Tangut Documents from Khara-Khoto concerning Loans of Grain (Translated and Edited by Kirill Solonin)

Abstract


Three documents presented in this paper are devoted to the borrowing of grain in the spring and its repayment in the summer. The interest rate of the loans was 50%; under the terms, if the loan was not returned in time the amount to be repaid doubled. The Tangut documents display a similarity to the loan regulations known from the Dunhuang area. Under Tibetan rule, the loans were interest free, but in the event of failure to repay the total amount of the loan doubled. The Chinese documents from Dunhuang indicate that the interest rate on grain loans was 50%.

Evgenii Kychanov Tangut Documents from Khara-Khoto concerning Loans of Grain 1 (Translated and edited by Kirill Solonin) Abstract: Three documents presented in this paper are devoted to the borrowing of grain in the spring and its repayment in the summer. The interest rate of the loans was 50%; under the terms, if the loan was not returned in time the amount to be repaid doubled. The Tangut documents display a similarity to the loan regulations known from the Dunhuang area. Under Tibetan rule, the loans were interest free, but in the event of failure to repay the total amount of the loan doubled. The Chinese documents from Dunhuang indicate that the interest rate on grain loans was 50%. Key words: Tangut economic documents, Khara-Khoto, Dunhuang, grain loans Grain loans in the spring time, when peasant households experienced a shortage of food supplies or seed for sowing, and the return of the loans in the fall, when the harvest was collected, was a well-known practice not only in China, but in agricultural regions throughout the world. Documents in various languages concerning loans of grain have survived within the body of the documents and texts excavated from Dunhuang and Turfan. The Tangut documents from the Khara-Khoto area are a valuable resource for a comparative study of documents of this type and the legal practices implied in them from different parts of Western China. In some respects, the Tangut documents reveal particular features, which distinguish them from similar texts discovered elsewhere. Below, I present three documents of this kind, recently identified within the Tangut Collection of the Institute of the Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences. Apart from the reproduction of the actual document, the paper includes a transcription of each document in the Tangut script followed by a Chinese transcription and an English translation and several comments concerning the contents of the documents discussed. 1 © Evgenii Ivanovich Kychanov, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences. Kirill Yurievich Solonin, Institute of Chinese Classics, Renmin University of China. Pl. 1. № 7910 Document 7910 (Pl. 1) The document is written on a fragment of paper, which was normally used for the Buddhist texts utilized in the daily religious practices. The document is fragmented; indications of the terms for the return of the loan as well as the signatures of the contractors are missing. The upper part of the fragment is torn off, thus the exact date of the contract remains unknown. Below, the text of Chinese transcription uses Pref to indicate verb prefixes; transcriptions of the personal names deviate from those employed by E.I. Kychanov in his original publication; personal names are underlined in both Chinese and Tangut. Where I was not able to make out the characters in the original, I have reproduced Kychanov’s original transcription. The symbol □ represents Tangut glyphs I could not identify. The Chinese text is not a translation, but rather a transcription of the Tangut text using Chinese glyphs; in the transcription, I follow the rules of Tangut grammar. Tangut transcription (1) []藡敖籓聚禋缞缄,蒾硫属腞的煌登,罏 (2) 水繰[59]唐□挨闭蟡箌;息闭毋氦苰蛁竲, (3) 镣繏挨闭氦苰簧;磖吨耳耫 Chinese transcription (1) []庚牛,正月文狀作者*日為 (Riwi) 子, 今 (2) *藩水處一斛麥取,一斛於五斗或利, (3) 共算一斛五斗為; 日期 Pref 來 English translation On the 19th day of the first month of the year of the “iron ox”, the maker of this contract, the son of Rjir2wjị1 (Riwi), now borrowed one hu (dźja1 闭= Chinese hu 斛) of grain from Phə1zjir2 (Phezhi). On one hu, the interest is five dou (dụ2苰= Chinese dou 斗), calculated together, [the amount to be returned] becomes one hu and five dou; as soon as the date [of payment] comes []. According to the cyclic designations preserved in the first line of the document, it can be provisionally dated to February 5th, 1182. The contractor is the son of someone named Riwi; the first glyph in the family name reads rjir2, while the second is wjị1, meaning “person”; I render it phonetically as a family name. The loan was provided by someone whose name was Phezhi. In this case, both phonetic rendering and translation are plausible: provided my reading of the unclear glyph is