Graham Coleman – short biography

A polymath of Tibetan culture. Writer, film director, innovator of cultural conservancy programmes, and designer of digital libraries.

Born to an Austrian mother and English father in 1951. Raised initially in Richmond-upon-Thames, England, and then from the age of six in Luxor, Upper Egypt, where his father was the Head Artist with the University of Chicago's Egyptological expedition. Educated privately by tutors while in Luxor, at age eleven won a scholarship to Mill Hill School and from age eighteen studied at the University of Bristol where he received an Honours Degree in Psychology and Drama.

Studied Tibetan language and literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1975 to 1976, and between 1976 and 1989 received teachings on Tibetan Buddhist theory and practice, privately, from H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, H.H. the 3rd Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Garje Khamtrul Rinpoche, and H.E. the 6th Tharig Rinpoche.

Writer and Director of the acclaimed feature documentary 'Tibet – A Buddhist Trilogy' (Arts Council of Great Britain and Thread Cross Films), 1976 to 1979 (

Co-founder and Chief Executive of the Orient Foundation for Arts and Culture (, 1983 to present.

Established a network of multimedia documentation centres and multimedia libraries in the major Tibetan monasteries of India and Nepal and initiated and directed the creation of the world's largest online multimedia archive of classical Tibetan cultural resources (, which includes a collection of over 25,000 hours of oral commentary to major classical Buddhist texts, given by Tibet’s most accomplished lineage holders of the 20th and 21st centuries, and over 2,000 hours of detailed video documentation of the classical dance, music, and sacred arts and craft traditions.

Co-Founder, in 2000, of the Academy of Classical Arts in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, for which he initiated and managed a series of cultural conservancy programmes with two main objectives: 1/ the multimedia documentation of the endangered knowledge and skills of Tibet’s greatest classical painters, and 2/ the creation of a gallery of exemplary works held in collections regionally and internationally in cooperation with the major museums of Europe and the USA, monasteries and museums in India and Nepal, and private collectors, which resulted in the creation of the first online training resource for classical Tibetan artists (

Between 2001 and 2004, initiated and managed a cooperation between the Orient Foundation for Arts and Culture, Microsoft Corporation, and the Royal Government of Bhutan, which integrated Unicode based Tibetan script computing into the Microsoft Windows operating system and Microsoft applications. These technical tools have since been adapted to support Tibetan script computing in the Linux and Apple Mac operating systems. This cooperation was a universal step forward across all areas of Tibetan script computing, bringing the ease of use and interoperability of using Tibetan script in computers, and other devices, to the same level as that for Roman script (

In 2002, while working in Bhutan on the integration of Tibetan script into Windows, he met Dechen Chhoden, from Galing, in East Bhutan. They married in February 2003, and their son Rinchen Sangay Coleman was born in December, 2003.

In 2014 launched Gompa – Tibetan Monastery Services ( in cooperation with senior Tibetan lamas and the major monasteries and nunneries of India and Nepal, which he continues to manage. Gompa provides online services for over eighty partner monasteries and nunneries in India and Nepal and is continuously generating substantial revenue in support of education, social welfare, and environmental projects, both in the partner monasteries and nunneries and the local communities which they serve.

Under the auspices of H.H. the Dalai Lama and the trusteeship of eminent Tibetan lineage holders and scholars, co-founder of the Tibetan International Digital library (,  which is working to develop integrated access and secure archival conservation for the dispersed and endangered textual and multimedia Tibetan cultural resource collections worldwide.

Compiler and Editor with Thupten Jinpa of the first complete translation of the 'Tibetan Book of the Dead', Penguin Classics 2005.  Compiler and Writer of 'Meditations on Living, Dying and Loss', Penguin 2008. Compiler and Editor ‘Strategies for the Creation of Multimedia Archival Libraries, Orient Foundation and Ford Foundation, 1996. Compiler and Editor: 'A Handbook of Tibetan Culture', Rider 1993 (