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The History of Eighth-century Khotan as Seen from Khotanese Documents

Zhan Zhang

ISAW Visiting Research Scholar

ZHANG Zhan is a philologist of ancient Iranian languages, with a focus on Khotanese, an eastern-Iranian language spoken in the oasis-state of Khotan (in present-day Xinjiang, China) during the sixth to the eleventh centuries CE. He holds a Ph.D. in Iranian Studies from Harvard University (2016) and a M.A. in Indian languages and literature from Peking University (2006).

During his stay as a Visiting Research Scholar at ISAW, he will work on his first book, Khotanese LifeA Documentary History of Khotan during the sixth to the ninth centuries, in which he produces a comprehensive new edition and translation of secular Khotanese documents from Khotan arranged according to their inner logic. By listening to the voices of the local people in their own language, he elucidates various aspects of life in Khotan, such as the bureaucratic administration system, the taxation procedure, the corvée work distribution, and the convention of contracts. From these documents, Khotan emerges not as a prosperous entrepôt, as the term ‘Silk Road’ would suggest, but as a small state in a strategic location with limited resources constantly adjusting itself between Tang China and Tibet so as to retain a degree of autonomy.

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Reception to follow. 

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Event Details

  • 12/05/2017
  • 06:00 PM
  • ISAW Lecture Hall

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