On the Design of a “Trebuchet” in the Tangut Manuscript of IOM, RAS

Abstract


The paper focuses on a unique Tangut manuscript (Tang. 46 inv. No. 156(2006), old inv. No. 5217) kept in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences. In previous studies, it has been taken to be a constructional diagram of musical instrument. The writer concludes that the manuscript is the design for a pao 砲 (stone launcher, trebuchet, sling).

Arakawa Shintaro On the Design of a “Trebuchet” in the Tangut Manuscript of IOM, RAS Abstract: The paper focuses on a unique Tangut manuscript (Tang. 46 inv. No. 156(2006), old inv. No. 5217) kept in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences. In previous studies, it has been taken to be a constructional diagram of musical instrument. The writer concludes that the manuscript is the design for a pao 砲 (stone launcher, trebuchet, sling). Key words: Tangut manuscript, Tangut script, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, stone launcher, Khara-Khoto A unique Tangut manuscript Tang. 46 inv. No. 156(2006), old inv. No. 5217 is kept in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences. In previous studies, it has been taken to be a constructional diagram of musical instrument. Here, we translate the whole text and conclude that the document describes the design for a trebuchet, or sling (pao 砲). 1. Outline of the Material In the catalogue of the Tangut manuscripts and block prints published in 1963 the Tangut manuscript in question has been described as “no title. A drawing of a musical instrument.” The description of the material is as follows: “Manuscript. Scroll. 28×67(cm). In satisfactory condition (reconstructed). Three illustrations on one side of a piece of paper; right - the remaining half of the upper part of the neck of a musical instrument (the lower right part of the instrument being broken). According to the glyph, it is probably a twostringed musical instrument. The depiction of the body consists of two variants for different sides. Each dimension is recorded in detail in the diagram. Sample illustrations of the nail and clamp for stability are drawn in the center of the plan. It is presumed that it is the name of the musical instrument which is written on the verso of the piece of paper in hard cursive handwriting”.1 © Arakawa Shintaro, Tokyo University of Foreign Sciences 1 GORBACHIOVA, KYCHANOV 1963, 113. Scholars have agreed on the above view until recent years. The catalogue of the exhibition held in Kyoto National Museum in 2009 describes it as “stringed instrument. Paper, Indian ink, 12th c., 34.0×76.7 cm”.[41] The manuscript is now kept in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences under the shelf number Tang. 46, inv. No. 156(2006), old inv. No. 5217.” According to my measurements, the original size of the document is 29.8×73.4 cm. The thick paper is of fine quality but the edge of the paper is covered with newer paper. Since both sides of the paper have been discolored by the sun, the color of it is nearly ecru. Old and new numbering for the material, to wit “Tang. 46, inv. 156(2006g.), st. inv. 5217”, are recorded on the upper right part of the paper. 