The Mardzong Manuscripts

Codicological and Historical Studies of an Archaeological Find in Mustang, Nepal


In 2008, an international team of climbers discovered a large collection of Tibetan manuscripts in a cave complex called Mardzong, in Nepal’s remote Mustang district. The following year, the entire cache—over five thousand folios from some sixty different works of the Buddhist and Bön religions, some more than seven centuries old—were removed to the safe keeping of a monastery, where they were later examined by experts from different disciplines. This book is the result of their findings. The authors present what they have been able to discover about the content of these manuscripts, their age, the materials with which they were made, the patrons who commissioned them and the scribes and artists who created them.

Contributors include: Agnieszka Helman-Ważny, Charles Ramble, Nyima Drandul Gurung, Naljor Tsering, Sarah Skumanov, Emilie Arnaud-Nguyen and Bazhen Zeren

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Agnieszka Helman-Ważny (Ph.D. 2007) is a bibliologist at the University of Warsaw and University of Hamburg. Her publications include monographs and articles on the history of the regional production and usage of paper and books in Tibet and Central Asia, including The Archaeology of Tibetan Books (Brill, 2014).
Charles Ramble (D.Phil. 1985) is directeur d’études at the EPHE, PSL University, Paris, and a member of the Centre for Research on East Asian Civilisations. His publications include several volumes on the history and culture of Mustang, Nepal.
Preface to the 2nd Edition
List of Figures and Tables

1 Introduction to Mustang (Lo) and Its Heritage
Agnieszka Helman-Ważny
 1 Accounts of History and Religion
 2 Climate, Landform, People and the Trade along Kali Gandaki River
 3 Cultural Heritage of Mustang

2 A Note on Interdisciplinary Methods
Agnieszka Helman-Ważny
 1 General Information
 2 Writing/copying
 3 Format and Layout
 4 Elements of Ornamentation
 5 Ownership and Authentication Marks
 6 Materials

3 The Mardzong Texts in Relation to the Bon Canon
Charles Ramble, Agnieszka Helman-Ważny, Nyima Drandul Gurung and Bazhen Zeren
 1 The Khams chen
 2 The Ka ‘dus
 3 The gZer mig
 4 The Klu ʼbum
 5 Buddhist dhâraṇî Volume

4 A Codicological Study of the Mardzong Manuscripts
Agnieszka Helman-Ważny
 1 The Khams chen
 2 The Ka ‘dus
 3 The gZer mig
 4 The Klu ʼbum
 5 Buddhist dhâraṇî Volume

5 Comparative Study of Paper Found at Archaeological Sites in Mustang
Emilie Arnaud-Nguyen and Agnieszka Helman-Ważny
 1 Links between Paper Dating and Its Manufacturing Process
 2 Characteristics of the Samples Studied
 3 The Process of the Degradation of Paper
 4 Fibre Analysis
 5 A Higher Degree of Deterioration
 6 A Medium Degree of Degradation
 7 Conclusion

6 Missing Manuscripts from the Mardzong Cave Repository
Charles Ramble
 1 The Context
 2 The Missing Manuscripts: Content Description
 3 Buddhist Works
 4 Bon Works
 5 Secular or Indeterminate Works

7 On the Dating and Origin of the Mardzong Manuscripts
Agnieszka Helman-Ważny and Charles Ramble

8 Book-Making Practices in Mustang
Agnieszka Helman-Ważny
 1 Paper
 2 Ink
 3 Layout
 4 Calligraphy

9 Preservation of the Mardzong Manuscripts Collection
Sarah Skumanov
 1 Preservation of Cultural Heritage in Mustang
 2 The State of Preservation of the Mardzong Manuscripts

10 Translations of Selected Works from the Mardzong Collection
Charles Ramble
 1 Khams chen Dedication
 2 Triten Norbutse Dedication
 3 Khams chen Dedication
 4 Triten Norbutse Dedication
 5 Mardzong BA
 6 Mardzong J Text and Translation
 7 Mardzong K Text and Translation

11 A Rare Treatise on Toxicology from the Mardzong Collection: Translation and Preliminary Remarks
Charles Ramble and Naljor Tsering
 1 Introduction
 2 Poisoning in Tibet
 3 Indian Traditions of Toxicology
 4 Structure and Content of Mardzong A
 5 Features of the Manuscript and Presentation of the Text
 6 Text and Translation
All interested in Himalayan history and archaeology, Tibetan literature, regional manuscript production and use, as well as methods of decoding the identity, provenance and history of manuscripts of this region.