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0132 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 132 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Buddhism at Chê-chüchia.

The writing of Chê-chüchia.

Language spoken at




et les collines se touchent. De vastes plages sont couvertes de sable et de pierres. Ce royaume est voisin de deux fleuves ; la culture des grains et des arbres fruitiers y est florissante. Il abonde surtout en raisins, en poires et en prunes. Le vent et le froid règnent en toute saison 2.' The latter remark applies with particular force to the higher parts of the valleys comprised in the district. But it is easy to recognize also the previous reference to the vast slopes of pebble-strewn ` Dasht ' which form the glacis of the outer ranges, and to the plains of moving sand extending further northward. The two rivers alluded to are manifestly the Zarafshan and the Tiznaf; the oases irrigated from them and their tributaries still abound in rich orchards and arbours. Coming from the north, just as Hsüan-tsang did, I was struck by the variety and luxuriant growth of the fruit and other trees to be seen around Karghalik. The rural scenery thus created reminded me more of Kashmir than any other I saw in the country (see Fig. i5) 3.

Hsüan-tsang is less laudatory in his account of the people. ` The men are passionate and cruel ; they are false and treacherous, and in open day practise robbery . . . . Their politeness is very scant, and their knowledge of literature and the arts equally so. They have an honest faith, however, in the three precious objects of worship, and love the practice of religion. There are several tens of Satighârâmas, but mostly in a ruinous condition ; there

are some hundred followers who study the Great Vehicle 4.'   The latter statement plainly
shows that the Buddhist establishments of the country had seen their most flourishing days by the time of the pilgrim's visit ; yet he notes the interesting fact that the canonical texts of the Mahayana school as preserved by them were more numerous than elsewhere. ` Parmi les lieux où est parvenue la loi du Bouddha, il n'en est aucun où la doctrine du Mahayana soit aussi florissante. Elle embrasse dix recueils renfermant chacun cent mille 8lokas. Depuis qu'elle a été introduite dans ce pays jusqu'à nos jours, elle s'est étendue d'une manière remarquable a.'

Whatever may have been the cause of this special affluence in canonical texts, it is certain, in view of what we had occasion to remark above of the territorial division between the two great Buddhist schools in the ` Western Regions ', that this predominance of the Mahayana doctrine in the convents of Chê-chü-chia indicates close connexion with the Buddhist Church as established at Khotan 6. In full agreement herewith we learn that the written characters here used were the same as those of Ch`ü-sa-tan-na or Khotan. But of the spoken language Hsüantsang tells us that it was different. Hsüan-tsang's statement as to the writing of Chê-chü-chia is borne out and explained by identical notices of Sung Yün and the Tang Annals to be discussed below 7. These inform us that the written characters of that territory were the same as those of the Po-lo-mên or Brahmans ; and we know in fact by the manuscript finds from the ancient sites of Khotan that it was the Brahmi script of India, with but slight local modifications, which prevailed in Khotan during the Tang period.

Hsüan-tsang's remark, however, regarding the spoken language is at variance with the earlier notices of Sung Yün and his fellow-traveller, Hui-shêng, to be referred to below, in which the language of the people of Chu-chü-po (i. e. Chê-chü-chia) is declared to be similar to that of YU-t`ien or Khotan 8. We know that these two pilgrims visited both Khotan and Karghalik about the year 519 n. D., and their observation as to the language .they heard about Karghalik

2 See Mémoires, ii. p. 221. Beal, ii. p. 307, translates : Stony districts spread in every direction,' which seems less

accurate.   p.

S See Ruins of Khotan, pp. 174, 179.

Beal, Siyu-k:, ii. p. 308.   6 M6noires, ii. p. 222.

6 See above, pp. 56 sq.

7 Compare pp. 91 sq. ; Chavannes, Voyage de Song Yun, 20; Turcs occid., p. 124.

8 See below, p. 92 ; Chavannes, Voyage de Song Fun, 19, note 4.