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埃尔米塔什博物馆里的“成吉思汗石碑”

长城随笔 wu 761次浏览 0个评论 扫描二维码

石碑.webp

How far were the most feared archers in ancient times able to launch their arrows, and hit their targets?

Or, a more pertinent question with regard to my part of the world, and my interests is: How far were the Mongols able to launch their arrows and hot their targets?

It was about ten years ago that I experienced using a traditional composite bow for the first time. The weapon was made by Yang Fuxi, whom I met in the course of making a TV documentary for Discovery Channel. At first I used the weapon in a clumsy manner. After just a few shots, my fingers ached. The bowstring sometimes grazed the inside surface of my arm.

Soon I acquired some specialist archery gear to go with the bow, namely three-fingered leather gloves and an arm-brace. After a few months my skill improved and I was able to hit a target about the size of an adult man from about 70 metres or so. 

As a child, in England, our folk hero and top archery marksman was Robin Hood, famous for robbing the rich to give to the poor. But we, as boys, all knew that the best archers in the world were the Mongols. Over half a century or so they managed to conquer the main part of Asia. Their secrets of success were the horse and the bow and arrow.

Some insight into the strength and skill of the Mongol archer can be found, and found only, in St Petersburg, Russia. Ask any tour guide about the first place to see, look in any guidebook, and its the State Hermitage Museum that is always regarded as the top site in the city.

Actually, the State Hermitage Museum is a Tsar’s palace, an art gallery and museum rolled into one enormous site. Overall its a banquet of banquets, a feast for the eyes, an explosion of color, a palace of riches. Gold, white, deep red, turquoise colours show off the opulence of the new-style 18th century Russia that by idea, planning and design was, from the start, European. 

Oddly though, when I visited the State Hermitage Museum for the first time a few days ago, I overlooked all the glitter, riches, colour, beauty and splendor and headed for something that most interested me. It was a stone, about two metres in height, that recorded how far a Mongol archer fired an arrow, and hit the target, more than 800 years ago. 

While the stone’s content was interesting enough, it is the fact that the writing is about the earliest known Mongol writing that really makes the stone so special. Pre-12th century the Mongols had no written written script. Only when Genghis Khan rose to power was their an effort to create a script. And it’s on the stone that I was looking for…..but the question in the back of my mind was: Will it be on display?

Books said that the stone was at the museum. But no authors implied that they had seen it there. On the museum’s website, search for the ‘Genghis Khan Stone’ resulted in the message ‘nothing found to match this search’.

I wrote to the museum, three months ago, but didn’t receive any reply. I asked a Russian friend to write in Russian, and she received no reply. So, when I left Beijing I took a photo of a replica of the stone which Mongolian craftiness made about 12 years ago, thinking that an image to show to a member of the museum’s staff might come in useful.

So, once we’d left our heavy coats in the cloakroom we made our way to a section of the museum exhibiting Central Asian antiquities. The display halls were quiet, as all the other visitors focussed on the highlights. A lady sat on a seat, keeping watch over her room. I showed her the photo. Although she spoke Russian, her remark was definitely a Russian pronunciation of ‘Genghis Khan’. Off we went to the floor and room she pointed to on our museum map.

Five minutes later I stood at the stone’s side. The history of the stone is as follows. 

In 1818, G. I. Spassky, a Russian scientist specialising in Siberian studies, published in the newspaper “Sibirskii Vestnik”, the first report about a stone with oriental inscriptions on it dating back to the early 13th Century. Spassky had found the stone in a factory of Nerchinsk in Eastern Siberia, but the stone was originally discovered near the Kharkhiraa River.

This stone stele is the most ancient monument known with the traditional Mongolian script. The stone is now known as Ghengis stone or the Yesüngge Inscription. The inscription is dedicated to Yesüngge, the son of Genghis Khan’s brother Jochi. It reads:

“In 1225, after his conquest of the Khwarazm Empire, Genghis Khan convened an assembly of dignitaries. Yesüngge took part in a warriors’ archery competition, hitting the target from a distance of 335 ‘ald’.” 

The ‘ald’ was a nomadic unit of length equivalent to the length of a man’s outstretched arms, and is taken to equal about 1.60 metres. Therefore, it seems that the stone records the launch of an arrow across a distance of 335 x 1.60, which equals 536 metres.

