Digital Himalaya

Last updated
Logo of the Digital Himalaya project Digital Himalaya logo.png
Logo of the Digital Himalaya project

The Digital Himalaya project was established in December 2000 by Mark Turin, Alan Macfarlane, Sara Shneiderman, and Sarah Harrison. [1] The project's principal goal is to collect and preserve historical multimedia materials relating to the Himalaya, such as photographs, recordings, and journals, and make those resources available over the internet and offline, on external storage media. The project team have digitized older ethnographic collections and data sets that were deteriorating in their analogue formats, so as to protect them from deterioration and make them available and accessible to originating communities in the Himalayan region and a global community of scholars. [1]


The project was founded at the Department of Anthropology of the University of Cambridge, moved to Cornell University in 2002 (when a collaboration with the University of Virginia was initiated), and then back to the University of Cambridge in 2005. From 2011 to 2014, the project was jointly hosted between the University of Cambridge and Yale University. In 2014, the project moved to the University of British Columbia, where it is presently located, and maintains a distant collaboration with Sichuan University. [2]

Project Team

Digital Himalaya has a team of 9 individuals who work together to develop user-friendly and accessible online resources: [3]

The project is supported by an active international Advisory Board, including the following individuals: [3]

Since its establishment, the Digital Himalaya project has benefited from skilled student interns and research assistants in Canada, Nepal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. [1]


For the first five years of active development, Digital Himalaya was successful in receiving competitive grants from many organizations. Once the site was launched and most of the collections were digitized and accessible, it became increasingly difficult to find resources to maintain the online collections. The project still receives support through donations from individuals and foundations, in addition to experimenting with small referral commissions through Amazon. [1]

Financial and institutional partners:


The Digital Himalaya archive has more than 200,000 pages of scanned texts, hundreds of hours of video and audio, over 1,000 maps, and a large collection of original ethnographic content. [1] The project has digitised an extensive set of back issues of Himalayan journals and maps. There are currently 13 collections available, and the newest addition to the archive is a collection of bird reports from Nepal. [4]

Birds of Nepal

Thanks to Tim Inskipp and Carol Inskipp, this collection has 2,155 references on birds in Nepal available to the public, dated from 1975 to 1999. The archive contains multiple sources, from books and scientific papers to published and unpublished reports, offering a valuable source for researchers interested in Himalayan bird populations. [5]

Census of Nepal 2001

This collection contains census data from the National Census of Nepal 2001. The Digital Himalaya team sorted the data for Nepal's 75 districts and their VDCs (Village Development Committee) making this public data available for any user to search and download. [6]

Fürer-Haimendorf Film Collection

This collection contains interviews with Professor Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf and footage of his research in the Himalaya. Fürer-Haimendorf was an Austrian anthropologist based at the University of London who travelled across much of the Himalayan region, and conducted field research with Naga communities in India, and Sherpa communities in Nepal. The full collection is hosted at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). [7]


Digital Himalaya is continuously expanding its online collections to include both historical and contemporary film and video. Below is a list of films available through the project's archive: [8]

  • Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army
  • Shining Spirit Project
  • Tendong Lho Rum Faat
  • Wutu Collection
  • Punam
  • Journey of a Red Fridge
  • Journey from Zanskar
  • The Way of the Road
  • Angel of the Aboriginals
  • Glance of Genius: The life and work of B.H. Hodgson
  • Minhe Mangghuer Torch Festival
  • Alama Ritual
  • A Tribute to Christoph and Betty von Fürer-Haimendorf
  • Nadun Festival
  • Danba
  • I Will Find You
  • Hidden Treasure of Bön
  • Carter Holton Film Collection
  • Hindu-Vidyapeeth schools
  • Len yi Tibetan Village
  • Voices of Nepal

Journals of Himalayan Studies

Digital Himalaya archives contain scanned copies of many journals, magazines and publications of Himalayan studies for free download. Here is a list of available titles: [9]

