Guide to the W. Y. Evans-Wentz Buddhism and Eastern Religions Collection M0205

Department of Special Collections and University Archives
1999 ; revised 2018-2019
Green Library
557 Escondido Mall
Stanford 94305-6064

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Title: Evans-Wentz Buddhism and eastern religions collection
source: Evans-Wentz, W. Y. (Walter Yeeling)
Identifier/Call Number: M0205
Identifier/Call Number: 915
Physical Description: 20 Linear Feet (27 boxes, one oversize folder)
Date (inclusive): ca.1600-1922
Abstract: Collection of Buddhist and other Asian religious texts, the majority of which are 19th century manuscripts. There are also a small number of objects.

Scope and Contents

A collection relating to the religions of Asia, principally Sri Lanka, but also China, Tibet, and Southeast Asia. The bulk of the collection consists of Buddhist textual works assembled by Evans-Wentz on his travels, including palm leaf manuscripts and other medical and religious texts. Note that some material was added later to his collection and may not have been originally collected by him.
Identification of the works in this collection is based on the notation of Evans-Wentz. Similarly, the descriptions (dates, nature of the work, etc.) are as quoted from him, as well as from a pamphlet entitled, Catalogue of Pali, Sinhalese, and Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Colombo Museum Library (Colombo, Government Printer, 1901). Although there was consultation with various scholars in the process of reorganizing the collection in 2017-2018, some items remain unidentified.


Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz, born February 2, 1878 in Trenton, New Jersey, attended Stanford University where he received his B.A. and his M.A. Evans-Wentz traveled extensively in Mexico, Europe, and the Far East. He spent several years in Tibet where he became a Buddhist monk. He was a pioneer in the field of Tibetan Buddhism and authored several books on the subject.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item] Evans-Wentz Buddhism and eastern religions collection, M0205, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


Gift of Dr. Evans-Wentz, 1923; Louise Evans, 1975, and transfer from Stanford Museum, 1981.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use.

Conditions Governing Use

These materials are believed to be in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use of public domain materials.

Related Materials

Stanford Libraries holds the following related collections:
W. Y. Evans-Wentz papers, 1894-1961 (M0278)
Walter Y. Evans-Wentz collection (SC0821)
Notes concerning W.Y. Evans-Wentz (MISC0862)
Ed Reither collection of W. Y. (Walter Yeeling) Evans-Wentz correspondence and ephemera, 1935-1960 (M2008)
Yoga Institute of America papers (M1135) donated by Louise Evans
Evens-Wentz was attending Stanford at the time of the 1906 earthquake, and letters discussing his experience have been digitized and transcribed here:

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Buddhism -- Sri Lanka
Buddhism -- China -- Tibet Autonomous Region
Taoism -- China
Evans-Wentz, W. Y. (Walter Yeeling)

box 1, object 1a

A Folk Treatise On Astrology (as applied to man's daily life and occupations) (Sinhalese) 299521

Scope and Contents note

"The auspicious moment for doing particular acts or the time when they should be avoided, as indicated by the Planets and constellations." -- English inscription on last leaf
box 1, object 1b

Medicine Books In Verse (Sinhalese) 299519

Scope and Contents

also written as "Medicine Books In Rimes." English inscription on last leaf indicates that text was written December 8th, 1935, "that having been no doubt a lucky day for writing." Arabic numerals used for pagination. A second medical text is included in the binding, also in Sinhalese, "Treats of Breathing, Dysentery, Fever, Rheumatism, Abcesses in newly-born children, etc. A well-known book held in high esteem by the Sinhalese people and rural Sinhalese doctors."
box 1, object 1c

Neket Pota, an horarary astrology (Sinhalese) 299517

Scope and Contents

Possibly medical subject matter. Heavily illustrated. "from Badulla."
box 2

Satipatthána Sutta (The Discourse on the Establishing of Mindfulness) (Pali-Sinhalese) 299515

Scope and Contents note

"The Satipatthána Sutta is a sermon by the Buddha on Meditation and is one of the most frequently copied of the Suttas, being one of the best known portions of the Buddhist scriptures amongst the people of Ceylon who are Buddhists. This sort of ms. in paraphrase is made use of by students in the monasteries in studying the Pali language, the language of all the canonical writings of the Ceylon Buddhists ...Cover of MS is a very fine specimen of Ceylon Satin Wood." Other version of text in box 9.
box 3

Visuddhi Magga (Pali) 299513 circa 1800 - 1820

Scope and Contents note

A Pali prose work, being a compendium of the Buddhist scriptures, by Buddhaghosa Théra. This is a very important work, and is considered by all Southern Buddhists to be of the highest authority on questions relating to the Buddhist religion. It is considered to be Buddhaghosa's first work during his three years' sojourn in Ceylon, 930 A.D.
box 4

Anguttara Nikaya (also known as Anguttara Sangiya) (Pali) 299511

box 5

Anguttara Nikaya (Sinhalese) 299509

Scope and Contents note

One of the five sections of Sutta Pitaka: miscellaneous discourse and sermons of Buddha. Was wrapped in a cotton shroud. Satinwood boards, paginated. Begins in Pali, possibly a mix of languages.
box 6

Majjhima Nikaya (Sinhalese) 299507 circa 1800

Scope and Contents note

One of the five sections of Sutta Pitaka: miscellaneous discourses and sermons of Buddha.
box 7

