Khitan large script

The Khitan large script (Chinese: 契丹大字; pinyin: qìdān dàzì) was one of two Khitan writing systems used for the now-extinct Khitan language. It was used during the 10th–12th centuries by the Khitan people, who had created the Liao Empire in north-eastern China. In addition to the large script, the Khitans simultaneously also used a functionally independent writing system known as the Khitan small script. Both Khitan scripts continued to be in use to some extent by the Jurchens for several decades after the fall of the Liao Dynasty, until the Jurchens fully switched to a script of their own. Examples of the scripts appeared most often on epitaphs and monuments, although other fragments sometimes surface.

Khitan large script
Yanningmuzhi
Type
LanguagesKhitan language
Parent systems
Child systems
Jurchen script
Sister systems
Simplified Chinese, Tangut script, Kanji, Hanja, Chữ Nôm, Zhuyin
DirectionLeft-to-right
ISO 15924Kitl, 505

History

Abaoji of the Yelü clan, founder of the Khitan, or Liao, Dynasty, introduced the original Khitan script in 920 CE.[1] “Large script”, or “big characters" (大字), as it was referred to in some Chinese sources, was established to keep the record of the new Khitan state. The Khitan script was based on the idea of the Chinese script.[2]

Description

The Khitan large script was considered to be relatively simple. The large script characters were written equally spaced, in vertical columns, in the same way as the Chinese has been traditionally written. Although large script mostly uses logograms, it is possible that ideograms and syllabograms are used for grammatical functions. The large script has a few similarities to Chinese, with several words taken directly with or without modifications from the Chinese (e.g. characters 二,三,十,廿,月,日, which appear in dates in the apparently bilingual Xiao Xiaozhong muzhi inscription from Xigushan, Jinxi, Liaoning Province).[3] Most large script characters, however, cannot be directly related to any Chinese characters. The meaning of most of them remains unknown, but that of a few of them (numbers, symbols for some of the five elements and the twelve animals that the Khitans apparently used to designate years of the sexagenary cycle) has been established by analyzing dates in Khitan inscriptions.[4]

While there has long been controversy as to whether a particular monument belong to the large or small script,[5] there are several monuments (steles or fragments of stelae) that the specialists at least tentatively identify as written in the Khitan large script. However, one of the first inscriptions so identified (the Gu taishi mingshi ji epitaph, found in 1935) has been since lost, and the preserved rubbings of it are not very legible; moreover, some believe that this inscription was a forgery in the first place. In any event, the total of about 830 different large-script characters are thought to have been identified, even without the problematic Gu taishi mingshi ji; including it, the character count rises to about 1000.[6] The Memorial for Yelü Yanning (dated 986 CE) is one of the earliest inscriptions in Khitan large script.

Jurchen

Some of the characters of the Jurchen scripts have similarities to Khitan large script. According to some sources, the discoveries of inscriptions on monuments and epitaphs give clues to the connection between Khitan and Jurchen.[7] After the fall of the Liao Dynasty, the Khitan (small-character) script continued to be used by the Jurchen people for a few decades, until fully replaced with Jurchen script and, in 1191, suppressed by imperial order.[8][9]

Corpus

Nova N 176 folio 9
Folio 9 of manuscript codex Nova N 176

There are no surviving examples of printed texts in the Khitan language, and aside from five example Khitan large characters with Chinese glosses in a book on calligraphy written by Tao Zongyi (陶宗儀) during the mid 14th century, there are no Chinese glossaries or dictionaries of Khitan. However, in 2002 a small fragment of a Khitan manuscript with seven Khitan large characters and interlinear glosses in Old Uyghur was identified in the collection of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.[10] Then, in 2010 a manuscript codex (Nova N 176) held at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg was identified by Viacheslav Zaytsev as being written in the Khitan large script.[11]

The main source of Khitan texts are monumental inscriptions, mostly comprising memorial tablets buried in the tombs of Khitan nobility.[12] There are about 17 known monuments with inscriptions in the Khitan large script, ranging in date from 986 to 1176.

In addition to monumental inscriptions, short inscriptions in both Khitan scripts have also been found on tomb murals and rock paintings, and on various portable artefacts such as mirrors, amulets, paiza (tablets of authority given to officials and envoys), and special non-circulation coins. A number of bronze official seals with the seal face inscribed in a convoluted seal script style of Khitan characters are also known.