  • Ancient Nepal
  • Asian Highland Perspectives
  • Ādarśa
  • The Bhutan Review
  • Britain-Nepal Society Journal
  • Bulletin of Tibetology
  • Carter Center
  • Center for Constitutional Dialogue
  • Chowkidar
  • Contributions to Nepalese Studies
  • Crisis Group
  • Doon Library Newsletter
  • European Bulletin of Himalayan Research
  • Gochali
  • Himal
  • Himal Southasian
  • Himalayan Journal of Sciences
  • Hot Nepal
  • International IDEA
  • Isilim
  • Journal of Bhutan Studies
  • Journal of the International Association for Bon Research
  • Journal of Newar Studies
  • Journal of the Tibet Society
  • Kailash
  • Martin Chautari Policy Briefs
  • Midweek
  • Mother Tongue Pipal Pustak
  • Mulyankan
  • Nation Weekly
  • Nepalese Translation
  • Nepalese Linguistics
  • Nepali Aawaz
  • Nepali Times
  • Newsfront
  • Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology
  • Ogmios
  • Postal Himal
  • Peace and Democracy in South Asia
  • Pūrṇimā
  • Raven
  • Read
  • Regmi Research Series
  • Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines
  • Rhythm of Bya Chu
  • Shezoed: Rigzhung Research Journal
  • Samaya
  • Saptahik
  • Sharada
  • Shikshak
  • Spotlight


The web-based map collection includes: [10]

  • Himalayan Maps
  • Nepal Maps
  • Himalayan Atlas of Aerial Panoramas
  • Great Himalayan Trail Dolpo Map
  • Great Himalayan Trail Route Map of Nepal
  • Manaslu Circuit Trekking Map
  • Illustrated Atlas of the Himalayas
  • UN Nepal Map Information Platform

Music and Audio from the Himalayas

The Digital Himalaya music and audio archive includes: [11]

  • Songs and Traditions from Laya, Bhutan
  • Thangmi songs from Nepal (Reng Patangko Collection)
  • Yari Aso's songs
  • Mangghuer Folktale Literature
  • Songs from Gcig sgril County, from Qinghai Province
  • Jizong collection, from Sichuan
  • Minyak collection, from Sichuan
  • Songs from Tha Rgyas, in Tibet
  • Songs from Chab mdo, in Tibet
  • Namyi collection

Naga Videodisc

The Naga Videodisc is a multimedia resource created by Alan Macfarlane at Cambridge University in the late 1980s. It includes a large amount of ethnographic material about Naga communities. With the support of Sarrah Harrison, the contents of the videodisc were converted into an online database that uses Bamboo as a retrieval system, with easily searchable XML files. Some film clips can be downloaded directly from the Digital Himalaya page, but the full collection can be seen on the Shanti Database at the University of Virginia. [12]

Rare Books & Manuscripts

This collection offers digitized versions of multiple rare books and manuscripts that are in the public domain. The archive contains files in PDF format, and are free to download. [13]

Thak Archive

This is a multimedia archive with photographs, films, census data, and economic and social data of the Gurung village of Thak in central western Nepal. These ethnographic records cover more than 30 years of work, and were collected by Alan Macfarlane and Sarah Harrison. The archive is regularly updated. [14]

Thangmi Archive

This is an emerging collection of linguistic and cultural data relating to the Thangmi community of northeastern Nepal. These collections were deposited by Mark Turin and Sara Shneiderman, who have been working in partnership with Thangmi communities in Nepal and India since 1997. This archive gives users access to an online trilingual Thangmi - Nepali - English dictionary (in PDF format), recordings of Thangmi songs from the Reng Patangko collection, and film clips of Thangmi rituals, all available for streaming and download. [15]

Williamson Collection

This collection contains films and photographs from Sikkim, Bhutan, and Tibet, in the 1930s. The films and photographs were taken by Frederick Williamson, a British Political Officer who documented his travels through the region with his wife, Margaret. The full collection is located at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA), at Cambridge. [16]

Wutu Collection

This collection contains 18 short films from 1996 showing the Wutu ritual, an exorcism ritual performed by the Monguor (Tu) people of the Gnyan thog Village. The films were shot by Zhu Yonzhong, with editing by Gerald Roche. The collection is stored in an archive at the University of Cambridge. [17]

Related Research Articles

Himalayas Mountain range in Asia

The Himalayas, or Himalaya ; Sanskrit: IPA: [ɦɪmɐːləjɐː], himá and ā-laya, are a mountain range in South and East Asia separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The range has many of Earth's highest peaks, including the highest, Mount Everest, at the border between Nepal and China. The Himalayas include over fifty mountains exceeding 7,200 m (23,600 ft) in elevation, including ten of the fourteen 8,000-metre peaks. By contrast, the highest peak outside Asia is 6,961 m (22,838 ft) tall.

