Rogora (2016), Lo Svayambhūpurāṇa

Luigi, Rogora. 2015-2016. ‘La Luce Nella Valle: Lo Svayambhūpurāṇa nel Buddhismo Nepālese’. Università degli Studi di Milano, Facoltà di Studi Umanistici. Corso di Laurea Triennale in Lettere. iv+167 pp. []

Note: Contains an annotated Italian translation of Svayambhūdharmadhātusamutpattinidānakathā 1.1–63.

International Conference on Tibetan History &c. (2013-7-13)

四川大学中国藏学研究所(会议主办)、哈佛燕京学社(会议协办): “7至17世纪西藏历史与考古、宗教与艺术国际学术研讨会”。 中国·成都·四川大学 2013年7月13-15日。

Center for Tibetan Studies of Sichuan University & Harvard-Yenching Institute (co-conveners). ‘International Conference On Tibetan History And Archaeology, Religion And Art (7th–17th c.)’. Sichuan University, Chengdu, China, July 13–15, 2013. [official site / 2nd circular w/ abstracts]

会议召集 人:霍 巍 教授(四川大学)、范德康 教授(哈佛大学)

Conference conveners: Prof. Huo Wei (Sichuan University) & Prof. Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp (Harvard University).

Continue reading “International Conference on Tibetan History &c. (2013-7-13)”

Facsimile Edition of All Palmleaf MSS in the TAR (2012?)

*Facsimile Edition of Palmleaf Manuscripts in the Tibet Autonomous Region: Complete Collection. 2012(?). 61 vols.

*Facsimile Edition of Palmleaf Manuscripts in the Tibet Autonomous Region: Complete Collection. Brief Index. 2012(?).

*Master Catalogue of Palmleaf Manuscripts in the Tibet Autonomous Region. 2012(?). 4 vols.

61-volume Facsimile edition of Palmleaf MSS in the TAR (via Tibet TV)
Palmleaf MSS in the TAR, 61 volumes (via Tibet TV)

Continue reading “Facsimile Edition of All Palmleaf MSS in the TAR (2012?)”

Nepalese Script in Unicode, 2: More on JTC1/WG2 N4184

Refer to: Anshuman Pandey, ‘N4184 Proposal to Encode the Newar Script in ISO/IEC 10646’, February 29, 2012 [PDF]. Previous discussion: here.

0. On the Name ‘Newar’

The name ‘Newar’ is preferable simply because most other options can be ruled out. ‘Nepalese’ is untenable, because it falsely implies a one-to-one relationship with the present-day nation-state, even though it is accurate within a certain (historically earlier) context. ‘Newari’ is a (now deprecated) name for the language – not the script, nor anything else; ‘Nevārī’ is quite meaningless, except to some Indologists.

The proposal, as I understand it, indeed deals with the Pracalita script, but has enough hooks to allow unification with proposals for other Newar scripts, such as Bhujiṅmola – hence ‘Newar’. (NB: It is not yet clear whether unification with Rañjanā – which is, strictly speaking, Indo-Nepalese, and which has a user base that includes many non-Newars, such as Tibetans – is feasible. In any case, much of the present and previous discussion about the Pracalita script is also applicable to Rañjanā.)

1. Additional Information On Glyph Names

11442 NEWAR FINAL ANUSVARA: Although this mark originates with the m-virāma mark used by East Indian scribes, in Nepal it has multivalent significance and in many contexts has nothing to do with nasalization (often being interchangeable with 1144B NEWAR GAP FILLER). Recommendation: Minimise phonetic/semantic description in favour of graphic description – maybe NEWAR SEMICOLON for want of a better term. Classify under Punctuation or Various Signs.

11443 NEWAR SIDDHI = शुभचिं (Shrestha NS 1132:21). There is no uniform name for this mark in Newar (esp. not the neologism bhiṃciṃ), nor is siddhi/añji recommended (not just because this designation is unknown in Nepal, but because usage may also vary; confusion with NEWAR OM is common). Recommendation: NEWAR AUSPICIOUSNESS MARK or similar.

11448 NEWAR COMMA = अर्धविराम (Shrestha NS 1132:24).

11449 NEWAR DOUBLE COMMA: I now think this mark can be represented with two adjacent NEWAR COMMAs. Its usual behaviour of stacking diagonally (see Fig.3) rather than horizontally should however be specified. Recommendation: Remove from the repertoire.

