A Dunhuang Document on the Division of Property from the Serindia Fund of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, RAS

Abstract


The article is devoted to the study of a document on the division of property- SI O14 (1) from the Serindian Fund of the IOM RAS which, despite its fragmentary nature, provides information of a legal and social character relating to everyday life in a district centre on the borders of the mediaeval Chinese Empire. The document reflects the legal practice in China under the Tang dynasty.


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Irina Popova A Dunhuang Document on the Division of Property from the Serindian Fund of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences Abstract: The article is devoted to the study of a document on the division of property- SI O14 (1) from the Serindian Fund of the IOM RAS which, despite its fragmentary nature, provides information of a legal and social character relating to everyday life in a district centre on the borders of the mediaeval Chinese Empire. The document reflects the legal practice in China under the Tang dynasty. Key words: Dunhuang, Serindian Fund, official and legal documents, division of property Serindian Fund of the IOM RAS The Serindian Fund is probably the most linguistically diverse-and therefore the most difficult to process and study-in the manuscript collection of the IOM, RAS. It owes its beginnings to Sergei Feedorovich Oldenburg (1863-1934), who assigned manuscripts from Xinjiang (Eastern Turkestan, Serindia) to a special individual collection and gave the fund its name and press-mark (SI). The very first to be included in it were the manuscripts brought back by the First Russian Turkistan Expedition headed by Oldenburg in 1909-10 (press-mark SI O) and also those sent back at various dates by Nikolai Petrovskii, Nikolai Krotkov, Alexander Kokhanovskii, and other diplomats serving in China. Later, it was expanded with materials delivered by the expeditions led by Vselovod Roborovskii, Mikhail Berezovskii, Piotr Kozlov and Sergei Malov. Today, the fund contains 6,618 items. There are more texts in Uighur than in any other language. There are also quite a lot of Sanskrit manuscripts, Tocharian language manuscripts of Kucha and scraps of Tangut woodcuts. A significant portion of the documents in the Serindian Fund, mainly the non-Chinese ones, have been studied and published.1 © Irina Fedorovna Popova, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences 1 SALEMANN 1904; MALOV 1932; MALOV 1951; Sogdijskie fragmenty 1980 et al. Even a most perfunctory inspection of the Serindian Fund gives one the impression that the first collectors of manuscripts in Xinjiang paid special attention to non-Chinese documents that reflect the historical sequence of the most ancient civilizations in the region. One virtue of the Fund is that, for many manuscripts, we have an indication of where they were acquired. S.F. Oldenburg placed fragments in envelopes on which he noted in his own hand when they were purchased and sometimes recorded the name of the seller. Chinese documents, for the most part, ended up in the Fund as reverse sides of Uighur or Sanskrit fragments. There are no complete manuscripts in the Fund. Most Chinese language texts are represented by brief extracts of Buddhist content, among which are fragments SI O16 that require restoration and subsequent inventorying. According to the note that Oldenburg made on the envelope, the fragments come from Dunhuang. This makes it possible to conjecture that some other manuscripts in the Serindian Fund whose origin is not indicated also come from there. A fairly extensive section within the Chinese part of the Serindian Fund, which furnishes rich data for further study and publication, is the collection that Alexander Kokhanovskii, the medical officer of the consulate in Urumqi, put together in Turpan. Until 2005, around 300 Chinese fragments from this collection were kept in one envelope with the single press-mark SI K/3. At present, this part of the Fund is being inventoried and each fragment is being given its own press-mark. Besides this, the IOM Serindian Fund has several fairly large Chinese fragments brought back from Turpan and Dunhuang by Oldenburg’s First and Second Russian Turkestan Expeditions. These items are mainly texts of a Buddhist nature, but there are also official and commercial documents. Non-Buddhist Documents from Dunhuang The library discovered in 1900 at the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang belonged to a Buddhist monastery, and so the bulk of it (ca. 90%) consists of Buddhist texts that can be subdivided into two main groups: translated works belonging to the canon and original Chinese Buddhist writings. The nonBuddhist part of the Dunhuang manuscripts is very varied in its make-up and includes works of fiction, among them vernacular literature (suwenxue 俗文學), works of traditional Chinese philosophy, historical, Confucian and Taoist