10883Re: Pattra Manuscripts
- Dec 2, 2006Dear Stephen,
thanks for the reply. I want to do further research on the topic, but
the limited information on the Web makes it difficult. What is worth
mentioning is Research Institute of Sanskrit Manuscripts & Buddhist
Literature at the School of Foreign Languages of Peking University:
There should be five questions in my first post, but I forgot the
fifth after typing the first four. So, I take this opportunity to ask:
Is there any pattra manuscripts containing non-Buddhist writings?
There is another webpage on the same news I mentioned in my first
I have been thinking for years about where the scriptures monks such
as Xuan Zang brought to China had gone to. I tend to agree with you
that the mss in the picture seems to be a recent production. If that
is so, where could he had obtained it? There is no known record that
the Chinese adopted this form of documentation/publication, but other
people under direct Indian influence, e.g. the Sinhalese, may had
produced their own pattra mss. What do you think?
--- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Stephen Hodge wrote:
Pattra mss do not last in good condition for long -- they usually get
eaten by insects -- two hundred years when in regular use in India
seems to be the upper limit. Those preserved under exceptional
conditions such as those interred in stupas (NW India / Central Asia)
have lasted at least 1000-1500 years. Many Buddhist mss were taken to
Tibet for translation purposes from the 700s onwards or for rescue
from the Afghan Muslim vandals after the 10th century CE. These
generally had survived very well in the cool dry climate of Tibet --
however a lot were lost after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 50s
and the widespread deliberate destruction of its material culture
thereafter. Nevertheless, there are still many that do survive, but
most of these were stolen from the monasteries that owned them and now
kept in Beijing, inacessibe to outsiders.
As far as I know, no ancient Sanskrit pattras have survived in China.
Once texts were translated, the Chinese seem to have had scant regard
for them -- they were lost through neglect, destroyed in wars or else
cut up and used for talismans or medicine when steeped in water. A
few individual leaves were taken to Japan where they were well
preserved and can still be seen today in ceratin temples.
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