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  • Lingua Franca or Lingua Magica?: Talismanic Scrolls from Eastern Turkistan

    Alexandre Papas

    Chapter from the book: Green, N. 2019. The Persianate World: The Frontiers of a Eurasian Lingua Franca.


    The chapter discusses the evolution of Persian learning in Eastern Turkestan (present-day Xinjiang) where Turkic dominated. Instead of the somewhat facile assertion that Persian disappeared in the course of the nineteenth century and became a dead language, a more complex scenario is envisioned here. An analysis of manuscript catalogues suggests that, in the early modern period, the elite mastered the Eurasian lingua franca. Persian books were still read in the nineteenth century but they were simpler, and nobody seemed to be able to compose complex pieces. Eventually, its social prestige transformed Persian into a magical language, which was widely used but limited to a few linguistic functions. This paradox appears concretely in the seven talismanic scrolls studied in the chapter.

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    Papas, A. 2019. Lingua Franca or Lingua Magica?: Talismanic Scrolls from Eastern Turkistan. In: Green, N (ed.), The Persianate World. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.64.i

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    Published on April 9, 2019