Sub-projects of the first phase 2011-2015

Projekt Area A: Paratexts

Project area A examines textual forms that exhibit physical and/or content-related dependencies on a main text. The relationship between paratext and the main text is a variable one: dependent elements can be integrated as part of the main text in the course of its life, while individual elements of the main piece of writing can become paratexts. As a written medium, manuscripts favour such flexible divisions and inclusions, particularly the process of transmission by copying. The project area therefore investigates reciprocity of this kind particularly in relation to the characteristics of specific manuscript cultures.

In a systematic way, three basic functions in terms of organising knowledge in manuscripts may be identified: a) when used as a means of establishing a sense of order, paratexts enable texts to be structured in line with different ideas and needs, b) in the form of commentary, they supplement or refine the subject matter described in the main text, and c) they document or regulate the knowledge imparted in manuscripts and the way in which the material support is dealt with. In addition to these points, a series of cultural and historical aspects are of interest that can be examined with the aid of paratexts, such as media differentiation, communication in knowledge traditions, and questions concerning the restriction of knowledge. The sub-projects that investigate these phenomena focus on different aspects of them as well as being linked to parallel questions addressed by the other project areas.


Means of Knowledge: Paratexts in Buddhist Manuscripts of Medieval Japan (12th-17th century)

During Japan's medieval period (12th-17th century), the knowledge that developed and was distributed within Buddhist schools or groups of scholars, the nobles of the court or the provincial gentry, had the tendency to be handled quite restrictively. This sub-project will examine this aspect as it relates to the primary textual medium of the time, i.e. manuscripts. By examining manuscript paratexts (such as colophons, glosses or titles), above all those of the Buddhist esoteric tradition, we will elaborate and reconstruct how knowledge was controlled or made accessible, also with regard to the social forms of organization behind these activities.

Prof. Dr. Jörg B. Quenzer
Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abt. für Sprache und Kultur Japans

Dr. Heidi Buck-Albulet

Meike Zimmermann, M.A.

Poster A01

Organization of Knowledge Through Paratexts: The Donglin Manuscripts

This sub-project will study the function of paratexts in the organization of knowledge, focussing on a group of manuscripts of a 17th-century scholarly circle in China. The manuscripts, located today in libraries in southern China, will first be classified according to their form and content. Then the process of the organization of knowledge will be analyzed and described by means of philological and scientific methods.

Prof. Dr. Kai Vogelsang
Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abt. für Sprache und Kultur Chinas

Dr LIN Hang

Poster A02

Organization of Historical Knowledge in Tai Lü Manuscripts: The Paratextual Sphere of a Recently Revived Manuscript Culture

In this sub-project, the organization of historical and cultural knowledge in the historiographical manuscripts of the recently revived manuscript culture of the Tai Lü in the upper Mekong Valley will be investigated. This will be done by comparing the corpora from two adjacent regions (Sipsòng Panna/Yunnan und Müang Sing/Laos). A systematic analysis will be undertaken of how this knowledge is organized as is reflected in the paratexts, such as colophons, prefaces and postscripts, as well as in headings and other visual elements structuring the texts.

Prof. Dr. Volker Grabowsky
Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abt. für Sprachen und Kulturen Südostasiens

Apiradee Techasiriwan, M.A.

Poster A03

The Paratextual Field of Old Tamil Poetic and Learned Traditions:
Ways to Lord Murukaṉ – Verses, Glosses and Commentaries around an Old-Tamil Hymn
The Words a Poet looks for – Tamil Glosses to a Sanskrit Poetic Thesaurus

The Tirumurukāṟṟuppaṭai (“Showing the Way to God Murukaṉ”), a short devotional hymn in old Tamil, is singular in that it has found entry not only into the earliest transmitted literary corpus of Classical Tamil, the so-called Caṅkam corpus (beginning of the Common Era), but also into the Tamil sacred canon of Śaiva scriptures, the twelve Tirumuṟais (compiled in the 12th century). What is more, it is still today a popular text of Murukaṉ devotion. Accordingly, its surviving manuscripts are numerous and diverse. This sub-project will investigate the ways in which paratexts have structured and are reflected in the various processes of transmission.

