The South Asian Manuscript Book: Workshop Programme

Workshop at the Faculty of Asian Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge
25th-27th September 2014
Rooms 8 & 9


25th September

The Cambridge Collections

Chairperson: Harunaga Isaacson
9.30–10.10 Vincenzo Vergiani
The Sanskrit Manuscripts Project: Past, Present, and Future
10.10–10.50 Camillo A. Formigatti
The Day After: A Survival Manual for Catalogers of Sanskrit Manuscripts
10.50–11.30 Daniele Cuneo
The Seven Indic Gems Churned from the Cambridge University Library Ocean (केम्ब्रिजविश्वविद्यालयपुस्तकालयरत्नाकरमंथितभारतीयरत्नसप्तकं)
11.30–11.50 Coffee Break
11.50–12.30 Nalini Balbir
The Cambridge Jain Manuscripts: Highlights, Colophons and Provenance
12.30–13.10 Hugo David
Manuscripts of Sanskrit Philosophical Works in the CUL Collection: a Brief Overview
13.10–14.30 Lunch Break
Chairperson: Dominic Goodall
14.30–15.10 Marco Franceschini
The Grantha Manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library Collections: a Survey
15.10–15.50 Elisa Ganser
An Overview of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in Malayāḷam Script in the Cambridge University Library Collections
15.50–16.30 Eva Wilden
Tamil Satellite Stanzas II
16.30–16.50 Tea Break
16.50–17.30 Gergely Hidas
Dhāraṇī Collection: Mapping a Genre
17.30–18.10 Nina Mirnig
Śaiva Gleanings from the Cambridge University Library Collection

26th September

Manuscript and Textual Traditions in North India, Nepal and Central Asia

Chairperson: Vincenzo Vergiani
9.30–10.10 Mahesh Deokar
A Journey of Ideas: The study of the Candravyākaraṇapañjikā and the
Moggallānapañjikā with special reference to CV II.2.1
10.10–10.50 Vincent Tournier
The Canonical Transmissions of the Mahāsāṃghika and Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravādin Schools in North and North-West South Asia: Remarks on Three Fragments from Nepal and Afghanistan
10.50–11.30 Cristina Scherrer-Schaub
Questioning the Manuscript Tradition of the Prajñāpāramitā
11.30–11.50 Coffee Break
11.50-12.30 Lata Deokar
Subhūticandra: A Journey Across Borders
12.30–13.10 Hildegard Diemberger
Buddha’s Word: Curating an Exhibition of Buddhist Manuscripts and Prints between Research and Outreach
13.10–14.30 Lunch Break
Chairperson: Camillo Formigatti
14.30–15.10 Harunaga Isaacson
Title t.b.a.
15.10–15.50 Francesco Sferra
A Propos of a Recently Rediscovered Buddhist Manuscript
15.50–16.30 Péter-Dániel Szántó
The Book in Late Tantric Buddhist Lore
16.30-16.50 Tea Break
16.50–17.30 Jürgen Hanneder
Pre-modern Sanskrit Editors and Readers
17.30–18.10 Anett Krause
Sanskrit Letters from Kashmir in the Private Archive of Johannes Hertel

27th September

Editorial Practices in South India and South East Asia

Chairperson: Daniele Cuneo
9.30–10.10 Kengo Harimoto
Title t.b.a
10.10–10.50 Giovanni Ciotti
Multilingualism and Material Culture: A Few Rare (?) Colophons from Tamil Nadu
10.50–11.30 Dominic Goodall
What information can be gleaned from Cambodian inscriptions about practices relating to the transmission of Sanskrit literature?
10.30-11.50 Coffee Break
11.50–12.30 Emmanuel Francis
The Other Way Round: From Print to Manuscript
12.30–13.15 Conclusion
13.15–14.30 Lunch
15.00–16.00 Visit to the Exhibition Buddha’s Word at the Museum for Archeology and Anthropology
19.30 Final Dinner at the Riverside Restaurant

The South Asian Manuscript Book: Material, Textual and Historical Investigations

Programme (online version)

Programme (print version)

Following the workshop on “Buddhist Manuscript Culture: Textuality and Materiality” held in April 2013, this workshop will once again mainly focus on books as cultural artefacts, but it will broaden its scope to encompass all the major religious and intellectual traditions that constituted the South Asian manuscript culture, many of which are well represented in the collections of the University Library at Cambridge. Particular attention will be paid to aspects of the history of manuscripts in pre-modern South Asia such as their production, physical characteristics, decoration, use, circulation, preservation and accessibility in relation to broader dimensions of cultural practice, religious affiliation, patronage and locality. Its echoes and parallels in other parts of Asia, such as Tibet and Southeast Asia, will also be part of the picture.

Lecture by Dr Emmanuel Francis

Dr Emmanuel Francis (EHESS-CNRS, Centre d’étude de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, Paris), an historian who specialises on South India, will give a talk with the title “Ellis and the Legend of the Cowpox: a Pious Fraud in Early 19th century Madras or How to Convince Indians to Accept Jennerian Vaccination.”

BIULO MS.IND.4, collections of the BULAC, Paris.

Dr. Francis will discuss the form, language and content of the Āṟāmāvaraviḷakkam (“Light on the sixth great boon”), a Tamil text composed by Francis Whyte Ellis (1777–1819) at the beginning of the 19th century in order to lift the reluctance of local population against the smallpox vaccination.[1]

Friday 31st January, 5.00pm, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

1. For more information on the topic, click here.


On Privileges: the Kollam Plates at the Cambridge University Library

On 1-2 October Dr. Vincenzo Vergiani attended a seminar on the Kollam Plates at the British Museum, organised by Dr Elizabeth Lambourn (Principal Investigator, Reader in South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, De Montfort University) and Dr Roberta Tomber (Co-Investigator, British Museum) of the AHRC Research Network ‘Routes, Networks and Communities in the Medieval Indian Ocean’.

These copper plates draw their name from Kollam, an ancient port town on the coast of Kerala, and are also known as the Sthanu Ravi Plates, after the local ruler under whom they were issued (ca. 849 CE). They award trade privileges to two merchant associations, the Manigramam, an indigenous south Indian group, and the Anjuvanam, probably representing West Asian interests, who were associated to an eastern Christian church at Kollam. The documents are mainly written in Tamil in the Vaṭṭeḷuttu script, but they also bear 11 names in Arabic, in the Kufic script, 10 names in Middle Persian-Pahlavi, and a four names in Judaeo-Persian, of individuals who probably witnessed the grant on behalf of the larger groups. The names are not autograph signatures per se but rather group testimonials.

The University Library in Cambridge holds a set of brass plates reproducing the text of the original Kollam Plates in reverse, to be used for printing (ms Oo.1.14). These were commissioned in 1805 in Cochin on the initiative of the Scottish missionary Claudius Buchanan and were later used to produce a set of prints, also held in the University Library. Apart from their obvious historical interest, the importance of the Cambridge plates lies in the fact that they preserve a more complete text of the ancient document, without the gaps occurring in the originals, which must have suffered damage in the course of the 19th century. As the Cambridge plates are a unique item in the University Library collections, they will be included in the online catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscript collections even though, strictly speaking, they are inscriptions rather than manuscripts.