Archive for Epigraphy

An 8th-century Chinese epitaph written by a Japanese courtier

Here's news of a remarkable discovery:

"Ancient Chinese epitaph penned by Japanese found in China", THE ASAHI SHIMBUN (December 26, 2019 at 19:00 JST).

The article includes a photograph of a rubbing of the last line of the epitaph with the following kanji:

日本國朝臣備書

I can read that easily as Sino-Japanese "Nihonkoku chōshin Bi sho", which would mean "written by the Japanese courtier [Ki]bi".  The article says that the last line of the epitaph reads "Nihonkoku Ason Bi Sho", so it would appear that I am reading "朝臣" incorrectly as "chōshin" instead of as "ason".

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Sanskrit inscriptional evidence for Muslims in 12th-century Bengal

Herewith, I would like to call your attention to a new article by Ryosuke Furui (Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo) titled "Sujanagar Stone Inscription of the Time of Bhojavarman, Year 7" in Pratna Samiksha, A Journal of Archaeology (Centre for Archaeological Studies & Training, Eastern India, Kolkata), New Series, Volume 10 (2019), 115-122.

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Pronoun reference is hard

But you'd expect someone in the advertising business to be more aware. Reader RR spotted this unfortunately ambiguous sign in a bus shelter in Milwaukee:

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Really weird sinographs, part 3

We've been looking at strange Chinese characters:

"Really weird sinographs" (5/10/18)

"Really weird sinographs, part 2" (5/11/18)

For a sinograph to be weird, it doesn't need to have 30, 40, 50, or more strokes.  In fact, characters with such large numbers of strokes might be quite normal and regular in terms of their construction.  What makes a character bizarre is when its parts are thrown together in unexpected ways.  On the other hand, characters with only a very small number of strokes might be quite odd.  Two of my favorites are the pair 孑孓, which are pronounced jiéjué in Modern Standard Mandarin and together mean "w(r)iggler; mosquito larva".

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Undeciphered inscriptions

In the 60s of the last century, six gold coins were unearthed at Jinshi, Hunan, China.  They are said by the local museum to be Indian coins struck by the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526).  The obverse apparently carries the title and name of the ruler while the reverse is thought to be written in a form of Arabic script.  So far no one has been able to read the inscriptions on the reverse.  The museum is offering a reward of 10,000 yuan (US$1,531.36) to anyone who can read the inscriptions.

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