Manuscripts and Printing: Tibet
existence of Thon mi Saṃbhota, the existence of writing and its use in the administration of the empire and the formulation of a legal code are confirmed by two entries in the Old Tibetan Annals for the years 654/655 ce and 655/656 ce (Dotson, 2009, 85). At this time, the main writing materials seem to have been stone and wood. Only in the year 744/745 ce do the Old Tibetan Annals mention the replacement of wooden slips (khram) with paper (shog). The use of wooden slips for communication in the Tibetan Empire was confirmed by the discovery by M. Aurel Stein in the early 20th century of hundreds of them in the Tibetan forts at Miran and Mazar Tagh in the Taklamakan and Lop deserts, dating from the late 8th to the mid-9th century – these are part of the Stein collection, now held at the British Library (Thomas, 1951). In central Tibet, the oldest surviving
examples of writing are stone inscriptions on pillars and rock faces recording edicts from the imperial court. The earliest of these, the Zhol pillar in Lhasa, dates from the 760s ce (on the early inscriptions, see Richardson, 1985; Iwao, Hill & Takeuchi, 2009). The Tibetan forts in the Taklamakan and Lop deserts also yielded large numbers of paper manuscripts, mainly documents concerned with administrative and military matters. However, a few Buddhist texts have also been identified among this material, including a copy of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra, several prayers, tantric sādhanas, and a Chan text. Many more Tibetan manuscripts were
discovered in the “library cave” at the Dunhuang cave complex, now in major international collections in London, Paris, Saint Petersburg, Beijing, and elsewhere (van Schaik & Galambos, 2012). The Tibetan manuscripts from the Dunhuang caves date from the early 9th to the early 11th century. Some of these seem to have been brought from central and eastern Tibet (and these are among the earlier manuscripts), but most were created in the local region. In the first half of the 9th century, several hundred copies of the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra in 25,000 lines and the Aparimitāyurnāmasūtra were copied in Dunhuang at the order of Emperor
Khri gtsug lde btsan (also known as Ral pa can; r. 815– 841 ce). These were created in scroll form, with the Although the earliest uses of writing in Tibet were not Buddhist, manuscripts and later printed books came to play a fundamental role in the development of the tradition. The earliest surviving Tibetan manuscripts are from Central Asian sites ruled by Tibetans during the Imperial Period, dating from the late 8th century. The earliest extant Tibetan woodblock prints are also from Central Asia, produced in the Tangut Kingdom (1038–1227 ce) in the 12th or 13th century ce. A variety of formats and writing styles developed over the centuries in Tibet, generally linked to the function of the book. Furthermore, the creation of a manuscript or printed book was one of the main methods of generating merit, and books were an integral part of the Buddhist economy of patronage, donation, and exchange as well as having active roles as sacred objects in Buddhist ritual practices.
Manuscripts The importance of books (used as a general term here for texts committed to writing) in Tibetan Buddhist culture is evident in the traditional legend of how Buddhism first appeared in Tibet: the miraculous descent of books and other religious objects from the sky during the reign of an early king. According to the legend, King Lha tho tho ri was unable to read, and sealed the received books away for future generations (see Richardson, 1998; Stein, 1985). The Tibetan tradition places the advent of reading and writing in the reign of Emperor Srong btsan sgam po (r. 605[?]–649 ce), who is, unlike Lha tho tho ri, historically attested. This emperor is said to have sent his minister Thon mi Saṃbhota to India to find a model for the Tibetan alphabet. On his return, Thon mi Saṃbhota is said to have created the Tibetan alphabet from several Indian scripts, inventing six new letters for sounds that do not occur in Indian languages. In these traditional accounts, the invention of the Tibetan alphabet is linked to the formulation and writing down of the legal system, as well as the formation of the social hierarchy, division of the agricultural lands, and standardization of weights and measures (van Schaik, 2011).
