Recipies for an Encoded Salad

The third Coffee Break Conference, “The Study of Asia: between Antiquity and Modernity,” recently held in Cagliari (13th–15th June), hosted a panel on Cybernetic Sources—The Historical Sciences in the Age of Digitization. On this occasion, Dr. Formigatti delivered a speech analyzing the advantages and shortcomings of a digital catalogue vis à vis a traditional catalogue in book form. Particular attention has been devoted to the encoding of information according to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) standards, and to the drawbacks of its highly hierarchical organization schema. A major issue arising from the application of these standards is that cataloguers are often forced to adapt definitions developed for Western manuscripts—whatever this might mean—to manuscripts belonging to altogether different cultural traditions. However, also the positive aspects of a digital catalogue have been dealt with, such as the digitization of manuscripts, the increased ease of cross referencing information within collections and the open character of digital texts, a feature that allows the constant improvement of catalogue entries.

Lecture by Dr D. Cuneo and Dr C. Formigatti at STIMW – The Sanskrit Tradition in the Modern World

A snapshot of an xml file for a catalogue entry

On Friday 25th May, Dr Daniele Cuneo and Dr Camillo Formigatti presented the project at the STIMW – The Sanskrit Tradition in the Modern World conference held at Manchester University with the paper: “A Sanskrit Treasure Trove in East Anglia.”

Lecture by Prof. Francesco Sferra

MS Add. 1364, Kālacakratantra, illuminated wood cover and folio 1r

Prof. Francesco Sferra (Istituto Universitario Orientale, Napoli) will visit Cambridge on 12-14 March 2012 to examine some of the manuscripts in the UL Sanskrit collections and discuss the interest of these sources for future research with the project team.
On this occasion, he will also deliver a lecture, “Apropos of Some Late Indian Buddhist Manuscripts kept in the Cambridge University Library”, focusing in particular on some manuscripts of the Kālacakra tradition. The lecture will be held on Tuesday 13 March, 5pm, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Lecture by Prof. Harunaga Isaacson

Title page of C. Bendall’s Catalogue

Friday 27 January, 3 pm, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge

Bendall and beyond: Cataloguing the (Buddhist) Sanskrit Manuscripts in Cambridge University Library.

Prof. Isaacson will give a lecture about the Buddhist manuscripts in Cambridge, the achievements of Bendall’s catalogue and someof the work that remains to be done.

Oncoming Events

On 27-28 January Professor Harunaga Isaacson (University of Hamburg), Professor Dominic Goodall (École française d’Extrême-Orient, Paris) and Dr. Csaba Dezső (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) will visit Cambridge to examine some manuscripts in the UL Sanskrit collections and discuss cataloguing methods and priorities with the project team. On this occasion, on the afternoon of the 27th, Prof. Isaacson will also deliver a lecture about the Buddhist manuscripts in Cambridge, the achievements of Bendall’s catalogue and some of the work that remains to be done.

How it all began…

MS Add. 1042, four loose paper folios, written in 1873 as specimens of transcription.

These specimens were sent over from Nepal by Dr D. Wright in 1873, when it was proposed to obtain copies of various Sanskrit manuscripts existing in Nepal, for the University Library. It was from these leaves that the whole of the present collection took its rise.

Bendall, C. (1883), Catalogue of the Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts in the University library, Cambridge, p. 26-27.

Two leaves of the Divyāvadāna (ff. 1v-2r), containing part of the Maitrakanyakāvadāna.

Folio 2v of the Divyāvadāna and folio 1r of the Laṅkāvatāra.

Two leaves from the beginning of the Laṅkāvatāra manuscript (ff. 1v-2r).

A leaf from the beginning of the Laṅkāvatāra (f. 2v), and one from the end of the manuscript.