Mari Albert Johan van Manen

1877 – 1943
Tibetology (autodidact), librarian

Curriculum vitae

1877born in Nijmegen on April 16
attended the HBS
interested in philosophy, philology, Latin, Greek, Chinese and theosophy
1908-1916residence in the Theosophical Headquarters, Adyar (near Chennai)
private secretary to C.W. Leadbeater
1909-1916(assistant) librarian of the Adyar Library
1916-1918residence at Ghoom, Darjeeling District in Northeast India;
continued his study of Tibetan culture and language under guidance of a.o. two Tibetans named Karma Babu and Phuntsok Lungtock
1918-1943residence at Calcutta
1919-1921librarian for the Imperial Library, Calcutta
1921-1923assistant in the Indian Museum, Calcutta
1923-1939General Secretary of the Asiatic (Royal) Society of Bengal
1939-1943employed in the censor office of Calcutta
1943died in Calcutta on March 17

Special activities and positions

  • Editor of the year issues of the Journal and proceedings of the RASB, of its Memoirs and of the Bibliotheca Indica.
  • Collector of an extensive collection of Tibetan block prints and manuscripts, ethnographica, objects of arts, western books, scroll paintings and papers which are kept in the Museum for Ethnology and Leiden University Libray.


  • [Netscher, Frank], “Karakterschets Johan van Manen.” De Hollandsche Revue, 1903, pp. 98-113.
  • “De Tibetaansche traditie: een verdienstelijk landgenoot en diens belangrijk werk in Britsch-Indië.” De Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, Saturday July 9, 1927. – Based on an interview with Van Manen during his stay in The Netherlands from May 20 to November 20, 1927.
  • Aken, C.E. van, “The late Mari Albert Johan van Manen.” In: Obituary notices, Yearbook Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1944, pp. 186-187.
  • Hobbs, H., “Johan van Manen.” In: Obituary notices, Yearbook Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1944, pp. 187-188.
  • Col. Barwell and Sd. Noel Barwell, “Johan van Manen: a note.” In: Obituary notices, Yearbook Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1944, pp. 188-191.
  • Pott, P.H., “In memoriam Johan van Manen.” Appendix in: Introduction to the Tibetan collection of the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, 1951, pp. 133-165.
  • Richardus, Peter, The Dutch Orientalist Johan van Manen: his life and work, Leiden 1989 (Kern Institute Miscellanea 3). – with bibliography of Johan van Manen.
  • Enhong, Yang, “The founder of Tibetology in the Netherlands: Johan van Manen.” IIAS Newsletter 19 (June 1999), p. 13.
  • ‘t Hart, Hanna, “The van Manen Collection.” IIAS Newsletter 23 (October 2000), p. 16