writings, dictionaries, textbooks, collections of model letters, manuals, medical and divinatory texts, calendars and calligraphic exercises. The most important part of the non-Buddhist manuscripts is made up of documents-official and business papers of various contents. This part of the collection is highly remarkable and unique in character, as forgotten types of documents were found in Dunhuang that reflect the daily life of Chinese society in a district centre of the borderland. It is well known that, in the Orient, and in China in particular, much care was taken of state papers relating to the activities of the court and the central government, but official papers of provincial and district centres were not, as a rule, kept for long; therefore every find in Dunhuang or Turpan is of tremendous significance for scholars. The Dunhuang and Turpan non-Buddhist documents can be divided into four basic types: 1) Legal: legislative acts (lü 律), statutes (ling 令), and regulations (ge 格). 2) Administrative: communal orders (shetiao 社條), reports (zhuang 狀, zuozhuang 奏狀, shenzhuang 申狀), reports (die 牒), complaints and letters (shuxin 書信), although the latter could also be of a personal nature. 3) Relating to libraries: lists of lacunae, catalogues, records of donations for expanding libraries’ stocks or putting them in order, and so on. These mostly related to the library of the Mogao Caves, such as “A Document on the donation of sutras by the ruler of Dunhuang Cao Zongshou and his wife Lady Fan” from the year 1002 (Dunhuang-wang Cao Zong-shou yu Jibeijunfuren Fan-shi juan jing tiji 敦煌王曹宗壽與濟北郡夫人氾氏捐經題記, Ф- 32b), the latest of the known dated manuscripts from Dunhuang. 4) Relating to economic matters: lists of peasant households (huji 户籍), lists for taxation purposes (jizhang 籍帳), tax statements (chakebu 差科簿), tax registers (fuyishu 賦役書), lease documents (zudianshu 租佃書, zhidianshu 質典書), contracts (qiyue 契約), records of loans (biandaishu 便貸書, daiqi 貸契), employment contracts (guyongshu 僱傭書, guqi 僱契), balance sheets (jizhang 計帳), receipts (shoushi 手實), documents on the division of property (fenshu 分書), adoption documents (yangshu 飬書), manumissions (fangshu 放書) and others. These documents reflect the resolution of a great variety of issues. In Dunhuang there was a large monastic community whose life was shaped by many legal and economic regulations. The documents shed light on the life of the community itself, on its relationships with the laity and on relations between laypeople. It has been suggested that the bulk of the documents came into the monastery library by chance and that there were a great many others in existence that the monks did not consider it necessary to preserve, not to mention others that they never laid their hands on, but that were in wide circulation in secular society.[1] The majority of the documents from the Dunhuang Cave Library date from the 8th to the 10th centuries. Work on classifying and publishing the Dunhuang documents was begun fairly early by Edouard Chavannes. In the 1920s-30s, Henri Maspero in France and Naba Toshisada and Niida Noboru in Japan examined nonBuddhist Dunhuang texts. Publication of the non-Buddhist part of the Dunhuang library continued in the 1950s-80s, which saw the production of, among other things, the first major study of Dunhuang documents in Russian by Leonid Chuguevskii.[2] In the 1990s-2000s, following the publication of facsimiles of the greater part of the Dunhuang materials belonging to the largest collections worldwide, including St. Petersburg,[3] a real upsurge in Dunhuang studies took place, with a large portion of the works being published in Chinese.[4] Document on the Division of Property SI O14 (1) of the IOM, RAS In the present article, I shall examine a document on the division of pro- perty SI O14 (1) that, until its restoration in 2007, was in an extremely poor state, for which reason it was not included in the complete facsimile publi- cation of the Russian Dunhuang collection. Despite its fragmented state, the document contains certain information of a legal character relating to the life of a community on the border of the Chinese Empire in the Middle Ages.[5][6] SI O14 (1) (Pl. 1) Description of the manuscript. Fragment of 29.5×12.3 cm. 20 incomplete lines of 5-11 characters. Upper margin: 1.5 cm; lower margin: lost. Paper: brown, thickness: 0.015-0.019 cm, spacing: 5 lines per cm. Script: kai. Chinese text (01) □□年二月廿五日〔 (02) 人弟加落賊,見有〔 (03) □□割出。分遺書〔 (04) □□大吸里, 三盈盈收養〔 (05) 給不放輪(淪)◦ 落小弟加〔 (06) 衣飯, 一切盈義供給不掌〔 (07) 二人所有, 父在日分割□三〔 (08) 養育阿兄, 各自收管〔 (09) 其盈盈, 盈義新婦〔 (10) 虛呪駡父母,憐及□□□□不〔 (11) 老大决杖拾下◦ 今有地□〔 (12) 付阿讓(孃),一切差税取田内物〔 (13) 物◦ 盈盈、盈義同監收掌,封〔 (14) □使用。