more on N āgarī

Dominic Goodall dominic.goodall at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 26 07:06:55 UTC 2010

Ah yes, I forgot to include this information.  The script of the early  
manuscript is what some today now call "Early Nepalese 'Licchavi'  
script". You can see an image of a couple of folios of a manuscript in  
a similar script, dated to 810 AD, in volume 1 of the Skandapurāṇa,  
just before the Prolegomena.

The Skandapurāṇa
Volume I Adhyāyas 1–25
Critically Edited with Prolegomena and English Synopsis by
R. Adraensen, H.T. Bakker, H. Isaacson
Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1998.

Dominic Goodall

On 23 Jan 2010, at 12:55, Dipak Bhattacharya wrote:

> Dear Dr. Goodall,
> The infoprmation on the Nerpalese manuscript is very interesting.  
> Could you kindly inform about the script used in the manuscript  
> itself?
> Best wishes
>  Sincerely
> D.Bhattacharya
> --- On Sat, 23/1/10, Dominic Goodall <dominic.goodall at GMAIL.COM>  
> wrote:
> From: Dominic Goodall <dominic.goodall at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: more on Nāgarī
> Date: Saturday, 23 January, 2010, 9:46 AM
> A note to add to the interesting exchanges about script-use and  
> script names.
> There is a passage in the Śivadharmottara that appears to recommend  
> the copying of Śaiva literature using Nandināgarī letters. This  
> has hitherto been assumed (in an article by R.C. Hazra and, more  
> recently, by Paolo Magnone) to be a reference to the South Indian  
> script now known as Nandināgarī, which reached its developed form  
> in the Vijayanagara period.
> mātrānusvārasaṃyogahrasvadīrghādilakṣitaiḥ|
> nandināgarakair varṇair lekhayec chivapustakam|| 2.40||
> But a Nepalese palm-leaf manuscript transmitting the Śivadharmottara  
> has come to light that appears to have been written at the end of  
> the C8th or in the C9th.  The passage in question is to be found in  
> the bottom line of the bottom folio of exposure 40 of NGMPP A 12/3.   
> (The 3rd pāda of the verse there reads nadīnāgarakair  
> varṇṇair, but we may perhaps be justified in taking this to be a  
> copying error.)
> Nandināgarī, therefore, is not just the name of a Southern script  
> of the Vijayanagara period; it is attested much earlier as a label  
> for a different style of lettering.  Furthermore, I think that we  
> can assume that the script in question was a Northern one from the  
> way the lettering is described in the previous verse.
> caturasraiḥ samaśīrṣair nātisthūlair na vā kṛśaiḥ|
> sampūrṇāvayavaiḥ snigdhair nātivicchinnasaṃhataiḥ|| 2.39||
> Most of these qualifications could probably be interpreted to  
> describe almost any sort of characters, but it seems to me that the  
> instruction that they should be neither too thick nor too thin  
> (nātisthūlair na vā kṛśaiḥ) narrows the range of  
> possibilities.  For this, it seems to me, is very unlikely to have  
> been a formulation chosen if the author had been thinking of a  
> scribal tradition in which letters are incised into palm-leaves,  
> such as we find in the Southern, Dravidian-speaking areas and along  
> much of the Eastern littoral.
> Dominic Goodall
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