Transliteration and Studies

To fulfill the objective of creating the Tipiṭaka databases, the DTP employs a strategic and methodical approach, utilizing existing palm-leaf manuscripts in various scripts. This meticulous process involves selection based on specific criteria. The anticipated outcomes encompass both a physical printed edition and an electronic version which will furnish readers with comprehensive textual databases, accompanied by direct links to the authentic images of the original palm-leaf manuscripts.

This project seeks to initiate a groundbreaking effort, involving the compilation of databases focused on the Pāli Canon. These databases are thoughtfully curated from a carefully selected collection of palm-leaf manuscripts that, until now, haven't been available for scholars. While this endeavor presents new challenges and is still in its initial phases, its potential contribution to the fields of Pāli and Buddhist Studies is of immense value.

The Center for the Study of Ancient Manuscripts (CSAM) is tasked with the development of text databases and the examination of manuscripts. At present, we have on-site team members referred to as "readers" situated in four different countries, each assigned to a specific script:

  • Sinhalese (Kandy, Sri Lanka)

  • Burmese (Yangon, Myanmar)

  • Khom (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

  • Tham (Thailand)

And when Mon script manuscripts are available, Burmese team will be responsible.

The "readers" engage in the reading and transliteration of manuscript texts through an online system known as ODEM (Online Data Entry System of Manuscripts). This program offers manuscript pages along with initial text extracted from the Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana Tipiṭaka, enabling two readers to collaboratively work on the same manuscript pages independently.

Following the principle of "Key as You See," the emphasis lies in understanding the context and the handwriting style of the scribe. The readers are tasked with comprehensively reading, verifying, and altering the preliminary text to match the original text written on the manuscript. Additionally, they are required to record other details found on the manuscripts, including insertions, removals, damages, and so forth.

Upon completion, the readers will engage in a comparison of their work to ensure precision. In cases where differences arise between the texts produced by the two readers, the program will highlight these for identification. The readers will then undertake a reevaluation and revision process until these discrepancies are resolved to the point of convergence.

Subsequently, the transliterated content will be passed on to a third individual referred to as the "final checker." This individual is responsible for conducting a thorough review and granting approval before the content is submitted to the editorial department.