Georgian collections

The earliest printed Georgian Bible published in Moscow in 1743 (Or.72.d.2)
The earliest printed Georgian Bible published in Moscow in 1743 (Or.72.d.2)

The Georgian collections comprise about 8,000 volumes of printed books, periodicals and newspapers, ten manuscripts and a range of other materials including maps, music scores and sound recordings.

About the collection

Collected from 1753 by the British Museum and since 1973 by the British Library, the Georgian collections include written and printed material in the Georgian language ranging from early religious texts to the most recent publications. Additionally we hold material in and about other Caucasian languages:  Kartvelian (Svanian and Mingrelo-Laz), Abkhazian, Ossetian, Daghestanian and Circassian.

The Georgian collections include manuscripts, early printed books and rare avant-garde works as well as a wide range of publications in Western languages relating to Caucasian languages, literature and culture.

Highlights of the Georgian collection include:
  • 11th century parchment codex of the Lives of the Saints from the Holy Cross Monastery, Jerusalem. This manuscript includes unique copies of works by Cyril of Scythopolis and Athanasius  of Alexandria (Add. MS. 11281)
  • Handwritten monthly journal of the Georgian Socialist Revolutionary Party, Musha, 1889-91, donated to the British Museum by Prince Varlam Cherkezishvili (Or.5315)
  • The earliest printed Bible in Georgian, the Bakar Bible printed in Moscow, 1743 (Or.72.d.2.)
  • Examples of the earliest printed books in Georgian script published in Rome in the 17th century
  • Books and manuscripts written by Continental and English travellers in the 17th and 18th centuries
  • First sound recordings in Georgia and the Caucasus made in Tbilisi, 1901-1914, by the Gramophone Company of London
  • Rare copy of H2SO4, the Georgian avant-garde journal, published in 1924 (RB.23.b.6973)

What is available online?

Details of our modern Georgian printed holdings are mostly available in our online catalogue Explore the British Library.

Georgian digitised manuscripts are searchable on the Library’s Digitised Manuscripts site.

You can also find images relating to Georgian material in the British Library’s Images Online.

The material digitised through the Endangered Archives programme includes a selection of photographic images from the Georgian Central State Audio-Visual Archive dating from the late 19th and early 20th century (EAP57).

Sound and video recordings are included at British Library - Sound.

British Library collection items are also described in our European Studies, our Asian and African studies, and our Sound and vision blogs. We also tweet information on news, discoveries, bibliographical resources and collection items on Twitter.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

You can view printed materials, manuscripts and archives in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room. Some especially valuable or fragile material is restricted and available only in exceptional circumstances. Self-service photography is allowed for certain categories of material, provided that its condition allows this.

In addition to the online catalogues mentioned above, details of some older material are available in the Reading Room:

  • A Catalogue of the Armenian Manuscripts in the British Museum, by F. C. Conybeare ... to which is appended a Catalogue of Georgian Manuscripts in the British Museum, by J. Oliver Wardrop. (London, 1913)
  • Lang, D.M. Catalogue of Georgian and other Caucasian Printed Books in the British Museum (London, 1962)