Mapping Asia homepage Mapping Asia splash logo
Project background Search collections Search newspapers Language skills External links Contributors login
Back to results pageQuick collection searchBrowse collection recordsAdvanced collection search

Oriental Manuscripts

Collection Details

Oriental Manuscripts held at SOAS Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

There are about 2,000 manuscripts in the languages of Asia and Africa. 109 languages are represented in the collections. Of these there are 400 in Arabic, 93 in Chinese, 32 in Japanese, 56 in Javanese, 360 in modern Indo-Aryan languages, 135 in Malay, 400 in Persian, 250 in Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit and 45 in Turkish languages.The date range of the manuscripts is 800 to 1900.

History and development

A large number of the manuscripts form part of the Marsden Collection which were presented to King's College London by the Orientalist William Marsden in 1835. The collection was transferred to the School after its opening in 1917. Around 10 manuscripts, in Chinese, were received as part of the Morrison Collection which had originally been held at University College London. Other manuscripts have been donated to the School over the years. A few have been purchased.


There are a number of significant manuscripts in the Collection of which probably the most notable is a 16th century Mughal manuscript copy of Husain Va'iz Kashifi's Anvar-i-Suhaili with 27 miniatures. The Malay correspondence, c. 1786-1791, of Sir Francis Light, Superintendent of Prince of Wales island [Penang] with Malay rulers and chieftains forms an extensive - some 1,200 letters - body of rich research material.

General arrangement and access regulations

Closed Access

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

East Asia, Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, South East Asia.


Brunei, Burma, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand.

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Collection Management Information

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

Content date range

0 to 0 AD

Interlibrary loan procedure

Collection Catalogue Information


The online library catalogue offers access to all material acquired since 1989 and a substantial part of the material collected prior to that date. Work to add records for the earlier collections from the card catalogue is ongoing and by the end of 2002 all material acquired since 1979 will be included as well as significant parts of the rest of the collection. For those who cannot access the card catalogue on site the Library's catalogues have been published (details below).

Catalogue transliteration schemes

Since 1989 all records have been created using the current Library of Congress transliteration schemes, with the exception of Japanese which uses Modified Hepburn. As records are added to the online catalogue the transliterated records are being updated to these schemes.

Catalogue scripts

The current cataloguing and some of the earlier records for the following languages contain author and title fields in the relevant script: Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Ladino, Persian, Yiddish.

Links to other collections

Back to results pageQuick collection searchBrowse collection recordsAdvanced collection search