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0127 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 127 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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images, appear to have taken the place, mutatis mutandis, of the chapel courts which surround the Stûpas of numerous ruined Viharas in ancient Gandhara, e. g. Jamalgarhi, Takht-i-Bahi, Ranigat, and show rows of statues, each placed in a separate niche or small chapel. The publication of more detailed information, which may now be expected on the basis of Professor Grünwedel's researches, will, I hope, permit us to form a definite opinion on this point H.

Scattered over the area between the Stûpa and the mound just described are the remains of two small square cellas, marked D, E on the plan, and of another small building, C, of oblong shape. The low crumbling walls show masonry of sun-dried bricks. Those of D and E measure outside 26 and 18 feet, respectively, on each face, while the third has a width of 15 feet. The size of the bricks is approximately the same as noted in the Stûpa. The ruin of a fourth small structure, F, forming an oblong of 272 by 21 feet, and containing two rooms, occupies a somewhat lower gravel terrace to the south of the Stûpa, separated by a narrow ravine from the end of the ridge. None of the little buildings preserve indications of their original use, whether as chapels or habitations for attendants ; nor did their examination furnish guidance as to the date of the Mauri-Tim ruins. Ancient Chinese copper coins are said to turn up in the vicinity, but no authentic finds came to my notice. That the ruins go back to pre-Muhammadan times, is, of course, quite certain, and is fully recognized by local tradition, which sees in the `

Gumbaz', i, e. the Stûpa, the watch-tower of the fabulous ` King of Chin and Machin ' who resided in the ` ancient city ' of Hasa-Tam before Harun Boghra Khan destroyed it.

Before closing my account of the ancient remains in the neighbourhood of Khan-ui, I must refer to a curious structure situated on the barren ` Dasht ' some three miles to the south-west of Mauri-Tim (see Fig. 17). Walls built of clay cast in moulds, and showing a perceptible inward slant, form an oblong, of which the western and eastern faces measure about 23 feet, and those to the north and south about 22 feet. The walls, which still rise to a height of 162 feet above the ground, are 32 feet thick, and clearly show horizontal layers, about 12 feet in height, corresponding to the wooden moulds in which, after the fashion still prevailing throughout Turkestan, the clay used in their construction was stamped. The foot of the walls, especially at the corners, has, as the photograph shows, suffered damage owing to the erosive action of the wind-driven sand. The structure does not appear to have ever been roofed, nor was it provided with a door, access to the interior being now obtained by a narrow hole cut into the east wall.

The name Kaptar-Khâna, ` the Pigeon House ', by which the ruin is popularly known, is derived from the little niches, surmounted by pointed arches and looking like pigeon-holes, which line the whole of the inner sides of the walls. They are arranged in six rows, each row containing 15 holes on the western and eastern sides, and 13 holes on the shorter sides to the north and south. Each hole is about II inches high, with a width and depth of to inches, and appears to have been originally intended for the reception of human bones ; for the ground inside is thickly strewn with bones, and has, according to the local information received by me, always been seen in this condition. Nothing at or near this desolate structure afforded evidence as to its date, though the relatively good preservation of the walls seems to preclude the assumption of great antiquity. Its shape and apparent purpose curiously recall a columbarium. Neither Buddhist custom as developed in India nor Muhammadanism would allow of such a disposal

10 The general resemblance pointed out by Dr. Klementz   give to the latter the character of a Stiipa is certainly

(ibid., pp. 31 sq.) between the plan of those Turfân structures   erroneous,
and the great temple of Bôdhgayâ cannot be denied ; but to

Smaller ruins at

M iuri-Tim.

Ruin of Kaptar-


Receptacles for human bones.