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EIGHTH SET. (Plates XIV, fig. 3 and XV, fig. 1.)
This set comprises only one book. It belongs to G. 9. It was purchased by Sayyid Gul Muhammad, a well-known Kashghar mer chant, for forty rupees and was sent, as a present, to Captain Godfrey. The book, of course, could not be accepted as a present, but it was purchased on behalf of the British Government. It measures 11 × 61". The exact number of its forms is unknown, for the beginning and end are missing, and a large number of leaves exist only in fragments. The number of still complete forms is 29; most of these even are more or less damaged along the edges. The book is bound with three copper nails, and the guards are formed of two thin copper slips, measuring 8x", and covered with ornaments like those on figs. 4-9, Plate IV.
Irrespective of its script, this book strikingly differs in several points from the books comprised in all the previously described seven sets. In the first place, it is clean; there is no trace of any burn or fatty stain. In the second place, the paper, to all appearance, is of an entirely different quality. It is thin and soft and more nearly resembles the paper of the Weber and Macartney Manuscripts procured from Kuchar. It differs, however, from their paper in colour; for while their paper is white or whitish, the paper of this book is of a bright yellowishbrown. It looks as if it were artificially tinted; but the colouring, if any, is fast, for it is tolerant of washing. It is a pity that its findplace is not known; but that it comes from some spot in the Takla Makan is shown by the fact of all its leaves being, like those of all the other block prints, very thickly covered with the fine yellow sand of the desert. Another curiosity is that a small special formula, which occasionally occurs in it, is printed with an apparently faded, redcoloured fluid, which almost resembles blood. Its ordinary formula is, as usual, printed with black ink. Minor peculiarities are the following: (1) most of the existing leaves show a clean cut on one of the narrow sides, (2) two of the pages have the text printed diagonally across them, and (3) a few leaves are only printed on one side. The last mentioned peculiarity is due to the extreme thinness of the paper, owing to which the print on one side shows through on the other. The leaves have, as in the case of all other block-printed books, frayed edges, but in the present case one of the narrower sides of most leaves has been clipped with a sharp knife or scissors, for it shows a clean cut, which occasionally passes right through a line of print, showing that the clipping was not done with little care.
The text of the book consists of two formulas which I shall call VIII a and VIII b. The formula VIII a consists of three long lines, containing apparently about 16 letters each. It is the proper formula
of the book, as it covers every printed page but one. Formula VIII b is evidently a special one; it is very small, consisting of four lines, of 2, 3, 3 and 6 letters; and it is only found on a very few pages. On one page it is found twice, printed in the middle and at the top of it, the rest of the page being filled with the ordinary long formula VIII a. On two other pages it is found similarly at their top; and lastly there is one leaf, on which it occupies the entire surface of both pages. Curiously enough this is an isolated leaf, which is stuck in between the two leaves of a folded form. But from the page which exhibits the double imprint of formula VIIIb (see Plate XV, fig. 1) it is evident, that both formulas were printed at the same time; for the needful space (though only just barely sufficient) is purposely left for formula VIIIb between the impressions of formula VIII a.
The latter formula is printed ten times in a column on each page; the column running parallel to the longer side of the book. Within the column the impressions of the formula stand, as a rule, upright and reversed alternately; though occasionally two upright or two reversed impressions follow consecutively, as may be seen on the facsimile page in Plate XV, fig. 1.
Formula VIIIb is also printed in a column consisting of ten lines of impressions; but each line itself is made up of four impressions, standing alternately upright and reversed; so that the formula is repeated 40 times on each of the two pages of the leaf the surface of which it entirely occupies. On all other occasions (as on the facsimile page) where formula VIIIb occurs, it only occupies one line consisting of four impressions.
Among the fragments, found by me with the book there are two, which have a peculiar interest in bearing, in addition to the ordinary formula VIII a, a second small text, which I shall call formula VIII c. One of the fragments consists of a very narrow oblong sheet, folded in the middle into two leaves. Each of these leaves (see fig. 3 on Plate XIV) measures 63×3′′; and shows a clean cut along either of its long sides. As these sides measure exactly the same as the breadth (or narrow side) of the book; it seems probable that the whole oblong sheet is simply a slip cut out of one of the forms of the book. And seeing that the slip is nearly blank on one side, it is further probable that the form, from which it was cut, was one of the outside, or covering, forms of the book which are now missing. The other piece is of a very irregular rhomboid shape, being apparently a piece torn off one of the leaves of one the outside forms of the book; for it shows on one side three full and one fragmentary imprints of the ordinary formula VIIIa in the usual column arrangement, while the
other side must have originally been blank, but is now covered with imprints of formulas VIIIb and VIIIc in a promiscuous and disorderly way.
NINTH SET. (Plate XV, figs. 2 and 3, and Pl. XVI.)
This set comprises two items, a roll and a book. The latter, when received, was enclosed in a carved wooden box; and the former probably was also originally within it. The whole belongs to G. 10. It was received by Captain Godfrey from Leh, and is said to have been dug out in the Takla Makan, which, seeing that it is more or less thickly encrusted with the fine yellow sand of the desert, is probably correct. But it is a pity that the exact fiud-spot is not known.
No. I. THE BOX.
