Jainpedia

Posted: 10.07.2017
Updated on: 26.12.2017

Centre of Jaina Studies Newsletter: SOAS - University of London


Jainpedia is a new image database with comprehensive material on Jainism launching in spring 2010 at www. jainpedia.org. It aims to bring the religious and cultural heritage of the Jain faith to believers, researchers and the general public via the Internet. One of Jainpedia's principal aspirations is to advance scholarly endeavours by enabling the global academic community to examine many, often fragile, artefacts without travelling to the host institutions. Centring on the manuscript collections of the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Bodleian Library in Oxford and the Wellcome Trust in the UK, visitors to the site will be able to view magnified, high resolution images of complete manuscripts with added descriptions of their context and significance. Although most of the images are of manuscripts, statues and other artefacts are also included.

While the website features interactive and media elements, it is made up largely of encyclopaedia articles. Some 300 articles are arranged in four themes – People, Principles, Practices and Places –each with subthemes. Most of the entries have been written by Professor Nalini Balbir (Paris-3 Sorbonne-Nouvelle), Jainpedia's editorial director, and there are additional articles by invited scholars. The rest of the material consists mainly of translations, transcriptions and descriptions of selected artefacts, complementing the images and clearly situating them within their cultural and religious milieux. There are also various functionalities to aid users who are new to Jainism, such as a glossary, an interactive timeline, a pronunciation guide and an e-library of published materials ranging from academic articles and monographs to the complete archive of Jain Spirit magazine. Other areas of the website provide a community space and schoolsfocused material for teachers. By the end of 2010 almost 5,000 photographs of manuscripts and other artefacts of the Jain tradition will be online. Most of them have never been on public view before.

A programme of exhibitions and events at partner institutions will take place over the next two years, starting at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Opening this spring, twelve objects, ten manuscripts and two manuscript covers will be displayed at the Nehru Gallery of Indian Art. Computer monitors will be set up to provide an explanatory panel for each artefact with links to further references.

A digitised image of this folio, an illustration of the first chapter of the Uttarādhyayana, is an example of the type to be featured on Jainpedia. Visitors to the site will be able to locate the place of the page within the manuscript, read a description, transliteration and translation and magnify the image. (British Library manuscript OR 13362, folio 5 verso). Courtesy of the British Library

The project is led by the London-based Institute of Jainology, which has secured a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in the UK and matching donations from Jain organisations and private benefactors. The Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College London is responsible for Jainpedia's development and launch. A blog at www.jainpedia.org records the project's progress from the point of view of several team members.

Jasmine Kelly, MA Digital Culture and Technology, Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College London, is the Jainpedia content manager. With a background in publishing, she has played key roles in a variety of online and digital initiatives, including Microsoft Encarta, Encyclopaedia Britannica and e government projects for the Cabinet Office.

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