Friday, July 06, 2012

1,200-year-old Perfection of Wisdom Uncovered in Drepung

Half of a title page, manuscript of the 100,000 Verse Perfection of Wisdom,
dated ca. 1400, Schøyen Collection, ms. 2371
A few years ago, or well, to speak truly even today, if I were to say in front of a group of Tibetanists that manuscripts were preserved in Central Tibetan monasteries that are older than the Dunhuang documents (well, older than the bulk of them), they would have rolled their eyes, glanced at me askance, then looked away as if waiting to hear what the next joke might be. Today the joke is on them.

One day I hope I may be forgiven for missing the original paper presented at Königswinter on the Rhine back in 2006, seeing the number of parallel sessions that so ineluctably complicate the life of the 21st-century Tibetologist. As part of Panel 22, entitled “Old Treasuries, New Discoveries: Sharing Materials Which Have Recently Come to Light,” held on Tuesday, August 29th, at 16:30 according to the program, was the paper in question, the one I didn’t make it to hear, given by Kawa Sherab Sangpo of Lhasa, with a title that could be translated ‘Introduction to the Lambum that was the High Aspiration of Emperor Tridesongtsen.’*
(*Tridesongtsen (Khri-lde-srong-btsan), was the regnal name (the name more of the reign than of the personal person) of the Emperor better known as Senaleg (Sad-na-legs). His reign is usually made to span the years between 799 and 815 CE.  High aspiration generally means a holy object that was made under the instigation and patronage of some respected person although there are examples of images inscribed with the name of a western Tibetan king Nāgarāja that were clearly modelled in Kashmir, and only subsequently taken, as the inscriptions tell us, as the high aspiration of that king.)
I want to emphasize that all the credit for making known the discovery must go to the just-named Kawa Sherab Sangpo, a person I have seen but never spoken to. I am not even the first person to make known his discovery on the English-language blogo-sphere. Credit for that must go to Sam at Early Tibet blog (look here). Let me quote Sam’s blog:
“Manuscripts of the Perfection of Wisdom sutras produced here [in Dunhuang] have been discovered recently in monastic libraries Central Tibet. How do we know they came from Dunhuang? Because they are signed by the same scribes, Chinese scribes, seen in the colophons of the manuscripts found in Dunhuang itself.”
Today my only job (and I think it is job enough) is to report on some, not nearly all, of the information supplied in the Tibetan-language report by Kawa Sherab Sangpo (kindly sent to me by Hildegard Diemberger of Cambridge).  Afterward, I’d like to append a section that was written by myself over 20 years ago as part of my doctoral dissertation. I copy this without any more than cosmetic changes because it can demonstrate to a skeptical world that Lambums* have a history in Tibetan history, that it isn’t something someone dreamed up just yesterday.**
(*Bla-’bum is just a short way of calling imperial period — and largely done under imperial  patronage — manuscripts of the 100,000-Verse Perfection of Wisdom Sûtra. At least for now we can go with this definition rather that fiddle with the different meanings and associations of the syllable bla, although here it probably just means high or sublime. **And by the way, it does give an example of blood writing.)
Kawa first tells a little history of the translations of the 100,000 (or the Mother, the Yum, as Tibetans, and we, too, will call it for short).  He says there were six distinct translations into Tibetan, starting with the Memorized Translation done by Lang Khampa Gocha (Rlangs Khams-pa-go-cha). I will not repeat this part, since it largely corresponds to the information you will find in the appendix.  I want to go directly to the discovery itself.

The author had for some recent years been traveling about in Central Tibet in search of rare manuscripts. He spent the period from July 2002 through the end of 2004 making lists of texts kept at Drepung Monastery's rich libraries, which resulted in a huge published catalog.*
(*Dpal-brtsegs Bod-yig Dpe-rnying Zhib-’jug-khang, ’Bras-spungs Dgon-du Bzhugs-su Gsol-ba’i Dpe-rnying Dkar-chag, Mi-rigs Dpe-skrun-khang (Beijing 2004), in 2 volumes, pagination continuous.)
It was sometime in June 2003 when he was able to find a volume of the Lambum made by the Dharma King Senaleg.  It was marked with the keyletter GA, meaning it was the third volume of the set. In October of that year the KHA volume, the second volume of the set, was also found. In truth, the collection of books where they were found had often been explored in recent years by various researchers, but since these volumes were undecorated and they were not written in letters of silver and gold, they had been overlooked.