2. Design and Tangut Scripts The document contains three figures which we call A, B, and C from right to left. A is lacking the whole of the bottom part. B lacks more than half of the right side and the bottom part, while C lacks the extreme left and bottom part. The length of the broken parts in A, B, and C is 4.1 cm, 9.1 cm and 7.3 cm respectively. A sketch of three pieces has been drawn between B and C. We call them D, E and F from the top. They measure; D: 4.8 cm, E: 2.2 cm, F: 4.8 cm in height. Part D runs through the top of C. Tangut writing appears on both sides of the paper. There are three Tangut characters in the blank area between figures B and C (hereafter, X01) on the recto. X01 is located in the top middle and could be the title (or name) of the design. Every character in X01 is about 1.8×2.0 cm. All the texts in the manuscript run vertically along the parts of the diagrams. Figure A now has no text, although it is possible that there were originally some notes on it. This figure indicates the position of the texts. The size of the Tangut characters for B1 and C1 is 1.5×1.5 cm. The size of the others is 0.9×0.7 cm on average. The large characters on the recto (three lines) are in cursive. From right to left, we shall call them Y01, Y02 and Y03. Y01 and Y02, the size of which is 8.0×7.0 cm per character, are lacking one or two characters at the bottom. Y02 appears to be the same as X01. In other words, it probably refers to the overall title of the design. Y03 consists of only one character, which is smaller than each character of Y01 and Y02 (6×5 cm). 3. Text and Translation We show the Tangut scripts, phonetic transcriptions and translation of text with notes in the order X, B, C, and Y. ‘?’ means unknown or indefinite. ‘□’ means supposition by the author. Many terms appear to be loan words from Chinese or a phonetic transcription of Chinese. We show the Chinese characters with near phonetic reconstructions. (LiXXXX) in the notes means the code number of the Tangut script, recorded by Li Fanwen.[42] X01 且 槞 悲 2'a: 1weq2 2phyo A-WE? sling? (鴉?鵐?砲?) B01 蚤 桂 接 1cyen 1'a? 2nyeq'2 Front (正一面) B02 枢 忙 嬲 教 孅 1ka 1ldyIr 2tshya 1soq 1tshywin Distance- four chi, and three cun (間隔四尺三寸) B03 椽 欣 槍 捩 袴 恍 嬲 韓 2hwe 1shyeu 1ko:n 2gu 1jo: 1cheu: 2tshyan 1kwI Hui zhi guang (會枝桄) Both length- six and a half chi (共長六尺半) B04 枢 葆 嬲 1ka 1sha:q 2tshya Distance- seven chi (間隔七尺) B05 皐 輔槍捩 袴 肛 嬲 肛 孅 1hya 2chye 1ko:n 2gu 1jo: 1'a:r 2tshya 1'a:r 1tshywin Xia zhai guang (下寨桄) Both length- eight chi, and eight cun (共長八尺八寸) C01 牧 喬 接 1pi: 2'a 2nyeq'2 Front to PI (pi與面) C02 捩 袴 教 嬲 韓 2gu 1jo: 1soq 2tshya 1kwI Both length- three and a half chi (共長三尺半) C03 榑 数 2tha 1tin Iron deng (鐙 鐙) C04 肛 孅 1'a:r 1tshywin Eight cun (八寸) C05 忙 孅 1ldyIr 1tshywin Four cun (四寸) C06 枢 岐 嬲 肛 孅 1ka 1leu 2tshya 1'a:r 1tshywin Distance- one chi and eight cun (間隔一尺八寸) C07 枢 教 嬲 珎 孅 1ka 1soq 2tshya 1nyI' 1tshywin Distance- three chi and two cun (間隔三尺二寸) C08 沮 輔槍袴 忙 嬲 肛 孅 1sho:n 2chye 1ko:n 1jo: 1ldyIr 2tshya 1'a:r 1tshywin Shang zhai guang (上寨桄) Length- three chi and eight cun (長さ四尺八寸) C09 珎 嬲 1nyI' 2tshya Two chi (二尺) C10 教 孅 1soq 1tshywin Three cun (三寸) C11 珎 嬲 1nyI' 2tshya Two chi (二尺) C12 忙 饗 愿 袴 紳 嬲 紳 □ 1ldyIr 2byeq1shyin 1jo: 2'aq 2tshya 2'aq Four pillar’s length- ten chi and ten? (四弦身長十尺十…) C13 枢 葆 嬲 □ 孅 1ka 1sha:q 2tshya 1tshywin Distance- seven chi and …cun (間隔七尺…寸) C14 皐 輔 槍 捩 袴 庠 嬲 韮 教 孅 1hya 2chye 1ko:n 2gu 1jo: 1gwyI' 2tshya 1'woq 1soq 1tshywin Xia zhai guang (下寨桄) Both length- a little more than nine chi and three cun (共長九尺強?三寸) Y01 臥? 坐? 蟐? 1bI: 2T? 1'we Enemy? defense? (敵?防?撃?) Y02 且 槞悲 2'a: 1weq2 2phyo A-WE? sling? (鴉?鵐?砲?) Y03 求 1tsI: Small (小?) 4. What Does the Diagram Describe? 