Buddhist Manuscript Culture: Textuality and Materiality

Programme (online version)

Programme (print version)

The two-day workshop held at the Faculty of Asian Middle Eastern Studies of the University of Cambridge was an attempt to analyze and look at Buddhist manuscript culture combining a more traditional philological approach with a broader perspective encompassing codicology and history of the book. The first day has been dedicated to papers dealing with the aspects of manuscript production and circulation, while the textual aspect has been the focus of the second day.

The discussions following each paper and the round table at the end of the two days were dominated by one key word: database. The urgent need for easily accessible and well structured data was felt as a priority above all for palaeographical and codicological studies—as it has been clearly pointed out in the papers by M. Delhey and C. Formigatti, as well as in the joint paper by H. Diemberger and M. Clemente.

Thanks to the contributions by H. Isaacson, F. Sferra, P. Szántó and G. Hidas, another aspect that emerged from the workshop is the importance of the Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts collections of the Cambridge University Library for the study of Tantric Buddhism.

Two papers were devoted to lexicography, both traditional and modern (by L. Deokar and M. Cone). The two speakers stressed the necessity of the application of a rigorous philological methodology in the examination of the data resulting by the analysis of manuscripts.

Last but by no means least, the influence of the material aspects of manuscripts (writing material, layout etc.) in shaping the text has been highlighted in three papers (by C. Scherrer-Schaub, A. Griffiths and V. Tournier), and it has been the focus of a lively debate during the round table.

Lecture by Dr Marco Franceschini

Dr. Marco Franceschini (University of Bologna) is currently collaborating with the Sanskrit Manuscripts Project in the cataloguing of South Indian Sanskrit manuscripts in Grantha and Malayalam script kept in the CUL collections. On Tuesday April 16th, 2013, 5pm, rooms 8 & 9, he will give a lecture with the title The Making of a Study of Grantha Script.

Ms EO 0069, Aṣṭādhyāyī, folio 22v

Dr. Marco Franceschini’s interests span from Vedic studies to Buddhist kāvya and, in the last years, South Indian Palaeography. Among many publications,he is the author of the fundamental An Updated Vedic Concordance, Harvard Oriental Series 66 (two volumes), Cambridge (Mass.)-Milano, Harvard University Press and Mimesis Edizioni, 2007.