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10883Re: Pattra Manuscripts

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  • Ong Yong Peng
    Dec 2, 2006
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      Dear 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?

      Yong Peng.

      --- 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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