Tag Archives: Sogdian

Art of Sogdian immigrants

Xu, Jin. 2019. The funerary couch of An Jia and the art of Sogdian immigrants in sixth-century China. Burlington Magazine, No. 1399 – Vol 161. 820–829.

Detail of decorative screen of the funerary couch of An Jia, Detail of decorative screen of the funerary couch of An Jia showing the portrait of a couple on the left side panel. © Burlington Magazine

The tomb of An Jia, leader of a Sogdian immigrant community in sixth-century Xi’an, northern China, contained a remarkable stone couch. Its form is Chinese but its decoration imitates gilt silverware imported by Sogdian merchants from Sasanian Persia, reflecting An Jia’s dual cultural identity.

New Research on Central Asian, Buddhist and Far Eastern Art and Archaeology

Juliano, Annette & Judith Lerner (eds.). 2019. Inner and Central Asian art and archaeology. Vol. 2. New research. Turnhout: Brepols.

This second volume of the series offers a broad range of subject matter from an equally broad range of regions. Michael Shenkar compares a particular type of deity from the Parthian West (Palmyra, Hatra) with the colossal image of a divinity from Akchakhan-kala in ancient Choresmia (part of modern-day Uzbekistan). Careful iconographic analysis of a sealing showing the god Mithra, found at Kafir Qala near Samarkand, allows Fabrizio Sinisi to suggest a Kushan origin for the seal that made the impression. Several contributions on Sogdiana concern its archaeology and early history (Bi Bo on Kangju and Sogdiana); the iconography of one of the major wall painting cycles at Panjikent (Matteo Compareti) as well as the city’s temples and deities worshipped (Markus Mode). By drawing on archaeological, ethnological and historical data, Sören Stark offers an extensive discussion of mountain pastoralism and seasonal occupation in northern Tajikistan, north of the Zerafshan River in what were borderlands for Sogdiana. Rounding out the first part of this volume is Suzanne G. Valentine’s publication of a Bactrian camel clay sculpture, excavated in the Sui-Tang capital of Xi’an, its saddlebags decorated with an unusual motif. The second and last part is guest-edited by John Clarke, convener of a Buddhist conference in 2010. This section contains updated or new papers by some of the participants—Naman P. Ahuja on Buddhist imagery in Bengal; Amy Heller on the impact of Kashmiri art on Guge and Ladakh; Deborah Klimburg-Salter on Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Afghanistan; and Michael Willis on sculpture from Sarnath in the British Museum—along with that of Chiara Bellini on the restoration of the Alchi Sumtsek and the dating of the Ladakhi temple.

Table of Contents
On Central Asian Art and Archaeology
·      Michael SHENKAR – “The Chorasmian Gad: On the “Colossal” Figure from Akchakhan-kala”
·      Fabrizio SINISI – “A Kushan Investiture Scene with Mithra on a Seal Impression from Kafir Qala, Samarkand”
·      BI Bo – “Recent Archaeological Discoveries Regarding Kangju and Sogdiana”
·      Matteo COMPARETI – “Simurgh or Farr? On the Representation of Fantastic Creatures in the Sogdian ‘Rustam Cycle’ at Panjikent”
·      Markus MODE – “In the Heart of the City: On Sogdian Temples and Deities at Panjikent”

On Buddhist Sculpture:
Papers from a Symposium held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, November 8 and 9, 2010, and Papers Inspired by the Symposium
·      John CLARKE (Guest Editor) – “Introduction”
·      Naman P. AHUJA – “Rethinking the History of Buddhist Imagery in Bengal, circa 200 BCE – 700 CE”
·      Michael WILLIS – “Markham Kittoe and Sculpture from Sarnath in the British Museum”
·      Deborah KLIMBURG-SALTER – “Buddhist Pilgrimage to India: Bamiyan, Kapisa
·      -Kabul, and Mes Aynak”
·      Amy HELLER – “Tracing the Impact of Kashmiri Art in Guge and Ladakh, Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries”
·      Chiara BELLINI – “Some Other Pieces of the Puzzle: The Restoration of the Alchi Sumtsek by Tashi Namgyal and Other Considerations on the Dating of the Ladakhi Temple”

On Far Eastern Art and Archaeology
·      Bonnie CHENG – “The Underground Silk Road – Pictorial Affinities in Fifth-century Cave Temples and Tombs”
·      Heather D. CLYDESDALE – “Buried Towers: Artistic Innovation on China’s Frontier”
·      Suzanne G. VALENSTEIN with Annette L. JULIANO and Judith A. LERNER – “Hellenism in Sui-Tang Chang’an: Dionysiac Imagery on Mortuary Camels”
Young-pil KWON – “Note on Border Patterns Dividing the Earthly and Heavenly Realms in Goguryeo Tomb Paintings”

