Early Imprints from Southeast Asia

Western-style printing was introduced to most of Southeast Asia only about two centuries ago. These printed works were produced initially by Western missionaries and subsequently by locals as well. Most early printed works were therefore related to Christian religious teachings and activities, before spreading to other areas. In Burma the imprints included Buddhist texts. Some of the books include detailed illustrations, which add to their appeal.

The British Library holds unique collections of these early imprints from the region. In 2007 TICFIA demonstrated its willingness to give a grant to digitize these early printed works, but it was not until February 2009 that a contract to digitize parts of this valuable collection was signed between Northern Illinois University, as the representative of TICFIA, and the British Library. This collaboration has made possible wider public access to these historic and unique documents.