frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Item consists of 7 sheets of good-quality woodpulp paper, folded in half and bound with a narrow strip of red silk. Each sheet of paper appears to be an individual letter, handwritten with black carbon-based ink, addressed to a “Varsha” (woman-identified, no surname or other names known) from a single unknown writer (see below). There is minor water damage to the outermost layers of paper, but the letters are in otherwise good condition.

The letters were written in the Marathi language, in a combination of Modi (primary) and Devanagari (secondary) scripts. A cursory analysis of their content by one of the linguists determined that the writer was proficient but not entirely fluent in the language, and that the writer and the recipient of the letters were engaged in a relationship that is romantic in nature. The content of the letters is composed of mainly personal news and descriptions of everyday life (extremely useful for the anthropologists).

It is speculated that the writer is restricted to a single sheet of paper for every letter, hence the crammed but painstakingly clear writing. Despite the writer’s less than perfect fluency in the language, none of the letters bear marks of corrections, perhaps indicating the writer drafted each letter elsewhere first before writing out a final version. What free spaces there are in the letters are filled with small sketches or doodles: anatomically-correct renditions of bird wings, dragonflies, various flora found in the Southeast Asian region, and what appears to be diagrams of a ship’s hull.

Unfortunately the letters are undated, though preliminary tests on the paper and ink indicate that they are approximately 70 years old (1940s). We have thus far been unable to identity the name of the writer -- four of the letters bear a word that is likely to be a name (or perhaps a salutation) at the bottom of the last page, but it is in a script unfamiliar to any of the linguists.

Excerpt. )
nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Item consists of 5 sheets of paper. measuring 21 × 13 cm, contained several envelopes, one after the other:

The letter appears to be hand-written in hanacaraka using what appears to be a fountain pen (same ink as on first envelope), and appears to be some variant of Old Javanese, although one of the linguists I managed to threaten bribe persuade to assist me in this indicated that there were enough unknown words, abbreviations and variants of modern Javanese words for this to warrant as either a new language or a creole of some kind.

Excerpts of the letter are as follows. S&T can fill up the rest. This is the first page:

jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Item is a fragment of a letter found in a bronze tube. The tube had a pop-off cap, upon which were the only markings that appear worn down. The paper was extremely frail and almost falling apart when we extracted it from the tube. Much of the writing has flaked off the surface of the paper. The script is a form of Jawi

We are unsure what this fragment is - personal letter? Military communication?

Measurements of tube:
Length: 20cm
Circumference: 5cm

Measurements of letter fragment:
Length: 15cm
Width: 10cm

Translation thus far:

Before you [embark] upon this journey [...] the great personage of [...] the greatest foe [...] threat to the empire and [...]

[ze] is ruthless and cunning, and a great strategist for war. [...] directed great battles and won every time, seemingly without effort. If you ever meet [...] you must not engage, and retreat to survive another battle. [Ze] has been known to command huge fleets [...] leave behind ruins [...] to die is a mercy [...]

It is my hope that someday we shall send an [intrepid] warrior forth to challenge [hir] that we may all sleep soundly [...] our coasts would be safer and our [treasure??] would rest easy.

Note: Sorry for the lack of transcription. My translating team has been remiss in that regard.
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
[personal profile] tiaramerchgirl
Item is on a parchment-like material embroidered around the edges with gold thread. The ink does not look especially unusual but its substance is not known.

Parchment seems to be written in the Minangkabau language of Western Sumatera. Translation provides this:

The Mato [head mother] Bunia of Ngarai Sianok
invites you to the wedding of

Grand Daughter Siareen Bunia


Aditja Marsukitjina
Kamakanan [heir] of Mato Darek Merapi

Isnen 2 Jumaada al-THaany 1191 Hijrihi
Anno Dominus 7 Julai 17-77

First star after sunset, when the sky is as blue as sapphire.
Rumah Gadang Buni Sianok, after the Pungent-Flower and the riverbend

Visitors: Follow the scent of the Pungent-Flower and wait by the petals. After each star the Kamakanan of Mato Bunia will allow you entry. Only those with this decree of welcome as marked by Mato Bunia will be allowed into the Rumah Gadang.

Then there was another two lines in a barely-visible and unintelligable script.

The parchment made whistling-like sounds when waved; it is unclear whether it is the property of the parchment or something else.

References to Buni and Bunia may point to the Orang Bunian, or Whistle-Elves, who are normally unseen by human eyes. Marriages between Bunian and humans are not uncommon and have been recorded in historical accounts of Sumatera, but it is rare to obtain a direct artifact.

