Dear friends and colleagues,
We are pleased to announce the launch of Jātaka Stories (https://jatakastories.div.ed.ac.uk), a free online searchable database of jātakas in Indian texts and art. In this database, users may browse stories belonging to a variety of Sanskrit and Pali textual collections. Each story in text contains a set of information, including the story’s themes, characters and places; the Sanskrit or Pali full text; and an English translation (where available). Similarly, users may browse artwork belonging to a number of Buddhist sites of ancient India. Each story in art contains a different set of information, including its date, location, visual elements, associated textual stories, corresponding inscription (in Prakrit and English translation, where present), a description of the scene, and an image of the artwork (where available). Many of the data fields are hyperlinks, e.g. themes, characters, places, rebirth identifications and visual elements. Users may click on any of these hyperlinks to explore the stories with which they are associated.
In addition to browsing, there are search pages for finding particular textual and visual jātakas. These pages contain a series of filters that, with each addition, gradually narrow the search results. Please note that, at present, the search function for texts has a couple of issues that will be fixed during the first half of 2020 (details of these issues are given in the Search Stories in Text webpage). Finally, users may browse or search for specific story clusters, which group together similar stories in text and art (a concept that is similar to “parallel stories”, though more inclusive).
Further expansion of the database is planned, including texts and art from other parts of Asia (if you are interested in contributing to future additions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org). We hope that the Jātaka Stories database will be a useful research tool for scholars and will further encourage the study of textual and visual narratives side by side. This project has been generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
Naomi Appleton and Chris Clark
University of Edinburgh