Sogdian Literature

Sogdian Literature


the literature of the Sogdians, who later formed part of the Tadzhik and Uzbek peoples. Sogdian texts dating from the fourth to the tenth century and written in several alphabets of Aramaic origin were discovered in the 20th century, mainly in Hsinchiang but also in Tadzhikistan. The latter are represented by a large collection found on Mount Mug, on the territory of Sogdiana proper (now Pendzhikent Raion, Tadzhik SSR).

The Sogdian literary language, as it developed in the first few centuries of the Common Era, is best preserved in a collection of private correspondence found in the ruins of a watchtower west of Tunhuang (Ancient Sogdian Letters, early fourth century) and in the Mugh Archive of the ruler Dewashtich. This correspondence shows traces of a literary epistolary style. Language similar to that of the correspondence is found in a literary fragment (fifth or sixth century) depicting an episode from Rustam’s struggle with the devas (demons). The remaining fragments contain religious texts—Buddhist (written in an older version of Sogdian), Manichaean, and Nestorian Christian. The highest literary level is attained in the Manichaean fragments, which contain parables, themes from Kalila and Dimna, and a variant of the apocryphal Book of Giants. The last is a reworking, reflecting ancient Iranian themes of the Book of Enoch.


Rozenberg, F. A. “Sogdiiskie starye pis’ma.” Izv. AN SSSR: Otdelenie obshchestvennykh nauk, 1932, no. 5.
Sogdiiskii sbornik. Leningrad, 1934.
Braginskii, I. S. Iz istorii tadzhikskoi narodnoipoezii. Moscow, 1956. Pages 129–30,207–15.
Bertel’s, E. E. Istoriia persidsko-tadzhikskoi literatury. Moscow, 1960. Pages 67–72.
Sogdiiskie dokumenty’s gory Mug, fase. 2: Iuridicheskie dokumenty i pis’ma. Decipherment, translation, and commentaries by V. A. Livshits. Moscow, 1962.
Gafurov, B. G. Tadzhiki: Drevneishaia, drevniaia i srednevekovaia istoriia. Moscow, 1972.