Kailash: A Journal of Himalayan Studies is a scholarly journal that started publication in 1973. The journal focuses on the history and anthropology of the Himalayan region. Printed on traditional rice paper in Kathmandu, Nepal, it is difficult to acquire and only a handful of university libraries have assembled a complete set. Some articles are available in PDF or HTML format.

Pokhara Metropolitan city in Gandaki Province, Nepal

Pokhara is a metropolitan city in Nepal, which serves as the capital of Gandaki Province. It is the country's largest metropolitan city in terms of area and second-largest in terms of population. The city also serves as the headquarters of Kaski District. Pokhara is located 200 kilometres west of the capital, Kathmandu. The city is on the shore of Phewa Lake, and sits at an elevation of approximately 822m. The Annapurna Range, with three out of the ten highest peaks in the world—Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I and Manaslu—is within 15–35 mi (24–56 km) of the valley.

Alan Donald James Macfarlane is an anthropologist and historian, and a Professor Emeritus of King's College, Cambridge. He is the author or editor of 20 books and numerous articles on the anthropology and history of England, Nepal, Japan and China. He has focused on comparative study of the origins and nature of the modern world. In recent years he has become increasingly interested in the use of visual material in teaching and research. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Historical Society.

Mark Turin

Mark Turin is a British anthropologist, linguist and radio broadcaster who specializes in the Himalayas and the Pacific Northwest. From 2014-2018, he served as Chair of the First Nations and Endangered Languages Program and Acting Co-Director of the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He is Associate Professor of Anthropology and director of the Digital Himalaya Project.

Charles Albert Edward Ramble is an anthropologist and former University Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University. Since 2009 he has been Professor and Directeur d'études at the Ecole pratique des hautes études, Paris. Between 2006 and 2013 he was elected president of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS) and convened the 10th seminar of IATS at Oxford in 2003.

Sudama, Nepal Ward Area in Province No.2, Nepal

Sudama is the Ward No.10 of the Balara municipality in Sarlahi District in the Province No.2 of south-eastern Nepal. At the time of the most recent census, it had a population of 3,634 people, of which 99.6% are Hindus and 0.4% are Muslims.

<i>Journey of a Red Fridge</i> 2007 Serbian film

Journey of a Red Fridge is a 2007 documentary film about 17-year-old porter Hari Rai working in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal. It was directed by Natasa Urban and Lucian Muntean, a Serbian independent documentary production duo specializing in telling the stories of working children. Journey of a Red Fridge was produced in association with The Global Fund for Children.

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf

Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf or Christopher von Fürer-Haimendorf FRAI was an Austrian ethnologist and professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London. He spent forty years studying tribal cultures in Northeast India, in the central region of what is now the state of Telangana and in Nepal.

Great Himalaya Trail Long-distance hiking trail

The Great Himalaya Trail is a route across the Himalayas from east to west. The original concept of the trail was to establish a single long distance trekking trail from the east end to the west end of Nepal that includes a total of roughly 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi) of path. There is a proposed trail of more than 4,500 kilometres (2,800 mi) stretching the length of the Greater Himalaya range from Nanga Parbat in Pakistan to Namche Barwa in Tibet thus passing through, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Although an actual continuous route is currently only a concept, if completed it would be the longest and highest alpine hiking track in the world.

