On March 29, 2010, at the meeting of the Academic Council of the IOM RAS, three papers, by Dr E.I.Kychanov, Dr M.I.Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya, Dr O.F.Akimushkin & Dr B.V.Norik, were presented as a part of the series of presentations, The IOM’s Manuscripts Collection. Principal Research Perspectives [Рукописная коллекция ИВР РАН. Ближайшие перспективы исследований].
Abstracts of the papers.
Dr E.I.Kychanov, chief researcher at the IOM RAS. The Tangut Collection of the IOM RAS [Тангутская коллекция ИВР РАН]
- This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the P.K.Kozlov’s Tangut collection’s come to St Petersburg. From the very beginning the Tangut texts required serious restoration. It started only in 1960s, first of all non-religious texts were processed. By now, about three quarters of the entire collection need to be restored.
- Buddhist texts compose about 80% of the Tangut collection. These are mostly translations of canonical treatises from Chinese and Tibetan, sometimes with use of Sanskrit original texts. It is still unclear if there was any special form of Buddhism spread in the Tangut State of Xi Xia.
- The Tangut collection includes both mss and printed books. Local paper produced in the 11th to 13th century is mostly of good quality. Texts written in cursive are still not available. Scholars have to find principles scribes used to shorten up standard writing. In the State of Xi Xia book printing with the type was widely used. The Tangut collection comprises, perhaps, the biggest number of early texts printed this way.
- In the process of excavating of the suburgan that kept the Tangut library and numerous moves of the texts found some books were destroyed or parted. It is important now to identify the contents of fragments, attribute them by Chinese or Tibetan Buddhist Canons. Modern computer technologies shall be used for this purpose.
- Non-religious texts, such as dictionaries, law codes, odes, aphorisms, translations from Chinese classics and military treatises, are mostly attributed and studied initially. Further on, the better understanding of the Tangut writing, Grammar and phonetics, will help correct the translations published by now.
- The study of Tangut cursive texts will make it possible to read a big number of economical documents which may prove important for the better understanding of the history of the state of Xi Xia and its multinational population.
Dr M.I.Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya, leading researcher at the IOM RAS. Indian Manuscripts Kept at the IOM RAS [Индийские рукописи ИВР РАН]
The Indian collection includes a number of valuable mss, some of which are unique in the sense that their counterparts cannot be found in other collections, even in India. Many texts were made in early 19th century. The most precious Indian mss and mss using the Indian based writings are following:
- Collections of juridical treatises made by order of William Jones, the first European Sanskritologist. Two volumes were produced in 1789 and 1788, they are written in Sanskrit and preserve marginal notes by W.Jones.
- Collections of Grammatical texts, also produced by order of W.Jones.
- Abhidharmakosha, the treatise on Buddhist philosophy by Vasubandhu (4th to 5th centuries). Eight chapters of the text were translated into Russian by the IOM’s researchers, Dr V.I.Rudoi and Dr E.P.Ostrovskaya.
- The Sanskrit anthology of 152 chapters (234 ff.), produced in 1869.
- A group of treatises on logics, many of them in fragments only.
- 15 mss and albums in Thai and Khmer, comprising Theravada treatises and fragments of Indian epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata.
- The Andreyev Collection consisting of mss written on palm leaves in the South Indian languages such as Telugu and Tamil. These are mostly fragments of Ramayana and Mahabharata, and some medical literature.
- It is worth mentioning that we have a collection of Tibetan documents of wooden tablets and purchased by acad. S.E.Malov on March 20, 1915, in Miran, near to Lop Nur. The documents belong to the period when a part of Eastern Turkestan was occupied by the Tibetans.
The presentation by Dr M.I.Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya was supplied with the show of mss from the Indian collection of the IOM RAS.
Dr O.F.Akimushkin, senior researcher at the IOM RAS, & Dr B.V.Norik, researcher at the IOM RAS. On the Perspectives of Work at Persian Mss Kept at the IOM RAS [О перспективах работы с персидскими рукописями ИВР РАН]
- Persian mss comprise about one third of the so-called Muslim collection of the IOM RAS, there are more than 3100 items according to the inventories.
- At the moment all Persian mss are available to the scholars via the catalogues or reviews of new acquisitions. From November of 1963 till February of 1995, 83 new mss were acquired. Moreover, there are some documents that were never processed. They are mostly fragments, some of them cannot be identified.
- The collection was presented in nine volumes of The Description of Persian and Tajik Manuscripts Kept at the Institute of Oriental Studies [Описание персидских и таджикских рукописей собрания Института востоковедения], containing data on more than 800 texts.
- Some parts of the collection may be scrutinized as separate units. It suffices to mention the collection of V.A.Ivanov (1886-1970) brought by him from Bukhara. This largest part of the Persian collection consists of 546 mss, mostly of Central Asian origin. V.A.Ivanov did not try to make careful selection and bought “everything the eye fell on”. Naturally, there are both valuable mss and those of little interest. Nevertheless, these texts, taken in the entity, may be very important for research into spiritual life and area of thought of the educated people of the region.
- It is true also in respect of the collection of Persian mss gathered in Tatarstan in 1934 by the Archaeographic Commission of the USSR Academy of Sciences which are as valuable for the study of spiritual culture of Muslim population of the Volga Region (Povolzhye) during the 18th to 19th century.