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South Asian Collection

Collection Details

South Asian Collection held at Cambridge University Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

Over 100,000 books and manuscripts. Coverage comprises all aspects of South Asian Studies in all periods.

History and development

The real expansion of the South Asian collection was sparked in the 1870s when Daniel Wright, surgeon to the British Residency at Kathmandu Nepal, collected a large number of Sanskrit manuscripts on the suggestion of his brother, William Wright, Professor of Arabic in Cambridge. Daniel Wright also sent the first Tibetan block-printed books and manuscripts. The manuscripts, letters, papers and some of the books of Edward Byles Cowell, Professor of Sanskrit, were given to the University Library after his death in 1903. Professor Cecil Bendall collected Sanskrit manuscripts for the University Library from north India, Nepal and Bombay with a grant from the Worts Fund in 1884-5. His own manuscripts and some of his printed books were given between 1906 and 1934 and a collection of letters to him came to the University Library in 1961. Pali and Sinhalese manuscripts were bought from Thomas William Rhys Davids in 1874. The University Library purchased Jaina manuscripts from Professor Johann Georg Bnhler in 1876-7. James Drummond Anderson, Lecturer in Bengali, left his collection of printed books, largely from Bengal and Assam, which came to the University Library in 1922. Percy MacQueen presented the University Library with a manuscript collection of folk poetry and songs in Tamil, Malayalam and Badaga in three parts between 1957 and 1961.

Rev. Claudius Buchanan on a journey through South India in 1806 collected Syriac manuscripts from Travancore and Hebrew manuscripts from Cochin. In 1805 he gave 65 volumes of early printed books from Calcutta and Serampore. Colonel Augustus Cotgrave Honner's collection of Indian manuscripts (Hindi, Panjabi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian and Arabic) from Lucknow in the 1860s was given to Corpus Christi College and is on deposit at the University Library. In 1726 George Lewis presented the University Library with his monumental cabinet lettered 'Bibliotheca Orientalis' including the Persian and Arabic manuscripts he collected in India. His collection contains many interesting items including two boxes of Indian playing cards. (In the University Library predominantly Persian and Arabic collections from India like Lewis' and the manuscripts of Robert Emlyn Lofft, Henry Griffin Williams, Walter Sibbald Adie, the E.E. Pote collection on deposit from King's College and Eton College, and various others, come under the Near East Section, as do Syriac and Hebrew. The papers of people like Lord Crewe and Sir Samuel Hoare (both Secretaries of State for India) and Lord Mayo and Lord Hardinge (both Viceroys) are treated as western manuscripts and come under the Manuscripts Department.)

Strengths

The clear strengths of the collection is in its manuscripts, the most significant being the Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts, including the earliest dtaed illustrated Sanskrit manuscript in the world. The monograph collection is especially strong on Buddhism, and on other religions, especially Hindu, Islamic, Jain and Sikh material. But in the University Library it is always wise to look widely outside the department, maps will be found in the Map Department, Official Publications will be found in the Official Publications Department, Asian language Bibles will be found in the Bible Society's Library, music will be found in the Music Department. Indeed music is a good example where the L.E. Picken ethnomusicological collection is so very impressive in its Asian coverage.

General arrangement and access regulations

Open access (except for rare and reserved items). Books are arranged according to the Cambridge University Library Classification System. South Asian monographs are classified in 833-838. South Asian manuscripts are requested in the Manuscripts Reading Room. South Asian periodicals are requested in the Periodicals Department. The open access books stand on North Wing, Floors 5 and 6. A copy of the classification scheme is available on these floors. Pre-1900 publications have been withdrawn to closed access; these may be requested in the Rare Books Reading Room. Tibetan pothi format (unbound) books (S839 or Tib) may be requested in the Manuscripts Reading Room. In addition, works in Indic, Tibetan and Southeast Asian languages may occur in other Library collections, e.g. early works may be in Rare Books classes, government publications in Official Publications, maps or music in the relevant collections. Readers are strongly advised to use the catalogues, whenever possible by author, in the first instance. Works in Western languages on Indian, Tibetan and Southeast Asian subjects (other than language and literature) are classified in the general range of library classification, e.g. a study of Buddhism written in German will be classified with religion, not with the language texts in 833-844; a modern study in English on South Asian archaeology will be found with archaeology; one on Southeast Asian coins with numismatics; a general history of Tibet under history (subdivided by Tibet), not under Tibetan (subdivision history).

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

South Asia.

Countries

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

Languages of material

Assamese, Avestan, Awadhi, Baluchi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Bihari, Braj, Divehi, Dogri, Dravidian (Other), Dzongkha, Gondi, Gujarati, Hindi, Indic (Other), Indo-European (Other), Kannada, Kashmiri, Khasi, Khotanese, Konkani, Kurukh, Lahnda, Lushai, Magahi, Maithili, Malagasy, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Marwari, Miscellaneous languages, Munda languages, Nepali, Newari, Oriya, Pali, Panjabi, Prakrit languages, Pushto, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Sogdian, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu.

Subjects

Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Arts, Communication and media, Development, Economics, Education, Environmental sciences, Geography, History, Human rights, Industries, International relations, Language, Law, Literature, Medicine, Music, Philosophy, Politics and government, Recreation, Religion, Science and technology, Sociology, Travel, Women.

