The Pechas Project

From the archives…

The University of Virginia Library holds one of the most complete Tibetan Collections in the world.

A significant portion of the collection includes about 3,300 pechas or prayer scrolls. One of the challenges in caring for our pecha collection is that they are unbound sheets of paper, which makes transporting them quite difficult.

Some are wrapped in cloth; others have board covers and are held together with rubber bands or twine.


And some, like these below, are just unbound pieces of paper that are tied together with ribbon, making them extremely vulnerable to tears and separation. If the ribbon slides off and the bundles come apart, it is quite difficult to figure out which pieces of paper are meant to go with which volume.


We don’t want to bind these objects, however, because that is not how they are meant to be used. But we do want to find a way to house them safely to prevent damage and allow the pechas to be used by library patrons.

It took a bit of experimenting to see what kind of box could be constructed (and out of what materials).  We tried our traditional phase boxes and four flap wrappers, but the results were not very encouraging—the pechas were too long  and heavy for the wrappers, and the phase boxes were awkwardly constructed and difficult to use. So we sent dimensions out to several vendors. Ultimately, we selected MicroClimate™ corrugated drop spine boxes by CMI (

We sent the measurements to CMI, they shipped the boxes to us flat, and we assembled and labeled them.

Measuring the pechas:

Boxes ship to us flat and we have to reassemble:

And voilà!  Pechas are now ready to be checked out and used for research, teaching, and learning. Easy to store, easy to carry, easy to use.

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