A magic square with Burmese origin was recovered from a family belonging to Namsang village. It is a family heirloom, and it is at least 200 years old!
On 4 May 2020, a palindromic stone tablet was recovered by Wangtum Lowang, founder of Nocte Digest, from a royal family of Namsang village. The tablet is a family heirloom and had been passed down from one generation to another. Though carbon dating has not been done, it is safe to assume that the tablet is at least 200 years old.
The crystal clear inscriptions on the tablet is of the Shan script, which is native to Burmese. The origin of the tablet is supported by the fact that the lineage of its owner can be traced back to Wang Hang, the leader of the Hawa group who migrated from Burma in the 12th Century AD. Find out more about Hawa group at the Genesis section.
Shape: Imperfect Square
Dimensions: 5.8cm x 5.9cm x 6.7cm x 6.8cm
1. 6 rows × 6 columns
2. Palindromic (Row 1 and 6, Column 2 and 5)
3. Swastika Style
4. Rotational Symmetry
5. Squares within square
6. Identical (Column 2 and 5)
Characters: 10 different characters (Numbers)
Professor Stephen Morey took the initiative of doing an extensive study on the Nocte Stone Tablet. On August 27, 2020, Morey formed a group of four people, and they are as follow:
Stephen Morey from Australia is a senior lecturer in the Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University, Australia. He is doin...
Tim Brookes from London (United Kingdom) is the founder of Endangered Alphabets Project. He was the Director of the Professional Writing Pro...
Syed Ifteqar Rahman (Dewan) from Assam is the lecturer at Department of English, Chiang Mai University, Thailand. He is pursuing PhD in Ling...
Wangtum Lowang, founder of Nocte Digest, is an advocate of the Nocte tribe and promotes the culture and history of the tribe. He is a studen...
After the formation of the group, Brookes contacted his scholarly friends to decipher the tablet. The list of the scholars are as follow:
David Nathan-Maister is a writer and rare book collector. Among others, he is the author of The Absinthe Encyclopedia (2009). He is the Mana...
Walter Milner is a degree holder in Natural Sciences at Selwyn College in Cambridge University, mostly involving Physics and Mathematics. He...
Celso Álvarez Cáccamo from Spain is a writer and sociolinguist. He holds a master's degree in Spanish Language and Literature from the State...
Ben Mitchell, researcher and font maker of Southeast Asian scripts. He is the founder of Fontpad.
Ye Myat Lwin is an archaeologist from Burma. He is a graduate of Dagon University and University of Yangon. He also studied at School of Ori...
Tim Brookes ruled out the possibility of the tablet being an alphabet chart because the characters repeat and are patterned, which is more the behavior of numbers. But it's not a calendar either.
David Nathan-Maister provided a supporting document that resembles with the tablet up to ninety percent. The document is a Tai Shaman's manuscript written on a mulberry bark paper in the Shan script. The manuscript is from circa 1900. Compare the tablet with the top left of the manuscript and the similarities are striking.
However, Ben Mitchell called the manuscript as Burmese, considering the scribe hasn't used Shan numerals in the yantras nor Shan letters in the text.
After comparison, Wangtum Lowang concluded that the tablet was being studied upside down. He also observed that there are ten different characters in the tablet, out of which eight resemble with the characters in the manuscript. Download the whole manuscript.
Though in varies shape and size, Ye Myat Lwin confirmed that Southeast Asian Buddhist used this type of stone tablet as a magic square for the protection of a town, a city or houses from enemies and evil spirits. Please note that the Hawa group of the Nocte tribe followed Buddhism in Burma. Golden umbrellas and manuscript written in Pali were found in the possession of the rulers of Laptang. Borduria and Namsang.
Lwin added that the inscriptions are numbers, but some numbers on the tablet are a little bit confusing. To support his statement, he attached the above picture of a stone tablet found at a monastry in his hometown Thandwe (Sandoway), Rakhine State, Burma. However, this tablet has nine rows and nine columns, and some its characters are similar to that of the Nocte Stone Tablet.
Walter Milner contradicted Lwin's magic square statement by saying that, "The Nocte Stone Tablet is not a magic square in modern mathematical sense - because it contain duplicates. The entries in a magic square are distinct."
Milner was the first to observe that there was a seventh row in the stone tablet that had been scrubbed out. Brookes speculates that the person making the tablet might have realized that he had made a mistake. Seconding Milner, Brookes said that the pattern seems to make much more sense without that extra row.
For better understanding, Celso Álvarez Cáccamo substituted letters and colors for the symbols on the tablet. Observing the F-G sequence, Cáccamo stated that the tablet has a swastika-type pattern. However, he is unsure if the central D is indeed like the one on the edges. If it is, there are 10 symbols - numerals, including 0. If not, one of the Ds could symbolize 10. He added that, for symmetry purposes, the central D could be a different symbol, K.
Cáccamo added that some relations between rows and columns are palindromic, while others aren't. For instance:
• Rows 1 and 6 are palindromes
• Columns 1 and 6 are identical
• Columns 2 and 5 are palindromes
• Rows 2 and 5 are identical, except for symbols B and C.
While seconding Milner, Cáccamo pointed out that the tablet cannot be a magic square as Rows 2 and 5 could not add up equally. Based on these observations, he concluded that the purpose of the tablet's pattern is not merely symbolic or ornamental, but also arithmetical.
Kayque Girão, a writer and Shams Astrologer from Brazil, maintained that the tablet perhaps a astro-numerological talisman or magic square. Based on the linguistic and mathematical structure and similarity, this type of talisman is common and present in the Hindu, Arab and Sino-Tibetan magical and folk cultures, to a greater and lesser extent across the Asian continent and the Asian peninsula.
Ye Myat Lwin translated the tablet as per the attached picture. However, he considered the central numbers as 5. Though the characters look the same in the tablet, their orientations are different.
On the other hand, Cáccamo considered the central characters as different numbers such as H, I, J and D. Please note that Cáccamo used alphabets for convenience (Refer Point 5). Tim Brookes already ruled out the concept of the tablet being an alphabetical chart, and his observations were not criticized.
Note: The research is still going on and the article will be updated when new facts and observations arrive.