The History and Science of Paper in Manuscripts of Central Asia

Lecture | December 3 | 5-7 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Agnieszka Helman-Ważny, University of Hamburg & University of Warsaw

 Tang Center for Silk Road Studies

Manuscripts from the Silk Road have been used as a key source in the study of religions, literature, and the cultural history of Central Asia. However, they have hardly ever been viewed as artifacts in their own right. As one of the most important physical features of a manuscript, paper serves as a means to distinguish one type of manuscript from another, and can help to determine the origin of a manuscript. This lecture, based on selected collections of paper and manuscripts found in the caves of Western Nepal, Tibet and Central Asia, surveys a variety of analytical techniques in comparison to codicological methods traditionally applied to manuscript studies. By broadening the scope of methods and ways of thinking, we may gain greater precision of temporal and regional attribution of excavated artifacts.

Agnieszka Helman-Ważny (Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, University of Hamburg, and the Department of Books and Media History, Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw) is a paper scientist and the author or co-author of four books and over forty scholarly articles.