Friday, November 20, 2015

A Chinese-Tibetan bilingual Buddhist manuscript

This Chinese-Tibetan Lankavatara Sutra is one of the most interesting, and beautiful bilingual manuscripts from Dunhuang. As the picture above shows, it was made in the concertina format. The Chinese text, written in black ink, is a commentary on the Lankavatara Sutra, while the Tibetan text, written in red ink between the lines of Chinese, is the Tibetan translation of the sutra itself (but not the commentary).
When you read the Chinese text on this manuscript, you treat the concertina as if it were a folded Chinese scroll (which it basically is), reading from top to bottom and right to left:
On the other hand, in order to read the Tibetan, you have to turn the manuscript ninety degrees to the left, and read from left to right. When you do this, the concertina looks much more like a Tibetan pothi, and there is even a string-hole to make that association quite clear:
If you look carefully at these images, you can see that the text has been carefully marked up to show where the Tibetan translation corresponds to the Chinese. So what was the manuscript used for? One possibility is that it was used by someone learning Tibetan, or Chinese.
Another very interesting theory, suggested by Daishun Ueyama, is that this manuscript was used by the translator Chodrup, who lived in Dunhuang in the 9th century, and produced several translations of Buddhist texts into Tibetan from Chinese. Since the Tibetan text on this manuscript is from a different translation of the Lankavatara Sutra, made from a Sanskrit text, the manuscript could have been used in the course of preparing a new translation from Chinese.
Manuscript: Or.8210/S.5603, Stein Collection, British Library.
Ueyama Daishun. 1990. Tonkō bukkyō no kenkyū [Studies on Buddhism in Dunhuang]. Kyōto: Hōzōkan.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Xuastvanift: a confession book of Manichaean Uygurs

The British Library manuscript copy of Xuastvanift (Or.8212/178), a confession book of the Manichaean Uygurs.

The British Library manuscript copy can now be viewed on IDP. This follows publication in 2014 of a book on this text by Betül Özbat:
Huastuanift: Manihaist Uygurlarin Tövbe Duasi
[Xuastvanift — a confession book of the Manichaean Uygurs]
Türk Dil Kurumu Yayınları: Ankara 2014
PB, 256 pp., colour and B&W ills., 14TL.
ISBN: 9789751628985

Betül Özbat introduces her book below.

"This manuscript is one of the most important and complete texts among the Old Uygur Manichaean texts. It was first published by W. Radloff (1909) and A. von Le Coq (1910/1). After this scholars such as W. Bang and J. P. Asmussen also studied the text. A. von Le Coq’s publication (1911) was translated into Turkish in 1941 but there was no detailed study after this in Turkey. One of our main aims was to prepare a new publication on this text in Turkish in order to reach Turkish readers.

My book consists of two main sections. The first is an introduction containing brief information on Manichaean Uygurs, Manichaean literature, art, script and religion, as well as Sogdian people and their relationship with the Uygurs. The second part contains the text of Xuastvanift. This follows the text found on the longest extant manuscript which is in the Stein collection in London (Or.8212/178). There are more than twenty copies of the text but I only used other fragments from Berlin and St. Petersburg to supplement the main text. A transcription is given along with notes giving the source(s) of the text.

For example:
[337] k(ä)ntü özümüzni ämgätir biz (U7a, 1-2; L 299; Spb 139-140)

In this example, the number to the left in the square brackets indicates that this is the 337th line of the entire text. The number on the right in the round brackets indicates that this line corresponds to (respectively) the 1st and 2nd lines on the recto of Berlin U7 fragment; the 299th line on the London scroll, Or.8212/178; and the 139th-140th lines on the St. Petersburg manuscript.

A Turkish translation and the transliteration is given after the transcription. The book ends with the interpretation of some problematic points in the text, a glossary and appendix.

The appendix gives images of different manuscript copies of the Xuastvanift. The coloured images of the British Library scroll are the first to be reproduced — the previous publication by A. Von Le Coq had only black and white images."

Sponsorship enabling digitisation of the scroll was kindly provided by a Turkish scholar.