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The University of Manchester Library

Mo-So Manuscripts

135 items, comprising the second largest Mo-So collection in Europe, acquired between 1916 and 1920 from the botanist George Forrest, one of the few Europeans to have lived in the ancient Mo-So capital, LiKiang.

The Na-khi or Mo-So people lived in a remote area of South-West China, close to the Tibetan border. Both pictographic and syllabic texts occur in the collection, which largely consists of notebooks made by dto-mbas, or shamans, for the performance of secret ritual ceremonies.

Knowledge of the ceremonies was passed from father to son, with the books serving as aids to memory rather than literal texts. Some of the items are decorated, and a few contain Chinese and Tibetan translations.

Finding aids


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library