Good start to 2010: the Bodleian images have arrived!

Just a quick post to tell everyone that we have received safely the digital images from the Bodleian we ordered.

I was excited to get over 250 beautiful photographs in early January, which are currently being checked to ensure they meet our high standards.

Selected by Nalini, these folios include the entire manuscripts of:

  • Jambūdvīpaprajnaptisūtra
  • Karmakāṇḍa
  • Yatipratikramaṇasūtra
  • Hemacandra Vītarāgastotra.

Here is a brief overview of the Bodleian’s Jain holdings, extracted from a 2006 paper co-written by Gillian Evison (Bodleian Library); Nalini Balbir (Paris-3 Sorbonne-Nouvelle); Kanubhai Sheth and Dr Kalpna Sheth (Ahmedabad); and Dr Mehool Sanghrajka (IoJ). I have added the hyperlinks.

Bodleian Library, Oxford

The Bodleian has been collecting Indic manuscripts since the very earliest days of its re-establishment by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1602.The Bodleian Library’s collection of Sanskrit manuscripts and books undoubtedly owes much of its strength and depth to [East India Company] Colonel [Joseph] Boden’s foundation of a Sanskrit Chair in 1827, making this the oldest chair of Sanskrit in Britain. The University’s early interest in the study of Sanskrit and classical India gave rise to many opportunities for the Bodleian to build up its collection and it is now a repository of some 8,700 Sanskrit manuscripts, one of the largest known collections outside the Indian sub-continent.

Given the historical background of the collections, it is unsurprising that the particular strength of the Bodleian’s collection of Jain manuscripts lies in its holdings of texts in classical Sanskrit and Prakrit. The library has relatively few decorated manuscripts but many items of textual significance, which reflect the University’s long interest in textual scholarship.

The Bodleian has some 200 Jain manuscripts, the majority of which came to the library in the second half of the 19th century from 5 donor/vendors. There are 50 or so further manuscripts, which[,] although not by Jain authors, have been copied by Jain scribes, such as the 15th[-]century scribe Campalasa, and Bhūdeva, the 18th[-]century scribe who was responsible for a number of manuscripts in the Wilson collection. The latter items show all the distinctive design features found in the manuscripts of Jain texts and provide an insight to the breadth of material that was being produced by Jain copyists.

[The Bodleian’s holdings, which cover a wide range of topics, derive largely from the following personal collections of nineteenth-century European enthusiasts for Indian culture:]

Horace Hayman Wilson

The earliest Jaina Prakrit and Sanskrit manuscripts to be acquired were bought in 1842 from Horace Hayman Wilson, Oxford University’s first Boden Professor of Sanskrit.

Sir William Walker

In 1845, Sir William Walker presented a collection of Sanskrit and Prakrit manuscripts to the library, which included Jaina items. The manuscripts had belonged to his father, Brigadier-General Alexander Walker, once Governor of Baroda, who died in 1832.

Dr. William Hodge Mill

In 1849 the Jain collections were supplemented by the purchase of Sanskrit and Prakrit manuscripts belonging to Dr. William Hodge Mill, formerly Principal of Bishop’s College, Calcutta.

Dr. Eugen Hultzsch

The largest collection of Jain manuscripts (over 140) came to the library with the purchase of Dr. Hultzsch’s collection of some hundreds of Sanskrit and Prakrit manuscripts in 1887.

Sir Monier Monier-Williams

In 1885 Horace Hayman Wilson’s successor to the Boden Chair of Sanskrit, Sir Monier Monier-Williams set up a research centre in Oxford, called the Indian Institute. The Indian Institute had its own library of manuscripts and printed books. The collection contained a collection of 39 Jain manuscripts, most of which had been given to SirMonier Monier-Williams by Professor Georg Bühler in 1878. When the Indian Institute Library came under Bodleian administration in 1927, its Jain manuscripts joined the existing Jain collections in the Bodleian.

Dates, materials and script

The majority of Oxford’s Jain manuscripts are written on paper in Jaina Devanāgarī script and have been bound in the European book style by the library during the late 19th and early 20th century by the library. The date of the manuscripts ranges from the 14th to the 19th centuries and the majority are in good condition[.]

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One Response to “Good start to 2010: the Bodleian images have arrived!”

  1. rahul says:

    I like the work and knowledge

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