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WMO 1(1), 2004 Print E-mail



of the orient




Journal based in 2004

Issued twice a year


Table of Contents as a *.PDF file


Dr A. Sazykin. An Early Mongol Translation of the Collection of Stories about the Good of "the Diamond Sutra" - 7


The collection of stories about the good of the Vadjrachkhedika (the Diamond Sutra), which was translated from the Tibetan language into Mongol many times and spread among various Mongol peoples, has acclaimed a great popularity. As a rule, there are no translator's colophons in the extant manuscripts or xylographic editions of this collection of stories. For the first time, the name of a Mongol translator – Djin-tsordji – appears in the Ulan Bator manuscript. Also its colophon contains the year of translation – 1623. Recently another manuscript with a colophon of the same translator has been found in the Mongol collection of the St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies (RAS). The present full edition is based on the St. Petersburg manuscript (code Q 415). This is the earliest precisely attributed Mongol translation of the collection of stories about the good of the Diamond Sutra.

Ma Jong. The Book of Loyalty (Chung-ching). Preface, Translation and Comments by Dr I. Popova - 60


The paper offers a Russian translation of the treatise Book of Loyalty written by Chinese philologist, commentator and poet of the Han dynasty Ma Jong (79-166) in the period of 147-166, when the author had a position of a governor (t'ai-shou) of Nanchun in modern Ho-pei province.

   In his work Ma Jong offered a model for a faithful subordinate's behaviour and gave an interpretation of loyalty (chung), one of the fundamental categories, which provided viability and continuity for the traditional Chinese state ideology. In his analysis the author used a parallel of loyalty with filial piety (hsiao) and of state with family. The core of many of his arguments went back to the classical works: the Book of Historical Documents (Shu-ching), and the Book of Poetry (Shih-ching).

   The translation is based on the edition of Chung-ching in Ts 'ung-shu-chi-ch'eng series.


Dr A. Kolesnikov. Materials for Estimation of the Political and Confessional Affairs in the Eastern Iran and Khurasan (based on information of the Muslim geographers of the 9th-12th centuries A.D.) - 69


The information on the political and other historical events that occured in the islamized countries of the early middle ages cannot be regarded as adequate if we are to rely only on the facts derived from the traditional sources (such as the world-wide chronicles or the books of conquests). Therefore the author of the paper tries to collect and reveal the numerous historical data dispersed in the so-called untraditional sources, namely in the works of the Muslim geographers of the 9th-12th centuries.

   The information of the geographical treatises makes it possible to throw more light on such problems as:

   a) the regions and borders of Khurasan in the 9th—12th centuries;

   b) military and political events that occured at the same period in Khurasan and adjacent areas;

   c) the ethnic structure of the Khurasanians and their neighbours under the early Islamic dominion. Confessional situation in the region.

   The preliminary results received from the study of the geographical sources can be summarized as follows:

   A. The diversity of information about the extent of the territory and borders of Khurasan reflects four different points of view, expressed by the geographers on the problem.

   B. The geographical sources, while mentioning political events, show a preference for three chronological periods: l) pre-Islamic history, 2) the time of the great Arab conquests (7th century), 3) home policy affairs concerning Khurasan and outer conquests in the 8th—12th centuries.

   С. In none of the regions of Khurasan proper and neighbouring areas the ethnical structure of population was homogeneous. The situation steadily changed with the settling on conquered territories of the peoples who had adopted the new ideology Islam. The geographers practically never describe the Iranians, although the latter constituted the majority of population in the Western Khurasan. Only indirect evidence concerning the diffusion of the Khurasanian languages help us conceive the actual area of migration of the ethnic Iranians to the eastern extremities of the Caliphate before the Mogul invasion.

   D. All the material concerned with confessional characteristics presents two classes of information:

   a) on religions, religious sects and trends, conflicts caused by ideological motives etc.;

   b) on religious buildings (mosques, churches, Zoroastrian and pagan, i. e. Buddhist temples). Analysis of both groups of information gives rise to an idea about the coexistence of different confessions in several regions.

   The information presented by the geographical sources may give valuable additions and elaborations to the data derived from historical chronicles.

