Mongolian Manuscript comes to Turning the Pages


Circulating Now from NLM

By Michael J. North

The latest addition to the Turning the Pages collection is a Mongolian manuscript entitled, Manual of Astrology and Divination. This colorfully illustrated handwritten book is part of the National Library of Medicine’s collection of about 50 manuscripts from Mongolia, many of them dealing with astrology, astronomy, and divination from a Buddhist perspective. Prominent among the subjects divined about are health and wellness. This particular manuscript is full of charts and diagrams that astrologers, generally Buddhist monks, would use to calculate auspicious times to do certain things, such as depart on a trip or remove a dead body from a dwelling.

A strip of cloth decorated with colored geometric patterns and organic illustrations. Cloth cover of Manual of Astrology and Divination

The text itself is in Tibetan, which was the liturgical language of Mongolian Buddhism. Similar to Tibetan traditional books, this manuscript consists of unbound, oblong leaves of paper written on both sides. Also following tradition, the book…

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