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0295 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 295 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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of a woman with a flower or mirror in her hand, N. xxiv. viii. 79 (Plate XX), is a motif which we

have met already in a seal found earlier at this site (N. xv. 155 ; Ancient Khotan, ii. Plate LxXII).

The head of a man with elaborate head-dress, holding some ill-defined object, is of coarse

workmanship, but is nevertheless of interest as the type and pose curiously recall the representation

of the king on certain Kusana coins.12

Among several seals of debased work showing human figures, N. xxiv. viii. 71, 72, 76, 94, 96 Seals of

(see Plate xx ; also Desert Cathay, Fig. 95), the last named deserves special mention ; for the male local work-


divinity there represented with nimbus and sword can be safely recognized, by the double sack-purse

carried in the left hand, as Kubera or Vaigravana, the god of riches and Guardian (Lokapâla) of

the Northern region. We know that he was specially worshipped at Khotan as a kind of genius

loci .'3 It is significant that this seal, though manifestly of local origin, reveals unmistakably Roman

influence. The remaining impressions show mostly animal figures, the charging elephant seen

in N. xxiv. viii. 86, 95 (Plate xx) being, perhaps, the most spirited among them, and conventiona-

lized representations of birds, N. xxiv. viii. 75, 79, 82, 83, 92, 96, the most frequent. The com-

parison of these impressions with the seals in stone or metal found at the site or obtained at Ybtkan 14

leaves little doubt about the originals having been produced in the Khotan region.

The value of the rich haul of ancient records yielded by this ruin N. xxiv lies even more, Difficulties

perhaps, in their remarkable state of preservation than in their number. Since Professor E. J. Rapson meet ô her-

kindly charged himself with the decipherment and eventual publication of the Kharosthi materials Kharosthi

brought back from my first journey, the exceptional difficulties presented by their script, language, documents.

and contents have revealed themselves only too clearly. The obscurities inherent in this very

cursive form of Kharosthi writing have proved quite as serious as those arising from the use of an

early Prâkrit dialect which differs considerably in phonetic peculiarities from the forms represented

in Indian literature, and in addition contains a certain admixture of manifestly non-Indian words and

terms not yet traced to their origin. But what probably has increased the difficulties of interpretation

more than anything else, is the fact that, as recognized from the first, we have in these Kharosthi

documents mainly official records or correspondence relating to the-petty details of local administra-

tion and daily life, i. e. subject-matters which would often perplex the uninitiated, even if presented

at a period less remote and in more familiar script and language, and for the elucidation of which

the extant literary remains of India offer practically no help.

The difficulties here briefly indicated may explain why, even with the very valuable aid afforded Publication

to Professor Rapson's labours by his distinguished confrères M. Senart and M. l'abbé Boyer, the h Kecô d

actual publication of the Kharosthi records brought back from my first expedition has not progressed •

as yet beyond the specimens made accessible in preliminary transcripts and renderings by 190515

Considerable advance was in fact made in preparing those documents for publication,16 but it became

increasingly clear that for the solution of many remaining doubts and puzzles there was great

need of additional materials, and in particular of an adequate supply of complete documents in which

the state of preservation should leave no room for uncertainty as to the characters actually inscribed.

1R Cf. Gardner, Greek and Scythic Kings, Pl. XXV. 9 (Kadphises); XXVII. r6 (Huviska). 15 Cf. Ancrenl Khotan, i. p. 158.

14 Cf. PI. y, XXix ; Ancient Khotan, ii. PI. L.

15 Ancient Kholan, i. pp. 364 sqq.

1° Transcripts, with critical notes, of 16o documents, from N. I—Iv, had been actually set up in type for the companion volume to Ancient Khotan which was to contain the edition of the Kharosthi records excavated in 1901, when Prof.

Rapson and his coadjutors arrived at the gratifying decision to embody in the same publication also the fresh documents brought back by me from my later explorations. In"view of the further delay thus necessitated I feel double satisfaction at having been able to reproduce relatively so large a number of Kharosthi documents in facsimile in the plates of Ancient Khotan which thus afford sufficient materials for the independent research of fellow scholars.