Afrasiab murals

Afrasiab murals
Afrasiab - details from The Ambassadors' Painting 3 - great procession.JPG
Detail of the Ambassadors' Painting.
Created648-651 CE
DiscoveredAfrasiyad, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
39°40′09″N 66°59′36″E / 39.669300°N 66.993400°E / 39.669300; 66.993400Coordinates: 39°40′09″N 66°59′36″E / 39.669300°N 66.993400°E / 39.669300; 66.993400
Present locationAfrasiab Museum of Samarkand, Uzbekistan
CultureSogdian
Afrasiab murals is located in West and Central Asia
Afrasiab murals
Afrasiab murals is located in Tokharistan
Afrasiab murals
Afrasiab murals is located in Uzbekistan
Afrasiab murals

The Afrasiab murals, also called the Paintings of the Ambassadors, is a rare example of Sogdian art. It was discovered in 1965 when the local authorities decided to construct a road in the middle of Afrāsiāb mound, the old site of pre-Mongol Samarkand. It is now preserved in a special museum on the Afrāsiāb mound.

Description

The paintings date back to the middle of the 7th century CE. They were probably painted between 648 and 651 CE, while the Western Turkic Khaganate, members are well represented in the mural, was in decline and the Tang Dynasty was increasing its territory in Central Asia.[1][2][3] Paintings on four walls of the room of a private house at the site depict three or four lands neighbouring Central Asia: On the northern wall, China (a Chinese festival, with the Empress on a boat, and the Emperor hunting); on the Southern Wall, Samarkand (i.e.; the Iranian world: a religious funerary procession in honor of the ancestors during the Nowruz festival); on the eastern wall India (as the land of astrologers and of pygmies, though this painting is largely destroyed).

The topic of the main wall, which depicts Kökturk soldiers are escorting ambassadors from various parts of the world (Korea, China, Iranian principalities etc.), is debated. Boris Marshak, a leading expert on Sogdian painting and the excavator of Panjikent, holds that since Sogdian painting always depicts gods on the top of the main wall, the central figure might be the ruler of Samarkand Varkhuman or the goddess Nana.[4] However, as the Turks are guiding the envoys but are not themselves ambassadors, it has been suggested that the painting depicts the Khagan, possibly Ashina Buzhen or more probably Ashina Mishe, might be depicted there.[5]

Description of the four walls

The four walls of the palatial room in Afrasiab seem to depict the four principal civilizations influencing in Central Asia at that time: Chinese, Indian, Iranian, and Turkic.[6] The Chinese chronicles of the Book of the Later Han appears to describe such mural depicting the four civilizations as a common feature in the region:[7]

The country of He, also named Qushuangnijia (Koschânyah), or Guishuangni [...] To the east of the city, there is a storied pavilion inside of which are paintings. On the north wall, the former emperors of China. To the east, the princes and king of the Turks and the Hindus. To the west, the Persians and those from Byzantium. Every morning the prince of this country goes to this pavilion to pray, and then retreat."

— Book of the Later Han, Book 221.[8]

Inscription mentioning Varhuman and the ambassadors

Inscriptions at the site mention the king of Samarkand Varkhuman. Written in Sogdian, the inscription, reads:

Afrasiab Sogdian inscription

When King Varkhuman Unash came to him [the ambassador] opened his mouth [and said thus]: "I am Pukarzate, the dapirpat (chancellor) of Chaganian. I arrived here from Turantash, the lord of Chaganian, to Samarkand, to the king, and with respect [to] the king [now] I am [here]. And with regard to me do not have any misgivings: About the gods of Samarkand, as well as about the writing of Samarkand I am keenly aware, and I also have not done any harm to the king. Let you be quite fortunate!" And King Varkhuman Unash took leave [of him]. And [then] the dapirpat (chancellor) of Chach opened his mouth.

— Inscription on an ambassador's robe.[9][10][11][12]

Western Turk officers and courtiers

Western Turk officer and seated courtiers, Afrasiab, 7th century CE.

In contrast with the ambassadors from various countries, the Western Turks in the mural do not bear gifts. They are considered attendants to the scene, and military escorts to the foreign ambassadors. They are recognizable as Turks by their long plaits.[13]

The ambassadors from various countries may have been paying homage both to king Varkhuman and possibly a Western Turk Khagan, both nominal vassals of China. The numerous Turkic officers and courtiers who are present may suggest the predominance of the Western Turks at the court of Samarkand during this time period.[1]

In the mural, the Western Turks are ethnic Turks, Nushibis, rather than Turkicized Sogdians, as suggested by their facial features and faces without beards.[14] They are the most numerous ethnic group in the mural, and are not ambassadors, but rather military attendants.[14] Their depiction offers a unique glimpse into the costumes of the Turks in the 6-7th century CE.[14] They typically wear 3 or 5 long plaits, often gathered together into a single long cloth.[14] They have ankle-long monochromic sleeved coats with two lapels.[14] This fashion for the collar is first seen in Khotan near Turfan, a traditional Turkic area, in the 2nd-4th century CE.[14] They have low black sharp-nosed boots. They wear gold bracelets with lapis lazuli or pearls.[14]

Overview

There are four walls, with murals in various states of preservation. There were two registers, an upper and lower one, but the upper register of the murals was essentially destroyed by bulldozers during the construction works that led to the discovery of the murals.[13]

Various reconstructions for the whole mural have been proposed.[15]

Afrasiab murals

Original murals (details)

Restoration

In early 2014, France declared that it would finance the restoration of the Afrasiab painting.[18]

See also

Sources

  • Marshak, Boris; Grenet, Frantz; Sadowska-Daguin, Malgoržata (1994). "Le programme iconographique des peintures de la "Salle des ambassadeurs" à Afrasiab (Samarkand)". Arts Asiatiques. 49 (1): 5–20. doi:10.3406/arasi.1994.1349.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Baumer, Christoph (18 April 2018). History of Central Asia, The: 4-volume set. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-83860-868-2.
  2. ^ Whitfield, Susan (2004). The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith. British Library. Serindia Publications, Inc. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-932476-13-2.
  3. ^ Mode, Markus (2006). "Reading the Afrasiab Murals: Some Comments on Reconstructions and Details" (PDF). Rivista degli studi orientali. 78: 112. ISSN 0392-4866. JSTOR 41913392.
  4. ^ de la Vaissière, Étienne (2006). "LES TURCS, ROIS DU MONDE À SAMARCANDE" (PDF). Rivista degli studi orientali. 78: 153–157. ISSN 0392-4866. JSTOR 41913394.
  5. ^ de la Vaissière, Étienne (2006). "LES TURCS, ROIS DU MONDE À SAMARCANDE" (PDF). Rivista degli studi orientali. 78: 153–157. ISSN 0392-4866. JSTOR 41913394.
  6. ^ Vaissière, Etienne de la (212). "Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity: 5 Central Asia and the Silk Road". In S. Johnson (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, Oxford University Press, P. 142-169. Oxford University Press: 144–160.
  7. ^ de la Vaissière, Étienne (2006). "LES TURCS, ROIS DU MONDE À SAMARCANDE" (PDF). Rivista degli studi orientali. 78: 148. ISSN 0392-4866. JSTOR 41913394.
  8. ^ 新唐书/卷221下: "何,或曰屈霜你迦,曰贵霜匿,即康居小王附墨城故地。城左有重楼,北绘中华古帝,东突厥、婆罗门,西波斯、拂菻等诸王,其君旦诣拜则退。" in "新唐书/卷221下 - 维基文库,自由的图书馆". zh.wikisource.org (in Simplified Chinese)., quoted in de la Vaissière, Étienne (2006). "LES TURCS, ROIS DU MONDE À SAMARCANDE" (PDF). Rivista degli studi orientali. 78: 148. ISSN 0392-4866. JSTOR 41913394.
  9. ^ "Afrosiab Wall Painting". contents.nahf.or.kr. NORTHEAST ASIAN HISTORY FOUNDATION.
  10. ^ Bulatova, Vera; Shishkina, Galina V. (1986). Самарканд: музей под открытым небом "Samarkand, Open-air Museum" (in Uzbek). Publishing house of literature and art Изд-во лит-ры и искусства им. Гафура Гуляма. p. 47. ..."When king Varkhuman of the Unash dynasty approached the ambassador, the ambassador opened his mouth and said : 'I am Pukarzate..."
  11. ^ de la Vaissière, Étienne (2006). "LES TURCS, ROIS DU MONDE À SAMARCANDE" (PDF). Rivista degli studi orientali. 78: 159–160. ISSN 0392-4866. JSTOR 41913394.
  12. ^ Hansen, Valerie (2015). The Silk Road: A New History. Oxford University Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-19-021842-3.
  13. ^ a b c Library, British (2004). The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith. Serindia Publications, Inc. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-932476-13-2.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Yatsenko, Sergey A. (2004). "The Costume of Foreign Embassies and Inhabitants of Samarkand on Wall Painting of the 7th c. in the "Hall of Ambassadors" from Afrasiab as a Historical Source". Transoxiana. 8.
  15. ^ Yatsenko, Sergey A. (2009). "Early Turks: Male Costume in the Chinese Art Second half of the 6th – first half of the 8th cc. (Images of 'Others')". Transoxiana. 14: Fig. 3.
  16. ^ For an alternative interpretation, see: de la Vaissière, Étienne (2006). "LES TURCS, ROIS DU MONDE À SAMARCANDE". Rivista degli studi orientali. 78: 147–162. ISSN 0392-4866. JSTOR 41913394.
  17. ^ a b c d Whitfield, Susan (2004). The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith. British Library. Serindia Publications, Inc. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-932476-13-2.
  18. ^ "Археология. НОВОСТИ Мира Археологии: Восстановление фрески из музея Афрасиаб начнется в апреле". Archived from the original on 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  19. ^ Compareti (University of California, Berkeley), Matteo (2007). "The Chinese Scene at Afrāsyāb". Eurasiatica.
  20. ^ Grenet, Frantz (2004). "Maracanda/Samarkand, une métropole pré-mongole". Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales. 5/6: Fig. D.
  21. ^ a b Compareti (University of California, Berkeley), Matteo (2015). "Ancient Iranian Decorative Textiles". The Silk Road. 13: 38.
  22. ^ Grenet, Frantz (2004). "Maracanda/Samarkand, une métropole pré-mongole". Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales. 5/6: Fig. B.
  23. ^ Gordon, S. (30 April 2016). Robes and Honor: The Medieval World of Investiture. Springer. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-349-61845-3.
  24. ^ Library, British (2004). The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith. Serindia Publications, Inc. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-932476-13-2.
  25. ^ Baumer, Christoph (18 April 2018). History of Central Asia, The: 4-volume set. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-83860-868-2.
  26. ^ Grenet, Frantz (2004). "Maracanda/Samarkand, une métropole pré-mongole". Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales. 5/6: Fig. C.

Royal Nawrūz in Samarkand: Acts of the Conference held in Venice on the Pre-Islamic Afrāsyāb Painting, ed. M. Compareti and E. de La Vaissière, Rome, 2006.

External links

  • Court art of Sogdian Samarqand in the 7th century AD - images and commentary at the University of Halle
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