Selected publications

The articles and book reviews on theosophical subjects which Johan van Manen wrote during his years in Adyar (1909-1916) are not included. For these, see Peter Richardus, The Dutch Orientalist Johan van Manen: his life and work, Leiden 1989, pp. 65-73.
1897  “Het wonder van Purun Bhagat uit Rudyard Kiplings Second Jungle Book.” Theosophia 6: 157-159, 173-178.
1898  “Mahatmas als feiten en Idealen.” Theosophia 7: 11-14, 28- 32, 47-51.
1909  “On Esotericism in Buddhism.” The Theosophist 30,2: 3 18-325.
“A Dhyani Buddha from Borobudur?” The Theosophist 30,2: 374-377.
“Serat Devarutji.” The Theosophist 30,2: 582-588.
“Head of a Bodhisattva.” The Theosophist 30,2: 651- 652.
“Sivan as Nataraja.” The Theosophist 30,2: 555, 765-766.
Review of E. Arnold, La parola di Buddha. The Theosophist 30,2: 243.
1910  Review of G. Prasada, The caste system: its origin and growth, its social evils and their remedies. The Theosophist 32,1: 458-459.
1911 “Jollities of Magic.” The Adyar Bulletin 4: 249-253.
“The three paths.” The Theosophist 32,1: 403.
Review of: J. Roviralta Borrell, Bhagavad-Gita. The Theosophist 32,1: 4I-842.
Review of: J.W. Boissevain, Bhagavad-Gita, 2e druk, Amsterdam 1909. The Theosophist 32,1: 848-849.
Review of: E. Rückert, The Brahman’s vision. The Theosophist 32,1: 994.
Review of: A.K. Coomaraswami, The decline of Vegetarianism in Ceylon. The Theosophist 32,1: 977.
Review of: D. van Hinloopen Labberton, Geïllustreerd handboek van Insulinde, Amsterdam 1910. The Theosophist 32,1: 630-631.
Review of: G. de Lorenzo, India e Buddhismo antico, Bari 1911. The Theosophist 33,1: 134-135.
1912  Review of: C.G. Kagi, Philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita. The Theosophist 33,2: 294.
Review of: R.B.M. Rangacarya, A descriptive catalogue of the Sanskrit manuscripts in the Governmental Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, Madras, The Theosophist 33,2: 305-306.
Review of: Bro. A. Gorham, Indian Masons’ marks of the Moghul dynasty. The Theosophist 33,2: 309-310.
Review of: Mrs Rhys Davids, Buddhism. The Theosophist 34,1: 153-155.
1913  “The wonder tree of Kumbum.” The Theosophist 34,2: 44-57.
“An occult law: the pupil is apt to exaggerate the teacher’s greatness.” The Adyar Bulletin 6: 102-110.
1914  Mrs Besant’s theosophy according to the Bishop of Madras, Adyar.
Review of: A.S.N. Wadia. Reflections on the problems of India, London [1913]. The Theosophist 35: 750-752.
1915  Review of: Inayat Khan, Sufi message of spiritual liberty, London 1914. The Theosophist 36,2: 91-92.
Review of: R.T.H. Griffith, Specimens of Old Indian poetry, London 1852. The Theosophist 36,2: 87.
Review of: A. Coornaraswamy, Visvakarmā, London 1912. The Theosophist 36,2: 187-188.
Review of: M. Hiriyanna, Kathakopanisad. The Theosophist 36,2: 341.
1916 “Indian art and the Madras exhibition.” The Commonweal, pp. 153-155.
“Sister Admirable: a Buddhist former-birth story, translated from the Chinese.” The Theosophist 37,2: 656-670.
Review of: S.C. Roy, The Orāons of Chōtā Nāgpur, Ranchi 1915. The Theosophist 37,2: 114-115.
1918  Minor Tibetan Texts, I: The song of the eastern snow-mountain, Calcutta (Bibliotheca Indica 1426).
1919 Review of: Kazi Dawa-Samdub, Shrichakrasambhara Tantra: a Buddhist Tantra, London 1919. The Theosophist 40,1: 383-394.
1921  “Three Tibetan repartee songs.” JPASB 17: 287-318.
1922  Our present trouble, Calcutta.
“A Contribution to the bibliography of Tibet.” JPASB 18: 445-525.
“Concerning a Bon image.” JPASB 18: 195-211.
& O.C. Gangooly, “A Tibeto-Nepalese image of Maitreya.” Rupam 11: 73.
1925  “Tibet.” The New Outlook 25 March, pp. 16-19.
“Khacche Phalu: a Tibetan moralist.” In: The Sir Asutosh Mookerjee Silver Jubilee Volumes, vol. 3,2, pp. 147-185.
1928  The Rope-sliders of Tibet.” The India Monthly Magazine, Dec. pp. 40-43.
1931  “Nepal.” Martin-Burn House Magazine, pp. 9-18.
1932  “Kangchen-Dzönga: lettre à l’éditeur.” Himalayan Journal 4: 202-207; “étymologie et addendum.” Idem, 209-214.
1933  “On making earthern images: repairing old images & drawing scroll-paintings in Tibet.” Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art 1: 105-111.