The Bodleian has only a handful of Mongolian manuscripts. They include part of a primer of Mongolian conversation, dated 1787; a copy of a Buddhist canonical composition, comprising the Sanskrit text together with Tibetan and Mongolian versions; and letters and a volume of letters and papers in Mongolian, Bengali and Tibetan. The Library’s earliest examples of Mongolian printing are a number of blockprints from the eighteenth century produced in Peking. They contain Buddhist Sutras, among them the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra. Of the Library’s two editions of the Heart Sutra, one was printed c. 1712. A small number of prints from the nineteenth century contain trilingual texts – Chinese, with Manchu and Mongolian translations. The Backhouse Collection contains several Mongolian translations of Manchu texts. The Library also has a small collection of blockprints from Peking of Mongolian translations of Tibetan Buddhist texts, with or without the original Tibetan. The spread of missionary activity in Central Asia during the nineteenth century led to the translation and publication of various parts of the Bible in Mongolian and the Library has editions published in St Petersburg (1819, 1827 etc.), London (1846) and Peking (1872). It also holds many of the early grammars, dictionaries and studies published on the language and literature of the Mongols, which appeared in England, France, Germany, Russia and elsewhere.
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