BabelStone

Monday, 5 May 2014

Accounts of Khitan Life and Language

This blog post presents the text of various Chinese sources that describe the customs of the Khitan people, together with my attempts at translations into English (not always easy, as the precise meaning of the Chinese is hard to fathom in places). These accounts provide a fascinating insight into the life and customs of the Khitan people, but from my perspective it is their preservation of a number of Khitan words transcribed using Chinese characters that is of most interest. The Khitan language and the two mutually exclusive scripts used to write it are very poorly understood compared with the languages and scripts used by other contemporaneous non-Chinese dynasties, such as the Tangut language and script of the Western Xia (1038–1227), the Jurchen language and script of the Jin dynasty (1115–1234), and the Phags-pa script used to write Mongolian and Chinese during the the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368).

Many lexicographic and linguistic works on Tangut have survived, including monolingual rhyming dictionaries of Tangut characters and a bilingual glossary between the Chinese and Tangut languages, as well as transcriptions of Tangut texts in Tibetan. A number of manuscript copies of two Jurchen-Chinese glossaries compiled by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) Bureau of Interpreters and Bureau of Translaters are known (both provide phonetic transcriptions of Jurchen words in Chinese characters, and the latter also gives the corresponding characters in the Jurchen script). For the Phags-pa script a manuscript copy of a rime dictionary of Chinese as written in the Phags-pa script has survived. These and other sources have enabled modern scholars to read and understand texts written in the Tangut, Jurchen and Phags-pa scripts.

However, for Khitan we have virtually no sources other than the surviving monumental inscriptions and a single manuscript book written in the Khitan Large Script. There are no known monolingual Khitan dictionaries or linguistic works, no known Khitan-Chinese glossaries, and no known Khitan texts with phonetic transcriptions in Chinese or Tibetan (a tiny fragment of a single page of a mansucript of uncertain provenance gives Uyghur glosses or transcriptions for a few Khitan characters). Thus, the handful of Khitan words transcribed in these Chinese sources are valuable evidence for the reconstruction of the Khitan language.




1. Wang Yi's Record of the Lands North of Yan

We know nothing about Wáng Yì 王易 other than what he writes in his Record of the Lands North of Yan (Yànběi Lù 燕北錄), which suggests that he was sent as an envoy of the Song to the Khitan state in the year 1058.1 The title of the account of his travels, Record of the Lands North of Yan, refers to the fact that the Khitan state of Liao was situated in the area north of the region corresponding to the ancient Chinese state of Yan (around modern Beijing).

No Song, or even Yuan, editions of Wang Yi's work survive, and as far as I know it is only preserved in Shuō Fú 說郛, a compendium of texts compiled by Táo Zōngyí 陶宗儀 during the early Ming dynasty. Record of the Lands North of Yan is available in two editions of Shuo Fu:

  • 1a) In vol. 56 of the 120 volume Wǎnwěishāntáng 宛委山堂 edition printed during the Ming dynasty [Shuō Fú Sānzhǒng 說郛三種 (Shanghai Guji Chubanshe, 1988) vol. 5 pp. 2583–2586].
  • 1b) In vol. 38 of the 100 volume Hánfēnlóu 涵芬樓 edition based on six fragmentary Ming dynasty manuscript versions that was published by the Commercial Press in Shanghai in 1927 [Shuō Fú Sānzhǒng 說郛三種 (Shanghai Guji Chubanshe, 1988) vol. 1 pp. 645–647].

The text of these two versions of Record of the Lands North of Yan are slightly different in places, and so I provide both Chinese versions below. The English translation is a composite of both versions, following whichever version seems to make the better sense (this is mostly, but not always, the Hanfenlou edition).


A Record of the Lands North of Yan by Wang Yi of the Song dynasty

On the 23rd day of the 10th month of the cyclical year wuxu [earth-dog year], in the 4th year of the Qingning era [11th November 1058],2 the Barbarian Ruler3 left Xue Dian and travelled northwest for about 270 li or more, to a place called Yongxing Dian, where he was to perform the Firewood and Memorial Rite.4

On the 1st day of the 11th month [19th November], he first went into the Small Forbidden Enclosure where he stayed for two days. Previously nine men of similar stature to the Barbarian Ruler had been selected from among the ranks of the Khitan officials, and they had each been presented with a set of clothing that had been worn by the Barbarian Ruler. The nine men were ordered to dress up and pretend to be the Barbarian Ruler, without letting anyone else know who they really were. That night, at the stroke of midnight, they left the Small Forbidden Enclosure with the Barbarian Ruler, ten men in total, and entered the Great Forbidden Enclosure, where each of them went into a separate tent. Inside each tent there was only a single candle and a solitary chair, with no-one else present. At dawn on the 3rd day [of the 11th month] a high Khitan official was stationed outside each tent, and they all entered their tent to lie agula, which means "recognise and catch the emperor" when translated into Chinese. If anyone recognises and catches the Barbarian Ruler it is announced that he is to be rewarded with a thousand oxen, a thousand sheep, a thousand camels, and a thousand horses. On that particular day the younger brother of the Barbarian Ruler, the Prince of Song, recognised and caught the Barbarian Ruler in the eighth tent. According to their foreign rites, the Barbarian Ruler had to say "I am not the real emperor!", and the Prince of Song had to reply "You really are the emperor!". They repeated this back and forth three times in their foreign tongue, and only then did the Barbarian Ruler admit that he was the emperor. Thereupon they left the tent, and when they had put on their foreign ceremonial robes that had been kept in a chest, they took it in turns to perform the ceremony. First they made obeisance to the sun four times; then they made obeisance to the Spirit of Muye Mountain5 in the Hall of the Seven Ancestors; then they made obeisance to the Golden Spirit; then they made obeisance to the Grand Empress; then they made obeisance to the Red Girl; then they made obeisance to the relatives of the Seven Ancestors; then they ascended the stack of firewood to receive the memorials [for the Firewood and Memorial Rite]; then they entered the Hall of the Black Dragon to receive the greetings [from the officials]. That day, after they had completed the ceremonies, they went out of the Great Forbidden Enclosure, together with the Grand Empress and the Grand Uncle, and entered into the Small Forbidden Enclosure, where they performed the foreign rites with their close ministers, and feasted with the ministers and officials until the third watch, at which time they retired. On the 4th day they rested, and on the 5th day they came back to Xue Dian to receive gifts from the southern court (i.e. the Song state).

The Small Forbidden Enclosure is sited outside the north-east corner of the Great Forbidden Enclosure, and inside it are two or three felt tents. Each side of the Great Forbidden Enclosure is one hundred and ten paces in length, and inside are ten felt tents and seven black felt screens for the soldiers. Ten thousand armoured Khitan soldiers are stationed outside the Great and Small Forbidden Enclosures, holding spears and swords, or flags and drums, or bows and arrows, and such like. The flags are embroidered with the foreign character , which corresponds to the Chinese characters meaning "main army".6

The seven ancestors are Taizu (r. 907–926), Taizong (r. 927–947), Shizong (r. 947–951), Muzong (r. 951–969), Jingzong (r. 969–982), Shengzong (r. 982–1031) and Xingzong (r. 1031–1055). The red girl is called lüehu'ao in the foreign tongue; according to legend she was a woman who was swept down the Yellow River and taken by the seven riders of Yin Mountain, and from her are descended the [Khitan] tribes. They carve her form in wood, and dress her in bright colours; and she is usually enshrined in the temple on Muye Mountain. Every time a new Barbarian Ruler performs the Firewood and Memorial Rite, she is brought out from the temple for ritual libation, and on the third day she is returned to her home temple. The relatives of the seven ancestors are seven in number, all wooden figures wearing red brocade clothes; they are also brought out from the temple on Muye Mountain. As to the construction of the stack of firewood, it is thirty-two feet high, and is made by piling up elm wood with the bark left on. On the top is placed a black lacquered woooden altar in three layers; and on top of the altar is placed the imperial tent. On that day the Barbarian Ruler sits in the middle, and below him are three hundred or more Khitan minsters and officials.

Birth. When the empress gives birth, after her 8th month a [Buddhist] Boundless Long-life ceremonial platform is constructed, and every day for a month [the monks] burn incense and prostrate themselves. [She] and the Barbarian Ruler sleep in separate tents. Beforehand a group of forty-nine white felt tents had been set up, among which one is bigger than the others, being 72 feet in diameter. When the empress feels that she is ready to give birth, she first goes to the ceremonial platform to burn incense, and prostrates herself in the foreign manner to the sun eight times; then she goes into the biggest tent. The forty-eight smaller tents are erected in a circle around the large tent. In each [small] tent there is a goat with horns, and a man holds tight to the goat's horns. They wait until the empress is ready to give birth, then on command the men in the small tents all twist the horns of their goats at the same time, and they all cry out together, so loud that you cannot hear the people speaking inside or outside the tents. The foreigners say that this sound is the goats bearing the pain on behalf of the empress. But still members of the Khitan Hanlin Academy wipe their eyes (?) and hold tight to the empress's breast (?). The midwife is a noble lady from Yanjing. The empress is lain on a mat of sweet grass shoots instead of straw. If she gives birth to a son, as soon as the birth is finished, the Barbarian Ruler puts on red clothes, starts up foreign music in the front tent, and drinks with his close and important Khitan ministers and officials. The empress then takes half a bowlful of apricot-flavoured butter. If she gives birth to a daughter, the Barbarian Ruler puts on black clothes, starts up Chinese music, and drinks with his close and important Chinese ministers and officials. The empress then takes three portions of black bean soup flavoured with salt. As to the goats they used, they are sent out to pasture, and it is not permitted to slaughter them, but they are allowed to live up until they die naturally. On the 9th day after the birth the empress returns to the tent of the Barbarian Ruler.

When other Khitan women give birth, they also prostrate themselves in the foreign manner to the sun eight times. When they go into the tent, they use a handkerchief to wipe the eyes of the Khitan doctor, hold tight to the woman's breast (?), and lie on sweet grass shoots. If they give birth to a son, their husbands smear rouge made from lady's bedstraw on their faces, and the mother partakes of apricot-flavoured butter. Lady's bedstraw is harvested in the 8th month, and its juice is extracted by wringing it in a coarse cloth; when it is used it is smeared on the face with a cloth soaked in the juice. Foreign women often use it for adorning themselves. If they give birth to a daughter, [their husbands] rub charcoal on their faces, and the mother takes black bean soup seasoned [with salt]. The foreigners say that using these two things to smear on the face is fitting for [the birth of] boys and girls. Poor people do not follow this ceremony.

Every year the Barbarian Ruler and his Khitan ministers and commoners pray for snow to fall.

When the Barbarian Ruler or the Grand Empress sneezes, any foreign or Chinese ministers or officials who are nearby all say together zhidouli, which means "Long life!" when translated into Chinese.

If the Khitans see a lunar eclipse, that night they prepare wine and food, and congratulate each other; the next day the Barbarian Ruler also puts on a banquet. If it is a solar eclipse, then they all spit towards the sun, and then sit down with their backs turned to the sun.

