Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia - August 8, 2018: National Library of Mongolia with statue of Byambyn Rinchen in front of building.; Shutterstock ID 1596873190; your: Barbara Di Castro; gl: 65050; netsuite: digital; full: poi

Shutterstock / Stetiukha Kristina

National Library of Mongolia


Mongolia's neoclassical National Library houses the world's largest collection of Buddhist texts, of which a select few are on display within its Museum of Rare and Valuable Books. Here you can see Unesco-recognised Buddhist manuscripts and gold- and silver-leaf Sutras from ancient Tibet, India and Mongolia. Most of the collection was built from the mid-1960s to the 1980s, several decades after the Buddhist purge destroyed nearly every monastery in the country. Researchers started collecting the Sutras from families that had hidden them during the purge.

A project to catalogue them all using a digital archive began in 1999 with assistance from New York–based nonprofit Asia Classic Input Project (ACIP). Over one million texts have so far been identified, including verses by Nagajuna, a 2nd-century Indian philosopher, inscribed on birch bark.

The library has a vast collection of English-language books and documents about Mongolia; though you'll need a library card to access it. The statue outside is Rinchen, a famed scholar who spoke 27 languages.

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