Klaus Wille (ed.): Sanskrithandschriften aus den Turfanfunden: Teil 10: Die Katalognummern 3200-4362.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Degener, Almuth
Pub Date: 01/01/2009
Publication: Name: Acta Orientalia Publisher: Hermes Academic Publishing Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Hermes Academic Publishing ISSN: 0001-6438
Issue: Date: Annual, 2009 Source Volume: 70
Topic: NamedWork: Sanskrithandschriften aus den Turfanfunden, Teil 10: Die Katalognummern 3200-4362 (Collection)
Persons: Reviewee: Wille, Klaus
Accession Number: 300652475
Full Text: Klaus Wille (ed.): Sanskrithandschriften aus den Turfanfunden: Teil 10: Die Katalognummern 3200-4362. (Verzeichnis der Orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland, Band X, 10). Stuttgart: Steiner 2008. xi, 470 pp. ISBN 978-3-515-09257-9.

The spectacular finds of manuscripts made at the beginning of the 20th century in Turfan and other oases of the ancient Silk Road in Xinjiang opened the path for all sorts of philological, religious and historical studies and were even responsible for the creation and expansion of a number of disciplines e.g., Tocharian, Khotamese, Uighur manichaeism, et cetera. The manuscripts and block prints trom these finds are distributed all over the world, e.g., in London, Paris, Washington and Istanbul. Those manuscripts which were acquired by the German expeditions between 1902 and 1914 were brought to Berlin and are known as the German Turfan Collection. The Turfan texts are of unique significance for the study of Central Asian Buddhism since they testify to the existence of a thriving Hinayana community with monasteries of mostly Sarvastivada and Mulasarvastivada affiliation along the northern Silk Route, while the scriptures which were found on the southern Silk Route are mostly Mahayana texts. A major part of the German Turfan Collection is written in Sanskrit, which was one of the Indian languages used, alongside various local idioms, to propagate Buddhism in Central Asia.

Research on the Sanskrit Turfan texts started right after the first expedition in the early 1920s. However, it was chiefly thanks to Ernst Waldschmidt's endeavours that the work of cataloguing and describing the Indian texts was taken up. Most of the manuscripts have now been edited; what remains are a huge number of fragments, many of them parts of the edited texts, others still awaiting identification. Out of over 7000 catalogue numbers, detailed descriptions of numbers 1-3191 were published in Sanskrithandschriften aus den Turfanfunden (SHT), the present volume 10 contains another 1162 catalogue numbers, and it is to be hoped that the next years will bring the completion of this work. The bulk of this task over the past twenty years has been done by the Gottingen scholar Klaus Wille who already prepared four out of nine volumes of SHT published until 2004.

Those who have ever had anything to do with Turfan manuscripts will appreciate the immense achievement of this and the previous catalogues. Nearly all the fragments are extremely small, some of them containing no more than a few aksharas, many having suffered considerable damage. As in the other volumes, each entry lists the catalogue number according to the system which was used by E. Waldschmidt (not in this volume), L. Sander and others and is the now valid system, as well as the numbers formerly assigned by Luders, as "Vorlaufige Nummer", or as part of another collection. It further contains a classification of the script (here: type IV throughout), a description of the manuscript, and a transliteration of the Sanskrit text, followed sometimes by further annotations and quotations from the corresponding text. Thanks to the great learning and experience of the editor, some of these very small fragments have been identified despite the scarcity of information provided. Some of them are formerly lost or missed fragments, some fragments having broken off from manuscripts before these were preserved between sheets of glass. With the evidence of the new catalogue, some former readings can be confirmed, while a few formerly restored text passages have been corrected.

The most popular Sanskrit canonical texts with numerous manuscripts among the Turfan finds are the Udanavarga, the Mahaparinirvanasutra, and the Bhikshunipratimoksa. All of these are also represented in SHT 10. The most popular literary (Buddhist) texts were the poems of Matrceta, which are represented here by two fragments of the Varnarhavarnastotra. There are also a considerable number of fragments belonging to the Samghabhedavastu and the Civaravastu of the Mulasarvastivadin, and Sutras corresponding to parts of the Chinese Samyuktagama, as well as fragments of the Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosha and -bhashya, and over 50 Abhidharma texts. Some of the fragments contain text in Chinese, Sogdian, Uighur, and Tocharian. These texts are mentioned, but not transcribed or described in detail.

The addenda lists numerous additions, corrections and further identifications made by K. Wille and other scholars from various countries. Nothing could better demonstrate the keen interest in this admirable work which is being done in Gottingen

Almuth Degener

Institut fur Indologie, Mainz
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