Every time the Barbarian Ruler and his Khitan ministers and commoners hear the sound of thunder, they all hook their middle finger, and just make the sound of a sparrow calling, which they think this will dispel misfortune.

If the Barbarian Ruler and his Khitan ministers and commoners see a whirlwind, then they close their eyes and crack a whip forty-nine times in the air, reciting kunbuke seven times, which means "ghost wind" when translated into Chinese, in order to dispel misfortune.

Whenever the troops are in battle, the Chinese soldiers mostly take up "Victory is ours!" or "Certain victory!" as their cry; whereas all the foreign soldiers cry out loukeren, which means "dragon and tiger" when translated into Chinese.

There are three silver tallies, on which is written the foreign word meaning "His Majesty". They are made from silver plated in gold. They are now kept in the office of Song Lin (?), Commissioner of the Left of Palace Affairs. They are stored in a black lacquered box, and every day it is presented to the Barbarian Ruler. If there is an urgent matter, and it is appropriate to use this tally, it is hung around the neck [of an envoy]; riding a horse north or south to any place belonging to the Great King [the tally can be used] to mobilize troops and horses; it is not used for any other purpose.

There are seventy-two long tallies, on which are written the foreign words meaning "Ridden by imperial command". They are made from silver plated in gold. They are now kept at the Southern Palace Office. Whenever it is necessary to go to anywhere in any of the five capitals in order to fetch some goods, or to go to the southern court (i.e. the Song state) to present game, deer velvet or berries, then this tally is used. It is worn at the waist, on the left hand side, when riding a horse.

There are twelve notched wooden tallies, on which is written the foreign word meaning "fish". On the left side are seven notches representing the seven generations [of rulers] of this kingdom that have already been. On the right side is a single notch, next to which is the foreign word meaning "eternal". The [strokes of the] word are filled with gilt silver leaf. The tally is one foot and two inches in length. It has always been the case that whenever someone needs to go to the Jurchen or Tatar countries to fetch some goods or to mobilize troops and horses, then this tally is used. It is worn at the waist, on the left hand side, when riding. Those two countries recognise it as a token of trust.

Iron gourd. The foreigners call it xudu. It is made by joining together eight pieces of wrought iron, beaten into sheets. It has a willow stick for a handle, about three foot long, wrapped with iron at each end. It can be used to hit someone [as a punishment] no more than seventy times.

Sand bag. The foreigners call it guobuli. It is made from pieces of ox leather sewn together in the same way that the sole of a shoe is, and it is half-filled with sand. It has a handle with a willow wood core wrapped with ox hide, and is two foot long. It can be used to hit someone [as a punishment] no more than 500 times.

If the private affairs of the Barbarian Ruler and the Grand Empress inside the tent where they sleep are transmitted to the outside, whether important or trivial, then those involved are caught, and the person who leaked the stories is put to death, and those who passed the stories on are sentenced to five hundred strokes of the sand bag.

If a Khitan is caught stealing clothing, money, silk or other goods, the value is calculated according to double the weight of the stolen goods. Every five strings of cash is worth one stroke of the sand bag, up to one hundred and fifty strings of cash, which is worth five hundred strokes of the sand bag, and a sentence of five years military service. If there is even more money involved, then every additional ten strings of cash is worth a stroke with the guduo (a ceremonial staff with a knob on the end). If the money involved is worth more than fifty strokes of the guduo then he is sentenced to death.

As to the Nabo7 of the four seasons, the spring Nabo is mostly located at Shuo Dian, three thousand li north-east of Changchun prefecture; the summer Nabo is mostly located at Yong'an Mountain; the autumn Nabo has no fixed location; only the winter Nabo is mostly located at Xue Dian. What is meant by Nabo is the place where the Barbarian Ruler goes.


Text of the Wanweishantang Edition

《說郛》𢎥五十六

《燕北錄》

     宋 王易

清寧四年戊戌嵗十月二十三日,啓行離靴甸,往西北約二百八十餘里,地名永興甸,行柴冊之禮。於十一月十一日先到小禁圍内宿泊於二日。却於契丹官内選九人,與戎主身材一般大小者,各賜戎主所着衣服一套,令結束九人假作戎主,不許別人知覺。於當夜子時,與戎主共十人相離出小禁圍,入大禁圍内,分投各入一帳,每帳内只有蠟燭一條,椅子一隻,並無一人。於三日辰時,每帳前有契丹大人一員,各自入帳「列阿骨蠟」,漢語「題認大字」也。若提認得戎主者,先賜牛、羊、駝、馬各一千。當時宋國大王,戎主親弟,於第八帳認得戎主,番儀得言道:「我不是的皇帝」,其宋國大王却言道:「你的是皇帝」。如此往來,番語三遍,戎主方始言「便是」,出帳來,着箱内番儀之服畢,次第行禮。先望日四拜,次拜七祖殿,次拜木葉山神,次拜金神,次拜赤娘子,次拜七祖眷屬,次上柴龍受冊,次入黑龍殿受賀。當日行禮罷,與太后太叔同出大禁圍,却入小禁圍内,與近上番儀臣僚夜宴至三更而退。四日歇泊,五日却來靴甸受南朝禮物。

小禁圍在大禁圍外東北,内有氊帳二十三座,大禁圍每一面長一百一十步,内有氊帳十座,黑氊立幕七座。大小禁圍外有契丹兵甲一萬人,各執鎗刀、旗皷、弓箭等,旗上錯成番書「」字,漢語「正軍」字。七祖者,太宗、世宗、穆宗、景宗、聖宗、興宗也。赤娘子者,番語呼謂之「掠胡奧」,俗傳是陰山七騎所得黃河中流下一婦人,因生其族類。木其形雕彩裝,常時於木葉山廟内安置,每一親戎主行柴冊禮時,於廟内取來作儀注,第三日送歸本廟。七祖眷屬七人,俱是木人,着紅綿衣,於木葉山廟内取到。柴龍之制,高三十三尺,用帶皮榆柴疊就,上安黑漆木壇三層,壇上安御帳,當日戎主坐其中,下有契丹臣僚三百餘人。

皇后生產如遇八月,先啓建無量壽道場,逐日行香禮拜一月。與戎主各帳寢,預先造團白氊帳四十九座,又内一座最大,徑圍七十二尺。皇后欲覺產時,於道場内先燒香,望日番拜八拜,便入最大者帳内,其四十八座小帳于大帳週圍卓放,每帳各用有角羊一口,以一人紐羊角,候皇后欲產時,内諸小帳内諸人等一時用力紐羊角,其聲俱發,内外人語不辨,番云此羊代皇后忍痛之聲也。仍以契丹翰林院使抹却服,㧪皇后胸,穩婆是燕京高夫人,其皇后用甘草苗代桿草臥之。若生男時,方產了,戎主着紅衣服,于前帳内動番樂,與近上契丹臣僚飲酒, 皇后即服酥調杏油半盞。如生女時,戎主着皂衣,動漢樂,與近上漢兒臣僚飲酒,皇后即服黑荳湯調鹽三錢。其羊差人牧放,不得宰殺,直至自斃。皇后至第九日即歸戎主帳。其餘契丹婦人產時,亦望日番拜八拜,候入帳内,以手帕子抹却契丹醫人服,㧪婦人腦,臥甘草苗。若生男時,其夫面塗蓬子胭脂,產婦亦服酥調杏油。其蓬子八月收,以麁布絞汁,用時以浸布水塗面。番婦人時常亦用作飾。或生女時,其夫面塗突墨,產婦亦服黑荳湯調鹽。番語用此物塗面時宜男女。貧者不具此儀。

銀牌有三道,上戎主下及契丹臣庶每年取初降雪時帶用。

戎主太后𠸻噴時,但是近位番漢臣僚等並齊道「治夔離」,漢語「萬歲」也。契丹如見月蝕,當夜各備饌相賀,戎主次日亦有宴會。如日蝕,即盡望日吐之,仍背日坐。

戎主及契丹臣庶每聞霹靂聲,各相鈎中指,只作喚雀聲以爲攘厭也。戎主及契丹臣庶等如見旋風時,便合眼,用拳子空中打四十九下,口道「坤不克」七聲,漢語「鬼風」也,以禳厭之。

凡兵馬應是,漢兵多以「得勝」或「必勝」二字爲號,諸番兵以「蔞珂忍」爲號,漢語「龍虎」二字也。

銀牌有三道,上是番書「朕」字,用金鍍鈒成,見在内侍右承宜朱璘處收掌,用黑漆匣盛,每日于戎主前呈封一遍。或有緊急事,宜用此牌帶在項上,走馬于南北大王處,抽發兵馬,餘事即不用之。

銀牌式

長牌有七十二道,上是番書「勅走馬」字,用金鍍鍍鈒成,見在南以司收掌。每遇下五京諸處取色索物色,及進南朝野味、鹿茸、果子,用此牌信,帶在腰間左邊走馬。

長牌式

木刻子牌約有一十二道,上是番書「急」字,左面刻作七刻,取其本國已歷七世也;右面刻作一刻,旁是番書「永」字,其字只是用金鍍銀葉陷成,長一尺二寸。以來每遇往女真、達靼國取要物色,抽發兵馬,用此牌信,帶在腰間左邊走馬。其二國驗認爲信。

木刻子式

鐵瓜,番呼「鬚覩」,以熟鐵打作八片虛合成,用柳木作柄,約長三尺,兩頭鐵裹,打數不過七十。

鐵瓜式

沙袋,番呼「郭不离」,以牛皮夾縫如鞋底,内盛沙半。以來柄以柳木作胎,亦用牛皮裹,約長二尺,打數不過五百。

沙袋式

戎主太后寢帳内事不論大小,若傳播出外,捉獲者其先傳播人處死,接聲傳播人决沙袋五百。

契丹盜衣服、錢絹、諸物等捉獲,賍重或累倍估計價。錢每五貫文决沙袋一下;累至一百五十文,决沙袋五百,配役五年;若更有錢時,十貫文打骨𨦃一下,至骨𨦃五下已上,更有錢時處死。

四時鉢,春内鉢多於長春州東北三十里就樂甸住坐。夏鉢多於永安山住坐。秋鉢無定。止冬鉢多在靴甸住坐。所謂,戎主所至處也。


Text of the Hanfenlou Edition

《說郛》卷三十八

《重編燕北錄》三卷        宋王 易

清寧四年戊戌嵗十月二十三日,戎主一行起離靴甸,往西北約二百七十餘里,地名永興甸,行柴册之禮。于十一月一日先到小禁圍內宿泊二日。先于契丹官內揀選九人,與戎主身材一般大小者,各賜戎主所著衣服一套,令結束九人假作戎主,不許別人知覺。于當夜子時,與戎主共十人相離出小禁圍,入大禁圍內,分頭各入一帳,每帳內只有蠟燭一條,椅子一隻,並無一人。于三日辰時,每帳前有契丹大人一員,各自入帳「列何骨臈」(漢語「捉認天時」也)。若捉認得戎主者,宣賜牛、羊、駝、馬各一千。當日宋國大王(戎主親弟)于第八帳內捉認得戎主,番儀須得言道:「我不是的皇帝」,其宋國大王却言道:「你的是皇帝」。如此往來,番語三遍,戎主方始言是,便出帳來,著箱內番儀衣服畢,次第行禮。先望日四拜,次拜七祖殿木葉山神,次拜金神,次拜太后,次拜赤娘子,次拜七祖眷屬,次上柴籠受册,次入黑龍殿受賀。當日行禮罷,與太后太叔同出大禁圍,却入小禁門內,與近上番儀臣僚夜宴至三更退。四日歇泊,五日却來靴甸受南朝禮物。

