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The Pyu language (Burmese: ပျူ ဘာသာ, IPA: [pjù bàðà]; also Tircul language) is an extinct Sino-Tibetan language that was mainly spoken in what is now Myanmar in the first millennium CE. It was the vernacular of the Pyu city-states, which thrived between the second century BCE and the ninth century CE. Its usage declined starting in the late ninth century when the Bamar people of Nanzhao began to overtake the Pyu city-states. The language was still in use, at least in royal inscriptions of the Pagan Kingdom if not in popular vernacular, until the late twelfth century. It became extinct in the thirteenth century, completing the rise of the Burmese language, the language of the Pagan Kingdom, in Upper Burma, the former Pyu realm.[2]

Pyu
Pyu Alphabets.jpg
Pyu alphabets
RegionPyu city-states, Pagan Kingdom
Extinct13th century
Pyu script
Language codes
ISO 639-3pyx
pyx
Glottologburm1262[1]

The language is principally known from inscriptions on four stone urns (7th and 8th centuries) found near the Payagyi pagoda (in the modern Bago Township) and the multi-lingual Myazedi inscription (early 12th century).[3][4] These were first deciphered by Charles Otto Blagden in the early 1910s.[4]

The Pyu script was a Brahmic script. The most recent scholarship suggests the Pyu script may have been the source of the Burmese script.[5]

ClassificationEdit

 
Pyu Inscription from Hanlin
 
Pyu city-states circa 8th century; Pagan shown for comparison only, not contemporary to the Pyu cities

The Pyu language was a Sino-Tibetan language related to Old Burmese,[6] although the degree of proximity is debated. The language is tentatively classified within the Lolo-Burmese languages by Matisoff and thought to most likely be Luish by Bradley. Van Driem feels it is best treated as an independent branch of Sino-Tibetan pending further evidence.[7]

UsageEdit

The language was the vernacular of the Pyu states. But Sanskrit and Pali appeared to have co-existed alongside Pyu as the court language. The Chinese records state that the 35 musicians that accompanied the Pyu embassy to the Tang court in 800–802 played music and sang in the Fàn ( "Sanskrit") language.[8]

List of Pyu inscriptionsEdit

Location Inventory number
Śrī Kṣetra 04[9]
Pagan 07[10]
Śrī Kṣetra 10[11]
Pagan 11[12]
Śrī Kṣetra 12[13]
Śrī Kṣetra 22[14]
Śrī Kṣetra 25[15]
Śrī Kṣetra 28[16]
Śrī Kṣetra 29[17]
Myittha 32[18]
Myittha 39[19]
Śrī Kṣetra 55[20]
Śrī Kṣetra 56[21]
Śrī Kṣetra 57[22]
Śrī Kṣetra 105[23]
Śrī Kṣetra 160[24]
??? 163[25]
Śrī Kṣetra 164[26]
Śrī Kṣetra 167[27]

VocabularyEdit

Below are selected Pyu basic vocabulary items from Gordon Luce (1985: 66-69).[28] and Marc Miyake (2016)[29].

Gloss Luce (1985) Miyake (2016)
one ta(k·)ṁ
two hni° kni
three ho:, hau: hoḥ
four pḷå plaṁ
five pi°ŋa (piṁ/miṁ) ṅa
six tru tru(k·?)
seven kni hni(t·?)ṁ
eight hrå hra(t·)ṁ
nine tko tko
ten sū, sau su
twenty tpū
bone, relic ru
water tdu̱-
gold tha
day phru̱
month de [ḷe ?]
year sni:
village o
good; well ha
to be in pain, ill hni°:
nearness mtu
name mi
I ga°:
my gi
wife maya:
consort, wife [u] vo̱:
child, son sa:
grandchild pli, pli°

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Burma Pyu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Htin Aung, pp. 51–52
  3. ^ Blagden, C. Otto (1913–14). "The 'Pyu' inscriptions". Epigraphia Indica. 12: 127–132.
  4. ^ a b Beckwith, Christopher I. (2002). "A glossary of Pyu". In Beckwith, Christopher I. (ed.). Medieval Tibeto-Burman languages. Brill. pp. 159–161. ISBN 978-90-04-12424-0.
  5. ^ Aung-Thwin, pp. 167–177
  6. ^ Language List, PYX
  7. ^ van Driem, George. "Trans-Himalayan Database". Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  8. ^ Aung-Thwin, pp. 35–36
  9. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU004) around a funerary urn held by the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.581381
  10. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of the quadrilingual Pyu inscription (PYU007) kept in an inscription shed on the grounds of the Myazedi pagoda in Pagan [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.579873
  11. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU010) kept in one of two inscription sheds on the grounds of the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.580597
  12. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a bilingual Pyu inscription (PYU011) held at the Pagan museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.580282
  13. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Sanskrit-Pyu bilingual inscription (PYU012) around the base of a Buddha statue held by the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.581383
  14. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU022) held by the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.581468
  15. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU025) on the base of a funerary urn held at the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.580777
  16. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU028) kept in one of two inscription sheds on the grounds of the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.580791
  17. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU029) kept in one of two inscription sheds on the grounds of the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.581217
  18. ^ Miles, James, & Hill, Nathan W. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscriptions (PYU032) kept in an inscription shed on the grounds of a pagoda in Myittha [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.579848
  19. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU039) kept in an inscription shed on the grounds of a monastery in Myittha [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.579725
  20. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU055) held by the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.806133
  21. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU056) held by the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.806148
  22. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU057) held by the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.806163
  23. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription on a gold ring (PYU105) held by the Śrī Kṣetra museum [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.806168
  24. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU160) discovered in Śrī Kṣetra [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.823725
  25. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU163) [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.825673
  26. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU164) [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.825685
  27. ^ Miles, James. (2016). Documentation of a Pyu inscription (PYU167) [Data set]. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.823753
  28. ^ Luce, George. 1985. Phases of Pre-Pagan Burma: languages and history (volume 2). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-713595-1
  29. ^ Miyake, Marc. 2016. Pyu numerals in comparative perspective. Presentation given at SEALS 26.

ReferencesEdit

  • Aung-Thwin, Michael (2005). The mists of Rāmañña: The Legend that was Lower Burma (illustrated ed.). Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2886-8.
  • Harvey, G. E. (1925). History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd.
  • Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press.

Further readingEdit

  • Blagden, C. Otto (1911). "A preliminary study of the fourth text of the Myazedi inscriptions". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland. 43 (2): 365–388. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00041526.
  • Griffiths, Arlo; Hudson, Bob; Miyake, Marc; Wheatley, Julian K. (2017). "Studies in Pyu Epigraphy, I: State of the Field, Edition and Analysis of the Kan Wet Khaung Mound Inscription, and Inventory of the Corpus". Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient. 103: 43–205. doi:10.3406/befeo.2017.6247.
  • Shafer, Robert (1943). "Further analysis of the Pyu inscriptions". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 7 (4): 313–366. doi:10.2307/2717831. JSTOR 2717831.

External linksEdit