Al-Masaalik Wa Al-Mamaalik is an important geographical book written in Arabic by Mohammad Farsi Istakhri in the 10th century. It describes the socioeconomic, cultural and political state of Islamic countries from India to Africa. The book has been…

The Bugis people of South Sulawesi have a long literary tradition centering on a great epic, the La Galigo, dating from approximately the 14th century with pre-Islamic content. It is probably the longest single literary work from anywhere in the…

The Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC)) was founded in 1602 as a State Trading Company with a monopoly of trade between the Netherlands and the East. This monopoly was set up because of the dangers and difficulties of…

In the early 19th century three problems came together. British companies had established a huge network of sugar plantations but slavery had been abolished throughout the Empire. A new and plentiful source of cheap labour was needed. At the same…

The collection documents the life and work of Francis Edgar Williams (1893–1943) who served as a government anthropologist in the then Australian Territory of Papua from 1922 until his death. The collection of some 2,000 glass plate and celluloid…

The Cathay-Keris Malay films were made by a generation of lndian and Malay film directors who had survived World War II. The films are significant as documentary heritage because they portray the traditional mores and culture of the Malay people in…

King Bayinnaung was the king of the Taungoo Dynasty (modern day Myanmar) from 1551-1581 and donated the bronze bell to the Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan in 1557. The inscriptions on the bell are in three languages, Myanmar Mon and Pali and record the…

Loamaafaanu are thin sheets of copperplates attached with an iron ring at one end and were the official grants given by the Sultans to the mosques. They were hung inside the mosque for everyone who entered to see and to read. It is believed that…

The collection was made by six filmmakers from the Neo Lao Hak Xath (Film Division of the Lao Patriotic Front) during the Indochina Wars. The films were made between 1955 and 1980, and consist of 450 newsreel and documentary films shot with both 16mm…

The Polynesian Immigrants Records are records of the indentured Pacific Islands labourers who were brought to Fiji as labourers. The first ship load of labourers arrived in Fiji in 1864 but records did not start until 1876. During this period the…

The Proclamation (E Tuatua Akakite) is a fragile, unique, two page document, written in Maori, the language spoken in the Cook Islands. The Proclamation was made in 1888 but not signed by the Earl of Onslow on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Victoria…

The Royal Literature on Hue Royal Architecture consists of 2,679 verses and picture panels located in thirteen buildings in the Royal City in Hue, Vietnam. The buildings were constructed from 1802 to 1945 and the verses were chosen from the works of…

The system of Confucian education and examinations expanded from the royal capital city to villages and included both public and private schools. It was in this context that the Nguyen Huy family founded the Phuc Giang private school in the mid-18th…

The Imperial Records are the records of the administration of eleven of the thirteen emperors of the Nguyen dynasty. The Nguyen dynasty was the last feudal dynasty in Vietnam. A centralised system for managing the imperial records was in place and…

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda was built in a traditional Vietnamese architectural style around the 11th century as a centre for training the monks of Truc Lam Zen, a Zen school founded by Emperor Tran Nhan Tong (1258–1308), showing the influence of Confucian…

From 1820 down to the later 19th century, the Vietnamese State ordered some 152 books to be published at state expense. These included volumes on the history and geography of Vietnam, biographies of Emperors and some of their senior officials,…

The Turkestan Collection is a comprehensive collection of 594 volumes of printed material relating to the history, culture, ethnography, geography, economics, social life and traditions of Turkestan and Central Asian countries from the 1867s until…

After the death of Prophet Muhammad, Othman, the third Khalif ("Leader") of the Muslim community, was concerned that several variant versions of the Koran ("Quran") were circulating. He gathered scholars together to compile a definitive text in 651.…

The Al-Biruni Institute of Oriental Studies and its predecessors have been operating a sustained programme of collecting ancient manuscripts from Central Asia since 1870. The collection to date includes some 18,000 volumes. These are hand-written…

The Thai people moved into the area of modern Thailand during the 12th century and established their first independent kingdom at Sukhothai in 1238. King Ram Khamhaeng of Sukhothai set up a stone inscription in 1292 celebrating his life and…

To preserve traditional learning and practice for the public, King Rama III (1824–1851) ordered 50 scholars to prepare a set of writings giving an overview of Thai culture. Between 1831 and 1841 these writings were inscribed onto 1,431 stone slabs…

The wooden plaques are hand carved and were hung at the centre of a traditional Korean building. The 550 unique plaques, cared for at the Advanced Center for Korean Studies (ACKS), were produced from the 16th century to the 20th century and entrusted…

Under the Joseon (Choson) Dynasty from 1392 to 1910, for every significant state function, a Uigwe (Royal Protocol) would be issued. A committee would be set up in advance and decisions taken as to the exact form the ceremony was to take.…

At the heart of the Joseon (Choson) Dynasty's desire to ensure that every significant political event in the Kingdom be properly recorded were the Diaries of the Royal Secretariat. A group of elite scholars in the Royal Secretariat noted down every…