960 Manuscripts and Printing: Tibet Tibetan text arranged into columns so that the scroll could be read horizontally, in the same way as Chinese scrolls. However, due to the direction of writing Tibetan, the scrolls are read left to right, unlike Chinese scrolls (Iwao, 2013). The Prajñāpāramitāsūtra texts were copied in scroll form and in the oblong
loose-leaf form known as “pecha” (Tib. dpe cha; Skt. pothi). The local scribes used manuscripts that had been brought to Dunhuang from (probably eastern) Tibet as models for copying. Thus, the same manuscript formats and similar writing styles were in use in other parts of the Tibetan Empire in the early 9th century. Furthermore, other examples of these manuscripts, also copied in Dunhuang, have been found in the libraries of several monasteries in central Tibet, indicating that they were distributed after copying in Dunhuang (Ma De, 2009). These early examples of the pecha form are paradigmatic for Buddhist manuscripts throughout the later history of Tibet. They are based on Indic
palm-leaf manuscripts and are oblong and loose leaf; they usually have ruled margins and guidelines and often a string hole surrounded by a circle (for detailed analysis of one such manuscript, see Cantwell & Mayer, 2012; see also below). Along with the horizontal scroll and pecha forms, early Tibetan manuscripts were written on vertically oriented scrolls, manuscripts in concertina format, stitched codex manuscripts, and single sheets of paper. There is some connection between genres of text and particular formats: major scriptural texts tended to be written as pecha manuscripts; collections of ritual texts were often in concertina format; the codex was often used for miscellaneous collections of short texts gathered together in a portable format. The discovery of manuscripts from around the 10th century in a stūpa in the Gatang region in central Tibet shows that the codex form was well distributed at this time (Pasang, 2007). From the 11th century onward, the pothi or pecha became the standard format for Buddhist texts, with the other formats declining, though not
disappearing. The concertina and codex form continued to be used, generally for relatively inexpensive manuscripts intended for personal use. The scroll form remained in use mainly for official documents. The manuscripts found in Tabo Monastery (Himachal Pradesh) have provided the largest group of material for the study of this period in the development of manuscript culture. The Tabo manuscript date from the 11th to 17th centuries, and represent the western Tibetan manuscript tradition. Among the earlier manuscripts, proto-canonical collections of scriptural texts have been identified (Pagel, 1999; for a catalogue, see Scherrer-Schaub & Harrison, 2009). By the 13th century, more ornate forms of the pecha were being made, including the use of silver and gold inks on a dark blue ground ( mthing shog), and a more elaborate use of illustration ( Scherrer-Schaub & Bonami, 2002). Apart from gold and silver, precious and semiprecious materials – such as turquoise and coral – were also used in inks. Other features found in these high-status manuscripts include large ornate lettering on the first folio, sometimes raised in high relief, and elaborate interlocking key decorations around the text and miniatures ( Helman-Ważny, 2014, 76–94). These expensive, high-status manuscript productions are often multiple-volume sets of the canonical collections of the words of the Buddha,
canons of the Rnying ma and Bön schools. Single manuscripts in this style are usually of a few popular sūtras, including the various lengths of the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras and the Bhadrakalpikasūtra. These manuscripts are often large, measuring some 60–90 cm in width (Cüppers, 2010). Less expensively produced manuscripts, smaller in size and often without illustration, were made for a much wider variety of Buddhist texts, including ritual works,
or greater numbers than printed texts through to
the early 20th century (for examples, see Helman- Ważny, 2014, 64–75). Printing As with manuscripts, the oldest surviving examples of printing in the Tibetan script are from eastern Central Asia. The technology of printing in the Tibetan alphabet seems to have first been developed in the Tangut Kingdom, where the influence of Tibetan Buddhists was increasingly evident throughout the 12th and early 13th centuries. In the early 20th century, Tibetan manuscripts and block prints were recovered from the ruins of the Tangut city of Khara-Khoto, mostly dating from the 12th and 13th centuries (now kept at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg, and the British Library; Iuchi, forthcoming).
