We have manuscripts dating back to the 17th century, early printed books, newspapers and periodicals, and modern research-level publications in the humanities and social sciences.

Collection guides

Readers at desks in the Asian and African Reading Room

Asian & African Studies Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic books and journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues

If you need help, just ask our Information Specialists at the Reference Enquiry desk or contact the Asian & African Studies Reference Team.

We offer a range of free Reader sessions and 1-2-1 consultations to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Mon: 10.00 – 17.00
Tue – Sat: 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays: closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

The Vessantara Jataka on the move

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

This is the ninth of a series of blog posts accompanying the British Library exhibition on Buddhism, 25 Oct 2019 – 23 Feb 2020. Stories about the Buddha and Buddhism are depicted not only in illustrated manuscripts, but also in...

The Royal Library of Bone: Bugis and Makassar manuscripts in the British Library

Monday, January 6, 2020

In March 2019, the digitisation was completed of 75 Javanese manuscripts from Yogyakarta now held in the British Library, which had been captured from the Kraton or Palace of Yogyakarta in June 1812 following a British assault. What is much...

Three fish with one head (2): from the Buddha’s footprints to Beat poetry

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The first part of this blog post explored diagrams of three fish with one head in manuscripts association with the Shattariyah Sufi order in Java. In this second part the motif is traced through nearly four thousand years, from ancient...

Three fish with one head: (1) Sufi sources from Southeast Asia

Thursday, December 5, 2019

This two-part blog post will examine a striking motif of three interlocking fish with one head, which is found in widely varied locations all over the world. This first post looks at examples in Javanese mystical manuscripts; in the second...

More blog posts

External links

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South East Asia Library Group

Scholars and librarians concerned with library provision for South-East Asian studies

Southeast Asia Digital Library

Provides researchers with a wide variety of materials

Shop

Raffle's Ark Redrawn: Natural History Drawings from the Collection of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles

An exquisite illustrated catalogue of the 123 colourful natural history drawings of the Raffles Family Collection.

£20

The Book of the British Library

As well as holding some of the world's most prized cultural treasures, the British Library is the repository of the nation's collective memory.

£25.00