PD Dr Eva Wilden
Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient , Centre de Pondichery

Dr Giovanni Ciotti

Dr Emmanuel Francis

Poster A04

Writing and Reading Paratexts: Cognitive Layers in West African Islamic Manuscripts

The scribes of the Qur’anic manuscripts written in the West African Borno Sultanate in the 17th to 19th centuries developed a complex system of glossing the main Qur’an text in vernacular Old Kanembu. These paratexts point to the functional dimensions of the manuscripts. Potentially, we may reconstruct who the users were, how they learned and performed the main text, and whether voiced and silent reading coexisted.
The aims of the project are twofold. First, it will answer the cognitive question of how the Borno manuscripts influenced the acquisition and processing of the written language. Second, it will compare the linguistic environment of Old Kanembu with those of other West African languages attested on the margins of Islamic manuscripts – such as Hausa, Fulfulde, Songhay, and Bambara – in order to understand regional differences in creating and processing paratexts.

Dr. Dmitry Bondarev

Darya Ogorodnikova, M.A.

Poster A05

On the edge of a tradition: paratexts in 19th-century Malay manuscripts

The advent of lithographic printing and the ongoing monetization of the indigenous society in the Malay world in the course of the 19th century had profound implications for the manuscript culture and the attitude of people towards manuscripts, their production and consumption. This research intends to map and investigate such changes by examining paratextual elements found in the colophons and margins of Malay manuscripts. It is hypothesized that manuscripts became valuable objects that were privately owned and containing texts that were silently read by individuals rather than being part of an anonymous tradition in which texts were recited and communally enjoyed.

Prof. Dr. Jan van der Putten

Siti Nurliyana Binte Taha, M.A.

Poster A06

Projekt Area B: Visual Organisation

Project area B is concerned with the way in which manuscripts are organised visually, an area of research that lies “between” various disciplines and that is examined with a view to the constants and differences in various (manuscript) cultures. By “visual organisation” we mean the appearance of a manuscript and all the factors that constitute it, such as the size, form and shape of the manuscript, its colour or how written characters are arranged on it. The visual organisation relates to the types of characters used and the layout of the individual page, but it equally refers to the manuscript as a whole, i.e. the “ manuscript rchitecture”. If we regard a manuscript’s layout as the way in which a page and thus its surface area is organised, then our view of the architecture that the manuscript possesses extends to a three-dimensional space in which information is housed. The visual organisation of a manuscript is consequently a visual arrangement of knowledge, which depends on the scribe who created the work on the one hand, but which is also shaped by convention and norms on the other. The latter ensure that the information contained in a manuscript is and will always be capable of being understood, regardless of the manuscript’s uniqueness.

The sub-projects covered in this project area investigate how visual organisation is shaped by production, function and use, and which role these factors play in the process of transmission and reception of knowledge.


Biblia Pauperum Manuscripts: The formation and Transmission of Biblical Knowledge in Word-Image Complexes

This sub-project will explore German Biblia-Pauperum manuscripts, in which the text of the Bible is reduced to 34 or more half or fullpage sized word-image complexes. These manuscripts are witnesses to the transmission process of biblical knowledge during the late Middle Ages. The various layouts of these word-image complexes demonstrate the results of organizing manuscripts visually, as well as the conditions and effect of changes in layout within the framework of a particular tradition.

Prof. Dr. Bruno Reudenbach
Universität Hamburg, Fachbereich Kulturgeschichte und Kulturkunde, Kunstgeschichtliches Seminar

Fridericke Conrad, M.A.

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Hanna Wimmer
(Juli 2011 - April 2014)

Poster B01

Manuscript Culture and Chant Communities: Organization of Knowledge in Manuscripts of Polyphonic Music from the So-Called Notre Dame Repertory

In the European Middle Ages, polyphonic music was understood as an act, as singing in a chant community. The notator of a musical manuscript visualized and organized information concerning the execution and performance of the music. The goal of this sub-project is to describe, from both a synchronous and diachronic examination of the manuscripts of the Notre Dame Repertory, respectively dating up to c. 1270 and up to the 15th century, the relationship between the manuscript culture and the local musical practice in question, as well as how the manuscript culture of polyphonic music remained constant or changed during this period.