The first and main thing that marks these as belonging to a Lambum is an inscription added to the top of the first leaf.  There are some small problems in reading it, so in lieu of a proper study I will just give the gist of what it says.  It begins: “These four sacred volumes, the high aspiration of the glorious divine Emperor Khri-lde-srong-btsan (Senaleg)...”  It continues by saying that these are very great in their blessings, having emerged unburnt from the ashes of the fire that burned Karchung Temple.  

Let me insert here the information that Karchung Temple is  well known as an imperial period foundation. It even had a monolith (a ‘long stone’ or rdo-ring as Tibetans call them) that was since then misplaced, inscribed with an edict of Senaleg urging the preservation of Buddhist shrines built by himself and by his predecessors.
(*Located quite close to Lhasa, but on the opposite side of the river Kyichu, it has been studied by Hugh Richardson in his book A Corpus of Early Tibetan Inscriptions, pp. 72-83. Already when Tucci and Richardson visited the site, there was little left of the temple except for foundations of four chortens that formed part of its complex of buildings. And of course the inscribed monolith. I wonder what became of it. Victor Chan's Tibet Handbook says on p. 489: “The doring has now disappeared, but some accounts claim that fragments are in Lhasa.”)
The next part of the words inscribed on the top leaf of the Lambum is likely to go down hard with some of my readers. I’m thinking of one of you in particular who is very likely in immanent danger of choking on his green tea. It says, “Later on it was checked against one correct example in the monastery of Lding,* and a committee of three** did the checking twice. The letter combinations they did not complete fixing. The translation is that of the Reg-gzigs, so please be careful.”***
(*It is hard to know what is meant by the Lding Monastery, although I find most likely that it means Lding-po-che Monastery in Grwa-nang, one of the valleys formed by south tributaries of the Tsangpo River not too far from Mindroling.)  (**I’m not at all sure of this translation of sum-thug, although I found it in a similar context in the colophon to a canonical work, Tohoku no. 1675, in case someone would like to check it.)  (***There are signs of fire damage on the physical manuscript itself. In fact, the front and back pages probably had to be replaced due to fire damage. The meaning of the Reg-gzigs [Reg-zig] should be clarified further on in today’s blog.) 

Our author comments on this part (at page 63 of his article), saying that the manuscript itself appears to have been in some parts fixed to accord with later spelling standards. His comment is worthy of note, “In the past we Tibetans had a tradition of fixing things with a view to making them nice and polished regardless of their value for researching the original, in accordance with the proverb, ‘If the temple caretaker is good at cleaning, gold images turn to brass’ ”.* But he quickly adds that the changes appear to have been few and minor, and assures us that the text remains overall a trustworthy reflection of its original condition. In any case, it is still marked by many of the characteristics of Old Tibetan manuscripts like those from Dunhuang.**
(*dkon gnyer byi dor mkhas na gser sku rag la gtong ba'i dpeIn fact, this proverb is very well attested in my Bible when it comes to Tibetan proverbs, the book by Christoph Cüppers and Per Sørensen, A Collection of Tibetan Proverbs and Sayings, Franz Steiner Verlag [Stuttgart 1998], p. 5, no. 104.)  (**I imagine, or at least I hope, that the editorial process did not include scratching or gouging out text and writing in corrections [as did happen in the age before Tipex], but was limited to patching and replacing the parts of the text missing due to fire damage.  I can’t speak for you, but I find fascinating that one of the spellings used in this manuscript that mark it as very likely Old Tibetan is the spelling nam-ka in place of the now ubiquitous spelling nam-mkha' meaning sky. You can go to the OTDO and search in vain (via the search box, of course) in the Old Tibetan texts for nam-mkha', but you will find plenty of examples of nam-ka and nam-kha. In this it resembles the word for light rays, 'od-zer, which is always spelled 'od-gzer in O.T. See the very recent discussion about this at Dorji's blog Philologia Tibetica, dated June 10, 2012.)
As Sam mentioned in the quote supplied above, there are quite a few places where the names of the scribes and editorial correctors are given. In one place is found “Scribed by Khong G.yu-legs. Edited by Dam-tsong. Further edited by Sgron-ma. Tertiary editing by Seng-ge-sde.” Although some of these are very likely Tibetan, some other names elsewhere look very much like Chinese, like Ji-kyin-sum and Je'u-hing-cin. I haven’t had the wherewithal to check if any of these scribe names are also used in Dunhuang manuscripts, but since Sam says it, it must be so.*
(*There is no shortage of manuscripts of the Tibetan-language Mother that were found in Dunhuang, and now kept in London and Paris. The rarely seen catalogue of Lalou would be a great place to find them, since she indexed scribe names. Well, the Poussin catalogue of the Stein Collection has listings of them, too. Perhaps I will look into this some more and get back with you.)