Manuscripts and Printing: Tibet 961 These early block prints are in three forms: the pecha format, codices, and single sheets. The codices are compendia of ritual texts such as dhāraṇīs, while the single printed sheets contain diagrams printed for ritual purposes such as divination and warding off evil influences (Shi Jinbo, 2005; Stoddard, 2010). Since the technology of woodblock printing was also used in Khara-Khoto to print manuscripts in the Chinese and Tangut scripts, it is likely that local printing techniques were adapted to the Tibetan script ( Helman-Ważny 2014, 116–125). The printing of Tibetan Buddhist texts increased during the period of Mongol rule over Tibet and China (1271–1368), often sponsored by queens at the Mongol court, and printed at Dadu, the capital of the Yuan dynasty on the site of modern Beijing. Texts associated with the Sa skya school, especially the key works of Sa skya Paṇḍita (1182–1251), were printed, as were several tantras, such as the Kālacakratantra and Guhyagarbhatantra. This activity began in the late 13th century and continued to the end of the period of Mongol rule, and all of these printed books, known in Tibet as hor par ma (“Mongolian prints”) share certain features, including Chinese page numbers, which were probably added for the
convenience of the Chinese printers. Several of these Mongolian prints have been identified in the collections of Tibetan monastic libraries (van der Kuijp, 1993; Sangpo, 2010). Another site of Tibetan printing activity in the late 13th century was modern Gansu province, where a commentary on the Hevajratantra by Sa skya Paṇḍita’s successor ’Phags pa (1235–1280) was printed in 1273. There are also references in Tibetan literature to the printing of books in eastern Tibet as early as the beginning of 13th century, though there is currently no extant physical evidence of this activity (van der Kuijp, 2010, 453–455). Fragments of printed books from the time of the Mongol Empire were recovered from the Central Asian sites of Turfan and Etsin Gol, and are now at the Berlin State Library (Taube, 1980). These show that a wide range of printed
material was in circulation, alongside pecha-style books of Buddhist scriptures, including a concertina manuscript and single sheets of prayers printed under the image of a deity. Also found among these materials are smaller stamped papers with mantras or the classic ye dharmā formula encapsulating the Buddha’s teaching. This Tibetan material was found among printed and stamped papers in other languages, including Chinese, Sanskrit, and Uighur, and some of the Tibetan prints are multilingual. The earliest surviving printed book from central Tibet is dated to 1407, a commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra by Haribhadra, printed under the aegis of the local ruler of La stod Lho region, Situ Lha btsan skyabs, to commemorate the death of his father Situ Chos kyi rin chen (d. 1402). The colophon celebrates Situ Chos kyi rin chen in terms of his similarities as a ruler to Kublai Khan, suggesting that this early printing activity in central Tibet was conceived on the model of Kublai’s sponsorship of the printing of Tibetan Buddhist texts (Diemberger, 2014). The Yongle Kanjur, the first printed Tibetan canonical collection, was produced in 1410 in
Beijing (Silk, 1996). In the 1420s and 1430s, the collected works of Tsong kha pa (1357–1419) were printed with the sponsorship of the ruling house of Phag mo gru pa (Jackson, 1989, 1990; Sernesi, 2010). The production of printed books increased throughout the 15th century, with the establishment of many small printing houses (par khang) in central and western Tibet (Ehrhard, 2000). In the late
hermit Mi la ras pa (also known as Milarepa; 1052– 1111/1123) were printed and achieved wide circulation thanks to the activities of the yogin and devotee of Mi la ras pa, Gtsang smyon Heruka, his consort Kun tu bzang mo, and his disciples (Ehrhard, 2010; Sernesi, 2011; Clemente, 2007). With the development of larger printing houses in the 17th and 18th centuries associated with particular Tibetan monastic establishments, printing activities became increasingly sectarian. This was particularly evident during the Ganden Podrang government established by the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century, during which printing activity was concentrated on
the core texts of the ruling Gelug school, with the printing blocks of certain rival schools embargoed (Smith, 2004). Partially in response to this, the 18th and 19th centuries saw a major increase in the number and size of printing houses in eastern Tibet, in which existing and new collections of texts largely from the non-Gelug schools were printed. The printing house at Derge was particularly important and remains one of the largest of its kind (for a nicely illustrated volume, see Jin Ping, 2006). Several traditional printing houses are active in Tibetan cultural regions of China, as well as in Nepal, Bhutan, and India in the present day
and are continuing to produce pecha-style books, although the modern codex-style book is becoming more popular. 962 Manuscripts and Printing: Tibet Writing Style and Layout The Tibetan script is based on the Indic Brahmi alphabet, in particular, the late Gupta style prevalent in northern India and Nepal in the 5th and
