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THE TURFAN MINARET INSCRIPTION: A SYMBOL OF CULTURAL CONFLUENCE ON THE SILK ROAD

  • Published : 2017.06.15

Abstract

The corridors to the north and south of the $Takl{\bar{a}}m{\bar{a}}k{\bar{a}}n$ (塔克拉瑪干 Ta-ke-la-ma-gan) Desert are the most important regions for cultural confluence on the Silk Road, where caravans made it to the Chinese capital or the Korean Peninsula by the northern road, through the city of Turfan, or the southern path of Khutan. Being an important part of the Silk Road in the course of history, this region was heavily influenced by the cultures of various nations and ethnic communities whose merchants utilized the road to advance their business. The region's language, writing system and literary structure were also affected, so much so that in the course of its tumultuous history, many words, phrases and terms belonging to neighboring cultures found their way into the region, leaving their mark on its linguistic structure. Of the cultural exchanges that took place between the peoples of the region, conspicuous traces can be seen in the architecture, music, literature, texts, and inscriptions. Located in the Turfan region, the minaret of Su Gong (蘇公 Su Gong ) is host to an inscription which bears many signs of such exchanges. As so far no independent research has been conducted to identify the cultural, literary and structural features conveyed in this inscription, the present paper is an attempt to study the inscription in terms of the script, language and syntax in order to unravel the effects of cultures prevalent on the Silk Road on this particular inscription. This study mainly aims to investigate the linguistic structure of the inscription and the impact of the Persian language on Silk Road culture. In fact, we approach the inscription as a symbol of cultural exchange on the Silk Road and will focus on the tradition of Persian inscription-making which affected the Turfan inscription.

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