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0110 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 110 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Hsiiantsang's account of Kâshgar people.

Buddhism at Kâshgar.


with regularity. ` The disposition of the men is fierce and impetuous, and they are mostly false and deceitful. They make light of decorum and politeness, and esteem learning but little.'

The uncomplimentary character here given to the inhabitants of Kashgar has a curious pendant in Marco Polo's testimony, who calls the natives of ` Cascar' ` a wretched, niggardly set of people ; they eat and drink in miserable fashion '.34 Without being able to adduce from personal observation evidence as to the relative truth of the latter statement, I believe that the judgements recorded by both those great travellers may be taken as a fair reflex of the opinion in which the ` Kashgarliks' are held to this day by the people of other Turkestan districts, especially by the Khotanese. And in the case of Hsüan-tsang at least, it seems probable from his long stay in, and manifest attachment to, Khotan that this neighbourly criticism might have left an impression upon him.

Hsüan-tsang describes the people of Chia-sha as ` common and ignoble' in appearance, and the colour of their eyes as greenish ; he also mentions their custom of painting their bodies. More important, from an anthropological point of view, is the observation (made by Hsüan-tsang also in the case of the inhabitants of Ch`ü-chih or Kucha) 35 that it was their custom when a child is born to compress his head with a board of wood'. Hsüan-tsang's praise of the . textile productions of Kashgar has already been referred to 36. The passage relating to the writing of Kashgar does not appear to be clearly worded. So much, however, seems certain that the written characters were of an Indian type, that is, in all probability a variety of the Brahmi script 37. On the other hand, we are told that ` their language and pronunciation are different from that of other countries '.38

That Buddhism at Kashgar was at the time of Hsüan-tsang's visit in a flourishing condition, at least as far as the number of its followers and their zeal were concerned, is plainly shown by the remaining portions of the pilgrim's notice. ` They have a sincere faith in the religion of Buddha, and give themselves earnestly to the practice of it. There are several hundreds of Samgharamas, with some ten thousand followers ; they study the Little Vehicle and belong to the Sarvastivadin school. Without understanding the principles, they recite many religious chants ; therefore, there are many who can say throughout the three Pitakas and the Vibhâsâ.' Perhaps the want of scholarly application which the concluding words indicate, is the reason why Hsüan-tsang does not deign to specify a single one of those numerous religious establishments, and also why his biographer, so eloquent in the case of Khotan and other great religious centres, is satisfied with the bare mention of Chia-sha 39. Yet it deserves to be noted that Su-lê was

TIaidar, a good judge in such matters, like his kinsman Bâbar, gives to it on this account. ` Again most of the fruits of that country (Kashgar) are very plentiful. Among others the pears are especially good, and I never saw their equal anywhere else; they are, in fact, quite incomparable .... Moreover, its fruits have an advantage over the fruits of other countries, in that they are less unwhole-

some    During the autumn it is not the custom to
sell fruit in the provinces of Kâshgar and Khotan, nor is it usual to hinder any one from plucking it. Nay more, it is planted along the roadsides, so that any one who wishes to do so may take of it.' See Yarikk-i-Rashidi, ed. Elias and Ross, p. 303.

u See Yule, Marco Polo, i. p. 182.

Mémoires, i. p. 4 ; Siyu-k:; i. p. 19.

" See above, p. 69.

37 Julien, Mémoires, ii. p. 220, translates : ` Leur écriture est une imitation de celle de l'Inde ' ; Beal, Siyu-ki, ii. p. 307 : ` For their writing (written characters) they take their model from India, and although they (i.e. the forms of the letters) are somewhat mutilated yet they are essentially the same in form.' An alternative translation offered in a footnote of Beal is manifestly not in keeping with the context.

'8 It is curious to find Marco Polo, too, mentioning of Kashgar : ` The people of the country have a peculiar language' (i. p. 182). From the fact of the Kudatku Bilik having been written at Kashgar in the eleventh century, we should have been led to conclude that Turki was in Marco Polo's days, as it is now, the language current in Kashgar.

" See Vie de H.-T., p. 277.