From the beginning of the Joseon (Choson) Dynasty (1392–1910), a great deal of importance was placed on the meticulous recording of state events. A daily official record was kept, later to be used to draw up the official history of the reign. These…

From the beginning of Korean civilisation, writing in Korea was in Chinese. Chinese characters cannot be used to write Korean, and the use of Chinese therefore tended to restrict literacy in Korea to an elite few who had mastered classical Chinese as…

Traditional Korean Medicine has a long history. In 1596, King Seonjo ordered a group of scholars to prepare a comprehensive encyclopedia of medical knowledge in East Asia at state expense. The King instructed that this encyclopedia must concentrate…

From 1392 the Choson Dynasty had a Bureau of Annals Compilation, which kept a daily record of all that passed in the Kingdom and prepared a Draft History year by year of the major events. Once a King died, these records and the other records of the…

On 22nd February 1986, deep-seated anger at the corrupt dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos suddenly boiled over. Hundreds of thousands of people spontaneously poured onto the streets, taking over the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue in Central…

The Philippine people rose up against their colonial overlords, Spain, in the Revolution of 1896–1898, but, having ejected the Spanish, found that the United States had taken over as colonial overlord in their place. This resulted in the…

When the Spaniards first came to the Philippines in 1571, they found widespread literacy in the islands. Poetry was being written down and letters were being sent. Mostly writing was done by using knives and sharp styli to scratch the letters into…

The Philippines is home to a huge range of indigenous ethnic groups, each with its own indigenous language, culture and music. Over the last few decades, however, as the pressure of international culture and the culture of the dominant ethnic groups…

In 1906 the All-India Muslim League was founded under the leadership of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who is also known as Quaidi-Azam ("Great Leader"). This League struggled to ensure that the Muslims of India had a voice in the growing pressure for…

The archives have great significance for the history of the Western Pacific and for the indigenous peoples of the region as they document the impact of British colonial administration on the area, during the final period of British colonial…

As the settlement of New Zealand by British settlers began, the question arose of the proper way relationship between the new settlers and the indigenous Māori people should be handled. It was decided that a Treaty between the two parties should be…

The collection of documents on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) held by the Macmillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury, is one of the most complete and unique sets of original documents from the Tribunal. The…

In the late 19th century the Women's Suffrage movement, aiming to give women the right to vote, began in New Zealand as it did in other places including Britain and the United States. The movement was strenuously opposed by some men, who felt that…

This Sutra of the Great Deity Tara, a goddess of the Buddhist religion widely popular in Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia, is a book written on a 4.5x5.0 cm page. It is believed to have been produced in about 1914 using a single animal hair. It has a total…

In 1741 a huge translation programme began in Mongolia. At that time, Mongolia was dominated by the Buddhist monastic organisation, and the programme was undertaken at the behest of the Mongolian Living Buddha, the reincarnated head of the monastic…

Mongolian historiography started in the 13th century with the writing of the "Secret History of the Mongols", dealing with the origins of the Mongols, and more particularly with the history of Chinggis Khan and his immediate successors. This…

Kitab Ilmu Bedil is an early manuscript on Malay traditional weaponry. It documents how Malay society adapted the use of weaponry technology and knowledge from other civilisations, particularly Europe and Islam. Such manuscripts on firearms and…

During the 15th century, Melaka was the dominant Malay state, centred on its port, which controlled traffic through the straits of Malacca. The Portuguese took Melaka in 1511, doing away with the old Malay Sultanate, and making of the port a vital…

During the 15th century, Melaka was the dominant Malay state, centred on its port, which controlled traffic through the straits of Malacca. The Portuguese took Melaka in 1511, doing away with the old Malay Sultanate and making the port a vital part…

Kedah is the northernmost State on the west coast of Malaya. Kedah is a monarchy under a hereditary Sultan, which in the 18th century had became a tributary state to Siam. At the end of the 18th century, the British had occupied Penang, and at the…

The coming of Islam into South-East Asia is a major historic event, which decisively changed the culture and historical development of the Malay peoples. The first Muslim people came into the area probably in the 10th or 12th century, but the first…

Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, who died around 1166–1167, was a great Islamic religious figure. Yasawi was central to the rise of Turkish as a language, and of Turkish culture as the dominant culture of Central Asia. Before his time, writing in Central Asia…

Before the 1960s, the Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya rivers ran northwest through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and drained into the vast fresh-water lake of the Aral Sea. A strip of arable land lay immediately adjacent to the rivers, with pasture land further…

During the Meiji Era (1868–1912) Japan underwent a root-andbranch modernization. This development, taking place within little more than a single generation, transformed a rural civilization into one of the world's great industrial and commercial…

Arafat al-Ashiqin va Arasat al-Arifin is written in Farsi and contains the biographies of about 3,500 poets from Afghanistan, Iran and the Indian subcontinent. There are a number of manuscripts of the same work. The manuscript that is inscribed on…

The Avesta consists of the five religious texts of Zoroastrianism which is one of the oldest religions in the world. It is written in the Avestan language. It is the holy book for Zoroastrians in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan. None of the…

