where the writers are
Ban, Bandwo, and Banner

I don’t know how to pronounce 幡 in Chinese, but in Japanese, ban is closest.  Ban is a strip of silk cloth hung from a wooden pole in temples to honor Buddha.  I think this millennium old tradition is related to scroll making.  I love good scrolls with good frames, so I am interested also in bans.  Bans are similar to the standard frames “hyousou(表装)” of Japanese scrolls.   A ban can be described by its parts, head, body, hands, and legs.  The frames of scrolls are described as heaven (top), earth (bottom) and so on.  They have similarities. 

About five years ago, I found a photo of many bans in the book titled "Things, Thai."  I was in a museum gift shop.  I once visited temples in Bangkok and must have seen those strips of cloth hanging in temples.  But I was unaware about them then because they looked quite different from Japanese bans.  In the photo of the book, many strips of cloth hang from the ceiling of a large Thai temple.   The Thai bans seemed simple pieces of cloth with no stitches as far as I could tell.  Japanese bans look more compact and formal, and the cloth seems to be made of thick silk, and double layered and stitched.  I thought the bans in the Thai temple could be closer to the original bans that were used in China or India long ago.  Most of the things Japanese imported into our culture ended up more formal and detailed than the original.  So I made a connection between the two bans.  I was excited.

I thought about the word ban.  That led me to the word banner.   I looked the word up in an online dictionary.  It said the origin of banner came from old French, banere.  I wondered where banere came from.  Then I learned that the word is traced to the ancient word "bandwo" used by the Goths.  My curiosity remained with the image of the Goths who travelled to Asia.    Because the Mongols let tribes travel freely from Germany to China, the Goths came in contact with Chinese things and words, I think.  So the Goths made their own sign and called it bandwo.  Now I think bandwo may come from 幡緒 (Wo means strings or tails).  And the Goths write horizontally, so ban became banner.  That’s my guess.  And they wrote their beautiful artistic cursive writing to show their pride and power.   

On the Goths language, I read the below Wikipedia site.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_language

At this site, it said, “Gothic-seeming terms found in later (post-9th century) manuscripts may not belong to the same language.  The existence of such early attested corpora makes it a language of considerable interest in comparative linguistics

It is just fascinating.  A film began to roll in my head about the Goths.  They meet the Mongols holding bans, and they create their own bandwo and write on it.

Look at this character closely, 幡.  A guard on right is holding the sign on a stick  on left. Ban-nin 番人 in Japanese means a guard.   We have no v sound, so van and ban sound the same.  So vanguard sounds like guard-guard.  Guards are always in front, not staying back.  Hmm.