On October 24, 2011, at the Far Eastern Studies Seminar organized by the Department of Far Eastern Studies of the IOM RAS, junior researcher Viacheslav P. Zaytsev submitted his presentation Problems of Decipherment of Khitan Large Script: New Approaches and Possibilities [Проблемы дешифровки большого киданьского письма: новые перспективы и возможности].
Zaytsev reported on the current state of the decipherment of the Khitan large script worldwide, and presented the results of his recent study of the unique manuscript codex from the collection of the IOM RAS written in the Khitan large script. This is renowned as the only complete manuscript written in either the large or small Khitan script that has been found to date. For many years the script and language of this manuscript had been unknown, but as Zaytsev already showed in 2010 (in his presentation Unknown script and language manuscript from Chinese collection of the IOM RAS [Неизвестная рукопись из китайского фонда ИВР РАН] presented at the Annual academic session of the IOM 2010), it is written in the Khitan language using the Khitan large script.
During the seminar Zaytsev also demonstrated how this manuscript could be used in the future to help with the decipherment of the Khitan large script, and he proposed some methods for further study of the manuscript and its text. The text of the manuscript is obviously a significant contribution to the corpus of Khitan texts since it differs from the known epitaphs and memorial tablets. As Zaytsev showed, there are differences in vocabulary and graphemes between the manuscript text and inscriptional texts. Moreover, there are substantial palaeographical differences as this is the first sample of a Khitan text written in cursive script.
At present Zaytsev is carrying on his research into the manuscript codex, trying to restore the regular forms of the characters written in the semi-cursive or cursive script. His first major paper on this subject is to be published in the next issue of the Written Monuments of the Orient, No.2 (15), 2011.