Lecture: Bibliotheca Malabarica: Ziegenbalg’s Tamil Library

Prof. M. Anandakrishnan Endowment Lecture Series

Bibliotheca Malabarica: Ziegenbalg’s Tamil Library

by

Prof. William Sweetman
(Senior Lecturer, University of Otago, New Zealand)

&

Dr. R. Ilakkuvan
(Post Graduate Teacher, Govt. Higher Secondary School, Kongarayakurichi, Thoothukudi dist.)

Summary of the talk
This paper, presented in Tamil and English, will discuss the library of Tamil manuscripts assembled in Thanjavur in the first decade of the eighteenth century by the Protestant missionary, Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg. The library is lost, but an annotated catalogue prepared by Ziegenbalg in 1708 reveals his understanding of Tamil literature. Described by Kamil Zvelebil as ‘a relatively complete account of Tamil literature’, the catalogue includes many standard works of Tamil literature from Tolkāppiyam to Apirāmi antāti, as well as others which are much harder to identify. The catalogue both provides fascinating snapshot of Tamil literary works in wide circulation on the eve of colonialism and demonstrates the importance of identifying the textual sources of early European writing on India.

About the Speakers
Will Sweetman is Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He is currently working on Jesuit collections of Indian manuscripts in the early eighteenth century. R. Ilakkuvan received his PhD on “Quotation poems in Tolkappiyam commentaries” from the Karantai Tamil Cankam and is postgraduate teacher in Tamil, Government Higher Secondary School, Kongarayakurichi, Thothukudi District. He is currently preparing a Tamil translation of Ziegenbalg’s catalogue.


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