小禁圍在大禁圍外東北角,內有氊帳二三座,大禁圍每一面長一百一十步,有氊帳十座,黑氊兵幙七座。大小禁圍外有契丹兵甲一萬人,各執鎗刀、旗鼓、弓箭等,旗上錯成番書「」字(漢語「正軍」字)。七祖者,太祖、太宗、世宗、穆宗、景宗、聖宗、興宗也。赤娘子者,番語謂之「掠胡奧」,俗傳是陰山七騎所得黃河中流下一婦人,因生其族類。其形木雕彩裝,常時于木葉山廟內安置,每一新戎主行柴册禮時,于廟內取來作儀注,第三日送歸本廟。七祖眷屬七人,俱是木人,着紅錦衣,亦于木葉山廟內取到。柴籠之制,高三十二尺,用帶皮榆柴疊就,上安黑漆木壇三層,壇上安御帳,當日戎主坐其中,下有契丹臣僚三百餘人。

生產。皇后生產如過八月,先起建無量壽道場,逐日行香禮拜一月。與戎主各帳寢,預先造團白氊帳四十九座,內一座最大,徑圍七十二尺。皇后欲覺產時,于道場內先燒香,望日番拜八拜,便入最大者帳內,其四十八座小帳于大帳週圍放卓,每帳各用有角羊一口,以一人紐羊角,候皇后欲產時,令諸小帳內人等一時用力紐羊角,其聲俱發,內外人語不辨,番云此羊代皇后忍痛之聲也。仍以契丹翰林院使抹却眼,抱皇后胸,穩婆是燕京高夫人,其皇后用甘草苗代桿草臥之。若生兒時,方產了,戎主著紅衣服,于前帳內動番樂,與近上契丹臣僚飲酒,皇后即服調酥杏油半盞。如生女時,戎主着皂衣,動漢樂,與近上漢兒臣僚飲酒,皇后即服黑豆湯調鹽三分。其用羊差人牧放,不得宰殺,直至自斃。皇后至第九日却歸戎主帳。其餘契丹婦人產時,亦望日番拜八拜,候入帳內,以手帕子抹却契丹醫人眼,抱婦人胸,臥甘草苗。若生兒時,其夫面塗蓬子胭脂,產母亦服酥調杏(其蓬子八月收,以麁布絞汁,用時以浸布水塗面。番婦人時常亦用作妝飾)。或生女時,面塗炭墨,產母亦服黑豆湯調。番言用此二物塗面時宜男女。貧者不具此儀。

戎主及契丹臣庶每年取祈降雪。戎主太后嚏噴時,但是近位番漢臣僚等並齊道「治兠離」,漢語「萬歲」也。契丹如見月蝕,當夜各備酒饌相賀,戎主次日亦有宴會。如日蝕,即盡望日唾之,仍背日坐。戎主及契丹臣庶每聞霹靂聲,各相鈎中指,只作喚雀聲以爲禳厭也。

戎主及契丹臣庶等如見旋風時,便合眼,用鞭子空中打四十九下,口道「神不尅」七聲,漢語「溾風」也,以禳厭。

凡兵馬應是,漢兵多以「得勝」或「必勝」二字爲號,諸番兵以「蕃珂忍」號,漢語「龍虎」二字也。

銀牌有三道(上是番書「朕」字),用金鍍銀成,見在內侍左承宣宋璘處收掌,用黑漆匣盛,每日于戎主前呈封一遍。或有緊急事,宜用此牌帶在項上,走馬于南北大王處,抽發兵馬,餘事即不用也。

長牌有七十二道(上是番書「敕走馬」字),用金鍍銀成,見在南內司收掌。每遇下五京諸處取索物色,及進南朝野味、鹿茸、果子,用此牌信,帶在腰間左邊走馬。

木刻子牌約有一十二道(上是番書「魚」字),左面刻作七刻,取其本國已歷之世也;右面刻作一刻,旁是番書「永」字,其字只是用金鍍銀葉陷成,長一尺二寸。已來每遇往女真、達靼國取要物色,抽發兵馬,用此牌信,帶在腰間左邊走馬,其二國驗認爲信。

鐵瓜(番呼「鬚覩」),以熟鐵打作八片虛合成,用柳木作柄,約長三尺,兩頭鐵裹,打數不過七下。

沙袋(番呼「郭不離」),以牛皮夾縫如鞋底,內盛沙半。以來柄以柳木作胎,亦用牛皮裹,長二尺,打數不過五百。

戎主太后寢帳內事不論大小,若傳播出外,捉獲者其元傳播人處死,接聲傳人決沙袋五百。

契丹盜衣服、錢絹、諸物等捉獲,贓重或累倍估計價。錢每五貫文決沙袋一下;累至一百五十文,決沙袋五百,配役五年;若更有錢時,十貫文打骨䤪一下,至骨䤪五十已上,更有錢時處死。

四時捺缽,多于長春州東北三千里就爍甸住坐,夏捺缽多于永安山住坐,秋捺缽多在靴甸住坐。所謂捺缽者,戎主所至處也。




2. Tao Zongyi's Essentials in the History of Calligraphy

The only Chinese source to even briefly describe the Khitan Large Script is the Essentials in the History of Calligraphy (Shūshǐ Huìyào 書史會要) written by Táo Zōngyí 陶宗儀 , and first published in 1376. In this book, Tao Zongyi devotes less than half a page to the origin of the script, but crucially he provides examples of five Khitan Large Script characters. It is probably no coincidence that these five example characters are all characters that occur on tallies such as those described by Wang Yi in his Record of the Lands North of Yan (which was included by Tao Zongyi in his Shuō Fú 說郛).


Shūshǐ Huìyào 書史會要 vol. 8 folio 1a


Emperor Taizi. Of the Yelü clan, his taboo name was Yi, his second name was Abaoji, and his name as a child was Chuolizhiduo. He had Chinese people teach him [to read and write Chinese], and so he took elements of Chinese characters and added or removed strokes to them so as to create several thousand Khitan characters, to be used instead of the carved marks in wood that had previously served as contract documents. Examples of these characters are characters such as "We" (the "royal we" used by an emperor), "by imperial command", "go", "horse" and "urgent".

太祖。耶律氏,諱億,字阿保機,小字啜里只多。用漢人教,以隸書之半,增損之制契丹字數千,以代刻木之約。其字如朕、敕、走、馬、急之類是也。


"We" ("his majesty") This character is recorded by Wang Yi as being inscribed on the round, silver tally, and is indeed the same as on the illustrated tally. The character is not attested in Khitan Large Script epitaphs, but its components do occur in attested Khitan Large Script characters.

"by imperial command" These three characters, meaning "Ridden by imperial command", are recorded by Wang Yi as being inscribed on the oblong, silver tally, and are indeed very similar to the characters on the illustrated tally.
The first character is not recorded in Khitan Large Script epitaphs, and its rounded shape is very un-Khitan like.
The second character is similar to several attested characters in Khitan Large Script epitaphs (such as and and ).
The third character is not attested in Khitan Large Script epitaphs, although it does occur as a component in other characters. The character for "horse" is frequently recorded in Khitan Large Script epitaphs ( or ), but it bears very little resemblence to the character given by Tao Zongyi, which is hard to explain.

"go"

"horse"

"urgent" This character is not recorded by Wang Yi, but the word "urgent" is found on some Chinese tallies, and so can be assumed to have also been inscribed on some Khitan tallies. The character given by Tao Zongyi is perhaps a corruption of the attested character (derived from the Chinese character 疾).

Unfortunately there are no known examples of genuine Liao dynasty Khitan Large Script tallies like those described by Wang Yi, although a Mongol period oblong, silver tally discovered in Jehol during the first half of the 20th century does have two Khitan Large Script characters on it. The face of the tally is inscribed "Bestowed by Heaven, the imperial edict of Emperor Chinggis [Genghis Khan] — Urgent" 天賜成吉思皇帝聖旨疾 (as are several other known tallies, such as Zeno #115599 and Zeno #36895). On the reverse are inscribed two characters which are very similar in shape to the characters meaning "go" and "horse" given by Wang Yi and Tao Zongyi. The top character is written like the Chinese character 戋, but this form of the character is not attested in Khitan Large Script epitaphs.


Tally in the name of Genghis Khan

Source: Àixīnjuéluó Wūlāxīchūn Nǚzhēn Qìdān Xué Yánjiū 愛新覚羅烏拉熙春女真契丹学研究 (Shokado, 2009) Plate 39




3. Wu Gui's Miscellaneous Notes on the Lands North of Yan

Wǔ Guī 武珪 was a Liao official who surrendered to the Song at Xiongzhou 雄州 (modern Xiong County in Hebei) in 1061 (Jiayou 6). He presented his Miscellaneous Notes on the Lands North of Yan (Yànběi Zájì 燕北雜記) to Zhao Zi 趙滋, Governor of Xiongzhou, who in turn submitted it to the emperor at the court in Bianjing (modern Kaifeng). The original text comprised five volumes, but only a few brief excerpts are included in Tao Zongyi's compendium, Shuō Fú 說郛, in vol. 4 of the Hanfenlou edition [Shuō Fú Sānzhǒng vol. 1 p. 72] and vol. 50 of the Wanweishantang edition [Shuō Fú Sānzhǒng vol. 5 pp. 2327–2328]. The text and translation below is based on the Wanweishantang edition, with one correction from the Hanfenlou edition.

Wu Gui's text was also used as the source for the Miscellaneous Notes 雜記 section of the Record of the Khitan State 契丹國志 (see Overview of the Record of the Khitan State), which is given further below.


Miscellaneous Notes on the Lands North of Yan by Wu Gui

《燕北雜記》

       武珪


Whipping the air

When the Khitan people see a whirlwind, they close their eyes and whip the air forty-nine times, reciting kunbuke seven times. They call planting the fields tilie.

鞭空

契丹見旋風,合眼望空用鞭打四十九下,口道「坤不刻」七聲。呼種田為「提烈」。


Payment of Oxen and Camels

If a rich and noble Khitan citizen wishes to bind his head in a turban [as a symbol of high status], then he pays [to the government] seventy head of oxen and camels, and a hundred horses, and he is given a Khitan title, which is called sheli.

