Monday, 19 May 2014

An Avestan manuscript with Gujarati translation

From: Language Log by Victor Mair 18 May 2014


In late January, the Asian and African studies blog of the British Library announced that, after "two years' work in an ongoing project sponsored by the Iran Heritage Foundation together with the Bahari Foundation, the Barakat Trust, the Friends of the British Library, the Soudavar Memorial Foundation and the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute", the department had just uploaded more than 15,000 images of Persian manuscripts online.
wo years' work in an ongoing project sponsored by the Iran Heritage Foundation together with the Bahari Foundation, the Barakat Trust, the Friends of the British Library, the Soudavar Memorial Foundation and the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute. – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.W74Bo6sq.dpuf
wo years' work in an ongoing project sponsored by the Iran Heritage Foundation together with the Bahari Foundation, the Barakat Trust, the Friends of the British Library, the Soudavar Memorial Foundation and the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute. – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.W74Bo6sq.dpuf
wo years' work in an ongoing project sponsored by the Iran Heritage Foundation together with the Bahari Foundation, the Barakat Trust, the Friends of the British Library, the Soudavar Memorial Foundation and the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute. – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.W74Bo6sq.dp15,000 images of Persian manuscripts online.
In the beautiful post by
Ursula Sims-Williams
Ursula Sims-Williams
Ursula Sims-Williams that announces and describes the uploading, one of the most amazing items is this:
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
Io_islamic_3043_f137r
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
Io_islamic_3043_f137r
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar (‘100 doors’), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution. This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation (BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r) – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.QBPGJuGf.dpuf
A leaf from the Saddar ('100 doors'), a popular compilation of 100 rules for Zoroastrians which range from justifying instant death for sodomy to the treatment of good and evil animals, and the avoidance of different forms of pollution.  This copy, dated Samvat 1631 (AD 1575), is in Persian language, but transcribed in Avestan (Old Iranian) script, together with a Gujarati translation.
(BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r)
BL IO Islamic 3043, f 137r)
There is a nice discussion (in the comments section) of why the interspersed Gujarati translation is upside down, something that I noticed as soon as I took one look at the leaf.  In answer to Elisa Coghlan, who pointed this out, Ursula acknowledges that the Gujarati is indeed upside down, but goes on to explain:
The Avestan script however is the right way up. There is quite a tradition of interlinear Gujarati instructions being included in Zoroastrian texts this way (ie. upside down), it occurs most frequently in liturgical texts used in worship. There are two views about this: a) my preferred: since Avestan reads from right to left but Gujarati left to right, this would have been the most economical usage of space. After writing the Avestan script, you turned the book upside down and carried on from where you had stopped. b) the Gujarati was upside down so that priests or students who were standing facing the teacher/main priest could read the Gujarati explanation/translation while he was reading the Avestan out loud. However, this would only work when the text was a liturgical text and the Saddar is not that, more a practical text for learning the rules! – See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/01/15000-images-of-persian-manuscripts-online.html#sthash.2MyuSSIp.dpuf
The Avestan script however is the right way up. There is quite a tradition of interlinear Gujarati instructions being included in Zoroastrian texts this way (ie. upside down), it occurs most frequently in liturgical texts used in worship. There are two views about this:
a) my preferred: since Avestan reads from right to left but Gujarati left to right, this would have been the most economical usage of space. After writing the Avestan script, you turned the book upside down and carried on from where you had stopped.
b) the Gujarati was upside down so that priests or students who were standing facing the teacher/main priest could read the Gujarati explanation/translation while he was reading the Avestan out loud. However, this would only work when the text was a liturgical text and the Saddar is not that, more a practical text for learning the rules!
This is but one of the many treasures of the Asian and African department of the British Library.  I warmly encourage you to look around.  And be sure not to miss this one about a Dunhuang manuscript that has special meaning for me (digitized by theInternational Dunhuang Project).

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