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Is the Chuu Silk Manuscript a Chuu Manuscript?


Boltz, W G (2009). Is the Chuu Silk Manuscript a Chuu Manuscript? Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 63(4):789-807.

Abstract

The Chuu Silk Manuscript, known to the scholarly community since the 1950s, was until the manuscript discoveries of the past three decades one of the few extant exemplars of pre-Hann Chinese manuscripts. Because it was found in the area of the ancient state of Chuu and is in its physical appearance and contents very distinctive, incorporating both text and illustrated quasi-human figures, it has traditionally been regarded as characteristic of the exotic cultural world of the Warring States period south, in contrast with the more conservative, orthodox and staid north. From the evidence of other manuscripts now known from the same general area of Chuu it is clear that neither the language nor the script of the Chuu Silk Manuscript are distinctively or unambiguously “Chuu”. And the unique physical appearance of the Chuu Silk Manuscript, precisely because it is unique, cannot be used as a basis for identifying it as “Chuu”. There is at present no objective evidence for identifying a distinct Chuu culture in the first place, and thus no basis for seeing the Chuu Silk Manuscript as in any meaningful sense a “Chuu manuscript”, except as a simple reference to its place of origin.

Abstract

The Chuu Silk Manuscript, known to the scholarly community since the 1950s, was until the manuscript discoveries of the past three decades one of the few extant exemplars of pre-Hann Chinese manuscripts. Because it was found in the area of the ancient state of Chuu and is in its physical appearance and contents very distinctive, incorporating both text and illustrated quasi-human figures, it has traditionally been regarded as characteristic of the exotic cultural world of the Warring States period south, in contrast with the more conservative, orthodox and staid north. From the evidence of other manuscripts now known from the same general area of Chuu it is clear that neither the language nor the script of the Chuu Silk Manuscript are distinctively or unambiguously “Chuu”. And the unique physical appearance of the Chuu Silk Manuscript, precisely because it is unique, cannot be used as a basis for identifying it as “Chuu”. There is at present no objective evidence for identifying a distinct Chuu culture in the first place, and thus no basis for seeing the Chuu Silk Manuscript as in any meaningful sense a “Chuu manuscript”, except as a simple reference to its place of origin.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 63 (2009) > 4
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:20 Feb 2010 13:33
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:59
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
ISSN:0004-4717
Related URLs:http://www.sagw.ch/de/asiengesellschaft/publikationen/Asiatische-Studien.html (Publisher)
http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?vID=86850&vLang=D&vHR=1&vUR=4&vUUR=11 (Publisher)

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