納牛駝

契丹富豪民要裹頭巾者,納牛駝七十頭、馬百匹,以給其名目謂之「舍利」。


Roasting a Goat Bone

When mobilizing the army, they do not select an [auspicious] day, but mix mugwort with horse manure, and roast the mixture on the collar bone of a white goat. If roasting splits it open then they set forth, but if it does not split open then they do not move.

炙羊骨

契丹行軍不擇日,用艾和馬糞於白羊琵琶骨上炙,炙破便出行,不破即不出。


Day of the Horse

Whenever the foreign soldiers encounter a day of the horse, even if they are not going on a campaign, they have to get in formation and shout loudly ten times towards the west. It is said that the day of the horse is the day of the Great King of the foreign tribes.

午日

番兵每遇午日,如不出兵亦須排陳,望西大喊十聲,言午是番家大王之日。


Insulting the Chinese

Han Chinese north of the border [with Song] are mostly insulted and sworn at as shilibi. Shilibi means "slave".

淩辱漢兒

北界漢兒多為契丹淩辱罵作「十里鼻」。「十里鼻」,奴婢也。


Strong Bows

The glued bows of Northern Yan are strong, and not easy to break.

勁弓

燕北膠弓堅勁,不易折。


Drink and Dwelling

With regard to what they drink and where they dwell, the Khitans do not follow water or grass (i.e. are nomads) ...

飲宿

契丹飲宿不逐水草...




4. Miscellaneous Notes on the Seasons of the Year

Volume 27 of the Record of the Khitan State in entitled Miscellaneous Notes on the Seasons of the Year (Suìshí Zájì 歲時雜記). According to the Overview of the Record of the Khitan State the text of this section is copied verbatim from Wang Gui's Miscellaneous Notes on the Lands North of Yan.


New Year's Day

On the 1st day of the 1st month, the Head of State makes round cakes, about the size of a fist, by mixing glutinous rice with white mutton marrow. Forty-nine of these cakes are scattered around the inside of all the tents, and when it is the third stroke of the hour of the fifth watch, the Head of State and everyone, from inside their own tent, throw rice balls out of the tent through the window. If there are an even number [of rice balls] then that night they start up foreign music and have a feast. If there are an odd number [of rice balls] then there is no music; instead twelve shamans are ordered to go round the tent while ringing handbells, holding arrows, and singing. Inside the tent, they explode salt in all the stoves, and let off "ground-beating mice" (a type of firework), which they call "frightening off the ghosts". The occupants of that tent do not leave until the 7th day—this is the way of warding off misfortune. In the north they call this nai nieli, which Chinese people translate thus: nai means "first" [day of the month]; nieli means "day".

正旦

正月一日,國主以糯米飯、白羊髓相和為團,如拳大,於逐帳内各散四十九箇,候五更三點,國主等各於本帳内牎中擲米團在帳外,如得雙數,當夜動蕃樂,飲宴;如得隻數,更不作樂,便令師巫十二人,外邊遶帳撼鈴執箭唱呌,於帳内諸火爐内爆鹽,并燒地拍鼠,謂之「驚鬼」。本帳人第七日方出。乃穰度之法。北呼此謂之「妳揑離」,漢人譯云,「妳」是「丁」,「揑離」是「日」。


Start of Spring

On the day of the solar start of spring (February 3rd – 5th), women present spring calligraphy, which they embroider in green onto banners. They inlay pictures of dragons and elephants, or sometimes toads.

立春

立春日,婦人進春書,以青繒為幟,刻龍象銜之,或為蝦蟆。


People Day

On People Day [the 7th day of the 1st month] the inhabitants of the capital eat fried pancakes inside the main hall, which is popularly known as "smoking the heavens". We do not know where this custom comes from.

人日

人日,京都人食煎餅於庭中,俗云「薰天」,未知所從出也。


Festival of Harmony

On the 1st day of the 2nd month, members of the noble Xiao clan together invite members of the [noble] Yelü clan, setting out a feast in their own home. In the north this festival [is called] xiali po, which Chinese people translate thus: xiali means "to invite"; po" means "time".

中和

二月一日,大族姓蕭者,並請耶律姓者,於本家筵席。北節為「轄里尀」,漢人譯云「轄里」是「請」,「尀」是「時」。


First Snake Day

On the 3rd day of the 3rd month, people of the country carve wooden rabbits, and divide into two teams, shooting at them from horseback. The first to hit wins. The losing team dismount, and kneel down to offer up some wine to the winning team; the winning team receive the cups of wine and drink them on horseback. In the north this festival is called taoli hua, which Chinese people translate thus: taoli means "rabbit"; hua means "to shoot".

上巳

三月三日,國人以木雕為兔,分兩朋走馬射之。先中者勝,其負朋下馬,跪奉勝朋人酒,勝朋於馬上接盃飲之。北呼此節為「淘裏化」,漢人譯云「淘裏」是「兔」,「化」是「射」。


Buddha's Birthday

On the 8th day of the 4th month, in the capital and in all the prefectures, they each carve a wooden statue of Prince Siddhārtha, and it is carried in procession around the city walls; monks, nuns, priests and common folk all walk around the city walls for a day of fun.

佛誕日

四月八日,京府及諸州,各用木雕悉達太子一尊,城上舁行,放僧尼、道士、庶民行城一日為樂。


Double Fifth

On the 5th day of the 5th month at the hour of the horse (midday), people pick mugwort leaves, blend them with cotton, and then pad them into seven sets of clothing [to present to] the Head of State who wears them. The foreign and Chinese ministers and officials are each presented with three sets of mugwort clothes. The Head of State has a banquet with his ministers and officials, during which cooks from the Bohai kingdom present mugwort cakes, which are dipped in hot realgar-infused wine. In the north this festival is called tao saili. Also, people braid together odd pieces of silk thread to make "happy strings" which are tied around the arms. Women present "long-life threads", which are twisted into the shape of people and worn.

端五

五月五日午時,採艾葉與綿相和,絮衣七事,國主著之,蕃漢臣僚各賜艾衣三事。國主及臣僚飲宴,渤海廚子進艾糕,各點大黃湯下。北呼此節為「討賽籬」。又以雜絲結合歡索,纏于臂膊,婦人進長命縷,宛轉皆為人象,帶之。


Morning Festival

On the day of the summer solstice, women present fans and bags of rouge.

朝節

夏至日,婦人進扇及粉脂囊。


Three Fu

On the 18th day of the 6th month, members of the noble Yelü clan together invite members of the [noble] Xiao clan. This is also called xiali [meaning "to invite"].

三伏

六月十八日,大族耶律姓並請蕭姓者,亦名「瞎里」。


Middle Full Moon

On the night of the 13th day of the 7th month, the Head of State leaves his ambulatory palace, and travels 30 li west to a place where he pitches a camp. First he sets up food and drink at that place, and on the 14th day he calls on the army followers and the tribal followers to start up the foreign music. They feast until dusk, when the Head of State returns to his ambulatory palace, which is called "welcoming the festival". On the 15th day Chinese music is started up, and there is a great banquet. Early on the morning of the 16th day he heads out west, and orders the army followers to shout out three times, which is called "sending off the festival". This festival is known as saili she, which Chinese people translate thus: saili means "moon"; she means "good"; thus it means "good moon".

中元

七月十三日夜,國主離行宮,向西三十里卓帳宿。先於彼處造酒食,至十四日,應隨從諸軍並隨部落動番樂,設宴至暮,國主卻歸行宮,謂之「迎節」。十五日動漢樂,大宴。十六日早,卻往西方,令隨行軍兵大喊三聲,謂之「送節」。此節為「賽離捨」,漢人譯云「賽離」是「月」,「捨」是「好」。謂「月好」也。


Mid Autumn

On the 8th day of the 8th month, the Head of State kills a white dog seven steps in front of the tent he sleeps in, then buries its head with its muzzle sticking out. Seven days later he moves the tent he sleeps in over the head of the buried dog. In the north this festival is called niehe nai, which Chinese people translate thus: niehe means "dog"; nai means "head".

中秋

八月八日,國主殺白犬於寢帳前七步,埋其頭,露其嘴。後七日,移寢帳於埋狗頭上。北呼此節為「揑褐妳」,漢人譯云「揑褐」是「狗」,「妳」是「頭」。


Double Ninth

On the 9th day of the 9th month, the Head of State leads a party out to hunt tigers, and the [person who shoots the] fewest tigers loses, and has to provide a Double Ninth banquet. When the hunt is over, a tent is set up on high ground, and [the emperor] climbs up to the high place with his foreign and Chinese ministers, where they drink chrysanthemum wine. A rabbit's liver is taken out and chopped up raw, mixed with deer's tongue sauce, and eaten. In the north this festival is called bili chili, which Chinese people translate as "9th day of the 9th month". Also, berries of the cornel dogwood is added to wine, and it is sprinkled around the doorway to keep evil away. There are also some who put a little salt [in the wine] and drink it. Also, it is said that men pick eighteen berries, and women pick nine berries, and swallow them down with wine, which is very efficacious in warding off evil.

重九

九月九日,國主打團斗射虎,少者輸重九一筵席。射罷,於地高處卓帳,與番漢臣登高,飲菊花酒。出兔肝切生,以鹿舌醬拌食之。北呼此節為「必里遲離」,漢人譯云「九月九日」也。又以茱萸研酒,灑門戶間辟惡。亦有入鹽少許而飲之者。又云男摘二九粒,女一九粒,以酒咽者,大能辟惡。


Little Spring

During the 10th month, in the five capitals people present ten thousand sets of miniature clothes, armour and weapons made out of paper. On the 15th day at a certain time they are all piled up. The Head of State with his foreign ministers and officials bow down and offer sacrificial wine towards Muye Mountain, and a memorial paper with a foreign character written on it is burned together [with the pile of paper outfits] as an offering to the Spirit of Muye Mountain; this is called "depositing in the storehouse". In the north this time is called daila, which Chinese people translate thus: dai means "to burn"; la means "armour".

小春

十月内,五京進紙造小衣甲并槍刀器械各一萬副。十五日一時推垛,國主與押番臣寮望木葉山奠酒拜,用番字書狀一紙,同焚燒奏木葉山神,云「寄庫」。北呼此時為「戴辢」,漢人譯云「戴」是「燒」,「辢」是「甲」。


Winter Solstice

On the day of the winter solstice, people of this country kill a white goat, a white horse, and a white goose, and take the raw blood from these animals and mix it with wine. The Head of State faces to the north and prostrates himeself to the Black Mountain, making sacrificial offerings to the mountain spirit. It is said that when a Khitan dies, his spirit is under the control of the spirit of the Black Mountain. Also, those people say that all dead people are subject to the control of the spirit of this mountain, even rich people. The Black Mountain of the Khitans is like Mount Tai of China. It is said that when people of the north die, their spirits all return to this mountain. Every year in the five capitals people present over ten thousand sets of paper people and horses, which are burnt as sacrificial offerings to the mountain. This ceremony is very strict, and no-one dares approach the mountain if they have not made a sacrifice.