1144B NEWAR HIGH SPACING DOT = अल्पविराम (ibid.).

1144C NEWAR ABBREVIATION SIGN CIRCLE = संक्षेपीकरण यानाः च्वयातःगु थासय् थुगु चिं (ibid.).

1145A NEWAR FLOWER = स्वांथें ज्याःगु चिं (ibid.).

1145C NEWAR PLACEHOLDER MARK is the line-width equivalent of the NEWAR GAP FILLER (see below). Recommendation: Change name to NEWAR LINE FILLER MARK.

2. Morphology of the Gap Filler Mark

Following comments on earlier drafts of N4184, especially those of Kashinath Tamot, it should be clarified that the primary function of 1144B NEWAR GAP FILLER is not that of indicating a break in a word (as per the previous name SANDHI MARK), but rather of filling space up to the end of a line margin. (A hyphen indeed performs a space-filling operation as well as functioning as a word-breaking mark. However, I suggest that ‘hyphenation’ be dropped from the formal description of this mark to avoid confusion.)

The purpose of this mark has been obvious enough to specialists – recently see, e.g. Ishida (2011:ix), where it is called a ‘line-filler character’, Zeilenfüllzeichen. (In fact, this mark does not fill a line – this is the function of 1145C NEWAR PLACEHOLDER MARK; rather, it fills a space of less than one full glyph-width at the end of a margin, not necessarily the end of a line.) Nonetheless, it is easily seen that the mark could be confused with, e.g., a visarga, daṇḍa or similar. In earlier discussion on the proposal, its purpose has remained unclear to the user community, perhaps due to its unstable shape. Significantly, the NEWAR GAP FILLER MARK changes according to the width of the glyph. Its behaviour may be represented as follows:

Fig.1: Morphology of the Indo-Nepalese gap filler mark.

Variations in this mark may therefore be regarded as contextual alternatives, rather than separate code points. I suggest, as per the diagram, that no more than three variants need be represented; although the glyph could conceivably incorporate four or more variations (e.g., five vertically stacked dots, at 20% character width), this is probably excessive.

Recommendation: It may be implemented as one code point with contextual alternates, or 3 or more code points corresponding to each quantum of width.

3. Swash Forms

Several glyphs may be alternatively represented with swash forms, created by extending elements of the glyph into surrounding white space. These forms do not require dedicated representation in an encoded repertoire; however, they should be included in any full description of Indo-Newar scribal culture, and font designers might want to incorporate them. Swash forms are often contextually invoked: they are used at the top line of a block of text (upward extension), but may also be seen on the bottom line (downward extension), and even more rarely at the right and left margins, and within interlinear white space. An example:

Fig.2: Swash forms in MS University of Tokyo (Matsunami) 419, f.132r.

Characters routinely represented as swash forms include:


4. Revisions To Standard Forms

The following changes to standard forms are recommended – see glyphs highlighted in Fig.3, in which all glyphs have been redrawn from scratch to accord with common scribal practice. The most widespread change is that the headstroke no longer extends past the right descender (which is inconsistent with almost all scribal practice). Standard forms for VOCALIC R, VOCALIC RR, GA, SHA, dependent VOWEL SIGN II, VOCALIC R, VOCALIC RR as well as *VOCALIC L, VOCALIC LL (these should certainly be specified and named) should be altered accordingly. DIGIT ONE should also be changed in order to avoid confusion with SIDDHI.

Fig. 3. Recommended changes to forms in N4184.

5. Some Remaining Questions

5.2 Letter-Numerals: “There are at least 27 such Newar ‘letter numerals’… It may be possible to unify Newar letter-numbers with corresponding Brahmi characters.” The issue here, as far as I can see, is: which letter-numeral conjuncts differ from non-numeral conjuncts of the same letters (all differences should be specified). To put it another way: which letter-numeral conjuncts uniquely signify letter numerals, if any? Perhaps our European colleagues, with their extensive access to funding, institutional support and manuscript sources, could clarify the matter. (Don’t worry, we won’t hold our breath.)

5.3 “Should editorial marks be encoded on a per script basis or would be it reasonable to unify such marks in a pan-Indic block?” (Pandey 2012:13). Out of our hands, but if they aren’t unified, they should be included in the Newar block.

