscripts Kept in Bulgaria and the Catalogue of the Greek and Foreign Language Manuscripts. Copies of the catalogues are available in Prof. Marin Drinov Specialized Reading Room (Reading Room 1). Forthcoming is the completion of several catalogues: of the Slavonic fragments, the 6th volume of the Slavonic manuscripts catalogue (18th and 19th c.), a descriptive catalogue of the new acquisitions, the first volume of the revised catalogue of the Greek manuscripts and the first volume of the catalogue of illuminated manuscripts.
Selected groups of manuscripts from the Collection are shown in exhibition catalogues. A representative part of Slavonic and Greek Gospel manuscripts could be seen in the Digital Library.
All surrogate copies are revealed in corresponding card indexes in the Specialized Reading Room.
The Collection is part of the Manuscripts and Old Printed Books Department. The staff of the department offer specialized information.
By reasons of preservation manuscripts which have been reproduced could be requested by substantiated reasoning to consult the original. Readers can request copies of the documents by filling a form, according to the active Service Rules and of the Service Tariff in the Library.
Hours of service of the Department: Monday-Friday, 09.00–12.00 a.m. – 12.30-05.30 p.m.
Manuscripts and reproforms can be used only in Specialized Reading Room 1. Hours of service:
Monday-Friday 08.30 a.m. – 06.00 p.m.
Saturday 09.00 a.m. – 03.00 p.m.
Requests for manuscripts and microforms are accepted daily from 09.00 a.m. till 03.30 p.m. Manuscripts can not be used and are not drawn on Saturdays.