Technology Integration

Software Development for Textual Criticism by Dhammachai Tipiṭaka Project (DTP)

These days, it is widely accepted that the Pāli Tipiṭaka, the scriptures of the Theravada Buddhist tradition, has served as "Dhamma-cetiya" where a complete set of inscribed palm-leaf manuscripts is housed. Unfortunately, these precious manuscripts have succumbed to the ravages of time due to climatic factors, insects, ignorance of people, and adverse storage. Moreover, there are very few people nowadays who can read and understand the old scripts used in the manuscripts. Thus, the Dhammachai Tipiṭaka Project (DTP) has its aim of preserving the existing palm-leaf manuscripts by creating a digital database of these scripts collection to form the Dhammachai Edition of the Pāli Tipiṭaka in order to support all future research in the Pāli language and Currently, we are developing a database analysis system and programs which link the text in database to original images of the manuscripts, compare the text of each manuscript word by word, statistically analyze the comparison, and produce a report for editorial process.



The APMS program plays an important role in cutting five-folio digital image file into one-folio digital image file. As shown in the illustration, the upper frame of odd pages are the front of the folios and the lower frame of even pages are the reverse side of the same folios. After being cut, all image files will be automatically sequenced according to their Anka numbers (pagination of palm-leaf manuscripts using consonants combined with vowels found at the center of the left-hand margin on the reverse side of folio). Then the MSJ program will keep information and characteristics of the manuscripts such as location, script, number of pages, size,condition, etc. This information will be partially used to select the best representatives of manuscripts to be transcribed for further analysis.



One-folio digital image files of seleted manuscripts are imported into database, then the Data entry program so called ODEM will make manuscript images available online page by page for the project staff to enter the manuscript readings into the database. They will read Pāli texts inscribed in different local scripts and transcribe them using Pāli Roman script. The main principle of data entry work is “Key As You See”.



The ITAP program will analyze transcribed data obtained from ODEM and generate synoptic table for researchers, who have considerable expertise in linguistics, archeology and Buddhist studies, to throughroughly check, align, and justify entire data. For example, if they discover that some blocks of words can be ungrouped, they will certainly investigate reviewing and realigning Once the process of alignment has been completed, the output will be transferred to EP program. Then by means of technical and specific intellectual knowledge, researchers will carefully examine texts word by word and, without bias, make a rightful decision based on existing reliable evidences of manuscripts.



The Dhammachai Tipiṭaka Project will conclude the study of the palm-leaf manuscripts and publish the 'Dhammachai Edition of Pāli Tipiṭaka' in 2 formats: printed critical edition and digital version which will be available online presenting Book View and Synoptic View for easy analysis.