The Tibetan Collection of the Library
of Congress began in 1901 with a presentation of 57 xylographs
and eight manuscripts acquired by William Woodville Rockhill, U.S.
Minister to China, during his travels in Mongolia and Tibet from
1888 to 1892. Between 1901 and 1928, approximately 920 original
xylographs and manuscripts were acquired for the Library, mostly
by Rockhill, Berthold Laufer (1874-1934), and Joseph Rock (1884-1962).
Currently, the collection is one of the largest in the West, consisting
of approximately 10,000 volumes, made up of hundreds of individual
The Library's Tibetan Collection is representative of the entire
corpus of Tibetan literature from the 8th century to the present:
Buddhist and Bon-po philosophical texts and their commentaries,
history, biography, traditional medicine, astrology, iconography,
musical notations, the collected works of over 200 major Tibetan
authors, bibliographies, traditional grammars and linguistic sciences,
modern science, social sciences and modern literature. Among the
Library's holdings are several rare xylograph redactions of the
Buddhist canonical literature, Kanjur and Tanjur, as well as a
complete set of the Bon-po Kanjur and Tanjur. The Derge Kanjur
was acquired by William Rockhill in 1901 for the Library, and the
Narthang Tanjur was acquired by Berthold Laufer in 1926. The complete
Coni redaction in 317 volumes acquired by Joseph Rock in 1928 is
one of only a few known to exist today.