Bayly Prize News

         Sir Christopher Bayly (1945-2015)

The Society is delighted to announce that the adjudicators for the Bayly Prize have reached their decision about the winners for the 2020 competition. The Society regrets that present regulations governing social events during the pandemic prevent us from holding the usual prize giving celebration. Such an event will be organised later in the year when conditions permit. The judges report a gratifyingly strong field of submission with three dissertations being of outstanding merit:

Liana ChaseSchool of Oriental and African Studies, Healing ‘Heart-Minds’: Disaster, Care, and Global Mental Health in Nepal’s Himalayan Foothills. 
Hannah Theaker, University of Oxford, Moving Muslims: The Great Northwestern Rebellion and the Transformation of Chinese Islam, 1860-1896. 
Hedwig Waters, University College, London,  ‘Living from loan to loan’: Tracing networks of gifts, debt and trade in the Mongolian borderlands.

After further deliberation, the Prize is awarded to Dr Liana Chase: congratulations to her, Dr Hannah Theaker and Dr. Hedwig Waters the other short-listed candidates.

Submissions are now invited from graduates of any British or Irish university who have completed and been approved for the PhD degree for a thesis in the field of Asian studies in a subject falling within the scope of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society or of Modern Asian Studies.  The thesis must have been examined and approved for the PhD degree at a British or Irish university in 2020.  The date of the final approval letter must fall between 1st January and 31st December 2020. Please consult the website of the Royal Asiatic Society for details on how to apply.

The timetable for the competition is as follows:

Submissions must be sent to Alison Ohta ( and Amy Riach ( by Wednesday, 31st March, 2021. 

The winner will be announced in October 2021.

The Society has appointed the following to be the adjudicating panel for 2021:

Dr T. C.Sherman (LSE) Chair
Professor Naoko Shimazu (NUS)
Professor Susanne Brandtstädter (Koln)
Professor Rebecca Empson (UCL)
Professor Arne Westad (Yale)

The Society records its thanks to Professor Carole McGranahan and to Professor Sunil Amrith for their work as they step down as adjudicators.

Dr. Alison Ohta

Royal Asiatic Digital Collections:

Although access to the Society’s collections is currently suspended, some of these collections can be viewed online as part of the Society’s Digital Library. This features some of the most important and inspirational collections held by the Society and we aim to add more content within the coming months. A snapshot of some of these collections are illustrated below:

Thomas Manning Archive:

The Thomas Manning archive is one of the largest collections held at the Society, consisting of over 400 letters, journals and poems detailing Manning’s varied travels across Europe and Asia. Manning is renowned for being the first Englishman to enter Lhasa, the holy city of Tibet and for meeting the Dalai Lama.

The papers provide a vital perspective on western engagement with Asia in the early nineteenth century and all of them are available to view on the Digital Library.

Thomas Manning portrait on display at the RAS

Persian manuscripts:

A selection of Persian manuscripts have also been digitised with highlights including, the Shahnamah of Muhammad Juki (RAS Persian 239), the Masnavi of Zafar Khan (RAS Persian 310) and the Gulistan of Sa’di (RAS Persian 258).

The Gulistan which translates into the rose garden, was composed by the renowned Persian poet Sa’di (1203-1292) and produced under the Mughal Emperor Akbar. This contains beautiful paintings of birds and animals throughout the text. It is also known for its colophon portrait which depicts the eminent scribe Muhammad Husayn al-Kashmiri known as Zarrin Qalam (Golden Pen) and the artist, Manohara as a youth, who later had a long and illustrious career at the court of Shah Jehan (1592-1666).

Image from the Gulistan of Sa’di (RAS Persian 258).


A rich variety of artwork is available to view in the Digital Library including; most of the Society’s oil paintings, East Asian & South Asian artwork and drawings from the collection of Brian Houghton Hodgson. The Hodgson collection of  drawings illustrate significant Nepalese architecture with many of these buildings since being altered, or destroyed in earthquakes.

East Asian artwork from the Japanese theatrical prints collection

Film of archaeological excavations:

The only piece of film that is held by the Society can also be found within the Digital Library. This is a significant film of archaeological excavations at Nineveh, Iraq, ca. 1930, which has been attributed to the British archaeologist, Reginald Campbell-Thomson (1876-1941).


                         Nineveh Excavation

If you would like to learn more about these collections and to see what other content has been digitised, please go to: