Indian languages like Sanskrit and Pali were widely distributed across Asia via commercial networks and Buddhism. Inscriptions from the Buddhist Pali canon occur throughout Southeast Asia. One of the earliest writing systems in India was Kharosthi, which was used in northeastern India, Gandhara and Central Asia between the 3rd century BCE and the 3rd century CE. The inscribed board below is part of a large number of manuscripts from Niya in the Taklamakan Desert. It dates from the 3rd century and deals with the sale of camels along the Silk Route. Kharosthi was read from left to right.
The Bugat stele comes from Arkhangai, Mongolia. The inscription on the stele dates from the 6th century and is inscribed on three sides in Sogdian; the fourth side is in Sanskrit, with Brahmi characters. The accompanying illustration of a wolf suckling a child refers to a legend concerning the origin of the Turkic peoples in Mongolia.
The bronze mirror from Korea bears an inscription in Chinese characters that reads: “heaven blooms and shines brilliantly.” Many mirrors like these were made during the Song period (10th-13th century) in China, but also in Korea during the same period under the Goryeo dynasty. The image of the sailboat refers to the flourishing maritime trade between the two realms.
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