Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

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ISSN / EISSN : 0041-977X / 1474-0699
Published by: Cambridge University Press (CUP) (10.1017)
Total articles ≅ 17,659
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Latest articles in this journal

Michael D. Shin
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies pp 1-21; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0041977x21000690

This article seeks to examine the repeated appearance of Yi Gwangsu (1892–1950) in South Korean postcolonial fiction as a sign of collective trauma. Yi was a pioneering novelist who was a nationalist hero to his readers, but later became a collaborator who supported Japan's war effort. This article focuses on depictions of Yi in the works of three postcolonial writers – Choe Inhun, Seonu Hwi, and Bok Geoil – whose works bore witness to how traumatic his collaboration was. Their works displayed many of the defining characteristics of trauma such as delayed experience and transmission to others. They were also marked by narrative rupture as represented by Yi's mutually incompatible identities as both a nationalist and a collaborator. Rather than repeating the traumatic event, these stories employed various strategies to create new narratives that attempted to heal the trauma.
Samuel A. Stafford
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies pp 1-25; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0041977x21000720

The Jewish scholar ʿAbdallāh b. Salām is a legendary figure from early Islam who is regarded in Islamic tradition as the archetypal Jewish convert to Islam during the Prophet's career, the pre-eminent authority on Jewish scriptures in seventh-century Arabia, and a renowned Companion. This study examines the traditions on Ibn Salām's conversion that were recorded in the biographical literature and Quranic commentaries of classical Islam and identifies the literary tropes from Muḥammad's biography featured in these traditions. Scrutiny of the evidence shows that the reports on the date and circumstances of Ibn Salām's conversion were shaped by a number of factors, including, the biases of his descendants, Quranic exegesis, and anti-Jewish polemics. Ibn Salām's legendary conversion served as a vehicle for diverse groups of Muslims to promote their doctrines and supply the Prophet with Biblical legitimacy.
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies pp 1-25; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0041977x21000707

The two languages once spoken in the oases in the North of the Tarim basin, Tocharian A and B, have preserved many Iranian loanwords. These belong to different chronological layers and are of different dialectal origins. Whereas the oldest layers are now most likely seen as belonging to an unattested Old Iranian dialect, more recent layers have not yet been studied in detail. In this respect, the vocabulary of medical texts represents an important field of enquiry. Most terms come from Middle Indian, but a significant number are of Middle Iranian origin. This component, mostly ingredients and technical vocabulary, seems to be largely of Khotanese origin. The article introduces the material and examines possible scenarios for historical transmission and contact between the North and the South of the Tarim Basin.
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies pp 1-20; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0041977x21000719

Traditionally, in both East and West, laughter, and in particular its causes, have been studied under the category of humour. However, ideas on and practices of laughter itself have been largely ignored. This paper intends to lead readers beyond the topic of humour and focus on the act of laughter in the Zhuangzi as a starting point for the study of laughter in early China. It examines frequently ignored areas, such as how laughter draws readers into the text; how it functions to exclude people with different social value judgements; how it is used as a tool to challenge political power; how it serves rhetorical functions as a means to construct a conversation among people of different social or political status; and how it is used as an important signal and marker for a change of perspective. By examining questions such as: “What are the types of laughter?”, “What are the functions of laughter?”, and “How does laughter operate in different situations, and between different persons?” we can see a new idea of laughter in the Zhuangzi with multi-layered philosophical significance. Using the Zhuangzi as a case study, we can envision a series of well-crafted, intentional practices of laughter for various purposes throughout early Chinese texts.
Kelsey Granger
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies pp 1-14; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0041977x21000409

AbstractA relatively understudied manuscript in the Pelliot collection, Pelliot chinois 2598, features a drawing on its verso of three animals tentatively identified as yaks. However, I would like to re-identify these as being a particular kind of dog which appeared suddenly in the early Tang 唐 (618–907) dynasty. This case will be built on the visual correlations between this image and other descriptions and depictions of such dogs. The manuscript and drawing as a whole will also be explored to contextualize this depiction, which may in turn lead us to hypothesize about the existence, visually or physically, of these dogs and their associated tropes in Dunhuang 敦煌.
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies pp 1-18; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0041977x21000434

The Persian lexeme pahrēz-, pahrēxtan (inf.), “to avoid, to abstain” and also “to care, to protect”, is found in Jewish, Christian, and Mandaic magical literature. It is also current in Mandaic works, and is found in some Geonic works in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. It has not yet been found in the Babylonian Talmud itself. In this article I discuss a recently discovered occurrence of this word in a reconstructed codex of chapters of Babylonian Talmud, found in the Cairo Genizah (GM). I begin with a reading of the talmudic sugiya. I then discuss other uses of pahrēz in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, in other dialects of Eastern Aramaic, and in Middle Persian. I end with a re-reading of the talmudic sugiya in GM in light of the meaning of pahrēz.
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume 84, pp 67-93; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0041977x21000021

This article explores three important Zoroastrian legal texts from the ʿAbbasid period, consisting of questions and answers to high-ranking priests. The texts contain a wellspring of information about the social history of Zoroastrianism under Islamic rule, especially the formative encounter between Zoroastrians and Muslims. These include matters such as conversion, apostasy, sexual relations with outsiders, inheritance, commerce, and the economic status of priests. The article argues that the elite clergy responsible for writing these texts used law to refashion the Zoroastrian community from the rulers of Iran, as they had been in Late Antiquity, into one of a variety of dhimmī groups living under Islamic rule. It also argues that, far from being brittle or inflexible, the priests responded to the challenges of the day with creativity and pragmatism. On both counts, there are strong parallels between the experiences of Zoroastrians and those of Christians and Jews, who also turned to law as an instrument for rethinking their place in the new Islamic cosmos. Finally, the article makes a methodological point, namely to show the importance of integrating Pahlavi sources into wider histories of Iran and the Middle East during the early Islamic period.
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