Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Publication

Old Tibetan Texts in the Stein Collection Or.8210 is a new catalogue of 88 Tibetan manuscripts from the Dunhuang cave, held at the British Library but previously neglected because they were catalogued in the sequence dedicated to Chinese Dunhuang manuscripts (Or.8210). The catalogue was begun by Professor Tsuguhito Takeuchi of Kobe University, who passed it on to Kazushi Iwao, who worked on it at the British Library with Sam van Schaik of IDP. The catalogue includes an beautifully illustrated astrological divination text, Or.8210/S.6878, and several other texts that offer new insights into Tibetan history and religion. The catalogue is the first in a new series published by the Toyo Bunko: Studies in Old Tibetan Texts from Central Asia. You can download PDF files of the whole book from the Toyo Bunko’s website, here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

IDP Report October 2011 – March 2012

Download this report as a PDF (296KB)


IDP made a successful bid to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a 14–month project entitled ‘Contextualising Texts: Enhancing the Research Potential of Buddhist Manuscript Material’ and work started in February 2012. The project aims to work closely with academics and their students to develop, test and implement an enhanced multimedia research interface giving free access to richly interlinked and reusable resources suitable for interdisciplinary research by historians, art historians, geographers and archaeologists. The project also aims to develop and expand existing networks with scholars in the UK and worldwide, but most especially in China.


  • Sixteen scrolls from Dunhuang, donated in 1915 by Arthur Bollerup Sørensen to the Royal Library in Copenhagen, have been added to the IDP database and website.
  • Wong Yinghui finished encapsulation and numbering of over a thousand Sanskrit manuscript fragments. Details were entered onto IDP by Ursula Sims-Williams and Susan Whitfield before they were digitised by Rachel Roberts and the images sent for cataloguing to the international team of scholars. It is planned that IDP will complete the long-term project to conserve and digitise the Sanskrit fragments in 2012–13, and for full catalogues and transcriptions to be completed within another two or three years. All are online on IDP.
  • Rachel Roberts, working closely with Catrin Kost at the British Museum, has completed photography of the BM Central Asian artefacts from Stein and other collections. All are online on IDP.


  • 1–13 October: The Dunhuang Academy hosted the first IDP Partners’ Meeting for around 30 staff from IDP’s participating institutions in China, Japan, Korea, France, Germany, Sweden and the UK. Discussions focussed on IDP’s future direction, with sessions on scope and content, research, technology, localisation and communication. A report on the meeting has been published in issue 38 of IDP News.
  • 5–25 November: a team from IDP and the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology (IDP) photographed and videoed archaeological sites at Niya and Karadong initially excavated by Aurel Stein on his four Central Asian expeditions (1900-30). The visit was part of an ongoing collaboration with XJIA. Work is currently underway to prepare material for inclusion on the IDP database and website; and a full report will appear in the next IDP News and at the November conference (see forthcoming below).
  • 24–25 January: Susan Whitfield, Alastair Morrison and Vic Swift visited the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Musée Guimet in Paris to discuss new ways of linking and sharing data and images for the IDP website and making available more material, such as 3D objects, archives and photographs.
  • 15 February: Susan Whitfield, Alastair Morrison and Agnieszka Helman-Wazny visited Kew Gardens Herbarium to meet Dr Mark Nesbitt and discuss potential collaboration on paper analysis.
  • 30 February: Susan Whitfield attended the first meeting of the Advisory Board for the AHRC Research Network ‘A Persian Church in the Land of Pepper’ at de Montfort University.
  • 23–24 March: Sam van Schaik and Imre Galambos attended a meeting of the editorial board of the Encyclopaedia of Manuscript Cultures of Asia and Africa, at Hamburg University, Germany.
  • 27-28 March: Susan Whitfield attended a workshop as an advisor at the Dunhuang Academy as part of a Mellon-funded project.
  • IDP UK and Germany have supplied over 17,000 image links of Tocharian manuscripts for use on The Comprehensive Edition of Tocharian Manuscripts website hosted by the Department of Linguistics at the University of Vienna. The website is currently under construction although over 800 manuscripts are already available to view online with images pulled directly from the IDP UK database.


  • 20–26 October: Susan Whitfield presented a paper on developing a paleography and codicology for Asian manuscripts at the Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • 1 November: Susan Whitfield lectured on the Silk Road to students on Christie’s Education ‘Arts of China’ course.
  • 15–16 December: Imre Galambos presented a paper a conference entitled The Rise of Writing in Early China in Chicago and spoke on ‘Medieval Chinese Manuscripts with Multiple Dates’.
  • 16–17 December: Imre Galambos attended The International Symposium on the History of Normative Glyphs and their Variants, in Tokyo, where he spoke about huiyi characters.
  • 16 January: Susan Whitfield gave two lectures on the Silk Road to students on the SOAS Diploma course on Asian Art.
  • 2 February: Susan Whitfield spoke about IDP-CREA at the launch event of the ‘EU-China year of Intercultural Dialogue’ in Brussels.
  • 28 February: Imre Galambos lectured on ‘Modern Cultural Trends in China in the Light of Manuscript Studies’, at the Confucius Institute in Budapest.
  • 26 March: Vic Swift attended an event hosted by HistoryPin to launch new tools for libraries and museums.
  • 29 March: Vic Swift attended a Digital Transformations workshop for researchers and practitioners on the theme of Production and Creativity.


