South Asia


Gillian Evison
tel: +44 (0)1865 277083

Collection overview

The South Asian collections cover material relating to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. The Bodleian has one of the most important collection of Mughal paintings in the world and is the repository of some 8,700 Sanskrit manuscripts, the largest known collection outside the Indian sub-continent. The printed book collection covers the history and culture of South Asian regions from prehistory to the present day. The fields of language, literature, religion, history and politics are particularly strongly represented.

More information is available about special collections relating to South Asia.

Collection Policy for South and Inner Asian Studies


Temporary move of South Asian collections

In preparation for the refurbishment of the New Bodleian Library expected to begin next year, modern printed Oriental Collections currently stored there must be temporarily relocated. The relocation is being carried out in order to give continued access to these books and periodicals during the forthcoming refurbishment of the library.  South Asian collections will be included in the temporary move. Please follow the link below for current information on the moves.


Libraries and reading rooms

Responsibility for the South Asian research collections is shared between a number of locations within the Bodleian Libraries. All manuscripts are read in the Special Collections Reading Room.

During the refurbishment of the New Bodleian Library a selection of open shelf research materials from the Indian Institute Reading Room, which will be closed from Sept. 10th 2010*, will be held on open access at the Bodleian Oriental Institute Library. Responsibility for Sri Lankan materials is shared with the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House. Oxford’s major collection of books on South Asian painting, textiles and crafts is found in the Eastern Art collection at the Sackler Library. Indian legislation, law reports and text books on Indian law are kept at the Bodleian Law Library which also has a basic collection of law reports for Pakistan and a small collection on the laws of Sri Lanka. The Bodleian Social Science Library has research and teaching collections on South Asian development studies. The primary loan collections of material on South Asia required for teaching purposes are held at the the Bodleian Oriental Institute Library, the History Faculty Library, the Bodleian Social Science Library and the Balfour Library

Many printed books on South Asia in European and South Asian languages are now catalogued on OLIS but there are still many titles, particularly in South Asian languages other than Sanskrit, that are accessible only through library card catalogues in the Indian Institute Reading Room.

*Date is subject to confirmation.


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