The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question 'Whither?'
— Robert Frost, from "Reluctance"
|A list of 'nations' in Sogdian|
from the Berlin Turfan Collection
These scraps of ancient paper with Sogdian writing from pre-Islamic Central Asia, from Sogdiana in fact, are little morsels I glom onto as I slog through information and possibilities to follow. For me, they are representations of the mysterious beauty of the Silk Road. The long tails of letters, the curves and twists — are they not like the long passes through the Pamirs?
|Image from Pamir Highway Adventure site|
The Sogdians were people in a region north of India and west of China who were the primary traders on the Silk Route. Their borders fluctuated with the spread of their language, Sogdian. This script is similar to medieval Iranian scripts.
I'm grateful I learned — better said, studied — Turkish in Latin script, not Ottoman:
With so much history, research and scholarship about this part of the world, I have to pick out grains with my fingertips, crumbs to follow that will start to make connections. How is the Sogdian language and script like Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit? Do I care about this? You can see that just following this path of crumbs — the scripts — would take a lifetime's study.
So my feet question, "Whither?"
I will probably do what I do in a new city when I travel: venture out and turn at corners or into alleys that intrigue. It is not easy finding new points of interest when you travel the same route day after day, like my drive to and from work. In my Midwestern way, I have lived a semi-nomadic life, having lived in 30+ houses in my 57 years. In fact, ten years in this farmhouse is the longest I've lived anywhere.