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Signless Signification in Ancient India and Beyond

Signless Signification in Ancient India and Beyond

Edited by Tiziana Pontillo & Maria Piera Candotti


The collection of interdisciplinary essays in this book examines the speculative, linguistic, literary and artistic theories on signless ways of expressing meanings in the context of traditional Indian language and culture. 

Paperback, 288 Pages


January 2014

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

The collected essays in this book are the result of a series of workshops held at the University of Cagliari in Italy. In this work, the authors aim at reconstructing the evolution of a key concept of traditional Indian grammar: Pāṇini’s zero. The book investigates how certain patterns of description account for exceptions in the currently presupposed one-to-one symmetry between the semantic and the phono-morphological level of language. This work also deals with some powerful mechanisms of rule extension, which are valuable for different contexts of rule arrangement, such as the ritual model. The interpretative model laid down in the introduction proves strong and suggestive enough to allow subsequent articles in the book to make incursions into other traditions and cultures. The potentialities of aniconic expression in the artistic field are explored, together with the outcomes of this theory.


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Author Information

Tiziana Pontillo is a teacher and research fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Cagliari, Italy.

Maria Piera Candotti is privat-docent of Sanskrit at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.



Historical and Textual Studies of South Asian Religions

Anthem South Asian Studies

Table of Contents

Preface – Giuliano Boccali; PART I:  TECHNICAL AND SPECULATIVE REFLECTIONS ON SIGNLESS SIGNIFICATION: 1. Much Ado about Nothing: Unsystematic Notes on “śūnya” – Alberto Pelissero; 2. When One Thing Applies More than Once: “tantra” and “prasaṅga” in Śrautasūtra, Mīmāṃsā and Grammar – Elisa Freschi, Tiziana Pontillo; 3. The Earlier Pāṇinian Tradition on the Imperceptible Sign – Maria Piera Candotti, Tiziana Pontillo; 4. The Infinite Possibilities of Life: Interpretations of the “śūnyatā” in the Thinking of Daisaku Ikeda – Paolo Corda; PART II: REFLECTIONS ON SIGNLESS SIGNIFICATION IN LITERATURE AND ARTS: 5. Presences and Absences in Indian Visual Arts: Ideologies and Events – Cinzia Pieruccini; 6. Rethinking the Question of Images (Aniconism vs. Iconism) in the Indian History of Art – Mimma Congedo, Paola M. Rossi; 7. Denotation “in absentia” in Literary Language: The Case of Aristophanic Comedy – Patrizia Mureddu; 8. The Birth of the Buddha in the Early Buddhist Art Schools – Ruben Fais; 9. Untranslatable Denotations: Notes on Music Meaning Through Cultures – Prema Bhat, Paolo Bravi, Ignazio Macchiarella; Summary of Papers 

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