Could the Pungent-Flower refer to what we now call Rafflesia? Botanists?
nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Oh god, that’s it for paperwork. I can’t believe I’m actually feeling happy to see dusty old manuscripts again. As long as it’s not in a modern language.

Okay, let’s see: Parchment scroll, in fairly good condition. Tests indicate that it’s at least 40 years old, made of buffalo skin. Ink is a carbon soot-adhesive compound of still indeterminate substance. Ink disposition via micro-droplets, tightly spaced to around 180 drops per inch.

Script is modern Javanese, written in Dentawiyanjana:

Transcript as follows:

letter transcript )

The scroll is unsigned.

yiduiqie: (Default)
[personal profile] yiduiqie
Below is a fragment from a letter that I suspect was written on behalf of the Immortal Dowager CiXi, Regent of the Middle Kingdom, to the Sultan of Johor. The letter has no written date, but carbon dating of the paper (previously undertaken; unsure when this was done) indicates it is approximately one hundred and fifty years old, which corresponds with the Dowager's one and only visit to the Sultanate of Johor. Although Johor was of course of significance to the Middle Kingdom, the Dowager's reliance on her impressive and technologically advanced life-extending throne made it difficult for her to travel, and required any hosting countries to provide the party with significant quantities of fuel for both the Imperial Airship and the throne to return back to the Middle Kingdom.

the text )

There are a number of articles of clothing in the SPS collection; certain other rather unscrupulous foreign organisations have been eager to rifle through it whilst our backs are metaphorically turned, so we should get on to it as soon as possible, to see if this artefact is indeed located within the collection. It would be a magnificent find, and reveal much to us about a) the politics of the Middle Kingdom and the Sultanate of Johor at the time, and b) the Dowager's throne.

*ooc: eh my trad characters are not very good, if someone wants to suggest a more correct alternate please do.
frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Below are excerpts from an incomplete transcript and translation of an audio recording made on one of the artifacts similar to phonograph cyclinders, playable on a mechanical device discovered earlier [note to assistant D2: cross-reference this]. The cylinder (preliminary catalogue no. SAS-1-1939-42) was stored in a sturdy wooden tube of unremarkable design, with a printed label in Jawi script pasted onto the cap of the tube. The bottom half of the label has been torn off, but a date is legible on what remained intact: 12 Muharram 1358 Hijrah (transcript). No other identifying markers were found.

Sound quality is fairly low but approximately three-quarters of the recording are intelligible. The speaker on the recording is an adult male, speaking in a language confirmed to be that of the Labuk Kadazan dialect; unfortunately the speaker utilised a number of words (loan words?) unknown to linguists C.P. and R.R.M.

Excerpt 1:
Ask your cousin if [s/he] is keeping the bambangan pickles near [his/her] [unidentified]. If [s/he] has, throw the pickles away. We will send more when the winds are right.

The hinava won't be as it is here, but wash [the?] fish in hot water. We wish we can send you good fish to where you are. Lime juice, salt, chilli as you like. Remember the sugar there is bad for your [kidneys?].
Excerpt 2:
Tomorrow [rhetorical, not literal?] you sail again into [unidentified] and bring your name to the place where all will know it. Don't trouble yourself to [jump?] upriver from the bay. Your mother and your father are young and years are short. Wherever you are, however long you take, we will wait for you at home. The time between the winds only gives you enough for this [unidentified] to find your hands, send you our affection.
nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Fragments of what appears to be a royal letter, likely used for correspondence between heads of state, and a messenger tube. Seal indicates that it is from the Kingdom of Majapahit, circa early 20th century.

Letter was almost disintegrated, either from heat or mold — it’s hard to tell, for some strange reason, so fragments remain.

Here’s the transcription of the original text, as much as I can salvage from the blasted OCR machine. Will need to sit down with the linguist when I can and hammer out a translation:

Arabic Text ahead; but it's in Malay. )

God, what a nightmare, trying to fix all that. I know for a fact that letter-order is all out; I’m going to need to bring the frags out to the linguist, damn it. Why can’t computers deal with other languages properly, I’ll never know.

I’ll try and bring up a translation later this evening, once I’ve fed that drunkard enough booze to get his job done.

I tell you, I don’t get paid enough for this crap.

UPDATE: Well that was a very strange letter. A space program? In the early 20th century? Huh.


Steampunk Nusantara: S.E.A. Steampunk

October 2010

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