Friday, July 20, 2012

New Publication

A new collection of articles on the Tibeto-Burman languages, edited by Nathan Hill, has just been published. The volume contains several articles on the Tangut and Tibetan languages, including an article on Tangut-Tibetan bilingual manuscripts such as Or.12380/1842 by Arakawa Shintaro; a study of the ritual manuscript Pelliot tibétain 239 by Ishikawa Iwao; and an article on the origin of the Tibetan cursive or "headless" script by Sam van Schaik of IDP. The latter draws on the earliest examples of Tibetan writing from Dunhuang and elsewhere to argue that, contrary to traditional accounts, the cursive script developed directly from the original "headed" form of Tibetan writing. Click here to see to the book on the publisher's website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

IDP Quarterly Report: April – June 2012

Download this report as a PDF (296KB)


Congratulations to Alastair Morrison (AM) who was awarded his PhD by SOAS, the University of London.

We are pleased to welcome Josef Koncazk, imaging assistant, who joined in June to cover for Abby Baker's maternity leave.

We were very sorry to say goodbye to Imre Galambos at the end of June. Imre joined IDP ten years ago as Overseas Project Manager and, more recently, was Research Project Manager. He is now moving to Cambridge University as Lecturer in pre-modern Chinese studies and we very much look forward to continuing to work with him and his students there.


  • 8 May: Susan Whitfield (SW) visited New York and met Jennifer Chi, Chief Curator at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW), the Leon Levy Foundation, to discuss possible Foundation funding for a research project on Khotan and a follow-up exhibition at ISAW. Funding would include an element for collaborations with Nottingham University and Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology.
  • 8 May: New York: SW met Peter Little of the US-registered Dunhuang Foundation, who are currently fundraising for a visitor centre at the Dunhuang Academy. They agreed to add IDP to their list of needs for funders.
  • May: The Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation awarded IDP a grant of €14,000 for the November archaeology conference at the BL (see Forthcoming IDP Events, below).
  • May: The Sino-British Fellowship Trust (SBFT) awarded five-year continuation funding for two staff at IDP China, including some funds for travel, based at the National Library of China in Beijing.
  • May: SBFT also agreed to fund Hu Wanglin, a former IDP intern, to visit London to help with arrangements for the November conference. Hu is based at the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology in Urumqi and spent six months to March 2012 in London.


  • 22 May: IDP held a technical meeting to discuss the updating of online resources over the coming year.
  • 1–29 June: IDP conducted an online survey to find out how the website is being used and to request feedback for improvements. The results will be published online.

Cataloguing and Digitisation

  • Photography from the 2011 fieldtrip was uploaded to the IDP website.
  • Several new translations of Tibetan texts are now online, including letters carried by a Chinese monk on pilgrimage to India in the late 960s. The translated letters are also published in Manuscripts and Travellers: The Sino-Tibetan Documents of a Tenth-Century Buddhist Pilgrim, by Sam van Schaik (SvS) and Imre Galambos (IG), referenced in the IDP Report for October 2011 to March 2012.


  • 14 May: A half-day event in the British Library Conference Centre, jointly organised with Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (see previous report for details), was attended by around 150 people.

Visitors to IDP

  • 10 April: the Deputy Director of the Dunhuang Academy, Wang Xudong, visited with his wife and spent time in BL conservation, as well as discussing current and future collaboration with IDP. PhD student Li Na acted as translator and IDP co-hosted a lunch together with publisher Antony White.
  • 20 April: Matthieu Bonicel and Isabelle le Masne de Chermont from the Bibliothèque nationale de France visited Manuscripts, Digital Scholarship and IDP, to look at work in progress and discuss possible collaborations.
  • 26 April: a group of SOAS students visited, and viewed a selection of Central Asian manuscripts.
  • 15 May: Professor Fan Jinshi, Director of the Dunhuang Academy and a speaker at the 14 May conference centre event (above), returned to the BL to spend time with IDP looking at conservation and digitisation of manuscripts.
  • 15 May: doctorate student Jianlan Wang and lecturer Natalia Plechkova visited from Queen’s University, Belfast, in relation to ongoing research into silk gauze used in earlier conservation of the Dunhuang manuscripts. They spent time in Conservation Science and Preservation.
  • 25–29 June: school student Jane Barnard joined IDP for one week’s work experience.

Collaborations and Partnerships

  • 2 April: IDP hosted the second in a series of workshops of its Academic Advisory Group as part of the AHRC-funded project mentioned in the previous report.