Prof. Dr. Oliver Huck
Universität Hamburg, Fachbereich Kulturgeschichte und Kulturkunde, Musikwissenschaftliches Institut

Eva Maschke, M.A.

Poster B03

Dividing Texts: Conventions of Visual Text-Organization in North Indian and Nepalese Manuscripts up to ca. CE 1300

This sub-project aims to survey and analyze the ways in which scribes of Sanskrit manuscripts visually demarcated texts they were copying from paratexts (such as introductory matter or concluding colophons) or from other texts. Such demarcation may involve the use of space(s), variation in the size and/or style of writing, symbols, colours (rubrication), or a combination of these methods. Particular attention will be paid to what the study of such scribal practices shows about how textual knowledge is organized and structured (on several levels, including those of the division of individual texts and of chapters within texts), made use of, and indeed conceived of.

Prof. Dr. Harunaga Isaacson
Universitä Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abt. für Kultur und Geschichte Indiens und Tibets

Bidur Bhattarai, M.A.

Poster B04

Forms and Functions of Layout in Arabic Manuscripts as Based on Copies of Religious Texts

This sub-project will analyze the religious content in copies of manuscripts of six Arabic works. Its first focus is "forms". Here, layout features and typologically defined sequences will be established, an analysis will be undertaken to place and date each copy as well as its contents and context of use, and a comparison will be made of all six works. The second focus, "functions", will analyze those features that aim at visual structuring the texts according to content, especially paragraph markings, rubrications and frames.

Prof. Dr. Tilman Seidensticker
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Institut für Sprachen und Kulturen des Vorderen Orients

Frederike-Wiebke Daub, M.A.

Friederike Schmidt, M.A.

Hadiya Gurtmann, M.A. (10/2011 - 08/2014)

Poster B05

The Florentine Codex – the visual arrangement of the manuscript as a medium for cross-cultural translation and negotiation in the early modern era

The project, using the example of the Florentine Codex accomplished between 1567 and 1577 in New Spain (nowadays Mexico), analyses how manuscripts become a medium for cross-cultural negotiation as a consequence of the interaction between script and image. The hypothesis for this project is that the illuminators, deliberately pursuing a strategy of rhetorical alterity, reflect two visual systems perceived as distinct units. In this way not only various cultures of knowledge are combined with each other , but also different approaches to the visual arrangement of knowledge are implemented in parallel.

Prof. Dr. Margit Kern
Universität Hamburg, Fachbereich Kulturgeschichte und Kulturkunde, Kunsthistorisches Seminar

Anna Boroffka, M.A.

Poster B07

Project Area C: Manuscript Collections and Manuscripts as Collections

As a rule, each manuscript forms, during its period of existence, part of at least one collection; and the understanding of the functions which an individual manuscript had (and in some cases has), and of its history, is dependent on uncovering the story of the collection(s) to which it belonged (and belongs) — collections which in turn have their own histories too. These collections may be of many kinds, ranging from private collections to public libraries. One of our principal goals is to reconsider the nature of collections, and their several functions, in manuscript cultures.

Manuscripts which are collections (of texts) are probably a feature of every manuscript culture. The focus of much of scholarship on texts has often overlooked this fact; but the organization of multiple-text manuscripts is in fact one of the most important clues to the function of texts and textual knowledge. Such a manuscript may in some cases reflect a collection of manuscripts. Thus the themes of collections of manuscripts and of manuscripts which are collections are closely related, offering different but essential and complementary perspectives on the organization of knowledge.


A Twelfth-Century East Indian Monastic Library and its Fate

The sub-project aims to build up, for the first time, a picture of a twelfth century East Indian Buddhist manuscript collection and the scriptorium that produced it, paying attention to the textual corpus represented, as well as to features of organization within the individual manuscripts, including codicological aspects. The corpus has recently been identified as having been produced at Vikramaśīla, one of the most celebrated Buddhist monastic centres of learning in India. As a control-group, necessary to establish precisely what the specific features of our corpus are, other manuscripts with similar (i.e. East Indian Buddhist, of ca. the twelfth century) provenance will be examined. As a second, subsidiary, goal, the fate of the manuscripts of this corpus will be investigated.

