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Zaytsev V.P. Identification of a Khitan historical work as part of the Nova N 176 manuscript codex from the collection of the IOM RAS and related problems [Идентификация киданьского исторического сочинения в составе рукописной книги-кодекса Nova Н 176 из коллекции ИВР РАН и сопутствующие проблемы] // Acta linguistica Petropolitana: Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies. Vol. XI, part 3. St. Petersburg, Nauka, 2015. P. 167—208, 821—822 (summary in Russian), 850—851 (summary in English).

Among the large and precious collection of oriental manuscripts, books and documents stored at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences there is a unique manuscript codex written in the Khitan language using the Khitan large script — the first Khitan book to have been discovered so far (IOM RAS, collection “Nova”, call number N 176, inventory number 1055). This book was researched for the first time, identified as being Khitan, and introduced to the scientific community by the author of this paper in November 2010. This article presents new results achieved by him in the study of this material.

The author has previously analyzed the structure and contents of the book’s text, and concluded that it is not actually a single work, but a compendium of eight texts written by different scribes, probably at different times. According to the author, Text 2 and Text 3 (as classified by the author), which constitute the largest portion of the book (100 pages), are fragments of Khitan historical works.

In this paper, the author analyzes and deciphers the three headings appearing in Text 2, and discusses related matters. The author proves that the title of Text 2 is “Record on khagans of the Great Central hulʤi Khitan State” (1045), and identifies it as a lost Khitan work in 20 chapters known from Chinese sources by various names (abbreviated as shilu 實錄 ‘veritable records’ or shiji 事跡 ‘traces of affairs’). The author shows that Text 2 in the N 176 recension of the compendium is not complete, and contains only the preface and first chapter, relating to the early history of the Liao according to Khitan authors. Text 3 contains biographical records about the deeds of nine emperors of the Liao, which may have been extracted from later chapters of the “Record” and supplemented by material from other Khitan historical works.

The significance of these newly identified texts is undoubtedly very high, not only because they are a new source for deciphering the Khitan large script, but also, and no less importantly, as they are precious genuine historical sources relating to the history of the Khitan people and Liao state. It is the first time that we have found an original Khitan historical work which systematically (rather than episodically) tells us about events in Liao history and the people who played significant parts in it. There is no doubt that these texts will provide new data which can be used to supplement, confirm, correct or throw into doubt the information given in Chinese historical works (such as Liao shi “History of Liao” and so on).


The entire paper


Khitan language
Khitan Large script
Khitan people
Khitan script
Khitan Small script
Khitan written monuments
manuscript book

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