References

  1. ^ Jacques Gernet (1996). A history of Chinese civilization. Cambridge University Press. p. 353. ISBN 0-521-49781-7. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  2. ^ Jacques Gernet (1996). A history of Chinese civilization. Cambridge University Press. p. 34. ISBN 0-521-49781-7. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Kane (1989), p. 12
  4. ^ Kane (1989), p. 11-13
  5. ^ Kane (1989), pp. 6–7
  6. ^ Kane (1989), pp. 6, 12
  7. ^ Kiyose, Gisaburo N. (1985), "The Significance of the New Kitan and Jurchen Materials", Papers in East Asian Languages, pp. 75–87
  8. ^ Daniels, Peter T.; Bright, William (1996), The World’s Writing Systems, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 230–234
  9. ^ Jacques Gernet (1996). A history of Chinese civilization. Cambridge University Press. p. 359. ISBN 0-521-49781-7. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  10. ^ Wang, Ding (2004). "Ch 3586 — ein khitanisches Fragment mit uigurischen Glossen in der Berliner Turfansammlung". In Durkin-Meisterernst, Desmond; Raschmann, Simone-Christiane; Wilkens, Jens; Yaldiz, Marianne; Zieme, Peter (eds.). Turfan Revisited: The First Century of Research into the Arts and Cultures of the Silk Road. Dietrich Reimer Verlag. ISBN 978-3-496-02763-8.
  11. ^ O. A. Vodneva (О. А. Воднева) (2 June 2011). Отчет о ежегодной научной сессии ИВР РАН – 2010 [Report on the annual scientific session of the IOM – 2010] (in Russian). Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  12. ^ Kane 2009, p. 4

Further reading

External links

920

Year 920 (CMXX) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Aisin-Gioro Ulhicun

Aisin-Gioro Ulhicun (born 1958) is a Chinese linguist of Manchu ethnicity who is known for her studies of the Manchu, Jurchen and Khitan languages and scripts. She is also known as a historian of the Liao and Jin dynasties. Her works include a grammar of Manchu (1983), a dictionary of Jurchen (2003), and a study of Khitan memorial inscriptions (2005), as well as various studies on the phonology and grammar of the Khitan language.

Chinese family of scripts

The Chinese family of scripts are writing systems descended from the Chinese Oracle Bone Script and used for a variety of languages in East Asia. They include logosyllabic systems such as the Chinese script itself (or hanzi, now in two forms, traditional and simplified), and adaptations to other languages, such as Kanji (Japanese), Hanja (Korean), Chữ nôm (Vietnamese) and sawndip (Zhuang). More divergent are Tangut, Khitan large script, and its offspring Jurchen, as well as the Yi script and possibly Korean Hangul, which were inspired by Chinese although not directly descended from it. The partially deciphered Khitan small script may be another. In addition, various phonetic scripts descend from Chinese characters, of which the best known are the various kana syllabaries, the zhuyin semi-syllabary, nüshu, and some influence on hangul.The Chinese scripts are written in various calligraphic hands, principally seal script, clerical script, regular script, semi-cursive script, and cursive script. (See Chinese calligraphy and Chinese script styles.) Adaptations range from the conservative, as in Korean, which used Chinese characters in their standard form with only a few local coinages, and relatively conservative Japanese, which has coined a few hundred new characters and used traditional character forms until the mid-20th century, to the extensive adaptations of Zhuang and Vietnamese, each coining over 10,000 new characters by Chinese formation principles, to the highly divergent Tangut script, which formed over 5,000 new characters by its own principles.

Jurchen script

Jurchen script (Jurchen: /dʒu ʃə bitxə/) was the writing system used to write the Jurchen language, the language of the Jurchen people who created the Jin Empire in northeastern China in the 12th–13th centuries. It was derived from the Khitan script, which in turn was derived from Chinese (Han characters). The script has only been decoded to a small extent.

The Jurchen script is part of the Chinese family of scripts.