Prof. Dr. Harunaga Isaacson
Universitä Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abt. für Kultur und Geschichte Indiens und Tibets

Dr. Martin Delhey

Poster C01

Doxographical Organisational Schemes in Manuscripts and Xylographs of the Collection of the Ancient Tantras

This Tibetological sub-project focuses on the manuscript and xylograph collections of para-canonical scriptures known as the rNying ma rgyud ’bum (“Collection of the Ancient Tantras”). The sub-project will study the different schemes, designed especially for this collection, used to organize this corpus into sections and subsections, as well as the history of how this organization emerged. The collection’s organization will be examined in more depth through a case study of a particular work, the Bodhicittabhāvanā.

Dr Orna Almogi
Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut

Dimitri Pauls, M.A.

Poster C02

Prof. Dr. Michael Friedrich
Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abt. für Sprache und Kultur Chinas

For Palaces and Tombs: Book Collections in Ancient China (3rd- 1st Centuries BCE)

The catalogue of the imperial library (early 1st cent. CE) is the only extant source for ancient Chinese manuscript culture. It probably represents a new classification system, which became the predecessor of all later ones. Book collections from tombs allow the organization of knowledge in earlier manuscripts to be reconstructed as well as comparisons with those in the imperial catalogue to be made.

Prof. Dr. Michael Friedrich

Max-Jakob Fölster, M.A.

Bin Wang, M.A.

Poster C03

Buyruk Manuscripts in Alevism: Multiple-text Manuscripts as Bearers and Transmitters of Religious Knowledge at the Interface of Literacy and Oral Culture

This sub-project will examine the nature and function of ca. 30 single-volume, multiple-text Buyruk manuscripts (late 18th c.–early 20th c.) used for preserving and transmitting religious knowledge in the orally dominated context of Alevi communities. By means of manuscriptological, linguistic, paleographical and material-based analysis, the characteristics of these ‘autonomous’ manuscript cultures will be identified, especially with regard to the organization of knowledge, and the means and techniques of transmitting and compiling texts. This will also enable the changes in these manuscript cultures in comparison to the social-cultural context to be tracked.

Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika
Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abt. für Geschichte und Kultur des Vorderen Orients

Janina Karolewski, M.A.

Poster C04

Cross-Section Views of Evolving Knowledge: Canonico-Liturgical and Hagiographic Ethiopic Christian Manuscripts as Corpus-Organizers

In this sub-project, approximately 50 medieval Ethiopic manuscripts of two corpora (canonical and hagiographic) will be investigated. These manuscripts played the role of "corpus-organizers" in the transmission of written knowledge from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages, between the vanishing of the Greek-based heritage of Aksum (4th to 7th cent. C.E.) to the Medieval Arabic-based period (since the 13th cent.). The sub-project will provide a mapping of the manuscripts and will correlate material and textual evidence. On the basis of one of the most ancient canonico-liturgical collections extant today, a reconstruction of a lost Alexandrian church archive will also be attempted.

Prof. Dr. Alessandro Bausi
Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abt. für Afrikanistik und Äthiopistik

Dr Antonella Brita

Poster C05

Philosophical and Scientific Knowledge in the Greek Manuscripts of Cardinal Bessarion (1403-1472)

On the basis of Bessarion's collection of Platonic and Aristotelian manuscripts, this sub-project will examine the central role held by manuscripts as a medium for exchanging knowledge between Greece and Italy during the Renaissance. A systematic analysis will be made of the manuscripts Bessarion kept for his personal use, as well as the 'template manuscripts', based on these, that were corrected, copied and used for the wider dissemination of scientific knowledge. Examined will be the version of each text, as well as corrections, annotations, scholia, schematics and other paratexts. The study of these manuscripts and their ways of distribution aims at retracing the basis of the conflict between Aristotelianism and Platonism, which was central to the self-definition of scholars during the Renaissance.

