Key Factors of Patching up Fragmentary Dunhuang Buddhist Scriptures

Key Factors of Patching up Fragmentary Dunhuang Buddhist Scriptures






Most of the Dunhuang Manuscripts are fragments,which brings great difficulty to naming,dating and further studying them.Among the fragments,some were split apart from the same document. If these fragments can be patched up, much more information about the documents will be found.Therefore,patching-up is part of the groundwork of philological study on Dunhuang Documents.There are several key factors to take into consideration in patching up the fragments.In this paper,1 2 key factors will be introduced with examples from Buddhist scriptures.1.Successive content.If the contents in different fragments are connected or related to each other,these fragments may have been split from the same document.For example,the last word of each column in BD 11242 is followed by the first word of the next column in P.5587(11).This information plays a key role in rejoining BD 11242 and P.5587(11). 2.Matched edges.The edges of different fragments have different shapes,and many fragments have incomplete characters on the edges.If the edges and incomplete characters in different fragments can be matched,the fragments can be patched up.For example,the lower left edges of BD 9174 match with the upper right edges of BD 11957,and the right edge of BD 9178 matches with the left edge of the patched BD 9174+BD 11957 segment.What is more,all the incomplete characters on the edges can be matched.So it can be determined that BD 9174,BD 11957 and BD 9178 can be patched up. 3.The same script.Dunhuang manuscripts had different scripts.Most of them are Regular script,while some are Seal script,Clerical script,Cursive script or Running script.In addition, there is a kind of script,called?Li-Kai,?which has the characteristics of both Clerical script and Regular script.The same script can also help us decide whether two fragments can be patched up.For example,the scripts of??.100 and BD 5935 are both?Li-Kai.?This information is clear evidence that??.100 and BD 5935 were split from the same document. 4.The same writing style.Usually,documents copied by the same scribe in the same period had the same writing style,including the characteristics of the strokes and the structures of the characters.Thus,comparing the writing styles in different fragments is helpful.For example, by comparing the characters used in both BD 3 1 5 3 and BD 2852-1,we have found that they were written in the same style.It confirms that??.100 and BD 5935 can be patched up. 5.The same scribe.Some Dunhuang manuscripts have signatures of scribes.If different fragments with connected contents have the signatures of the same scribe,they may be parts of the same document.For example,BD 3482 has three signatures of?rama?a Hongzhen?in the seam of two sheets on the reverse side,while S.6440 has the same signatures on both the front and the reverse sides.All of the signatures had the same style as the characters in the content, which suggests that Hongzhen was the same scribe of both BD 3482 and S.6440.The signature played a major role in patching BD 3482 and S.6440 up. 6.The same reciter.Like the scribe's signature,the signatures in Dunhuang manuscripts left by reciters can also help in patching-up.For example,both S.3526 and BD 14031 have thesignatures of?Yizhen,?while the writing style is different from that of the characters in the body of the scripture,which suggests that Yizhen was the reciter rather than the scribe and he recited both S.3526 and BD 14031.The signatures help to determine that S.3526 and BD 14031 can be patched up. 7.The same collector.Private collectors might deliberately tear Dunhuang manuscripts up into several fragments.Thus the information about the collectors preserved in the fragments is important.For example,both ZD 170 and ZD 171 used to be collected by Zhang Zongxiang,and they share the same serial number 23280�P21 in Zhejiang Museum,which means that they are collected as two fragments of one document.As expected,it turned out that ZD 170 and ZD 171 were torn apart from the same document. 8.The same format.The manuscripts of Buddhist scriptures from Dunhuang have a standard format which is,generally speaking,26cm high,48cm wide,25 columns per sheet in the Southern and Northern Dynasties(420�X589 CE),and 28 lines per sheet in the Sui(581�X618 CE)and the Tang(618�X907 CE)Dynasties.17 characters per column is the norm.However, BD 9187,BD 9188A and BD 7925 are the only three mini fragments that are about 14cm high, and contain 12 characters per column among 378 Dunhuang Bayang Jing manuscripts.It can thus be inferred that they were split from the same mini document.9.The same correction or annotation marks.Buddhist scriptures would be proofread after being copied.So a number of corrections were left either by the scribe or by the proofreader in Dunhuang manuscripts, such as inserting the missing characters, deleting the redundant characters,crossing out the wrong characters,and reversing the flipped characters.To help people understand the context, reciter


Institute for Ancient Books, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310028, China

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