今落賊弟有□□〔 (15) □一切阿讓(孃)、兄弟盈盈、盈義分〔 (16) □今缘恐他後遞相論〔 (17) 見人兵馬使劉 〔 (18) 見人兵馬使張 母〔 (19) 見人張張□(押字) 見人〔 (20) 見人薛永興 見人〔 Translation from Chinese (01) …year, 25th day of the 2nd moon. (02) The youngest of the brothers, Jia, …was seized by brigands, suffered… (03) …[they] divided. In the will… (04) …in [the place called] Daxi. The third [of the brothers] Yingying took to bring up… (05) provided, did not let perish. The captive youngest brother Jia… (06) of clothing and food. Did not in full measure have the use of what he received from Yingyi... (07) That which [those] two persons possessed, the father apportioned in his lifetime… The third… (08) fed and brought up the eldest brother. Each [of them] received at [his/her] disposal… (09) this to Yingying. Yingyi’s young wife… (10) unfairly cursed and abused the mother and father and took up with… not… (11) The eldest brother decided to beat [her?] ten times with heavy sticks. Now this land…. (12) has been given to the aunt. All the taxes from the plot received and from the domestic property… (13) funds. Limit that which in equal measure is in the possession of Ying- ying and Yingyi… (14) …expenses. Now the brother who was in the hands of the brigands has… (15) …of all, [that is in the possession of] the aunt and the brothers Ying- ying and Yingyi allot… (16) …Today to avoid them later going back [on this] and disputing… (17) Witness: Officer Liu… (18) Witness: Officer Zhang Mother… (19) Witness: Zhang Zhang… [signature] Witness: … (20) Witness: Xie Yongxing Witness: … Commentary Document SI O14 (1) was brought to Russia by Sergei Oldenburg. In all probability, it comes from Dunhuang, although its place of origin is not indicated. Its handwriting, outward appearance and state of preservation are similar to those of the “Contract on the exchange of the house of district official Liu Shiqing in the 6th year of Tian-fu (906)” (Tian-fu liu nian yaya Liu Shiqing huan fang qi 天復陸年押衙劉石慶换房契, Дх-1414) from the Russian Dunhuang collection (E cang Dunhuang wenxian, vol. 8 (1997), 157) and it may come from the same source. Fragment SI O/14 (1) belongs to the category of Dunhuang documents dealing with the division of property (jiachan fenshu qi yang wen 家産分書契樣文). It does not give a precise quantitative description of the pro- perty subject to redistribution, but on the other hand it gives a detailed account of the worldly and morally instructive motives behind the ruling.[7] This peculiarity in the drafting of the document was entirely in accord with the general ethical orientation of the traditional Chinese law. Document SI O14 (1) has not survived in its entirety. Keeping in mind the customary standard width of paper at 25-29 cm, we can assume that we are in possession of less than half the text, while further 8-12 characters are missing at the bottom. This fragmentation makes it impossible to reconstruct the contents completely. It deals with a complex family dispute involving the redistribution of property to which one of three brothers has his rights restored. The document indicates that he suffered at the hands of brigands (luozei 落賊), i.e., he was taken away as a slave during a raid by nomads. If we turn to the texts of other documents from Dunhuang, such as “The Second Examination of Shen Li’s Complaint about the Seizure of Land with the Grave of His Elder Brother in the Years of Tian-fu (901-904) of the Tang Dynasty” (Tang Tianfu niandai Shen Li wei xiong fen tian bei qin chenzhuang bing pan 唐天复年代神力為兄墳田被侵陳狀并判”, Р.4974), they also mention “brigands”, more precisely “Uighur brigands” (huihu zei 回鶻賊). That was the designation of the hostile neighbours of the Chinese with whom they may have been in a state of war. During the time the youngest brother was a captive, his father died and under his will the property passed to the other two brothers, Yingyi and Ying- ying. By law, it should have been divided equally between them. The document indicated the location of the plots of land in accordance with the will. The allocation of land is said to have taken place during the father’s lifetime, which was not against the law, provided no separate registration was made. The text mentions an “aunt” (niang 孃), evidently an unmarried or widowed sister of the father, who “fed and brought up the eldest brother”. Part of the family property also ends up in her possession, which was not contrary to Tang law.8 When the youngest brother, Jia, turned up, he came under Yingyi’s care. His brother provided him with board and clothing, but did not allow him the right to deal with the property. The loss of part of document SI O14 (1) consigned to oblivion some story connected with Yingyi’s young wife. We do not know the reason why she “unfairly cursed and abused the mother and father” and with whom she “took up”. It is not entirely clear whether it was her that the eldest brother (Yingyi), as head of the clan, ordered to be beaten ten times with heavy sticks. This passage confirms the possibility of puni- shment within the family without reference to the authorities, but this pena- lty seems excessively light. The Tang Code was quite specific with regard to such insults to senior relatives of a husband: “All cases of a wife or concubine who curses with bad language her husband’s paternal grandparents or parents are punished by three years of penal servitude”.