Prof. Dr. Christian Brockmann
Universität Hamburg, Institut für Griechische und Lateinische Philologie

Dr Vito Lorusso

Edition of the Solutiones by Theodoros Gazes in cooperation with
Dr. Stefano Martinelli Tempesta
University of Milan, Dipartimento di Studi Letterari, Filologici e Linguistici

Poster C06

The Place of Swahili Manuscripts in East African Collections

This sub-project is devoted to the study of Swahili manuscripts written in Swahili-Arabic script which are part of East African collections compiled by Swahili scholars, poets or their inheritors or by institutions such as libraries, archives and mosques. In order to achieve this, a limited number of non-catalogued East African collections which include Swahili manuscripts will be localized, described and analyzed for the first time. In a society with restricted literacy and emphasis on orality such as the Swahili society, the function of the manuscripts expected to be found in collections has to be considered in relation to oral performance. Another objective of this sub-project is to study the relation between the manuscripts and oral practices.

Prof. Dr. Roland Kießling
Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abt. für Afrikanistik und Äthiopistik

Drs. Ridder Samsom

Ahmed Badawy, BA

Poster C07

Integrated Graduate Programme


Integrated Graduate Programme Manuscript Cultures

The programme is designed for the PhD students of the CSMC and will host external PhD students from Germany and from abroad who will get a scholarship. The programme offers a structured doctoral training, and wishes to impart skills in interdisciplinary manuscript research including lectures on historical and comparative manuscript research as well as workshops on methodological issues. In addition, workshops teaching job-related skills are also offered.

Prof. Dr. Oliver Huck
Universität Hamburg, Fachbereich Kulturgeschichte und Kulturkunde, Musikwissenschaftliches Institut


Sub-project for information infrastructure


Data Repository Manuscript Cultures

The sub-project "data repository manuscript cultures" is planned to ensure the systematic control and long-term use of the project data. Extensive experience has been made with a central MyCoRe installation, which aims at avoiding decentralized and ineffective management of data within the sub-projects. The data repository for digital objects, including descriptive metadata, will be developed according to the requirements of the individual projects. The data repository will also offer the possibility of virtual collaborations and is intended as a central virtual platform for the scholarly community.

Dr Stefan Thiemann
Universität Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut, IT-Abt.

Karsten Helmholz, M.A.

Dipl.-Ing. Viktor Kurbangulov

Poster INF

Scientific Service Projects


Methods of Analyzing Manuscripts for Recovering Lost Writing

Modern scientific means for digitally imaging, evaluating and visualizing pages of manuscripts that have been compromised through damage or intentional modifications, such as erasure or palimpsestation, will be used to recover script or letters no longer visible to the naked eye. Existing equipment will be augmented with the most recent technology. This scholarly service project will provide multispectral and other types of specialized imaging for several of the sub-projects in the CSMC. At the same time, in close cooperation with the other two service projects (Z02 and Z03), it will develop an interdisciplinary methodological approach to the use of scientific procedures in analyzing manuscripts. The results will be published in a guidebook.

Prof. Dr. Christian Brockmann
Universität Hamburg, Institut für Griechische und Lateinische Philologie

Boryana Pouvkova, M.A.

Claire Rachel MacDonald, BA

Poster Z01

Material-Scientific Methods for Reconstructing the History of Manuscripts

Material-scientific investigations provide important data for answering cultural-historical questions that cannot be solved by historical and philological methods alone. The distinct materiality of each manuscript is the result of a wide variety of influences (production, storage, restoration, preservation). The goal of this scientific service project is to examine, by means of a mobile laboratory, on site and without causing damage, these influences on manuscripts. The goal is to validate existing scientific methods and to develop new procedures. This mobile laboratory will provide material-technological support for the various sub-projects of CSMC.

Dr Oliver Hahn
Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung

Dr Ira Rabin
Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung

Dipl.-Chem. Emanuel Kindzorra
Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung

Poster Z02
Z03 Image Processing Methods for Determining Visual Manuscript and Character Features

Work in this project will have three goals, (i) to develop and apply innovative computer-based methods for analyzing and comparing manuscripts, using visual layout and character features, (ii) to apply these methods to research questions raised in other projects of CSMC, and (iii) to integrate the methods in a workplace for computer-based manuscript analysis which can be operated by computer lay-persons.

Prof em PhD Bernd Neumann
Universität Hamburg, Fachbereich Informatik

Prof. Dr. Leonie Dreschler-Fischer
Universität Hamburg, Fachbereich Informatik

Dipl.-Inf. Rainer Herzog

Dipl.-Inf. Arved Solth

Poster Z03