An Old Letter from Khotan: A Review of an Early Judeo-Persian Letter Called Dandān-Uiliq II

Document Type : Original Research Article


Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies - Iran, Ancient Iranian Languages, Tehran, Iran.


This paper deals with an old Judeo-Persian letter called Dandān-Uiliq II (Abbreviated as DU II); which probably dates back to 9th century CE and further to its contents, has some important linguistic features, often without existence in later Persian texts written in Arabic script, for instance, the use of the adverb bē = but (as in Qur’an-e Qods translation), use of the conjunction kū, the use of the verb h- (to be) and ancient subjunctive mood. This paper also presents a new translation of the letter and its ancient linguistic features discussed in comparison to Early Persian texts (in Perso-Arabic script) and some early Persian translations of Qur’an, especially Qur’an-e Quds (probably written in Sistan in 12th CE). These features represent language transmission from Middle Persian to Neo-Persian (Dari). The given translation is not the same as previous English and Chinese versions and reflects my understanding of its syntax and morphology.


Main Subjects

🔓 © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Tissaphernes Archaeological Research Group, Tehran, Iran. Open Access. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeriv- atives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The ethical policy of Persica Antiqua is based on the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines and complies with International Committee of Persica Antiqua Editorial Board codes of conduct. Readers, authors, reviewers and editors should follow these ethical policies once working with Persica Antiqua. The ethical policy of Persica Antiqua is liable to determine which of the typical research papers or articles submitted to the journal should be published in the concerned issue. For information on this matter in publishing and ethical guidelines please visit

Aefi, N. & Shafiee, I. (2020). “The Judeo-Persian letter of Dandān-Uiliq II” Persian Language and Iranian Dialects 5st Year, Vol. 2, No.10: 169-196 (In Persian).
Boyce, M. (1975). A Reader in Manichaean Middle Persian, and Parthian Texts with Notes: Bibliothèque Pahlavi.
Dehxodā, A. Ak. (1998). Loghatnāme (In Persian). 15 vols, Tehrān.
Gindin, T. (2016). “Linguistic Perspectives on Judeo-Persian” Iran Namag 1 (2): 40-51.
Lazar, G. (2014). Šeklgiri-ye zabān-e Fārsi. translator M. Bahreyni. Tehran (In Persian).
MacKenzie, D. N. 1971. A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
Orsatti, P. (2019). “Persian Language in Arabic Script: The Formation of the Orthographic Standard and the Different Graphic Traditions of Iran in the First Centuries of the Islamic Era.” In Creating Standards: Interactions with Arabic script in 12 manuscript cultures. edited by Dmitry Bondarev, Alessandro Gori and Lameen Souag. 39-72. 
Paul, L. (2013). A grammar of early Judaeo-Persian: Reichert Verlag.
Qarīb, B. (2004). Sogdian Dictionary: Farhangan Publications.
Ṣādeqī, A. Aš. (1978). Takwīn-e zabān-e Fārsī: Entešārāt-e dānešgāh-e Āzād-e Irān.  
Tafsir-e Shonghoshi, (1977). ed. Yahaghi, M.J.: Bonyād-e- farhang. Tehran (In Persian).
Utas, B. (1968). “The Jewish-Persian Fragment from Dandān-Uiliq”. Orientalia Suecana 17: 123-136.
Zhang, Zhan, (2016). “The Silk Road: A New History with Documents,” In The Silk Road: A New History with Documents. edited by Valerie Hansen. 381-382, Oxford University Press.
Yoshida, Fyo. (2017). “Jews of Khotan. Sogdian merchants?” Edited by Yasunori Kigasawa and Yoshikazu Doi. The world and era of the Dunhuang Tuluban documents 3: 263-285.
[吉田, 豐. (2017). “コータンのユダヤ.ソグド商人?.” Edited by 氣賀澤保規 and 土肥義和. 敦煌.吐魯番文書 の世界とその時代 3: 263-285.] 
Zhang Zhan, and Shiguang. (2009). “Dating and interpretation of a newly discovered Jewish Persian letter.” Dunhuang Turfan Research (Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House) 9: 71-100.
[张湛, and 时光. (2009). “一件新发现犹太波斯语信札的断代与释读.” 敦煌吐鲁 番 研究 (上海古籍出版社) 9: 71-100.]