Manuscript/Mixed Material Gandhara scroll. Digitized scroll:

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About this Item

Gandhara scroll.
"The ancient kingdom of Gandhara (today's Afghanistan and Pakistan) is the source of the oldest Buddhist manuscripts in the world, as well as the oldest manuscripts from South Asia in existence. Acquired in 2003, the Library's Gandhara scroll roughly dates between the first century BCE and first century CE. Its language is Gandhari, a derivative of Sanskrit, and the script is called Kharoshthi. Scholars have informally called this scroll the Bahubuddha Sutra, or 'The Many Buddhas Sutra,' because it resembles a text with a similar name in Sanskrit. The scroll discusses the lives of fifteen buddhas. The text is narrated by Shakyamuni Buddha who gives very short biographies of thirteen buddhas who came before him, followed by his birth and emergence as Shakyamuni Buddha, and ending with the prediction of the future buddha, Maitreya. The biographies contain other information, such as how long each buddha lived, how each predicted the eventual appearance of Shakyamuni Buddha, what social class the buddha was born into, and how long his teachings endured"-- Provided by Library of Congress Asian Division staff.
Contains information on the parallel lives of fifteen buddhas: Dīpaṅkara, Sarvābhibhū, Padmottara, Atyuccagāmin, Yaśottara, Śākyamuni [I], Tiṣya, Vipaśyin, Śikhin, Viśvabhū, Krakucchanda, Konākamuni, Kāśyapa, Śākyamuni [II] (also known as Siddhartha Gautama), and Maitreya. The scroll gives the buddhas' predictions of Śākyamuni's future coming as the Buddha; his four courses of training under the other buddhas; their lifespans; eons in which they lived; social class into which they were born; their assemblies of disciples; and duration of their teachings.
Created / Published
[Gandhara] : [producer not identified], [approximately 1st century B.C.-approximately 1st century A.D.]
Subject Headings
-  Buddhas--Early works to 1800
-  Manuscripts, Kharoṣṭhi--Washington (D.C.)
-  Manuscripts, Prakrit--Washington (D.C.)
-  Manuscript is in six large fragments and approximately 130 smaller fragments; mostly complete with the very beginning and end missing. Fragments are stored flat in two custom clamshell boxes measuring 73.5 x 45 x 7.8 cm. One box contains the six large fragments and the other box contains the smaller fragments.
-  This scroll on birch bark originates from the ancient Buddhist region of Gandhara (Pakistan and Afghanistan today) and is one of the oldest known Buddhist manuscripts. It is written in the Gandhari Prakrit language in Kharoshthi script, which is read from top to bottom and right to left. Because the scroll contains writing on both sides, the scribe would have flipped the scroll vertically to continue writing on the verso.
-  Title devised by cataloger.
-  Digitized images of this manuscript reflect the number, orientation, and order of fragments upon its unrolling and preservation in glass casing. In the image of the recto of the six large fragments, the three smallest fragments should be rotated 180 degrees to read the scroll.
-  Described in: Krueger, Holly H. "Conservation of the Library of Congress' Gandhara Scroll: a Collaborative Process." The Book and Paper Group annual, 27 (2008).
-  Described in: Salomon, Richard. "One Buddha, 15 Buddhas, 1,000 Buddhas." Recorded November 15, 2018 at the Library of Congress. Running time: 75 minutes.
1 scroll.
Call Number/Physical Location
BQ4670 .G36
Digital Id
Library of Congress Control Number
Rights Advisory
Creative Commons Public Doman Mark 1.0 No Copyrights External
Access Advisory
Restricted access; material extremely fragile; please use online digital image.
Online Format
LCCN Permalink
Additional Metadata Formats
MODS Record
Dublin Core Record
IIIF Presentation Manifest
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Chicago citation style:

Gandhara Scroll. [Gandhara: producer not identified, approximately 1st century B.C.-approximately 1st century A.D] Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

Gandhara Scroll. [Gandhara: producer not identified, approximately 1st century B.C.-approximately 1st century A.D] [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Gandhara Scroll. [Gandhara: producer not identified, approximately 1st century B.C.-approximately 1st century A.D] Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.

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