is down

For our SHT fragments, we link to the external site This has images of the manuscript fragments. The site is the official British Library site for the International Dunhuang Project.

At the moment it is down, so these links won’t work. The Internet Archive has a snapshot from 20 Dec, so it hasn’t been all that long. Hopefully the site will be up soon.

Although this is (probably!) not one of SC’s most used features, it is very cool. You can go straight to the actual manuscript sources for many of the important Sanskrit fragments. The actual site is terrible, very slow, with arcane and near-incomprehensible navigation. Thanks to one of our former developers, John Nishinaga, we were able to enable much more convenient access to their images than through their own website.

However, it suffers, as always, because of external dependencies. Given that it is a long-standing, officially supported academic site one would hope it is reliable. Hopefully the current downtime will be soon rectified. But it would be great, at some point, to have these images natively on SC. The problem is, as images they are copyright, so we would have to negotiate the rights. (The text cannot be copyrighted, but the photograph is.)

I noticed - since this morning. It was working yesterday.
Give it a few days…

who is entrusted with powers of a negotiator?

It is working on and off … guess they are working on the server.

For us it would usually be me, although @Vimala has been doing some of this in Europe as well.

For the IDP, copyright info is here.


I’ve just had a bit more a look around the IDP site, which is back up now. The content is fantastic, but the implementation is very poor. Even basic interface elements are hard to understand, search is extremely limited, and the database is very slow. To me its a classic example where such an intrinsically interesting content, which has required so much work from so many people, is going badly underused because it’s just too darned hard. I suspect there are many more suttas pertaining to the EBTs on there, but haven’t been able to find out whether this is so.

Would you like me to write them and ask permission to have the images on our site so we don’t rely on theirs?

A quick search for SHT fragments reveals the following:
Results of Search for: Advanced search where pressmark contains SHT (Images Only=True)
Items Found: 16152

So at nearly 60 kb each and often 2 images per item, this would be nearly 2 GB.

It would be nice, but maybe it would be good to create a “tech preview” first, to see how feasible it is. If it’s going to be a lot of work, it’s probably not a good idea. Do you have any thoughts about that?

We would want more than just the image, also the other relevant data about the image if possible, although that is not a copyright issue (data as such is not subject to copyright).

I’m doing a trial now to extract the images from their site and make an estimate of how much work it would be. If they have consistent numbering of the images, etc. it should not be that much work.

I had a look but I think it will take me some time to really study it and get the data+images out (although I can probably use the already existing sht lookup tool in SC). However, I feel that this project is not the most urgent and I have many other things to do first, so I can put it the Git issue list for now until we have some more time to look at it.
Any thoughts/suggestions on this?

Sure, very low priority. Anyway, my instinct is that it’s unlikely we’d get copyright permission.