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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2022

A Sanskrit-Khotanese Colloquy: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Pelliot chinois 5538

From the book Medieval Multilingual Manuscripts

  • Sam van Schaik


This scroll from Cave 17 in Dunhuang is an exemplar of the multicultural and multi-lingual social setting of the trade routes linking India, Persia and China, popularly known as the Silk Road. The scroll, which contains a series of words and phrases in Sanskrit and Khotanese, shows how Sanskrit might have been used as a language of trans-regional and cross-community communication among the Taklamakan oasis states in the late first millennium. Phrases of practical usefulness are translated between Khotanese and Sanskrit, in the style of a phrasebook. On the other hand, the scroll is comparable to medieval European colloquies, and like them, may have been used in an educational setting.

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
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