  • Imre Galambos: ‘The Northern Neighbours of the Tangut’ in Cahier de Linguistique – Asie Orientale 40, 2011, 69–104.
  • Imre Galambos: ‘An English Boy in Chinese Turkestan: The Story of Orlando Hobbs’. Studia Orientalia Slovaca 10.1, 2011, 81–98.
  • Imre Galambos: ‘Popular Character Forms (suzi) and Semantic Compound (huiyi) Characters in Medieval Chinese Manuscripts’. Journal of the American Oriental Society 131.3, 2011, 396–409.
  • Imre Galambos and Kitsudo Koichi: ‘Japanese Exploration of Central Asia: The Ōtani Expeditions and their British Connections’. Bulletin of SOAS 75, 2012, 113–134.
  • Sam van Schaik and Imre Galambos: Manuscripts and Travellers: The Sino-Tibetan Documents of a Tenth-Century Buddhist Pilgrim. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2012.
  • Sam van Schaik and André Alexander: ‘The Stone Maitreya of Leh: The Rediscovery and Recovery of an Early Tibetan Monument’. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, October 2011.
  • Sam van Schaik: ‘Dunhuang Texts’ and ‘Dzongchen (Rdzogs chen)’, in Oxford Bibliographies Online: Buddhism. Ed. Richard Payne. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.


  • 18 October: Zhao Feng of the National Silk Museum, China, visited to discuss collaboration.
  • 19 October: IDP hosted five members of staff from the digital library at Kew Gardens.
  • 28 October: IDP welcomed Dr Mandira Sharma from the National Museum Institute in New Delhi on a three-month internship researching archaeological sites in Central Asia. Mandira joined Chinese intern Hu Wanglin (see previous report), enabling the strengthening of institutional links between Central Asian scholars in India and China.
  • 5 December: Paul Smith, Director of the British Council’s Afghanistan office, visited to discuss current and future collaboration.
  • 5–8 December: Kazushi Iwao and Ai Nishida of Kobe University returned briefly to conclude their work with Sam van Schaik on a catalogue of Tibetan manuscripts in the Or.8210 sequence. The catalogue will be published in early April 2012 and an electronic version will be hosted on the IDP website.
  • 15 December: Professor Ken Seddon, Jianlan Wang and Natalia Plechkova visited from Queen’s University, Belfast, to present work carried out to date on the PhD project into the long term effect of silk gauze on manuscripts.
  • 3 February: Professor Julian Henderson from Nottingham University visited to discuss collaboration on various projects.
  • 13 February: Agnieszka Helman-Wazny, who is conducting ongoing paper and fibre analysis of the Dunhuang scrolls (see earlier reports), returned for one week, accompanied by Renate Noeller from the Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing in Berlin who is carrying out ink and pigment analysis using Raman spectroscopy. Their results will complement those of Sakamoto Shouji, who was a researcher with IDP through 2011.
  • 14 February: A delegation from the Qinghai Tibetan Culture Museum in Xining viewed Tibetan manuscripts and donated 90 volumes of Tibetan medical texts.
  • 16 February: Professor Dan Waugh, University of Washington, Seattle, visited to discuss collaboration on websites and resources.
  • 16 February: Aydin Azizzadeh from the Iran Heritage Foundation visited to look at IDP’s end-to-end workflow.
  • 16 March: IDP hosted academics from London, Nottingham and Birmingham Universities at a workshop to discuss IDP resources and their use in the classroom, as part of the new AHRC project.


  • 14 May 2012: there will be a Dunhuang-focused event in the BL Conference Centre co-organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office with lectures by the Director of the Dunhuang Academy (China), Director of the Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole (Hong Kong) and Susan Whitfield, and with an address by the Vice-Chancellor of Hong Kong University. This is in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the centenary of the University of Hong Kong. The lectures will be followed by a reception. Tickets are available on request.
  • 8–10 November 2012: Major International Conference co-organised by IDP, SOAS and Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology, entitled ‘Archaeology of the Southern Taklamakan: Hedin and Stein’s Legacy and New Explorations’. This will be publicised as part of the events of Asian Art in London (1-8 November, 2012).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Digital Imaging Assistant Post

IDP has a position available for a part time digital imaging assistant. For full details please see The British Library Careers pages.