Ērān ud Anērān
Webfestschrift Marshak 2003


Sogdians around Ancient Tarim basin

Rong Xinjiang*


In the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, a large number of manuscripts in Parthian, Middle Persian, Khotanese, Sogdian and Tumshuqese languages were recovered by English, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Swedish, and Finnish travelers and archaeologists in the Tarim region, Turfan and the cave of Dunhuang. The major collections of the Iranian manuscripts were in Berlin, London, Paris, St. Petersburg and Stockholm. This discovery opened a new stage in the various studies of history, language and religion, and was considerable importance to the students of Iranian studies. A small group of scholars have devoted themselves during the past hundred years. As a result of the study of these manuscripts our knowledge of the history and religion in Central Asia or on the Silk Road from the 2nd to the 13th centuries have been extended far beyond what it was possible to learn from the accounts of early traditional Chinese material.

As an example, in this paper we deal with the Iranian-speaking people known as Sogdian scattered throughout the Tarim basin according to the Iranian and Chinese manuscripts. The evidence of Sogdian colonies at Mazar Tagh, Dandan-Uiliq and Old Domoko in Khotan region is attested in the Khotanese documents as suli, plural sulya, and some Sogdian fragments unearthed at Mazar Tagh. We know of the presence of Sogdians in the beginning of the 4th century in Lou-lan from a Chinese wooden document in 330 A.D., which mentioned Su-te 'Sogdians', as well as a few of the Sogdian texts in the meantime with the Sogdian Ancient Letters, both of the Chinese and Sogdian material were discovered at the site L.A. in the Lop-nor region. On the northern Silk Road across the Tarim basin, the name Sogdian is known in the so-called 'Tumshuqese' as sudana-. The sites Douldour-aqour and Kumtura near Kucha, and Ming-oi near Karashahr yielded the business documents and Buddhist inscriptions and texts in Sogdian. In result, we can link up their trade and missionary route between the homeland of the Sogdians in Sogdiana and their colonies in Tun-huang as far as Chang-an.

* Peking University

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Actualizado el 24/07/2004

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