Southeast Asia collections

Italian Portolano
Southeast Asia in an Italian Portolano, 16th century (Harley 3450, no.6)

We have materials relating to Southeast Asia in a wide range of languages and formats

About the collection

We hold manuscripts, periodicals and printed books in the languages of the countries of maritime Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and East Timor, as well as on the mainland, from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma) and Vietnam.

Material relating to Southeast Asia can also be found in English and a wide range of other languages, and in all formats.

What is available online?

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

  • Manuscripts, printed books and periodicals from and about Southeast Asia
  • Newspapers published in Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, some dating from the 19th century, as well as British newspapers containing news on Southeast Asia
  • India Office Records and Private Papers relating to the English factories or trading posts in Siam, Vietnam, Banten (1602-1684) and Bengkulu (1684-1824); and to the British administration of Manila (1762-1764), Java (1811-1816), and the Straits Settlements of Singapore, Malacca and Penang (up to 1867).
  • Maps, both printed and manuscript
  • Prints, drawings and photographs from Southeast Asia, including the Horsfield and Mackenzie collections of archaeological drawings from Java.
  • Sound recordings from Southeast Asia of theatre plays, radio broadcasts, religious ceremonies, and of pop, traditional and folk music. There are also field recordings of wildlife from all parts of Southeast Asia, and oral history interviews with Southeast Asian refugee communities in the UK
  • Stamps from all parts of Southeast Asia can be consulted in the Philatelic Reading Room.

A flying horse from a Bugis manuscript

Painting of a winged horse, found in the Bugis diary of Muhammad Ramadan, Maqdanrang of Bone, 1790-1800.  British Library, Or. 8154, f. 3v  noc