Short Survey on Sogdian Manuscriptology


The catalogue of the Middle Iranian fragments in Sogdian script in the Berlin Turfan collection in three volumes was completed in 2018. These fragments belong to the literature of the Manichaean, Buddhist and Christian communities in Turfan. Some specimens and pecularities of these fragments referring to codicology, illustrations, headlines and numbering of folios will be presented.

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Cataloguing any manuscript collection involves delving into codicology 1 and its related fields, and hence the cataloguing of the Sogdian texts in Sogdian script in the Berlin Turfan collection has required addressing various aspects of their codicology. Separate overviews of Manichaean, Christian, and Buddhist texts in Sogdian script have been published as a 2 result of this cataloguing work. This article intends to give a brief overview of some specimen of the texts in Sogdian script. Among the Sogdian manuscript fragments from Turfan preserved today, there is an observable relationship between book formats and religious affiliation: in particular, Manichaean literature is mainly preserved in codices and scrolls, Buddhist literature in scrolls and pustaka books, and Christian literature in codices only. There are, of course, some exceptions, which means, that some few Manichaean and Christian pustaka books and 3 leaves, in both Manichaean and Sogdian scripts, are to be found. The distinctive feature of pustaka leaves besides the binding hole and circle © Reck, Christiane, Persian Manuscripts, Goettingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Marburg ( 1 Carried out as part of the Union Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts in German Collections project, the results of which are now completely published: see RECK 2006, 2016 and 2018. 2 See in particular RECK 2008, 2010, 2014a, 2014b and 2017. 3 For a more detailed discussion of this last group, see RECK 2014b, and expecially Table 2 in RECK 2014a, 543. around it is the fact that in the case of so-called long lined leaves the script stands on the top after turning the leave in horizontal direction. That’s why these leaves could not have been bound into a codex and should have been part of a pustaka leave. However, because of the texts’ fragmentary state, several types of evidence - including decoration, headlines, incipit or explicit formulae, or script - must be considered in order to determine not only religious affiliation, but also often the type of manuscript they represent. Most of the typical Manichaean codex book fragments in Sogdian script show no specific decorative elements other than headlines written in red or 4 blue color and adorned with flowers at the top corners of the page (pl. 1). Sections or separate texts within a manuscript are often distinguished by means of incipit and explicit formulae (pl. 2), though these are not always 5 preserved. The highest quality Manichaean manuscripts, those in Sogdian included, were sometimes adorned with both illuminations and/or line 6 drawings, often unrelated to the content of the text. A typical example of such are the fragments So 18700+M 501e+III 6261 (pl. 3), a text which 7 contains a passage known from the preface to Burzōy’s Kalila wa Dimna. The small drawing of a musician playing on a flute on the margin has no relation to the text describing the tribulations of the human existence. Many of the Manichaean texts are written on scrolls, in particular on the versos of re-used Chinese Buddhist scrolls. The best preserved example of 8 such is the so-called Āzandnāmē ‘Parable-Book’ (pl. 4); in this and similar examples, there is also Sogdian writing on the Chinese side, typically short notices or scribbles. Manichaean texts are also sometimes written in columns containing lists also on the blank versos of Chinese scrolls. These columns are not a form of increasing the beauty and importance of a manuscript but executed in a negligent way with hand-ruled lines. Some of the scrolls were halved in height - this format was presumably popular because its smaller 9 size made it more portable (pl. 5). 4 For the Manuscriptology of the Middle Iranian Manichaean fragments from Turfan see COLDITZ 2013. For details of the colours see Durkin-Meisterernst et. al. 2016, 11-12. 5 See BENKATO 2017b for a recent study of these formulae. 6 GULÁCSI 2005, 195-219. 7 GULÁCSI 2001, # 9 and # 41; GULÁCSI 2005, 158. Edition by RECK 2005, 338-341 with facsimiles on 434-435, joining see RECK 2006, 215-217 # 293. 8 See SUNDERMANN 1985 and BENKATO 2017a for a new edition and textual commentary on the Āzandnāmē. 9 HENNING 1940, 5 (Fragments III = So 14700(13), and IV = So 14700(12)), facs.: WEBER 2000, pl. 169 and 170; YOSHIDA 2000, 71-74, facs.: 78; RECK 2009, 219-221, Taf. IX. Pl. 1. So 14255/recto Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 2. So 14615/verso Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 3. So 18700+M 501e+III 6261 Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 4. Ch/So 20182 Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 5. Ch/So 14760/verso and Ch/So 14761/verso Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin There are some fifty Christian fragments in Sogdian script in the collection. The most well- known are the two types of the Book of Psalms: the first is characterized by Syriac rubrics at the beginning of each psalm (pl. 6), while the other has a Greek line on the upper margin which marks the 10 beginning of the psalm in Sogdian (pl. 7). Another group of fragments, possibly containing a Sogdian version of the Dormitio Virginis, uses a 11 unique brown ink (pl. 8). The brown ink was analysed within a research project on pigments in the Turfan materials. It was interpreted in the result as faded colour exceptional among the other inks, because it “was composed 12 with an organic dye not been identified yet”. Interestingly, neither Manichaean nor Christian codices in Sogdian script have page numbers; no Manichaean codices in Manichaean script have page numbers either, while Christian Sogdian codices in Syriac script often bear quire numbers. Some of the Christian manuscripts in Sogdian script do bear a cross on the upper 13 outer corner of the verso side. As mentioned above, many Buddhist Sogdian texts are written on scrolls. In contrast to the Manichaean scrolls, these are typically new scrolls produced especially for the writing of Buddhist texts. Later, the blank versos of these were often re-used for the writing of Buddhist texts in Old Turkic. 