Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Law & The Tibetan Empire - MS Or.53521

Tibetan Emperor Songtsen Gampo with Queens Wencheng and Bhrikuti in Mani Kabum, (British Library, Tib CC.125)
Image: Tibetan Emperor Songtsen Gampo
with Queens Wencheng and Bhrikuti,
illustrated in Mani Kabum, (British Library, Tib CC.125)

link to audio recording
Law & The Tibetan Empire - as seen in manuscript Or.5351

How did Emperor Songtsen Gampo influence the development of Tibetan law?
An examination of the evidence from a previously unstudied
manuscript copy of  a 14th-century history.
A primary figure of interest in Tibetan ‘medieval’ law has been the Tibetan Emperor Songtsen Gampo (7th century CE). Several Tibetan historical texts of the post-imperial period in the 10–14th centuries provide references to Songtsen Gampo’s Buddhist influences in the development of Tibetan law.  One such text is the mid-14th-century Rgyal rabs gsal ba’i me long, also known as The Mirror Illuminating the Royal Genealogies (Sorensen, 1994), composed by a Tibetan cleric, Lama Dampa Sonam Gyelsten.The British Library has a manuscript example [OR.5351] of this work, date of creation as yet not determined, which was collected by Dr. Waddell and bought from him in May 1898, several years before the Younghusband Expedition, a British invasion of Tibet (1904). Apparently this manuscript has not been studied by Western scholars. The presentation will look at the structure of the manuscript contents and pay attention to some of the passages that make references to Tibetan law of the Tibetan Empire period (7th–9th centuries).

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Eminent Tibetan Tulku visits Bodleian Tibetan Collection

On Thursday 22 June, 2017, 
His Holiness Gyalwang Drukchen Rinpoche 
paid a visit to Weston Library, 
where the Tibetan collection of manuscripts and xylographs 
held by the Bodleian Library are lodged.

Dr Gillian Evison, Head of Oriental Collections, welcomed him.

and in the Blackwell Hall:

Dr Evison, Gyalwa Drukchen, Professor Ulrike Roesler

After a brief overview of the collection - 
Capt Samuel Turner's scroll, the Schlagintweit Collection, 
and donations from the Indian Government
WY Evans-Wentz, FW Thomas, 
MV Aris, H Richardson, J Stapleton-Driver -

Rinpoche saw a selection of texts relating to
 the 'Brug pa (Drukpa) lineage and the Ladakh area.

An excellent visit!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Donation of Tibetan texts to Bodleian by Malcolm Puttick

In March (2017), Malcolm Puttick kindly offered
 2 Prajñāpāramitā illustrated manuscripts to 
Bodleian Library Tibetan Collection.

Additionally, a decorated Tibetan wooden box 
was donated, 
and a folding table used by lamas 
for reading Tibetan texts 
(see further below)

The two texts are volumes 2 (kha) and 4 (nga) of 
a 25,000-verse Prajñāpāramitā, 
part of Buddhist wisdom literature

(clicking or tapping on an image enlarges it)



The reading table is carved 
and has Tibetan & Chinese designs:

The decorated box, with padlock,featured in a Spinks auction (London) in 1992

   with an unclear inscription, probably damaged by the padlock
(lcags 'brug gsar bzos chos skyong ... gyi ... chas .... cha tshang skyabs)

With thanks to Malcolm Puttick - 


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Bob Dylan review in Tibetan by Oxford scholar Lama Jabb

Following his award of Nobel Prize for Literature, 
Bob Dylan's song lyrics are reviewed 
in Tibetan
by Dr. Lama Jabb, Oxford


Excerpt translation (Lama Jabb) of part of 
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)







Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying

Sunday, 23 October 2016


An article about sponsorship of the Aris Tibetan Collection

@ Bodleian Libraries, Oxford

by Trace Foundation, New York:

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Donation of J. E. Stapleton Driver Collection of Tibetan texts to Bodleian

J.E. Stapleton Driver
in Kalimpong, 1958
In May 2014,  J. E. Stapleton Driver passed away.
Many in the Tibetan Studies field will know of the works he translated, 
Tibetan Civilisation (by R.A.Stein) and 
Tibet, Land of Snows (by G. Tucci). 

Driver was a graduate of Merton College (in Classical Chinese, 1954), 
and then pursued his interests in Tibetan studies (Guhyagarbha Tantra
in Kalimpong, Gangtok and Kathmandu, 1957-60. 
He returned to St Antony's College as a fellow to continue his researches (1961-65), and thus was in Oxford when the Tibetan Buddhist lama tulkus Trungpa Rinpoche, Akong Rinpoche and Chime Rinpoche first came to Oxford (1963).
In the early 1970s Driver created a descriptive catalogue of the Tibetan manuscripts and older xylographs held at Bodleian, which is still used today.

One of John Driver's sons, Felix Driver, kindly got in touch earlier in 2016 to enquire whether the Bodleian Tibetan Collection would like to receive his father's Tibetan texts, and also the books, thangkas (scroll paintings) and Tibetan artefacts. 
Bodleian readily agreed, and the Driver Collection has been formed.

Sample box of wrapped texts ready for transport
(136 texts in all)
Sample box of loose texts ready for transport
(estimated 400 smaller texts in all)
In future, the catalogue shelfmark heading for the manuscripts and early xylographs will be 'MS. Driver' followed by the relevant number. The catalogue records should appear on Karchak (online digital catalogue of Tibetan texts in Bodleian) when that is published online.
Meanwhile, back in the 1960s, Gene Smith had created a catalogue that included 35 of Driver's collection which had been microfilmed at the British Library. The catalogue was published by T.V.Wylie (U of Washington, 1969), the Driver Collection records are in vol. 2.

After 2 days of sorting through the collection, by Felix Driver and Charles Manson, eventually on July 7th 2016 the Driver Collection was transported to Weston Library to be deposited in the Special Collections storage. Thanks due to Edward Adcock and his team for facilitating the move so easily.
After the sorting, 2 happy people (Manson & Driver).
Subsequently on August 2nd, Felix and his mother, Mrs Anne Driver, and sister Tabitha were able to visit Weston Library to see where the collection is, and some Tibetan Studies scholars in Oxford were there for the happy occasion.

Robert Beer, Felix Driver, Anne Driver, Prof Heather Stoddard
discussing a thangka from the Driver Collection
Inspecting a Tibetan xylograph text
(Stoddard - A Driver - F Driver - Manson - Ujeed)
Inspecting a Tibetan manuscript (18th century) of the Driver Collection
(F Driver - A Driver - Stoddard - Manson - Ujeed)

Below are a few details of MS. Driver 1 : 
MS. Driver 1 (Weston Library)

Much work to be done cataloguing the collection - updates will be forthcoming.

With many thanks to the Driver family -