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Part 1: The Taylor, Hichens and Werner Collections

"These collections are the prime research resource for the writing of the cultural and literary history of Swahili language and culture, and more generally, about the history, literature and thought of the people of East Africa, coast and hinterland."
Angelica Baschiera, Research Assistant, Swahili Manuscripts Cataloguing Project.

The Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London holds the largest collection of Swahili manuscripts in Britain.  Dating from the 1790's to the 1970's, these record a literary tradition dating back at least to the 12th century. Many are in Arabic and many contain poetry composed in northern Swahili dialects. Letters, stories, notes, essays on history and culture and drafts of published and unpublished books number among the collection’s offerings. The manuscripts are organised into seven distinctive groupings, named for the scholars who collected them. 

Part 1 covers the collections of W E Taylor, William Hichens and Alice Werner in their entirety (81 manuscripts), and includes African aphorisms, Giryama proverbs, hymns in Swahili, Folk tales, Swahili verses, the Mombassa Chronicle, the Liyongo Saga, Hamziyya, the history of Pate, notes on language, and photographs.

The collection is supported by a comprehensive online database prepared by SOAS.  This can be reached at www.swahilimanuscripts.soas.ac.uk


Digital Guide
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