Tag Archives: Sogdian

Sogdian Christianity

A Sogdian silk brocade textile fragment, dated c. 700 AD

Ashurov, Barakatullo. 2018. ‘Sogdian Christianity’: Evidence from architecture and material culture. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1–42.

This article aims to discuss the question of the inculturation of Syriac Christianity in Central Asia, based on archaeological examples including architectural evidence from a particular ethnocultural area: Sogdiana. It questions to what extent the Eastern Syriac Church has become rooted in local culture, thus enabling Christian communities to express their faith in both material and artistic ways. This article is divided into two sections which present a comprehensive study of the medieval sources relevant to the spread and establishment of Christianity in the Central Asian landmass by considering and analyzing existing tangible evidence. In doing so, it provides assessment of comparable evidence, which demonstrates both the “extended” and an “immediate” context in which Eastern Syriac Christianity was accepted, adapted and transformed into a localised expression of Christian faith.

Studies on the Sogdian Epistolary Tradition

Benkato, Adam. 2018. Studies on the Sogdian epistolary tradition (Berliner Turfantexte 41). Turnhout: Brepols.
Edition of Sogdian epistolary fragments discovered in Turfan as well as a wide-ranging comparative analysis of Sogdian epistolary formulae.

An important part of the Sogdian corpora which have come down to us are epistolary texts: both the earliest substantial Sogdian documents (the ‘Ancient Letters’) and the only substantial textual corpus found in Sogdiana itself (the Mugh documents). The Turfan collections of (especially) Berlin, Kyoto, and St. Petersburg, also preserve a number of letter fragments. Altogether, these texts attest different phases of a Sogdian epistographical tradition stretching over some seven centuries. The edition and analysis of both well-preserved and fragmentary texts can contribute to efforts to reconstruct parts of those traditions—and eventually connect them with those of Central Asia and Iran more broadly. The first part of this work is an effort to present a comprehensive edition of the Sogdian epistolary fragments in the Turfan collections of Berlin, Kyoto, and St. Petersburg. In the second part a comparative study of Sogdian epistolography is undertaken, based on the editions made in the first part, together with previously published work on other Sogdian epistolary corpora, including studies of layout, external addresses, and stamps. Additionally, an appendix by Simone-Christiane Raschmann contributes to the larger study of epistolary culture in Turfan with the edition and study of three Old Turkic fragments (two letters and one order) which shed light on the use of stamps.

The Sinicization of Indo-Iranian Astrology in Medieval China

Kotyk, Jeffrey. 2018. The sinicization of Indo-Iranian astrology in medieval China (Sino-Platonic Papers 282). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

This study explores the introduction and development of foreign systems of astrology in medieval China (Tang to Ming periods), in particular the practice of horoscopy, and how such models were implemented within a Chinese astronomical framework. It is argued that the basic character of such horoscopy was in large part Dorothean, rather than Ptolemaic. It is furthermore demonstrated that Chinese horoscopy was as much an heir to Persian systems of horoscopy as was the Islamicate, a point that has yet to be recognized. The paper also demonstrates the enduring impact of horoscopy within the culture of Chinese divination.

The discovery and decipherment of Sogdian

8th cent. Tang dynasty Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian © Museum of Oriental Art (Turin)

Sims-Williams, Ursula. 2016. The discovery and decipherment of Sogdian in the early 20th century. In Rong Xinjiang & Luo Feng (eds.), Sogdians in China: New evidence in archaeological finds and unearthed texts, vol 2, 429–435. Beijing: Science Press.

 

 

The above paper is the unpublished English original of “The discovery and decipherment of Sogdian in the early 20th century” (in Chinese). In, Sute ren zai Zhongguo: kao gu fa xian yu chu tu wen xian de xin yin zheng =  Sogdians in China: new evidence in archaeological finds and unearthed texts, eds. Rong Xinjiang and Luo Feng, vol 2 (Beijing: Science Press, 2016):  429-435

