New Insights from the World of 19th and Early 20th Century Buddhist Studies

BDRC is pleased to announce three valuable additions to the archive which will be of enormous interest to students of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies. These have been generously provided by Jonathan Silk, Professor of Buddhist Studies at Leiden University, with an introduction to each. They constitute a very unique "behind the scenes" point of view on the world of 19th and early 20th c. Buddhist Studies, and the incredible work of scholars at the time. What is special about all of these new items is that they are heavily annotated by early European scholars of Buddhism. While the personal archives of some of the great early scholars have been preserved for posterity, few of their illuminating documents have been digitized and put in the public domain. They are both a snapshot of the state of the field during a formative period of Buddhist Studies and also collections of scholarly insights that can still speak to contemporary research.

The first such document is a copiously annotated personal copy of the groundbreaking 1834 Tibetan-English Dictionary by Alexander Csoma de Kőrös and Sangs rgyas phun tshogs.

The dictionary belonged to the first French Tibetologist, Philippe-Édouard Foucaux (1811-1894), and he made annotations in multiple languages on every single page. It is rare that he didn't mark up a page on all four sides of the margins with example sentences, Sanskrit equivalents, and important words that could have been included in the printed dictionary. Professor Silk writes, "as a historical object and as a testament to the scholarship and zeal of Foucaux, his copy of the dictionary can and should do no less than inspire our awe and admiration." View on the archive here.

Page from Tibetan-English Dictionary by Alexander Csoma de Kőrös and Sangs rgyas phun tshogs, annotated by Philippe-Édouard Foucaux.

Annotated page from an edition of the Kāśyapaparivarta prepared by Baron Alexander von Staël-Holstein.

Secondly, different stages of the manuscript of an edition of the Kāśyapaparivarta (Tib. 'od srungs kyi le'u, Ch. 遺日摩尼寶經, an early Mahāyāna sutra) prepared by Baron Alexander von Staël-Holstein (1877-1937) in Beijing in 1926. The text includes two versions of proofs of the preface, the hand copy of the text submitted with the edition, and an annotated version with extensive notes by Staël-Holstein and colleagues, primarily in German. Even without being able to read the German notes one can immediately see that the annotations on the proofs were made with vehement meticulousness. View on the archive here. 

Finally, a collation of the Visuddhimagga in Pali with typescripts and extensive notes compiled by Henry Clarke Warren (1854-1899). Warren's collation of the Theravada 'great treatise', which was written by Buddhagosa in Sri Lanka around the 5th Century, was later revised by Dharmananda Damodar Kosambi and published in 1950 by Harvard University Press. View on the archive here. 

We are very grateful to Professor Silk for these contributions! BDRC is open to submissions of scans, so please contact us if you have documents of research interest that would be worthwhile additions to the archive.

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