About THL > Overviews > Tibetan Canons Resources > Tibetan Canons Overview
The Tibetan Canons project overall aspires to address all types of Tibetan scriptural canons. Having cataloged the Collected Tantras of the Ancients (rnying ma rgyud ’bum), the present focus of the project is on the Buddhist Kangyur (bka’ ’gyur) and Tengyur (bstan ’gyur) canons. The Kangyur is the compilation of Buddhist scriptures believed to be authored by a Buddha, and mostly translated into Tibetan from Sanskrit and other Indian languages; the Tengyur is the compilation of Buddhist scriptures believed to be authored by various Indian Buddhist scholars and translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan. Each exists in various editions which can different in extent, number of texts included, internal structure, and actual textual readings. In general, both the Kangyur and Tengyur internally group their texts into a limited number of bibliographical categories based upon literary groupings, Buddhist philosophical-ritual traditions, and topical subjects.
The project in its grandest ambitions involves the following tasks:
- Catalog in deep detail the texts (authorship, chapter titles, colophons, etc.)
- Cross-reference canonical texts with corresponding versions in other languages (Chinese, Sanskrit, Pali, etc.)
- Document the history of editions
- Explain the character of each bibliographical category used within editions
- Scan the texts so scholars can see the original readings for themselves
- Input the texts so that scholars can search the texts and create their own editions
- Make critical editions of texts which compare editions and make editorial decisions about the correct readings
- Publish summaries of texts and chapters
- Publish translations of texts and chapters
- Provide bibliographies of critical editions, translations, scholarship
- Publish associated reference resources in relevant places, people, and so forth
When considered in the context of the need to do many of these texts for each of the many different editions of the canon, it is clear that such a project in its fullest scope would take millions of dollars and many decades. At present we are thus focused on a difficult but far more limited task of cataloging various editions of these two large collections
The project will provide both scholars and the wider public unprecedented access to this collection by creating a searchable digital catalog of several different editions of the Kangyur and Tengyur, along with direct links to the actual manuscript images for a single edition of each text (based on the mainstream Derge edition and supplemented by the Narthang and Peking editions). To provide this intellectual access to The Tibetan Buddhist Canon, we will create a master catalog ultimately containing at its core bibliographical records for the seven printed Kangyurs of Peking, Cone, Derge, Urga, Narthang, Lhasa, and Mongolian translation; the five printed Tengyurs of Peking, Cone, Derge, Narthang, and Golden; and one manuscript Kangyur of Shekar in London. This master catalog will also include data from extant Tibetan indices of editions now lost (Denkarma, Buton Rinchendrup, 5th Dalai Lama, and Minling Terchen). Each text will have an in-depth catalog record based on the Derge (and when necessary the Narthang/Peking) that provides detailed metadata including a table of contents, while the other editions of that text will be cataloged at a shallow level. The catalogs will be searchable by any category, including title, author, genre, and keyword. Users will also be able to browse the entries for the individual editions as well as the master Collection in three ways: alphabetically, by volume, and by philosophical category.
The Tibetan Buddhist Canonical Collections will enable sophisticated scholarly research into this canon in several ways. Users will be able to view the catalog information for an entire edition, for a single volume, or for a given thematic section of the canon. In addition, the master catalog will provide integrated access to comparative data across all the editions, including a comprehensive presentation for browsing organized thematically by traditional classification systems. At the level of individual texts, the Collections will make possible comparative analysis across editions of the length of a single text, its main and alternate titles, its chapter titles and lengths, its thematic category, and provenance (author, translator, reviser, etc.). Users will also be able to access this information for a text in an individual edition, as well as details of the physical artifact such as the volume in which it is located and its pagination.