Manichaeism East and West

Detail of a Turfan Manichaen Illuminated Scroll; Turfan Antiquarian Bureau (Turfan, China), 81 TB 65:01 © Encyclopædia Iranica
Lieu, Samuel N. C. (ed.). 2017. Manichaeism east and west (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum. Analecta Manichaica 1). Turnhout: Brepols.
This new volume brings the research on many aspects of the texts published in the Corpus up to date and signals new texts to appear in the Corpus. It includes important studies on the scientific dating of the Medinet Madi, codices as well as the newly discovered Manichaean texts in Chinese and Parthian from Xiapu in South China.
Table of Contents:
  • Dilâ Baran Tekin: “Mani and his teachings according to Islamic sources: An introductory study”
  • Jason Beduhn and Greg Hodgins: “The date of the Manichaean codices from Medinet Madi, and its significance”
  • Adam Benkato: “Incipits and Explicits in Iranian Manichaean texts”
  • Fernando Bermejo Rubio: “Violence and Myth: Some reflections on an aspect of the Manichaean Protology and Eschatology”
  • Iris Colditz: “On the names of ‘Donors’ in Middle Iranian Manichaean texts”
  • Jean-Daniel Dubois: “The Coptic Manichaean Psalm to Jesus (N° 245)”
  • Majella Franzmann: “The Elect Cosmic Body and Manichaeism as an exclusive religion”
  • Iain Gardner, Leyla Rasouli-Narimani: “Patīg and Pattikios in the Manichaean sources”
  • Matthew Goff: “Wild Cannibals or Repentant Sinners? The value of the Manichaean Book of Giants for understanding the Qumran Book of Giants”
  • Zsuzsanna Gulácsi: “Exploring the relic function of Mani’s Seal Stone in the Bibliothèque nationale de France”
  • Gábor Kósa: “Adamas of Light in the Cosmology Painting”
  • Claudia Leurini: “The Messiah in Iranian Manichaean Texts”
  • Samuel Lieu: “Manichaeism East and West”
  • Rea Matsangou: “Real and Imagined Manichaeans in Greek Patristic anti-Manichaica (4th-6th centuries)”
  • Enrico Morano: “Manichaean Sogdian poems”
  • Nils Arne Pedersen: “Observations on the Book of the Giants from Coptic and Syriac Sources”
  • Flavia Ruani. “John of Dara on Mani: Manichaean Interpretations of Genesis 2:17 in Syriac”
  • Jonathan Smith: “Persia, Sun, Fire, Execution, and Mercy: Jean Baudrillard’s postmodern reception of Charles Allberry’s A Manichaean Psalm-Book, Part II (1938)”
  • Christos Theodorou: “Heavenly Garment and Christology in Western Manichaean Sources”
  • Satoshi Toda: “Some Observations on Greek Words in Coptic Manichaean Texts”
  • Yutaka Yoshida: “Middle Iranian Terms in the Xiapu Chinese texts: Four aspects of the Father of Greatness in Parthian”

Ancient Iranian Terminologies of Armour and Textile

Gaspa, Salvatore, Cécile Michel & Marie-Louise Nosch (eds.). 2017. Textile Terminologies from the Orient to the Mediterranean and Europe, 1000 BC to 1000 AD. Lincoln, Nebraska: Zea Books.
This volume is the fruit of a longstanding collaboration in the field of textile terminologies. Since 2005, Cécile Michel and Marie-Louise Nosch have collaborated on numerous academic activities – joint teaching, lectures at conferences, experimental workshops, co-publishing and co-editing. The second conference on textile terminology was held in June 2014 at the University of Copenhagen. Around 50 experts from the fields of Ancient History, Indo-European Studies, Semitic Philology, Assyriology, Classical Archaeology, and Terminology from twelve different countries came together at the Centre for Textile Research, to discuss textile terminology, semantic fields of clothing and technology, loan words, and developments of textile terms in Antiquity.
Three contributions in this volume are related to Iranian Studies, all available for free to read, download and share:

Iranian, Manichaean and Central Asian Studies in Memoriam Sundermann

Herausgegeben von einem Team „Turfanforschung“. 2017. Zur lichten Heimat. Studien zu Manichäismus, Iranistik und Zentralasienkunde im Gedenken an Werner Sundermann (Iranica 25). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Werner Sundermann’s central research subject was the Middle Iranian fragments from Turfan oasis in East Turkistan, today’s Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China. He always placed his texts in a philological, linguistic, or religious-historical context. The findings of these studies have extended far beyond Iranian studies to include the history of Central Asia, Iranian and Indo-European studies and literary history as well as to Turkology and Buddhist studies.
The memorandum contains more than fifty contributions on Minichaean, Iranian and Central Asian Studies, as well as other neighboring fields. Among others, some new text fragments from the Turfan region, Dunhuang and Iran are for the first time edited and presented. Furthermore new studies on the sources of Central Asian origin and the Greek-Roman and Persian cultural areas are introduced and individual phenomena of languages or religions are analyzed.

