TALES FROM THE SILK ROAD

解開千年塗鴉的謎團

SilkRoad - - CONTENTS -

Deciphering millennia-old graffiti

JUST AS TODAY,

some travellers of old felt the need to leave their mark on places they visited. Exemplifying this is the graffiti at Shatial. This is a crossing point of the Indus River on what is now called the Karakorum Highway, which has long linked China with Pakistan. Routes from here also take travellers further into Central Asia and north to the ancient trading kingdom of Sogdiana.

Scratched onto the large black boulders lining the route are hundreds of names, many of them Sogdian. Most are single names, but some list several family members: ‘Chuzzakk the son of Wanenak, and his brother Shans and father’. The longest reads: ‘Nanai-vandak the son of Narisaf came on the day/year ten and asked a boon from the spirit of the sacred place Kart that I may arrive in Kharvandan very quickly and see my brother in good health with joy.’

Why did they choose this place to leave their mark? It is possible that this was the farthest south that Sogdian merchants were allowed to travel. They came to sell their goods to merchants who had travelled north from India; there is also graffiti in Indian languages and scripts, as well as many Buddhist carvings. Presumably the Sogdians also bought goods from the Indian merchants to resell. The Sogdian inscriptions are concentrated in the western part of the site. Perhaps this was where they made camp, carving their names before they left for the long, hard journey back through the mountains.

Dr Susan Whitfield curates the Silk Road manuscripts at the British Library and directs an international collaboration to digitise manuscripts and artefacts from the Silk Road. idp.bl.uk

在所到

之處留下個人印記,並非現代遊客專有的陋習,位於巴基斯坦Shatial的古代塗鴉就是明證。該區是印度河的渡口之一,位於現為喀喇崑崙公路的紐帶上,連繫中國和巴基斯坦,由此更可通往中亞,北至遠古貿易王國粟特。

路途上星羅棋佈的巨大黑色圓石,刻著數以百計的名字,當中許多均屬於粟特人。雖然絕大部分均為單一名字,然而也有部分列出家庭成員,例如:「Wanenak的兒子Chuzzakk、以及他的兄弟Shans和父親」。至於最長的一段更寫著:「Narisaf的兒子Nanai- vandak於十歲誕辰當天駐足於此,祈求神聖之地 Kart的神靈賜福,讓我盡快抵達Kharvandan,喜見兄弟身體健康。」

何以他們會選擇於Shatial留下筆跡?這可能是由於這裡位於粟特商人所能踏足的最南端,他們會把貨物售予從印度北上而至的商人,這樣也造就了當地以印度語言繪製的塗鴉、手稿和眾多佛教雕刻的出現。據估計,粟特人也會向印度商人購入貨品,繼而將之轉售。現在粟特人的碑銘都集中於遺址的西部,顯示該處可能為商人駐紮之地,因此他們會在踏上漫長而艱辛的山野歸途之前,刻下他們的名字。

魏泓博士在大英圖書館負責策展絲路手稿,並指導一個國際團隊協助保存古代絲綢之路的手稿及文物,並將這些資料數碼化。idp.nlc.cn

Make your mark Inscriptions on boulders in Shatial are millennia old 刻字留念 Shatial的巨石刻文擁有千年歷史

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