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0070 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 70 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Legend of
of dynasty.

of Kiz-



After describing the reigning king of Chieh-p`an-t`o as a man of upright character, a pious Buddhist, and a lover of learning, Hsüan-tsang proceeds to tell us that ` since the establishment of the kingdom many successive ages have passed. The king gives himself the title Chih-na-t`i;`o-ch`ü-tan-lo (Gina-rleva gotra), meaning descendant of China and the sun-gods. Formerly this country was a desert valley in the midst of the Ts`ung-ling mountains. At this time a king of Po-la-ssû (Persia)4 took a wife from the Han country (China). She had been met by an escort on her progress so far as this, when the roads east and west were stopped by military operations. On this they placed the king's daughter on a solitary mountain peak, very high and dangerous, which could only be approached by ladders, up and down ; moreover, they surrounded it with guards both day and night for protection. After three months the disturbances were quelled. Quiet being restored, they were about to resume their homeward journey, when the lady was found to be enceinte '.b Thereupon the king's envoy held council with his companions how to meet the consequences of this disgrace. From an attendant he learned that a spirit, coming from the sun's disk and mounted on horseback, every day at noon visited the princess. Afraid of the punishment awaiting him on return to his own country, the envoy decided to seek safety by remaining and gaining time.

` On this he built on the top of a rocky peak a palace with its surrounding apartments 6 ; then having erected an enclosure round the palace of some 30o paces, he located the princess there as chief. She established rules of government and enacted laws.' In due time she bore a son possessed of extraordinary beauty and miraculous powers, who made his strength felt in the countries around and everywhere gained recognition for his laws. When this king died of old age he was buried in a stone chamber constructed in the caverns of a great mountain, about a hundred li to the south-east of his capital. There his body was believed to remain undecayed, though shrivelled up and thin, looking as if he were asleep, and worshipped with regular oblations.

` From that time till now his descendants have ever recollected their origin : that on their mother's side they were descended from the king of Han, and on their father's side from the race of the sun-god ; therefore they style themselves " descendants of the Han and sun-god "' 7. Hsüan-tsang adds the observation that the members of the royal family resembled in their bodily appearance the ` people of the Middle Country ', i. e. China, but notes that the dress worn by them was that of barbarians. For this he evidently means to account by stating that ` in after ages these people fell under the power of barbarians ' 8.

We are unable even approximately to gauge what shreds of historical fact may be interwoven with the legend which Hsüan-tsang heard about the family ruling Sarikol at the time of his visit. But we can scarcely doubt that this legend was widespread and firmly rooted in popular belief; for we find an unmistakable trace of it preserved in local tradition to the present day. To

3 I take the translation of this sentence from Julien, whose version is evidently more accurate than that of Beal (see Mlmoires, ii. p. 2 r o). The simple deva, ' god,' in the transcribed Sanskrit title is amplified by the Chinese text into sun-god'.

' Thus Beal, Si yil-kz, ii. p. 300. Julien, in translation and index (ii. pp. 210, 524, resp.), spells the name Po-li-sse tetI1itft; but the graphic variation of the second

character, lz %iI, from the character la JJJ in Po-la-sse, the usual Chinese transcription of the name *Parsa or Persia,

is so slight that there can be little doubt as to the latter country being intended.

5 Julien, Mémoires, ii. pp. 2I o sq., translates : ` Au bout de trois mois les brigands restèrent tranquilles. L'ambassadeur voulut alors emmener la princesse de Chine dans les états de son mattre ; mais la jeune fille se trouvait déjà enceinte.'

6 Julien, Mlmoires, ii. p. 212 : ` Alors il bâtit, sur le sommet de la montagne, un palais et un hôtel.'

7 See above note concerning this title Cina-deva gotra.

8 See Mémoires, transl. Julien, ii. p. 213 ; Si-yu-ki, trans). Beal, ii. p. 302.