Our author concludes that what we have here is a particular Lambum inscribed during the early-9th-century reign of Senaleg known as the Sbug-’bum, containing within it a version of the Mother translated in the late 8th century. He adduces further reasons for believing in its genuineness, including a literary reference to a fire-damaged Mother manuscript from Karchung.**
(*I’m not sure what Sbug-’bum means, are you? Sbug might mean a tunnel, a pipe or a pouch.)  (**This text was itself found in Drepung; I could succeed in locating its title listing in the Drepung catalog, at page 1648, in case anyone would like to check it.  Kawa gives the title as Shes-rab-kyi Pha-rol-tu Phyin-pa Stong-phrag-brgya-pa-yi Chad-’jug Nyer-mkho Sgron-me, and dates it to the 13th century.  I don’t recognize the author with his name given in Sanskritic or Tibskrit form as “Bikhu Magā-la Pure,” although I think we may safely translate it back into Tibetan as Dge-slong Bkra-shis-phun-tshogs. This last, by the way, is an example of what I would call a re-Tibetanization of a Sanskritization. You can call it what you want.)

So even while I will never regard myself as an expert in this area, I do hope someone will take inspiration to look closely at the available evidence, as well as evidence that is bound to emerge in the future (the article assures us chances are high that the two missing volumes of the set will eventually show up.) Kawa Sherab Sangpo is to be congratulated for making his discovery known, and also for supplying very impressive evidence-based arguments that are bound to serve as  solid basis for discussion in the future, or at least would be if they were only better known. I’ve done my part, for now. Still I do strongly suggest that future Lambum research take advantage of the astounding wealth of text-critical information found in the 1424 CE work of Rongtön.*  Meanwhile we may say that, as far as books are concerned, Dunhuang’s monopoly on old is a thing of the past.**  And this holds true even if the Lambum of Senaleg was scribed in Dunhuang. The battlefields of history are strewn with such small ironies.
(*I used a separate pecha publication of it for my dissertation, but I don’t seem to have any kind of copy at hand at the moment. Meanwhile, there has been a new publication of Rong-ston’s works that makes it more widely available. Here are the details for the pecha:  Rong-ston Shes-bya-kun-rig (1367-1449), Shes-rab-kyi Pha-rol-tu Phyin-pa Stong-phrag-brgya-pa'i 'Grel-pa, Luding Labrang [Manduwala 1985].)  (**A final footnote and I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. The initial Tibetan conquest of Dunhuang has been dated to 781 (Fujieda) or 787 (Demiéville) or 788 CE (Imaeda), although recently Horlemann has argued for pushing the date back to somewhere between  755 and 777. The occupation ended in 848. Scribing of Tibetan books continued after that date, and in fact lately there seems to be an emerging consensus that most of the Tibetan material of Dunhuang dates to the post-occupation period.)

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The essential sources:

Kawa Sherab Sangpo (Ska-ba Shes-rab-bzang-po), ed. in chief, Bod-khul-gyi Chos-sde Grags-can Khag-gi Dpe-rnying Dkar-chag, Mi-rigs Dpe-skrun-khang (Beijing 2010). Look at p. 77 for more on Lambum discoveries.

Kawa Sherab Sangpo (Ska-ba Shes-rab-bzang-po), Btsan-po Khri-srong-lde-btsan-gyi [i.e., Khri-lde-srong-btsan-gyi] Thugs-dam Bla-'bum Skor Ngo-sprod Zhu-ba, Krung-go'i Bod Rig-pa, 2nd issue for the year 2009, pp. 55-61. I found this reference at the Bya-ra database, and haven’t seen the precise publication in person, although I’m sure it’s essentially identical to, or the same as, the next-listed title.

