Punishment in the Afterlife: an Eastern Turki Manuscript
We came across these mysterious fragments of manuscript in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art digital collections which list them only as being from an “Unknown Manuscript”, from the 19th century and as possibly originating from Turkestan. Keen to find out more we wrote to a few experts in Turkic languages and received some very helpful replies. Dr Helga Anetshofer from the University of Chicago and Dr David Brophy from the University of Sydney worked together to identify the language as being “Eastern Turki” (which is the dialect of the Tarim Basin from the late 19th and early 20th century, a precursor to modern Uyghur), and provided the following transliterations and translations which you see in the captions below each picture. The general theme seems to centre around the fate of sinners in the afterlife, with a number of gruesome punishments depicted, including snakes attached to ears for eavesdropping and and having one’s tongue pulled out through the neck for engaging in sexual relations during menstruation or the period after childbirth.
A huge thank you to Dr Helga Anetshofer and Dr David Brophy for their help, and if anyone else might be able to shed any more light on the images, or help with missing parts of the translation then please do get in touch.
In this section of the site we bring you curated collections of images, books, audio and film, shining a light on curiosities and wonders from a wide range of online archives. With a leaning toward the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, we hope to provide an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age, a kind of hyperlinked Wunderkammer – an archive of materials which truly celebrates the breadth and variety of our shared cultural commons and the minds that have made it. Some of our most popular posts include visions of the future from late 19th century France, a dictionary of Victorian slang and a film showing the very talented “hand-farting” farmer of Michigan. With each post including links back to the original source we encourage you to explore these wonderful online sources for yourself. Check out our Sources page to see where we find the content.