6th centuries, with elements of the early Siddhamatrika style from the 7th century (van Schaik, 2011; Scherrer-Schaub, 2012). It is written horizontally from left to right and has two main forms of punctuation, a syntactic separator in the form of a vertical bar known as shad, and a syllable separator in the form of a dot (elongated in some writing styles) known as tsheg. Just as certain manuscript forms were preferred for particular textual genres, as the scribal tradition developed in Tibet, the most important distinction in script styles was between the headed style of script (dbu can) used for
Buddhist scriptures and other high-status texts, and a number of headless styles (dbu med) used for noncanonical Buddhist writing such as treatises and biographies. The highly cursive style known as khyug was (and still is) mainly used for letters and official documents. An elaborate cursive style with long descenders was used in the period of Mongol rule for official documents. With the development of printing, the headed style was used in the carving of woodblocks for its greater legibility. The mise-en-page or layout of the text and other elements of the pecha manuscript page changed little through the history of Tibetan manuscripts. In
most cases, vertical margins and horizontal writing guidelines were drawn before the manuscript was written. Often a hole was made in the page and surrounded by a circle; this could be a single hole in the middle of the page, or to one side, or two holes to either side. This feature was adopted from the conventions of Indic palm-leaf manuscripts, in which a string was threaded through the hole in order to hold the pages together. However, while palm-leaf manuscripts require tying because of their size and shape, paper manuscripts do not; the early manuscripts often have holes, though in most cases, there is no evidence that a string was threaded through them. In later manuscripts, from the 14th century onward, the hole was often replaced by an inked dot ( Scherrer-Schaub & Bonami, 2002). Thus it seems that from an early stage, the string hole in
Tibetan manuscripts functioned as a symbolic indicator of sacred status, adopted from Indic Buddhist manuscripts. Margins and guidelines were usually made with faint black or red ink. Except in the case of gold and silver writing on a dark background, the usual color for text is black, with rubrication used to highlight specific aspects of the text, such as the main text in commentaries or the names of cited texts. Interlinear annotation, known as mchan ’grel, is seen in manuscripts from the 9th century onward and is usually in a small cursive form of the script. Interlinear annotation may be added to a commentary contained in the main text. It is linked to the activities of teaching and study and is not usually found in manuscripts produced as status objects, such as illuminated canonical collections. In most manuscripts, the beginning of the text is marked with a feature known as mgo yig, literally the headletter. The simplest form of this mark is a curl opening to the left, a form derived from Indic manuscripts and inscriptions. In Tibetan manuscripts from the 10th century onward, more elaborate forms appear, adding further curls. In some manuscripts, the mgo yig appears at the beginning of the text on each recto side of the manuscript, regardless of whether a new text
1962, xv–xvi). Arabic-style numerals do not appear before the 12th century. In later manuscripts, the most common standard is for the volume to be represented by an alphabetic letter, followed by the page number. Along with this, an abbreviated form of the title of the text (or collection of text) may appear in the margin. Over the following centuries, a relatively stable format and mise-en-page were developed for
high-status manuscripts of Buddhist scriptures. These manuscripts have a title page made of several layers of paper stitched and glued together for strength, with the first few syllables of the text written in large size in gold or silver on a dark blue background, often protected with a rectangular piece of silk brocade, fixed at the top edge. Illuminations showing Buddhist deities or sages are placed to both the left and right of the text, and sometimes in the center as well. The following page, or several pages may be in the same format, with the text written in a smaller size. After this, the pages usually revert to black ink on an unpainted background, although the style of silver and/or gold on black is sometimes used throughout a manuscript. The final page of a manuscript often includes illustrations of one or more wrathful protector deities. Printed books, of which the vast majority are in the pecha form, generally follow the layout of manuscripts in terms of margins, numeration, and text
