Vol 6, No 2 (2020)

Original Papers

Popular Religion in Early Republican China Based on Vasilii Alekseev’s Materials from to the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography RAS (fund No. 2054)

Zavidovskaia E.A., Rud P.V.


One of the founding fathers of Russian sinology Vasiliy Mikhailovich Alekseev (1881–1951) had acquired an impressive collection during his ethnographic expedition to the southern regions of China (May 4 — August 19, 1912), which was organized by the Russian Committee for Middle and East Asia Exploration and initiated by the Committee`s head, founder academician Vasilii Vasilievich Radlov (1837–1918). Alekseev’s expedition stated from Vladivostok and passed through Harbin, Shanghai, Ningbo, Putuoshan, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Shantou, Guangzhou and ended up in Hong Kong. Alekseev has collected about 1083 artifacts making up “a collection exclusively on popular Buddhist and Daoist religion, items of household usage, daily life and cult, as well as revolutionary leaflets and posters of 1912”, now this collection is kept at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences (MAE, RAS) with registration No. 2054. During his earlier studies in China in 1906–1909 Alekseev acquired large collections of ethnographic materials and folk art (mainly popular woodblock prints nianhua 年畫) from the northern regions of China, which had later for the most part entered collections of the State Hermitage and the State Museum of the History of Religion (GMIR) in St. Petersburg. For his expedition of 1912 Alekseev had lined out a plan based on his observations of northern religious practices, e.g. he was particularly interested in the worship of City God chenghuang, child giving goddesses niangniang and God of Wealth caishen, but he quickly realized how different was the southern religious terrain and focused on local specifics.

This paper discusses a large portion of printed ritual texts used for religious purposes in Fujian and Guangdong provinces and dated by the early 20th c. Our survey of several dozens of printed materials from fund No. 2054 reveals prevalence of documents used by ritual specialists — Daoists for funerary rituals and ancestor worship, funeral various types of talismans occupy a central place. Apparently, the form and content of these texts have been preserved in the local religious practice up to present days.

Written Monuments of the Orient. 2020;6(2):3-21
pages 3-21 views

The Updated Data on Sanskrit Manuscripts of the Serindia Collection (IOM, RAS): Perspectives of the Study

Mesheznikov A., Shomakhmadov S.


This article presents the preliminary results of the study on the Sanskrit manuscripts of the Serindia Collection of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, RAS. Basing on the previous researches, as well as on the results of the efforts of the ‘Sanskrit Group’ within Serindica Laboratory, the authors outline the structure and repertoire of the Sanskrit part of the Serindia Collection, supplementing it with the description of paleographic and codicological aspects of the Sanskrit manuscripts.

Written Monuments of the Orient. 2020;6(2):22-42
pages 22-42 views

Old Uyghur Fragments in the Serindia Collection: Provenance, Acquisition and Processing

Lundysheva O.V., Turanskaya A.A.


The first expeditions to Eastern Turkestan that discovered Old Uyghur manuscripts and block prints were from Russia. A number of the Old Uyghur fragments were found already in the course of the Turfan expedition in 1889–1890. These fragments, along with the ones in other languages and scripts, were subsequently acquired by the Russian officials N. Petrovsky and N. Krotkov and the expeditions headed by S. Oldenburg (1909–1910; 1914–1915) and S. Malov (1909–1911; 1913–1914). They formed the so-called Serindia (formerly known as Central Asian) collection kept nowadays at the IOM, RAS. The major part of the Serindia collection consists of the Old Uyghur fragments. Obtained by the expeditions to Eastern Turkestan, according to the customary tradition they were transferred to the Asiatic Museum. This paper presents the results of our study of the provenance, aquisition and processing history of the Old Uyghur fragments.

Written Monuments of the Orient. 2020;6(2):43-64
pages 43-64 views

Imperial Postscript to the Tangut, Chinese and Tibetan Editions of the dhāraṇī-sūtras in the Collection of the IOM, RAS

Hamanaka S., Sizova A.A.


Three parallel editions of dhāraṇī-sūtras in Tangut, Chinese and Tibetan languages were published in the Tangut state in 1149. The Tibetan edition is of particular importance, because until recently specimens of printing in Tibetan, that could belong to an earlier date, have not been found anywhere. All the editions are equal in terms of their contents and contain the postscript written by the Emperor Renzong. The main goal of the article is to introduce the previously unpublished Tibetan text of the postscript in correspondence with the Tangut and Chinese versions. Besides, the article provides information about the study, preservation state, and codicology of all the three editions.

Written Monuments of the Orient. 2020;6(2):65-92
pages 65-92 views

Japanese Didactic Gunsho Commentaries in the Edo Period: a Study of the 17th c. Commentary on the Heike Monogatari

Lushchenko A.Y.


The Heike monogatari hyōban hidenshō is an anonymous 17th c. commentary on the medieval Heike monogatari. As a military studies text (gunsho) written for Edo-period warriors, the commentary differs substantially from the Heike monogatari in content and purpose. It consists of didactic essays that critically evaluate passages from the Heike monogatari and also includes fictional stories that expand and reinterpret the content of the Heike monogatari. The commentary’s content focuses on topics of governance, strategy, and ethics. In the 17th c., such gunsho commentaries functioned as educational texts with advice and admonition addressed to daimyo lords and warriors in general. As a didactic military studies text, the Heike monogatari hyōban hidenshō reveals a new facet of reception of the Heike monogatari in the Edo period.

Written Monuments of the Orient. 2020;6(2):93-113
pages 93-113 views

SI 4904: Сonservation as a Base for New Discoveries

Korosteleva K.V.


Book fragments in Old Uyghur language, that constitute the major part of the Serindia collection, currently undergo conservation and preservation procedures. The throughout conservation started in 2019 showed, that modern methods not only give new life to ancient texts, but also contribute to the academic research. The article sought to describe conservation procedures of the particular fragment SI 4904 from the Serindia collection, as well as subsequently made discoveries.

Written Monuments of the Orient. 2020;6(2):114-119
pages 114-119 views

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