19 results in English
Letter of Damar Wulan
The Serat Damar Wulan (MSS.Jav.89) is one of the loveliest Indonesian manuscripts in the British Library, with a treasury of illustrations depicting Javanese society in the late 18th century. The pictures are rich in humor and the artist had a marvellous eye for facial expressions and bodily postures (for example, a woman sleeping with her arm across her eyes, a sandal just balanced on a foot). Everyday things are depicted in fascinating detail, from birdcages to garden pots and textiles, with wonderful scenes of music and dance of ...
Contributed by The British Library
Depictions of King Mindon’s Donations at Various Places from 1853 to 1857
This Burmese manuscript (Or 13681) from the British Library shows seven scenes of King Mindon’s donations at various places during the first four years of his reign (1853-57). The artist not only depicted the seven different historical merit-making ceremonies of King Mindon, but he also described the cost of the royal donations in detail. The mid-19th century parabaik (folding book) has red-tooled leather covers, the front cover bearing in gold letters the title “Depictions of King Mindon’s donations at various places beginning in the year 1215, first [volume ...
Contributed by The British Library
Massage Treatise
Traditional Thai medicine is a holistic discipline involving extensive use of indigenous herbal and massage-pressure treatments combined with aspects of spirituality and mental wellbeing. Having been influenced by Indian and Chinese concepts of healing, traditional Thai medicine understands disease not as a physical matter alone, but also as an imbalance of the patient with his or her social and spiritual world. Thai medical manuscripts written during the 19th century give a broad overview of different methods of treatment and prevention, of the understanding and knowledge of the human body, of ...
Contributed by The British Library
Ramayana
The oral tradition of the Burmese Ramayana story can be traced as far back as the reign of King Anawrahta (active 1044−77), the founder of the first Burmese empire. The story was transmitted orally from generation to generation before being written down in prose and verse and as a drama. The earliest known written Burmese version of the Ramayana is Rama Thagyin (Songs from the Ramayana), compiled by U Aung Phyo in 1775. A three-volume copy of the Rama story called Rama vatthu was written on palm leaf in ...
Contributed by The British Library
Malay Annals
Sometime around the year 1400, a prince from Sumatra named Parameswara founded a settlement at the mouth of the Melaka River on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. One of his successors embraced Islam, and Melaka soon grew to become the greatest Islamic kingdom in Southeast Asia. A center of the spice trade that was known as the “Venice of the East,” it attracted merchants from as far away as Arabia, India, China, and Japan. The wealth of Melaka proved irresistible to the Portuguese, who were the first Europeans ...
Contributed by The British Library
The Tale of Kiều
Truyện Kiều (The tale of Kiều), written by Nguyễn Du (1765−1820) is regarded as the most significant poem in Vietnamese literature. It was composed in Lục-bát (6-8) stanzas and its original title in Vietnamese is Ðoạn Trường Tân Thanh (A new cry from a broken heart). However, it is better known as Truyện Kiều or Kim Văn Kiều. The story is based on a 17th century Ming Chinese novel, which Nguyễn Du discovered while he was on an ambassadorial mission to China in 1813. The plot portrays the chaotic ...
Contributed by The British Library
Qu'ran
This exquisite illuminated Qur’an (Or 15227) dating from the 19th century originates from the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. On the basis of various codicological features, the manuscript can be attributed to the cultural zone encompassing Kelantan, on the northeast coast of Malaysia, and Patani, in southern Thailand. In many ways, the Qur’an is typical of manuscript production in Patani, with black endpapers of Thai manufacture, a cloth cover with elaborate stitched headbands, and illuminated frames with typical Patani features, such as the interlocking-wave motif. And yet ...
Contributed by The British Library
Buddhist Texts, Including the Legend of Phra Malai, with Illustrations of The Ten Birth Tales
The legend of Phra Malai, a Buddhist monk of the Theravada tradition said to have attained supernatural powers through his accumulated merit and meditation, is the main text in this 19th-century Thai samut khoi (folding book) held in the Thai, Lao, and Cambodian Collections of the British Library. Phra Malai figures prominently in Thai art, religious treatises, and rituals associated with the afterlife, and the story is one of the most popular subjects of 19th-century illustrated Thai manuscripts. The earliest surviving examples of Phra Malai manuscripts date back to the ...
Contributed by The British Library
Letter from Engku Temenggung Seri Maharaja (Daing Ibrahim), Ruler of Johor, to Napoleon III, Emperor of France
This beautiful royal Malay letter from the ruler of Johor, Temenggung Daing Ibrahim, to the Emperor of France, written in Singapore in 1857, is a triumph of style over substance. Its 13 golden lines pay effusive compliments to Napoleon III but convey little else. It is hard to know what either side hoped to gain from the despatch of such a magnificent missive, for in the mid-19th century French interests in Southeast Asia were primarily focused on Indochina, while Johor’s allegiance was firmly with the British. In the letter ...