Manuscripts and Printing: Tibet 963 layout. From the early Mongolian prints onward, printed books of high status sometimes include woodcut illustrations on the early pages, which may be hand colored. The very earliest printed books copy the string holes and circles of Buddhist manuscripts (Diemberger, 2012, 24). Later developments include doubled margins, creating a more clearly defined space around text and images (Erhard, 2000). Materials and Functions During the Tibetan Empire, stone, wood, and paper were all used as supports for writing. The use of different materials was generally determined by the function of the text: stone for major edicts and proclamations, wood for very brief administrative notes and military communications, and paper for these functions and all others. Paper, the manufacture of which was probably learnt from China and Central Asia, came into general use in the mid-8th century, and the earliest surviving examples date from the late 8th or early 9th century. Paper-fiber analysis has shown that different types of paper were produced in different areas, based on the availability of raw materials. Among the Central Asian manuscripts, those produced locally are generally made from rag paper, those that were made in central Tibet are constructed from Daphne or Edgeworthia fibers (Tib. shog shing or dung lo ma), and those produced in eastern Tibet were made from the bark of the paper mulberry (bot. Broussonetia). In later centuries, most paper was made from Daphne or Edgeworthia fibers, or from the Stellera chamaejasme species (Tib. re lcag pa) and, more rarely, Euphorbia ﬁsheriana (Tib. re lcag gi rtsa ba). The latter two are derived from the root of the plant and were generally used at higher altitudes, where Daphne or Edgeworthia was not available. Paper was generally made on fixed-wove molds, with the paper left to dry in the frame, unlike Chinese paper, which was made on a sieve mold from which paper sheets could be removed to dry. Thus Tibetan paper differs from Chinese in both materials and method ( Helman-Ważny & van Schaik, 2013). To make the paper surface suitably smooth for writing on,
it was rubbed with wheat or barley powder. From the 11th century onward, dark blue paper was made by dying or by painting with a pigment like azurite. Though traditional sources refer to the blue paper as lapis lazuli, this material, which was extremely expensive, was probably only rarely used in this way. Finally, manuscripts were often placed between wooden boards, which could be elaborately carved, and secured with leather straps and/or wrapped in square textile covers ( Selig-Brown, 2012;
Helman-Ważny, 2014, 56–8). Books kept in libraries are usually identified by an inscribed textile strip that hangs down on one side. Textile writing supports were also used for manuscripts, though less frequently than paper. Silk was used for official edicts, hung or rolled up in scroll form. Thangka paintings, usually on silk or cotton, were often inscribed on the back, and sometimes on the front as well. Scribes wrote using wooden or reed pens; an early
9th-century split-nibbed wooden pen was found in the Tibetan fort at Mazar Tagh (van Schaik, 2011, 56). Ink was, in most cases, made from carbonized plants or soot (lampblack) mixed with animal glue. Various pigments were used to create the red ink used for margins and rubricated texts in the manuscripts, including cinnabar, lead, zinc, and copper (van Schaik, Helman-Ważny & Nöller, 2015). Manuscripts written on blue paper used inks composed in part from silver and gold. A variety of other pigments were used in manuscript illumination. Printing blocks were usually carved from locally available wood sources. The techniques for preparing blocks and printing from them are closely based on those found in earlier Chinese and Central Asian printing. First the individual blocks are cut to size. Scribes copy the text onto thin sheets of paper, which are placed face down on the printing blocks. Then a carver cuts out around the letters to create a finished block with letters, margins, and/or images in high relief. The blocks are checked, and errors can be corrected by the removal
and replacement of a portion of the wood. Completed blocks are brushed with ink, before blank sheets of paper are pressed against them to take up the ink of letters ( Helman-Ważny, 2014, 125 –132). Manuscripts and printed books were used in a variety of ways in Tibet. Their functions were not limited to the texts that they carried; as gsung rten (“the basis of [the Buddha’s] speech”) they embodied the sacred power of the Buddhist teachings in their physical presence and could be agents in ritual activity (Diemberger, 2012). Since many books were created for the purpose of generating merit, as mentioned above, often the function of a book after it had been created was simply as a receipt for merit, recorded in the colophon and guaranteed by the continuing physical existence of the book. Some books might serve as the means to generate further merit through recitation. On the one hand, monasteries in Tibet aimed to house at least one complete set of the