The box (Pl. XV, fig. 2) has a height of 4"; its diameter externally is 41′′, and internally, 3"; inclusive of the projecting carved figures, its breadth is 42". It is drilled out of one piece of wood, and is ornamented with six carved projections, which run, like pillars, round it parallel with the length of its wall, and at equal distances (about 1") from one another, and consist alternately of standing human figures and inscribed boards. Close to one of the figures, there is a crack right through the wall of box, gaping asunder about of an inch. Above the head of the next figure to the right, there is a large semi-circular notch cut into the rim (shown on Pl. XV), and there is also a smaller triangular one over the inscribed board which stands between those two figures. These notches seem to have been made intentionally. There are also two small, irregular holes in the wall (one shown on Pl. XV), nearly opposite to each other, but these appear to be due to injury. There is no lid to close the box; nor do appearances point to its ever having had any. The projections go down to the bottom of the box, but do not reach quite to the edge of the rim, being short of it by of, an inch.
Of the three human figures, one is represented with his arms a-kimbo, his hands resting on his abdomen (shown on Pl. XV), while the other two figures have their arms hanging down straight by their sides. There are some similar crude figures of copper in the collection, which will be described in the section on Miscellaneous Objects. All three figures on the box appear to be represented nude. Two of them (including the one with the arms a-kimbo) bear curious lines marked regularly across both sides of the chest and upper arms. They might be intended to denote a short jacket; but similar lines are used to mark the hair on the heads of all three figures. This hair is marked very regularly, long hair with a parting in the middle. One of the figures
he with the arms a-kimbo-has also a beard, marked by similar lines all round the lower part of the head. The other two are represented beard-less. The heads are made disproportionately large; and altogether the figures are very crude.
The three bands (Pl. XV, fig. 3) of writing are oblongs, measuring about 3 × 1". One of them is divided, by indented lines, into three nearly equal compartments. Their top and bottom seem to be clearly indicated by their correspondence to the heads and feet of the figures. They are shown on the Plate in the position thus indicated. Accordingly the legend of No. II which consists of two lines containing each six symbols must be read either from top to bottom, or from right to left. The legend of No. I appears to consist of a narrow column of nine short lines, each containing three or four symbols. The three compartments of No. III seem to contain 3, 2, 3 short lines respectively. The probability seems to be that all the legends run from the right to the left.
On Plate XV, fig. 4 I show an inscription which exhibits a curious prima facie resemblance to the writing on the bands. This inscription stands on a houe of slate, measuring 5 x 1". It was found at Mazyhund, close to Tiran, at the foot of Mahaban in the Swat country, and brought to Major Deane, who very kindly gave it to me to be added to the British Collection of Central Asian Antiquities.
No. II. THE ROLL. (Plate XVI).
The roll measures 163 by 4 inches. The paper is very different in texture from that of the block-prints books comprised in Sets I to VIII. It is exceedingly thin, tough and hard; it is also oiled or greased, apparently as a kind of sizing, to tolerate being printed on. When washed, it shows a very light yellowish or creamy tint. In general appearance it resembles thin parchment. It is only printed on one side, the paper being so thin that the print of one side shows through on the reverse, wherever there is an excess of ink, as in lines 8-11, 30-33, 38, 39. For that reason, clearly, the ink was, as a rule, put on very sparingly, so that in many lines the print is so fine as to be almost illegible.
The roll is covered with 45 lines of print, which run parallel to its narrow sides, and which contain each from 13 to 15 symbols. A closer inspection reveals the fact that this text of 45 lines consists of five formulas, which are repeated at irregular intervals, and each of which comprises two lines of the text. I shall distinguish these five formulas as IX', IX2, IX3, etc. The two lines of the several formulas are made up of a number of symbols varying from seven to fourteen. Sometimes, as in lines 8 and 9, which comprise formula IX, the lines
of the formula practically coincide in length with the lines of the text. In other cases, as in lines 20 and 21, comprising formula IX, the lines of the formula are much shorter than those of the text. In these cases the latter lines are filled up with repetitions of the formula, in a more or less complete state.
Formula IX occurs five times, in lines 2 and 3, 16 and 17, 24 and 25, 34 and 35, 44 and 45. Accordingly, considering that there are two columus, the formula is repeated ten times. In lines 2 and 3, it stands reversed; in all the other lines, it stands upright.
Formula IX2 occurs six times, in lines 4 and 5, 10 and 11, 20 and 21, 22 and 23, 30 and 31, 38 and 39. Altogether it is repeated twelve times on the roll. This formula and the fourth are the only ones in which the symbols stand sufficiently apart to permit of being discrminated and counted. Its first line consists of eight, and its second line, of seven symbols. The second (or sixth, according as the series is read from the left or right) symbol of the latter line has a striking resemblance to the Sanskrit (Brahmi) letter for a, as written in North-India about 800 A.D.; but this must be a mere accidental coincidence, as no resemblance can be seen in any of the other symbols.
Formula IX3 occurs three times, in lines 6 and 7, 12 and 13, 14 and 15. The number of symbols comprised in its two lines is uncertain ; probably 11 and 13 respectively.
Formula IX occurs twice, in lines 8 and 9, 32 and 33. Both lines appear to consist of eleven symbols.
Formula IX occurs six times, in lines 18 and 19, 26 and 27, 28 and 29, 36 and 37, 40 and 41, 42 and 43. In the two pairs of lines 18, 19 and 26, 27 it stands reversed; in the other four pairs it stands upright. The two lines appear to comprise 12 and 14 symbols respectively.
No. III. THE BOOK.
Belongs to G. 10. Size 6 x 4". Number of forms 341; many cut into separate leaves; number of leaves 69. No blank covers. Many leaves torn. Paper rather brittle, and of the same kind as that of the Roll No. II. Stitched with four loops of thread.
Contains the identical text of the roll; as a rule, arranged in columns, running parallel to the narrower side of the book; but on a few exceptional pages, they run parallel with the longer side. As in the roll, the formulas are repeated at irregular intervals, two or three formulas being found repeated on each page.