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.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
Download: Right click on image or see source for higher res versions

M.73.5.581b: “Someone who bore false witness receives this kind of torment” [yalġan guvāhliq bergän kišigä šbu qismi ʿaẕāb qilur]

M.73.5.581c: “If someone sees a naked person without performing prayers, they will have committed much sin” [barahna kišini körsä namāz oqub körmäsä, ḫiyānat qabāḥat išlarni to[la] (?) qilġan]

M.73.5.581d: “Those dervishes who have toiled and been abused, and have not known comfort in this world, they too [like the prophet] will ride Baraq [to heaven]” [bu dunyāda mihnat ḫwārliq zārliq tartġan, rāḥat bilmägän darvīshlar, olham burāqqa minär]

M.73.5.581e: Above figure to the left: “They torture a man or woman who has had sexual relations during menstruation or the period after childbirth by pulling their tongue out of their neck”. Above figure to the right: “angel” [ḥayż nifāsniŋ ičida er maẓlūm jimāʿ qilġan kišiniŋ tilini kičkäsidin tartip ʿaẕāb qilur

M.73.5.581f: “Snakes are attached to the ears of someone who eavesdropped at the door” [ešikdä söz tingšaġan ādamniŋ qulaġiġa yilan qadalipdur]

M.73.5.581g: “He dedicated himself to his guiding pir (Sufi master) and refrained from people’s ….. (?) and abstained from illicit activity, tobacco and alcohol” [pīr-i muršidġa inābat qilib kişiniŋ jiġidin (?) parhēz qilġan, ḥarāmdin tamākūdin ʿarāqdin parhēz qilġan]

Verso of M.73.5.581g: “The appearance of a servant who pleases his master will not be transformed (lit. find transformation)” [ḫwajasini riżā qilġan ḫizmatkār ṣūrati tabdīl tabmaydur]

M.73.5.581h: (Not able to provide a translation)

M.73.5.581i: “[In the case of] one who was jealous of another, they hung pots of embers from his neck, and on Judgement Day attached snakes to both of his hands.” [kishidin qizġanġan čoq qazanini boyniġa asipdur, qiyāmatda ikki qoliġa yilan qadalipdur]