Schedule Type Venue

03/2014, 1 week
10/2014, 1 week
01/2015, 2 weeks
02/2015, 2 weeks
10/2015, 3 days
02/2016, 2 weeks
08/2016, 1 week
02/2017, 1 week
04/2017, 1 week
08/2017, 2 weeks
09/2018, 2 weeks
10/2018: 4 days
02/2019: 2 weeks

Workshop: constitutive meeting, distribution of tasks and material - (Photo)
Workshop: approaches to codicology and manuscript lab
Field-trip: mobile manuscript lab
Workshop: the commentary idioms
Workshop: Ways to approach the Tivviyappirapantam
Workshop: Aspects of Multilingualism in South India
Workshop: From Tolkāppiyam to Naṉṉūl
Āḻvārs and Divyadeśas — Vaiṣṇava Regional and Vernacular Voices
Workshop: Colophons, Prefaces, Satellite Stanzas
Workshop: Glosses — Lexicography — Semantics
Workshop: Tracing School Formations and Scholarly Networks
Conference: The Syntax of Colophons
Workshop: final meeting and résumé



NETamil, 10th Workshop
Tracing School Formations and Scholarly Networks
September 2018

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When attempting to understand how traditions function that try to preserve the integrity of their knowledge and beliefs without a reliable material basis – palm-leaves disintegrate quickly, individuals do not last, scholarly and religious institutions dissolve – the question becomes crucial as to how a piece of scholarly knowledge, say, in the form of a poem or a rule, passes from mouth to mouth or, in case it has already been written down, from hand to hand. The Tamil traditions are especially intriguing in this respect because on the one hand they are, with some two thousand years, of fairly long standing and yet, on the other hand, their manuscripts are short-lived, which means we are usually dealing with copies of copies of copies. The sources brought together by the project allow to address such questions of transmission on three distinct levels.

The first level is purely textual: how may we discern different voices and multiple agency in the texts that have come down to us across the abyss of time? Here the most obvious area to look at is the Tamil tradition that created preserved the complex termed ilakkaṇam-ilakkiyam, but also long-lasting religious configurations such as the Śrīvaiṣṇava or the Śaivasiddhānta come to mind. For all of them we are faced with multi-layered root texts that attest to deliberate and often thoughtful interference, be it on the part of an individual or on the part of a group. Moreover, commentaries explain, expand and re-interpret the root texts, thus extending their lives often by many centuries. They preserve traces of their own period’s discussions, allegiances and disagreements in the form of quotations and references. They may even place themselves deliberately in an intellectual lineage; prefaces (pāyiram) are the institutionalised place to do so. In short, what can be observed on the textual may be described as school formation.

The second level is that of the surviving material witnesses, the manuscripts so often despised and neglected, but also cherished, lovingly copied, shared with others, handed on in an attempt of further preserving them and what they stand for. Here we may observe the interaction of written and oral transmission via the paratexts that surround the texts copied in a given manuscript: titles, invocations, colophons, mnemonic stanzas, other types of satellite verses, quoted from elsewhere or created for the occasion. They all tell us something about the communities that kept alive the various traditions, about their way of working, teaching, interacting, about their anxieties and their ritual habits. Evidence on this level may refer to individuals who are not necessarily scholars but may be mere scribes, although they are often members of institutions – mutts, libraries, palaces –, as well as about locations and times, difficult to interpret though this kind of information tends to be. In some rare cases such evidence may be supported by inscriptions and, vice versa, sometimes epigraphical data entail information as to how local people related to textual traditions.

The third level concerns the actual networking and handing or not handing over material in the phase for which material witnesses still survive, that is, for the most part, the 18th to the early 20th centuries: marginal remarks on manuscripts as to prices, places and sales, working procedures that leave traces in manuscripts, (auto)biographies, exemplified in the famous works of U.Vē. Cāminātaiyar, scholarly papers and letters, publisher’s documents, library notes – a veritable explosion of sources demands a variety of approaches in dealing with them. Here it seems reasonable to take into consideration also work on material related to the many other traditions not in the focus of the project. The gradual transition from a handwriting into a print-dominated culture and the colonial interference with older intellectual traditions have attracted quite some scholarly attention in recent years. Our common point of interest may be the “Tamil renaissance” in a wider sense, with its emergence of antiquarian efforts in preserving past Tamil glory which in our perspective amounts to the early history of Tamilistics as an academic discipline.

NETamil, Conference
The Syntax of South, Southeast and Central Asian Colophons:
A First Step Towards a Comparative and Historical Study of Manuscripts in the Poṭhi Format
October 2018

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Arguably, in the broad field of manuscriptology, the study of colophons is of paramount importance. Accordingly, there are many academic events and publications devoted to aspects of this particular topic, but hardly ever have specialists on South and Southeast Asian and, at least partly, also Central Asian manuscripts gathered to discuss these materials in a comparative way. It is true that a high variety of languages, scripts, and cultures characterizes and differentiates the geographical areas mentioned above. However, it is possible to define a common ground on the basis of clear historical connections, for instance, the wide-spread use of a particular manuscript format, namely, the oblong poṭhi format, which in Tibet, South India and mainland Southeast Asia has even been more or less exclusively used until modern times. Noteworthy is also the pivotal role of Buddhism in the spread of Indian-type manuscript cultures beyond the confines of the South Asian subcontinent.

The expression ‘syntax of colophons’ in the title of this workshop refers to the questions of which basic elements can be distinguished in colophons (e.g. dates, names of scribes, places of copying, scribal maxims and other formulaic expressions in the case of scribal colophons) and in which order they are arranged. We also include formulas which signify that the text or one of its sections is completed (in this case, one may use labels such as ‘sub-colophon’ or ‘chapter colophon’). Worthwhile are also attempts to distinguish and characterize heterogeneous colophons in the end of manuscripts or xylographs, in particular colophons of different actors involved in text production and transmission, and examinations of their arrangement, interplay and degrees of authenticity. One further interesting aspect of the study of colophons is linguistic differences that occur between the language of the copied text and that of its colophon(s) – the latter are often less standardised than the former, for instance because of influence of vernaculars and varying levels of education of scribes or other authors of colophons. We also welcome side glances on relevant textual materials found in inscriptions, which can be compared with what we find in colophons.

We invite presentations that can offer an overview on the formulation and composition of colophons, highlighting their most typical features in a way that allows comparisons with manuscripts produced in the various sub-domains of the Indic cultural sphere.