The Gunnar Jarring Collection of Central Eurasia publications consists of almost 5000 volumes – mostly printed books from the 19th-and 20th-centuries but also manuscripts, catalogues and maps as well as more than 3000 offprints, most of which were signed by their authors with dedication inscriptions to their colleague and friend, Ambassador or Professor Jarring. Besides the travelogues and related literature, linguistic treatises and dictionaries for a great number of languages can be found in the collection, as well as books on history, religion, literature and several other disciplines.
Parallel to his career as a top diplomat in the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Gunnar Jarring (1907–2002) entertained a life-long academic career devoted to the Turkic world in general and Eastern Turkestan in particular. A large part of his own private library consisted of publications on Central Eurasia, both from the region itself and from other parts of the world, not least the former Soviet Union, where Jarring was Ambassador from 1964 to 1973. All of the most well-known accounts of expeditions to Inner Asia can be found in this collection along with a great number of less known accounts, some of which are very rare and accessible at just a few or perhaps even no other libraries in the world.
The Collection of Central Eurasia publications from Gunnar Jarring’s private library was eventually handed over to the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, which had the Ambassador among its fellows. In 2012, the year marking the 50th anniversary of the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII), a decision was taken by the Academy to the effect that the collection was to be donated to this Institute, where Jarring had been a most engaged member both as president of the board of trustees, 1974–1978, and as co-editor of the SRII annual, 1976–1996. This donation from the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities is of crucial significance for the promotion of SRII as an international multidisciplinary research forum operating in a broad Eurasian perspective.
For different aspects of contemporary research building on the scholarly legacy of Gunnar Jarring, see the anthology Kashgar Revisited: Uyghur Studies in Memory of Ambassador Gunnar Jarring (2017), where the first chapter is about the Central Eurasia Collection inherited from his private library and his own last contribution to this collection: Birgit N. Schlyter, “From the Private Library of Gunnar Jarring and His New Eastern Turki Dictionary”. The chapter is available as PDF here.
The Gunnar Jarring Central Eurasia Collection is part of a digitization project with initial funding from the Swedish foundation Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (2011–2014). This project is conducted in cooperation with the Sven Hedin Foundation at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and at a global level with the International Dunhuang Project (IDP) – a network for the coordination of databases for collections from the Eastern Silk Road. Rare and fragile manuscripts and printed matters as well as other objects, such as photos, maps and drawings in the Jarring Collection at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII) have been digitized for storage and presented on this website.
At present digitization and documentation work is being conducted on materials divided into three sections: Kashgar Prints, Travel Literature and Maps. By clicking on the options in the right column on the starting page of a section you will access works so far uploaded there.
Members of the Gunnar Jarring digitization project in Istanbul
Project Manager: Professor Birgit Schlyter, Stockholm University
Research assistants: Patrick Hällzon, Ph.D. Cand. in Turkic Languages, Uppsala, & Azize Güneş, Master’s Student in Linguistics, Lund.
Webmaster: Azize Güneş (see research assistants above)
We want to express our gratitude to the Swedish foundation Riksbankens Jubileumsfond for an initial grant 2011–2014, and to Stockholm University and the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities for generous funding during our continued digitization and research work. We are also thankful to the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden’s archive in Stockholm (Equmeniakyrkan) for cooperation and technical support in the scanning process.