An early printed catalogue of oriental manuscripts

FRASER, James. The history of Nadir Shah (London, 1742)

Provenance: Thomas Phillips, 1846

Nadir Shah, born to a peasant family in 1688, was captured by Uzbek tribesmen and joined a band of brigands while still a child. He rose to become a powerful military leader of the Afshar tribe and, when the Afghans invaded Persia in 1719, he supported the Safavid ruler Tahmasp II.

He became the power behind the throne and eventually deposed the Shah in 1732.In 1738 Nadir Shah invaded India, sacking Lahore and Delhi and carrying back to Iran vast hordes of treasure including the Peacock Throne and the Koh-i-Noor diamond as well as a large quantity of the finest manuscripts. He was known variously as "The Scourge of God" the "Napoleon of Persia" and the "Second Alexander".

This account of Nadir Shah was written by his contemporary, James Fraser, East India Company servant and collector of Oriental manuscripts. Fraser was in India when Nadir Shah invaded and provides a first-hand account of contemporary events (probably written by William Cockill) as well as translations from the Persian of historical texts and original documents.

After his death Fraser's collection of about 200 oriental manuscripts, including Avestan and Sanskrit, which he had purchased at Surat, Cambay, and Ahmadabad, was bought from his widow for the Radcliffe Library at Oxford; it was transferred to the Bodleian Library on 10 May 1872.

His claim that his forty-one ‘Sanskerrit’ manuscripts ‘formed the first collection of that kind ever brought into Europe’ appears to be valid, though single Sanskrit manuscripts had reached England and France even earlier. It was in order to inspect Fraser's Avestan manuscripts that the famous French orientalist Anquetil Duperron visited Oxford in 1762, when brought as a prisoner of war to England. (ODNB).The second part of this book contains Fraser's catalogue of oriental manuscripts  which is one of the earliest printed catalogues of its type.