Catalogues, Entries vs Numbers

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at
Tue Oct 3 11:30:05 UTC 1995

P.Friedlander at said:

> My question is this, which system do you find preferable or easier to use?
> [I ask this because I am about to publish a catalogue of Hindi Manuscripts 
> in the library here and wonder which system to adopt.]

Peter and I have discussed this issue of visual design at some length,
and we are in agreement about the issues involved.  As I see them, they

1/ as long as there are two reference numbers in a catalogue, someone,
   one day, will confuse them.  Just last week, I received from the
   India Office two rolls of microfilm (out of five) which were of the
   wrong manuscript because the photographer had taken the manuscript
   number to be a catalogue serial number from Eggeling's catalogue.

   So one design goal must be to minimize the possibility of the reader
   getting hold of the wrong number for MS ordering.  The ideal of
   simply doing away with a catalogue number is not really achievable,
   since it often forms the basis of reference from the index, and for
   internal cross-referencing in the catalogue.

2/ The "name" of a manuscript, its identity for citation and so on, is
   its shelf mark in the library where it resides at the time of
   reference.  This is the number used for all scholarly purposes, as
   well as for ordering the MS, or copies, from the library.  Therefore,
   this number should, in my view, be the most prominent number printed
   in the catalogue.

Incidentally, another issue on which I would like to canvas opinion is
manuscript foliation.  In the tradition of "big" library processing of
manuscripts, when a MS enters the library it is first of all accessioned
and foliated.  This means some poor drudge goes through the MS carefully
numbering each leaf in pencil, and ends by initialling and dating the
last leaf.  This foliation is entered into the accessions register.

All later reference to the leaves of the manuscript are done using the
most recent level of foliation, which is normally the library's
foliation added at accession time as above.  "Primary" reference is not
made via the scribe's foliation, although of course there may be all
sorts of reasons for discussion scribal foliation.  But *the* leaf
number is the library's foliation.

This procedure is normal for European manuscripts in the major libraries
of the West, and for Oriental MSS in some of these libraries, including
the British Library (and India Office), the Bodleian, and Cambridge.
But to what extent do you think this can be applied to Indic
manuscripts?  The plain fact is that -- worldwide -- most Indic
manuscripts are not foliated in the above, formal, sense.  So the only
numbers available are scribal.  They may be a mess, but that's all one

But what about collections like the Bodleian's Chandra Shum Shere
collection, which was indeed foliated by a librarian in the early part
of this century.  The foliation was very careful and provides a valuable
and consistent way of referring to leaves in the collection.  Many of
the manuscripts are fragmentary, so the scribal numbering is frequently
incomplete or disturbed.  Also, scribes and owners often renumbered the
leaves of their manuscripts (why?), usually making further mistakes.
David Pingree's excellent catalogue of the Jyotisa MSS, however, refers
to scribes foliation throughout, and not the library foliation.

As usual in scholarly writing, coherence, clarity, and consistency are
more important than which particular technical system of presentation
one uses.  But do you have any thoughts on this issue?



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