FRAL - Programme franco-allemand en Sciences humaines et sociales

Texts Surrounding Texts: Satellite Stanzas, Prefaces and Colophons in South-Indian Manuscripts (collections of the Paris BnF and Hamburg Stabi) – TST

Texts Surrounding Texts

Satellite Stanzas, Prefaces and Colophons in South-Indian Manuscripts <br />(collections of the Paris BnF and Hamburg Stabi)

Aims

In recent years, progress has been made both in the digitisation of Indian manuscripts as well as in the field of codicology, setting new standards for cataloguing. The trend is towards putting online the images along with elaborate catalogues. One important aspect of well-catalogued digital collections is the possibilities they offer for statistically relevant research both with respect to questions of script development as well as dating and with respect to the various paratextual elements---such as colophons, prefaces and satellite stanzas---with their wealth of information on the provenance and transmission of the objects in question. <br />Both Hamburg and Paris still house important collections of Indian manuscripts which have been lying more or less dormant. The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) holds Europe’s most remarkable collection of some 700 Tamil manuscripts, along with several collections in Sanskrit and various local languages. The state and university library of Hamburg (Staats- und Universitäts-bibliothek Carl von Ossietzky, i.e. Stabi) has a similar collection of almost 500 manuscripts, most from Southern India, the majority in Sanskrit, but also some in Tamil and other vernaculars. <br />The project aim is to make significant portions available online along with their catalogues and to engage into the large-scale investigation of paratextual materials. On the one hand, this will significantly improve our understanding of the times, places and communities who produced the objects. On the other hand, the material unearthed will allow us to focus more closely on the intersection between the literary and the oral tradition, because sub-genres like prefaces and mnemonic verses hover between established literary conventions and local, often oral traditions.

The initial approach is codicological and philological with the drafting of detailed descriptions of the manuscripts. From these will be derived the entries for the online catalogues of the two partner libraries. These entries will accompany the online digital images of the manuscripts. The detailed descriptions will also be available as XML-TEI files in OA on online repositories. The duration of the project will not allow for the exhaustive treatment of the two collections, but a substantial portion will be examined in depth.
The second approach is paratextual and historical. The study of paratexts (prefaces, additional stanzas, colophons, blessings, instructions, curses, etc.) will make it possible to place the manuscripts in their context of production, transmission and use. This will help to enrich our knowledge about literary and grammatical traditions in classical Tamil, various fields of learned traditions in Sanskrit and other regional languages, but also about the encounter between Western and Indian traditions in the form of documents produced by Christian missionaries, the interface between oral and manuscript traditions, and the history of the collections.

- The BnF collection of Tamil manuscripts meets the project's expectations: while about 25% of it has been examined, it shows an exceptional wealth of varied paratexts, which its summary catalog does not reflect.
- The summary catalog of Indian manuscripts (containing the Tamil manuscripts) deserves its name: the number of folios sometimes needs to be corrected (e.g. tst.hypotheses.org/232), texts contained in the manuscripts are not mentioned.
- Approximately 55 detailed descriptions of BnF manuscripts are now available on the BnF online catalog (BAM = archivesetmanuscrits.bnf.fr/pageCollections.html, mainly under the shelfmark «Indian«, but also under «Sanskrit«.
- The TST research blog (https://tst.hypotheses.org/) is regularly populated with blogposts (36) and pages containing descriptions of BnF manuscripts, focusing on the paratext of these manuscripts and providing, in addition to the digital images available on Gallica, detailed or global views of the manuscripts.
- An open source digital paleography software package has been developed by Charles LI (CNRS postdoctoral researcher, recruited by the TST project). See tst.hypotheses.org/1738.

- Books and articles are in preparation.
-- An OA volume on satellite stanzas (versified paratextual elements), edited by Eva Wilden & Suganya Anandakichenin. This book, handed over to the editor, contains mostly chapters by members of the TST project. It marks, to date, a great advancement in the little explored field of the study of paratexts in Indian manuscripts in general and in Tamil manuscripts in particular.
-- A volume on colophons with dates in South Indian manuscripts by Giovanni Ciotti and Marco Franceschini. This work is a major step in terms of the extension of its corpus (more than 600 colophons from over 250 manuscripts; collected, edited and, for the most part, translated) and the detail and depth of the analyses that the extent of the corpus covered allows.
- Online OA databases (online catalog, with digital images of the manuscripts opposite to their detailed descriptions) are being developed by Charles LI (CNRS postdoctoral researcher, recruited by the TST project).
- Two face-to-face workshops are planned, if the pandemic crisis allows it. The most relevant presentations made during these two workshops will be collected in a volume OA :
-- A workshop in the BnF at Richelieu, March 18-19, 2020.
-- A final workshop at the CSMC in Hamburg, in September 2022.
- A webinar is held monthly and allows project collaborators to present their ongoing research to other project members and benefit from their comments and suggestions.

The publications of the TST project are available online. See hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/TST/
- Cristina Muru. Grammaire Latine Étendue: Two Portuguese missionary Tamil Arte (17th cent.). Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft, Nodus, 2020, 30.1, pp. 59-73.

In recent years, progress has been made both in the digitisation of Indian manuscripts as well as in the field of codicology, setting new standards for cataloguing. The trend is towards putting online the images along with elaborate catalogues. One important aspect of well-catalogued digital collections is the possibilities they offer for statistically relevant research both with respect to questions of script development as well as dating and with respect to the various paratextual elements such as colophons, prefaces and satellite stanzas with their wealth of information on the provenance and transmission of the objects in question. Both Hamburg and Paris still house important collections of Indian manuscripts which have been lying more or less dormant. The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) holds Europe’s most remarkable collection of some 700 Tamil manuscripts, along with several smaller collections in Sanskrit and various local languages. The state and university library of Hamburg (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Carl von Ossietzky, i.e. Stabi) has a similar collection of almost 500 manuscripts, most from Southern India, the majority in Sanskrit, but also some in Tamil and other vernaculars. Thanks to existing local and European funding, two teams, embedded in an international network of specialists, have already been established in both places and work towards opening up both collections for further historical research.
The project aim is to make significant portions available online along with their catalogues and to engage into the large-scale investigation of paratextual materials. On the one hand, this will significantly improve our understanding of the times, places and communities who produced the objects. On the other hand, the material unearthed will allow us to focus more closely on the intersection between the literary and the oral tradition, because sub-genres like prefaces and mnemonic verses hover between established literary convention and local, often oral traditions. While the respective libraries, the scholarly community, and the general public will benefit from the extension of the libraries online databases, two workshops will produce the frame for at least one volume of case studies from classical Tamil literary and grammatical studies, from various fields of Sanskrit learned traditions and from further smaller languages, but also from the amply documented encounter of Western and Indian traditions in the form of missionary documents.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Emmanuel Francis (Centre d'étude de l'Inde et de l'Asie du Sud)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

Stabi Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg
BnF Bibliothèque nationale de France
CSMC Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (Universität Hamburg)
CEIAS Centre d'étude de l'Inde et de l'Asie du Sud

Help of the ANR 240,940 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2019 - 36 Months

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