It goes without saying that the main language of Buddhist manuscripts in East Asia was Classical Chinese. From the foundation of Chinese Buddhism until around the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries both intellectuals and scholar monks were using it as a common mutual language.
Long had the transmission and copying of Buddhist texts been done with handwritten manuscripts, but in the tenth century in China the Kaibaozang 開寶藏 (Beisong chiban 北宋勅版 or Northern Song imperial edition) had published a printed edition of the Tripitaka and the printing of sūtras became popular. However, even following this there was no abandonment of handwritten manuscripts and they continued to be used for daily use, but throughout East Asia as print publishing culture developed the primary use of handwritten manuscripts declined.
Today any person seeking to conduct research on East Asian Buddhist culture must consider and well understand the present situation of manuscript research. Here I will, with young Korean researchers with an interest in manuscript research in mind, outline the following five articles and explain their significance: 1) The definition of Buddhist manuscripts. 2) The present situation of Buddhist manuscript research in East Asia. 3) An introduction to Buddhist manuscript research methods. 4) A particular example of research Choesung taeja byoltan gongyang uigwe 最勝太子別檀供養儀軌 by the Silla monk Hyongcho 玄超. 5) The basis of classical studies in the humanities.