Manuscript glosses

Stephen Hodge s.hodge at PADMACHOLING.PLUS.COM
Tue Jun 2 17:00:48 UTC 2009

Dear all,

Something for the manuscriptologists.

My understanding is that interlinear annotations of various kinds, such as 
glosses or corrections, may be found in Sanskrit etc manuscripts written 
either above or below the relevent word or phrase.  Writing an annotation 
below the word / phrase seems counter-intuitive to me, but I suppose there 
may be reasons for that approach.  I have found traces of this in 
translations of early Buddhist texts, where glossing annotations have 
wrongly been incorporated (that is, as though they were textual corrections) 
into the text at a position roughly one line down from where they should 
really be.  This suggests that not all scribes were familar with the 
sub-linear mode of annotation.

However, I am interested to know whether there was any basis for using one 
or the other styles.  That is to say, were mss with sub-linear notes more 
common in certain regions of India and not others ?   Would, for example, 
sub-linear annotation be characteristic of South Indian mss.   Or is there 
perhaps a historical aspect to this, with preferences varying at different 
times ?   As far as Buddhist mss go, from what I have seen of the early 
Gandhari mss, interlinear notes in them seem to be all above the word / 
phrase.  Is my impression about this correct ?

The value of this is that if one annotator only put his remarks below the 
line, while somebody else always put his above the line, according to their 
scribal tradition, we have a useful way of untangling, to some degree, the 
transmissional strata with the ever-present process of accretion.

Any comments would be welcome !

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge 

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