A Collaboration System for the Philology of the Buddhist Study

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Kiyonori Nagasaki

    Yamaguchi Prefectural University

Work text
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In the fi eld of the Buddhist study, especially, the philosophy of
the Buddhism, there are many texts which have been passed
down throughout history since around 5th century BCE. In
spite of the long history, philological study started around the
18th century CE and has not yet been considered adequate.
The original texts which were written in India do not remain,
but many manuscripts copied by Buddhist monk scribes
remain in Indic languages such as Sanskrit or Pāli or translated
into Tibetan or classical Chinese. Those translated texts
alone consist of huge number of pages. Some of them have
been published in the scholarly editions, but many texts are
not published, or are not verifi ed as reliable texts. Moreover,
sometimes old Sanskrit manuscripts may be newly discovered
in Nepal, Tibet or others. Under these conditions, even if a
new scholarly edition is published, it may have to be edited
again with the discovery of a newly-found Indian manuscript.
Therefore, in the fi eld, a collaboration system for the sake of
editing of the texts on the Internet would be effective so that
reliable texts could be edited anytime, sentence-by-sentence,
word-by-word, or even letter-by-letter on the basis of those
witnesses. The collaboration system must be able to:
(1) represent and edit the texts and the facsimile images in
a multilingual environment such as Sanskrit, Tibetan and CJK
(2) store the information of the relationship between each
of the content objects which are included in the each of
the witnesses as text data and facsimile image.
(3) add the physical location of those objects to the
(4) record the name of the contributors of each piece of
It is not diffi cult to represent and edit the texts and the facsimile
images in a multilingual environment by the popularization of
UTF-8. However, regarding CJK characters that are either not
yet in Unicode or belong to the CJK-Extension B area, the
collaboration system adopts a method called “Mojiyaki” to
represent the glyphs of the characters as the image fi les on
Web browsers and a character database called “CHISE” based
on the IDS ( Ideographic Description Sequence ). Tibetan
scripts are included in Unicode and supported in Windows
Vista. But the font of the scripts is not included in the older
versions of Microsoft Windows. In the fi eld, most researchers
use the Tibetan texts on the computers by means of their transliteration into ASCII characters. Thus, according to these
conventions, the system must support at least ASCII characters
for the Tibetan characters. Indic characters are the same as
the Tibetan characters.
The content objects which are included in each of the witnesses
such as the paragraphs, the sentences, the words or the letters
in the text data or the fragments of the facsimile image have
relationships to others in the context of the history of thought
in Buddhism. The collaboration system provides a function
that will describe such information about the relationships
separately from the literal digital copies of the witnesses. The
information at least consists of the location of the content
objects in the witness such as the paragraph, the sentence
or the word and the attributes of the relationship such as
variants, quotations, translations, and so on. Because some
relationships have a kind of a hierarchy, it must be refl ected in
the collaboration system. However, it is important to keep the
fl exibility in the methods of the description of the hierarchy
because the hierarchy is often different in each tradition of the
texts. One more important thing is that copyright problems
might be solved by describing the information separately from
the digital copies of the witnesses.
It is important to describe the physical location of the content
objects by the means of the traditional methods such as page
and line number so that the information of the relationship
can maintain interchangeability with the traditional methods
which refer to their physical location in the witness.
The collaboration system must record the name of the
contributors of the information so that responsibility for the
information can be shown explicitly and users can fi lter the
unnecessary information.
The prototype of a collaboration system which implements
the above functions is already completed as a Web
application using the “Madhyamaka Kārikā” which is a famous
philosophical Buddhist text that has been quoted or referred
in other texts since about the 3rd Century. It refl ects opinions
of some Buddhist researchers. It is working on GNU/Linux
using Apache HTTPD server and PostgreSQL and coded by
PHP and AJAX so that users can do all of the works on their
Web browsers. All of them consist of free software. It can be
demonstrated on the Digital Humanities 2008. Moreover, At
present, I am attempting to describe the relationships by use
of RDF, OWL and the elements defi ned by the TEI. The method
of the description will be also shown at the conference.
Caton, Paul, “Distributed Multivalent Encoding”, Digital
Humanities 2007 Conference Abstracts, pp. 33-34. (2007).
DeRose, Steven, “Overlap: A Review and a Horse”,
Extreme Markup Languages 2004: Proceedings, http://www.
DeRose01/EML2004DeRose01.html. (2004).
MORIOKA, Tomohiko, “Character processing based on
character ontology”, IPSJ SIG Technical Report, 2006-CH-072,
pp. 25-32. (2006).
Nagasaki, Kiyonori, “Digital Archives of Indian Buddhist
Philosophy Based on the Relationship between Content
Objects”, IPSJ SIG Technical Report, 2007-CH-75, pp. 31-38.
Nagasaki, Kiyonori, Makoto MINEGISHI and Izumi HOSHI,
“Displaying multi-script data on the Web”, Proceedings of the
Glyph and Typesetting Workshop, 21st Century COE Program
“East Asian Center for Informatics in Humanities - Toward an
Overall Inheritance and Development of Kanji Culture - “ Kyoto
University, pp. 44-51. (2004).
Renear, Allen H., “Text Encoding”, A Companion to Digital
Humanities, Blackwell Publishing, 2004, pp. 218-239. (2004).
Steinkellner, Ernst, “Methodological Remarks On The
Constituion Of Sanskrit Texts From The Buddhist Pramāṇa-
Tradition”, Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens, Band
XXXII, pp. 103-129. (1998).

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2008

Hosted at University of Oulu

Oulu, Finland

June 25, 2008 - June 29, 2008

135 works by 231 authors indexed

Conference website: http://www.ekl.oulu.fi/dh2008/

Series: ADHO (3)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None