Manuscripts


The Society’s collection includes around 2,000 manuscripts, originating from all over Asia. Our oldest manuscripts are almost a thousand years old. Many of our manuscripts were donated by members of the Society during the nineteenth century, having been purchased or commissioned in different parts of Asia.

We are delighted to announce that digitized version of the Shahnama of Muhammad Juki, copied in Herat between 1440 and 1445 and considered to be one of the finest Timurid manuscripts of the 15th century; the Gulistan of the poet Sa’di completed in 1583 in Fatehpur Sikri; and an autograph copy of Kitab-i Mathnawiyyat-i Zafar Khan copied in Lahore in 1663 are now available online on the Cambridge Digital Library Website.

Most of our manuscripts have been catalogued and can be searched on our online catalogue here. However, some collections are yet to be catalogued or are only partially catalogued. Please contact us if you would like help discovering any of our manuscript treasures.

Our manuscripts in Arabic script can be searched on the Fihrist catalogue here.

Three of our finest Persian-language manuscripts are on long-term loan at Cambridge University Library. They are the Shahnamah of Muhammad Juki (RAS Persian 239), the Kitab-i Mathnawiyyat-i Zafar Khan (RAS MS 310), and the Gulistan of the poet Sa’di (RAS MS 258). Please contact us for more information.

Our major manuscript collections include:

  • Manuscripts in Arabic script (Persian, Arabic, and Turkish collections)
  • Tod collection of Indian manuscripts
  • Hodgson collection of Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts
  • Malay manuscripts (Raffles and Maxwell collections)
  • Javanese manuscripts (Raffles collection)
  • Whish collection of South Indian manuscripts
  • Burmese and Pali manuscripts collection
  • Thai manuscripts collection
  • Tibetan manuscripts collection
  • Chinese manuscripts collection

We also have manuscripts in Urdu, Syriac, Armenian, Bugis, Lao, and other languages. Please contact us for more information.