Latest additions to the Digital Library

A reminder to all our readers that we have two online events to look forward to next week.

The first, on Tuesday 23rd February at 6.30pm, will see Dr Erin O’Halloran lecture on “From the Khilafat Crisis to the Arab Revolt: The Middle East in Indian Nationalist Politics Between the Wars”. Then, on Thursday 25th February at 6.30pm, Professor Christopher Hancock will introduce his new book, Christianity and Confucianism: Culture, Faith, and Politics, in conversation with respondent Graham Hutchings (Associate, Oxford University China Centre). This major new study reawakens and revises an ancient conversation and tells a remarkable story of mutual formation and cultural indebtedness. We hope that you will be able to join us for both events: please register by emailing Matty Bradley at

New additions to the Digital Library:

While our physical library remains closed due to the nationwide lockdown, RAS staff are still available to help with your research enquiries. Moreover, our Digital Library remains open for business, and we are delighted to have been able to make available online another 21 manuscripts, thanks to the support of the Byoma Kusuma Buddhadharma Sangha 

These manuscripts are Buddhist texts from Nepal, that were collected by Brian Houghton Hodgson (1801-1894), British Resident in Nepal and presented to the Royal Asiatic Society in 1835 and 1836. While most of the manuscripts Hodgson collected were copies made in the early 1800s, some date back as far as the seventeenth century; while still others are even earlier. Indeed, the oldest manuscript in the Society’s collection was donated by Hodgson: a copy of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, thought to date from the thirteenth century. As well as embodying an important part of Nepal’s cultural heritage, the manuscripts Hodgson collected proved to be a key source for European scholars, such as Eugène Burnouf, who were working in the early nineteenth century to try and understand the history of Buddhism in South Asia. We are delighted that these texts can now be freely viewed online from Nepal and anywhere else:

Drawing of Brian Houghton Hodgson when he was younger.


During his time in Nepal, Hodgson developed diverse interests in its zoology, architecture, languages, and religion. Hodgson wrote almost a hundred articles on the birds and mammals of Nepal, and he commissioned the artist Raj Man Singh to make a series of architectural drawings of the Kathmandu valley. To this day, these drawings remain a key source for understanding Nepal’s extraordinary built heritage. They are also available on our Digital Library:


Screenshot of a Hodgson manuscript taken from the Digital Library

Collections Evening announcement:

We are also pleased to announce that the Society will hold another virtual Collections Evening, on Thursday 25 March at 6.30pm. These events are an important opportunity to celebrate ongoing work to catalogue, conserve, and understand RAS collections – work that has been able to continue despite the challenges of the past year. We are pleased to present three speakers for this occasion:

Emma Jones, new RAS Archivist, will speak about her work cataloguing the Oriental Translation Fund and Abraham Poliak Papers, and reflect on the challenges presented by limited access to physical collections during the pandemic.

Image of Abraham Poliak, copyright Wikipedia

Lily Colgan (Royal Asiatic Society) will reflect on her experiences cataloguing the diverse archival collection of the West brothers, five railway engineers who compiled meticulously detailed notes on the Kanheri Caves near Mumbai, and other sites, in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Drawing from the West collection.


Jung Min (Royal Asiatic Society) will introduce the history of RAS Korea and discuss the importance of textual sources for documenting its long and storied history

Please stay tuned for more information about the event. To register, please email Matty Bradley at

Dr. Edward Weech