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3)Manuscript Studies

Sanskrit Manuscript 003V_LVP014

Tibetan Manuscript dBu ma tshig gsal tik003b

Studies of manuscripts form the basis of researches under 1) and 2). Many of Sanskrit and Tibetan texts we deal with are ‘manuscripts’, which are hand-written on plant leaves or paper. The characters are diverse and cannot be deciphered unless you have received suitable training. In the case of Indian Buddhist manuscripts, we need to compare them with translations in Tibetan and Chinese in order to produce annotated texts which are accessible by anyone who has learned the language. This is the important step before we start our investigation of texts. Without correct texts, we cannot study thoughts.
Furthermore, some manuscripts have been lost or only some fragments of them remain. Collection and preservation of these is also a big task. The University of Hamburg carried out the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project from 1970 to 2000 in collaboration with research institutes in Nepal to collect and survey Buddhist and Hindu manuscripts written mainly in Sanskrit from various parts of Nepal. The Nepal-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project, its successor project, catalogued a total of 180,000 manuscripts from 2002 to 2014 and the data is being prepared for online publication. There is no other manuscript project of this scale. The three professors of the University of Hamburg have played the key role in these projects and their contribution to the preservation and utilization of cultural artifacts is immeasurable.
The University of Hamburg established the Centre for the study of manuscript cultures covering an even wider area in 2011. The project is pushed forward beyond basic research in humanities to other disciplines.
There are numerous Sanskrit and Tibetan manuscripts that have not been deciphered. In other words, there are a number of texts that no one in the world has ever read. It is our important mission to decipher these and produce annotated texts for a wider use. Yoshimizu of the University is engaged in producing annotated texts of Tibetan manuscripts and Ono and Shida are working on revisions of un-deciphered Sanskrit manuscripts. They learn a lot from the research unit of the University of Hamburg and work in collaboration with it.

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