Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Bairam-Ali Manuscript & the Gyaur Kala near Merv


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"Bairam-Ali (aka: Baýramaly, Bayram-Ali, Persian: بایرام علی‎‎) is a city of Turkmenistan, a seat of Baýramaly District within Mary Province. It lies about 27 km east of the provincial capital Mary, along the main railway line from Ashgabat to Tashkent......Close to Baýramaly are the ruins of ancient Merv."

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"....the Bairam-Ali manuscript appears to present the story of Buddhism’s first female adherents with the addition of several new details that reflect the influence of the Mahāyāna......In the Bairam-Ali manuscript, the tale of the first of these women begins on fol. 14b(4).....This section of the manuscript primarily contains tales about female Buddhists. We know of the formation of the Buddhist female community and women’s monasteries since the end of the first centuries A.D., although Buddhist tradition links this fact with permission granted by the Buddha after many requests by Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī (the Buddha Sakyamuni’s aunt, who raised him after his mother’s death) and support from Ānanda.." ......

A New Version of the Gāndhārī Dharmapada and a Collection of Previous-birth ... By Timothy Lenz, Andrew Glass, Dharmamitra

Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya M. A Sanskrit Manuscript on Birch-Bark from Bairam-Ali. II. Avadāna and Jātaka (Part 4) // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 7, No 3, September 2001. P. 9-14.......

"Gyaur-Kala - 'The Fortress of Infidels' .......was built approximately in the 4th century BC. Its ten-metre walls impress with the power. They surround ruins of two citadels that presumably could be a temple and palace constructions. One of citadels could serve as a protective construction and a temple. It is not surprising, as this district is considered the native land of the most ancient texts of Avesta - Gathas, written by Zarathustra. The numerous ruins of the centres are the evidence that inhabitants Gjaur-Kaly were Zoroastrians who worshipped the sacred fire......The fortress continued to function up to arrival the Mongols to the Central Asia in 1220. Genghis Khan’s elder son Temujin ordered to ruin the city to the ground. Subsequently townsmen moved and established a new settlement near to Gyaur-kala remains."......

Click on the images to enlarge.....

"Erk Kala......The oldest of Merv's ruins, Erk Kala (a modern name meaning citadel castle), date from the 5th century BC. Constructed by the Persian Achaemenians, Erk Kala appears to have been the central city of Margush as it was known to the Achaemenians serving as an important administrative and trading centre. It lay at the hub of the spectacular Silk Roads along which trade between the furthest reaches of the Persian empire flourished. The site is some 12 hectares in size and lies 17 metres below today's surface. Buried under more than 1,500 years of buildings old and new, it is virtually inaccessible to archaeological exploration. Little is therefore known about this enclosure. It is possible that the ruins of an earlier city lie beneath Erk Kala's ruins."......

"Gyaur Kala......With the defeat of the Achaemenians by Alexander in the 4th century BC, Merv came under Macedonian rule.....Antiochus I (280-261 BCE), began a massive expansion of the city at Merv, constructing a walled city nearly two kilometres across called Antiochia Margiana (today called Gyaur Kala) and covering some 340 hectares. He converted the earlier city of Erk Kala into a citadel that lay within the new walled city. Gyaur Kala was to remain occupied for a thousand years. ....The vitality of the city during these times is reflected in the wealth of archaeological objects recovered from the excavations within Gyaur Kala.....Like Erk Kala, Gyaur Kala also lies buried under a millennium and a half of construction on top of its ruins.."..........

"Merv's origins are prehistoric: archaeological surveys have revealed many traces of village life as far back as the 3rd millennium BC and that the city was culturally part of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. Under the name of Mouru, Merv is mentioned with Balkh in the geography of the Zend-Avesta (commentaries on the Avesta). Mouru was among the sixteen perfect lands created by Ahura Mazda."

The Cambridge History of Iran: Seleucid Parthian.....By E. Yarshater

"Merv was renamed Antiochia Margiana by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Soter, who rebuilt and expanded the city at the site presently known as Gyaur Gala (Turkish Gayur Kala) (Fortress). It was ruled in succession by Bactria, Parthia, and the Kushans after the fall of the Seleucid dynasty. It was a major city of Buddhism learning with Buddhist monastery temples for many centuries until its Islamicization. At the site of Gyaur Kala ......Bairam Ali Buddhism was followed and practised often at the Buddhist stupa."

"In 1221 AD, a Mongol army advanced on Merv and its cavalry rode around the walls for spent six days looking for the weak points. The terrified residents negotiated a surrender which only served to open the gates and allow the Mongols to enter, after which they proceeded to massacre the townspeople and burn the town."..............


February 2016


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