“Novye zakony” tangutskogo gosudarstva (pervaia chetvert’ XIII veka). Izdanie teksta i perevod s tangutskogo, vvedenie i kommentarij E.I. Kychanova [“New Laws” of the Tangut State (the first half of the 13th century). Publication of the text and translation from the Tangut language, introduction and commentary by E.I. Kychanov]

Abstract



“Novye zakony” tangutskogo gosudarstva (pervaia chetvert’ XIII veka). Izdanie teksta i perevod s tangutskogo, vvedenie i kommentarij E.I. Kychanova [“New Laws” of the Tangut State (the first half of the 13th century). Publication of the text and translation from the Tangut language, introduction and commentary by E.I. Kychanov]. Moskva: Nauka-Vostochnaya literatura, 2013, 501 pp. (Pamiatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka [Written monuments of the Orient], CXL) Half a year after E.I. Kychanov’s passing away, the publication of his brilliant work “Novye zakony” tangutskogo gosudarstva (“New Laws” of the Tangut State) reminded me to think of the gentle voice and amiable appearance of this great Orientalist, as if he is still with us. Nearly all the manuscripts of New Laws (xinfa 新法) were first published by the Shanghai Chinese Classics Publishing House in the ninth volume of Ecang Heishuicheng Wenxian 俄藏黑水城文獻 in 1999, but some scattered fragments in the publication evidently were not identified, even the order of folios in the same manuscript was not arranged correctly. Although some scholars in China intended to explore this valuable material, they had to work from individual chapters or paragraphs but were unable to access the complete text because the basic research was not carried out properly. An important contribution of Kychanov’s work is that the author carefully selected and combined the facsimiles into an almost complete text. From now on, the “New Laws” of the Tangut State, instead of the Shanghai publication, will become a fundamental reference for studying the jurisprudence of Xixia. The Russian translation and detailed commentaries on New Laws show the enviable erudition and mature judgment of an outstanding scholar. By contrast, Chinese Tangutologists, including myself, often express their dubious understanding of Tangut statements through rough translations without any commentaries. Kychanov’s “New Laws” of the Tangut State set forward a new standard for researchers. I was told that professor Liang Songtao 梁松濤 in the Hebei University was working on translating the entire text of New Laws into Chinese, so I am sure that she will find a great help in Kychanov’s research and some new objectives will be reached in the future. One of the remaining significant problems bearing on the translation of Tangut codes is how to deal with the nomenclature of Xixia official ranks. Kychanov used to translate all of them semantically as he did for dozens of years, such as privodyashchij v pokornost’ (bringing to obedience) for jar-wə and protivostoyashchij zlu (resisting evil) for kha-dow (New Laws, p. 26), which led Chinese scholars to translate the former as tiaofu 調伏 (bringing to obedience) and the latter as juxie 拒邪 (resisting evil) in their relevant works. Such translations, in my opinion, are beyond understanding because they do not reveal any meanings etymologically. Having found no traces of similar ranks in Xixia’s neighbors such as China, Tibet, Qidan and Jurchen, we suspect that the titles might have originated from a native Tangut administrative system and became obsolete immediately after the fall of the Xixia Kingdom. It is noticeable that in vol. 486 of Songshi 宋史 there is a sentence indicating certain parallelism between the title of a Chinese post and a Tangut rank, which reads: “Those over tuanlianshi 團練使 are provided one curtain, one bow and five hundred arrows.” This fact is well in accordance with the Tangut record in vol. 5 (1.6b) of Tiansheng Lüling 天盛律令, which reads: “Those over wejr-bẹ (flourishsearching) are provided five hundred arrows without exception.” Accordingly, we know that the Tangut rank wejr-bẹ corresponds to the Chinese post tuanlianshi, i.e., commander of local corps. Of course it is unreasonable to translate Tangut wejr-bẹ directly into Chinese tuanlianshi, but I suppose that it will be better for us to follow the phonetic transcription practice during the Xia-Yuan times. In a 12th century colophon attached to inv. No. 598 preserved in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, RAS, we find Tangut rank titles ŋowr-lhə (wholly abundant), nej-dzjo (peaceful ceremony) and wo-˙jij (righteous and even) corresponding respectively to the Chinese transcriptions wole 臥勒, naijiang 乃將 and woying 臥英 in the colophon of the Sheng Shenghui Daobi’an Gongdebao Jiji 聖勝慧到彼岸功德寶集偈 kept in the Yunju Temple, Fangshan District, Beijing. On an epitaph of the year 1278, recently unearthed in the Daming County, Hebei Province, China, there is a Tangut post gia-bju (commander) being transcribed into Chinese qianbu 鈐部. These facts tell us that people of that time preferred phonetic transcription to semantic translation of Tangut nomenclature of official posts and ranks, just as they used daluhuachi 達魯花赤 for “general governor” and aolu 奧魯 for “logistic governor.” Although it will be difficult for scholars to choose the available Chinese characters for transcribing every Tangut syllable, I believe that the best method is to borrow Hwang-cherng Gong’s Tangut phonetic reconstruction forms directly in our future studies, e.g., use jar-wə and kha-dow for and instead of “bringing to obedience” and “resisting evil” respectively. Twenty-five years ago, Kychanov accomplished his Izmenennyj i zanovo utverzhdennyj kodeks deviza tsarstvovaniya nebesnoe protsvetanie 1149-1169 (Modified and Newly Approved Code of the Tiansheng Reign 1149-1169), by which he opened up a vast realm for Tangutologists all over the world. Based on this monumental work, there emerged hundreds of papers on Tangut politics, economy, science and culture. It is reasonable to predict that his “New Laws” of the Tangut State will continue the existing academic trend and lead us along the path of endless exploration. Nie Hongyin

Nie Hongyin

  1. “Novye zakony” tangutskogo gosudarstva (pervaia chetvert’ XIII veka). Izdanie teksta i perevod s tangutskogo, vvedenie i kommentarij E.I. Kychanova [“New Laws” of the Tangut State (the first half of the 13th century). Publication of the text and translation from the Tangut language, introduction and commentary by E.I. Kychanov]. Moskva: Nauka-Vostochnaya literatura, 2013, 501 pp. (Pamiatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka [Written monuments of the Orient], CXL)

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