[8] Still, in any case it is evident that the division of property registered by the document took place precisely because of this family quarrel. As a result, part of the land and other property passed (from Yingyi?) to the aunt and some kind of restrictions were imposed on the brothers Yingyi and Ying- ying. The situation was finally resolved by part of the property from each of the three relatives-the brothers Yingyi and Yingying and the aunt-passing to the younger brother. The phrase “that which in equal measure is in the possession of Yingying and Yingyi” (盈、盈義同監收掌) remains obscure. The question of the presence or absence in mediaeval China of property held in common by the family, which makes the definition of private property somewhat difficult, was inseparably connected with the very nature of Chinese law that was also part of the traditional ideology. To prove the existence of family-held property researchers often cite a clause about the punishment of slaves for the killing of their master, the commentary on which states: “Those who are on the same household register and are persons of commoner status or more and who have their goods in common (he you cai fen zhe 合有財分者) are all considered to be masters”.[9] Document SI O14 (1) is also notable for showing the names of witnesses (jianren 見人), although they have not fully survived. Witnesses guaranteed the genuineness and implementation of a transaction, ratifying the document with their signatures. As a rule, they were respected local inhabitants with a family, means and position. Document SI O14 (1) gives the names of such witnesses, including two officers (bingmashi 兵馬使). The position in the text of some names vertically above others (“upside down”) is easily explained: when the scribe reached the left-hand edge of the sheet, being unable to enter all the names of the witnesses in order, he turned the page around and wrote the last names above the others in mirror image.[10] Conclusion Document SI O14 (1) draws a legal line beneath a lengthy property saga of a wealthy family from the border regions of mediaeval Chinese Empire. The re-examination of a will, the restoration of the property rights of a relative (the long-absent youngest brother) and the recognition of a woman’s property rights-the actual facts reflected in the document-were evidently in line with legal practice in China under the Tang dynasty. References Dunhuang yanjiu lunzhu mulu 2000: 敦煌研究論著目録 [A bibliography of works in Dunhuang studies]. 1908-1997. Ed. by Cheng A-tsai 鄭阿財 and Chu Feng-yu 朱鳳玉. Comp. by Tsai Chung-Lin 蔡忠霖, Liang Li-Ling 梁麗玲, Chou Hsi-po 周西波, Liu HuiPing 劉惠萍. Taipei: Hanxue yanjiu zhongxin. Dunhuang yanjiu lunzhu mulu 2006: 敦煌研究論著目録 [A bibliography of works in Dunhuang studies]. 1998-2005. Ed. by Cheng A-tsai 鄭阿財 and Chu Feng-yu 朱鳳玉. Comp. by Tsai Chung-Lin 蔡忠霖, Chou Hsi-po 周西波. Taipei: Lexue shuju. E cang Dunhuang wenxian 1994-2000: 俄藏敦煌文獻 [English subtitle: Dunhuang Manuscripts in Russian Collections], vols. 1-17. Shanghai: Guji chubanshe. Gu Tang lü shu yi 故唐律疏議 [The ancient text of the Tang Code explained]. Shanghai: 1936 (Sibu congkan 四部叢刊 [The four branches of literature collection]). Kitaiskie dokumenty iz Dun’khuana. Vyp. 1. Faksimile. Izdanie tekstov, perevod s kitaiskogo, issledovaniia i prilozheniia L.I. Chuguevskogo [Chinese documents from Dunhuang]. Part 1. Facsmile. Publication, translation, research and appendix by L.I. Chuguevskii. Moscow: Glavnaia Redaktsiia Vostochnoi Literatury, 1983 (Pamiatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka [Written monuments of the Oriental scripts series] LVII, 1). MALOV S.E. 1951: Pamiatniki drevnetiurkskoi pis’mennosti. Teksty i issledovaniia. [Monuments of the Old Turkic script. Texts and studies]. Moscow-Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR. MALOV S.E. 1932: “Uigurskie rukopisnye dokumenty ekspeditsii S.F. Oldenburga” [Uighur manuscript documents from S.F. Oldenburg’s expedition]. Zapiski Instituta vostokovedeniia AN SSSR [Proceedings of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR], vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, 129-149. MASPERO, Henry 1953: Les Documents chinois de la troisième expédition de Sir Aurel Stein en Asie Centrale. Ed. by H. Maspero. London: The Trustees of the British Museum. NIE Xiaohong 乜小紅 2009: E cang Dunhuang qiyue wenshu yanjiu 俄藏敦煌契約文書研究 [A study of the Dunhuang texts of contracts from the Russian Collection]. Shanghai: Guji chubanshe. NIIDA Noboru 仁井田陞 1933: Tōrei shūi 唐令拾遺 [The Tang statutes re-collected]. Tōkyō: Tōhōbungakuin kenkyūjo. POPOVA I.F. 2010: “Tri kitaiskikh dokumenta iz Serindiiskogo fonda IVR RAN” [Three Chinese documents from the Serindian Fund of the IOM, RAS]. Pis’mennye pamiatniki Vostoka [Written Monuments of the Orient], 2 (13), 73-85. SALEMANN, Carl 1904: “Ein Bruchstück manichaeischen Schrifttums im Asiatischen Museum”. Zapiski Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk [Proceedings of the Imperial Academy of Sciences], vol. VI (6), 1-26.

