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Juynboll collection comes to Leiden University Library

The Juynboll Stichting has donated a remarkable collection to Leiden University Library consisting of Islamic manuscripts and books formerly owned by Dr G.H.A. Juynboll.

G.H.A. Juynboll (1935-2010) was the last of a prominent family of Leiden Orientalists. An early ancestor served under admiral Piet Hein and took part in the capture of a Spanish return fleet which carried bullion from the Americas in 1628. In the nineteenth century T.W.J. Juynboll (1802-1861) was professor of Oriental languages at Leiden University. Another sibling, Th.W. Juynboll (1866-1948), was a student of Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje and later became professor of Hebrew at Utrecht.

On 18 August 2011 Juynboll's heir, the Leiden-based Juynboll Stichting, donated a considerable part of his collection to Leiden University Library. The donation encompasses his Islamic manuscripts, archival materials and printed books. An important part of his collection is related with his nineteenth-century forebears who were active in the field of Oriental studies. Many printed books bear their annotations and are therefore unique.

A beginning has already been made with an inventory of the archive. Eventually, a collection guide will be published on the Digital Special Collections website.

Islamic Tradition

Juynboll studied Arabic and Islam at Leiden and obtained his doctoral degree under Jan Brugman in 1969. He worked at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Exeter (UK). From 1985 onward he was financially independent, which enabled him to devote himself exclusively to his studies.

Dr Juynboll was a specialist of Hadith, the collection of sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad which rank second as a source of Islamic doctrine after the Holy Quran. In 1983 Cambridge University Press published his work Muslim Tradition. Studies in Chronology, Provenance and Authorship of Early Hadith.

His magnum opus Encyclopedia of Canonical Hadith was published by Brill (Leiden) in 2007. This work contains a critical assessment of all persons who were involved in the formation of Islamic orthodoxy.

Juynboll passed away in December 2010 as the last bearer of his family name. Friends and colleagues will remember him as a slightly eccentric, sensitive and unusually talented scholar.

Leiden University Library

From his return to the Netherlands in 1985, Juynboll was a daily visitor of the Oriental reading room of Leiden University Library. Because of the enormous number of Islamic reference works he had to consult, he obtained the privilege of using a book trolley, which served as an unmistakable sign of his presence in the reading room.

Many generations of students of Arabic and Islam have fond memories of him and his unremitting readiness to help. Juynboll was devoted to the library, a sentiment he expressed in an autobiographical essay, 'My Days in the Oriental Reading Room' (2007, repr. 2011).

More information

Juynboll's collection of family portraits was gifted to the Instituut Collectie Nederland (ICN). The printed books not selected by Leiden University Library will be sold by the Juynboll Stichting before the end of the year. The auction will be held at the premises of Burgersdijk & Niermans, Leiden.

Professor Léon Buskens, chair of the Juynboll Stichting, has contributed a biographical sketch of G.H.A. Juynboll to ZemZem, the only Dutch-language periodical on Middle Eastern studies (2011/1, pp. 115-126). It does ample justice to the work and personality of this remarkable scholar. An English-language version is to appear in Bibliotheca Orientalis together with a bibliography of his works.

For more obituaries and activities in commemoration of Dr Juynboll see the website of LUCIS, The Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society.

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