[INDOLOGY] scribal self-recitation while copying

Benjamin Fleming fleming_b4 at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 24 03:29:59 UTC 2013

Interesting suggestion. I have certainly seen examples, in Penn's
collection, where there is a second and/or third scribal hand in a single
manuscript that is clearly inexperienced and possibly that of a child. See
for instance this record for a short work attributed to the Skandapurāṇa
(Ms. Coll. 390, Item 1459):


We also have an almost complete copy of the ṚgVeda (Ms. Coll. 390 Item 81)
where three different scribal names are mentioned throughout the colophons
of the text, two writing the text and a third adding the accents.


A comprehensive compilation of such records might well be illuminating with
respect to manuscript workshops, etc.


Benjamin Fleming, 
Visiting Scholar, Dept. of Religious Studies;
Cataloger of Indic Manuscripts, Rare Book & Manuscript Library;
University of Pennsylvania 249 S. 36th Street,
201 Claudia Cohen Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A.
Telephone - 215-900-5744

From:  Allen Thrasher <alanus1216 at yahoo.com>
Reply-To:  Allen Thrasher <alanus1216 at yahoo.com>
Date:  mardi 23 juillet 2013 22:56
To:  Indology <indology at list.indology.info>
Subject:  Re: [INDOLOGY] scribal self-recitation while copying

Pursuing Simon's comment, I wonder if there is any evidence that scribal
workshops would ever produce many copies of a work at one time, with a
single reader and a number of scribes.  I believe this is attested in the
Roman world, but can't give any citations.  Presumably there would be a
market for standard classics (e.g. the Gita) that in some circumstances
would justify producing them in advance of specific individual orders.  It
is also possible that new works might gain a reputation generating a demand
for many copies quickly, or that a patron might pay for many copies for free
distribution.  But everything I recall reading seems to assume that copies
were produced singly.  It need not even be a question of one person
recruiting scribes so to speak off the street; it could also be a workshop
of a scribe and his sons (younger brothers, nephews, etc.), a family

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