44 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Qurʼan
This exquisite illuminated Qurʼan (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 Qurʼan 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 the exactitude ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Women of the Empire in War Time: In Honour of their Great Devotion and Self-Sacrifice
This book was published in London in 1916 by the Dominion of Canada News Company to celebrate the contributions and sacrifice of the women of the British Empire in support of the Allies during World War I. Among the individuals extolled is Edith Cavell, a British nurse working in Brussels, who saved both German and Belgian lives and who was executed in 1915 by German authorities for helping Allied soldiers escape to the Netherlands, a neutral country. Different articles express admiration for the women of the Canadian Red Cross Society ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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The European War
This print showing a battle between troops on horseback is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “A brave detachment of Cossacks destroyed German hussars near Sochaczew.” Lubok is a Russian word for popular prints created from woodcuts, engravings, etchings, or later, by using lithography. The prints were often characterized by simple, colorful graphics depicting a narrative, and could also include text. Lubok gained popularity in Russia beginning in the late 17th century. The prints, which often depicted narratives from ...
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Belgians Flooding Germans
This print showing German troops struggling in an unexpected flood in Belgium is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “A heroic feat by small Belgium caused admiration from the whole world. Highly cultured Belgium, outraged by Germany's barbarian attacks, decided to take extreme measures to save the country. The whole of northern Belgium is located in the lowlands, some of which are below sea level. That part does not get flooded only because it is surrounded by dunes ...
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The European War. The Defeat of the Germans near Warsaw
This print showing combat amongst trees and the defeat of the Germans in a battle near Warsaw is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “The Siberian Corps demonstrated particular valor in the battles near Warsaw. They captured many prisoners of the 20th German Corps in the battle in the Moshidlovskii Forest. The 17th Corps delivered the main offensive in the area of Błonie and Pruszków and suffered the most. There, Siberians together with the Russian corps inflicted huge losses ...
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The European War. The Belgians Explode their Own Dams and Defeat of German Units near Mechelen
This print showing German troops caught in an unexpected flood in Belgium is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “As German units were bypassing Antwerp in the direction of Dendermonde near Mechelen, they were caught off guard by a flood caused by the blowing up of the dams by the Belgians. The whole area was flooded. While the Germans were trying to rescue their weapons, the Belgians opened fire on them from the Antwerp forts. Meanwhile the water level ...
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"Death Valley." The Battle of Mykhaylivka Village
This print showing a battle at the village of Mykhaylivka where the Russians defeated the Austrians is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Under a torrent of Austrian shrapnel and machine guns, our offensive columns quickly gained advanced positions and forced the enemy units into the ravine. Meanwhile our defensive columns were able to reach the opposite hills, and then enclose the enemy division pushed into the ravine. After a few well-aimed shots from the Russian batteries, the enemy ...
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A Battle Near Vladimir-Volynsk
This print showing a battle near Volodymyr-Volynsky (present-day Ukraine) is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Enemy artillery, firing over its own cavalry, shelled the trenches in front of the city occupied by our troops. The Austrians were quickly approaching. A terrible moment arrived. Hungarian cavalry, arrayed in a wide semi-circle in front of the city, bravely raced forward. It seemed that after a few minutes they would enter the city. But loud sounds and strange crackling were heard ...
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The Russian-Turkish War. The Defeat of the Turks at Sarikamish
This print showing the defeat of the Turks by the Russians at a battle at Sarikamish on the Russian-Turkish border is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “During the Battle of Sarikamish, despite the severe cold and a blizzard, our gallant troops chased the Turks out from their strong positions with amazing tenacity. When the Turkish troops were defeated and began to retreat, leaving their weapons and the wounded behind, our brave soldiers vigorously pursued them. Оne Turkish corps ...
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The Russian-Turkish War. Sinking Four Turkish Cargo Ships
This print showing the sinking of four Turkish cargo ships is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “After a heavy bombardment of the Turkish port of Zonguldak in the Black Sea, our detachment noticed an enemy unit at sea. It consisted of a few warships and four cargo ships carrying troops and supplies. After sinking the cargo ships by artillery fire and causing some damage to the other vessels that managed to escape, our detachment returned to Sevastopol safely ...
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The Russian-Turkish War. The Capture оf Bayazid
This print showing the capture of the fortress of Bayazid (located in what was then Turkish Armenia) is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Our gallant Caucasian army, advancing on the fortress of Bayazid in order to capture it, attacked the heavily fortified Turkish positions at Bazyrgan and, having destroyed them, put the Turks to flight. As they fled, the enemy left behind their weapons and dispersed into the villages. On October 21, our troops triumphantly entered Bayazid. This ...
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Russia's War with the Germans. The Battle of the Vistula River
This print showing the Battle of the Vistula River (in present-day Poland) between Russian and German forces is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “During a night-time German offensive on Warsaw, intense fighting broke out near Blonie. Fire from artillery shells and the burning of houses set on fire by the Germans lit the night. Shrapnel burst in the air in different directions, the earth was shaking from the thundering of weapons, and guns fired unceasingly. Despite the lethal ...
