The Mongolian collection includes around 3,500 printed volumes, 480 manuscripts and block prints in original-script literature, which are written in Uigur-Mongolian script and Cyrillic script. The Uigur-Mongolian script is still used by the Mongolians in China today, whereas in the Mongolian Republic the Cyrillic alphabet has become established as common script since the 1950s.

Main focuses of content

The main focus of the collection contents is on humanities relevant for Mongolian studies, such as philosophy, religion – particularly Buddhism in this context –, history, archaeology, linguistics and literature, ethnic studies, architecture and art, as well as text editions of classic Mongolian literature. Literature by and about the Buryatians and Kalmyks is also of special interest to Mongolists. The Buryatians and the Kalmyks are two of the larger Mongolian ethnicities, the majority of whom live in Russia today. Since the Kalmyks live in the European part of Russia, they are considered to be the only Buddhist people of Europe.

A broad variety of scholarly text editions with translations and secondary literature from the field of Mongolian studies in Western and Eastern European languages is acquired as well.


At present, the acquisition policy for Mongolian manuscripts is determined by the scholarly relevance of texts and their aesthetic-museological aspect. The Oriental and Asian Department manages the Mongolian manuscripts technically (acquisition, subject information, guided tours, exhibitions), while the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books administrates them and is in charge of their use. The Mongolian manuscripts and block prints can be consulted in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books.


Manuscript catalogues


  • Heissig, Walther: Mongolische Handschriften, Blockdrucke, Landkarten. Volume 1. Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1961. Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland. 1.

Cod.mongol. = Codices mongolici

Catalogues of Mongolian printed works

The Mongolian printed works can be searched in BSB DISCOVER!.
Digital copies of Mongolian printed works can be located likewise in BSB DISCOVER!.


History of the Mongolian collection

Block prints from Quatremère's library

The then Munich Court Library acquired four Mongolian block prints from the early 18th century through the purchase of the library of the French Orientalist Étienne-Marc Quatremère in the year 1858. New acquisitions of Mongolian works were fairly moderate during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

Research-related acquisition of Mongolian works

The targeted acquisition of Mongolian works for scholarly purposes started in the 1980s. Since this time, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has purchased Mongolian block prints and manuscripts, as well as Mongolian literature from Mongolia and from China. With regard to content, the block prints and manuscripts are partly translations from the Chinese and Sanskrit languages, but also Buddhist texts translated from Tibetan.

Convolute of 26 Tibetan manuscripts from Mongolia

The moments when a collection can be complemented by a sizeable and valuable convolute mark an apex of the collection every time. In 2006, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek was in a position to acquire 26 Tibetan manuscripts from Mongolia thanks to donations. With some individual exceptions, the Buddhist canon is read in Tibetan in Mongolian monasteries. For this practice, Tibetan manuscripts and block prints were produced also in Mongolian monasteries. Unfortunately, the communist era brought the destruction not only of numerous monasteries, but also of the Buddhist cultural assets along with them.

Examples from the collection

In the following, some examples are mentioned which give an insight into both the diversity of contents of the collection and the large geographic area in which the Mongolian works were produced.

A Mongolian sūtra manuscript crafted in Beijing dates back to the 17th/ 18th century.
Sūtra manuscript  (Cod.mongol. 76)

A bilingual – Tibetan and Mongolian – outstanding work came to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek from Mongolia in 2006, together with a convolute of 26 Tibetan manuscripts. The Tibetan book of the dead of the Gelugpa school contains not only a Mongolian parallel translation, but is extraordinarily richly illuminated with almost 100 miniatures (Cod.tibet. 901).

A Mongolian arithmetic written by Aleksandr Popov in Kazan in 1837 in the then still usual Uigur-Mongolian script forms part of the early acquisitions of the library. The image also shows the Uigur-Mongolian numbers.
Mongolian arithmetic  (A.or. 3209)

Issak Jakob Schmidt, an important Mongolist, publishes the Erdeni-yin tobchi by the Mongolian historiographer Saghang Sechen from the 17th century along with a German translation in St. Petersburg in 1829. This edition simultaneously represents the first translation of a Mongolian work into a European language.
Saghang Sechen: Die Geschichte der Ostmongolen  (4 A.or. 2082 und 4 Geo.u. 135 aq)

Bernhard Jülg publishes a collection of Indian fairy tales influential for the Mongolian cultural area in the Kalmyk language in 1866 in Leipzig.
Die Märchen des Siddhi-Kür  (A.or. 2580)
(Kalmyk text with German translation and a Kalmyk-German dictionary)

After some losses during the war, the library could acquire replacements in the form of a Mongolian edition of the Gospels of Mathew and John and a Buryatian Gospel of Mathew in Cyrillic script.
Evangelium S. Matthaei et Joannis. 1815  (2 B.orient. 41)
 ♦    Matf'ejn arjūn evángelie gėži nėrėtėj nom. Irkutsk, 1909.  (B.orient. 11 q)


Meier, Franz Joseph: Aus der Geschichte der Asia-maior-Bestände der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek und ihrer Bearbeitung. In: Franke, Herbert (ed.): Orientalisches aus Münchener Bibliotheken und Sammlungen. Wiesbaden, 1957. p. 39-59.

Noichl, Elisabeth (ed.): Schrift-Stücke: Informationsträger aus fünf Jahrtausenden: eine Ausstellung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek und des Bayerischen Hauptstaatsarchivs: München, 19. Juli – 20. September 2000. München: Generaldirektion der Staatlichen Archive Bayerns; Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2000.

Grönbold, Günter: Die Worte des Buddha in den Sprachen der Welt = The words of the Buddha in the languages of the world: Tipitaka – Tripitaka – Dazangjing – Kanjur: eine Ausstellung aus dem Bestand der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, München, 27. Januar – 20. März 2005. With a contribution by Renate Stephan. München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2005.

Rebhan, Helga (ed.): Liebe, Götter und Dämonen: wertvolle asiatische Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek: Ausstellung 2. – 27. Januar 2008. München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2007.

Rebhan, Helga: Tibetische Handschriften aus der Mongolei: eine hochpreisige Erwerbung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Bibliotheksmagazin (2007) 2, p. 24-28.

Rebhan, Helga: Ausstellungen orientalischer und asiatischer Bestände der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Griebel, Rolf; Ceynowa, Klaus (ed.): Information, Innovation, Inspiration: 450 Jahre Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. München: Saur, 2008. p. 639-665.

Ceynowa, Klaus; Rebhan, Helga; Tabery, Thomas: Orientalische Prachthandschriften auf iPad und iPhone: Neue App der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Bibliotheksforum Bayern 5 (2011), p. 180-183.

Rebhan, Helga: Orientalische und asiatische Handschriften und seltene Drucke der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Ceynowa, Klaus; Hermann, Martin (ed.): Bibliotheken: Innovation aus Tradition: Rolf Griebel zum 65. Geburtstag. Berlin: De Gruyter Saur, 2014. p. 322-333. Available on: [Last access 21.03.2016].

Rebhan, Helga: Die Lehren des Buddha auf Mongolisch. In: Bibliotheksmagazin 3 (2017), p. 68-72.