Ο πολιτισμός της Σογδιανής - Sogdian Culture: Its Prelude, Blossom, and Afterlife - του P. Lurje

Ο πολιτισμός της Σογδιανής
Sogdian Culture:
Its Prelude, Blossom, and Afterlife

By Pavel Lurje,
State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Formation of Sogdian Culture:
On Building and Borrowing
Lecture I, 23.3.2020

In antiquity, Sogdiana stood under the shadow of its southern neighbor, Bactria. Only from the first centuries CE onwards do we find evidence for the expansion of Sogdians out of Sogdiana proper, and from the 4th century CE do we meet Sogdian merchants in China and India. The contact with these developed lands was obviously a driving force for urbanization and an increasing sophistication of culture that took place in Sogdiana during this period. The lecture will focus on the building of fortifications and settlements and will incorporate recent data obtained from the citadel of Panjakent, as well as early examples of monumental art - such as the wooden panels discovered by a Japanese-Uzbek team at Kafir-kala in recent years. The formation of Sogdian culture is deeply linked to the development of Sogdian religion. Its Iranian, Zoroastrian core was enriched with elements borrowed from Mesopotamia, the Greek world, and especially India. The lecture will focus on borrowed Indian concepts and iconographies, in particular the role of Shivaite imagery. Other foreign religions such as Christianity, Manichaeism, and Buddhism were known to the Sogdians but gained little footing in their motherland. Buddhist images, however, can be detected within ‘standard’ Sogdian monuments, and a question arises as to how much the concepts of the teaching of Buddha were incorporated into Sogdian folk religion.

Η Κόκκινη θεά.
Τοιχογραφία από τον Ναό ΙΙ, αίθουσα 5, 6ος αιώνας μ.Χ.
Κρατικό Μουσείο Ερμιτάζ. 

Red goddess;
Mural from the Temple II, room 5, 6th century CE;
State Hermitage Museum;
Photograph by V. Terebenin. 

Stories on Walls:
The Heyday of Sogdian Narrative
Monumental Art
Lecture II, 30.3.2020

The best-known examples of Sogdian mural art are narrative depictions of epos and folklore. Boris Marshak's book Legends, Tales and Fables in the Art of Sogdiana, based on a series of lectures in New York, remains the main documentation of these unusual artistic pieces. The painstaking work of restorers at the State Hermitage Museum has elucidated many more examples of this kind. This lecture will focus on several examples that have only recently come to light in order to show the variety of subjects depicted on the walls of the city of Panjakent. Special attention will be given to an elaborate narrative wooden lunette from Shahristan, which was recently documented in full and studied by Dr. Lurje and Michael Shenkar, who have suggested that the scenes on it depict the deeds of heroes and the legendary Iranian king Key Kawus. Theoretical issues also arise from studying this material: What were the ultimate literary sources for narrative scenes in wall paintings and woodcarvings? Are they to be found in works of 'belles-lettres' or rather in the rich and mutable cosmos of migratory motives of tales and fables? And what were the artistic models and the visual inspiration for these narrative scenes? Did the artists draw from illustrative scrolls and miniatures or from stone reliefs of neighboring cultures?

Η θόλος επάνω από την είσοδο στην αίθουσα θρόνου
του παλλατιού στο Σαχριστάν (β΄ μισό 8ου αιώνα).
Tympan above the entrance to the throne hall of the palace in Shahristan;
Second half of the 8th century;
Museum of Antiquities of Dushanbe;
Tracing by E. Bouklaeva, D. Zhulina.

The Heritage of Sogdians:
In Middle Asia, Far East, and Worldwide
Lecture III, 6.4.2020

Sogdian culture comes to an end in the latter half of the 8th century CE in its homeland but survives for approximately two more centuries in colonies and diaspora communities outside Sogdiana proper: in Semirechie in modern Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan, and Turfan and Dunhuang in the northwestern China. In historical narratives current in present-day Central Asia, especially in Tajikistan, the Sogdians are considered to be the ancestors of the modern nations, despite the fact that the Tajik language is much more closely related to Persian and completely distinct from East Iranian Sogdian or Bactrian. In the archaeology of the 8th through 10th centuries CE, including recent work at Panjakent, we see a sharp turn to Muslim cultural traditions, which included many Persian and Sasanian elements and few native Sogdian elements. As Persian Muslim converts became dominant in the cities of Sogdiana, they installed their culture in this land—both in the material and philological spheres. Today, only in Yaghnob, a small valley in the mountains of Tajikistan, a dialect similar to Sogdian is still spoken. But are Yaghnobis descendants of refugees from Sogdiana who escaped to the mountains or their relatives who always lived in hostile and remote highlands and preserved archaic cultural traditions? In northwestern China, the Sogdian heritage was heavily borrowed by the Turkic-speaking Uighurs, who were in turn followed by the Mongols. The clearest example for this cultural borrowing is the continuation of the Sogdian script in traditional Mongol script, still in use in present-day Inner Mongolia, but also in the name of the chief god of the Mongols—Qurbustu Tengri, whose name is borrowed from the Sogdian pronunciation of Ahura Mazda. Even now in various languages of the world, words of Sogdian origin continue to be used, and in many cases we can trace the development of concepts alongside sequences of lexical borrowing. The English word "check," which was ultimately borrowed from the Sogdian word c'k, meaning "document" or "receipt," is a good example of this.
Ασημένιο σκεύος του 9ου αιώνα.
Silver bowl with court feast;
Sogdiana, School A, Early 9th century;
State Hermitage Museum, S-4;
Photograph by L. Heifet.

Accumulation of Archaeological Data:
More Clarity or More Confusion?
Lecture IV, 7.4.2020

The last lecture of the series will be devoted to the results of recent fieldwork conducted by the Panjakent Archaeological Expedition, a continuation of a mission that started in 1946 and has not been interrupted for a single field season since. Panjakent has been the primary source of information on Sogdian city-life and monumental arts since work began at the site. Outlining the main results of the last decade of fieldwork, this lecture will focus on city-planning; types of dwelling, which are sometimes quite unusual; fortifications; the unexpected discovery of a third, minor temple in the city; wall paintings of different types and dates; and large pottery assemblages. Since 2010, the expedition has also conducted fieldwork at Hisorak (medieval Martshkat), a fortified settlement situated in the upper reaches of the Zeravshan valley at an elevation of more than 7,000 feet above sea level. Soil and climate conditions at these altitudes proved unusually favorable for the preservation of organic materials, so many examples of textiles, wooden objects, and documents were found there along with architectural remains and mural paintings. The emergence of such a large and complex settlement in a very remote area is still an enigma. This lecture will include the exciting results of Dr. Lurje's most recent fieldwork season at Panjakent and Hisorak.

SOURCE / ΠΗΓΗ: ISAW, The Eleventh Annual M.I. Rostovtzeff Lecture Series supported in part by a generous endowment fund given by Roger and Whitney Bagnall.


ΛΕΞΕΙΣ: Σογδιανη, Βακτριανη, Κοκκινη θεα, Ινδια, ζωροαστρισμος, Ιραν, Μεσοποταμια, Ινδια, Σιβα, Χριστιανισμος, Μανιχαισμος, Βουδισμος, Βουδας, Αχουρα Μαζντα, Παντζακεντ, Χισορακ
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