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SUTRAS AND CANONICAL BUDDHIST TEXTS
About 1500 MSS from most Asian countries spanning nearly 2000 years. The collection starts with the foundation MSS of Mahayana Buddhism. 5 items are listed. The largest parts of Collections 5.17 China, and 5.18 Pre-Gutenberg printing, are also Buddhist literature.
MS 2179 etc. Afghanistan, 2nd-7th c.
MS 2100 Tibet, early 8th c.
MS 2450 Japan, 8th c.
MS 2342 Japan, 10th-11th c.
MS 2371 Tibet, ca. 1400
MSS 2179, 2372-2386 & 2416“THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS OF BUDDHISM”
VINAYA AND OTHER LEGAL TEXTS
BUDDHIST TEXTS ON PHILOSOPHY, MEDITATION, ETC.
MEDICAL, LITERARY AND VARIOUS TEXTS The remains of ca. 1400 MSS in Sanskrit on palm-leaf, birch bark and vellum, Bamiyan, Afghanistan, 2nd-7th c., 8 MSS, 20-60 ff., up to 6x30 cm, 8 lines; ca. 5000 leaves and fragments, up to 7x48 cm, single column, up to 15 lines in Karosthi, Kushana, Gupta, Gilgit/Bamiyan ornate and proto-Sarada book scripts. Context: The Library must have been of considerable size originally, maybe 2000 MSS or more. It probably belonged to a Buddhist monastery of Mahasanghika which was in Bamiyan, according to the report of the Chinese monk, Xuan Zhang (604-662) who visited this monastery in the 7th c.Further 60 birch bark fragmentary scrolls and fragments in Karosthi script are in British Library, which according to Prof. Richard Salomon, are "The Dead Sea Scrolls of Buddhism" (The Times 26.6.1996). Similar fragments were in the Hackin collection in Kabul Museum, which was destroyed during the recent Afghan civil war. There are 725 leaves and fragments with similar scripts from this period found in Chinese Turkistan, now in Berlin. The latest part of the collection, from 6th and 7th c., are comparable to the famous Gilgit MSS, now in the National Archives, Dehli, with a few in Peshawar and 4 in The Schøyen Collection, MSS 2627/1-4.Commentary: The present MSS contain a great number of hitherto unknown Buddhist texts, as well as the oldest surviving MS testimony to some of the most important texts of Mahayana Buddhism. Among these are the by far oldest Prajnaparamita MSS known (2nd-3rd c.) This literature is the earliest scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. The Mahasanghikas are regarded as the traditional Buddhist school, which first propagated Mahayana ideas. The present collection stands right at the roots of the formation of Mahayana Buddhism, and is its single most important source.To be published by Prof. Jens Braarvig, University of Oslo, in co-operation with an international group of scholars in the series “Manuscripts in The Schøyen Collection”, Buddhist manuscripts, vols. 1-10, Oslo.
MS 2100BOUNDLESS LIFE MAHAYANA SUTRA, TRANSLATION FROM SANSKRIT OF THE ARYA-APARIMITAYURJÑANA-NAMA-MAHAYANA-SUTRAMS in Tibetan on paper, Tibet, early 8th c., 1 scroll (complete), 29x158 cm, 7 columns, (28x156 cm), 19 lines in Tibetan dbu can book script.Context: The Dunhuang hoard consisted of about 13,500 MSS; with printing and fragments included, 19,200 items. It is the largest and most important group of oriental MSS ever found. The present distribution is as follows: London, British Library, Stein collection 8080; Bejing, National Library 8000; Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Pelliot Collection ca. 3000; Shanghai Library 100; Shanghai Museum 4; Japan, museums and libraries 5; and The Schøyen Collection 4.Provenance: 1. Dunhuang cave no. 151, Gansu, China, (ca. 9th c. - ca. 1900); 2. Wang Yuanlu, Daoist priest and guardian, Dunhuang (ca. 1900); 3. Berthold Laufer, Tibetologist, U.S.A.; 4. Newberry Library, Chicago (-1994); 5. Sam Fogg cat. 17(1996):1.Commentary: The importance of this scroll lies in its extremely early date of origin and its provenance. The text was composed in Sanskrit around 500 AD, and translated into Tibetan in the 7th c. This MS was written a few years after the beginning of Tibetan Buddhist literary production, and is one of the earliest witnesses to the text. It belongs to the Prajñaparamita literature, and was used in ritual context aimed at the prolongation of life. The famous Mogao caves, over 1000 in number, located near the oasis town of Dunhuang on the Silk Road in Central Asia, were used as library repositories for a wide range of literary MSS for conservation purposes in the period ca. 500-1000 AD by the Tibetan and Chinese occupants of the town. The caves were sealed at the beginning of the 11th c., and left undisturbed for almost 900 years. The MSS preserved in the Dunhuang caves, are probably older than any surviving in Tibet itself.Exhibited: 1. Cultural relics from Dunhuang and Turfan. Jointly presented by the Shanghai Museum & The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Art Gallery, 24 June - 2 Aug. 1987. 2. "Preservation for access: Originals and copies". On the occasion of the 1st International Memory of the World Conference, organized by the Norwegian Commission for UNESCO and the National Library of Norway, at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, 3 June - 14 July 1996.