964 Manuscripts and Printing: Tibet Kanjur and Tanjur, and the mere presence of these volumes in the monastery was considered to be highly auspicious, regardless of whether they were read. On the other hand, the recitation of the entire collection was considered an especially meritorious activity. The recitation of certain sūtras, particularly one of the versions of the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra, could be sponsored in order to accomplish various ends, such as warding off illness. The physical copies of the Kanjur and Tanjur could also be used for ritual purposes that did not involve reading; for example, the entire set of volumes might be carried in a ritual procession. Furthermore, books were considered to have ritual efficacy largely unrelated to the texts therein, and they could be used for magical purposes such as ensuring a good harvest. Other manuscripts and prints that were created for merit-generating and apotropaic purposes were single sheets containing Buddhist prayers or magical diagrams, which could be worn for protection, or placed in a suitable position in the house, usually above the front doorway. Prayer flags perform a similar role. Printed texts were also placed inside statues and stūpas in the ritual of consecration, and placed inside wheels to be turned
by hand or by water (Bentor, 1996). Many manuscripts and prints were created for specific ritual functions. Manuscripts are often miscellanies of ritual texts for medical, funerary, and other uses. These are usually of a portable size, sometimes stitched to make them easier to consult. Larger collections of tantric texts containing rituals for ceremonies of blessing, granting permission, and empowerment are read by the lama performing the ritual. Similar texts, or text collections, are used by practitioners in the course of their regular recitation practices. In all cases, books, or even book fragments, are treated as objects worthy of reverence, and Buddhists frequently advise their students on the proper treatment of books; for example, they should be kept on high shelves and never stepped over or on. In monasteries where texts are taught and
studied, manuscripts and printed books provide the basis for this work. Since memorization was central to the practice of learning, the book provided the basis for the memorization of a text. Books, often annotated with interlinear notes, played a role in the practice of teaching, usually through oral commentary on the text contained in the book. The ritual recitation of the text also served the purpose of authorizing students to study the text themselves. This transmission through reading is known as “spoken transmission” (ljags lung) or “book transmission” (dpe cha’i lung), or simply “transmission” (lung). This transmission establishes the student and teacher in a lineage traced back to the text’s source, which in many cases will be the Buddha Śākyamuni himself. The practice of note taking is attested in a number of manuscripts from the Dunhuang library
cave that appear to contain students’ notes and others that show signs of being taken down from dictation (Kapstein, 2006; van Schaik 2007). Furthermore the many texts of instruction called zin bris or brjed byang, referring to their origin as students’ notes, suggest that the practice was common from the 11th century onward. An interesting specific case is the *Lakṣaṇaṭīkā, a student’s notes on the treatises of Candrakīrti taken by a Tibetan in the Indian monastic university of Vikramaśīla, in the Sanskrit language but in Tibetan script (see Yonezawa, 2004ff.). In Tibet, through to the 20th century, children learning to write used a wooden board painted black, on which letters could be written and erased. Social Context Tibetan rulers, explicitly modeling themselves on their imperial predecessors, often sponsored major manuscript and print-copying projects. As late as the 20th century, the 13th Dalai Lama began a project to carve new blocks for the Buddhist canon on his return from exile in India, resulting in the “Lhasa Kanjur” (Vogel et al., 1998). The sponsorship of the copying of scriptures is often mentioned in biographies of Tibetan lamas alongside other meritorious projects such as the establishment or refurbishment of monasteries and the building of stūpas.
Very large sums were spent on scripture-copying projects. For example, a complete set of manuscripts of the Kanjur produced in central Tibet in the 17th century cost 300 kg of silver (dngul srang) for 114 volumes (Cüppers, 2010, 125). A complete set of block prints of the Kanjur made in Derge in the 18th century, comprising 103 volumes and requiring the carving of 66,000 wooden blocks, cost 7,622 ingots of gold, roughly equivalent to 1,275 kg of silver (Schaeffer, 2009, 105; see also Chaix, 2010). There is no evidence that there was ever a significant book market in Tibet: rather manuscripts and printed books were created according to demand, directly funded by donations from sponsors (Diemberger, 2012, 33). The creation and circulation of Buddhist manuscripts and printed books in Tibet, as elsewhere in the Buddhist world, must
Manuscripts and Printing: Tibet 965 be understood in terms of the concept of merit, a causal force with positive effects including lengthening one’s lifespan and ensuring a good rebirth in the next life. The merit gained by copying scriptures, mentioned in several Mahāyāna Buddhist texts, is considered to be gained not only by the scribe but also, and even more so, by the one who sponsors the creation of the manuscript. The names of sponsors are generally recorded in colophons; the greater the expense and the magnificence of the finished product, the greater the merit generated for the sponsor. Documents from Dunhuang relating to the
