17 December 2012

Yet Another Heart Sutra Ms.

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This is the Heart Sutra manuscript I'm currently working on: Cambridge Ms. No ADD 1680 - part of a large bundle of leaves. It's probably from the 13th century which makes it one of the oldest Heart Sutra ms. still extant. It's written in black ink which is faded in places, on a talipot palm leaf. The writing is one the Nepalese 'hooked' scripts (probably Bhujimol I think).

Unfortunately the first page is missing, but it is still an interesting specimen. It's been very difficult to decipher at times - one has to look for familiar landmarks like 'evaṃ' or 'prajñāpāramitā' and then deduce from there, though in the end I wasn't guessing most of the syllables.

This is not one of the basic mss. that Conze used in his 1948 Critical edition, but he does cite it in the 1967 versions - albeit somewhat speculatively at times. He refers to it as Nk.

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