KLS

KLS may stand for:

Kalash language (ISO 639 code: kls), a language of Pakistan

Key Largo School, a school in Florida, US

Khitan large script, an undeciphered Chinese script

KIIT Law School, Bhubaneswar, India

Sportswear brand of Kimora Lee Simmons

Kleine–Levin syndrome, a sleep disorder

Kobalt Label Services, a British record label

Kolss Cycling Team (UCI code: KLS), a Ukrainian cycling team

Košarkaška liga Srbije (Cyrillic: Кошаркашка лига Србије), the Basketball League of Serbia

Kuala Lumpur–Kuala Selangor Expressway, an expressway in MalaysiaOrder of the Lion and the Sun (Knight of Lion and Sun), Iran

Southwest Washington Regional Airport, US, FAA/IATA airport code

Khitan

Khitan may refer to:

Khitan (circumcision), the Islamic circumcision rite

Khitan people, an ancient nomadic people located in Mongolia and northern China

Liao dynasty (916–1125), a dynasty of China ruled by the Khitan Yelü clan

Northern Liao (1122–1123), a regime in northern China

Qara Khitai (1124–1218), alternatively called the "Western Liao", successor to the Liao dynasty in northwestern China and Central Asia

Eastern Liao (1213–1269), a regime in northeastern China

Later Liao (1216–1219), a regime in northeastern China

Khitan language, a now-extinct language once spoken by the Khitan people

Khitan scripts, writing systems of the Khitan people, for the now-extinct Khitan language

Khitan large script, a logographic writing system

Khitan small script, a semi-syllabic and logographic writing system

Khitan language

Khitan or Kitan ( in large script or in small, Khitai; Chinese: t 契丹語, Qìdānyǔ), also known as Liao, is a now-extinct language once spoken by the Khitan people (4th to 13th century). It was the official language of the Liao Empire (907–1125) and the Qara Khitai (1124–1218).

Khitan name

Khitan names are the personal names of the Khitan people which ruled the Liao Dynasty (907–1125) in ancient China and Kara-Khitan Khanate (1124–1218) in Central Asia. A nomadic Mongolic people, the Khitans have been extinct, making research on their cultures difficult. Currently the Khitan language has largely not been deciphered, and the presence of 2 different writing systems - the Khitan large script and the Khitan small script, make research more difficult. The problem is compounded by the fact that most of the Liao history were recorded in written Chinese such as History of Liao, and transliteration into Chinese characters are not always standard even in modern days, much less in ancient days when the pronunciation is different as Chinese is logographic.

Khitan people

The Khitan people (Khitan small script:, Chinese: 契丹; pinyin: Qìdān) were a nomadic people from Northeast Asia who, from the 4th century, inhabited an area corresponding to parts of modern Mongolia, Northeast China and the Russian Far East.

As Proto-Mongols they spoke the Khitan language, which appears to be related to the Mongolic languages. During the Liao dynasty, they dominated a vast area of Siberia and northern China. After the fall of the Liao dynasty in 1125 following the Jurchen invasion, many Khitans followed Yelü Dashi's group westward to establish the Qara Khitai, or Western Liao dynasty, in Central Asia, which lasted several decades before falling to the Mongol Empire in 1218. Some Kyrgyz people show a genetic connection to the Khitan or are descendants of them.

Khitan scripts

The Khitan scripts were the writing systems for the now-extinct Para-Mongolic Khitan language used in the 10th-12th century by the Khitan people who had established the Liao dynasty in Northeast China. There were two scripts, the large script (Chinese: 契丹大字; pinyin: qìdān dàzì) and the small script (Chinese: 契丹小字; pinyin: qìdān xiǎozì). These were functionally independent and appear to have been used simultaneously. The Khitan scripts continued to be in use to some extent by the Jurchen people for several decades after the fall of the Liao dynasty until the Jurchens fully switched to a script of their own. Examples of the scripts appeared most often on epitaphs and monuments, although other fragments sometimes surface.

Many scholars recognize that the Khitan scripts have not been fully deciphered and that more research and discoveries would be necessary for a proficient understanding of them. The Khitan scripts are part of the Chinese family of scripts.Knowledge of the Khitan language, which was written by the Khitan script, is quite limited as well. Although there are several clues to its origins, which might point in different directions, the Khitan language shares an ancestor with the Mongolian languages but is not one.

Khitan small script

The Khitan small script (Chinese: 契丹小字; pinyin: qìdān xiǎozì) was one of two Khitan writing systems used for the now-extinct Khitan language. It was used during the 10th–12th century by the Khitan people, who had created the Liao Empire in north-eastern China. In addition to the small script, the Khitans simultaneously also used a functionally independent writing system known as the Khitan large script. Both Khitan scripts continued to be in use to some extent by the Jurchens for several decades after the fall of the Liao Dynasty, until the Jurchens fully switched to a script of their own. Examples of the scripts appeared most often on epitaphs and monuments, although other fragments sometimes surface.

