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Lao language collections

The British Library holds a small but significant collection of Lao material, consisting of both manuscripts and printed books.

Manuscripts

The British Library holds about 30 palm leaf manuscripts in Lao. The collection comprises literary and Buddhist texts. Among the highlights are

  • a rare Lao dictionary in three volumes acquired in 1839 [Add. 11624]
  • Mouhot's Alphabets and inscriptions [OR. 4736]

We also hold about 50 palm leaf manuscripts in the Thai collections in the Lao and Pali languages, but in Northern Thai script. These were acquired from Sören Egerod.

Other minor languages covered in the Thai, Lao and Cambodian manuscripts collection are Ahom, Khamti, Khasi, Tai Lue and Tai Khoen, Mon, and Shan.

Accessing the manuscripts

All the manuscripts in our Lao collections catalogued to date are listed in this electronic handlist.

Further details of individual items may be found in the following printed handlists:

Marrison, G.E.(ed.) Handlist of the Tai and Mon-Khmer manuscripts in the British Museum, together with Pali manuscripts from the corresponding region, and a short bibliography. 1968
Typescript handlist, updated by H.Ginsburg to include recent acquisitions of Thai and Cambodian manuscripts. [ORC THAI 1]

Igunma, Jana (ed.) Handlist of manuscripts from the Thai, Lao and Cambodian Collections, The British Library. London : The British Library, 2006
CD-ROM including the updated Handlist of the Tai and Mon-Khmer manuscripts in the British Museum, together with Pali manuscripts from the corresponding region, and a short bibliography. [ED.2006.x.66]

Printed books

The collection consists of about 150 titles, most of them dating from 1950. A highlight of the collection is one of the first books printed in the Lao language, in Northern Thai script, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, 1896 (ORB.30/5145).

Accessing the printed collections

Lao printed books and serials which were acquired before 2001 are accessible through a card catalogue in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room. Books on Laos in western languages, and acquisitions in the Lao language from 2001, can be found in Explore the British Library.

Other resources

Contact

Jana Igunma, Henry Ginsburg Curator for Thai, Lao and Cambodian
Asian and African Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7653

E-mail: jana.igunma@bl.uk