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Books

Dictionary of Manichaean Texts

Sims-Williams, Nicholas & Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst. 2022. Dictionary of Manichaean texts (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum: Subsidia 7). Volume III, 2: Texts from Central Asia and China (Texts in Sogdian and Bactrian). Turnhout: Brepols. Second, revised and enlarged edition.

This revised and substantially enlarged edition of the Dictionary of Manichaean Texts covers the vocabulary of all Manichaean (and anti-Manichaean) texts in Sogdian and Bactrian (material published up to 2020, including short passages and even individual words which have been cited in print). Unlike the first edition, it also contains a substantial amount of material from texts which are still unpublished, especially unusual or otherwise unattested words and expressions. As before, the volume contains a full bibliography, references to discussions in the scholarly literature, and numerous corrections to previously published readings and interpretations. It is completed by an English index. Providing an up-to-date analysis of all published Manichaean material in the Eastern Middle Iranian languages, the new edition of the Dictionary will continue to be an essential tool for everyone interested in Manichaeism, Iranian languages, or Central Asian history.

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Books

A Manichaean Prayer and Confession Book

Sims-Williams, Nicholas, John S. Sheldon & Zsuzsanna Gulácsi. 2022. A Manichaean prayer and confession book. (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum: Series Iranica 1). Turnhout: Brepols.

The Manichaean Prayer and Confession Book is the best-preserved Manichaean book found in the Turfan area and the only one which survives in the form of a bound codex. It constitutes a precious treasure-trove of information on its three Iranian languages, on the Manichaean religion itself, and on Manichaean codicology and book-art. The surviving parts of this beautifully decorated miniature paper codex include Middle Persian and Parthian hymns and readings for the Bema festival, the high-point of the Manichaean liturgical calendar, followed by an elaborate confessional formula for the Elect in the Sogdian language. Until now this manuscript has been accessible for scholarship only from its 1937 edition in German by W. B. Henning, titled ‘Ein manichäisches Bet- und Beichtbuch’ (BBB). This new edition provides the first English translation by Nicholas Sims-Williams, the first codicological study by Zsuzsanna Gulacsi and an introduction by John S. Sheldon. It also includes the supplementary Sogdian texts which Henning added to his ‘BBB’. It incorporates magnificent colour photos, codicological diagrams, and digital reconstructions never seen before. This beautifully-produced volume appropriately inaugurates the Series Iranica of the Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum.

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Articles Journal

The Roar of Silence

Benkato, Adam & Arash Zeini (eds.). 2021. The roar of silence: Festschrift for François de Blois. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 31(3).

The breadth and variety of François de Blois’s erudition is such that only a long and detailed introduction could possibly do justice to his scholarly career. Anyone who knows François, the “quiet man” of Iranian studies, also knows his penchant for concision. We have therefore decided to limit our remarks here to about the length of his legendary handout of Middle Persian grammar—two pages.

From the Introduction
Table of Contents
Categories
Books

From Sasanian Persia to the Tarim Basin

Compareti, Matteo. 2021. From Sasanian Persia to the Tarim Basin: Pre-islamic Iranian art and culture along the Silk-Road. WriteUp.

This volume collects a series of articles focusing on various aspects of the art of Persia and Central Asia in the pre-Islamic era that the author has published over the last fifteen years. The period examined goes from the reign of the Sasanian dynasty (224-651) to the arrival of the Arabs in the seventh century, and the consequent (but not immediate) process of Islamization of the entire territory between the eastern borders of the Roman Empire and China. This vast territory – during the period examined in those articles – was mainly inhabited by peoples who spoke Iranian languages such as Persian, Bactrian, Chorasmian, Sogdian and Khotanese.

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Events Online resources

The Sogdians

The exhibition, The Sogdians: Influencers on the Silk Roads, explores Sogdian art through existing material culture. It focuses on the golden age of the Sogdians, from the fourth to the eighth centuries CE. Various dimensions of Sogdian culture, from art, music, and feasting to religious and funerary practices, are presented in this digital exhibition. New 3-D models of metalwork objects, photographs of archaeological sites, high resolution images and international scholarship reveal new details about this period.

In 2019 the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery lunched a digital exhibition devoted to the Sogdians, major traders of the ancient Silk Roads, organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s Asian art museums in collaboration with the State Hermitage Museum, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (NYU), XE: Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement (NYU), the Bard Graduate Center, and the Association Sauvegarde Peinture Afrasiab.

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BiblioIranica Online resources

Publications on Sogdian

We are delighted to host another article by Adam Benkato, our long-standing collaborator and friend.

In Some Data on Publications on Sogdian, Adam uses his extensive bibliography of Sogdian philology, containing 624 entries for publications from 1904 to 2020, to show ‘how a field has grown or developed over time’.

He had previously published this article on his own website but has now moved it to Bibliographia Iranica, where we are planning to host a series of publications on bibliographies. Stay tuned for more from Adam and others.

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Books

Artifact, Text, Context

Tang, Li & Dietmar W. Winkler (eds.). 2020. Artifact, text, context: Studies on Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia (orientalia – patristica – oecumenica 17). LIT Verlag.

This volume is a collection of papers highlighting recent researches on Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia. The topics range from artifacts to texts and their historical contexts, covering the period from the 7th to the 18th century. As the studies on Syriac Christianity in China and Central advance, focus has shifted from a general historical survey and textual translation to a more micro and meticulous study of specific concepts and terms and particular names of persons and places.

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Books

Lives of Sogdians in Medieval China

Huber, Moritz. 2020. Lives of Sogdians in medieval China (Asiatische Forschungen 160). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Sogdians, a group of Central Asians based between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, played a significant historical role at the crossroads of the Silk Roads. Travelling the world as caravan leaders, organised in trading networks, they were found from Byzantium to the Chinese heartland. The Sogdian language was a candidate for the lingua franca of the Silk Roads for some hundred years and Sogdians acted as polyglot mediators at courts and prominent translators of Buddhist texts. In the Chinese capitals, fire temples were erected for their use and the exotic products they imported were cherished by the people and the court.
This socio-historical study by Moritz Huber provides a translation of the transmitted Chinese records on Sogdians in Sogdiana and China and combines them with archaeological evidence to present a differentiated picture of their presence in China from the 3rd to 10th century CE. Besides the transcription and translation of all epitaphs of Sogdians from an archaeological context, used to tell their interconnected biographies, as well as a detailed discussion of their political organisation in China under the sabao 薩保/薩寶, this publication further includes a case-study of the Shi 史 families in Guyuan 固原, Ningxia 寧夏 Province.

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Articles

Manichaean Sogdian Cosmogonical Texts

Morano, Enrico. 2019. Manichaean Sogdian cosmogonical texts in Manichaean script. In Chen Hao (ed.), Competing narratives between nomadic people and their sedentary neighbours (Studia Uralo-Altaica 53). Szeged.

The present paper gives a survey of the Sogdian fragments in Manichaean script of the Berlin Turfan Collection which deal with cosmogony.

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Books

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.