Dr J. Musaelyan. Mela Mahmud Bayazidi and His First Translation of Sharaf-name by Sharaf-khan Bidlisi into the Kurdish Language - 98


Sharaf-name, which was compiled in Persian by a famous Kurdish historiograph Sharaf-khan Bidlisi in the 16th century, still remains a unique source shedding light upon the history of the Kurds and Kurdistan, in conjunction with the adjacent countries, in the late middle ages.

The first translation into the Northern Kurdish dialect (Kurmandji), under the title Tavarih-i kadim-i Kurdistan, was made by a remarkable man of science and public figure Mela Mahmud Bayazidi in the Hijrayear 1275/1858-59.

It was the Russian Consul in Erzurum A.D. Zhaba who initiated this translation. In return, Mela Mahmud Bayazidi gave a valuable assistance to A.D. Zhaba. He helped him in learning Kurdish and collecting Kurdish manuscripts. Their cooperation brought fruitful results—A.D. Zhaba acquired a good deal of manuscripts concerning Kurdish history, ethnology, literature, folklore and language and sent them to St. Petersburg to the Academy of Sciences, while Mahmud Bayazidi became a copyist, translator and the author of a few works including The Customs of the Kurds, The Kurdish-French Phrase-Book, Kurdish-French Dictionary, etc.

   The Kurdish translation of the work by Sharaf-khan Bidlisi is of great scholary importance. Taking this into consideration, the kurdologists from St. Petersburg published the autograph of Mahmud Bayazidi (257 pages) which is kept in the National Library of Russia (former State Public Library). Before publication, the translation of Mela Mahmud Bayazidi was compared to the well-known edition of the Sharaf-name by V.V. Vel'yaminov-Zernov. This work made it possible to find a lot of variant readings of personal names, place names and ethnonyms, many discrepancies in dates as well as some lacunae and addenda.

Mela Mahmud Bayazidi considerably simplified the original text—the language of his translation lacks the floweriness of Sharaf-khan Bidlisi's style, sometimes it looks too laconic which obviously deprives the translation of the richness of colours which can be found in the original work. Most probably Mahmud Bayazidi had at his disposal another version, perhaps an abridged one, of the Sharaf-name.

   By and large, the work of Mahmud Bayazidi can be regarded as a sufficiently precise translation of the Persian original. His language reflects the most peculiar features of the Classic Kurdish literature written in the Northern Kurdish dialect.

Dr I. Gurevich. The Texts of the Ping-hua Genre (Song-Yuan Period): Some Features of Their Language - 108


Ping-hua is a name for a group of vernacular narrative texts dealing mainly with an extended period of history. The interpretation of the term as well as the outline of texts in question differs from one author to another. In the present paper the following ping-hua texts included in the collective set Five Completely Illustrated Ping-hua (Quan xiang ping-hua wu-zhong) have been so far examined: 1. Ping-hua on How King Wu Attacked Chou (Wu-wang fa-Chou ping-hua); 2. Ping-hua on the Events of the Seven States (Qi-guo chun-qiu ping-hua); 3. Ping-hua on the Annexation of the Six States by Qin (Qin bing liu-guo ping-hua); 4. Ping-hua on the History of the Former Han Dynasty (Qian Han-shu ping-hua); 5. Ping-hua on the History of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo zhipinghua). These five ping-hua were all printed during the period of 1321-1323 in Jian-an (modern Fujian)— thus the date of the composition of the texts is known accurately enough. The Ping-hua of the History of the Five Dynasties (Wu-dai shi ping-hua) was also examined to a certain extent.

     The purpose of the paper is to throw light on certain characteristics of the language of ping-hua concerning the grammatical structure of the texts. The following points have been considered in this respect: 1. Examination of the grammatical features of the language of ping-hua have been undertaken to enlarge and revise current views of the grammar of the Medieval Chinese as a whole, since grammatical peculiarities of the texts of ping-hua have not been taken into consideration in standard works on Medieval Chinese so far. 2. The study of the texts might be helpful in establishing a more precise date for the creation of the Wu-dai shi ping-hua, the most popular text of the genre. 3. Dialect features of the texts are being investigated. 4. The problem of a possible correlation between the content of a given text and the degree of colloquialness has been briefly examined. 5. A number of function words occurring in the texts of ping-hua have been examined.