冬至

冬至日,國人殺白羊、白馬、白鴈,各取其生血和酒,國主北望拜黑山,奠祭山神。言契丹死,魂為黑山神所管。又彼人傳云:凡死人,悉屬此山神所管,富民亦然。契丹黑山,如中國之岱宗。云北人死,魂皆歸此山。每歲五京進人、馬、紙物各萬餘事,祭山而焚之。其禮甚嚴,非祭不敢近山。


Sacrificial Month

During the Sacrificial Month [12th month], the Head of State wears armour and battle clothes, and calls on his foreign and Chinese ministers and officials from all departments to all wear their battle clothes, and at the third stroke of the hour of the fifth watch they attend court. When the drinking and music is over, they are given armour, goats and horses according to their rank. In the north this time is called chaoli po, which Chinese people translate thus: chaoli means "battle"; po means "time"; thus it means "battle time".

臘月

臘月,國主帶甲戎裝,應番漢臣諸司使已上並戎裝,五更三點坐朝,動樂飲酒罷,各等第賜御甲、羊馬。北呼為「粆離尀」,漢人譯云「粆離」是「戰」,「尀」是「時」。是「戰時」也。


Regulated Thievery

On the 13th day of the 1st month, people of the country are allowed to thieve for three days, but if they steal things of value greater than ten strings of cash then they are punished according to the law. In the north this time is called guli po, which Chinese people translate thus: guli means "to steal"; po means "time".

治盜

正月十三日,放國人做賊三日,如盜及十貫以上,依法行遣。北呼為「鶻里尀」,漢人譯云「鶻里」是「偷」,「尀」是「時」。


Mobilizing the Army

When mobilizing the army, they do not select an [auspicious] day, but mix mugwort with horse manure, and roast the mixture on the collar bone of a white goat. If roasting splits it open then they set forth, but if it does not split open then they do not move.

行軍

契丹行軍不擇日,用艾和馬糞,於白羊琵琶骨上炙,炙破便出行,不破即不出。


Day of the Horse

When the Khitan army goes on campaign, every day of the horse [every 12 days], when they set off, even if they do not need their weapons they still have to prepare themselves, and they loudly shout seven times towards the west. It is said that the day of the horse is the day of the Great King of the Northern Court.

午日

契丹出軍,每遇午日起程,如不用兵,亦須排辦,望西大喊七聲,言午是北朝大王之日。


Whirlwind

When Khitan people see a whirlwind, they shut their eyes, and use a whip to hit the air forty-nine times, reciting kunbuke seven times.

旋風

契丹人見旋風,合眼,用鞭望空打四十九下,口道「坤不刻」七聲。


Sheli

If a rich and noble Khitan citizen wishes to bind his head in a turban [as a symbol of high status], then he pays [to the government] ten head of cattle, ten camels, and a hundred horses, and he is given a Khitan title, which is called sheli.

舍利

契丹富豪民要裹頭巾者,納牛、駞十頭,馬百匹,并給契丹名目,謂之「舍利」。


Prostration

The way that men and women prostrate themselves is the same: one leg kneeling, one foot standing on the ground, moving the hand [down to the foot] as a gesture, no more than three times. When they say niegudi, it means "to kneel".

跪拜

男女拜皆同,其一足跪,一足着地,以手動為節,數止於三。彼言「揑骨地」者,即「跪」也。


Long White Mountain

The Long White Mountain lies more than a thousand li southeast of the Mount Ling. It is probably the abode of the White-robed Guanyin. The birds and animals of the mountain are all white, and people do not dare enter [the mountain] in case they pollute it or suffer the poison of snakes and serpents. The source of the Black River is here. In the old days it was called the Sumo River, but after Emperor Taizong defeated the Jin it was renamed the Huntong River. The local custom is to carve boats out of logs, about eight feet in length, and shaped like a weaving shuttle, so is called a "shuttle boat". [The people] in it use a single oar, and only use it for fishing. If they need to ferry carts across then they use a square boat or a triple boat.

長白山

長白山,在泠山東南千餘里,蓋白衣觀音所居。其山禽獸皆白,人不敢入,恐穢其間,以致蛇虺之害。黑水發源於此,舊云粟末河,太宗破晉,改為混同江。其俗刳木為舟,長可八尺,形如梭,曰「梭船」,上施一槳,止以捕魚;至渡車,則方舟或三舟。


Marsh Flag

At West Tower8 there are marsh flags, which grow in clumps along the edge of the water. Its leaves are like those of willow, and it grows to nearly eight or ten feet in height. It can be used to make arrows. It is hard but not inflexible. This is what the Chronicler Zuo called "Flags of the marsh of Dong".

澤蒲

西樓有蒲,瀕水叢生,一榦葉如柳,長不盈尋丈,用以作箭,不矯揉而堅,左氏所謂「董澤之蒲」是也。


Uyghur Beans

Uyghur bean [plants] grow to about two feet high. They have straight shoots with leaves, but no branches. The pod is two inches long, and each pod only contains two beans. A plant only produces six or seven pods. The bean's colour is yellow, and it tastes like millet.

回鶻豆

回鶻豆,高二尺許,直榦,有葉無旁枝,角長二寸,每角止兩豆,一根才六七角,色黃,味如粟。


Crabs

The crabs of the Bohai Sea are red in colour, and as big as bowls. Their claws are huge and thick, but their legs are like Chinese crabs. [In the Bohai Sea] there are also "stone lifters" (?) and alligators.

螃蟹

渤海螃蟹,紅色,大如椀,螯巨而厚,其跪如中國蟹螯。石舉、鮀魚之屬,皆有之。




5. Miscellaneous Ceremonies of the Seasons of the Year

Vol. 53 of the History of the Liao includes a section entitled Miscellaneous Ceremonies of the Seasons of the Year (Suìshí Záyí 歲時雜儀), which is very similar in content to Wang Gui's Miscellaneous Notes on the Seasons of the Year in the Record of the Khitan State, but as it has some differences it is separately translated.


On New Year's Day, the national custom is to make cakes by mixing glutinous rice with white mutton marrow, and rolling the mixture into balls the size of a fist. Every tent is given forty-nine of them. During the fifth watch of nightime everyone throws rice balls out of their tents through the windows. If there is an even number then they start to feast and play music. If there is an odd number, then twelve shamans are ordered to go around the tents singing and shouting whilst ringing handbells and holding arrows. Inside the tents the people explode salt in the stoves and let off "ground-beating mice" (a type of firework), which they call "frightening off the ghosts". They remain in their tents for seven days before can come out. In the national language, New Year's Day is called nai nieyi'er. Nai means "first" [day of the month], and nieyi'er means "day".

正旦,國俗以糯飯和白羊髓為餅,丸之若拳,每帳賜四十九枚。戊夜,各於帳内窗中擲丸於外。數偶,動樂,飲宴。數奇,令巫十有二人鳴鈴,執箭,繞帳歌呼,帳内爆鹽壚中,燒地拍鼠,謂之驚鬼,居七日乃出。國語謂正旦為「迺捏咿唲」。「迺」,「正」也;「捏咿唲」,「旦」也。


On the Start of Spring (February 3rd – 5th) women present spring calligraphy, which they embroider in green onto banners, symbolizing dragons riding on them. Sometimes they embroider toads. The calligraphy banners are called "Suitable for Spring".

立春,婦人進春書,刻青繒為幟,像龍御之,或為蟾蜍,書幟曰「宜春」。


People Day. The days of the 1st month of the year: 1st day is chicken; 2nd day is dog; 3rd day is pig; 4th day is goat; 5th day is horse; 6th day is ox; and 7th day is person. The prognostication on this day is auspicious if the weather is fine, or misfortune if the weather is cloudy. The custom is to eat fried pancakes inside the main hall, which is known as "smoking the heavens".

人日,凡正月之日,一雞、二狗、三豕、四羊、五馬、六牛,七日為人。其占,晴為祥,陰為災。俗煎餅食於庭中,謂之「薰天」。


The 1st day of the 2nd month is the Festival of Harmony, when the Xiao clan of the Imperial Uncle's family hold a banquet in honour of the Yelü clan of the emperor's family. Every year this is a regular event. In the national language this day is called xiali po. Xiali means "to invite"; po means "time". The character xia is pronounced like the character xia meaning "to be familiar"; and the character po is pronounced like the character po meaning "very".

二月一日為中和節,國舅族蕭氏設宴,以延國族耶律氏,歲以為常。國語是日為「𢘉里尀」。「𢘉里」,「請」也;「尀」,「時」也。𢘉,讀若狎;尀,讀若頗。


The 8th day of the 2nd month is the birthday of Prince Siddhārtha. In the capital and in all the prefectures, people carve a wooden statue [of Prince Siddhārtha], and it is carried in procession around the city walls, to the accompaniment of music and acrobats. Prince Siddhārtha was the son of the King Brahmā in the Western Land, his family name was Gautama, and his given name was Śakyamuni. Because he achieved enlightenment he is known as "Buddha".

二月八日為悉達太子生辰,京府及諸州雕木為像,儀仗百戲導從,循城為樂。悉達太子者,西域淨梵王子,姓瞿曇氏,名釋迦牟尼。以其覺性,稱之曰「佛」。


The 3rd day of the 3rd month is the First Snake Day. The national custom is to carve wooden rabbits, and divide into two teams, shooting at them from horseback. The first to hit one wins. The losing team dismount, and kneel down to offer up some wine to the winning team; the winning team drink the wine on horseback. In the national language this day is called taoli hua. Taoli means "rabbit"; hua means "to shoot".

三月三日為上巳,國俗,刻木為兔,分朋走馬射之。先中者勝,負朋下馬列跪進酒,勝朋馬上飲之。國語謂是日為「陶里樺」。「陶里」,「兔」也;「樺」,「射」也。


On the 5th day of the 5th month at the hour of the horse (midday), people pick mugwort leaves, and blend them with cotton to make clothes to wear. They make seven sets of clothing to present to the Emperor. The ministers and officials of the Northern and Southern courts (i.e. Khitan and Chinese ministers and officials) are each presented with three sets. The emperor and his ministers have a banquet, during which cooks from the Bohai kingdom present mugwort cakes. They wrap strips of silk in five colours around their arms, which are called "joining in happiness". They also twist threads of silk in five colours around dolls which [women] wear in their hair, and which are called "long-life threads". In the national language this day is called tao saiyi'er. Tao means "five"; saiyi'er means "month".

五月重五日,午時,採艾葉和綿著衣,七事以奉天子,北南臣僚各賜三事,君臣宴樂,渤海膳夫進艾糕。以五綵絲為索纏臂,謂之「合歡結」。又以綵絲宛轉人形簪之,謂之「長命縷」。國語謂是日為「討賽咿唲」。「討」,「五」;「賽咿唲」,「月」也。


The day of the summer solstice is popularly known as Morning Festival. Women present coloured fans, and give each other bags of rouge.

夏至之日,俗謂之「朝節」。婦人進綵扇,以粉脂囊相贈遺。


On the 18th day of the 6th month, according to the national custom, the Yelü clan [of the emperor's family] holds a banquet in honour of the Xiao clan of the Imperial Uncle's family, which is also called xiali po (as is the Festival of Harmony).