4.1 Is it a musical instrument? We have some problems if we suppose that the diagram represents a musical instrument. First, the sizes of the parts are extremely large. If the length of a chi 尺 was about 30 cm in those days, the large parts (e.g. C12, C14 are nine and ten chi 九尺、十尺) would be too large (about 300 cm) for a practical musical instrument. Second, although in figures B and C, the sizes of all the parts are specified by notes, the remaining figure A has no notes. It is strange that the main part of a ‘musical instrument’ is lacking all mention of size. In other words, the chief purpose of this diagram is to provide instructions for making the “main” parts B and C. The last problem is the shape of piece A. If A is the neck of a stringed instrument, it is strange that the tuning ‘pegs’ run straight through the instrument. It is unnatural that the pegs are located in the way shown, because, usually, pegs are placed alternately. 4.2 The draft describes the pao 砲 It is expected that pieces B and C are closely related in the construction. One of the reasons for this is that the positions of the beams and the sockets of the pillars are the same. The second reason is the correspondence of the ratio of length to width. Based on a composition of B plus C, we can imagine a three-meter high wooden object with a trapezoidal cross-section. It resembles the base of an ancient weapon - the pao 砲, a stone launcher (sling) used in China. Probably, piece C is the front of the base and B is a side view. Therefore A is not the neck of a musical instrument but the turning arm of a pao 砲. If the diagram did not lack the lower part of A, the complete thing would look like the image below. Figure Pao 砲 From Wujing zongyao 武経総要 A careful scrutiny of the labeling, dimensions, and numbers on our manuscript reveals a high degree of agreement. There are four kinds of beam: upper and lower beams of B and C respectively. The last word of all is 槍 1ko:n, which is used as a Tangut phonetic transcription of Chinese. It probably corresponds to the Chinese guang 桄 meaning ‘beam’. Below we compare the names of the parts in the Chinese version from Wujing zongyao 武経総要 with the Tangut names in the diagram. Table 1 Chinese Tangut (Underlining means phonetic transcription) 上會桄 會枝桄 (B03) 上扇桄 上寨桄 (C08) 下會桄 下寨桄 (B05) 下扇桄 下寨桄 (C14) The Tangut name for a pao 砲 is apparently derived from the Chinese. The top part of the object in Chinese is antoumu 罨頭木. Instead of that name, the wedge-like part is called ‘iron’ (deng 鐙), probably because of its’ material and shape. Let us look now at the length of the parts. As stated above, while a length of nine or ten chi (九、十尺) is too much for a musical instrument, still it is appropriate for a weapon like pao 砲. Some dimensions for the longest parts of a pao 砲 can be found in the Wujing zongyao 武経総要. Table 2 Name Size of pillar (脚柱) Size of lower beam (下會桄) Danshaopao 単梢砲 1 zhang and 8chi 一丈八尺 1 zhang and 3chi 一丈三尺 Wushaopao 五梢砲 1 zhang and 2cun 一丈二寸 1 zhang and 9chi 一丈九尺[43] Tangut pao 砲 10 chi and ? 十尺+? 8 chi and 8 cun 八尺八寸 While the Tangut version is a little smaller than the Chinese one, it is nevertheless long enough for the base of a pao 砲. Therefore, it is reasonable that the constructional design depicts such a weapon. In the design, there are several expressions implying a ‘pair’. For example, B03, B05, C02, C08, and C14 all contain the same words ‘Both length…’. If the object is a pao 砲, those parts would be used in pairs in the construction. And the Tangut numeral ‘four’ precedes ‘pillar’. 4.3 The pao 砲 in a Tangut document discovered in Khara-Khoto Sato Takayasu discusses the situation of the Khara-Khoto area in the last days of Xixia based on two Tangut documents.