Kawa Sherab Sangpo (Ska-ba Shes-rab-bzang-po), Btsan-po Khri-lde-srong-btsan-gyi Thugs-dam Bla-'bum Skor Ngo-sprod Zhu-ba, contained in: Hildegard Diemberger and Karma Phuntsho, eds., Ancient Treasures, New Discoveries, Beiträge zur Zentralasienforschung, series vol. 19, International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies (Halle 2009), pp. 55-72.

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Appendix





Source: D. Martin, The Emergence of Bon and the Tibetan Polemical Tradition, dissertation, Indiana University (Bloomington 1991), pp. 87-93:
















One of the greatest Saskyapa intellectuals, Rongston Shesbyakunrig (1367-1449), a Bonpo until age eighteen and reputed author of an anti-Chos polemic discussed elsewhere in these pages, composed, in 1424, a commentary on the Hundred Thousand Prajñāpāramitā entitled, Shesrabkyi Pharoltu Phyinpa Stongphrag Brgyapa'i 'Grelpa. It is prefaced by a history of the introduction of the 'Bum (Tibetans know the Hundred Thousand also as the Yum, or 'Mother') into Tibet along with its subsequent translations and revisions. The reading involves some difficulties which could not always be resolved with much certainty, but I believe the content, due to its relevance for present arguments, warrants a provisional translation attempt.[i] Rongston briefly outlines the origins of the Sūtra:

The most extensive version in one hundred million verses exists in the gandharva realm. The extensive version in ten million verses exists in the land of Indra. The extensive version in one hundred thousand verses was brought from the nāga realm of Nāgārjuna.
As for its transmission to Tibet, Emperor Khrisrongldebrtsan[ii] wanted to bring the sūtra to Tibet, so he gave much gold to Khamspa Gocha[iii] and sent him to India for that purpose. This was called the Memorized Translation (Thugs 'Gyur) because he [Khamspa Gocha] memorized the [Indian] text [rather than bringing the text itself] and brought it out in Tibetan. As a memorial (dgeba) to the queen, [the king had the translation] written with [his] own blood using goatsmilk as binder. This [text] was called the Red Abridgement[iv] in four parts. Later it was taken to Lhasa and became worn [old?]. It is said to be [contained] in the brick chorten near 'Phrulsnang temple. Note: There are many recensions of this now in Central Tibet.
Still, the Emperor did not have confidence in [the authenticity of] the Memorized Translation, so he commanded Nyang Iṇḍaaro and Sbas Manydzushri to bring [an Indian text] from India. They brought back an Indian text and translated it. [This translation] was called the Authorized Hundred Thousand (Bca' 'Bum). They used indigo goatsmilk binder and this manuscript was called the Blue Abridgement (Ra Gzigs Sngonpo).[v] (A four-part manuscript, it is said to be [preserved] at Samye.) This [manuscript book] was not held together with a sash, but fastened with metal pegs. Hence it was called Having Iron Pegs.[vi]
Even this was not [yet] an extensive translation. So later prince Mutigbtsanpo made a resolution [to have one made]. Then Pagor Bairotsana [Vairocana], who had reached the eighth Bodhisattva Level, compared the Indian text with the Having Iron Pegs and did an extensive revision. After he had, for the most part, established the text, he produced a six part manuscript [translation] more extensive than the previous ones. From the name of the binding boards it was called 'Snowy (Khabacan) for the Royal Resolution.[vii] This is the Middle [length] High Translation (Bla 'Gyur 'Bringpo). To the side of the place where it was kept there was a bat's nest. Hence it was called Having Bats (Phawangcan). This was not true of the original Indian manuscript; it is kept even now at Samye. Rngog Lo also did his translation after looking at the Having Iron Pegs.
Still later, Emperor Ralpacan invited many [Indian] teachers and they accomplished many great revisions of scriptures and commentaries. These Indians, as well as Tibetan teachers (including Dpalrtsegs and others) produced, among other [translations], the most extensive translation which was called Great High Translation. It also was in six parts.[viii] It was named Having Leather Meat Container (Shasgrocan) because of [the appearance of] its cloth wrapper. Later on, Rngog Lo[ix] would use the Indian manuscript introduced [to Tibet] by Ka [Kaba Dpalrtsegs] and Cog [Cogro Klu'irgyalmtshan] for his own translation or revision.[x]