六月十有八日,國俗,耶律氏設宴,以延國舅族蕭氏,亦謂之「𢘉里尀」。


On the night of the 13th day of the 7th month, the emperor pitches a tent 30 li west of his palace. Previously food and drink had been prepared there. On the following day all the army and tribal followers start up the foreign music, and they feast until dusk, when [the emperor] returns to his ambulatory palace, which is called "welcoming the festival". On the 15th day, the day of the full moon, Chinese music is started up, and there is a great banquet. Early on the morning of the 16th day he heads out west, and orders the army followers to shout out three times, which is called "sending off the festival". In the national language [this festival] is called saiyi'er she. She means "good".

七月十三日,夜,天子於宮西三十里卓帳宿焉。前期,備酒饌。翼日,諸軍部落從者皆動蕃樂,飲宴至暮,乃歸行宮,謂之「迎節」。十五日中元,動漢樂,大宴。十六日昧爽,復往西方,隨行諸軍部落大譟三,謂之「送節」。國語謂之「賽咿唲奢」。「奢」,「好」也。


On the 8th day of the 8th month, according to the national custom, a white dog is killed, and it is buried seven steps in front of the tent [where the emperor] sleeps, with its muzzle sticking out of the ground. Seven days later, on the day of the Mid Autumn Festival, the sleeping tent is moved over it (the head of the buried dog). In the national language this is called niehe nai. Niehe means "dog"; nai means "head".

八月八日,國俗,屠白犬,於寢帳前七步瘞之,露其喙。後七日中秋,移寢帳於其上。國語謂之「捏褐耐」。「捏褐」,「犬」也;「耐」,「首」也。


On the 9th day of the 9th month, the emperor leads all his ministers and the various tribes out to hunt tigers. The [person who shoots the] fewest tigers loses, and has to provide a Double Ninth banquet. When the hunt is over, a tent is set up on high ground, and [the emperor] presents his foreign and Chinese ministers with chrysanthemum wine. A rabbit's liver is chopped up and mixed with deer's tongue to make a sauce. They also mix berries of the cornel dogwood with wine, and sprinkle the wine on the doorway to keep evil away. In the national language this day is called bili chili, which means the "9th day of the 9th month".

九月重九日,天子率群臣部族射虎,少者為負,罰重九宴。射畢,擇高地卓帳,賜蕃、漢臣僚飲菊花酒。兔肝為臡,鹿舌為醬,又研茱萸酒,洒門戶以禬禳。國語謂是日為「必里遲離」,九月九日也。


During the 10th month of the year, in the five capitals people present ten thousand sets of miniature clothes, armour and weapons made out of paper. The emperor and all his ministers make sacrifices in the direction of Muye Mountain, and a memorial paper with national script characters written on it is burned together [with the pile of paper outfits]. In the national language this is called daila. Dai means "to burn"; la means "armour".

歲十月,五京進紙造小衣甲、槍刀、器械萬副。十五日,天子與群臣望祭木葉山,用國字書狀,並焚之。國語謂之「戴辣」。「戴」,「燒」也;「辣」,「甲」也。


On the day of the winter solstice, according to the national custom, people kill a white goat, a white horse, and a white goose, and mix the blood from these animals with wine. The emperor prostrates himeself in the direction of the Black Mountain. The Black Mountain is in the northern border of the country. It is popularly said that the spirit of this mountain is in charge of the souls of the Khitan people, just as the spirit of Mount Tai in China [is in charge of the souls of the Chinese people]. Every year on this day, in the five capitals people present over ten thousand sets of paper people and horses, which are burnt as sacrificial offerings to the mountain. This custom is very strict, and no-one dares approach the mountain if they have not made a sacrifice.

冬至日,國俗,屠白羊、白馬、白雁,各取血和酒,天子望拜黑山。黑山在境北,俗謂國人魂魄,其神司之,猶中國之岱宗云。每歲是日,五京進紙造人馬萬餘事,祭山而焚之。俗甚嚴畏,非祭不敢近山。


On the day of the dragon during the Sacrificial Month [12th month], the emperor and all his ministers and officials of the Northern and Southern courts put on their battle clothes, and attend court until the hour of the fifth watch, making music and drinking wine. They are given armour, weapons, goats and horses according to their rank. In the national language this day is called chaowu'er po. Chaowu'er means "battle".

臘辰日,天子率北南臣僚並戎服,戊夜坐朝,作樂飲酒,等第賜甲仗、羊馬。國語謂是日為「炒伍侕尀」。「炒伍侕」,「戰」也。


The Rite of Rebirth. Every twelve years, on the last winter month of the year before the emperor's zodiacal year of birth, an auspicious day is chosen. Beforehand an area north of the gateway to the inner palace is cleared, and a rebirthing room, a mother's waiting room, and a carriage holding the spirit tablets of the previous emperors are set up. In the southeast of the rebirthing room three forked branches are planted upside down. On the specified day, a boy and a midwife are placed in the room. A women holding wine and an old man holding a quiver stand outside the room. An official invites the spirit tablets to descend from the carriage, and offerings are made to them. After the offerings have been made the emperor leaves the hall where he sleeps and points to the rebirthing room. All the ministers respond by prostrating themselves twice towards the emperor, and then the emperor enters the room. He takes off his clothes, and washes himself. Accompanied by the boy he thrice passes under the forked branches. Every time he passes under the branches the midwife says some words, and brushes the emperor's bent back. The boy passes under the forked branches seven times, and then the emperor lies by the side of the wood, whereupon the old man beats his quiver and exclaims: "A boy has been born." The Grand Shaman covers the emperor's head [with a cloth], and raises him up, whereupon all the ministers shout out their congratulations, and prostrate themselves twice more. The midwife receives the wine from the woman holding the wine, in order to present it [to the emperor]. The Grand Shaman offers up swaddling clothes, coloured ribbons, and such like in congratulation. Seven old men, previously selected, each set up [a tablet on which is written] an imperial name, tied around with coloured silk, and kneeling down, they present them to the emperor. The emperor selects a lucky name and receives [the corresponding tablet from the old man], offering gifts in return. [The old men] prostrate themselves twice and then retire. All the ministers present the swaddling clothes, coloured ribbons, and such like to the emperor. The emperor prostrates himself in front of the imperial visages of the previous emperors, and then holds a banquet for all the ministers and officials.

再生儀:凡十有二歲,皇帝本命前一年季冬之月,擇吉日。前期,禁門北除地置再生室、母後室、先帝神主輿。在再生室東南,倒植三岐木。其日,以童子及產醫嫗置室中,一婦人執酒,一叟持矢箙,立於室外。有司請神主降輿,致奠。奠訖,皇帝出寢殿,詣再生室。群臣奉迎,再拜。皇帝入室。釋服、洗。以童子從,三過岐木之下。每過,產醫嫗致詞,拂拭帝躬。童子過岐木七,皇帝臥木側,叟擊箙曰:「生男矣。」太巫幪皇帝首,興,群臣稱賀,再拜。產醫嫗受酒於執酒婦以進,太巫奉繈褓、彩結等物贊祝之。預選七叟,各立御名系於彩,皆跪進。皇帝選嘉名受之,賜物。再拜,退。群臣皆進繈褓、彩結等物。皇帝拜先帝諸御容,遂宴群臣。




Notes

Note 1. According to the History of the Liao Dynasty (遼史 21), in the 12th month of Qingning 3 [1057] the empress dowager (Xiāo Nòujīn 蕭耨斤, consort of Emperor Shengzong) died, and in the 1st month of the following year (1058) Emperor Daozong dispatched envoys to the emperors of the Song (China) and Xia (Tangut) states informing them of the death of the empress dowager. Subsequently, Emperor Renzong of Song sent back an envoy to the Liao court with a portrait of the Song emperor as a present. On the fourth month, the empress was buried at the Qingling mausoleum, and the Song court sent another envoy to participate in the funerary cermonies. Presumably one or both of these envoys was Wang Yi. Diplomatic exchanges between the Song and Liao courts was sporadic, with the History of the Liao Dynasty recording that the Song court sent envoys to the Liao court during these years :


Note 2. Qingning "Clear Peace" is a Liao reign era (1055–1064), and the 4th year of the Qingning era [1058] corresponds to the 3rd year of the Zhihe 至和 era in the Song regnal calendar. It is perhaps suprising that Wang Yi uses the Liao regnal calendar as most Song readers of his account would probably not be familiar with these dates.


Note 3. Wang Yi refers to the Khitan ruler disparagingly as the "barabarian ruler" 戎主. To history this ruler is known as Emperor Daozong of Liao (r. 1055–1101). He had succeeded to the throne three years before Wang Yi's visit, and would go on to become the second longest reigning emperor of the Liao dynasty. In 1930 a memorial stone with an epitaph to Emperor Daozong written in Khitan using the Khitan Small Script was discovered at his mausoleum in Inner Mongolia.


Note 4. The "Firewood and Memorial Rite" 柴冊禮 was a ceremony peculiar to the Khitans in which firewood was piled up to form an altar, and after ministers had presented their memorials on jade tablets to the emperor, he would set fire to the altar as a sacrifice to Heaven. The ceremony was performed by the emperor on accession to the throne or on another momentous occasion, and was generally accompanied by a general amnesty and/or promotion of officials. It was sometimes also performed in conjunction with the Rite of Rebirth (再生禮), which was a Khitan ceremony performed by the emperor once every twelve years, on the winter preceding the new year of his zodiacal birth year. The Firewood and Memorial Rite is recorded as having being performed on the following occasions, including once in 1058 as recorded by Wang Yi :

  • In Tianxian 1 [926] Emperor Taizong performed the Firewood and Memorial Rite on his accession to the throne (遼史 3)
  • In Huitong 1 [937] (in the 11th month of the year preceding his 36th birthday) Emperor Taizong performed the Rite of Rebirth and the Firewood and Memorial Rite on the start of a new reign era (遼史 4)
  • In Tianlu 1 [947] Emperor Shizong performed the Firewood and Memorial Rite after his accession to the throne (遼史 5)
  • In Baoning 1 [969] Emperor Jingzong performed the Firewood and Memorial Rite after his accession to the throne (遼史 8; 續資治通鑑 6)
  • In Tonghe 27 [1009] Emperor Shengzong performed the Firewood and Memorial Rite (遼史 14)
  • In Chongxi 4 [1035] Emperor Xingzong performed the Firewood and Memorial Rite (遼史 18; 續資治通鑑 40)
  • In Qingning 4 [1058] (in the 11th month of the year preceding his 27th birthday) Emperor Daozong performed the Firewood and Memorial Rite after the death of the empress dowager (遼史 21; 續資治通鑑 57)
  • In Qiantong 3 [1103] the Tianzuo Emperor performed the Firewood and Memorial Rite on the elevation of the imperial concubines Xiao Shigu (De Fei 德妃) and Xiao Sese (Wen Fei 文妃) (遼史 71)
  • In Qiantong 4 [1104] the Tianzuo Emperor performed the Firewood and Memorial Rite (續資治通鑑 89)
  • In Qiantong 6 [1106] the Tianzuo Emperor performed the Rite of Rebirth and the Firewood and Memorial Rite (遼史 27)

Note 5. Muye Mountain 木葉山 is the home of the ancestors of the Khitan people.


