Manuscripts and Travellers in your local bookstore

Sam van Schaik and Imre Galambos, Manuscripts and Travellers: The Sino-Tibetan Documents of a Tenth-Century Buddhist Pilgrim (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012).

Our book is finally out. It all started about 5 years ago when Sam asked me if I wanted to join him in writing a paper about a Tibetan-Chinese manuscript from Dunhuang, currently kept at the British Library. As we worked on the manuscript, he on the Tibetan, I on the Chinese parts of it, the original paper kept growing until it made more sense to publish it as a monograph.

The book is about several manuscripts that had been glued together into a single scroll. This scroll was carried by a Chinese monk in the late 960s through the regions of Amdo and Hexi, as part of his larger pilgrimage from Wutaishan to the Nalanda monastery in India. We do not know if he ever reached his final destination, since we only have his manuscript for the part in Qinghai and Gansu. Included are Tibetan letters of introduction addressed to abbots of monasteries along the way, demonstrating the linguistic and cultural diversity of the region during the early years of the newly emerging Song dynasty. The longest of the manuscripts had Tibetan tantric texts on one side (invisible from the outside as it was glued onto the letters) and a copy of juan 3 of the Chinese sutra called Baoenjing 報恩經 on the other. Finally, there was a copy of a stone inscription commemorating the Gantong Monastery 感通寺 near Liangzhou 涼州, to which a short colophon was added, stating that the copy was made by a certain Daozhao 道昭 in 968. In the book, we take the manuscript apart and study each text. Then we try to put them back together and see how and why they were glued together and what their function was with regard to the pilgrimage.

Manuscripts and travellers is beautifully produced and includes color images of the entire manuscript with all its parts.

This entry was posted in archaeology, Aurel Stein, books, Dunhuang, Palaeography, published papers, Scribal habits, Tibetan, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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