Languages as linguistic focus

Assamese, Avestan, Awadhi, Baluchi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Bihari, Braj, Divehi, Dogri, Dravidian (Other), Dzongkha, Gondi, Gujarati, Hindi, Indic (Other), Indo-European (Other), Kannada, Kashmiri, Khasi, Khotanese, Konkani, Kurukh, Lahnda, Lushai, Magahi, Maithili, Malagasy, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Marwari, Miscellaneous languages, Munda languages, Nepali, Newari, Oriya, Pali, Panjabi, Prakrit languages, Pushto, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Sino-Tibetan (Other), Sogdian, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu.

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Archival materials (includes non-published & mixed material), Audio materials (includes cassettes & CDs), Books, Computer files (includes CD-ROMs & other electronic material), Manuscripts, Maps (includes all types of cartographic material), Music (only includes printed & manuscript music), Newspapers (includes microfilm editions), Official publications, Public records, Serials, Theses, Visual materials (includes photographs, prints, drawings, videos & films).

Size of collection - vernacular

75,000+ monographs

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has risen.

Annual intake

2,000 volumes

Content date range

0 to 0 AD

Collection policy

Collection Catalogue Information

Catalogue

All monographs are included in the Cambridge University Library OPAC or the Pre-1978 Guardbook Catalogue under romanised headings. A retrospective conversion of South Asian non-roman script entries from the Guardbook slips to the online OPAC was completed in 2000. Pre-1978 imprints must be checked in both catalogues until the University Library's retrospective conversion of roman script entries is completed. All OPAC records have Library of Congress subject headings. In recent years romanisation follows Library of Congress schemes. Bendall, Cecil, 1856-1906 Catalogue of the Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts in the University Library, Cambridge: with introductory notices and illustrations of the palaeography and chronology of Nepal and Bengal / by Cecil Bendall Cambridge: University Press, 1883 xii,lvi,225p, [3] leaves of plates (folded): two tables (folded); 23cm 'List of the principal works referred to': p[lv]-lvi Includes indexes Cambridge University Library--Catalogs Manuscripts, Sanskrit--Catalogs Buddhism--Bibliography Manuscripts--Great Britain--Catalogs Paleography, Indo-Aryan (Reprinted: Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1992 Series title: Publications of the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project; 2 Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland. Supplementband; 33) Bendall, Cecil, 1856-1906 A journey of literary and archaeological research in Nepal and northern India, during the winter of 1884-5 / by Cecil Bendall Cambridge: University Press, 1886 xii, 100p, [16] leaves of plates: ill; 23cm Includes bibliographical references and index Manuscripts--India Inscriptions, Indic Architecture--India Nepal--Antiquities India--Antiquities Part II: Lists of mss., with notes. Bendall, Cecil, 1856-1906 Notes on a collection of MSS obtained by Dr Gimlette of the Bengal Medical Service, at Kathmandu, and now deposited in the Cambridge University Library, and in the British Museum / by Cecil Bendall Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, N.S. 20 London : 1888, pp. 549-551. Wujastyk, Dominik Sanskrit Ayurvedic manuscripts in the British Isles / Dominik Wujastyk Journal of the European Ayurvedic Society, vol. 1 Reinbek : 1990; pp. 91-118 Appendix II: Ayurvedic manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library Davids, Thomas William Rhys, 1843-1922 List of PGli manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library / by T.W. Rhys Davids Journal of the Pali Text Society London : 1883 ; pp. 145-146 Blumhardt, James Fuller, d. 1922 Catalogue of Pashto manuscripts in the libraries of the British Isles: Bodleian Library, the British Museum, Cambridge University Library, India Office Library, John Rylands Library, School of Oriental and African Studies, [and] Trinity College, Dublin / by James Fuller Blumhardt and D. N. MacKenzie London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1965 x, [2], 147 p. ; 26 cm Manuscripts, Pushto -- Great Britain -- Catalogs 'Works cited': p. [xii] Browne, Edward Granville, 1862-1926 A catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the library of the University of Cambridge / by Edward G. Browne Cambridge : University Press, 1896 xl, 471 p. ; 25 cm. In English and Persian. Some text in Persian script. Manuscripts, Persian -- Catalogs. Manuscripts -- England -- Cambridge -- Catalogs. Manuscripts -- Great Britain -- Catalogs. Cambridge University Library -- Catalogs. Includes indexes Much of interest from India and about India is included, not only in Persian but including Pushto, Urdu and Malay manuscripts... Browne, Edward Granville, 1862-1926 A hand-list of the Muhammadan manuscripts: including those written in the Arabic character, preserved in the library of the University of Cambridge / by Edward G. Browne Cambridge: University Press, 1900 xvii, 440 p ; 23cm Manuscripts--Great Britain--Catalogs Manuscripts, Arabic--Catalogs Manuscripts, Persian--Catalogs Manuscripts, Turkish--Catalogs Cambridge University Library -- Catalogs. This later handlist includes Pushto, Urdu, Malay and Panjabi manuscripts... Niemann, Grahame Uncatalogued Indian manuscripts of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: the Honner collection / Grahame Niemann IAVRI Bulletin, 9 Vrindaban : 1980, pp. 3-15 ; 20cm [Manuscripts on deposit at Cambridge University Library] Jamieson, R. C. (Robert Craig), 1953- The perfection of wisdom: extracts from Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita / selected and translated by R.C. Jamieson; foreward by H.H. the Dalai Lama; illustrated with ancient Sanskrit manuscripts London: Frances Lincoln/Penguin Viking, 2000 109p: col. ill; 22cm Includes index Translated from the Sanskrit Buddhism--Doctrines Bodhisattva (The concept) Cambridge University Library. Manuscript. Add.1464 Cambridge University Library. Manuscript. Add.1643 Includes descriptions of Cambridge manuscript illustrations: p104 ff.

Catalogue transliteration schemes

Library of Congress

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