Thus Rongston gives evidence for five different historical-textual levels in the Tibetan translations of the Hundred Thousand Prajñāpāramitā culminating in the version of Rngog Lotsāba.[xi] The older levels were preserved in specific manuscripts kept in specified places. He lists no less than sixty-five locations for ancient texts including an 'excavated text' (gterma) at Khra'brug.[xii] He then supplies us with means for distinguishing between these various levels of translation both through textual means and by the numbers of chapters contained in particular parts. While this textual study by the great Tibetan scholastic should not be ignored by contemporary Buddhist text scholars, my reasons for citing it are more historical than text-critical. We may see from Rongston's evidence that the early translations could be concealed in chortens and so forth.[xiii] They could then be excavated. The early translations were quite different from each other, but just how different remains to be seen only after a painstaking and detailed study of both the texts and Rongston's study of them. 


[i]For another version of the following information, see CRYSTAL MIRROR, vol. 5, pp. 157-158. The parenthetical material in the following translation is by the author Rongston, or indicates Tibetan words or forms used by him. Material in square brackets has been added by myself for clarification.
[ii]SANGPO, Bodkyi Rgyalrabs (p. 487), cites a Sher Phyin commentary by Tsongkhapa who in turn cites the no longer extant scripture catalog of 'Phangthang to the effect that an extensive commentary on the Hundred Thousand was "written by the King," meaning Khrisrongldebrtsan. [See also CONZE, Prajñāpāramitā, p. 34.] This deserves more investigation since, if proved authentic, it would demonstrate a considerable interest in religion on the part of the Emperor, even if the commentary was 'ghosted'. Some of the Emperor's other works are listed in SANGPO (op. cit.). It seems hardly credible that the Emperor actually composed such a necessarily lengthy work by his own hand. More likely he would have served as director or encourager in its production.
The Phangthang catalog was a listing of the scriptures and commentaries in the library of the pillarless temple (ka medkyi gtsuglagkhang) with the numbers of verses and volumes in each text (see SANGPO, pp. 519-520). For more Tunhuang documentary evidence for the importance of Chos, or Buddhism (nanggi Chos, Sangsrgyaskyi Chos) in the time of Khrisrongldebrtsan, see SANGPO (p. 437). The Phangthang 'Mansion' (Khangmoche) was located in the Yarlung Valley (SANGPO, p. 425). Since it is said that the palace of 'Phangthang was swept away in a flood in the time of Khrisrongldebrtsan (as stated in 'GOS, Debther Sngonpo, pp. 68-9), then the catalog must date from his time (although it could have been rebuilt). It is said that the 'Phangthang catalog was compiled in the time of Sadnalegs, and that a third catalog, that of Mchimsphu library, once existed (see CRYSTAL MIRROR, vol. 7, p. 321).
The Rgyacher Bshadpa commentary attributed to Khrisrongldebrtsan would seem to be the one now included in the Tanjur as the work of Daṃṣṭrasena (CONZE, Prajñāpāramitā, p. 33). A commentary on the Hundred Thousand is mentioned, along with the Bka' Yangdagpa'i Tshadma (on which see STEIN, 'Un mention'), as written by the king based on instructions from Śāntarakṣita (see GURU BKRASHIS, Bstanpa'i Snyingpo, vol. 1, p. 444.2 and YARLUNG JOBO, Chos'byung, p. 62). DPA'BO, Mkhaspa'i Dga'ston [1986], p. 401, says,
Although the catalog 'Phangthangma speaks of a great commentary on the Hundred Thousand Mother in seventyeight fascicles as being made by Khrisrong, since Allknowing Bu[ston] tells us that the catalogues Mchimsphuma and Ldandkarma both describe it as an Indian text, it is the Hundred Thousand commentary by Daṃṣṭrasena [that is being referred to].
