The series publishes monographs and collective volumes contributing to the emerging field of manuscript studies (manuscriptology), which includes disciplines such as philology, palaeography, codicology, art history, and material analysis. SMC encourages comparative approaches, without geographical or other limitations on the material studied; it contributes to a historical and systematic survey of manuscript cultures, and provides a new foundation for current discussions in Cultural Studies.
Selecting and excerpting, summarizing and canonizing, arranging texts and visual signs in manuscripts appear to be universal practices. This volume analyses the fascinating vicissitudes of birth and development, growth and decrease, of manuscripts consisting of more texts ('multiple-text manuscripts'), at the example of a vast array of manuscript cultures, from the Indian, African, Christian, Islamic, and European domains.
The ancient Tamil poetic corpus of the Cankam is at the same time a national treasure and a common battle ground for linguists and historians alike. Going back to oral predecessors from about the early first millennium, it became part of a canon, slowly fell into near oblivion and was finally rediscovered and printed in the 19th century. The present study follows up the complex historical process of its transmission through 2000 years.
The number of manuscripts produced in the Indian sub-continent is astounding and is the result of a massive enterprise. The visual organization of texts in North Indian and Nepalese manuscripts from 800 to 1300 CE is at the centre of the present study. It sheds light on both the ways of manuscripts production and the employment of the manuscripts in ritual contexts in different areas of India and Nepal.
Medieval manuscripts resisted obsolescence. Made by highly specialised craftspeople (scribes, illuminators, book binders) with labour-intensive processes using exclusive and sometimes exotic materials (parchment made from dozens or hundreds of skins, inks and paints made from prized minerals, animals and plants), books were expensive and built to last. They usually outlived their owners. Rather than discard them when they were superseded, book owners found ways to update, amend and upcycle books or book parts.These activities accelerated in the fifteenth century. Most manuscripts made before 1390 were bespoke and made for a particular client, but those made after 1390 (especially books of hours) were increasingly made for an open market, in which the producer was not in direct contact with the buyer. Increased efficiency led to more generic products, which owners were motivated to personalise. It also led to more blank parchment in the book, for example, the backs of inserted miniatures and the blanks ends of textual components. Book buyers of the late fourteenth and throughout the fifteenth century still held onto the old connotations of manuscripts—that they were custom-made luxury items—even when the production had become impersonal.Owners consequently purchased books made for an open market and then personalised them, filling in the blank spaces, and even adding more components later. This would give them an affordable product, but one that still smacked of luxury and met their individual needs. They kept older books in circulation by amending them, attached items to generic books to make them more relevant and valuable, and added new prayers with escalating indulgences as the culture of salvation shifted.Rudy considers ways in which book owners adjusted the contents of their books from the simplest (add a marginal note, sew in a curtain) to the most complex (take the book apart, embellish the components with painted decoration, add more quires of parchment). By making sometimes extreme adjustments, book owners kept their books fashionable and emotionally relevant. This study explores the intersection of codicology and human desire.Rudy shows how increased modularisation of book making led to more standardisation but also to more opportunities for personalisation. She asks: What properties did parchment manuscripts have that printed books lacked? What are the interrelationships among technology, efficiency, skill loss and standardisation?