In the process of preparing manuscripts for digital reproduction, I often become more sensitive to the aspects which cannot be reproduced. High-quality, instantly-accessible images are an incredible boon to researchers around the world, but, inevitably, a representation of a 2-dimensional surface will not be able to capture a 3-dimensional object persisting in and changing over time. Moreover, as a human artefact, it is embedded in a rich cultural and historical context, which is only hinted at through imagery.
The interaction between materiality and human culture is captured beautifully in palm leaf manuscripts such as Indien 54, pictured here. Continue reading