[INDOLOGY] pre-lined mss.

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Sun May 14 00:42:53 UTC 2017

Dear Péter-Dániel, I'm not sure what your question is.  However, this whole
issue about book production is under-explored and very interesting, so it's
a great topic to raise.

If you're talking about paper MSS, one point I could mention: you refer to
horizontal lining.  Do you mean written lines, or indentations in the
paper?  I have seen - and you have too, I expect - wooden boards that are
shaped the same a s a paper folio, with holes left and right for stretching
six to ten lines of string horizontally.  The paper of a leaf was pressed
to this string-board (rajjuphalaka*?  sūtraphalaka*?) and the impression of
strings formed the guide-lines for scribes.  So one finds paper manuscripts
with these faint concertina-like indentations on them, that were evidently
made with such a tool.

In European codicology, a manuscript atelier in a monastery would have a
wheel with pins sticking out of the rim, like extended spokes.  What LW
Jones called "a sharp awl" (p. 392)  It was run down each side of the
manuscript leaf, forming an eye-line between the pinpricks, so the scribes
could write in straight lines.  These so-called manuscript prickings have
been used by codicologists to identify particular pricking-awls, and
therefore to identify the monastery in which a particular codex was

I've often wondered whether the Indian string-boards could offer a similar
guide, but I think probably not.  The reasons are that there are too many
of these boards.  One often finds them kicking around with a pile of
manuscripts.  I think scribes probably made them quite frequently, for ad
hoc use.  Secondly, Indian codicology is still in its infancy, and since
most Indian manuscript catalogues omit any serious physical description,
one would have to study original collections on a wide scale to get any
kind of grip on this feature.


Jones, Leslie Webber. “Pricking Manuscripts: The Instruments and Their
Significance.” *Speculum*, vol. 21, no. 4, 1946, pp. 389–403.,

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