威廉·林赛与石碑.webp

我先给大家提一个问题:“在蒙古历史上最好的神射手能够射中多远的靶子?”
在大约十年前,我第一次体验使用传统弓箭。那是在与“探索”频道合作拍纪录片的时候,使用的弓箭是传统弓箭的传人杨福喜制作的。
最初我笨拙无比,几次弯弓射箭下来,我的手指头疼痛不已,弓弦有时甚至吃进我手臂的皮肉之中。
不久之后,我购置了几件与弓箭配套的”部件“:一只“三指”手套和护肘。几个月的练习,我的技能大有见长。我能够在70米之外,射中一个真人大小的靶子。

汤米与石碑.webp
汤米和我一样是个弓箭迷。
在英国,当我还是孩子的时候,最崇拜的弓箭手是杀富济贫的绿林好汉罗宾汉。但我们男孩子都知道,世界上最优秀的弓箭手非蒙古人莫属。半个世纪,他们就征服了几乎整个亚洲。他们的秘诀就在于马匹和弓箭。
有关蒙古弓箭手的力气和技巧的记载能够(并只能)在俄罗斯圣彼得堡找到。那就是任何旅行团导游都会首先带你去的国立埃尔米塔什博物馆。
实际上,埃尔米塔什博物馆集沙皇宫殿、美术画廊和博物馆于一身。总之,她给予你视觉的盛宴:金色、白色和深红色,及其青绿色展示了18世纪俄国的富丽堂皇,无论从创意到设计都赶超上了当时的欧洲。
奇怪的是,几天前,当我首次造访埃尔米塔什博物馆的时候,最让我着迷的并不是那些金碧辉煌的建筑、价值连城的绘画等艺术品,而是,一块很普通的、土头土脑的石头。它高两米,上面记载着800多年前,一个蒙古弓箭手最远射程的记录。
石碑上的内容足够有趣,事实上,在碑上镌刻的文字也很特别,它是最早的畏兀字蒙古文字。在12世纪前,蒙古人还没有自己的文字。当铁木真成为成吉思汗之后,才创建了文字。
这块石头是我要寻找的,但是我不能确定它是否正在展出。
从有关书籍中知道,这块石头的确保存在埃尔米塔什博物馆里,但是还没有作者说,他们亲眼见到过它。寻查埃尔米塔什博物馆的网站,也是一无所获。
三个月之前,我写邮件给该博物馆,但是没有回音。我又请一个俄罗斯朋友帮忙,用俄语写信,也没有下落。所以,在我离开北京之前,我准备好在12年前去蒙古国的博物馆里拍到的石碑复制品的图片,期待能派上用场。
大部分参观博物馆的游客都涌向博物馆的“亮点”。我们一到博物馆,把厚实的羽绒服留在衣物寄存处,就直奔中亚文物展厅。这里只有一位女工作人员。我给她看我随身带来的照片,尽管她说的是俄语,但我能听出“成吉思汗”发音,她还在我的参观路线图中帮我找到了石碑的位置。
五分钟之后,我就站在了这块我梦寐以求的石碑旁边。
关于这块石碑的历史是这样的:1818年一位俄国研究西伯利亚的学者,名叫G.I.斯帕斯基,他在报纸上发表了一篇文章,首先揭开了这块13世纪之前石碑上的铭文。斯帕斯基看到这块石碑的地方是在西伯利亚东部的涅辛斯克,但是石碑最初是在额尔古纳河附近发现的。
这块石碑是现存的、最早的一件畏兀字蒙文石刻。它被称作“成吉思汗石碑”或者“移相哥铭文”。移相哥是成吉思汗兄弟拙赤合撒儿的儿子。
铭文里写着:
“1225年,移相哥随成吉思汗西征中亚地区花剌子模国之后,参加成吉思汗的忽里台大会。移相哥参加骑射比赛,一箭击中335“阿尔达”远的靶子。
“阿尔达”是游牧民族的丈量单位,具体地说是两只胳膊伸开的长度,约1.6米。这样计算335阿尔达就相当于536米!

(图文均来自“林赛一家子”,本文作者威廉·林赛)


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