Syámópasampadávata (Sinhalese) 299505 circa 1780

Scope and Contents note

"An account of the embassies to Siam and the introduction of Siamese ordination of Buddhist monks to Ceylon, …"written in Sinhalese prose by Buddharakhita Therea, a pupil of Velivita Pindapatika Saranankara. This Copy was made by Sidharta Buddharakkhita Late High Priest of Malwathu Viharaya, Kandy, Ceylon in 2318 A.B."
box 8

Milinda Panha (Pali) 299503 circa 1800

Scope and Contents note

A well-known Pali work, being questions on Buddhism by King Milinda, and replies thereto by Nágaséna Théra.
box 9

Satipatthána Sutta (Sinhalese) 299501

Scope and Contents note

A sermon of Buddha On Meditation. Signed W. Ratanapala.
box 10

Unidentified Sinhalese or Pali manuscript 299499

Scope and Contents

Transferred from the Stanford Museum.
box 11

Unidentified Sinhalese or Pali manuscript 299497

Scope and Contents

Transferred from the Stanford Museum.
box 12

Abhidhamma Pitaka (Sinhalese) 299495

Scope and Contents note

One of the three great divisions of the canon of the Buddhist scriptures, treating the metaphysics of Buddhism.
box 13, box 14, box 15, box 16, box 17

Śatasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā (The Perfection of Wisdom in 100,000 Lines) (Tibetan) 299493

Scope and Contents

Volumes 2, 3, 7 & 9, with an additional box containing a shroud of religious significance, originally wrapped around volume 3. Alternatively known as the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra
box 18, object 18a

Small fortune-telling book (Sinhalese) 299489

box 18, object 18b

Patimokkha (3 leaf fragment) 299487

box 18, object 18c

Styli for inscribing palm leaf manuscripts 299473

box 18, object 18d

Unidentified portion of palm leaf manuscript with colored illustrations 299477

box 19

Blank palm leaves 299469

Scope and Contents

Probably donated by Mrs. Evans in 1975. Box contains what appears to be an inspection receipt from Bangkok, Thailand dated 4/28/1914.
box 20

Unidentified palm leaf manuscript 299465

Scope and Contents

Probably donated by Mrs. Evans in 1975.
box 21

Unidentified palm leaf manuscript 299463

Scope and Contents

Probably donated by Mrs. Evans in 1975.
box 22

Vessantara Jātaka (Lanna) 299461 18th-early 20th century

Scope and Contents

Vernacular sermon version of the Vessantara Jātaka from Northern Thailand in Lanna language with some Pali, in Tham Lanna script. Probably donated by Mrs. Evans in 1975.
box 23

Unidentified manuscript 299467

Scope and Contents

Wooden covers have stickers dated March 15, April 5 & April 26, 1907.
Item has been scanned & is accessible on-line at
box 24

Artifacts 299299

Scope and Contents

Small objects collected from temples. A partial list is below. Includes "votive offerings made by pilgrims to Adam's Peak at the shrine of Saman Deviyo, and collected [by Evans-Wentz] on Adam's Peak January 31, 1918." Also seals, talismans, lamps "used in river ceremony of fire at night," fragments of carved stone, sandalwood rosary, palm manuscript string and palm leaves (?), soap box which originally housed some artifacts.

Covis from Old Delhi and Taxila (was in Kodak film canister) 299325


Urn from Kandy, Ceylon 299323


Seal, Hanuman, Lingam, Vishnu, Feet of Vishnu, Talisman, and Armpiece from Benares 299321


Lingam from Kashmir 299319


Buddhas from [Mt.] Isaya, India 299317


Buddhist Temple Lamp, Kandy, Ceylon 299315


2 Indian votive offerings or Talismans 299311


Seal from Ceylon 299309


Sandalwood Rosary from [Risbi?] Kesh 299307

Scope and Contents note

[Printed leaf, folded, removed from box and placed with manuscripts, MZ 78/8/9 Tirukalukundrum Patchi Dharisana Chart, Viadras: Counian Press, 1918. 15th ed. 4,000 copies]

Votive offering (?) 299305


Link chain with unidentified objects 299303


Incense burner (?) 299301

box 25

Three Taoist texts (Chinese) 299483

Scope and Contents

1. Taishang laojun shuo zizai tian xian jiu lian zhi sheng yinghua dushi zhen jing. Daoist printed work, Wanli 44 = circa 1616.
2. Taishang laojun shuo jieshi zhouzu jing. Daoist woodblock. Wanli 26 = 1598
3. Yuanshi tianzun shuo langling shangjiang guan yuanshi hu guo miao jing. Daoist block print. No date, circa Ming period. Internal title is slightly different: "Taishang dasheng langling shang jiang chi feng hu guo xie tian da di miao jing.
Information provided by Professor Paul Harrison, Stanford University.
box 26

Yin Deng Wen Tu Shuo (Chinese) 299491 circa 1821

Scope and Contents note

Evans-Wentz inscription on wrapping paper flyleaf inside, describes work as a second edition. In 4 volumes, printed on rice paper with wood blocks. "Tao Kung, Manchu Emperor of China."
box 27, folder 1

Unidentified map/poster, probably from Ceylon 299471

box 27, folder 2

Two drawings by L.C. W. Samaranayake, a student in Badulla, Ceylon 299459 December 1917

box 27, folder 3-4

Rubbings 299457

map-folder 28

Chinese map 299455