Shaping the Stein collection’s Dunhuang corpus (2): the items from Cave 17’s ‘miscellaneous’ bundles

In a previous blog post , we looked at the instrumental role played by Wang Yuanlu during the selection of the items from the Cave 17. Wang, who directly chose from the small repository what to hand over to Stein for inspection, was very keen to divert his attention from the so-called ‘regular’ bundles, which were composed for the most part of Buddhist sutras in Chinese and Tibetan. During their first ever transaction, which took place between 21 May and 6 June 1907, Wang Yuanlu therefore began by handing over the ‘miscellaneous’ bundles, which he seemed to hold in low estimation. To Stein’s delight, these contained mixed and diverse materials, such as manuscripts in non-Chinese languages, illustrated scrolls, paintings, drawings, ex-votos, textiles, etc. Stein picked out any of the items that jumped at him as being particularly interesting and made sure to put them aside for ‘further examination’, the phrase that he used to refer to their removal in his transaction with Wang. This

The Diamond Sutra

The Diamond Sutra(Or.8210/P.2) at the British Library is the world's earliest dated printed book, and was made in AD 868. It was discovered by accident in the early twentieth century along with tens of thousands of other scrolls in a hidden cave at the Buddhist Mogao cave site in Dunhuang, northwest China.

The newly-conserved Diamond Sutra is now online via the IDP Database. A web resource about the manuscript is currently being developed and will include information and images about its conservation.

The Diamond Sutra can also be seen on the British Library's Turning the Pages.

The image below shows a detail from the frontispiece of the Diamond Sutra.
The video is of Mark Barnard, Manager of the Conservation Section at the British Library working on the manuscript.
© British Library Board


  1. Fantastic video ! I just checked the video shared by you. It is superb. Thanks for sharing ! Looking for some more videos of these kind.

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