Exploration on the Dating Factors in Uygur Contracts in the Mongol-Yuan Period – Study on the Conditional Suffixes

Liu Ge

Exploration on the Dating Factors in Uygur Contracts in the Mongol-Yuan Period – Study on the Conditional Suffixes

(63rd Annual Meeting Ulaanbaatar, 2021)

The Uighur contracts unearthed in Turpan and other places are important materials for the study of the Uygur history and culture in the Middle Ages. However, these documents were dated by Chinese animal zodiac years, which are hard to be corresponded to the year in the AD chronology. Therefore, the dating of these documents becomes one of the primary tasks for the research.

Previous scholars have found many chronological factors in terms of borrowed words (in Persian, Arabic, Mongolian, etc.), chirography, and grammatical phenomena, etc., among which the type of conditional suffixes is one of them. For example, in Introduction to the Uyghur Civil Documents of East Turkestan (13th-14th cc), the American scholar Clark Larry Vernon points out that the voiced (-za, -zä) and the abbreviated forms (-sa, -sä, -za, -zä) of the conditional suffixes are grammatical phenomena in Uighur contracts in the 13-14th century. Chinese scholar Geng Shimin and others have similar conclusions in their works.

In this paper, the author conducts an investigation into fifteen documents containing “čao, which is a kind of popular currency in the Mongol-Yuan period. There is no dispute about this in Chinese and foreign academic circles. Therefore, the ages of these documents are similar, and the various phenomena in these documents have a striking time stamp.

Through the investigation of these documents, the author finds that it is one-sided for some scholars to consider the voiced and abbreviated forms of the conditional suffixes as the chronological factors in the Uighur documents of 13-14th century.

The relevant dating factors of the conditional suffixes during this period are as follows:

1. In these documents, the voiced forms of the consonant “s” in the conditional suffixes, namely the abbreviated forms (-sa, -sä , -za, -zä) coexist with the unvoiced forms, namely, the full forms (-sar, -sär).

2. The number of unvoiced full conditional suffixes is more than that of the voiced abbreviated ones. There are 29 cases of the unvoiced full forms with only four cases of the voiced abbreviated ones.

3. The sentences with conditional suffixes mostly occur in the documents related to transaction. There are affirmative and negative fixed sentence patterns represented by tapla- (satisfaction).

4. A document may contain a variety of the conditional suffixes.

Although the above-mentioned items are important dating factors in the Uyghur contracts in the Mongol-Yuan period, it does not mean that every document contains all the above items, especially in those some incomplete ones. Therefore, dating a specific document, it is essential to conduct a comprehensive research with other factors.