Lectures and Conferences

  • 12 April: Vic Swift (VS) gave a presentation at a Brussels workshop on An East Asia Knowledge Infrastructure for Europe: Integrating State of the Art Electronic Resources for East Asian Studies, coordinated by the European Science Foundation and the IDEAS project.
  • 14 April: SW spoke about IDP at the Buddhist Art Forum held from 10 to 14 April at the Courtauld Institute. SvS also attended.
  • 20 and 21 April: SvS gave an invited lecture, ‘Tibetan Zen: Manuscripts, Communities and Rituals’, and a graduate student seminar, both at the University of Virginia.
  • 11 and 13 May: SW attended a University of Chicago conference on Chinese manuscripts and rare books and gave a lecture on the influences from Central Asia on the Chinese manuscript tradition.
  • 15 May: VS attended a BL talk on social media hosted by Euan Semple.
  • 1–2 June: SW gave a paper on Stein and Xuanzang at a conference, Xuanzang and the Record of the Western Regions (Xiyu ji) – Constructed Myth and Historical Reality at Cardiff University.
  • 8 June: SW gave a paper entitled ‘China’s Silk Road: Shaping our Perceptions of Medieval Encounters across Eurasia’ at a History Today public event, Encounters: Europe and the World from Antiquity to the Present Day.
  • 8 June: SvS attended a workshop on the Digital Avalokiteśvara Project, organised by Dorothy Wong, University of Virginia.
  • 21 June: AM attended the Community-powered Digital Transformations in Learning Workshop at UCL.
  • 25 to 27 June: SvS gave a paper entitled, ‘Manuscripts, Scribes and Rituals: An Examination of PT 116,’ and attended a workshop on palaeographic dating method at the conference Merkmals and Mirages, a Conference on Dating (Old) Tibetan Writing at the University of Munich.


  • 10 May: AM attended a day course on newsletter production.
  • 11 May: VS attended a half-day fundraising course organised by the BL.
  • 15 May: Rachel Roberts (RR), VS Josef Konczak attended a colour-management training course.
  • 18 May: IDP held an awayday to discuss the year ahead.
  • 13 July: IDP staff met with British Library Wikipedian in Residence, Andrew Gray, to learn guidelines in preparation for the IDP Wikipedia Editathon event in October.

Forthcoming IDP Events

  • 23–26 October 2012: IDP Wikipedia Editathon week, with international participation and events at the British Library and other IDP Centres. For further details see the IDP blog.
  • 8–10 November 2012: International conference at the BL, co-organised by IDP, SOAS, University of London and Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology, on Archaeology of the Southern Taklamakan: Hedin and Stein’s Legacy and New Explorations. For further details see the conference web page.

IDP Publications

  • Sam van Schaik and Agnieszka Helman-Wazny, ‘Witnesses for Tibetan Craftsmanship: Bringing together paper analysis, palaeography and codicology in the examination of the earliest Tibetan manuscripts’, Archaeometry, 2012.
  • Sam van Schaik, ‘The Origin of the Headless Style (dbu med) in Tibet’, Medieval Tibeto-Burman Languages IV, Nathan Hill (ed.). Leiden: EJ Brill, 2012.
  • IDP News 39 was published in May.

Forthcoming Publications

  • Imre Galambos, ‘Punctuation marks in medieval Chinese manuscripts’, in Sobisch and Quenzer (eds.), Manuscript Cultures: Mapping the Field. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter.
  • Imre Galambos, ‘Correction Marks in the Dunhuang Manuscripts’ in Imre Galambos (ed.) Chinese Manuscripts: Copies and Originals. Budapest: ELTE University.
  • Sam van Schaik, ‘Towards a Tibetan Paleography: A Preliminary Typology of Writing Styles in Early Tibet’, in Sobisch and Quenzer (eds.), Manuscript Cultures: Mapping the Field. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter.
  • Sam van Schaik, ‘Ruler of the East, or Eastern Capital: What lies behind the name Tong kun?’ in Imre Galambos (ed.) Studies in Chinese Manuscripts and Contexts. Budapest: ELTE University.
  • Sam van Schaik, ‘Reconsidering Tibetan Chan’, in Cristoph Anderl (ed.), Chan Buddhism – Dunhuang and Beyond: Texts, Manuscripts and Contexts. Weisbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
  • Sam van Schaik, ‘Dzogchen, Chan and the Question of Influence’, Revue d’études Tibétaines.
  • Susan Whitfield, Contribution on Buddhist sites on the Eastern Silk Road for The Cambridge World History of Religious Architect: Buddhist Volume.
  • Susan Whitfield, Stein biography for The Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology.
  • Susan Whitfield, ‘Creating a Codicology for Chinese and Tibetan Manuscripts’ for the Proceedings of the Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies.

IDP International Conference

A list of participants and papers for the November conference Archaeology of the Southern Taklamakan: Hedin and Stein’s Legacy and New Explorations is now available on our conference web page.

Worldwide Server Upgrades

Our upgrades are now complete and all the IDP servers are online. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, July 9, 2012

IDP Survey

We have received the results of the IDP Survey and will post some of our findings shortly. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

IDP Worldwide Server Upgrades 10–11 July

We will be performing essential upgrades next Tuesday and Wednesday so certain servers may be temporarily unavailable. The UK site has already been upgraded and will be available throughout. We aim to complete the work as quickly as possible but apologise for any inconvenience that our users might encounter.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

IDP Wikipedia Editathon

During this coming October 23-26, IDP will host a Wikipedia editathon at the British Library. IDP staff at the British Library, and at other IDP centres worldwide, will spend a week creating and editing Wikipedia pages on Central Asian archaeological sites, explorers and artefacts. There will also be a public day in which the wider Wikipedia community will be invited to participate. The event is part of the AHRC-funded project Contextualising Texts: Enhancing the Research Potential of Buddhist Manuscript Material, and is being organized with the help of the British Library's Wikipedian in Residence, Andrew Gray. More information about the event will be posted here in the near future.