Open for Contributions: the DiGA Thesaurus 1.0 is released!

Make some noise! The DiGA Thesaurus is now available in an updated version on SKOSMOS! We finally completed the long and painstaking task of digitizing the printed reference vocabulary for Gandharan art that is the Repertorio Terminologico per la schedatura delle sculture dell’arte gandharica, published in 2007 by Domenico Faccenna and Anna Filigenzi. The digital thesaurus that we now release was – as the name says – initially developed for the DiGA Project. During the first phase of DiGA, it was OCR’d, and converted into SKOS. A detailed description of the conversion process is available in this blog post.

Since, we have spent several months revising and extending the Thesaurus, and pondering its conversion from a printed book into a digital tool with a coherently designed hierarchy and univocal concepts (and URIs) across types and categories. It seems obvious in retrospect, but the printed and the digital media afford different utilizations (e.g. in the digital format you just need one “trident with unequal prongs” concept, while in the original printed Repertorio you would find the same concept repeated twice, once under the category “weapons”, and once as an attribute of Hāritī). So for certain categories (e.g. “architectural elements” or “figures: some general features”), we adapted the structure of the Repertorio to make it more “digital-user” friendly. Moreover, as per the guidelines laid out by our Pelagios Working Group “Linked Data Methodologies in Gandhāran Buddhist Art and Texts”, we created new categories of concepts and vocabularies. These include: “figures” (i.e. generic deities, spirits, mythological figures; generic persons; historical persons; literary persons) and “narratives” (i.e. generic scenes, last existence, previous births). We created vocabularies based on a variety of complementary sources and first using spreadsheets, these terms were imported into our VocBench editor and merged into our SKOS vocabulary with the other categories. Our Thesaurus now covers the following categories: animals, architecture, ceremonial objects, decorative motifs, everyday objects, figures (general features), figures (i.e. protagonists), means of transports, musical instruments, narratives, the sculptor’s work, vegetation, weapons. Nevertheless, despite the large breadth of categories that it considers, by its own nature, the DiGA Thesaurus is not a definitively finished product. It is, so to say, not a closed canon. We are still working on updates, and we will continue to integrate new terms as made necessary by the ongoing digitization of the collection of Gandharan artifacts stored in the Dir Museum (Chakdara, Khyber Pakhtunkhtwa, Pakistan), core task of the DiGA Project. New terms will make their way into the Thesaurus as new motifs emerge. In other words, the expansion of the thesaurus is an organic process.

In order to foster a collaborative environment for the growth and maintenance of the Thesaurus, we already established an online working group and specific collaborations with other projects that will lead to further integrations to the Thesaurus. On the one hand, we have already started to map our concepts with equivalents from other projects focusing on Buddhist iconography or Gandharan material or literary corpora. Their terminologies are for instance listed as alternative labels for the terms we opted for our DiGA Thesaurus. One the other hand, other projects are, indeed, already starting to use our Thesaurus. This makes us very proud! We accept contributions that add missing concepts which are relevant for the description of Buddhist art. And corrections! The focus of the Thesaurus is currently on South and Central Asia. We are open for discussions regarding the inclusion of concepts for other regions and traditions, e.g. East Asia. This collaborative approach finds its natural habitat in GitHub where you can find an open repository. Change requests are welcome, and we are looking forward to hearing your comments, opinion and establish fruitful collaborations to make the DiGA Thesaurus grow and connect with other similar initiatives, aiming at an increasingly comprehensive dataset for the description of Gandharan art and – more broadly – of Buddhist art.

If you want to discuss the use of the Thesaurus or suggest integration, but you are not very familiar with the GitHub environment, you can do so in our Matrix Chat (please request access via

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Serena Autiero (June 30, 2022). Open for Contributions: the DiGA Thesaurus 1.0 is released! Digitization of Gandharan Artefacts. Retrieved July 12, 2024 from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search