Experience with "Critical" edition of Kanjur and Tanjur

Ulrich T. Kragh utkragh at HUM.KU.DK
Sat Sep 25 17:30:43 UTC 2010

- Dear list, it seems that the message I sent yesterday to the list did not go through, so here I try again.

Jonathan Silk wrote:
>I'm wondering if some of you who have had a chance to actually look into the
>editions of the Kanjur and Tanjur published by the China Tibetology
>Publishing House would be willing to share your opinion of these volumes.

I have worked with the bstan 'gyur dpe bsdur ma (i.e., "Tanjur critical edition") published by Krung go'i bod kyi shes rig dpe skrun khang (中国藏学出版社), Beijing, 1998. I have used it for my work on several different shorter passages from Tantric as well as Madhyamaka texts. I compared the pertinent passages against the original xylographs of Peking, Derge and Narthang, but not of the Cone edition, which was not available to me at that time. I could see that the edition itself presented in the body-text was an exact copy of the Derge edition. All variant readings from the Peking and Narthang editions that I could check were registered correctly in the apparatus. I did not see any missing variant readings. It is not a "critical" edition per se, because it does not attempt to weigh the variants against each and choose the superior reading. I have therefore referred to it as a "comparative edition". Yet, it seems to me that it did a good job of providing all reading variants correctly. I believe it is superior to use this edition rather than relying only on a single xylograph or manuscript, but for more serious text-work, I would still check all passages in the original texts. Even when checking against the original manuscripts, it was helpful to use the Dpe bsdur ma, because it sometimes help me to spot variant readings that my own eyes otherwise overlooked. I seem to remember that it did not include punctuation variants, i.e., the use of shad (danda). 

Nevertheless, the Dpe bsdur ma edition has two serious short-comings. The worst short-coming is that it does not register the page or folio numbers of the original texts in the edition. This makes it really hard to go from the Dpe bsdur ma edition back into the original texts, since this requires locating the passage in the original help without any help from the side of the edition. The second short-coming is that the authors did not include the Golden Manuscript Tanjur and their Tanjur variants are therefore incomplete, as they only included four of the five existing Tanjur versions.

I do not have any experience with their Kanjur edition.

Dr. Ulrich Timme Kragh
Independent scholar, Leiden.

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