The Royal Asiatic Society's Digital Library provides free online access to some of our historic collections, for a worldwide audience. The site features archives, manuscripts, artwork, photographs, and more, from a variety of Asian cultures, as well as materials showing some of the ways Europeans have responded to Asia over the centuries. The site does not contain our whole collection, but we aim to constantly add new content. For further information about any of our collections or activities, please contact us or visit the Society’s main website.
We are very grateful to the Friends of the National Libraries for generously supporting the creation of this Digital Library, and for the digitization of the Thomas Manning Archive. We are also grateful to the following partners for their generous support towards the digitization of items in the Society’s collections: the National Library Board, Singapore; Professor Charles Melville, Dr. Firuza Melville and the Pembroke Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies; and Dr Barbara Brend.
Thomas Manning was a mathematician and one of Britain's first Sinologists. He was the first Englishman to meet the Dalai Lama, visited Napoleon in St Helena, and corresponded with the likes of Charles Lamb (1775-1834), Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) and Charles Lloyd (1775-1839). His archive contains journals of his varied travels in Europe and Asia, linguistic notes (including Chinese jokes), poems, and personal letters.
A famous manuscript of the highest quality, produced under the Mughal Emperor Akbar: the Gulistan of the poet Sa’di completed in 1583 in Fatehpur Sikri.
See early footage of excavations at Nineveh, Iraq, attributed to archaeologist Reginald Campbell Thompson (1876-1941).
A manuscript of the Sejarah Melayu, one of the most well-known texts of Malay literature, chronicling the history and genealogy of the rulers of the Melaka Sultanate (1400-1511). This early C19th copy of a text dated AH 1021 (AD 1612) is believed to be one of the earliest recensions of the original text. The text gives a romanticised account of the origin, evolution and demise of the Melaka Sultanate. One of the episodes tells the story of a prince of Sumatra who arrived on the island of Temasek and established a city named Singapura.
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