Liao dynasty

The Liao dynasty (; Khitan: Mos Jælud; traditional Chinese: 遼朝; simplified Chinese: 辽朝; pinyin: Liáo cháo), also known as the Liao Empire, officially the Great Liao (大遼; 大辽; Dà Liáo), or the Khitan (Qidan) State (Khitan: Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur), was an empire and imperial dynasty in East Asia that ruled from 916 to 1125 over present-day Northern and Northeast China, Mongolia and portions of the Russian Far East and North Korea. The empire was founded by Yelü Abaoji (Emperor Taizu of Liao), Khagan of the Khitans around the time of the collapse of the Tang dynasty and was the first state to control all of Manchuria. Being ruled by the Khitan Yelü clan, the Liao dynasty is considered by historians to be a conquest dynasty of China.

Almost immediately after its founding, the Liao dynasty began a process of territorial expansion, with Abaoji leading a successful conquest of Balhae. Later emperors would gain the Sixteen Prefectures by fueling a proxy war that led to the collapse of the Later Tang (923–936) and would establish tributary relationships with Goryeo after losing the Goryeo–Khitan Wars. In 1004, the Liao dynasty launched an imperial expedition against the Northern Song dynasty. After heavy fighting and large casualties between the two empires, both sides worked out the Chanyuan Treaty. Through the treaty, the Liao dynasty forced the Northern Song to recognize them as peers and heralded an era of peace and stability between the two powers that lasted approximately 120 years.

Tension between traditional Khitan social and political practices and Chinese influence and customs was a defining feature of the dynasty. This tension led to a series of succession crises; Liao emperors favored the Chinese concept of primogeniture, while much of the rest of the Khitan elite supported the traditional method of succession by the strongest candidate. So different were Khitan and Chinese practices that Abaoji set up two parallel governments. The Northern Administration governed Khitan areas following traditional Khitan practices, while the Southern Administration governed areas with large non-Khitan populations, adopting traditional Chinese governmental practices.

Differences between Chinese and Khitan society included gender roles and marital practices: the Khitans took a more egalitarian view towards gender, in sharp contrast to Chinese cultural practices that segregated men's and women's roles. Khitan women were taught to hunt, managed family property, and held military posts. Many marriages were not arranged, women were not required to be virgins at their first marriage, and women had the right to divorce and remarry.

The Liao dynasty was destroyed by the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty in 1125 with the capture of Emperor Tianzuo of Liao. However, the remnant Khitans, led by Yelü Dashi (Emperor Dezong of Liao), established the Western Liao dynasty (Qara Khitai), which ruled over parts of Central Asia for almost a century before being conquered by the Mongols. Although cultural achievements associated with the Liao dynasty are considerable, and a number of various statuary and other artifacts exist in museums and other collections, major questions remain over the exact nature and extent of the influence of the Liao Khitan culture upon subsequent developments, such as the musical and theatrical arts.

List of Khitan inscriptions

The list of Khitan inscriptions comprises a list of the corpus of known inscriptions written in the Khitan large script and the Khitan small script. These two scripts were used by the Khitan people in northern China during the 10th through 12th centuries for writing the extinct Khitan language. The Khitan language was in use during the Liao Dynasty (907–1125), the Kara-Khitan Khanate (1124–1218) and the Jin dynasty (1115–1234), but the last recorded Khitan speaker, Yelü Chucai, died in 1243, and the language probably became extinct soon afterwards.There are no surviving examples of printed texts in the Khitan language, and aside from five example Khitan large characters with Chinese glosses in a book on calligraphy, Shūshǐ huìyào (書史會要), written by Tao Zongyi (陶宗儀) in the mid 14th century, there are no Chinese glossaries or dictionaries of Khitan. The Khitan language is therefore little understood, and the two Khitan writing systems are only partially deciphered.The main source of Khitan texts are monumental inscriptions, mostly comprising memorial tablets buried in the tombs of Khitan nobility. Only one monument in a Khitan script was known before the 20th century, the Record of the Younger Brother of the Emperor of the Great Jin Dynasty (Langjun xingji 郎君行記), which has stood in front of the tomb of Empress Wu of Tang since at least 1618. Until the 1920s it was believed to be written in the Jurchen script. Only after the discovery of the memorial tablets of Emperor Xingzong of Liao and his consort was it realized that the Record of the Younger Brother of the Emperor and the Liao-dynasty memorial tablets were both written in a Khitan script. Several more memorial tablets in the same script were discovered during the 1930s, including memorials for Emperor Daozong of Liao and his consort. Initially it was not clear whether the script inscribed on these memorial tablets was the Khitan large script, recorded to have been devised in 920, or the Khitan small script, recorded to have been devised about 925. A different, unknown script, which appeared more similar to Chinese (incorporating many characters borrowed directly from Chinese), had been discovered on a temple monument in 1935, as well as on a memorial to Xiao Xiaozhong in 1951; and in 1962 Jin Guangping suggested that these two monuments were written using the Khitan large script, and that the Record of the Younger Brother of the Emperor and the imperial memorial tablets were written using the Khitan small script. This identification of the two Khitan scripts is now widely accepted.

