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0406 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 406 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Kharosthi tablets found in N. x.


which would allow of Chinese documents being recorded in the traditional fashion of one row of characters per slip of wood (or bamboo), and yet spread over more than one slip without risk of confusion or partial loss ? We shall have occasion to recur to this point hereafter.

Among the tablets inscribed in Kharosthi, of which altogether nine were found in this room, two may be specially mentioned here. N. x. 3 is a ` Takhti ' closely covered with fairly clear writing, which, however, owing to the darkened surface of the wood, fails to appear in the reproduction (Plate CI). The interest of this piece lies in the divergent directions of the writing, as explained in the inventory entry, which prove that, different from the usual fashion, the Takhti handle was held occasionally in the right hand of the reader. The oblong label-shaped tablet N. x. 4 (Plate CIII), containing on one side two narrow columns of Kharosthi, is curious on account of the small twig which was found fastened into its hole, and by which it had been in all probability pinned to the wall. We thus see how closely the practical use of such wooden labels must often have resembled that of our memo. slips on paper.

The three eating sticks (N. x. 06) of varying lengths, and two spindles (N. x. oi, 2) would suffice to show that the ` Daftar ' had been put at times to homely uses, even if there had not been found in it a large mat made of closely-woven tamarisk rushes, about 6 ft. 3 in. long, which by the evidence of the two parallel staves placed below it must have served for a sleeping cot or hammock. An ancient broom, N. x. 07 (see Plate LXXIII), made of grass in a fashion closely resembling that described above in connexion with the find D. ir. oi t, shows that whoever

had last taken up his quarters here was not altogether averse to tidiness. What use he could   E
have made of the wing of a bird about the size of a small hawk (N. x. o8) is uncertain.

Among the rooms comprised in the series towards the south-west, and mostly provided with low sitting platforms, only those marked N. xi., N. xiii., N. xiv., yielded any objects ; the finds consisted in each case of one or two Kharosthi tablets, none of them showing any novel features. But in the passage (N. xii.) separating these rooms from those facing north-east some curious remains came to light. The well-preserved upper part of a guitar (N. xii. 2) about i6 in. long, reproduced in Plate LXXI I I, closely resembles the ` Rabab' still in popular use throughout Turkestan 7. It was fitted with four strings, of which remains of three still adhere to the existing keys. The substitution of a roughly-carved stick for one of these, and the gut fastened round the fissured neck of the instrument plainly show that it had long been in a bad state of repair. Even more interesting were the remains of two elaborately decorated wooden chairs which were also recovered here. The legs of one, three in number (see Plate LXX), are 19 in. high, and represent monsters with the head of a lion, the leg of a horse, and what looks like the indication of a winged body, the whole suggesting the imitation of a ' Simhasana '. But little remains of the original colouring, chiefly in pink and black, the latter colour being used over a pink ground to mark the mane. Two legs of another chair, 131 in. long, also shown in Plate LX X, are formed by a pair of well-carved monsters, male and female. The heads and apparently the busts are human, the parts from the waist downwards are bird-like, while the legs are those of a horse with strongly marked hoofs. The ground-colour of bright red is well preserved in parts, and over it appear traces of dark blue and black paint marking the plumage and hoofs. Composite figures of a closely similar type are well known from an early period in Indian iconography, being used at Sanchi for the representation of certain classes of demigods. Both Gandharvas and Kimnaras are there shown with human busts set on bird-like lower parts of the body 8. I am unable at present to trace the above features combined with the legs of

7 Comp. the representation of a Rabàb with five strings   8 See Griinwedel-Burgess, Buddhist art, pp. 46 sq.

in Mission D. de Rhins, ii. p. 136.


Miscellaneous finds in N. x.


Ancient guitar and armchair.