[44] Of these, No. 2736 document is a letter or proposal from the Tangut officer Renfu 仁負. It is undoubtedly the most important source for understanding the situation of Khara-Khoto at that time. In the text Renfu emphasized his own achievements. We would like to draw attention to one sentence of great importance. We cite Sato’s translation. “…since Renfu 仁負 has come to Khara-Khoto for the defense of the citadel… defending the citadel, preparing provisions, arms, and fifty six pao 砲?, both large and small…”[45] E.I. Kychanov was the first to translate the Tangut character 悲 as a pao 砲, the view is still conjectural.[46] The character in question is the last in the name of the weapon in the manuscript. Furthermore, in the documents, the Tangut pao 砲 comes in several types, such as ‘large’ and ‘small’. If the last word of the title on the recto is taken to mean ‘small’, then we can conclude that the Tangut regarded the weapon depicted as a ‘small pao 砲 (stone-launcher). 5. Conclusion Based on the study of the size and parts of the object, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Tangut material in question (Tang. 46 inv. No. 156(2006), old. inv. No. 5217) housed in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences is a constructional diagram of a stone launcher pao 砲. However, the Tangut name of this weapon is still unknown. I would express my gratitude to Prof. Dr. Furumatsu Takashi, Dr. Todoriki Masahiko, Prof. Dr. Shiraishi Noriyuki, Prof. Dr. Sato Takayasu and Mrs. Ono Hiroko for their kind suggestions. References GORBACHIOVA Z.I, KYCHANOV E.I. 1963: Tangutskie rukopisi i ksilografy [Tangut manuscripts and block prints]. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Vostochnoi literatury. KYCHANOV E.I. 1971: “A Tangut Document of 1224 from Khara-Khoto”. Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientarum Hungaricae, 24. Budapest, 189-201. Kyoto National Museum 京都国立博物館 ed. 2009: On the Trail of Texts along the Silk Road: Russian Expeditions Discoveries of Manuscripts in Central Asia (Silk Road Moji-wo megutte 『シルクロード文字を辿って』). Kyoto: Kyoto National Museum. LI Fanwen ed. 1997: Tangut-Chinese Dictionary 夏汉字典. Beijing: 中国社会科学出版社 Chinese Social Science Publisher (Rev. 2008). SATO Takayasu 佐藤貴保 2007: “Seika jidai makki niokeru Kokusuijoo no jookyoo 西夏時代末期における黒水城の状況” [Khara-Khoto in the last period of Xixia]. Oashisu-chiiki shironsoo オアシス地域史論叢 (Collection of historical works of the Oasis area). INOUE, KATO AND MORIYA eds. Kyoto: Shokodo, 57-79. Wujing zongyao qianji 武経総要前集. Shanghai: Shanghai Guji chubanshe (Siku quanshu 四庫全書).

Arakawa Shintaro

  1. GORBACHIOVA Z.I, KYCHANOV E.I. 1963: Tangutskie rukopisi i ksilografy [Tangut manuscripts and block prints]. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Vostochnoi literatury
  2. KYCHANOV E.I. 1971: “A Tangut Document of 1224 from Khara-Khoto”. Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientarum Hungaricae, 24. Budapest, 189-201
  3. Kyoto National Museum 京都国立博物館 ed. 2009: On the Trail of Texts along the Silk Road: Russian Expeditions Discoveries of Manuscripts in Central Asia (Silk Road Moji-wo megutte 『シルクロード文字を辿って』). Kyoto: Kyoto National Museum
  4. LI Fanwen ed. 1997: Tangut-Chinese Dictionary 夏汉字典. Beijing: 中国社会科学出版社 Chinese Social Science Publisher (Rev. 2008)
  5. SATO Takayasu 佐藤貴保 2007: “Seika jidai makki niokeru Kokusuijoo no jookyoo 西夏時代末期における黒水城の状況” [Khara-Khoto in the last period of Xixia]. Oashisu-chiiki shironsoo オアシス地域史論叢 (Collection of historical works of the Oasis area). INOUE, KATO AND MORIYA eds. Kyoto: Shokodo, 57-79
  6. Wujing zongyao qianji 武経総要前集. Shanghai: Shanghai Guji chubanshe (Siku quanshu 四庫全書)

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