[iii]This Khamspa Gocha is also important in the story of the first transmission of the 'Bum into Tibet as told in ORGYANGLINGPA, Bka'thang Sde Lnga, pp. 752754 (chapter 15 of the "Lo Paṇ Bka'i Thangyig"). He is listed among the first thirteen Tibetan Buddhist monks in LDE'U, Chos'byung, p. 358.
[iv]Ra Gzigs Dmarpo. I read 'Gzi' for 'Gzigs', which might be translated 'Red Splendid Goat'. The thirteenth century history by LDE'U (Chos'byung, p. 362) also tells the story of Ra Gzigs Dmarpo, but places it, interestingly enough, in the reign of the later Emperor Ralpacan. A modern account ('BROGMI, "Gzhungchen Bka' Pod", p. 103) tells that the ink for this manuscript, called Regzig Dmarpo, was made from Khrisrongldebrtsan's 'vermillion blood' (mtshal) and the milk of a white goat. Regzig is an Old Tibetan word for zinbris, 'summary' or 'abridged presentation' (See BLANG, p. 301.3). Thus it seems that the "Ra Gzigs" represents a later attempt to etymologize an obsolete term, and I have chosen my translation accordingly. The reading Regzig is also found in ZHUCHEN, Chos'byung, p. 103.2; and KONGSPRUL, Shesbya Kun Khyab, vol. 1, p. 450.
[v]According to 'BROGMI, "Gzhungchen Pod Lnga" (p. 104), the ink for this manuscript was made from the Emperor's 'burnt hair indigo' mixed with the milk of a white goat. (KONGSPRUL, Shesbya Kun Khyab, vol. 1, p. 450, agrees.)
[vi]The text has Lcags Thurcan. It may be that this bears some relation to the word khyungthurcan, used in literary contexts to refer to armor or helmet. (CHANG, Dictionary, p. 266.) The word thurma may mean 'peg, rod, awl, spoon' (among other meanings; ibid., p. 1177). We find mentioned a Lcags Phurcan handed on to a younger son while the elder son received the abbacy of Smrabolcog (an early Nyingma monastery belonging to the descendents of Nyangral Nyima'odzer) from their father, Gsangbdag Bdud'dul. Nothing in the context tells us that Lcags Phurcan is the name of a Sher Phyin manuscript, although I am at a loss to explain it otherwise. See GURU BKRASHIS, Bstanpa'i Snyingpo, vol. 3, p. 409.4.
[vii]Thugsdam is a multipurpose high honorific word which covers all sorts of high intentions, resolutions and aspirations. One of Khrisrongldebrtsan's 'resolutions' was to build Samye. The word is also used in the Old Tibetan text cited in an earlier note. SOGBZLOGPA, Bka'thang Yidkyi Mun Sel, p. 88.3, is a bit confusing, but he seems to call the twelve volume (poṭhi) version translated by Vairocana the Rgyalpo'i Bla 'Bum Shasgrocan (compare the name of the version made under Ralpacan, according to Rongston). 'BROGMI, "Gzhungchen Bka' Pod" (p. 104) agrees, saying that this manuscript translation, which exists at Mchimsphu, was known as Shasgrocan, i.e., the name of the manuscript that Rongston attributes to the time of Ralpacan. KONGSPRUL, Shesbya Kun Khyab, vol. 1, p. 451, also calls the manuscript translation made by Vairocana the 'Bum Shasgrocan, but adds that it exists "even now" (i.e., in about 1864) at Mchimsphu.
[viii]According to 'BROGMI, ibid., p. 104, this translation was in sixteen parts.
[ix]'BROGMI, ibid., p. 105, says that Rngog Lo Bloldanshesrab based his revision on a [Sanskrit] text found at Phamthing (modern Pharping?) in Nepal.
[x]Text in RONGSTON, Shesrabkyi, pp. 5.1 ff. Check for comparison also MKHYENRABRGYAMTSHO, History [A], p. 194.2 ff, for history of Prajñāpāramitā translations. DZA-YA, Thob-yig, vol. 4, pp. 404 ff. are also of interest.
[xi]Note the statement to this effect in RONGSTON, Shesrabkyi, p. 9.4.
[xii]RONGSTON, Shesrabkyi, p. 8.6. The imperial period temple at Khra'brug was a common site for textual excavations.
[xiii]For example, in the funerary chorten of 'Jigrtenmgonpo (as mentioned in a previous note), a Hundred Thousand text, along with Vinaya texts which Atiśa had brought from India, and many relics, among them 'Jigrtenmgonpo's own skull and brain (see KÖNCHOG GYALTSEN, Prayer Flags, p. 43) were enclosed. We might note also that most guides to the sacred objects at Samye Monastery mention the existence of Hundred Thousand manuscripts from the imperial period at the Aryapalo Ling Temple. 