There are about 15 known monuments with inscriptions in the Khitan large script, ranging in date from 986 to 1176, and about 40 known monuments with inscriptions in the Khitan small script, ranging in date from 1053 to 1171. The two scripts are mutually exclusive (never occurring together on the same monument), but it is not known why the Khitan people used two different scripts, or what determined the choice of which script to use.

In addition to monumental inscriptions, short inscriptions in both Khitan scripts have also been found on tomb murals and rock paintings, and on various portable artefacts such as mirrors, amulets, paiza (tablets of authority given to officials and envoys), and special non-circulation coins. A number of bronze official seals with the seal face inscribed in the Khitan large script are also known. The Khitan characters on these seals are engraved in a convoluted calligraphic style that imitates the Chinese "nine-fold" seal script style of calligraphy.

List of Khitanologists

This list of Khitanologists includes those scholars who have made notable contributions to the study of the Khitan people, their culture, religion, history, language and writing systems (Khitan large script and Khitan small script).

Memorial for Yelü Yanning

The Memorial for Yelü Yanning (耶律延寧) is the oldest known Khitan inscription of significant length and for now the oldest major written attestation of a Mongolic (or Para-Mongolic) language. Dated 986, it is written in the Mongolic Khitan language using the Khitan large script. With 19 lines and 271 characters it was found in 1964 at Baimu Mountain, Chaoyang County, Liaoning, China. and is now kept in the Liaoning Province Museum, China. The Khitan word 'jau' (hundred) which occurs in line 13 of the upper-right Khitan section of the inscription and which is written with the large script character 百 is one of the earliest fully deciphered Mongolic words preserved in a Mongolic inscription.

Mongolian writing systems

Many alphabets have been devised for the Mongolian language over the centuries, and from a variety of scripts. The oldest, called simply the Mongolian script, has been the predominant script during most of Mongolian history, and is still in active use today in the Inner Mongolia region of China and de facto use in Mongolia. It has spawned several alphabets, either as attempts to fix its perceived shortcomings, or to allow the notation of other languages, such as Sanskrit and Tibetan. In the 20th century, Mongolia first switched to the Latin script, and then almost immediately replaced it with the Cyrillic script for compatibility with the Soviet Union, its political ally of the time. Mongol Chinese in Inner Mongolia and other parts of China, on the other hand, continue to use alphabets based on the traditional Mongolian script.

Nova N 176

Nova N 176 is an undeciphered manuscript codex held at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts (IOM) of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The manuscript, of uncertain provenance, entered the collection of the IOM in 1954, and for more than fifty years nobody was able to identify with certainty what language or script the text of the manuscript was written in. It was only in 2010 that IOM researcher Viacheslav Zaytsev was able to demonstrate that the manuscript is written in the Khitan large script, one of two largely undeciphered writing systems used for the now-extinct Khitan language during the 10th–12th centuries by the Khitan people, who founded the Liao Empire in north-eastern China.

Tangut Components

Tangut Components is a Unicode block containing components and radicals used in the modern study of the Tangut script.

Yelü Diela

Yelü Diela (耶律迭剌), younger brother of Khitan Emperor Yelü Abaoji, invented the "Khitan small script" to accommodate the more agglutinative Khitan language about 925 — based partly on the earlier "Khitan large script" or Chinese-like logographic writing, but also after having been inspired by the vertically written Old Uyghur alphabet that was shown to him by an ambassador.

Languages

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