Building work at Ancient India and Iran Trust: w/b 29 June

Due to building work in our basement, visitors should expect some noise and disruption during the week beginning 29th June.  The library will be open as usual but we apologise for any inconvenience.

Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma – Exhibition at the V&A

Photo 612 (1)
Unknown Photographer, Portrait of Major-General Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902), Madras Army, (?)1880s, British Library, Photo 612(1).  noc

Once heard, the exotically-named Linnaeus Tripe is difficult to forget. Yet even in his own lifetime and certainly in the century and more since his death in 1902, appreciation of one of the most accomplished photographers in 19th-century India has been restricted to a limited circle of photographic and architectural historians. A comprehensive survey exhibition of his work, to which the British Library was a major lender, has been on show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York over the past nine months. The third venue of this exhibition, opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 24 June, will give British audiences the opportunity to see some 70 examples of his work from Burma and South India.

– See more of this blog post by John Falconer (Lead Curator, Visual Arts, British Library) at:

British Museum seeks new Curator: South Asia

The British Museum’s Asia department is seeking a new Curator: South Asia to curate, develop and make widely accessible the South Asia Collection, working within the museum’s overall objectives. The scope of the South Asia Collections is extensive and this role will have a primary responsibility in the area of Indian sculpture. This is an exciting opportunity to work for the most visited attraction in the UK and for those looking to leverage their curatorial career.

Key areas of responsibility:

• To ensure (in consultation with line manager and Keeper) that the South Asia collections are well cared for and used to public benefit.
• To serve as a curatorial team member working on the South Asia collections and in particular to curate the sculpture collections;
• To ensure that the collections are appropriately displayed, researched and catalogued, stored, augmented, and made accessible, including through exhibitions on and off site, through the online database, and through lectures and publications; as well as by answering public enquiries.
• To engage with colleagues in South Asia and contribute actively to the delivery of the Museum’s South Asia Strategy
• To undertake scholarly endeavour in field of specialisation.
• To participate in all general department programmes and work closely with other department members, as well as with visiting colleagues, especially from South Asia.

Person Specification:

The ideal candidate will be educated to degree level (or equivalent) in either archaeology, art history, or South Asian studies, with a special emphasis on India. You will also have previous experience of working for a Museum or relevant teaching experience, including either in a voluntary or professional status position. IS skills including all standard word processing skills will be essential to the role as will the ability to quickly learn the Museum’s database. The successful applicant will also have good organisational, time management and project delivery skills.

About the British Museum:

Founded in 1753, the British Museum’s remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history and culture. With over 6 million visitors in 2013, the Museum is the top visitor attraction in the UK, and its world-famous collection includes the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, and Egyptian mummies, the sculptures from Amaravati and the Admonitions Scroll.
The Museum is an equal opportunity employer, supports a diverse workplace and offers a competitive benefits package including:

• Membership of the civil service pension scheme
• Generous annual leave allowance
• Free entry to a wide range of museums and exhibitions
• Interest-free season ticket loan
• Child care voucher scheme
• Professional & personal development opportunities
• Employee Assistance Programme
• Discounts on food and gift shop purchases

If you are a positive individual, passionate about the Museum and would like to know more about this exciting opportunity, please follow the “Apply now” link below where you will be directed to complete your application.

Reference: 1472577
Salary: £27,360 per annum
Contract: Permanent (Full time)

Closing Date Tuesday 14 July 2015

If you have any queries regarding this role, please email us at or call 0845 601 1124. Please quote the job reference number in the subject line of any email and at the beginning of a call.

Friday 5 June, 5.30pm: Rosemary Crill – The Fabric of India. Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge

Friday 5 June, 5.30pm

Rosemary Crill

The Fabric of India

This illustrated talk is a preview of the major exhibition of the same name to be held at the Victoria and Albert Museum this autumn. It is the first exhibition to give an overview of the whole spectrum of Indian textiles, including their materials and techniques, their use and patronage, their global trade and their place in India today.

Dr Rosemary Crill is Senior Curator (South Asia) in the Asian Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum, and specialises in Indian textiles and dress and in Rajasthani painting. She is the author, editor and co-editor of many books and catalogues including Indian Embroidery, Textiles from India: the Global Trade, Chintz: Indian textiles for the West and The Indian Portrait 1560-1860. She is the Senior Curator of the forthcoming Fabric of India exhibition.

All welcome. Refreshments from 5pm.

Ancient India & Iran Trust
23 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 8BG

Tel: +44 (0)1223 356841

From the archives

Some unexpected recent discoveries at the Ancient India and Iran Trust were two preserved leaves from the bodhi or pipal tree (ficus religiosa).

