Phags Pa AoA

The scroll for the Award of Arms to Batujin Nasan

This scroll is done for an SCA award in the Kingdom of the East.

The text reads: (in Mongol)

Mongk Dengri iin khuchun dur,

Darius Kha’an bolun Roxanne Khatun nar un Tungkhaglasan iyer,

Batujin Nasan i khonin jil un ula’agchin moghai sara iin 15 dugar edur tug iyer shangnasughai.

The English translation:

By the power of The Eternal Sky,

An edict of Darius Khan and Roxanne Khatun,

Batujin Nasan is awarded Arms on the 15th day of the red snake month in the year of the Sheep.
[June 14th, 2003]


Mongol Translation and Illumination by Bambar Ghoa (m.k.a. Mendee)

Calligraphy and hPags Pa Transliteration by Gülügjab Tangghudai (a.k.a. Puppy)


When I was sent the request to do an Award of Arms (AoA) scroll for a Mongol persona, I was quite excited as my research has advanced since my previous attempts. There is a cultural divide with a Mongol persona getting an award in the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA) as Mongols did not use scrolls or arms with the same conception as Europeans, which the SCA attempts to emulate. I have concluded that a Paiz (also Paize, Paitze, Paizi) is an appropriate equivalent to an AoA within the Mongol Empire of Chinggis Khaan (or Genghis Khan to the overly Anglicized) as the circumstances, frequency, and honors of its use all seem to coincide to some degree. A Paiz is usually described in English as either a Passport or a Tablet of Authority. I have also recently learned some literacy in the Phags Pa Script (also hPags Pa, Pagva, or Square Script) utilized during the Yuan dynasty. So I decided to do the scroll as a picture of a Paiz from the Yuan dynasty written in Mongolian with the Phags Pa Script.

This is my first attempt at writing a scroll in the Phags Pa Script of the Yuan dynasty. I spent some time reviewing the pages on the Phags Pa script in Choijilsüren trying to understand how the script is used. The Latin and Cyrillic references alone were not enough and I relied heavily on the Uighur Script references to better understand each character. The Latin references had to be carefully interprited as they were not strictly as used in English. For example, the letter combination "TH" did not equate to the English phenome represented by the same letter combination but rather a straight "T" sound with a subsequent breath. Similar situations existed for "SH" and "CH" where a seperate accented symbol represented the sounds an English speaker would assume. Although I do not read Tibetan, I was able to cross reference the Tibetan with the Soyombo Script section elsewhere in the book to help clear up some confusion. Once I had a grasp on the lettering, I turned to the museum pieces to interprit the script in practice.

One hurdle is that Phags Pa seems to ignore vowel harmony to some degree. But by putting the various sources together, I eventually got an understanding of the script's use. I realized how syllables, rather than words, are combined which shows the reader when the inherent vowel is pronounced or not. There were also some peculiarities about how vowel combinations are made - a difficult task with an alphasyllabary.

For the actual wording of the scroll, I made a compromise between the period examples and SCA custom. The first line is directly quoted from the period Paiz. I kept the Phags Pa spelling even though it differs with the Uighur Script spelling which is usually associated with Middle Mongolian. For example, the Mongol word "Tengri" (Sky) is spelled in Uighur Script as "Tngri" but on the Paiz in the museums as "Dengri". The second line is a variation of the period examples, with the names of the King and Queen giving the award added to the style of the period wording. The third line is entirely for the sake of the SCA Award of Arms with the recipient's name, date and nature of the award spelled out. The date was converted into the Mongol lunar calendar.

I also used a variation of Hindu Arabic numerals for the number 15 that is actually based on Folded Script. I had no examples of numbers being used with Phags Pa and the next likely choice was the numerals as used with Uighur Script. The Folded Script numbers are simply a variation of the Uighur Script ones, but squared off rather than rounded which looked more appropriate with the Phags Pa, which is also known as Square Script.

Mendee translated into Mongol the sections not literally taken from the period examples and then I transliterated it into the Phags Pa Script. After I wrote the lettering, Mendee did the wonderful artwork as a picture of the Paiz on display at The Met's website.



Batbayar, Jalair. Mongol Uran Bichlegiin Tuuh. Ulaanbaatar: Interpress Hevleliin Kompanid Hevlev, 2001 (ISBN 99929-70-46-4)

Bat - Ireedui, J. & Baasanbat, D. Mongol Bichig Un Tobchi. editor Ts. Hurelsambuu. Published by donated funds from Korea, 1992
[Modern Cyrillic Mongol to Old Script Mongol translation dictionary]

Choijilsüren, D. Mongolin Khuuchin Bichgiin Tsagaan Tolgoi Zov Bichih Dürem. edited by Kh. Luvsanbadlan, G. Nasanbuyan & J. Amgalan. Ulaghanbaghatur Khota, Mongolian People's Republic: Academy of Science Publisher, 1978 (no ISBN)

Kapaj, Luigi. The scroll for the Award of Arms to Bambar Ghoa. 2000. (19 June 2003)

Kapaj, Luigi. The scroll for the Award of Arms to Tuya of The Silver Horde. 2001. (19 June 2003)

The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Mongol passport (paizi). 2002-2003. (19 June 2003)

Lessing, Ferdinand D. ed. Mongolian - English Dictionary. The Mongolia Society, 1973 (ISBN 910980-40-3)

Marsh, Pitir K. & Uush, P. ed. English - Mongolian Mini Dictionary Mongol - English. 1999

Poppe, Nicholas. Mongolian Language Handbook. Center for Applied Linguistics, 1970 (ISBN 87281-003-8)

The Treasure of the Golden Horde: Paitzes. 2003. (19 June 2003) Moved: (21 August 2003)

© 2003, by Luigi Kapaj, in the SCA: Gülügjab Tangghudai (Puppy) and B. Mendsaikhan, in the SCA: Bambar Ghoa
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