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"Psalms", in Syriac script


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Yuan dynasty
 

This document is made from thick and stiff white hemp paper with minor foxing and showing evenly interwoven hemp fibre. It comprises a single sheet folded and divided into four pages, notably a Western format. Each page is written horizontally from right to left in Syriac script with 15 lines taken from the Book of Psalms. When unfolded, the front of the documents shows page one and page four while the back shows page two and page three. The first page also contains 16 interlinear alliterative verses written in Uighur script.

The content of this text is adapted from the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament, probably to be used in some kind of Nestorian ritual. Its pagination format and content suggest that it was originally part of a large book related to Nestorian activities. Nestorianism was relatively active in the Gansu region during the Yuan dynasty. This Syriac text provides first-hand material for studying the Nestorian rituals, theological doctrines and the development of Nestorianism in Dunhuang.