Bailey misc 1_6According to Professor Bailey’s note, he discovered the leaf on 29 May 1941 in Professor Rapson’s copy of Ausgewählte Erzählungen in Māhārāshṭrī, edited by Hermann Jacobi, Leipzig, 1886 (AIIT A11G 7). The leaf is inscribed, presumably by Professor Rapson himself,  “Bo Tree (Peepul) / Temple of / the Tooth / Kandy / Nov. 1914.”

Professor Edward Rapson (1861-1937) began his distinguished career as a numismatist in the department of coins and medals at the British Museum in 1887. In 1906 he left to become Professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge and was succeeded on his retirement in 1936 by Harold Bailey. One of Rapson’s most important works was the decipherment and edition with Auguste M. Boyer and Émile Senart of the Kharoshthi documents discovered by Stein at Niya in Central Asia. This was a subject dear to Bailey’s heart, indeed his volumes are so well-used that they are in a somewhat sad condition.

HWB_Rapson_1936Edward Rapson and Harold Bailey in 1936  (AIIT Bailey archive)

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, and houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha, brought to Sri Lanka, according to legend, in the 4th century AD by Princess Hemamali, hidden in her hair.

P1585Lithograph by Jonathan Needham (fl.1850-1874) after Charles D.C. O’Brien of ‘The Malagawa Temple, Kandy’ in Sri Lanka, dated 1st January 1864. This print forms plate 2 of ‘A series of fifteen Views of Ceylon illustrative of Sir J.E. Tennent’s work, from sketches made on the spot by Capt C. O’Brien, late Assistant Surveyor General, Ceylon’ London, 1864 ( British Library P1585). Public domain

The bodhi or pipal tree (ficus religiosa) is regarded as sacred in that it was the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree symbolizes enlightenment and peace while its bark, fruit and, especially, leaves are believed to have medicinal properties and are used for the treatment of asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, epilepsy, gastric problems, inflammatory disorders, jaundice and heart disorders.

HW_125_1A Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka (AIIT Howard Wilson archive)

The Trust also has a second bodhi leaf in its collections: this one collected by Sir Harold himself in Bangkok in December 1963:

Bailey misc 1_1

Ursula Sims-Williams

‘Photography and the Archaeological Survey of India 1855-1900′: John Falconer, 8 May, 5.30pm, Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge

Friday 8th May, 5.30pm

John Falconer, Curator of Visual Arts, British Library

‘Photography and the Archaeological Survey of India 1855-1900′

The Ancient India and Iran Trust                                                                       23 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 8BG

tel: 01223 356841  e-mail:

All welcome.  Refreshments from 5pm.


Reminder: The Chronology of Early Islam, 7 May, 5.30pm, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge

Francois lecture


Wright Lecture Series: François de Blois: The Chronology of Early Islam – 7 May, FAMES Cambridge

Francois lecture


Easter Term Lectures 2015 at AIIT

Easter Term 2015 Lectures AIIT

Kutar Memorial Lecture, Thursday, 30 April 2015, 6pm, Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS: Leon Goldman

The Department for the Study of Religions, SOAS

in association with The World Zoroastrian Organisation

presents the 18th Dastur Dr Sohrab Hormasji Kutar Memorial Lecture

to be given by Dr Leon Goldman  (SOAS) on

The Path of Justice: Rašnu and the Cosmography of the Rašn Yašt”

Thursday, 30 April 2015, 6:00 p.m.

Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Russell Square, London

The lecture is followed by refreshments

All welcome

Abstract: In the Zoroastrian tradition, the concept of ‘justice’ is represented by the divine judge, or Rašnu, an overseer of ordeals and a judge of the deceased. The Avestan hymn known as the Rašn Yašt depicts Rašnu’s sphere of judicial activity as extending to the far reaches of the universe. This richly illustrated talk charts Rašnu’s path across the universe and argues that the cosmographic scheme which the hymn describes reveals a complex set of numerical and spatial patterns.

About the speaker: Dr. Leon Goldman is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at SOAS, University of London. Holding a B.A. (Hons.) in Indian Religions and Sanskrit from the University of Queensland (Australia) (2004) and an MA specializing in Iranian and Zoroastrian Studies from SOAS (2008), he was awared a PhD at SOAS in 2012 for his doctoral thesis on an edition with translation and commentary of the Avestan Rašn Yašt. A published edition of this work is forthcoming. His postdoctoral research project is devoted to the little studied Sanskrit version of the Yasna liturgy, attributed to the Parsi priest Neryosangh Dhaval who is believed to have lived in Gujarat around the 12th century, C.E. Dr. Goldman’s research interests include Indian and Iranian religions, in particular Zoroastrianism, as well the Avestan, Sanskrit, and Middle Persian languages.