"Yang Family Collection of Shui Manuscripts at Bailai, Rongjiang [19th century]"

Digital images of three Shui manuscripts from the collection of the Yang family of Rongjiang. Many members of the family are Shui priests, and the manuscripts are believed to have been written by family ancestors.

The manuscripts are written in the Shui language and script, one of the few remaining hieroglyphics in the world. The manuscripts include Shui works of astrology, folklore, ethics, philosophy, history, art, geography and theology, religious practice and ritual.

It is a tradition that scribes do not identify themselves in Shui manuscripts, and therefore information concerning the creators of these manuscripts is mostly unknown. Similarly the exact dates of the majority of these manuscripts are unknown.

All traditional Shui manuscripts are written on cotton paper in black ink; illustrations are often written in red ink. Bamboo sticks and brushes are comonly used to create the manuscripts. Most manuscripts are bound with cotton thread, and a few have cloth covers. The paper, ink and covering cloth are made locally.

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