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0423 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 423 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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during the excavation of N. xv., a very considerable number (if not the majority) of the Kharosthi documents found there, whether on leather or wood, are addressed '°. Where a document of this class was addressed to two or more persons, the line giving their names and titles would be continued beyond the seal cavity towards the pointed end, as in the case of N. i. 104 +16, where the obverse names ` Cojhbo Bhima and Sothamga Lipeya ' as the recipients 11. To the left proper of the string-hole, and usually quite close to it, is written the word dadavo, ` to be given to ', which completes and defines the preceding address entry at the opposite end of the cover'.

The reverse of the under-tablet regularly shows a brief entry written close to its square end, as in N. xv. 122, 137 (Plate XCVIII) and N. i. 9 (Plate C). In the complete wedge-shaped documents translated by Professor Rapson, this entry always contains the name of the messenger or other person referred to in the text as the carrier of the letter 13. It appears probable that the corresponding entry seen on the reverse of other under-tablets served the same purpose ; our practice of showing on the cover of a letter of introduction the name of the person who is to deliver it, offers an exact parallel to this. On the reverse of N. i. 122 (Plate XCVIII) three large characters, incised in a transverse direction, take the place of this last-named entry. The text of the tablet is not accessible to me ; but the characters, read by me as PraPaya, permit of the assumption that they, too, contain the name of the person entrusted with the document. On the reverse of N. xv. 137 (Pl. XCVIII) there appear, besides a short entry near the square end, evidently containing the name of the person who was to carry the missive, four closely written lines which, though the writing in parts is much faded, can clearly be recognized as by a different hand. M. Boyer, who has recently published a translation, with valuable comments, of this interesting document—apparently an order for the arrest and production of certain fugitives 14—has shown that this partly deciphered record on the reverse must deal with the same object. Is it possible that we have here a disposal order or docket' notes by the official, the Cojhbo Somjaka, to whom this ` double wedge ' is addressed ? Of a more humble character, but also curious, are the roughly incised marks which the reverse of some other under-tablets display. In N. xv. 17. a it is a Svastika ; in N. xv. 04 and 05 a small circle crossed by a stroke. There can be little doubt that they are meant for distinguishing marks, probably scratched in after the fashion of the ` Nishâns,' which Indian ` Chaprassis ' are in the habit of using on our envelopes, to facilitate correct delivery by a messenger not acquainted with the writing. In the case of N. xv. 121 we find thus two small crosses scratched in on the obverse of a covering-tablet.

As already stated, it was only in the light of the practically perfect specimens which N. xv. yielded that I was able definitely to ascertain the manner of using and fastening the rectangular double tablets. Here, too, as in N. iv., this class of Kharosthi documents on wood was mainly represented by detached pieces wanting the corresponding covering- or under-tablets with which they must once have been fitted. Of such incomplete documents, twenty-eight covering- and nineteen under-tablets turned up here. The predominance of covering-tablets, equally marked also in the case of wedge-shaped documents, is a characteristic result of the process by which these ` waste-papers ' found their way into the rubbish-heap. Opened `envelopes' would necessarily

Entry on reverse of under-tablet.

Incised characters.

Incised distinguishing marks.

Kharoathi documents on rectangular double tablets.

10 For N. xv. 137 comp. the complete translation given by M. Boyer, J. asiat., Mai—Juin, 1905, pp. 463 sqq. For other addresses comp. Professor Rapson's translations of the wedge-shaped tablets, N. xv. 12, N. i. 104+ 16, 105, N. iv. 108, in Specimens, pp. 11 sqq.

11 See Professor Rapson's Specimens, p. 14.

12 See the obverses of N. xv. 137 (Plate XCVIII), 24 (Plate IC), 71 (Plate C).

13 See the text and translation of N. i. 104+106, 105, Io8; N. xv. 12 in Professor Rapson's Specimens, pp. 11 sqq.

14 See J. asial., 1905, Mai—Juin, pp. 463 sqq.