Mayer et al (2017), Ancient Tantra Collection from Sangyeling

Robert Mayer and Ngawang Tsepag. 2017. ‘The Ancient Tantra Collection from Sangyeling (Sangs rgyas gling rNying ma’i rgyud ‘bum)’. Digital dataset (JPG, .txt, doc, PDF; 500GB). University of Oxford: ORA. 🔓

Abstract: This project successfully photographed all surviving 41 volumes and 16,071 pages of a rare and endangered early 18th century manuscript edition of Tibetan ‘Old Tantras’ located at Sangs-rgyas-gling dgon-pa, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India.

Sangs rgyas gling rNying ma rgyud 'bum dkar chag first folio
Sangs rgyas gling rNying ma rgyud ‘bum dkar chag first folio: oṁ svadhi(sti)siddhaṃ |jā(jñā)najayāpariketu mitāyur | āmalaśra(śrī)karuṇatrijatoman || (sic)

Kickstart Michael Slouber’s dissertation to book

Michael Slouber is doing some of the most interesting work in tantric studies today. His PhD-to-book Kickstarter runs until the first week of June:

I can commend the future book solely on the basis of Dr Slouber’s freely available and superbly typeset (see below) Hamburg M.A. thesis. I’m not yet sure that I’ll commit, though. On the one hand, I can’t condone the parading of indebtedness that is at epidemic levels in the West; on the other hand, there is something to be said for a social network that encourages dānapāramitā more than keeping up with the Joneses. It’s also nice that at least one or two people with tenure have committed funds together with the much more numerous impoverished students and recent graduates.

Slouber, Śaṅkuka’s Saṃhitāsāra (2011:21)
Slouber, Śaṅkuka’s Saṃhitāsāra (2011:21)

The Brill font (2011)

The Brill is a Unicode font containing most of the characters used to typeset Sanskrit in roman script. It’s based on Baskerville, which has been used widely in typesetting Brill’s books. From the official pamphlet:

The Brill.
The Brill.

It’s plain to see that it blows fonts like Gentium out of the water, though that certainly isn’t saying much. I don’t love The Brill; some of its features evoke Bulmer’s inelegant take on Baskerville, and it lacks breathing space (which was a design requirement, “allowing Brill to reduce its environmental footprint” – like that’s going to happen). Which is just as as well, because The Brill can only be used for non-commercial purposes – i.e., nowhere in a published PDF or in the browsed or printed page without prior written permission. If you agree, download it here.

Pandey’s Siddham Script in Unicode proposal (2012/8)

Anshuman Pandey. ‘Proposal to Encode the Siddham Script in ISO/IEC 10646’. ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N4294 L2/12-234R. PDF. 2012/08/01.

Mr. Pandey’s proposal – now no longer preliminary – promises to fill yet another gaping hole in the standard encoding of important Indic scripts. Now would be an appropriate time to comment, if you haven’t already commented.

(I would hope, at minimum, for the addition of a full set of ten digits in the final proposal. Often such basics fall through the gaps because the corpus of readily available primary material is so limited. Here‘s a nice “7-8th century” bilingual manuscript with a varṇamālā (no digits, though) which is both in good condition and readable online, thanks to the care of its Japanese custodians. Incidentally, this clearly confirms that two of the “Punctuation and ornaments” in Pandey’s Fig. 33 are ornamental final anusvāra [अं字].)

Comments should be emailed to Anshuman Pandey, whose address is given in the N4294 proposal (link above) and at the bottom of his personal website (link).

ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N4294 Fig.1. Proposed code chart.

Emerging Unicode codeblocks

Recent discussion on the proposed Newar Unicode codeblock has been met with silence (signifying disinterest, ignorance, or unqualified approval – or all three, one must assume). Those who did more than glance at the discussion would have been aware that that several areas of the Unicode codespace are expanding rapidly, many of which are going to infringe upon a far wider chunk of Asianists’ and philologists’ territories. In an age of character-constrained discourse, when just a few letters can reveal something important about you – OMG!* – and a picture tells the thousand words you don’t have the time to text, demand for emoticons, emoji and pictographs soars.

@mrJUSTINMARTIN yeah man!!! Be there in 5!

The Symbola font [download] has reasonably good coverage of the newer codeblocks. Other fonts by the designer, George Doulos, show how much work (non-Indological) classicists are putting into the codification of the premodern repertoire.

Symbola specimen, p.10, showing glyphs from the Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs, Emoticons, Transport and Map Symbols, and Alchemical Symbols codeblocks.

Other fonts which cover recent additions to the standard, like Quivira, are easy to find online.
Continue reading “Emerging Unicode codeblocks”

Searchable Tibetan canons: ACIP & THL (2012)

The Asian Classics Input Project recently announced the “complete distribution of the long awaited Kangyur (བཀའ་འགྱུར་) and Tengyur (བསྟན་འགྱུར་) etext collections in Tibetan unicode script”. Big up to the ACIP: this is quite an achievement. It’s old news for some, but when I recently asked some colleagues about this, none had any inkling that etexts of the full bKa’ ’gyur were available.

Using the ACIP etexts requires working in Tibetan script and registration — the latter possibly encouraging lying (it’s doubtful that most registrants will have anything like formal permission to read the entire tantric corpus).

However, there is alternative online access to the same body of scripture — though not necessarily the same electronic corpus (THL’s bKa’ ’gyur is specified as sDe dge, rather than ACIP’s Lha sa) — at the Tibetan and Himalayan Library: Type Wylie or Tibetan Unicode text in the search box and you’re away. (Thanks to J.)