14 A typical example is a fragment of the Suvarṇaprabhāsa (pl. 9). Sogdian Buddhist texts are often also written in the pustaka, or poṭhi, format. Two types can be distinguished: “long-lined” (pl. 10) and “short-lined” (pl. 11) 15 pustaka leaves as called by YOSHIDA. Both types often have foliation headlines, above the main text in the former and at the beginning of the text in the latter. The foliation headlines contain usually a shortened title, the number of the book or chapter (given as an ordinal number) and the number of the leaf (given as a numeral) with the classifier pttr ‘leaf’. These headlines are usually written in a smaller script. Sometimes only a number is written. 16 In one case this foliation number is written in Chinese. These foliation 10 For the first of these, see SCHWARTZ and SIMS-WILLIAMS 2014, pl. II, and for the second see SIMS-WILLIAMS 2004; SIMS-WILLIAMS 2011. 11 RECK 2008, 193-194, and 200-202, pl. 2-5 and RECK 2018, 59-60. 12 DURKIN-MEISTERERNST et. al. 2016, 11. 13 RECK 2008, 194, see also BARBATI 2016, 38. For the Manuscriptology of the Christian Sogdian fragments in East Syriac script see BARBATI 2017. 14 MÜLLER and LENTZ 1934, 38-43 [539-544], text 7 (T II Y[ār χōtō] 50a = So 14850), for the Old Turkic text, see ZIEME 2007, 115-121. 15 YOSHIDA 2015, 837. 16 BENVENISTE 1940a, 154-158 (P3). headlines or numbers are situated more often on the recto, though they can 17 also be written on the verso as is typical for Old Turkic texts. As already 18 assumed by Henning in both scrolls and pustaka books the script runs vertically. The title of a text is also sometimes mentioned in the colophon, though a 19 colophon is preserved only in a handful of cases. The colophons often are separated from the main text by more elaborate punctuation, and the script is often in a different size (pl. 12). The scribes or other persons mentioned in the colophons bear Old Turkic names, and sometimes the colophon is even 20 written in Old Turkic. To aid in locating a scroll in an ancient library, a title was often written on the outside of the rolled-up scroll - such titles are preserved in only two cases, however, in the Sūtra of Causes and 21 Effects (P4, Pelliot Chinois 3516) and So 16110(1)+So 16123. Some of the Buddhist manuscripts are illustrated as well. The most prominent example is the luxury pustaka volume of the Araṇemi-Jātaka, where in the opened volume on one side the story is told and on the other side the matching 22 illustration is situated. There are also a few other fragments with illustra- 23 tions, which one has not been able to identify as yet (pl. 13). There are several kinds of script the use of which also aligns, to some extent, with book format and religious affiliation. Buddhist texts are typically written in the ‘formal’ variant of the Sogdian script, though it is not limited to texts that are Buddhist in content, but also appears in pharmacological fragments, for example. Such a text shall be edited by A. Benkato and Ch. Reck in this volume as well in connection with a short survey on the Sogdian medical fragments. Most of the Manichaean texts are written in various calligraphic forms of the regular Sogdian script, as are the Christian texts, and even some of the Buddhist texts. Script variety is hence not distinctive enough on its own to identify a fragment. 17 SUNDERMANN 2010, 77. 18 HENNING 1958, 56. 19 For more on these see RECK 2017, 388-389, and about colophons in Manichaean books, see YOSHIDA 2000, 83-85 and YOSHIDA 2008, 342-343. 20 MÜLLER and LENTZ 1934, 43-47 (text 8, TM 391 = So 18242 = MIK III 32), YOSHIDA 2008, 342-343. 21 See MACKENZIE 1970, 2-3 and RECK 2013, respectively, for discussion of each of these texts and the titles on the verso. 22 EBERT 2001 and SUNDERMANN 2001. The direction of reading is under discussion, see RECK 2016, 57. 23 RECK 2016, 449. Pl. 6. So 12601=III 59/recto Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 7. So 12950(2)/recto Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 8. So 12600 I/recto und II/verso Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 9. So 14851/recto Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 10. So 14736/verso Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 11. T I α+So 10132/recto Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 12. So 18274-So 18276, colophon on So 18276 Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 13. So 10100q/2nd page Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Pl. 14. So 14822/recto Photo: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Finally, the format of fragments containing letters, economic documents, pharmacological texts, or texts of uncertain religious affiliation is often difficult to discern. These can be parts of scrolls, pustaka leaves, or simply single sheets. Even worse, it is sometimes not possible to determine the recto or verso of smaller fragments. It also bears mentioning that many such previously medical fragments are written with a thin brush rather than a calligraphic pen or reed (Pl. 14).[19] Abbreviations Pl. = Plate

About the authors

Christiane Reck

Goettingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Author for correspondence.



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