DIRTY SOGDIAN DRAWING (uncensored version NSFW)

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This is the kind of find that makes me so, so glad.

I came across this gem while looking through the book “The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith.” It’s really a wonderful book if you’re doing this kind of research and you get your hands on it (where else can I find pics of Silk-Road era brooms?). My previous post about a child’s drawing of a Bodhisattva came from this book. This drawing though, it takes the cake. See the full image below, the guy is, uh, really excited:

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(From page 220 of the book. Apologies for the crummy quality–this is from a black-and-white copy and I don’t have access to the full-color book right now. But you get the idea.)

The best thing is that the description for the manuscript is very detailed for a single object yet it totally skirts around the Elephant in the Room:

Cat. 143 is an example of ninth-century Sogdian script. The orientation of the drawing suggests that at this period Sogdian, like Turkic in the same script, was written vertically from left to right rather than horizontally from right to left as, for example, in the Ancient Letters of the fourth century. This document is written on the back of part of the Vajracchedikā in Chinese. The text, which is largely incomprehensible, contains an obscure remark about the man pictured, who is referred to as Tämär Quš, a Turkish name meaning “Iron Bird,” and a lady Yimkičor. He may perhaps be identified with a ruler of the same name, author of a Sogdian letter which Sims-Williams and Hamilton date from circumstantial evidence to c. 885.

So much information, and yet…!

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