Note 6. The Khitan character given in the extant editions of Wang Yi's account is not obviously identifiable with any character used in Khitan Large Script epitaphs, but that is probably because it does not faithfully represent the original glyph form.


Note 7. Nabo is the name given to the seasonal camps that the emperor and his court set up in the coutryside, far from the five capitals, to engage in traditional Khitan activities such as hunting and fishing, and during which affairs of state were decided. The summer Nabo was held during the 6th month, and was attended by both Khitan and Chinese officials. The winter Nabo was held during the 10th month, and was only attended by Khitan officials, the focus of attention being on military affairs.


Note 8. West Tower (西樓) was the name of a multi-storeyed building southwest of the Liao Superior Capital (上京) where Abaoji (Emperor Taizu ) used to stay when he went hunting during the autumn. It was later the site of the prefectural town of Zuzhou (祖州), and is located at Stone House Village (石房子), to the southwest of Bairin Left Banner (site of the Liao Superior Capital) in Inner Mongolia. The Mausoleum of Emperor Taizu is sited nearby, which gives its name to the modern village. In addition to West Tower, there was a South Tower (南樓) at Muye Mountain, an East Tower (東樓) at Longhua Prefecture (龍化州), and a North Tower (北樓) at Tang Prefecture (唐州).




Khitan Glossary

The table below presents all the Khitan words transcribed in Chinese characters found in the above sources, supplemented by a few additional words which are recorded in the History of the Liao Dynasty and are enumerated in an appended chapter entitled "National Language Explained" (國語解) (遼史 116).

For each Chinese transcription I provide the corresponding 14th-century Phags-pa Old Mandarin spellings for the Chinese characters, which provides an approximation of how the Chinese characters would have been pronounced at the time. I give a transliteration of the Phags-pa spelling in monospaced type, followed by a phonetic reconstruction (indicated by an asterisk) of the Khitan word that the Chinese transcription represents.


Meaning Chinese Transcription Phags-pa Readings Notes
Recognise and catch the emperor
提認天子 or 捉認天時

列阿骨蠟 liè āgǔlà (A)

列何骨臈 liè hégǔlà (B)

ꡙꡦ ꡝ ꡂꡟ ꡙ
lė 'a gu la
*lɛ a.gu.la

ꡙꡦ ꡣꡡ ꡂꡟ ꡙ
lė xo gu la
*lɛ qo.gu.la

* = "to catch" ?

*a.gu.la = "mountain" (cognate to Mongolian ᠠᠭᠤᠯᠠᠨ aɣula|n "mountain"), as a metaphor for the emperor.

Red girl
赤娘子

掠胡奧
lüèhú ào (A/B)

ꡙꡠꡓ ꡣꡟ ꡖꡓ
lew xu ·aw
*leu.qu au

Chinese transcription words with Phags-pa readings xa, xu, xo, etc. are probably intended to represent [qa], [qu], [qo], etc. in the corresponding Khitan word, as that is the closest phonetic approximation available in Chinese (cf. the Phags-pa spelling of Mongolian ᠪᠤᠷᠬᠠᠨ burqan "Buddha" as ꡌꡟꡘ ꡣꡋ
pur xan).

*leu.qu = "red", which closely matches the reconstructed KSS words for "red": <l.iau.qú>, <l.iu.qú>, and <l.iau.qu> (Kane, 2009 p. 113)

*au = "girl"

Long life
萬歲

治夔離 zhìkuílí (A)

治兠離 zhìdōulí (B)

ꡄꡞ ꡀꡟꡠ ꡙꡞ
či kue li
*tʃi.kue.li or *tʃi.kue.ri or *tʃi.kuer

ꡄꡞ ꡊꡜꡞꡓ ꡙꡞ
či dhiw li
*tʃi.dəu.li or *tʃi.dəu.ri or *tʃi.dəur

It is difficult to be sure of the phonetic value of the Chinese transcription characters pronounced li (離, 离, 里, etc.), as they may represent li, ri or -r in different words, and it is hard to tell which is the correct interpretation without external evidence (such as cognates).

Ghost wind
鬼風

坤不克 kūnbùkè (A)

神不尅 shénbùkè (B)

坤不刻 kūnbùkè (C/D)

ꡁꡟꡋ ꡎꡟ ꡁꡜꡞꡗ
kʰun bu kʰhiy
*kʰun.bu.kʰəi

ꡄꡞꡋ ꡎꡟ ꡁꡜꡞꡗ
čin bu kʰhiy
*tʃin.bu.kʰəi

The first Chinese character is probably 坤 kūn rather than 神 shén.

Dragon and tiger
龍虎

蔞珂忍 lóukērěn (A)

蕃珂忍 fānkērěn (B)

ꡙꡜꡞꡓ ꡁꡡ ꡔꡞꡋ
lhiw kʰo žin
*ləu kʰo.rin

ꡤꡋ ꡁꡡ ꡔꡞꡋ
fan kʰo žin
*fan kʰo.rin

*ləu = "dragon" (cognate with Mongolian ᠯᠤᠤ luu ᠌"dragon").

*kʰo.rin = "tiger".

Iron gourd
鐵瓜

鬚覩 xūdǔ (A/B)

ꡛꡦꡟ ꡊꡟ
sėu du
*sy.du

"Iron gourd" is probably not a literal translation of the Khitan word, as "iron" is recorded as 曷術 héshù elsewhere.

Sand bag
沙袋

郭不离 guōbùlí (A)

郭不離 guōbùlí (B)

ꡂꡧꡓ ꡎꡟ ꡙꡞ
gʷaw bu li
*gʷau.bu.li or *gʷau.bu.ri or *gʷau.bur

Ceremonial staff with a knob on the end

骨𨦃 gǔduǒ (A)

骨朵 gǔduǒ (B)

ꡂꡟ ꡊꡧꡡ
gu dʷo
*gu.dɔ

Song dynasty Chinese sources claim that this is a Chinese word, but give confused and unconvincing accounts of its etymology:

Notes by Song Jingwen says: "A big stomach is called gudu in the Guanzhong region, which became corrupted to guduo." This is incorrect. Probably it is because in ancient times the character zhua (meaning "stick") was written as duo with a grass radical, and as it would be decorated with bone (gu) it was called a guduo. Later generations simplified its written form by removing the grass radical, just writing duo. (Zhao Yanwei, Yúnlù Mànchāo vol. 2)

《宋景文公筆記》云:關中謂大腹爲孤都,語訛爲骨朵。非也。蓋檛字古作䒳,嘗飾以骨,故曰骨䒳。後世史文略去草而只書朵。(趙彥衛《雲麓漫抄》卷二)

It is far more probable that guduo is a borrowing from a non-Chinese language, and as the term first comes into use during the period of the Liao dynasty (907–1125), and is an implement used by the Khitans, I think it is likely that the word originates in the Khitan language. See 李明晓 骨朵”小考 for further discussion on the history of this word.

Seasonal camp

捈鉢 = 捺鉢 nàbō (A)

捺缽 nàbō (B)

ꡋ ꡎꡧꡡ
na bʷo
*na.bɔ

The Chinese transcription approximately matches the reconstructed KSS words for "nabo": <n.ad bú> or <n.ad bu.ad> (Kane, 2009 p. 108).

Plant the fields
種田

提烈 tíliè (C)

ꡈꡞ ꡙꡦ
ti lė
*ti.lɛ

Court Attendant
郎君

舍利 shèlì (C/D)

沙里 shālǐ (F)

ꡚꡦ ꡌꡞ
šė li
*ʃɛ.li or *ʃɛ.ri or *ʃɛr

ꡚ ꡌꡞ
ša li
*ʃa.li or *ʃa.ri or *ʃar

The History of the Liao Dynasty equates both Chinese transcriptions, 舍利 shèlì and 沙里 shālǐ, with the Chinese title Court Attendant (lángjūn 郎君), although the difference in vowels is problematic. The shālǐ transcription closely matches the reconstructed KSS word for "Court Attendant": <ś.a.rí> (Kane, 2009 p. 116).

Slave
奴婢

十里鼻 shílǐbí (C)

ꡚꡞ ꡙꡞ ꡌꡞ
ši li pi
*ʃi.li.pi or *ʃi.ri.pi or *ʃir.pi

Possibly cognate with Mongolian ᠱᠢᠪᠡᠭᠴᠢᠨ šibegčin (root šibe-) ᠌"slave, servant".

New year's day
正旦

妳揑離 nǎi niēlí (D)

迺捏咿唲 nǎi niēyī'er (E)

ꡋꡗ ꡋꡦ ꡙꡞ
nay nė li
*nai nɛr

ꡋꡗ ꡋꡦ ꡗꡞ ꡔꡞ
nay nė yi ži
*nai nɛːr

*nai = "head", i.e. "first" in this context.

*nɛr or *nɛːr = "day" (cognate with Mongolian ᠨᠠᠷᠠᠨ nara|n ᠌"sun"). The Chinese transcriptions show two different strategies for representing final -r, and the Khitan word is something like *nɛr or *nɛːr (if the 咿 is an attempt to represent a long vowel).

Invitation time
請時

轄里尀 xiálǐ pǒ (D)

𢘉里尀 xiálǐ pǒ (E)

ꡜꡨ ꡙꡞ ꡍꡧꡡ
hʸa li pʰʷo
*hʲa.li pʰɔ or *hʲa.ri pʰɔ or *hʲar pʰɔ

*pʰɔ = "time". This word is represented in KSS by the logogram <po>, and in KLS by the logogram <po(n)> (Kane, 2009 pp. 68 & 122–123).

To shoot rabbits
射兔

淘裏化 táolǐ huà (D)

陶里樺 táolǐ huà (E)

ꡈꡓ ꡙꡞ ꡜꡧ
taw li hʷa
*tau.li hʷa

ꡈꡓ ꡙꡞ ꡣꡧ
taw li xʷa
*tau.li qʷa

*tau.li = "rabbit, hare" (cognate with Mongolian ᠲᠠᠤᠯᠠᠢ taulai ᠌"hare"). This approximately matches the reconstructed KSS word for "rabbit, hare": <tau.lí.a> (Kane, 2009 p. 112). The missing final a in the Chinese transcription (compared with the KSS reading) may simply be an omission by the Chinese author (perhaps influenced by the followinghua); or it may indicate that final -a is dropped before a verb.

*qʷa = "to shoot with bow and arrow" (cognate with Mongolian ᠬᠠᠷᠪᠤ qarbu- ᠌"to shoot with bow and arrow" ?). The [subject]-object-verb word order shown here matches that of Mongolian.