correct, the name translates as “Tibetan water”. The repayment date is not stated in the text; normally the term was set for late summer or early fall, the harvest time. The loan is based on the “half” principle: the interest rate was established as the half of the amount borrowed, thus one hu becomes 1.5 hu. The document seems to be an unfinished copy of a contract, or else the deal was cancelled for some reason. Document 5949 (Pl. 2) This fragment contains two documents dealing with the borrowing of grain. Both are complete texts of the loan contracts; one document is written in standard script, while the other is cursive, but nonetheless legible. The text is written on the standard “official paper”, and appears to be a fragment of a longer scroll, which probably contained more documents. The two loans mentioned in the documents were made almost simultaneously by one person; one might infer that these are copies of the documents preserved in a register of loans, while each of the borrowers received his own separate copy. The documents read from right to left, the first four lines are the names of a borrower, the person who drafted the contract (normally a relative), followed, on the third and the fourth lines, by the names of the witnesses. This part of the text belongs to another contract, which has not survived and is thus omitted from the present study. Lines 5-8 are the text of the first document, ending with eight horizontal strokes in the upper part of the document. These represent the amount of grain borrowed (8 dou) and a cursive character dza1, meaning “various” (i.e., various sorts of grain). The final three lines are the names of the borrower and witnesses. The following four lines belong to the next document. They are followed by another four lines giving the names of the borrowers and witnesses and one horizontal and five vertical strokes, which represent “one hu and five dou”, i.e., the actual amount borrowed plus the interest, whereas in the first document only the actual amount of grain borrowed is indicated. The reason for this is unclear. Pl. 2. 5949 Tangut transcription, document 1 (1) 縊粄皭翆氦聚舉灯缞缄蒾硫属腞榜篩耈薕碞/舏罏榜 (2) 篩舏公竤唐萰苰綈箌,皧藡,挨闭舉苰簧.磖菼耳耫,蒤 (3) 聚挨耳缄,瘟驳羋篿翅属.蔲磖酞篟翅属城,息苰舉 (4) 苰蛁簧.礌絧皮 (5) 蒾硫属腞榜篩耈薕碞 (6) 硫商□竛榜脡拓 (7) 緂綀煌踩薫舏 Chinese transcription (1) (1) 光定蛇年五月二十九日, 文狀造者 *囉不咔咓余, 今*囉 (2) 不余嚕班處八斗雜糧取,半變, 一斛二斗為. 齋日Pref來, 七 (3) 月一Pref日, 麵數主集進為. 若日異不進時, 一斗 (4) 二斗各為, 本心服. (5) 文狀造者*囉不咔咓余 (6) 狀相□子*囉么寶 (7) 知人*為吃咓余 English translation On the 29th day of the 5th month of the snake year of Guangding [reign period; 21.06.1221], the maker of [this] contract *Rabu Gawagu (Rar1 bju1 γạ2 wạ2 gju1) now borrowed from *Rabu Gulupo (Rabu gju1 lu2 phiow1) eight dou of various grains; interest (lit. “change”) is half [and] becomes one hu and two dou. When the fasting day arrives, on the first day of the seventh month, the grain should be collected and presented. If the term is missed (lit. “different day”) [and the loan] is not returned, then each dou becomes two dou. [This] corresponds with the original intentions of the borrower. The maker of the contract *Rabu Gawagu Associate in the preparation of the contract, □son *Rame Li (Rar1 mə1 Lji1) Witness Wezhi Wagu (wjị1 tshjịj2·wạ2 gju1) Tangut transcription, document 2 (1) 縊粄皭翆泪聚挨縊粄缄,蒾硫属腞榜篩没縃 (2) 琅,罏榜篩舏公竤唐挨闭綈蟡箌,皧藡,挨闭氦苰簧. (3) 磖吨酞,蒤缄聚挨缄,磖酞羋篿翅属落;磖酞城息 (4) 竲氦闭綈翅属.礌絧皮. (5) 蒾硫属腞没縃琅 (6) 硫碽商榜篩碞縃□ (7) 硫碽商□籫納篊□□□ (8) 緂綀□□□ Chinese transcription (1) 光定蛇年六月一 (光定, scribal error) 日, 文狀造者*囉不葛吱 (2) 帕,今*囉不余嚕班處一斛雜麥取, 半變, 一斛五斗為. (3) 日期異 (scribal error, this character is not needed here, cf. previous document), 七 (日, scribal error) 一 日, 日期異 (scribal error, cf. above) 主集進為者,[60] 日異時一 (4) 利五斗進為. 本心服. (5) 文狀造者葛吱帕 (6) 狀Pref相 *囉不余吱□ (7) 狀Pref相□妻*嵬名□□□ (8) 知人□□□ English translation On the first day of the sixth month of the snake year of Guangding [reign period; 22.06.1221], *Rabu Gezhipa (kə1zjir2paa1) now borrowed from *Rabu Gulupo one hu of various grains; interest (lit. “change”) is half [and] becomes one hu and five dou. [The] term [for payment] is the first day of the seventh month; on this day the grain should be collected and presented. If the term is missed, the [loan should be returned with] interest of five dou. [This] corresponds with the original intentions of the borrower. The maker of the contract *Rabu Gezhipa Associate in the preparation of the contract *Rabu Yuzhi[ha] Associate in the preparation of the contract □wife *Weiming [Dayaowei] Witness *[Mingpu Heweixia] Unlike the previous one, this document is written in a rather careless manner with a lot of scribal errors. The contract is concluded with one long horizontal stroke, which represents one hu and five smaller vertical strokes, i.e., “five dou”. The loan is for a short term, only one month, and the interest rate is 50%. The provisions of the contract might be interpreted in such a manner: for each day after the payment