Contributed by The British Library
Treatise on Cats
This manuscript containing fine paintings of cats is in the format of a samut khoi (Thai folding book) with 12 folios, which open from top to bottom. It was produced in the 19th century in central Thailand. Folding books were usually made from the bark of mulberry trees; minerals, plant liquids, and occasionally materials imported from China and Europe were used as paints. Sometimes the paper was blackened with lampblack or lacquer to make the paper stronger and more resistant to damage by insects or humidity. Such books were mainly ...
Contributed by The British Library
Khmer Alphabet
On April 27, 1858, Alexandre Henri Mouhot, aged 31, sailed from London to Bangkok with the aim of exploring the remote interior regions of mainland Southeast Asia. He was particularly interested in ornithology and conchology, but he also had a passion for philology, photography, and foreign languages. Born in 1826 in Montbeliard, France, Mouhot became a Greek scholar, and at the age of 18 went to teach Greek and French at the Military Academy in Saint Petersburg, where he quickly picked up Russian and Polish. At the same time he ...
Contributed by The British Library
The Dome Hospital
This is a photograph of the interior of the Dome Hospital in Brighton, on the south coast of Britain. Several buildings in Brighton were converted into hospitals during the First World War to treat the thousands of Indian soldiers who were wounded while fighting in France. The most spectacular of these was the converted Royal Pavilion in Brighton, originally built in the “oriental” style for King George IV in the early 1800s. There were over 680 beds for wounded Indian soldiers in this hospital, and it was “fitted with every ...
Contributed by The British Library
Garvin Papers. Bound Notebook
In April 1915 Second Lieutenant Roland Gerard Garvin of the British Army enrolled in a course of instruction at Staff College in Camberley, Surrey, England. There he attended lectures on tactical instruction, topography, field engineering, administration, organization, military law, and hygiene. One of his lecturers was Major Hubert Conway Rees, who had commanded a battalion during the retreat from Mons in 1914. These notes and drawings by Garvin are from a tour of field works that he made as part of the course and that was led by Major Rees ...
Contributed by The British Library
Map Showing Wet Areas on Passchendaele Front
Overprinted in color in the field, this World War I map shows the Allied front line at the Ypres Salient on December 2, 1917. The notorious Battle of Passchendaele (also seen as Passendale) began in July 1917 and culminated in the capture by British and Canadian forces of the village of Passchendaele (West Flanders, Belgium) on November 6. Even though the battle had ended some weeks earlier, an action took place on the night of December 1−2 in the areas to the north and east of Passchendaele village shown ...
Contributed by The British Library
British Battles During 1918 (8th August to 11th November 1918)
This colorful map was produced by the Geographical Section of the General Staff of the UK War Office, printed by Waterlow & Sons, and made available for public sale shortly after the end of World War I. It provides a summary of the Hundred Days offensive by British, American, and British Empire troops that led to the German surrender on November 11, 1918. It shows the Allied advance as distinctly ordered phases, colored first yellow, then green, red, and blue. Diagonal stripes in these same colors show German withdrawals. The numbers ...
Contributed by The British Library
The Bad Child's Book of A.D.C's
The Bad Child’s Book of A.D.C’s is a short manuscript book of ink drawings and verse, probably produced by a British officer working at the General Head Quarters of the British Army in Montreuil Sur Mer, France, in 1917, during World War I. The subjects of the poems and drawings are the aides de camp working at the Allied General Staff. An aide de camp is a military officer who works as personal assistant or secretary to senior army or naval personnel. Among those caricatured was ...
Contributed by The British Library
Chronicles of Cliveden, Volume 1, Issue 1
Chronicles of Cliveden was a journal produced during World War I by the patients at the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Military Hospital in the United Kingdom. The hospital was located at Cliveden, a grand country estate that was the home of Waldorf Astor, the second Viscount Astor, and his wife Nancy. When the war broke out, the Astors offered part of the estate to the Canadian Red Cross, which established the hospital to treat injured Allied soldiers. In the foreword to the first issue of the journal, Colonel W. Langmuir ...
Contributed by The British Library
For the Fallen, and Other Poems
Robert Laurence Binyon (1869–1943) was a poet and art historian who spent his entire career at the British Museum, where he wrote studies of Dutch, British, and Asian art. He published his first poem at the age of 16 and continued to write poetry throughout his life. On September 21, 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Binyon published, in The Times of London, what would become his most famous poem, the elegy “For the Fallen.” Prophetic of the enormous losses that Great Britain would sustain over ...
Contributed by The British Library
Swollen-headed William: Painful Stories and Funny Pictures after the German!
At the time of the First World War, the children’s book Struwwelpeter (Shock-headed Peter) was a familiar nursery classic in both Germany and Britain. In this British wartime parody, the original cautionary tales of naughty children and their fates are all turned against Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. The “shock-headed Peter” of the title poem becomes “swollen-headed William,” while “fidgety Phil,” whose dinnertime antics knock over the table and ruin the food, becomes “fidgety Will,” who destroys his country’s prosperity. The last poem departs more from the original tale ...
Contributed by The British Library