Global Books at the Beinecke Library

Books from around the World before 1800

Although best known for Western books and manuscripts, the Beinecke has a rich collection of non-Western materials that has been part of its teaching and research collection since the nineteenth century.  As part of its Global Books initiative, new pages will be posted approximately every other week that explain the history of these books with extensive images and links to other materials, both in Yale’s collections and beyond.


An open manuscript with text and images of chickens.

A Batak manuscript on bark from the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  The text, used by a shaman to prognosticate based on the entrails of sacrificed chickens, is written on strips of bark that are joined and folded into an accordian format, circa 1860-1920. Beinecke Library GEN MSS VOL 702.

These pages were authored by Kristen Herdman, a Ph.D. candidate in Yale’s Medieval Studies program with an emphasis on Art History, under the direction of Ray Clemens, curator of Early Books and Manuscripts.  These pages will evolve and be updated over time, so please reach out to us with suggestions for further reseach. If you have suggestions or questions, please write to us at Kristen Herdman or Ray Clemens.


Ethiopic Manuscripts (added February 1, 2021)

Syriac Manuscripts (added February 15, 2021)

Japanese Manuscripts and Early Printed Books (added March 1, 2021)

Tibetan Thankas (added March 15, 2021)

Hebrew Manuscripts (added April 4, 2021)