This site is an evolving resource for the study of the history of Tibet, mostly from the “early” period of the 7th to 10th centuries, but with occasional forays into more recent events. It is written by me, Sam van Schaik.
The main content of this site comes from my own research notes, questions, and unfinished enquiries. My main sources are the Stein collection at the British Library and the Pelliot collection at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. These, among the most important collections of early Tibetan manuscripts, were excavated from several sites in Chinese Central Asia. Most are from a single cave in Dunhuang, which was sealed in the early 11th century and not opened up again until the early 20th century. While some of these manuscripts are well known to scholars, many more continue to languish in obscurity. I hope to bring some of these neglected sources to light here.
All words here are © Sam van Schaik. If quoting from this site, please cite the URL for the particular post you’re quoting. Except where noted otherwise, all images on this site are from the IDP website and are © The British Library or the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Frequently asked questions
The Whereabouts of the Tibetan Dunhuang Manuscripts
The original cache of manuscripts from the library cave at Dunhuang has ended up in institutions all over the world. In this article I look at what happened to the Tibetan manuscripts from the cave, in particular those manuscripts which stayed in China, which have only recently begun to be catalogued.
Manuscript Numbers in the Stein Collection
One of the difficulties in accessing primary sources is the way they are numbered by their holding institutions on the one hand, and by the scholars who refer to them in their articles, books or catalogues on the other. Here in this article I have tried to clarify the many and wonderful ways in which one can refer to the Tibetan Central Asian manuscripts in the Stein Collection at the British Library.