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Lecture | VVIK Lecture

VVIK Lecture | Uncovering the Manuscript History of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita: Tracing and Reconstruction

Thursday 25 May 2023

1.04 (Verbarium)


The Śrīkaṇṭhacarita is a 12th-century court poem (mahākāvya) in 25 cantos (sargas) written by the poet Maṅkha in Kashmir. While the narrative ostensibly depicts the gestures of the god Śiva against the demons of Tripura, it primarily serves as a pretext for Maṅkha to showcase his poetic ability and is also a source of historical information. The text, along with its commentary by Jonarāja, was first published in the Kāvyamālā series in 1887 and has since been studied by scholars such as Bhatt (1973) and Mandal (1991), as well as partially translated into German (Kreyenborg 1929; Slaje 2015) and English (Obrock 2015; Gomez 2016).

Using the absence of both a manuscript survey and a critical edition as a starting point, this talk will delve into the process of tracing and reconstructing the history of the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita's manuscripts. Specifically, we will focus on disentangling archival information from catalogues, addressing the lack of shared terminology to describe the manuscripts, uncovering new findings about the movement of some copies within India and from India to Europe, and highlighting examples of scribal poetic sensibility.


Chiara Livio is a Gonda Fellow at the IIAS in Leiden. She obtained her Ph.D. at Sapienza University of Rome in 2020 with a dissertation on the Śrīkaṇṭhacarita by Maṅkha. Afterward, she collaborated as a Postdoc with the University of Bologna (ERC Project Shivadharma), where she contributed both to bridging the domains of Sanskrit and Digital Humanities and to the study of the production of Śaiva Kāvya in South India, focusing on the critical edition of an unpublished commentary to the sixth section of Utprekṣāvallabha's Bhikṣāṭanakāvya.

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