A catalogue of South Asian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries


About us

The Collections

Consisting of approximately 9,000 manuscripts, the Bodleian Libraries houses one of the largest collections of Sanskrit and Prakrit manuscripts outside of the Indian sub-continent, consisting of approximately 9,000 manuscripts. This collection has been developing since the 17th century, when the first South Asian books were donated to the Library by Archbishop William Laud in 1635-40.
These vast manuscript collections are described only in part. Out of the ca. 9,000 manuscripts, less than half are described in printed catalogues, while the great majority of the rest are briefly identified in handwritten lists, where only basic information is available. Moreover, there are still several hundreds of manuscripts known only through their shelfmark and the content of which is still completely unknown.
South Asian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries represents an ongoing effort to make these important collections more discoverable for researchers. The online catalogue launched in October 2023 with only a small number of manuscript descriptions and will be added to over time.
South Asian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries is a free online catalogue for manuscript and archival descriptions. It is not a digital library but links will be provided if digital copies become available online. Printed books in South Asian languages and about South Asia are in the Bodleian's SOLO online catalogue.

History & Methodology

South Asian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries was created as part of the Finding Archives and Manuscripts across Oxford’s Unique Special Collections (FAMOUS) project, funded by The Mellon Foundation.
As part of this project, 169 new catalogue descriptions were created for South Asian manuscripts. This foundational work will now be built upon through future cataloguing work as funding and resources allow.
The records are based on an open source TEI/XMLmetadata standard which incorporates established library standards for description (Name Authority, LC Transliteration and Subject Headings).


All the TEI files are available to download from our repository on GitHub.

Contact us

We welcome contributions from scholars or projects creating manuscript descriptions to help us enrich the quality of the records in South Asian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries.