When the Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences acquired the bequest of Alexander (Sándor) Kégl (1862–1920) in 1925, the Academy’s Persian holdings nearly doubled in number, securing its status as the foremost Hungarian collection of Persian manuscripts and increasing its international significance. From an Iranologist’s perspective, no Hungarian private library comes close to that of Kégl, which includes, in addition to thousands of printed books, fifty-nine Persian manuscripts, chiefly of Indian origin.
Numbers aside, Kégl’s Persian library merits attention on several other counts. First, his material seems to have been the only Persian collection in Hungary which was gathered on a methodically sound basis: while reflecting the personal bias and tastes of the collector, it is a reasonable reference library for certain well-defined aspects and periods of Persian literature, most notably the Persianate literary culture of India. Second, some individual items in the collection deserve attention in their own right: for example, the oldest dated Persian manuscript in Hungary, a copy of the Kalīla va Dimna of Naṣrallāh, dated 719ah/1319ce. Finally, the provenances and dedications that can be seen in some books reflect Kégl’s far-reaching European scholarly connections: Charles Schefer, Paul Horn, and Harald Rasmussen are among the manuscripts’ previous owners. This paper introduces and analyses these aspects of the collection.