<i>Buddleja asiatica</i> Species of flowering plant

Buddleja asiatica is a somewhat tender deciduous shrub native to a vast area of the East Indies, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Taiwan, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Guinea, and the Philippines, growing in open woodland at elevations < 2,800 m either as understorey scrub, or as a small tree. First described by Loureiro in 1790, B. asiatica was introduced to the UK in 1874, and accorded the RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1993. It is highly invasive in Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Thangmi, also called Thāmī, Thangmi Kham, Thangmi Wakhe, and Thani, is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken in central-eastern Nepal and northeastern India by the Thami people. The Thami refer to their language as Thangmi Kham or Thangmi Wakhe while the rest of Nepal refers to it as Thāmī. The majority of these speakers, however, live in Nepal in their traditional homeland of Dolakhā District. In India, the Thami population is concentrated mostly in Darjeeling. The Thangmi language is written using the Devanagari script. Thangmi has been extensively documented by Mark Turin.

The Nepal and Tibet Philatelic Study Circle (NTPSC) exists to promote interest in and the study of the stamps and postal history of Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim. The NTPSC was formed in 1974 as The Nepal Study Circle by Dr. Wolfgang Hellrigl and Colin Hepper with the aim of encouraging the study of stamps and postal history of Nepal. Over the years Tibet was included in the name, while also attention was given to stamps of Bhutan and Sikkim.

Dor Bahadur Bista is a Nepalese anthropologist, social scientist and activist. Bista is considered the father of Nepalese anthropology, and has published such popular books as Fatalism and Development: Nepal's Struggle for Modernization and People of Nepal. Bista mysteriously disappeared in 1995.

John Henry Hutton FRAI was an English-born anthropologist and an administrator in the Indian Civil Service (ICS) during the period of the British Raj. The period that he spent with the ICS in Assam evoked an interest in tribal cultures of that region that was of seminal importance. His research work was recognised subsequently with his appointment to the chair of William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and with various honours.

<i>People of Nepal</i> (book)

People of Nepal is a 1967 book by Dor Bahadur Bista. The book is the first relatively comprehensive view of the vast array of Nepalese cultures, castes and ethnic groups, with descriptions of their unique customs. It is written by anthropologist Dor Bahadur Bista.

James Philip Mills FRAI was a member of the Indian Civil Service and an ethnographer.

Dolakha Bhimsen Temple Temple in Nepal

Dolakha Bhimsen Temple is located in the Bhimeshwar municipality of Dolakha in Nepal, approximately 4.5 km east of Charikot. The temple is roofless in the center and it houses a triangular-shaped stone idol of Bhimsen. The idol is believed to resemble three deities: Bhimeshwar in the morning, Mahadeva throughout the day, and Narayana in the evening. The temple attracts around 5,000 worshippers every week. The temple is believed to signal any bad fortune before it takes place.

Tibet–Nepal salt trade route Ancient salt trading route

The Tibet–Nepal salt trade route is an ancient salt trading route running between the Tibetan Plateau and the Middle Hills of Nepal, and further on to India. After the annexation of Tibet by China in 1950 and the Sino-Indian War in 1962, patterns of trade changed, and the use of the old trading route between India and Tibet dwindled and the salt-carrying caravans became redundant.

Betty von Fürer-Haimendorf British ethnologist

Betty von Fürer-Haimendorf, born Elizabeth Barnardo, was a British ethnologist in India and Nepal, with her Austrian husband Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Turin, Mark (2021-02-14). "The Digital Himalaya Project: Collection, Protection & Connection". Visualizing Objects, Places, and Spaces: A Digital Project Handbook. doi:10.21428/51bee781.028ec770.
  2. cf Digital Himalaya website
  3. 1 2 "Digital Himalaya: Project Team". Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  4. "Digital Himalaya: Collections". Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  5. "Digital Himalaya: Birds of Nepal". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  6. "Digital Himalaya: Nepal Census 2001". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  7. "Digital Himalaya: Fürer-Haimendorf Collection". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  8. "Digital Himalaya: Film and Video". Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  9. "Digital Himalaya: Journals of Himalayan Studies". Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  10. "Digital Himalaya: Maps". Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  11. "Digital Himalaya: Music and Audio from the Himalayas". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  12. "Digital Himalaya: Naga Videodisc". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  13. "Digital Himalaya: Rare Books & Manuscripts". Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  14. "Digital Himalaya: The Thak Archive". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  15. "Digital Himalaya: Thangmi Archive". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  16. "Digital Himalaya: Williamson Collection". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  17. "Digital Himalaya: Wutu Collection". Retrieved 2021-06-04.