Christmas Presents


[Mirrored from]

Except for that I have been hiccupping continuously since Boxing Day, this year has been a good Christmas for me, with two marvellous additions to my library from a couple of very generous friends of mine.

A Tangut Dictionary

From Michael Everson I received a copy of Wenhai Yanjiu 文海研究 (Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Chubanshe, 1983), which is a study of the mid 12th century monoglot Tangut Rhyming dictionary, "The Sea of Characters" 文海, by Shi Jinbo 史金波, Bai Bin 白濱 and Huang Zhenhua 黃振華. The book includes a facsimile of the original woodblock edition (found in 1908 at the site of the Tangut city of Kharakhoto 黑水城), together with a beautifully rewritten facsimile transcription, as well as a translation into Chinese, and a character index. This is a very timely present as Tangut is soon going to be high on the script encoding agenda, and is something that I want to focus my attention on in the new year.

A Collection of Yuan Dynasty Seals

And in the post this morning I received from Vladimir Belyaev, the proprietor of the excellent Zeno Oriental Coins Database, a copy of Yuandai Yinfeng 元代印風 (Chongqing Chubanshe, 1999), which is a collection of seal impressions from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368).

My main interest is in the many Phags-pa seals in the book, including no less than thirty-eight official seals, which I am planning to study carefully in order to improve my Phags-pa Seal font. The following example is the seal of the Imperial Preceptor and Commissioner of Buddhist Affairs 通領釋教大元國師 ꡉꡟꡃ ꡙꡞꡃ ꡚꡞ ꡂꡨꡓ ꡈꡗ ꡝꡧꡦꡋ ꡂꡟꡠ ꡚꡜꡞ, a title that was first bestowed on the great Phags-pa Lama (the creator of the Phags-pa script), although this seal may belong to one of his successors.

In addition to the official seals, the book also includes dozens of "signature seals" 押印 with either a Phags-pa inscription or a combined Chinese and Phags-pa inscription. The following examples from one page of the book show signature seals with a Chinese family name in Chinese script (Li 李, Chu 褚, Xing 邢, Ma 馬, Zhu 朱, Zeng 曾, Qian 錢 and Feng 馮) followed by the word gi ꡂꡞ in Phags-pa script, representing Chinese ji 記 "mark". The seal in the centre is different from the others, as it has a Chinese family name, Shi 石 followed by the Phags-pa spelling of the name, shi ꡚꡞ.

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