Further evidence regarding Khitan syntax is provided by the Southern Song writer Hóng Mài 洪邁 (1123–1202) in his collection of stories and anecdotes, Yíjiān Zhì 夷堅志. Under a section entitled "How Khitans recite poetry" (契丹誦詩), Hong Mai explains that when he was sent as an envoy to the Jurchen state of Jin (in 1162), his official host, an official of Khitan ethnicity called Wang Bu 王補, explained to him that when Khitan boys first learn to read Chinese they reverse the word order and substitute polysyllabic words in their vernacular tongue for the monosyllabic classical Chinese words. So for example, the two famous lines "Birds roost in a tree in the middle of the pond, A monk knocks at the gate beneath the moon" (鳥宿池中樹,僧敲月下門) from a poem by Jia Dao 賈島 (779–843) are rendered (in a literal Chinese translation by Wang Bu of the Khitan translation of the Chinese poem) as "Moonlight bright in, a monk on the door knocks, Water-beneath tree-upon crows sit" (月明裏和尚門子打,水底裏樹上老鴉坐). "Monk on the door knocks" (和尚門子打) indicates a Subject-Object-Verb word order, and "Moonlight bright" (月明) suggests that an adjective follows the noun it modifies.

Fifth month
五月

討賽籬 tǎo sàilí (D)

討賽咿唲 tǎo sàiyī'ér (E)

ꡉꡓ ꡛꡗ ꡙꡞ
tʰaw say li
*tʰau sair

ꡉꡓ ꡛꡗ ꡗꡞ ꡔꡞ
tʰaw say yi ži
*tʰau saiːr

*tʰau = "five" (cognate with Mongolian ᠲᠠᠪᠤᠨ tabun ᠌"five").

*sair or *saiːr = "month" (cognate with Mongolian ᠰᠠᠷᠠᠨ sara|n ᠌"moon, month"). The Chinese transcriptions show two different strategies for representing final -r, and the Khitan word is something like *sair or *saiːr (if the 咿 is an attempt to represent a long vowel — see discussion by Marc Miyake).

Good month
好月

賽離捨 sàilí shě (D)

賽咿唲奢 sàiyī'ér shē (E)

ꡛꡗ ꡙꡞ ꡚꡦ
say li šė
*sair ʃɛ

ꡛꡗ ꡗꡞ ꡔꡞ ꡚꡦ
say yi ži šė
*saiːr ʃɛ

*sair or *saiːr = "month" (see above).

*ʃɛ = "good" (cognate with Mongolian ᠰᠠᠢᠨ sain ᠌"good"). This approximately matches the KSS word for "good", which is variously written as <ś.ia>, <ś.iá.ah>, or <ś.ên> (Kane, 2009 p. 100).

The word order here ("month-good" = 月好), with the adjective following the noun it modifies, accords with the information on Khitan syntax given by Hong Mai (see above under "To shoot rabbits"), where the literal translation of Khitan "bright moon" is "moon-bright" (月明). However, in Mongolian an adjective precedes the noun it modifies, and Khitan Small Script epitaphs appear to indicate that adjectives normally precede nouns (cf. also "Red girl" above, where "red" precedes "girl"). Perhaps, like French, certain adjectives (such as "good") may occur either before or after a noun.

Dog's head
狗頭

揑褐妳 niēhè nǎi (D)

捏褐耐 niēhè nài (E)

ꡋꡦ ꡣꡡ ꡋꡗ
nė xo nay
*nɛ.qo nai

*nɛ.qo = "dog" (cognate with Mongolian ᠨᠣᠬᠠᠢ noqai ᠌"dog"). This closely matches the reconstructed KSS word for "dog": <ńi.qo> (Kane, 2009 p. 93).

*nai = "head".

Ninth day of the ninth month
九月九日

必里遲離 bìlǐchílí (D/E)

ꡎꡞ ꡙꡞ ꡄꡞ ꡙꡞ
bi li či li
*bi.li.tʃi.li or *bi.ri.tʃi.ri or *bir.tʃir

It is hard to interpret this as literally meaning the "ninth day of the ninth month".

To burn armour

戴辢 dài là (D)

戴辣 dài là (E)

ꡊꡗ ꡙ
day la
*dai.la

Battle time
戰時

粆離尀 chǎolí pǒ (D)

炒伍侕尀 chǎowǔ'ér pǒ (E)

ꡅꡓ ꡙꡞ ꡍꡧꡡ
čʰaw li pʰʷo
*tʃʰaur pʰɔ

ꡅꡓ ꡟ ꡔꡞ ꡍꡧꡡ
čʰaw u ži pʰʷo
*tʃʰauːr pʰɔ

*tʃʰaur or *tʃʰauːr = "battle" (cognate with Mongolian ᠴᠡᠷᠢᠭ čerig ᠌"army, soldier, war" ?). The Chinese transcriptions show two different strategies for representing final -r, and the Khitan word is something like *tʃʰaur or *tʃʰauːr (if the 伍 is an attempt to represent a long vowel — see discussion by Marc Miyake). This closely matches the reconstructed KSS word for "war, battle, army": <cau.úr> (Kane, 2009 p. 94).

*pʰɔ = "time" (see above)

Stealing time
偷時

鶻里尀 húlǐ pǒ (D)

ꡣꡟ ꡙꡞ ꡍꡧꡡ
xu li pʰʷo
*qu.li pʰɔ or *qu.ri pʰɔ or *qur pʰɔ

*qu.li or *qu.ri or *qur = "to steal" (cognate with Mongolian ᠬᠤᠯᠠᠭᠤ qulaɣu- ᠌"to steal" ?).

*pʰɔ = "time" (see above)

To kneel

揑骨地 niēgǔdì (D)

ꡋꡦ ꡂꡟ ꡈꡞ
nė gu ti
*nɛ.gu.ti

Village

石烈 shíliè (F)

ꡚꡞ ꡙꡦ
ši lė
*ʃi.lɛ

Small village
小鄉

弭里 or 彌里 mǐlǐ (F)

抹里 mǒlǐ (F)

ꡏꡞ ꡙꡞ
mi li
*mi.li or *mi.ri

ꡏꡧꡡ ꡙꡞ
mʷo li
*mɔ.li or *mɔ.ri

The mǒlǐ transcription closely matches the reconstructed KSS word for "small village": <mo.rí> (Kane, 2009 p. 107).

Hundred

zhǎo (F)

ꡆꡓ
ǰaw
*dʒau

*dʒau = "hundred" (cognate with Mongolian ᠵᠠᠬᠤᠨ ǰaɣun ᠌"hundred").

Heart
心腹

suàn (F)

ꡛꡡꡋ
son
*son

Palace

斡魯朵 wòlǔduǒ (F)

ꡖꡧꡡ ꡙꡟ ꡊꡧꡡ
·ʷo lu dʷo
*ɔ.lu.dɔ or *ɔ.ru.dɔ or *ɔr.dɔ

*ɔ.lu.dɔ or *ɔ.ru.dɔ or *ɔr.dɔ = "palace" (cognate with Mongolian ᠣᠷᠳᠤ ordu ᠌"palace, camp, horde"). This word is represented in KSS by the logogram <ordo> (Kane, 2009 p. 56).

Empress
皇后

可敦 kědūn (F)

ꡁꡡ ꡊꡟꡋ
kʰo dun
*kʰo.dun

*kʰo.dun = "empress" (cognate with Mongolian ᠬᠠᠲᠤᠨ qatun ᠌"empress", both borrowed from Turkic qatun). This word is represented in KSS by the logogram <qatủn> (Kane, 2009 p. 75).

Empress
皇后

脦俚寋 tèlǐjiàn (F)

忒裏蹇 tèlǐjiǎn (F)

ꡉꡜꡞꡗ ꡙꡞ ꡂꡠꡋ
tʰhiy li gen
*tʰəi.li.gen or *tʰəi.ri.gen

*tʰəi.li.gen or *tʰəi.ri.gen = "chief [wife]" (cognate with Mongolian ᠲᠡᠷᠢᠭᠦᠨ terigün ᠌"head, chief, principal").

Empress (honourific)
皇后(尊称)

耨斡𡡉 nòuwò mó (F)

ꡋꡜꡞꡓ ꡖꡧꡡ ꡏꡧꡡ
nhiw ·ʷo mʷo
*nəu.ɔ.mɔ

*nəu.ɔ = "earth". * = "mother". "Earth mother" is a respectful designation for the empress. The corresponding KSS word is <neu.e.mó> (Kane, 2009 p. 96).

Iron

曷術 héshù (F)

ꡣꡡ ꡄꡦꡟ
xo čėu
*qo.tʃy

Gold

女古 nǚgǔ (F)

ꡇꡦꡟ ꡂꡟ
ñėu gu
*nʲɛu.gu

The word "gold" is represented in KSS by the logogram or .

Jade

孤穩 gūwěn (F)

ꡂꡟ ꡖꡟꡋ
gu ·un
*gu.un

The KSS word for "jade" is <g.ú> or <g.ún> (Kane, 2009 p. 20).

To pacify
討平

奪里本 duólǐběn (F)

ꡈꡧꡡ ꡙꡞ ꡎꡟꡋ
tʷo li bun
*tɔ.li.bun or *tɔ.ri.bun or *tɔr.bun

This word is attested as the name of the Khitan Court Attendant Dorlipun (d. 1081) for whom a Khitan Large Script epitaph was discovered in 1999.


Sources

  • A) Record of the Lands North of Yan (Yànběi Lù 燕北錄), Wanweishantang 宛委山堂 edition.
  • B) Record of the Lands North of Yan (Yànběi Lù 燕北錄), Hanfenlou 涵芬樓涵芬樓 edition.
  • C) Miscellaneous Notes on the Lands North of Yan (Yànběi Zájì 燕北雜記)
  • D) Miscellaneous Notes on the Seasons of the Year (Suìshí Zájì 歲時雜記)
  • E) Miscellaneous Ceremonies of the Seasons of the Year (Suìshí Záyí 歲時雜儀)
  • F) History of the Liao Dynasty (Liáo Shǐ 遼史)


Appendix: Golf and Guduo

Yuan dynasty mural on the west wall of Mingyingwang Hall at Guangsheng Temple, Hongdong county, Shanxi

山西省洪洞縣廣勝寺水神廟明應王殿西壁的元代壁畫

Two Mongolian men playing golf, their caddies each holding a guduo staff

Source : Zhongguo Meishu Quanji : Huahua Bian 《中國美術全集・繪畫編》 vol. 13 plate 82.


Although this mural depicts golf being played by what appear to be Mongolians, the game was of course invented by the Khitans. The game and guduo were taken over from the Khitans by the Mongols, and the game of golf was brought back to Europe by medieval travellers to Cathay during the 13th and 14th centuries. Golf was initially known in Europe as Cambok (Nomina Ludorum, c. 1425) or Cambuca (Catholicon Anglicum, 1483), which is no doubt the Khitan name for the game — a name that is remarkably close to the Khitan word kʰun.bu.kʰəi meaning "ghost wind".



Last modified: 2014-05-09.