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Of the five bKa’ ’gyur and bsTan ’gyur canonical corpuses, the 106 volume manuscript bKa’ ’gyur from Shel dkar is an exceptional item. Belonging to the Them spang ma recension, the manuscript is now known as the London bKa’ ’gyur. The sDe dge edition of bKa’ ’gyur held at the University Library, Cambridge, is usual sDe dge tshal par in red ink. The bundles have never been opened since they were bound with yak hair over a hundred years ago at the time of their production. The faint red ink on thin cream paper also makes it very difficult to read or microfilm.

The sNar thang bKa’ ’gyur in the British Library has long been microfilmed but the copy in the Bodleian is said to be incomplete and in poor condition damaged by dampness and rodents. The only bsTan ’gyur acquired by the mission is the sNar thang wood block prints now in the British Library.


One of the rare and exquisite items in the Younghusband Collection is the so-called Rig ’dzin Tshe dbang Nor bu manuscript of the rNying ma rgyud ’bum. The books are produced with much care and beautiful illustrations. On the rNying ma rgyud ’bum, Waddell remarks that ‘one of the finest sets of these illuminated manuscripts in twenty-nine large volumes was presented by me out of my own private collection to the India Office Library, where the volumes have safely arrived.’ Only thirty-one out of the original thirty three volumes survive. Waddell presented the twenty-nine volumes to the India Office Library but volumes 1 and 31 went to auction and were procured by the Bodleian Library and the British Museum, respectively. Two of the title leaves were also auctioned separately and acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Similarly, two volumes of the Shel dkar bKa’ ’gyur, also known as the London bKa’ ’gyur, were auctioned and bought by the Bodleian Library whilst the rest of the collection is in the British Library. Thus, the manner in which Waddell distributed the books among the libraries or kept copies for himself is not a simple straightforward story. It seems there was no clear distinction of what he acquired for himself and what was acquired by him for the Government of India. The lists Waddell gave of the books he acquired and presented to the libraries were also not consistent. Apart from the volumes in the Bodleian and the folios in Victoria and Albert Museum, the rest of Waddell’s own books were bought by a library in Berlin.