Dr O. Akimushkin. Central Asian Manuscript Bindings (1730-1930) - 143

SummaryThe article is devoted to cardboard bindings (muqawā’) which were extremely typical of the Central Asian book production during the given period. The study focuses on particular and specific features of this type of binding. It is based on the analysis of 603 bindings executed by 189 masters mainly originating from Bukhara, Khuqand, Samarqand and Khiva.

Dr Ye. Kychanov. Some Preliminary Remarks about the Tangut Text "The Collection of Words Transmitted through Three Generations from One Person to Another" - 147


The collection of Tangut (Hsi Hsia) texts, which were written according to the tradition of the Chinese Buddhist school (Chan), was compiled by two monks – Hui Ming and Dao Hui – approximately in the middle of the 12th century. The publication of these texts is an evidence of the existence of the White Cloud doctrine – a very popular school of the Chan in China in the 1 lth and 12th century – in the Tangut Hsi Hsia State (982-1227). The scholars believe that the adepts of the White Cloud school were recruited mainly from the educated Buddhists and state bureaucrats. Some texts of this collection have been already translated into Russian, Japanese and Chinese. In the present article, the author also includes a few translations of his own.

   The unique feature of this collection is the way of its manufacture. This is the only one known Tangut book printed with a movable script. The name of a Chinaman called Chen Ji-jin, who made the type for printing, can be found in the colophon. Taking this into consideration, the author deals with the history of printing in China, which dates back to the 40s of the 1 lth century when Bi Shen invented the way of printing with movable script. The author argues why such printing had not been the predominant one in China until the 20th century, while it spread over the territories of the Tangut Hsi Hsia State and the neighbouring Uighur Kocho State. When compared to the Chinese hieroglyphic script, the Tangut one has much less signs. Obviously this facilitated printing. The parts of the Uighur movable script, which were found at Mogaoku (Dunhuan) in 1908, show that such printing had been used in China as well as by the Tanguts and Uighurs 350 years earlier than it was brought into operation in Europe. Printing with movable script did not spread over to the Middle East because there was a strong tradition of manuscript production there. The confessional differences should also been considered. It is still unclear if there is any connection between the invention by Gutenberg and the introduction of printing with movable script in China and the Central Asia. 

Dr Val. Polosin. Manuscripts of Ibn Muqla's Calligraphical School (a problem of their identification) - 160


One more variant of the proportioned writing attributed to Ibn Muqla (886-940) is put forward in the present article.

   Manuscripts of this writing, widely known under the term al-khatt al-mansub, have got at once the status of treasure in the Muslim world and consequently many stories regarding such manuscripts can be found in sources. Unfortunately, there are no data in such stories about concrete features of this writing. For this reason none of the Arabic manuscripts in existence could so far be associated with Ibn Muqla's style of writing.

Only in 1939 an answer to the enigma of Ibn Muqla's calligraphical innovation was suggested by N. Abbott on the basis of a late treatise on Arabic calligraphy. Here is her conclusion, in short: "The khatt al-mansub was at last seen to mean just what it said, the proportioned writing, that is, writing in which the letters were brought into proportional relationships with one another". In 1967 A. Grohmann has joined this conclusion, and henceforth the problem of Ibn Muqla's reform is considered basically solved, although no genuine samples of his handwriting are known to have survived.

   Our hypothesis is based on a new source material concerning the problem in question. This is, first of all, the graphic analysis of the writing in those manuscripts, which are nowadays covered, after F. Ddroche, under the term manuscripts d'écriture abbasside ancienne, namely – in the Qur'ans of oblong format, copied in 9th – 10th с A.D. in Kufic script. This analysis shows a sort of rhythmical filling lines with Arabic letters, words or parts of words and brings to light direct dependence of this rhythm upon the proportional characteristic of the area intended for the writing. This is, thus, another type of the proportioned writing than that of N. Abbott and A. Grohmann. The second factor is Ibn Muqla's manner to write. It is described in Ibn al-Nadim's Fihrist, but this important evidence has surprisingly passed by attention of all researchers. This manner coincides with results of the mentioned graphic analysis and can be observed, in fact, only in Kufic Qur'ans of oblong format.