This 13 episode documentary television series by Seyed Mani Mirsadeghi examines the environment of the Oman Sea and the Persian Gulf. Coral reefs are among the oldest communities of living creatures on earth, and some are of great antiquity as well…

The tradition of "waqf" (endowment) in Islamic society has been a beneficial and effective factor for securing and increasing social welfare. The endowed objects are generally income producing sources and their revenues are spent for charitable and…

In Iranian culture and the expanse of the Persian language the tradition of story writing and story telling has existed since earliest times. The epic stories of Shahnameh (Book of Kings) and the romantic and amorous stories of Panj Ganj (also known…

Ferdowsi (941–1020) was a prominent poet of the Persian Empire who undeniably revitalised Persian language through an epic. The work, consisting of about 60,000 rhyming couplets, is known as Shâhnâmeh or "Book of the Kings". An apparent…

In the 10th and 11th centuries the Islamic territories were the cradle of developments in the sciences. Indeed, Persian and Muslim scientists built an effective structure in all sciences based on what their ancestors had earlier gained. In the…

The Nāgarakrĕtāgama is a long narrative poem (kakawin) in Old Javanese language inscribed on palm leaves dated to sometime around 1360. It gives a description of King Hayam Wuruk's journey through the realm of Majapahit which geographically covers…

During the 19th century a major programme of collection of ancient Indian Islamic manuscripts (primarily written in Arabic or Persian) began in North India. Eventually, one of the world's largest and finest collections of such manuscripts was…

In 1868, the Government of the Bombay Presidency set in motion a programme for the collection of ancient Indian manuscripts. Fifty years later 28,000 such manuscripts had been gathered. This collection was eventually kept in Pune, where the dry…

Buddhism arose in India, and for many centuries it was extremely important there. However, Buddhism disappeared from India during the 12th and 13th centuries. Many old manuscripts of Buddhism were discarded in this period and lost. At the end of the…

Traditional Indian Medicine has a long history. Its theories and detailed practices are recorded in classic texts written by medical scholars of the past. Modern practitioners study these texts to increase their skills. The Institute of Asian Studies…

"The archives provide a record of the life and activities of the Confucius family descendants over the 400 years from 1534 – 1948. They consist of 9,021 volumes and are held in the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu, Shandong Province, China, which was…

"The Double Stellar Hemisphere is a map that was printed from woodblocks in 1634. It depicts the northern and southern hemispheres and consists of 16 coloured star charts, 4 coloured pictures of astronomical instruments and 2 legends. The creation of…

"From the end of the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century, seven generations of one family, the Leis, were the architects of the Chinese Emperors, designing new buildings for them, and designing also the furniture and decorations they…

"In the mid 13th century, Genghis Khan's empire expanded its influence from Korea to China, and through Central Asia to Russia and Eastern Europe. The Yuan Dynasty was established when China fell under Mongol rule in 1279. Tibet was made one of the…

"For more than a thousand years, appointment as an official in the Chinese Imperial Civil Service required the applicant to pass a series of public examinations. The examinations, open to almost all men, were organized at levels of District,…

"China has a very rich tradition of folk song and folk music, arising not only from the Han Chinese people but also from the peoples of many other ethnic groups living there. Starting in 1950, a major programme of recording such music has been…

"Traditional Chinese Medicine uses a great number of herbs and other natural products with medicinal properties. Identification of these, how they should be used and what diseases they could be used to treat began several thousand years ago. Over…

"The Naxi people (today numbering some 300,000 persons) live in the upper valleys of the Yangtze River system on the borders of Yunnan and Sichuan of China. They invented a written script unique to themselves. This script is pictographic, with some…

"The recordings of the Reamker epic by Takrut, a famous 1960s storyteller, are the earliest known audio documents of an oral Khmer tradition. The recordings capture this ancient story in its full integrity. The ancient art of storytelling was nearly…

"Tuol Sleng was, before the seizure of power by the Khmer Rouge in 1975, a prestigious secondary school surrounded by grass playing-fields. The Khmer Rouge converted the school into the S-21 Interrogation Centre. The classrooms were divided into tiny…

"The cinema has had an immense influence on modern life in its almost 120 years of history. It has fuelled the imaginations of the world, given vitality to fantasies, and has become the strongest of all educational tools. It has also supported…

"The indigenous peoples of Australia and its adjacent islands were, when they first came into contact with Westerners, huntergatherers. As such, they were constantly on the move within their hunting territories. When the British first settled on the…

"Lieutenant (by courtesy, Captain) James Cook undertook a voyage of exploration of the Pacific in H.M.S. Endeavour between 1768 and 1771. The aims of this voyage included not only the charting of the coasts of New Zealand and eastern Australia (very…

"In the 80 years between 1788 and 1868, some 165,000 people, convicted in Britain of certain crimes regarded at the time as serious (though sometimes trivial by today's standards), were sentenced to transportation to Australia where they were…