Continue reading Iranian, Manichaean and Central Asian Studies in Memoriam Sundermann

Manichaica and Sogdica from Russia

The latest issue of Written Monuments of the Orient (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts; Asiatic Museum; Russian Academy of Sciences), with two articles regarding the Middle Iranian Studies has been published:
Chunakova, Olga Mikhailovna, Federico Dragoni & Enrico Morano. 2017. A forgotten Manichaean Sogdian bifolio in Sogdian script. Written Monuments of the Orient 1(5). 3–25.
The present paper consists of the first edition, translation and commentary of a Manichaean Sogdian bifolio, whose photos are preserved in the Nachlass of Academician Carl H. Salemann at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, RAS (St. Petersburg). The present location of the bifolio is unknown. One joining fragment has been found in the Berlin Turfan collection during the preliminary work on this edition. Two relatively long portions of Manichaean didactic treatises are extant and do not correspond to any known text. The first (I) is a Lehrtext on the duties of Manichaean monks living in a monastery. The second (II) contains the fourth and part of a fifth question, followed by answers, of a catechetical text concerning the fate of the body and of the soul after death.
Benkato, Adam. 2017. Sogdian letter fragments in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, St. Petersburg. Written Monuments of the Orient 1(5). 26–39.
Among the Sogdian fragments from Turfan preserved in the IOM collections are a handful of epistolary texts. A new edition of these fragments is presented here as part of the author’s ongoing project on Sogdian letters from Turfan.

The second issue of Studia Iranica 45

The second issue of Studia Iranica 45 (2016) has been published. Three papers of this issue are related to our interest:

The presence in the Wizīdagīhā ī Zādspram 28,6 of an explicit reference to the figure 6666 in connection with the manifestation of Ahreman’s arrival into the world immediately suggests a direct comparison with the ‘Number of the Beast’, 666, appearing in the Apocalypse of John, 13, 17-18. The author analyses many symbolic interpretations of this number and its importance in the Early Christian tradition, in particular in the framework of Irenaeus’s Adversus Haereses and the related chiliadic milieu. While the presence of this number in the Mazdean context seems to be another evidence supporting the thesis of a Western influence on Iranian apocalypticism (in spite of the apparent absence of Syriac versions of the Apocalypse of John in earlier times), the circulation of millenaristic doctrines presents a more complex situation, in which also the Iranian component should have played its remarkable impact in earlier times.

A number of Sogdian letter fragments are preserved from the Manichaean communities in Turfan. Although the majority are written in the Sogdian script, a small number are written in a cursive variety of the Manichaean script found only in these texts. Their edition and study provides a brief glimpse into the dynamics of the community. Furthermore, the first paleographic analysis of Manichaean cursive is undertaken.

Āzandnāmē: A Manichaean-Sogdian Parable-Book

Benkato, Adam. Āzandnāmē. An Edition and Literary-Critical Study of the Manichaean-Sogdian Parable-Book. Beiträge Zur Iranistik 42. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2017.

The Manichaean communities in Turfan (in modern-day Xinjiang, China) produced numerous texts in many languages, including Sogdian, an eastern Middle Iranian language. The present work is an edition and literary-critical study of the longest continuous Manichaean text in Sogdian, known as the Āzandnāmē, or Parable-Book. The Parable-Book preserves parts of three parables which illuminate various aspects of Manichaean teaching by means of a narrative followed by an explanation. A new and expanded edition of the Sogdian text, with English translation and philological commentary, forms the first part of this study.

Along with sermons, hymns, and confessionals, parables were one of the major genres of non-canonical texts produced by Manichaeans in Central Asian communities, surviving in Middle Persian, Parthian, and Old Turkic, as well as Sogdian. In the second part of this study, a new approach to the study of Manichaean parables is presented, taking into account their intertextuality as part of a genre that can only exist in interdependence on all other genres of Manichaean literature. This approach allows new light to be shed on the text of the Āzandnāmē while also investigating how and for which purposes the parables were produced and used.

This work is intended for specialists of Manichaeism and/or Sogdian philology, as well as those with interests in Iranian philology or religions in Central Asia more generally.

Follow the links for the Table of Contents and the Introduction to the volume.

Adam Benkato, Ph.D. (2015) is an scholar of Middle Iranian and specificly Manichaean and Sogdian Studies. From 2015-16 he was a Researcher at the Turfan Studies Project, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and is presently a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin.