Thursday, January 26, 2012

colophons, names of text portions in Sanskrit manuscripts

I believe that David Pingree introduced the term "post-colophon" into Indian manuscript studies when he wrote his catalogue of the Bodleian Chandra Shum Shere jyotiṣa collection.

Am I right that nobody outside Indological circles (and those influenced by indologists in the last few decades) uses the term "post-colophon"?

Here's a grid of usages:

Key: Pingree (various catalogues, starting 1984)
Tripathi: C. Tripathi, Cat. of Jaina MSS at Strasbourg
Wikipedia: see here and links.
X: no special term

Description      Pingree       Tripathi         Wikipedia (and non-indologists)
Final verse
of text                       X                     X              explicit

iti...samāptam        colophon      colophon       X (or colophon?)

saṃvat phrase       post-            Scribal           colophon

                               colophon       Remarks

after saṃvat

phrase                    X                  post-             X

Pratapaditya Pal uses "post-colophon" in his 1978 Arts of Nepal book
(, in the same sense as Pingree.  Perhaps
that's where David got it?


  1. There was an interdisciplinary conference on colophons (also called "On Colophons") held in Hamburg in 2009 in which this issue of what to call a colophon and where it was allowed to occur and still be called a colophon was discussed at length. Toward the end Oskar von Hinüber threw up his hands in exasperation and said something to the effect of he didn't care what we call it!

  2. I am sorry for the naive question, but why should not one label whatever comes after the explicit "colophon"? And what terminology do you use while describing manuscripts?

  3. I don't really understand your question, Elisa. I mean, what is the meaning of a "why?" question in this context? There are different usages out there in the world. Are you proposing a new usage, or supporting a current one? But in either case, the interesting thing would be the reason for your preferred usage.

    In my own cataloguing, as you'll see from my published Handlists of the Wellcome Library's Sanskrit and Prakrit collections,* I have tried to use less special terminological usage, rather than more. Like the VOHD series, v.II (Janert), I use "beginning" and "end" as undifferentiated categories. If you aren't going to index something, then there is no purpose in subdivisions of terminology.

    * Handlists: