Project Area C: Manuscript Collections and Manuscripts as Collections
As a rule, each manuscript forms, during its period of existence, part of at least one collection; and the understanding of the functions which an individual manuscript had (and in some cases has), and of its history, is dependent on uncovering the story of the collection(s) to which it belonged (and belongs) — collections which in turn have their own histories too. These collections may be of many kinds, ranging from private collections to public libraries. One of our principal goals is to reconsider the nature of collections, and their several functions, in manuscript cultures.
Manuscripts which are collections (of texts) are probably a feature of every manuscript culture. The focus of much of scholarship on texts has often overlooked this fact; but the organization of multiple-text manuscripts is in fact one of the most important clues to the function of texts and textual knowledge. Such a manuscript may in some cases reflect a collection of manuscripts. Thus the themes of collections of manuscripts and of manuscripts which are collections are closely related, offering different but essential and complementary perspectives on the organization of knowledge.
Esoteric Transmissions: The ’Vanaratna Codex‘ (Royal Asiatic Society, London, MS Hodgson 35)
The project is a study of the production and history of a single manuscript, Royal Asiatic Society, London, MS Hodgson 35, which has been shown to be an autograph of the famous 15th century Buddhist scholar Vanaratna. It contains, in its second part, mainly material translated by Vanaratna into Sanskrit from esoteric teachings received in Tibet and in Tibetan, as well as some verses of his own composition. This offers a unique window into the working methods of a learned Buddhist scholar, and into cross-cultural transmission of esoteric material.
Principal Investigator: Harunaga Isaacson
Research Associate: Martin Delhey
Reading Aloud, Memorising and Making Notes: Uses of Manuscripts in Alevi Village Communities in Anatolia
This project focuses on the manuscript culture that existed in Alevi village communities in Turkey, among which the level of literacy was still low up to the middle of the 20th century. Fourteen private collections of manuscripts will be scrutinised in order to examine the use of manuscripts in learning and teaching mainly of a religious character. The history, compilation and context of the collections will be investigated as sources for studying the use of these manuscripts in cultural practices. Questions to be addressed are: who wrote or used certain manuscripts, how did the various collections help to retain and impart knowledge, did their practical usage, e.g. reading them aloud, memorising them and making notes about them, had an effect on their subject matter or appearance, and if so, what kind of effect.
Principal Investigator: Raoul Motika
Research Associate: Janina Karolewski
‘Parchment Saints’: The Making of Ethiopian Hagiographic Manuscripts – Matter and Devotion in Manuscript Practices in Medieval and Pre-modern Ethiopia
Developed from a late antique background, Ethiopian manuscripts that are part of local hagiography are attested from the fourteenth century onwards. The corpus of ‘parchment saints’ examined here has not been explored from the point of view of practices involving single and institutional figures. This research project focuses on the creation of hagiographic manuscripts as a foundational ritual act that established the cult of Ethiopian saints as canonical and also examines their role in context and in ritual practice.
Principal Investigator: Alessandro Bausi
Research Associate: Antonella Brita
Ancient Greek Manuscripts on Aristotle’s Works Used in Teaching and Their Interpretation
Codices of Aristotle’s Organon, a work of fundamental importance in training students’ intellect, are particularly suitable for researching the role that manuscripts once played in the classroom. These manuscripts contain highly complex layers of annotations attesting to a dialogue between teachers and their pupils and sometimes even connecting them to each other at different times and places. This project will use selected manuscripts from Posterior Analytics to examine the layers of commentary and explanatory annotations in detail and to determine what function they had as part of classroom social practice and scholarly exegetical dialogue.
Principal Investigator: Christian Brockmann
Research Associate: Stefano Valente
Arabo-Swahili Manuscripts in Practice: Rituals, Ceremonies, Liturgies and Healing
The aim of this project is to investigate the manuscriptological aspects of Swahili cultural practices, exemplified by a study of the Qasida Hamziyya, a panegyric poem translated from an Arabic original into Swahili in the 18th century, which forms a central part of the Swahili Islamic literary canon. A corpus of Arabo-Swahili Hamziyya manuscripts which were accessed by fieldwork in the first phase of C07 will be subjected to a multi-facetted functional analysis in order to understand their widely divergent properties in design and language arrangement and the way they are shaped by production for and usage in a variety of contexts such as rites de passage (birth, marriage, delivery, burial), healing and in religious ceremonies performed during Ramadhan and at Maulidi festivals.
Principal Investigator: Roland Kießling
Research Associate: Ahmed Hussein Ahmed Parkar
East Frankish Manuscripts Containing Collections of Formulae
This project will investigate manuscripts written in the eastern regions of the Frankish Empire during the 9th and 10th century which contain collections of formulae, i.e. sample letters and charters. Manuscripts of this kind are of great importance in understanding the culture of this period as they give us insights into the way in which scholars wanted to organise their knowledge and pass it on to others in the early Middle Ages. The aim of the project is to examine such manuscripts by treating them as textual evidence of monastic culture and investigating how they arose, what they contain and how they were used.
Principal Investigator: Philippe Depreux
Research Associate: Till Hennings
For Readers and Collectors: Publishing Copies of Works on Demand in Peking between the Late 18th and the Early 20th Century
Between the late 18th and early 20th century, there were a number of publishing companies in Beijing that copied arias from operas, folk ballads and other short literary texts at their customers’ request and sold them from catalogues displayed at temple fairs. This research project explores how it was possible for a business model based on manuscripts to survive for more than a hundred years in an age of book-printing and lithography. It will examine how the manuscripts were produced and who bought them for what purpose.
Principal Investigator: Michael Friedrich
Private Archives as a Source of Literacy in Old Assyrian Society
Cuneiform clay manuscripts are 3D objects on which signs appear as negative imprints. Thousands of school tablets from Nippur dated to the 18th century BCE have enabled assyriologists to reconstruct the curriculum of scribal education, which looked quite academic. School texts found in the archives of Assyrian merchants who settled in Central Anatolia (19th cent.) bear witness to on-the-job training. In fact, it has been suggested that, besides professional scribes, many Assyrian men and a number of women would have learnt the basics of writing at home.
Such an assumption can only be confirmed by systematic paleographical and scribal studies and by the analysis of text layout and the typology of tablets in specific private archives that have recently been excavated.
Principal Investigator: Cécile Michel
Research Associate: Wiebke Beyer