MS 2450PERFECTION OF WISDOM SUTRA; DAIHANNYAHARAMITA-KYO. VOL. 174. TRANSLATED FROM SANSKRIT BY XUAN ZANGMS in Chinese on paper, Japan, 8th c., 1 scroll of 16 sheets (complete), 25x793 cm, 29-31 columns per sheet, 17 characters in Chinese script.Binding:Japan, 20th c., wooden box.Context: Other volumes in this set of 600 rolls are vols. 514 and 522, both in the Collection of the Kyoto National Museum (Registered Important Cultural Property). Vol. 244 is at Harvard University Art Museums (Arthur M. Sackler Museum).Provenance: 1. Buddhist temple of Kofukuji, Nara (1232-); 2. Kunitama Shinto Shrine, Osaka; 3. Sam Fogg cat. 19(1998):153.Commentary: This collection of scriptures focuses on the doctrine of emptiness and the illusory nature of life. In Japan, from the Nara Period (710-794) onwards, this work, containing a total of 5 million Chinese characters, was read from beginning to end in Buddhist rituals as a prayer for abundant harvest and for the protection of the state from pestilence. Later priests sped up the reading process by only reading out the title or one section of each roll.This 600-volume set was produced over a 15-year period beginning about 730, a time when Emperor Shomu (701-756), who had particular faith in this sutra, was promoting the ceremonial reading and copying of many sets. Each volume was commissioned by a member of a small group of court officials.
In 1232, this set was included in a large number of 8th and 9th c. transcriptions of the Greater Sutra of Perfection of Wisdom that were assembled in the monastery of Kofukuji in Nara, and carefully punctuated in red ink by the monk Eion (1167-after 1233), who was in charge of sutra storage. Later they were donated to the Kunitama Shrine near Osaka, the tutelary Shrine of the Kii family.
MS 2342PERFECTION OF WISDOM SUTRA; PRAJNAPARAMITAMS in Chinese on blue- stained paper, Kamakura, Japan, 10th-11th c., outer sheet of a scroll, 27x44 cm, 17 columns, (21x33 cm), 17 characters per column in gold ink in Chinese book script.Provenance: 1. Buddhist temple of Dai Butsu, Kamakura, Japan (-1923); 2. Manly P. Hall; 3. Sam Fogg, London.Commentary: The Prajnaparamita sutras were translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the 5th c.This sheet was found rolled inside a standing figure of a Buddhist disciple at the temple of Dai Butsu, when the image was opened at the time of the great earthquake in 1923. This is part of a luxury MS using gold ink on blue dyed paper, also used in Europe from 4th c. to the Carolingian period for princely commissions, with gold script on purple or blue stained vellum.
MS 2371PERFECTION OF WISDOM SUTRA IN TEN THOUSAND LINES. TRANSLATED FROM SANSKRIT BY THE INDIAN ACARYAS JINAMITRA AND SURENDVABODHI, TOGETHER WITH THE TIBETAN LOTSA BA YE-SHES-SDEMS in Tibetan on thick paper stained black and varnished, Tibet, ca. 1400, 198 ff. (complete), 19x67 cm, single column, (13x58 cm), 9 lines in a formal Tibetan dbu can book script in gold, 4 opening pages with 3-4 lines in large ornamental script in gold.Binding: Tibet, ca. 1400, thick paper boards, the upper with a panel, deeply inset, with the title in 2 lines of 5 cm tall ornamental gold script, flanked by 2 fine miniatures, 10x9 cm, of the Buddha seated within a stupa, in full colours.Context: MSS of the Perfection of Wisdom in eight thousand lines, see MSS 2154 and 2167.Provenance: 1. Sam Fogg, London.Commentary: Perfection of Wisdom Sutra is the central text of the Mahayana Prajñamarmita school, here in a translation from the original Sanskrit. It exist in a range of shorter and longer recensions from 25 to 100,000 lines, of which that in 8,000 lines is regarded as having been the source. The first Tibetan translation was made in around 850 and the second in 1020. The Tibetan translation has been useful to modern scholars occupied in analysing the Sanskrit text, because of its high level of understanding and accuracy.The Sutra recounts a debate a Rajagriha, on the Vulture Peak, where 1250 Buddhist monks gathered to hear the Buddha. The other main speakers are the Buddha's disciples Subhuti and Sariputra.
The present MS is a luxury MS of the highest quality, probably either a princely commission, or perhaps, for the supreme leader of one of the larger monasteries.
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