manuscript-copying project commissioned by Emperor Khri Gtsug lde btsan in the 9th century show how such projects were organized. Scribes were provided with allotted stacks of paper and expected to return these with the text copied in, with a small allowance for spoiled pages. Those who could not account for their pages could be punished through corporal punishment or confiscation of their property. These manuscripts were then checked by a proofreader (zhus pa) responsible for a group of scribes. At this stage, any pages with too many errors were removed and had to be rewritten. These pages might then be checked again by another proofreader. A supervisor (gnyer pa) responsible for all of the local scribes collected the resulting manuscripts and dealt with any infringements and punishments (Takeuchi, 1994). Though commissioned by the emperor, the whole
endeavor was funded from local taxation (Iwao, 2009). The use of punishment and local taxation to fund Buddhist scripture-copying projects did come to be perceived as a problem, and later accounts of such projects emphasize the fair treatment and remuneration of workers (Schaeffer, 2009, 105), though in central Tibet at least, book production was still supported by local taxation in the 17th century (Cüppers, 2010, 122). The imperial model remained an inspiration to later manuscript-copying projects. A colophon from a Tanjur-copying project in the 14th century shows that little changed over the centuries; the list of those involved includes the same roles of scribe, proofreader, and supervisor seen in the 9th-century records. The 14th-century colophon also mentions several other figures, including papermakers (shog bzo ba), page numberers (grangs yig pa), and collators (gras mkhan) as well as those who worked on the book covers, carvers (rkos mkhan), goldsmiths (gdong rkos kyi gser bzo mkhan), strap makers
(sku rags mkhan), and blacksmiths who made the buckles for the straps (sku rags kyi chab ma’i mhar ba). A letter to the head scribes on another copying project by Bu ston Rin chen grub (1290–1364) provides further details of the copying process in his time – for example, that the proofreading process involved a reader reciting the text aloud while the scribes checked their copies. Bu ston’s letter also sets out aesthetic standards for manuscript production and mentions a method of correction seen as early as the Dunhuang manuscripts: pasting a piece of paper over the erroneous text and writing the correct text on top of it. The
importance of the patron, and the fact that the manuscripts are to be considered his property, is stressed by Bu ston as a reason for the high standards expected of the scribes (Schaeffer, 2009, 21–27). The cataloguing and editing of texts have been a feature of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition from an early stage. The major monasteries in Tibet all had libraries, with some, such as the libraries of Sakya and Ganden monasteries being famous for their extensive collections of Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts. The first catalogues of library holdings date back to the early 9th century, two of which are still extant: the Ldan dkar ma (alternatively spelled Lhan kar ma) and the Phang thang ma (for editions, see Lalou, 1953; Herrmann-Pfandt, 2008; Kawagoe, 2005). These are relatively simple lists of text titles, authors, organized thematically. The size of each
book is also listed in terms of “verses” (shlo ka) and “volumes” (bam po). It has been pointed out that these terms were not always used literally, as shlo ka are also counted in prose texts and bam po does not necessarily correspond to physical volumes in the early manuscripts. One possibility is that bam po refer to the units of paper assigned to a scribe and were used to calculate scribes’ pay ( Scherrer-Schaub, 1989; van der Kuijp, 2009). Later catalogues from the 13th and 14th centuries, such as the catalogue used as a basis for compiling the Buddhist canon by Bu ston, are more discursive and include elements of text criticism (Nishioka, 1980–1983). Tibetan scholars have been very much aware of problems deriving from scribal errors and other issues of faulty textual transmission (several examples of textual criticism are discussed in van der Kuijp, 2010). The scholar and editor Zhus chen Tshul khrims rin chen (1697–1744) recorded in detail his editorial work on a major project of carving new printing blocks for the Buddhist canon commissioned by the king of Derge in the first half of the 18th century. Zhus chen discusses the multiple sources that he assembled for this task and criticizes many of them in strong terms, blaming inaccuracies on the faults of scribes as well as on the misguided
966 Manuscripts and Printing: Tibet emendations of previous editors. In order to avoid further corruption through misguided scribal corrections, Zhus chen imposed fines if scribes could not show that their emendations were based on an alternative exemplar. Zhus chen himself and other supervising editors were allowed to make emendations, and Zhus chen occasionally used Sanskrit manuscripts to clarify problems encountered in the Tibetan texts (Schaeffer, 2009, 94–103).
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