A catalogue of South Asian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries


MS. Sansk. c. 17

Sanskrit, miscellaneous


Summary of Contents: The so-called Bower Manuscript, one of the oldest surviving Sanskrit manuscripts, dated between the fourth and the sixth century. This birch-bark manuscript consists of ‘a combination of two manuscripts, a larger and a smaller’. It was written in early Gupta script by four different scribes and contains seven different texts on topics ranging from medicine to divination. The manuscript was recovered from stūpa or vihāra near Kucha in modern-day China, close to the main group of caves of the Min-Oi of Qum Tura. It was presented to Major-General Bower, H.H. Bower by a Turkic treasure-seeker in 1888.
Unknown , Bower Manuscript
Language(s): Sanskrit.

Physical Description

Form: pothī
Support: Birch bark.
Extent: 54 ff.


Incomplete, damaged with loss of text.


Gupta in black ink.


Origin: 5th-6th century. Kucha.

Provenance and Acquisition

Bought from Quaritch in 1898.


Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card, for admissions procedures contact Bodleian Libraries' Admissions Office.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)

Funding of Cataloguing

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation