Sec. iii] RECORDS FROM A HIDDEN ARCHIVE, N. XXIV 231
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.