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Mackenzie collection

Colin Mackenzie (1754-1821) was the first Surveyor General of India. During his time in India he collected drawings of monuments, sculptures, people, animals and anything else that caught his interest. 

The Mackenzie collection holds 1,680 drawings, made over more than 30 years. It is the largest single collection of British drawings in the Prints, Drawings and Photographs Section of the British Library's Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections.


A Company officer and his survey team sketching and taking measurements of a temple, probably in Karnataka, early 19th century. © The British Library Board [WD 586]

Originally from Scotland, Mackenzie came to India in 1782 as a member of the Madras Engineers. He took part in numerous map surveys, mainly in southern India, before he was appointed to the post of Surveyor General in 1815.

Beyond his official duties, Mackenzie had a keen interest in the antiquities, religions and customs of India and Java. Amongst his many achievements, he was the first European to discover the Great Stupa at Amaravati.


Prints, Drawings and Photographs Section
Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7856/7327/7663
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7641