One of the last widely-used pictographic scripts in the world, the written language of the Dongba, an ethnic minority in southwest China, is today all but lost – only a very few Chinese scholars and remaining Naxi are able to read it. The digitization of Harvard-Yenching Library’s 500-plus Naxi manuscripts is being shared with scholars in China, who will add translations to the collection that will preserve the record of the customs, religious practices, and daily life of the Naxi people.
Original materials were acquired by Joseph Francis Charles Rock (1884-1962) and Quentin Roosevelt (1919-1948). The Harvard-Yenching Library's holdings (510 from Joseph Rock and 88 from Quentin Roosevelt together with three long funereal scrolls) were acquired by the Harvard-Yenching Institute in 1945. The finding aid for this collection can be found here.