Writing on Animal Skin, Re: Leather Manuscripts

Jan E.M. Houben j_e_m_houben at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jan 7 13:14:27 UTC 2002

Dear Kenneth,
since your query includes the middle east: Al-Biruni
in his encyclopedic work on India refers to an
anecdote according to which Socrates would have
answered to urgings by friends to put his thoughts
into writing: "I don't want to transfer thoughts from
the living hearts of men to the dead hides of sheep".
Or something similar. I gave the reference at the end
of my article "The ritual pragmatics of a Vedic hymn:
RV 1.164 and the Pravargya ritual", JAOS 2000.
Jan Houben
--- Dominik Wujastyk <ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK> wrote:
> Bijayanath Mukhpadhyaya, Administration of
> manuscript libraries with
> special reference to Sanskrit (Calcutta: Sanskrit
> College, 1985), pp.29f.,
> has:
> (f) Leather - Leather also [as well as cloth] was
> not a common material
> for writing in India.  B�hler reports that hide has
> been mentioned as a
> writing material in Buddhist literature (Ibid, p.
> 95)  There is also
> mention of ajina (skin of antelope or tiger) as a
> writing material in
> Subandhu's Vaasavadattaa.  But there is no evidence
> in the form of exant
> manuscripts on skind.  That some leather documents
> have been discovered at
> Niya and Endere in Central Asia (Chakravarty, N. P.,
> India and Central
> Asia, p. 75) may be explained as due to European
> influence.
> --
> Nothing in Katre.
> --
> Dr Dominik Wujastyk
> Wellcome Senior Research Fellow (from January 2002)
> Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL.
> http://www.ucl.ac.uk/histmed/

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