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Postscript:  Since writing the above words, the ’Phang-thang-ma catalog has appeared in print and has even been subject of a major study by Georgios Halkias.  (Tap HERE if you would like to see the PDF version.) 

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The text on the top leaf of the Lambum of Senaleg (based on p. 61 of the article) in Wylie transcription:
dpal lha btsan po khri lde srong btsan gyi thugs dam glegs bam bzhi pa ’di / skar chung gtsug lag khang mes tshig pa thal ba’i gseb nas ma tshig par byon pa lags byin gyi rlabs shin tu che ba yin no /  slad nas lding gi dgon par dpe’ dag pa gcig la gtugs nas sum thug gcig dang lan gnyis byas /  yi ge’i sdebs ni bcos pa ma grub / ’gyur ni reg gzigs lags gzab par zhu //
e ma'o / rgyal ba'i thugs dam 'bum po che / 'di ka sgrog pa'i mchod gnas pa rnams kyis gzab par zhu / dar Xres pa dang / go zhing che ba dang dri mas zos pa de lhag par snyi bar gda' bas zur nas bzung la / phyag gnyi gas bsgyur bar zhu / bam po'i khrid de ma byas na legs / 'di kun la gces pa lags so /
This last bit begs people to treat the volumes with care, to hold the pages by their edges and to turn them using both hands. Perhaps I’ll try for a complete translation another time. Meanwhile, take care.

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A final appendix (July 8, 2012):  

Was the Lambum of Emperor Senaleg scribed in Dunhuang?

After doing a little experiment, I’m now fairly convinced the answer is Yes.

Method?  I simply went to volume 3 of the Lalou catalogue (the volume where most of the Mother manuscripts are listed), took the names of the scribes that were supplied by Kawa and looked them up in the volume index. To make it simple, I’ll tell you the results before I give you the evidence. I do think it quite significant that some of the family/clan names are matches, but the real clincher is that two full names are perfect matches: Phab-ting is found as a scribe name 4 times in Lalou. Phab-dar occurs there twice. Also certainly worthy of note is the fact that in the O.T. Mother manuscript scribal colophons you often find the exact same syntax as found in the Lambum, with the scribe listed first, followed by the three proofreaders/checkers.


The samples of lists of Lambum scribe names are found in Kawa’s article, p. 64.  These listings are said to be found in the KHA volume, fols. 35, 44, 55, 75 and so on — in other words, at regular intervals.  In each of these little scribal/editor colophons you find first listed a scribe, then a checker (zhus), a further checker (yang zhus) and a tertiary checker (sum zhus).  I have marked what I found out by looking at Lalou's catalogue in red, with her catalog nos. in square brackets.

khong g.yu legs bris /  √similar names, but not this one.
dam tsong zhus //  √similar name Dam-dzong [1429], but not this one.
sgron ma yang zhus // 
seng ge sdes su zhus / 

on fol. 140:
song stag skyes bris //  √similar name Song Stag-rma [1452], with many Song family names.
dam tsong zhus //  √repeat.
phab ting yang zhus //  √the name Phab-ting found 4 times [1324, 1372, 1404, 1429].
ji kyin su zhus /  √similar names, but not this one.

Again,
keng g.yu zhe bris //  √possibly Keng occurs as a family name, but this name not found.
che'u jing zhus //  √not found.
seng ge sdes yang zhus //  √repeat.
phab ting sum zhus  /  √repeat (see above).

Again,
je'u hing cin gis bris //  √Je'u occurs a number of times as a family name, but this particular name not found.
dam tsong zhus //  √repeat.
ceng se'u yang zhus //  √I find the rather similar name Cang Se'u-hwan.
phab dar suṃ zhus //  √the name Phab-dar is found twice [1340, 1344].

§   §   §


A final final appendix! (Nov. 3, 2012)

I place this photo here just to draw your attention to the added note in the comments.  Here you see a photo of an elderly woman doing puja offerings in front of the Kwa Bahal's Perfection of Wisdom manuscript.


I stumbled upon this photo here. I trust my readers will recognize that it is verily a book between those long heavy binding boards.
 
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