Court art of Sogdian Samarqand in the 7th century AD

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Western wall

Figure 27 and the main inscription on the western wall (page II)

V. A. Livšic has translated  the Sogdian inscription as follows:


"[1] When king Varxuman [descendant of the family] Unaš to him

[2]came close [to the ambassador], [the ambassador] opened his mouth. 'I am

[3] the dapirpat of Çaghaniyan, Pukar-zate [by name]. From

[4] Turantaš, the king of Çaghaniyan, thus far to

[5] Samarqand to the king to

[6-7] manifest esteem I came and now I rest in esteem in the presence of the king.

[8] And thou [, oh king], do not throw suspicion upon me -

[9] concerning the deities of Samarqand and

[10] concerning the writing of Samarqand I am well informed,

[11-12] and I am not causing any evil against the king [of Samarqand].

[13] And mayst you, oh king, rest in full well-being.'

[14] And king Varxuman [descendant of the family] Unaš released him.

[15] And [then] opened his mouth

[16] the dapirpat of Çaç."

There are several problems concerning the sense of this inscription. We share the opinion that the text comes from an official account (V. A. Livšic, B. I. Maršak). Certainly this inscription has a religious connotation, too. The reference to the pantheon of Samarqand is clear and one may conclude that all the other ambassadors expressed their hommage to the Sogdian gods as did the delegate from Chaghaniyan. One may even conclude that these deities (or one or two of them) once were depicted in the (lost) upper parts of the western wall.

This is the main argument for Maršak's interpretation of the western wall paintings in general: processions of delegates pay honour to the gods of Samarqand.

We do not share this point of view. The painted context of the inscription-bearer clearly indicates a restriction to the left half of the western wall.

There is a further point of interest. The inscription says that king Varxuman approached the ambassador. From this, B. Maršak [2001] has concluded that the king was not depicted as a ruler on the throne. I cannot agree with him there. If the inscription is the record of an official reception, then the king must have been furnished with his foremost sign of rulership, i.e. the throne. We think that the king especially honoured the ambassador of Chaghaniyan (and only him, as the end of the inscription makes clear!) in that he rose up and made one or two steps towards him. Certainly the (lost) official image of the enthroned king  was not affected by such an episodic textual detail!

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