An Ascetic Miscellany

Sims-Williams, Nicholas (ed.). 2017. An ascetic miscellany: The Christian Sogdian manuscript E28. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

The Christian Sogdian manuscripts in Syriac script which were found at a Central Asian outpost of the “Church of the East”, the monastery at Bulayïq in the Turfan oasis, and are now preserved in the Berlin Turfan collection, include a large number of fragments in a distinctive handwriting which have been catalogued under the designation “E28”. Through his choice of texts to translate or to copy the scribe demonstrates his interest in the practice and traditions of monasticism, originating with St Anthony and the other “Desert Fathers”, the solitaries and monks of the Egyptian desert, and transplanted to Mesopotamia and Iran, according to legend, by Mār Awgen (Eugenius). In addition to works whose Syriac sources have been identified, such as passages from the spiritual writings of Šemʿon d-Ṭaibuteh, Isaac of Nineveh and Dādišoʿ Qaṭrāyā, as well as from the life of Mār Awgen, “E28” contains a number of unidentified texts, also no doubt translated from Syriac, many of which deal with aspects of the ascetic life. This volume contains an edition and translation of all the texts, most of them previously unpublished, together with a commentary, glossary and 35 plates. An appendix contains critical editions of some of the parallel Syriac passages.

From Liturgy to Pharmacology

Sims-Williams, Nicholas. 2019. From liturgy to pharmacology. Christian Sogdian texts from the Turfan Collection. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

Containing a variety of texts ranging from liturgy to pharmacology via hagiography, calendars and ascetical works by Isaac of Nineveh, this volume completes the publication of all known Christian Sogdian texts.

This volume completes the publication of the Christian Sogdian texts of the Berlin Turfan Collection begun by F. W. K. Müller in 1907. Several Syriac texts are also included, in particular a series of liturgical texts in Syriac with Sogdian rubrics (edited in collaboration with J. F. Coakley).

The texts edited here are mostly short but extremely varied and interesting. The Syriac liturgical fragments are some of the earliest surviving witnesses to the liturgy of the “Church of the East”, though the Sogdian rubrics which accompany them show that those who performed them were not native speakers of Syriac. Other texts connected with the liturgy include a Sogdian version of the Gloria in excelsis and a text explaining how to calculate the date of Easter or Lent. Hagiographical texts include fragments of the martyrdoms of St George and of Cyriacus and Julitta as well as part of the so-called “Six Books” on the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Two pharmacological fragments (edited in collaboration with Dieter Maue) show familiarity with Indian medicine, while a “prayer-amulet” belongs rather to a Syriac tradition. Finally, a chapter contributed by Adrian Pirtea contains the re-edition of a well-preserved folio identified by him as a Sogdian version of a work by Isaac of Nineveh.

A Sogdian Fragment from Niya

Sims-Williams, Nicholas & Bi Bo. 2018. A Sogdian fragment from Niya. In Huaiyu Chen & Xinjiang Rong (eds.), Great journeys across the Pamir mountains (Brill’s Inner Asian Library 37), 83–104. Leiden: Brill.

In 1994, the Sino-Japanese Niya Expedition Team excavated an artifact (93A27F1:3) at Niya. It is a small brown package or pouch made from a piece of paper (originally mistaken for parchment) fastened by a woolen string. Traces of writing were visible, so the artifact was provisionally referred to as “A Kharoṣṭhī text written on parchment” in the preliminary report of its discovery. In 2007, when the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology’s research group on Niya was editing the third volume of the Report on the Sino-Japanese Joint Expedition in Niya, they carefully examined this “parchment text.” After the string was untied, it was found that the paper had been used to wrap up a powder of vegetable origin, perhaps spices or medicine. When the powder was removed, a text written in black ink in a clear script was visible. Noting that the writing appeared to be the same as that of the Sogdian “Ancient Letters” found near Dunhuang, which were written in the early fourth century, and other Sogdian fragments of similar date found at Loulan, the local archaeologists were able to determine that this new fragment was also written in early Sogdian script.

Sogdian Christianity

A Sogdian silk brocade textile fragment, dated c. 700 AD. Photo courtesy of Andy Lloyd (rare rugs and textiles).

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”