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Russia's War with the Germans. The Effect of Our High Explosive Shells
This print showing the devastating effect of a Russian high explosive shell on German troops is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Skillfully built enemy trenches were hard to capture with ordinary artillery fire in the battles at the Vistula River. Only well-aimed shots by high explosive shells managed to force the Germans out of their deep burrows. These high explosive shells are so terrifyingly effective that even Germany’s famous skills in the military arts proved absolutely powerless ...
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Russia's War with the Germans. Russian Troops Crossing the Carpathian Mountains
This print showing Russian troops crossing the Carpathian Mountains is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “The Uzhoksky Pass in the Carpathian Mountains is witness to the heroic deeds of the Russian troops. On September 11, after a fierce battle, the pass was taken by us with heavy losses to the enemy. A legend about the impassability of the eastern Carpathian Mountains was dispelled when our gallant army passed them, opening a broad path to Hungary.” Lubok is a ...
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The Great European War
This print showing Russian and German troops engaged in battle is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Brave Russian soldiers attacking the enemy with bayonets on the German front.” Lubok is a Russian word for popular prints created from woodcuts, engravings, etchings, or later, by using lithography. The prints were often characterized by simple, colorful graphics depicting a narrative, and could also include text. Lubok gained popularity in Russia beginning in the late 17th century. The prints, which often ...
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The Battle of Marijampolė
This print showing the Battle of Marijampolė (in present-day Lithuania) is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “As Russian troops were retreating for strategic reasons from East Prussia, they had to deal not only with the German troops, but also with civilians in German cities and towns. In a small village, called Darkmen, the entire German population, including young women and 12-year-olds, shot at Russian troops from the windows of houses, the roofs of barns, and cellars. The villagers ...
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The Battle of Augustów
This print showing the Battle of Augustów (in present-day Poland) is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “The Germans' attempt to cross the Neman River and enter the rear of our armies in Poland, by cutting the railroad lines from Moscow to Petrograd, ended in a great defeat. Driven from the Neman, the Germans made ​desperate attempts to slow the offensive by our troops. A particularly intense battle took place near Augustów. The Germans were defeated by our artillery ...
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A Battle with the Turks
This print showing a battle between Cossacks and Turks is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Taking advantage of the night darkness, the Turks, dressed in white cloaks, stole up to the location of the Cossack outpost and attacked the Cossacks with bayonets. At the same time a Kurdish cavalry unit attacked them from the flank. A terrible massacre began. The Cossacks then broke through the lines of the Turks, took the hill, and entrenched themselves. In the morning ...
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The Battle of Ardahan
This print showing the Battle of Ardahan (in present-day Turkey) is from the collection of World War I Russian lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “On the night of December 20, our troops, while fighting, force-marched to Ardahan from two sides—from the west and the north. There was a heavy fog. The Turks, firmly settled in the trenches, met our troops with an outpouring of bullets and shrapnel. Late at night the commanding officer of the western detachment led his troops on an assault of ...
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The Defeat of the Austrian Army Near L'viv
This print showing a battle between the Russian and Austrian armies near L’viv (in present-day Ukraine; at that time the city of Lemberg in Austria-Hungary) is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “According to the headquarters of the commander in chief, after a seven day battle, our army took advanced and heavily fortified positions near L’viv, 15–20 versts east of the city, and approached the main L’viv forts. After very heavy fighting on August 19 ...
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The Great War. Russian Troops Crossing the Carpathian Mountains
This print showing Russian troops crossing the Carpathian Mountains is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Our gallant troops endure incredible hardships during their crossing of the Carpathian Mountains; it seems that all is against the Russians: cliffs, impenetrable goat paths, the most severe frosts and, besides all this, behind each stone and ledge of a rock the cruel enemy is vigilantly eyeing every step taken by us. But nothing can stop the victorious march of our heroes, Russian ...
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A Heroic Feat by Non-commissioned Officer Avvakum Volkov, Who Captured the Austrian Flag
This print showing Russian troops fighting Austrians is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Avvakum Volkov, a volunteer non-commissioned officer, Full Cavalier of Saint George, was brought to one of the Moscow military hospitals. For his outstanding bravery he was granted a promotion and a reward of 500 rubles. Volkov earned his last two honors in battles against the Austrians. Accompanied by seven soldiers, Volkov went on a reconnaissance mission and soon encountered Austrian dragoons, nine enlisted men, one ...
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The Great European War. The Battle of Augustów. German Troops Crossing the Neman
This print showing German troops crossing the Neman River at the Battle of  Augustów (in present-day Poland) is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “From the report from the headquarters of the Chief of Staff. The Battle of Augustów ended with a victory on September 20. The Germans' defeat was complete, and now they are retreating to the borders of East Prussia in a disorderly manner. Our valiant troops vigorously pursued the enemy, who is leaving behind wagons, guns ...
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The Great European War. A Heroic Feat by Cossack Gumilov, Who Rescued a Wounded Officer
This print showing the rescue of a wounded Russian officer is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Some of the wounded brought to Petrograd from the Austrian battlefields told an interesting story about a heroic feat by the Cossack Gumilov. The Cossack took part in the Battle of L’viv. Together with three of his friends he reached the woods, where they drove off some Austrian cavalrymen. Gumilov went ahead and came to the edge of the forest. A ...
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