Catalogue serial numbers and manuscript oliation

Jerry.Losty at Jerry.Losty at
Fri Oct 6 11:07:00 UTC 1995

Peter Friedlander and Dominik Wujastyk raise a couple of technical problems of
manuscript catalogues. Peter asked: My question is this, which system do you
find preferable or easier to use? [I  ask this becaus I am about to publish a
catalogue of Hindi manuscripts in the library here and wonder which system to

Domink clearly prefers manuscripts to be known by their library accession
numbers, as indeed they normally are, but the problems  of indexing in a
catalogue will always require a serial number to be used as well.  Good design
should make the distinction clear.  Communicating this from the Library with the
most complicated and confusing series of oriental manuscript numberings in the
known world (i.e. British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections) I
recommend prospective purchasers of microfilms and photographs to cite both
catalogue serial numbers and manuscript accession numbers in their orders so
that the clerks who process them can differentiate between the two.

Dominik also raised the question of foliation, whether individual leaves of a
manuscript should be cited by the original scribe's  foliation or by the
library's own foliation, which will obviously differ from the original where
there are leaves missing; or in a  compendium volume containing several
manuscripts individually  foliated by their sribes. Here the main issue is
surely a  practical one.  Big western libraries with large collections have
clerks processing photographic and reprographic orders who do not know the
languages or the scripts concerned. If scholars want to  receive the correct
copies or not to mislead others, they would do well to cite the individual
folios by the library's own system. Where a manuscript is 'unfoliated' as in
most Indian collections then obviously the original scribal foliation  will have
to be referred to; but of course in India the numerals  are (hopefully) readable
by those who have to deal with them.

jerry.losty at


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