About the authors

Irina F. Popova

Institute of Oriental Manuscripts RAS

Author for correspondence.
Email: irina_f_popova@mail.ru
SPIN-code: 2673-5581
Scopus Author ID: 57195507179

Russian Federation

References

  1. Dunhuang yanjiu lunzhu mulu 2000: 敦煌研究論著目録 [A bibliography of works in Dunhuang studies]. 1908-1997. Ed. by Cheng A-tsai 鄭阿財 and Chu Feng-yu 朱鳳玉. Comp. by Tsai Chung-Lin 蔡忠霖, Liang Li-Ling 梁麗玲, Chou Hsi-po 周西波, Liu HuiPing 劉惠萍. Taipei: Hanxue yanjiu zhongxin
  2. Dunhuang yanjiu lunzhu mulu 2006: 敦煌研究論著目録 [A bibliography of works in Dunhuang studies]. 1998-2005. Ed. by Cheng A-tsai 鄭阿財 and Chu Feng-yu 朱鳳玉. Comp. by Tsai Chung-Lin 蔡忠霖, Chou Hsi-po 周西波. Taipei: Lexue shuju
  3. E cang Dunhuang wenxian 1994-2000: 俄藏敦煌文獻 [English subtitle: Dunhuang Manuscripts in Russian Collections], vols. 1-17. Shanghai: Guji chubanshe
  4. Gu Tang lü shu yi 故唐律疏議 [The ancient text of the Tang Code explained]. Shanghai: 1936 (Sibu congkan 四部叢刊 [The four branches of literature collection])
  5. Kitaiskie dokumenty iz Dun’khuana. Vyp. 1. Faksimile. Izdanie tekstov, perevod s kitaiskogo, issledovaniia i prilozheniia L.I. Chuguevskogo [Chinese documents from Dunhuang]. Part 1. Facsmile. Publication, translation, research and appendix by L.I. Chuguevskii. Moscow: Glavnaia Redaktsiia Vostochnoi Literatury, 1983 (Pamiatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka [Written monuments of the Oriental scripts series] LVII, 1)
  6. MALOV S.E. 1951: Pamiatniki drevnetiurkskoi pis’mennosti. Teksty i issledovaniia. [Monuments of the Old Turkic script. Texts and studies]. Moscow-Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR
  7. MALOV S.E. 1932: “Uigurskie rukopisnye dokumenty ekspeditsii S.F. Oldenburga” [Uighur manuscript documents from S.F. Oldenburg’s expedition]. Zapiski Instituta vostokovedeniia AN SSSR [Proceedings of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR], vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, 129-149
  8. MASPERO, Henry 1953: Les Documents chinois de la troisième expédition de Sir Aurel Stein en Asie Centrale. Ed. by H. Maspero. London: The Trustees of the British Museum
  9. NIE Xiaohong 乜小紅 2009: E cang Dunhuang qiyue wenshu yanjiu 俄藏敦煌契約文書研究 [A study of the Dunhuang texts of contracts from the Russian Collection]. Shanghai: Guji chubanshe
  10. NIIDA Noboru 仁井田陞 1933: Tōrei shūi 唐令拾遺 [The Tang statutes re-collected]. Tōkyō: Tōhōbungakuin kenkyūjo
  11. POPOVA I.F. 2010: “Tri kitaiskikh dokumenta iz Serindiiskogo fonda IVR RAN” [Three Chinese documents from the Serindian Fund of the IOM, RAS]. Pis’mennye pamiatniki Vostoka [Written Monuments of the Orient], 2 (13), 73-85
  12. SALEMANN, Carl 1904: “Ein Bruchstück manichaeischen Schrifttums im Asiatischen Museum”. Zapiski Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk [Proceedings of the Imperial Academy of Sciences], vol. VI (6), 1-26

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