deadline, the interest will increase by five dou. This interpretation is, however, rather unlikely, given that such conditions would have been clearly unacceptable to anyone. My interpretation of this provision is that, after the deadline, the total amount to be repaid doubled: that is one hu would become two hu. The fragment which contains the above two documents is in all probability part of a bigger loan register that belonged to someone named *Rabu Gulupo, who provided grain loans in the spring/early summer season at an interest rate of 50%, with the amount due doubling if the deadline was missed. If we compare the Tangut documents with similar fragments known from Dunhuang, we will discover that, in similar situations in Dunhuang, the interest rate for grain loans was also set at 50%. As Leonid Chuguevskii once wrote: “The majority of our documents indicate that the interest rate is 50%. … However, we are also aware of three fragments where the interest is 30% instead of 50%”.[61] One Chinese document reads as follows: “On the 9th day, Zhang Heji borrowed two dan of wheat, in the fall he will return 3 dan”; “Li Liang borrowed 4 dan of wheat, in the fall he will return 6 dan”.5 The Chinese contracts contain no clause stipulating that, after the deadline, the total amount to be repaid doubles. However, this clause does appear in Tibetan documents that date from the period of the Tibetan occupation of Dunhuang and adjacent areas in the 8th-9th centuries. Here is an example: The beginning of the first summer month, year of the mouse, region of Tshe-stobs At the beginning of the first summer month, year of the mouse, Sag Dge legs has borrowed three khal of wheat and barley… from Lha-skyes of Sning-tsoms county. It was decided that the loan should be returned in time and in full to the house of Lha-skyes no later than the middle of the first fall month of this year. It was also decided that in the event of the debtor being unable to return the loan in full by this time and trying to escape so as not to pay, the total amount of the loan] doubles. Apart from the debtor’s house, the livestock and all valuables, tools, clothing and all [items of property] inside the house may be confiscated by a commission; against which the debtor has the right of appeal. It is also decided that if Dge legs is away from home, or has been mobilized for public works, the guarantor of the loan is responsible and will provide the payment as agreed. Pl. 3. 6164 Since the witnesses participate in this, their presence is confirmed either by their seals or fingerprints.[62] One characteristic feature of the Tibetan documents is that loans of grain during the spring/summer period with payment due in the fall were interestfree; however, the principle of timely repayment was heavily enforced. If a loan was not repaid in time, the amount doubled and debtor was liable with all his property. In the absence of the debtor, the guarantor had similar liabilities. Alongside standard documents about interest-free loans, there is another document which mentions that eight Chinese families unable to pay the government grain tax borrowed the grain from a Tibetan official at an interest rate of 100%. If the loan was not returned in time, the combined total due (including the interest) doubled. Tangut practices, at least in the Khara-Khoto area combined the Chinese and Tibetan principles: the interest rate was set at 50%, and if repayment was not made on time, the total amount doubled. The Tangut laws confirm this observation: in the event of failure to provide repayment in full, a debtor was liable with all his property, while he himself and his family would have to work for the creditor to settle their debt. References Kitaiskie dokumenty iz Dun’khuana. Vyp. 1. Faksimile. Izdanie tekstov, perevod s kitaiskogo, issledovaniia i prilozheniia L.I. Chuguevskogo [Chinese documents from Dunhuang. Part 1. Facsmile. Publication, translation, research and appendix by L.I. Chuguevskii]. Moscow: Glavnaia Redaktsiia Vostochnoi Liter ьтatury, 1983 (Pamiatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka [Written monuments of the Oriental scripts series] LVII, 1). TSUGUHITO Takeuchi 1995: Old Tibetan Contracts from Central Asia. Tokyo: Daizuo shuppan.

Evgenii Kychanov

Kirill Solonin

  1. Kitaiskie dokumenty iz Dun’khuana. Vyp. 1. Faksimile. Izdanie tekstov, perevod s kitaiskogo, issledovaniia i prilozheniia L.I. Chuguevskogo [Chinese documents from Dunhuang. Part 1. Facsmile. Publication, translation, research and appendix by L.I. Chuguevskii]. Moscow: Glavnaia Redaktsiia Vostochnoi Liter ьтatury, 1983 (Pamiatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka [Written monuments of the Oriental scripts series] LVII, 1)
  2. TSUGUHITO Takeuchi 1995: Old Tibetan Contracts from Central Asia. Tokyo: Daizuo shuppan

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