NOTES ON SIR AUREL STEIN'S
COLLECTION OF TIBETAN DOCUMENTS FROM
REV. A. H. FRANCKE, PH.D.
[Extracted from Dr. Francke's paper published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, r 914, pp. 37-59; see above,
pp. 467 sq. Notes and references added are shown within brackets.— A. STEIN.]
This collection of ancient Tibetan documents, of which I have been engaged in preparing an inventory under an arrangement sanctioned by the India Office, contains close on two thousand pieces, none of them probably of a later date than the ninth century A.D., and is certain to shed a flood of new light on Tibetan archaeology, history, grammar, culture, religion, and folklore. Most of the documents were found at two sites, viz. Miran and Mazartagh... .
The documents were in both localities found scattered among the abundant deposits of refuse resulting from prolonged occupation by a Tibetan garrison. In part they may represent the last remains of ancient archives. That the Tibetans of the seventh and eighth centuries kept archives is made probable by the word yig-dkar-cag register of letters ', which occurs in the documents. The word ' register of debts ' is also found in one of the documents.
Although many of the documents, especially the wooden ones, are in good preservation, the number of those which contain a fuller connected text is rather small. Of most of the documents on paper one-half only has been preserved. As Dr. Barnett, of the British Museum, observes, this fact reminds one of a custom in ancient Europe, according to which tallies were cut in two and each party received one half of the stick. Most of the wooden documents are labels containing addresses. These labels were probably tied to the various packages on transport of provisions or other articles. Other short wooden documents which were apparently used by tax-collectors on their journeys to the taxpayers are of a similar character, viz. they do not contain much besides personal and local names. All these documents, however, yield a very rich harvest of ancient Tibetan naines, local as well as personal, and it will take us a long time before all the local names have been identified or all the personal names have been properly grouped. In a number of cases, of course, we cannot yet decide whether a now unknown name is of local or personal character.
At first sight the names give the impression that Tibet must have undergone great changes since the time when they were recorded. The Tibetan names of the present day are mostly Buddhist, and may in almost every case be understood at first sight as regards their meaning. It is surprising to find that a great number of the names contained in the Stein Collection do not show their significance so readily. They consist partly of syllables which have been lost to the Tibetan language during the last twelve hundred years... .
Although not a single royal name has as yet been found among the names of the Stein Collection,' several
Mu-khri occurs as a minister's name.