Dr O. Shcheglova. Book-seller Catalogues of the Indian Publishers - 177


The paper deals with two rare catalogues of Indian publishers. The first catalogue, which was printed in 1874, belonged to Munshi Naval Kishor, while the second one was issued by Munshi Malik al-Kuttab in 1911. Both catalogues bring us a golden opportunity to establish the scope of reading in the milieu of the Indian Muslim community in the last third of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century.


Dr M. Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya. Regarding the History of Buddhist Canon: The Problem of the Language Variety and the Authorship - 200


The problem of the language of the first Buddha's preaching and, later, of the language of Buddhist Canon in which it was written down is unsettled yet. Taking into consideration the date of Buddha's life (ВС 400-360), which is accepted by almost all scientists now, and the region where his preaching activity took place – the territory of Magadh – Buddha had been preaching to his pupils in the Magādhi Prakrit, in which the Great ASoka ordered to carve his rock edicts.

   In the Buddhist texts which were first written down in the late ВС centuries, only Gāndhāri Prakrit came to us. In some Sanskrit sūtras, for example, in Dharmapāda, scholars found traces of the Ardhamagādhi Prakrit.

   The early translations of the Buddhist sūtras into Chinese have shown that they were based not on the Sanskrit texts, but on some Prakrit ones. To define this language the modern scholars accepted the term Sanskrit-cum-Prakrit.

   The philosophy of early Buddhist texts took the terminology of Brahmanism, though the Buddhist doctrine appeared as a teaching directed against it.

   The first authors of the Buddhist sūtras have probably been the so-called dharma-bhāņaka, the monks who settled in monasteries, studied there, and then wandered abroad to preach the Buddhist doctrine.

   The philosophical sutra appeared as texts necessary to explain and disseminate the philosophical dogmas of some Mahāyānist schools, for example, Madhyāmikas and Yogācarins. It is possible that some scholars working in these schools—such as Nāgārjuna and Asaňga, and their followers later, could be the authors of a number of sūtras. 


L. Kryakina, I. Kuleshova. Physical-chemical Research and the Restoration of the Tangut Manuscripts and Xylographs of the 12th Century at the Institute of Oriental Studies (St. Petersburg Branch) of the Russian Academy of Sciences -219 


The first results of the analysis often samples of the Tangut paper were obtained at the Laboratory of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Pulp and Paper Industry as early as in 1963. It was established that, regardless of colour, structure and texture, the base of the paper consisted of cotton rag pulp mixed with hemp and apparently flax fibres. There were also impregnations of other fibres of vegetable origin, wood grains and husks.

   Within the framework of the Research and Restoration Project founded by the Russian Fundamental Studies Foundation in 1999-2001, the Department of Manuscripts was engaged in physico-chemical study of both the samples of rag paper of the Tangut manuscript and xylographic documents and the remnants of paper and silk bindings including the threads which were used for binding separate parts of the documents.

   The programme of restoration of the Tangut Collection includes the following:

   1. Classification of the Tangut manuscript and xylographic documents.

   2. Physico-chemical study of the Tangut paper.

   3. Incapsulation of seriously damaged fragments into a high-quality polyester transparent film Melinex.

   4. Restoration of documents.

   5. Photographing restoration process.

   6. Manufacturing special preservative boxes. 


Dr Т. Yermakova. Scholary Expeditions to China and Central Asia in the First Third of the 20th Century: The Conference Dedicated to the 140th Anniversary of S.F.Oldenburg (1863-1934) - 243

Dr M. Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya. The Oriental Manuscripts Collection of the Institute of Oriental Studies (St. Petersburg Branch) of the Russian Academy of Sciences. A Few Words regarding the History of the Asiatic Museum - 246


Dr Ye. Kychanov. Agvan Dorjiev. Amusing Notes. An Account of a Travel round the World. An Autobiography - 252

A. Gordin. The Jewish Medieval Book: Codicological, Palaeographical and Other Technical Aspects - 253

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