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Gandhara scroll: Rare 2,000-year-old Buddhist text made public



The scroll originated in Gandhara, an ancient Buddhist region in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan. Only a few hundred Gandharan manuscripts are known to be scholars worldwide, and each is vital to understanding the early development of Buddhist literature.

The Gandhara text is narrated by Shakyamuni Buddha, the religious leader also known as Siddhartha Gautama, and tells the story of the 13 Buddhas who preceded him, his own emergence and the prediction of a future Buddha.

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"This is a unique item because It is very old compared to the manuscripts and as it is, it does bring us, historically speaking, relatively close to the lifetime of the Buddha, "Jonathan Loar, reference librarian in the Asian Division at the Library of Congress, said in a statement .

The library's scroll retains nearly 80% of the original text, with only the beginning and end missing. Most other Gandharan scrolls are more fragmentary.

"I wanted to find a way to share this incredibly unique item with the public," Loar told CNN.

Purchased in 2003 from a private collector, the scroll is one of the most complicated and fragile pieces of the library of Congress has ever treated.

The treatment of the text has not been carried out.

It has not been applied to dried-up cigars ] "One reason is that Gandharan scrolls, like the one at the Library of Congress, were typically buried in terra cotta jars and interred in a stupa, a dome-shaped structure often containing Buddhist texts or relics," Loar said. "Another reason is that the relatively high, arid climate of the Gandharan region helps preserve materials like manuscript on birch bark."

Although the manuscript itself is too fragile for public display, by digitizing the text, the library is able to share this important piece of history with the public.


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