Launch of Jātaka Stories database
Dr Naomi Appleton and Dr Chris Clark have developed a free online searchable database of jātakas - stories of the Buddha’s past lives - in Indian texts and art.
The researchers hope that the Jātaka Stories database will be a useful research tool for scholars, encouraging the study of textual and visual narratives side by side.
The project was funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
Browse and search
The database is housed on the Jātaka Stories website.
Dr Appleton and Dr Clark say:
“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, eg. 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.
“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.”
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.
Further expansion of the database is planned, including texts and art from other parts of Asia.
Scholars interested in contributing to future additions to the database are invited to email Dr Appleton.
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.