[rev 0.1: 2012/06/19]

Tanaka, ‘Art of Thangka 6’ (2012)

田中公明 『チベット仏敎絵画集成 : タンカの芸術 ハンビッツ文化財団蔵』 第6卷 臨川書店; ハンビッツ文化財団 15,750円

Tanaka, Kimiaki (ed.), Rolf W. Giebel (tr.) Art of Thangka: From the Hahn Kwang-ho Collection. Volume 6. Kyoto/Seoul: Rinsen Book Co. & The Hahn Cultural Foundation, 2012. 266 pp. ISBN-13: 978-4653041245 [ /]

An illustrated Kum nye manuscript (p.238).

Book of the Year: ‘Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism’

Giovanni Verardi (appendices by Federica Barba). Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India. Nalanda-Sriwijaya Series 4. Delhi/Singapore: Manohar & Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011. 523 pp.

Not a very catchy title, but I doubt that something more direct (say, The Hindu Extermination of Buddhism) would have been very appealing to Singapore’s Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, the book’s publisher.

This book is an extraordinary achievement, all the more so for it relying only indirectly, for the most part, on scriptural and epigraphic sources. Verardi’s contribution is based on something at least as useful: first-hand observation of the key sites and remains, clearly articulated in terms of long-term patterns. It is by far one of the most important contributions to the study of Buddhism in India published in a long time — though I don’t agree with everything in it, by any means. (Given the chance, I will expand on that later.) The omission of any discussion of the Theravādins’ catastrophic role, painstakingly explained in Peter Schalk’s 2002 Buddhism among Tamils volumes, has to be regarded as particularly puzzling — at least until one sees Peter Skilling’s name in the acknowledgements. But let me be clear: Verardi, who has pursued his line of inquiry for over three decades, has succeeded in making sense out of a slew of data in a way that is unlikely to be bettered for some time.

DiValerio, ‘An Historical Study of Tibet’s Holy Madmen’ (2011)

DiValerio, David Michael. ‘Subversive Sainthood and Tantric Fundamentalism: An Historical Study of Tibet’s Holy Madmen’. Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 2011, 727 pp. ProQuest document ID: 2516363731.

From the Abstract

This dissertation is an historical study of Tibetan Buddhists generally referred to as “madmen” (smyon pa), whose “madness” carries a positive valuation more often than a negative one. Technically they are referred to as “mad siddhas” (grub thob smyon pa) or “mad yogis” (rnal ‘byor smyon pa). […] This study views this eccentric behavior as strategic, purposeful activity, rather than being the byproduct of a state of enlightenment. This study also considers how these holy madmen have been understood by Tibetans and Euro-Americans, with the purpose of highlighting certain lines of thinking that have become commonplace within those respective discourses.

This study takes into consideration “madmen” living from the 12th century to the present, but with a special focus on the three most famous exemplars of the tradition: Sangyé Gyeltsen (better known as the Madman of Tsang, 1452-1507), Drukpa Künlé (better known as the Madman of the Drukpa, 1455-1529?) and Künga Zangpo (better known as the Madman of Ü, 1458-1532).

Gutschow, ‘Architecture of the Newars’ (2011)

Niels Gutschow. Architecture of the Newars: A History of Building Typologies and Details in Nepal. 3 volumes. Serindia, November 2011. 1030 pp. USD$450 (excluding postage). ISBN 978-1-932476-54-5 [official site]

From the Abstract

Architecture of the Newars by Niels Gutschow presents the entire history of architecture in the Valley of Kathmandu and its neighbours over a period of 1,500 years — right up to the present. It is a rare tribute to an urban culture which has preserved fascinating lifestyles to this very day. Gutschow first travelled to Nepal in 1962, returning in 1970 after reading architecture, and has constantly worked since then on the connections between ritual and the city. Since 1980 he has worked with measured drawings to identify the various building typologies, which are documented in three volumes with 862 photos and 939 drawings.

Buddhist monasteries (bāhā, bahī); Gutschow (2011:707, 724)

The first volume presents the complexity of the sacred landscape of the Valley and the urban context as well as the early periods, Buddhist votive structures (caityas), architectural fragments and temples from the early periods (5th–14th century). The second volume presents the Malla period (1350–1769) with a host of drawings documenting caityas, maths, tiered temples, shrines and monasteries. The third volume presents the modern period with temples and palaces of the Shaha kings and the Ranas; a variety of new caitya types; domestic architecture of the early 20th century; modern architecture and urban planning. The final chapter presents selected architectural details populated by airborne spirits in a transcultural perspective.


Update: Book signing by the author at Vajra Books, Kathmandu, 2pm 14 December 2011.