One of the Oldest Buddhist Manuscripts Has Been Digitized & Put Online: Explore the Gandhara Scroll

ในห้อง 'Buddhist News' ตั้งกระทู้โดย supatorn, 15 พฤศจิกายน 2020.

  1. supatorn

    supatorn ผู้สนับสนุนเว็บพลังจิต ผู้สนับสนุนพิเศษ

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    One of the Oldest Buddhist Manuscripts Has Been Digitized & Put Online: Explore the Gandhara Scroll
    August 13th, 2020
    scroll.jpg
    Buddhism goes way back — so far back, in fact, that we’re still examining important evidence of just how far back it goes. Take the exhibit above, which may look like nothing more than a collection of faded scraps with writing on them. In fact, they’re pieces of the laboriously and carefully unrolled and scanned Gandhara Scroll, which, having originally been written about two millennia ago, ranks as one of the oldest Buddhist manuscripts currently known. You can read the scroll’s story at the blog of the Library of Congress, the institution that possesses it and only last year was able to put it online for all to see.
    "The scroll originated in Gandhara, an ancient Buddhist kindgom located in what is today the northern border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” writes the Library’s Neely Tucker. “Surviving manuscripts from the Gandharan realm are rare; only a few hundred are known to still exist.” That realm “was under the rule of numerous kings and dynasties, including Alexander the Great, the Mauryan emperor Ashoka and the Kushan emperor Kanishka I,” and for a time “became a major seat of Buddhist art, architecture and learning. One of the region’s most notable characteristics is the Hellenistic style of its Buddhist sculptures, including figures of the Buddha with wavy hair, defined facial features, and contoured robes reminiscent of Greco-Roman deities.”
    :- https://www.openculture.com/2020/08...anuscripts-has-been-digitized-put-online.html
     
  2. supatorn

    supatorn ผู้สนับสนุนเว็บพลังจิต ผู้สนับสนุนพิเศษ

    วันที่สมัครสมาชิก:
    14 กรกฎาคม 2010
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    How the Library of Congress Unrolled a 2,000-Year-Old Buddhist Scroll
    “It was the most fragile object we have ever encountered.”
    Sabrina Imbler
    ect?resize=w2000&url=https%3A%2F%2Fassets.atlasobscura.com%2Farticle_images%2Flg%2F70897%2Fimage.jpg
    A section of the newly digitized scroll from the Library of Congress.

    It’s not easy being a 2,000-year-old Buddhist scroll. A slight gust of wind, a particularly humid day, or even a simple exhalation could cause the scroll to crack or crumble into pieces. To unroll a scroll this old is almost unthinkable—but recently, conservators at the Library of Congress found themselves with no other option. They wanted to read the words scrawled inside the Gandhara scroll.


    Before the scroll came to the library, it was buried for 2,000 years in a clay jar in a Buddhist stupa, or dome-shaped shrine, in the ancient region of Gandhara, now the Peshawar Valley in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan. The high-altitude, arid climate kept it from crumbling until it was excavated in the 1990s. In 2005, conservators received the scroll in a Parker Pen box on a bed of cotton. “It was the most fragile object we have ever encountered,” Holly Krueger, a retired paper conservator at the library, writes in an email. A year passed before the conservators felt ready to unfurl the scroll without destroying it completely.

    The scroll, which was radiocarbon dated to the first century B.C., is one of a handful of surviving early Buddhist manuscripts from Gandhara, according to Jonathan Loar, a South Asia specialist at the library. Gandhara, situated on the Silk Road, served as a gateway to India, and the region’s monks are credited with spreading Buddhism into Iran and China, Krueger writes in a 2008 paper in The Book and Paper Group Annual. It was written in Gandhari, a language related to Sanskrit, on birch bark, an ancient writing material that consists of thin layers held together with a natural glue—almost like ancient phyllo pastry. “As it ages, this glue breaks down, leaving the layers extremely vulnerable to shattering with the slightest disturbance,” Krueger says, adding that a scroll this unstable could have only survived in a jar.

    Krueger consulted conservators at the British Library, who had successfully unrolled 30 scrolls, for their input. Without any ancient, coiled birch bark laying around for a trial run, she practiced on a baked cigar roll, teasing apart its wafer-thin layers with bamboo spatulas. “It was not as fragile as the scroll proved to be,” Krueger says. A few days before the unrolling, the conservators placed the scroll in a specially constructed, humidified chamber, which softened the birch bark so it would not break upon contact.

    The actual unrolling happened in June, 2006, on a Saturday, to reduce the risk of air currents created by coworkers and better control the humidity and temperature of the library’s paper lab. Krueger was present with only two others: Yasmeen Khan, a senior rare book conservator at the library, and Mark Barnard, the chief conservator at the British Library. “One cannot underestimate the nerves of steel required for such a project,” Krueger says. “We had only one chance for success.”

    Krueger and Barnard removed the scroll from its moist chamber and placed it on top of a pane of borosilicate glass. One turn at a time, using bamboo spatulas, they unfurled the birch bark, placing small glass weights on newly flat sections. Each fresh turn revealed new fragments, which the conservators weighed down to preserve their place in the text. If the scroll seemed on the verge of cracking, a conservator would mist the air with a preservation pencil.

    It was a dramatic and silent affair: Everyone took shallow, controlled breaths. One misplaced exhale could scatter the scroll shards and render something translatable into something lost. “I was doing the photography and informed the conservators whenever I was going to move so that they would be prepared for air movement and change,” Khan writes in an email. When the whole thing was laid flat, Krueger and Barnard removed the glass weights and laid a second pane of glass on the whole revealed scroll, pushing down tiny pieces that popped up with the bamboo sticks.

    Finally translated, the final scroll has no title, beginning, or end, but it does retain around 75 to 80 percent of the original text—one of the better-preserved Gandharan scrolls in existence, Loar says. It tells the story of 15 seekers of enlightenment who came before and after Siddhārtha Gautama, the sage living in the 5th or 6th century B.C. who became known as the Buddha. “Repeating these names—verbally, mentally, and or in writing—is a powerful practice,” Loar says, adding that it functioned as a meditative exercise.

    Too fragile for public display, the scroll has been reburied—this time in a box within the archives of the library. There’s also a drawer that holds all the tiny bits of dust that sprung from the scroll during the unrolling. Conservators now transport it around the library on a cart with vibration dampening to ease its journey, Krueger says. But in 2019, the conservators digitized the entire scroll, making it surprisingly easy to read a millennia-old account of the lives of buddhas—that is, if you read Gandhari.

    Sabrina Imbler is a staff writer for Atlas Obscura.
    :- https://getpocket.com/explore/item/...-old-buddhist-scroll?utm_source=pocket-newtab
     

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