introduction of printing in India/scribal habits

Srinivasan Pichumani srini at
Tue Sep 26 20:45:26 UTC 1995

>> While reading on textual criticism of the New Testament and textual
>> criticism in Tibetan Studies (i.e. research on the transmission of the
>> Kanjur), I suddenly found myself asking when printing, i.e. mechanically
>> producing multiple copies of a text from one single original, was first
>> introduced on the Indian sub-continent. By "printing", I refer not only to
>> the printing presses of the industrial age, but also to pre-industrial ways
>> of reproducing texts (e.g. equivalents to Tibetan woodblock-printing). 

I don't know about the latter process, but here is some information 
about printing from Prof.Kamil Zvelebil's "Tamil Literature", 1974, 
Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden.  I quote from pg. 236-237.

The first known Tamil types were cast in 1577 at Goa; a second and
more satisfactory set was produced in Quilon in 1578.  However,
earlier than that, on Febr 11, 1554, a brochure entitled
	Cartilha e lingoa Tamul e Portugues 
appeared in Lisbon.  The Tamil part was, of course, Romanized.  This
is the first Tamil printed work known thus far, and the first translation
into Tamil of a European work.  The earliest example of printing in
the characters of an Indian script, and the first available example
of printing executed in an Indian language, is the
	Doctrina Christam en Lingua Malauar Tamul,	***
16pp, entitled in Tamil Tampiran VaNakkam, dated 20.2.1577 in Quilon;
its authors were Anrique Anriquez and F.Manuel; it is probably based
on St.Francis Xavier's Portuguese (1542) and Tamil (1544) catechisms.
Another Doctrina Christam alias KirIcittiyAni vaNakkam of 120pp is
dated 14.11.1579 at Cochin.  Finally, a large work, Flos Sanctorum
of 669 pages, was prepared for Tamil print by Henriquez and printed
in or around 1586 at Tuticorin or Punnakayil.  The two most important
printing establishments in the South of India were founded at AmbalakkADu
(since 1679) and in Tranquebar (1710).  However, it was only the
massive spread of printing, which began in Tamil India after the
1835 Act enabling Indians to own pressworks, that played such a 
decisive role in the development of modern prose.
*** in the footnotes on page 237, Zvelebil says that the 
	Doctrina Christam en Lingua Malauar Tamul
is in the Harward (sic) College Library.

Another footnote gives a couple of references...
23. Cf. Xavier S. Thani Nayagam's excellent paper The First Books
Printed in Tamil, TL 7 (1958) 288-308.  Also, C.E.Kennet, Notes on
Early-Printed Tamil Books...


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