Friday, 29 June 2007

The fate of Tippu Sultan's Library

Sultan Fateh Ali Tippu (1750-1799), Tippu Sultan, known also by the English as the Tiger of Mysore

He was the son of Haider Ali, ruler of Mysore and Fakhr-un-Nissa and died fighting the English, being considered a national hero in India for his long time struggle against the British colonial forces in India who aimed at subduing and eventually annex his states.
A capable administrator, poet and military leader and a devout Muslim, Tippu Sultan was an example of tolerance towards other religions, protecting Hindu temples and having built the first Christian church in Mysore.
Tippu Sultan died in battle defending his capital Srirangapattana.
Detailed biographies can be found at
The Sword of Tippu Sultan, by Dr. K. L. Kamat and in the Website dedicated to Tipu Sultan and at Wikipedia

Tippu Sultan left a splendid library rich in manuscripts and books on government, law, religion and the sciences which was plundered by the British army after his defeat at Srirangapattana (more... in Lost treasures - Seema Alavi - Assistant Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi).

It is also known that «Tipu used to put his signature and stamp on every book he read. Most of the books in his library bore his signature and stamp. He used to put his signatures in an artistic and intricate style. First, he used Tipu Sultan as his name ‘Nabi Malik’. According to Kirk Patrick, the British supervisor of the library appointed by the Company, his wittings were superior to others and exceptionally lucid and compact» (quoted from

On the whereabouts of Tipu Sultan’s library, see:
«Oriental & India Office Collections (OIOC) section of the British Library in London - The nucleus of the collection itself was from the private Library of Tipu Sultan of Mysore, who had built it from the treasures of various Indian rulers conquered by himself and his father Hyder Ali. After the British defeated Tipu Sultan, this library of 2000 manuscripts was divided between the Cambridge and Oxford Universities in Britain and the College of Fort William in Calcutta. Meanwhile Robert Orme, the historiographer of the East India Company had collected a large number of manuscripts, books and letters during his career and requested the East India Company to create ‘a repository for Oriental Writings.» (quoted from;
A Guide to Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu Manuscript Libraries in India, by Omar Khalidi - Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and
Towards a database of the Arabic manuscripts in The British Library: a case history, Colin F. Baker, The British Library, London, United Kingdom.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Elisa Hensler, countess of Edla

Elisa Frederika Hensler – Countess of Edla, (1836-1929)

Famous soprano born in Switzerland of German origins, daughter of Jean Conrad Hensler and Josefa Hechelbacher who married, in 1869, as his second wife, Ferdinand (1816-1885), prince of Saxe-Courg-Gotha, widow of Queen D. Maria II of Portugal.

Elisa Hensler who lived in her youth in the USA was a highly cultivated woman with a keen interest in music, sculpture, ceramics, architecture and gardening.

She arrived to Portugal with her mother as a member of the Laneuville Opera Company in 1860, having sung at an Oporto Theater and then invited to sing at the Real Teatro de S. Carlos, in Lisbon. Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was enchanted by her voice and beauty and soon fell in love with her. He had a house built for her within the Pena Park, known as the Countess’ Chalet, which was completed in 1869, the year she married King Ferdinand.

By 1869, they married at the former Quinta of Gérard de Visme, at Benfica, near Lisbon. Before the morganatic marriage, Ferdinand's cousin - Ernest II, duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha had awarded Elisa Hensler the title of Countess of Edla.
Ferdinand a notable patron of the Arts who had bought the ruins of a convent in Sintra and had a Palace built there, known as the Pena Palace, left all his fortune to the Countess of Edla forcing the government to make a deal with her in order to acquire the Palace.

She had a valuable library and used the bookplate posted above, probably made by a German artist. Many of her books were bought by a Portuguese bibliophile and others were left to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

For a remarkable on-line photo gallery of Pena Palace see,

Monday, 11 June 2007

Prof. Hasip Pektas (Turkey)

Two recent bookplates created by Prof. Hasip Pektas from Turkey.
He is a Professor at Hacettepe University, Faculty of Fine Arts, apart from being a graphic artist and has been responsible for the widespread of ex libris contemporary movement in Turkey.
With several articles and books published on ex libris both in Turkey and in specialised Journals of several Ex Libris Societies, his work has been shown in more than two dozen exhibitions.
He is also the President of the Ankara Ex-libris Society and Hacettepe Art Museum.

Both ex libris are in CGD and made in 2006.

CGD is a wonderful modern means for the creation and reproduction of bookplates avoiding the great expense involved in traditional engraving and printing methods.

Fig 1

For my books on the Ottoman History and Culture, the ex libris represents music and belly dancing and the monogram (Turga) of the Sultan.

Fig. 2

Represents Sahmaran «the Queen of Snakes» - a mythological legendary figure with human head and the body of a snake.

Artist website

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Dogs in Ex Libris

L. Stroganov (Russia) (C3,C5)

E. Tihanovich (Russia), C3

Evy Haskove (CZ), C3

S. Kirnitskiy, (UK) (C4,C7)

David Bekker, (UK) C3
R. Kopylov (Russia) X2

Antoni Boada (Sp)

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Elly de Koster

C3, hand couloured, 2007, Opus #473

English Cocker Spaniels in a new bookplate by Dutch Artist Elly de Koster, made on behalf of a Cocker Spaniel lover and breeder and intended for the books on dogs.
Artist with a rare sensibility and ability to draw animals (birds, cats, reptiles, butterflies, swans, owls etc.) she captured in this work one of the main features of the English Cocker Spaniel - the affectionate eye expression, typical of the breed.


Elly de Koster website