Should we introduce a "fragmentary" relation?


@vimala, @blake, for your consideration.

In the new version of our data, we extend the kinds of parallels from the old “full” and 'partial" to include:

  • Full (a text or section of text parallels another text or section of text)
  • Resembling (one text “resembles” another)
  • Retelling (a story or event is “retold” somewhere else)
  • Mention (a text or passage is “mentioned” somewhere else)

The new system makes it fairly easy to extend these types of relation.

Our recent discussion of T 121 raises the possibility of another kind of relation:

  • Fragmentary (only fragments of a text exist)

In the case of SN 16.3 = T 121 etc., one of the parallels is SF 74. This is a Sanskrit fragment that includes only a small portion of the text. Even the part that is available is about 30% reconstruction. So the parts that actually parallel the sutra text are in reality just a few lines.

This is currently listed in parallels.json with ~sf74, indicating a resembling parallel. However, it seems, in fact, to be pretty much the same as the Pali text, or it would be if it existed in full. To identify it by section seems overly complex and also not entirely accurate, as a sectional parallel is for sections of text transcluded in others, not for fragmentary survivals.

Would we be justified in creating a new class of relation for such cases? By specifying it as a “fragmentary parallel” we are clearly indicating the kind of relation.

The problem is, of course, that such fragments exist on a spectrum, from a scrap of just a few characters all the way to mostly complete texts. So the texts would have to be defined in a somewhat arbitrary way; something like:

  • A fragmentary parallel is used for cases where the text only exists in fragments that are significantly less than the full text.

For example, SF 74 would count as a fragment, whereas SF 73, which contains a full text and just a few reconstructed phrases, would not be a fragment.


The four classes we have at the moment are all relationships in terms of text-content. “Fragmentary” says nothing about the content of the text but only about the state of the medium that the text is written on. I think it might be a difficult case to judge and also somebody would have to go over all these parallels and make the judgement and changes for each one.

Up to you I guess.


Yes, that’s true.

In terms of the work required, the SHT texts are all fragments. Then there’s the Sanskrit and other Indic language texts, a couple of hundred of them, so it’s not all that many.

Maybe it would be better to have some way of marking the text itself as fragmentary, rather than the relation?


In the menu it says “SHT fragments”. Would that not be enough?


I guess it’s mostly the other texts. In the category currently misleadingly titled “Sanskrit fragments”, there are several different kinds of things, including pretty much complete texts all the way down to isolated fragments, although not as fragmentary as the SHT. Anyway, it’s a very marginal thing!


These suttas do not have a title like the Pali text (f.i. Brahmajala Sutta) so in the title in the Suttaplex view we can put something like “Fragmented Text SF 21” or something like that.


In the absence of a title, it should default to just the ID number.


Sure, and that is what it does. But you said:

So I’m suggesting one way of marking the text itself as fragmentary via a field in the Suttaplex that is not used. So you can put in a title that says f.i. “SF 42 (fragment)” instead of it now defaulting to “SF 42” without any extra information. Is there another field in the Suttaplex you want to use for this instead? What do you suggest?