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0189 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 189 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Hsüan-tsang drew his picture. It can be safely asserted that display of temper and bluffness of words and manners are far rarer among the people of Khotan than, e. g., among those of Kashgar. The observations which I had occasion to make on this point, while watching during months the conduct of my followers from the different territories, are in entire agreement with popular verdict as current in the country itself. It charges the ` Kashgarliks ' with quick temper and obstinacy, while the Khotanese are credited with hypocritical suavity Z0. Just because the development of the population of the Tarim Basin under conditions determined by the same geographical and historical influences must necessarily tend towards uniformity, such differences as we have just observed, though they may now appear mere nuances, must be of special interest to the historical student.

The fondness for enjoyments, which Hsüan-tsang and the 'rang Annalists noted in the Fondness Khotanese of their days, still survives as fresh as ever. Of the multifarious occasions which finenamuseserve rich and poor alike for the organization of fêtes and amusements, M. Grenard's description gives a sufficient idea 21. Though it is difficult to make comparisons in a matter of this sort without prolonged experience, I certainly carried away the impression that a Khotanese crowd or (arty need less of a tamâshci to feel thoroughly happy than people elsewhere in Turkestan, while their abandonment to the enjoyment of the hour, whether it be a religious festival, family feast, pilgrimage, &c., or merely a novel sight, seemed always distinctly keener.

At all feasts and entertainments music, singing, and dancing are the chief diversions ; Love of

and for them the Khotanese of to-day still show the same love and insatiable appetite which music and


Hsüan-tsang and other Chinese observers noted in their ancestors. Music and singing are dear to the people all over Eastern Turkestan ; but probably nowhere are small bands of professional musicians more numerous and the demand for them greater than in Khotan 22. It is a point of special interest that dancing, elsewhere practically confined to professional dancers, women or boys, is a pastime freely indulged in by Khotanese of both sexes and of all classes. This local peculiarity deserves the more notice since the practice must have encountered the opposition of the clergy ever since the introduction of Islam, and is certainly in strange contrast to the general gravity and decorum fostered by Muhammadan tenets.

This lively hankering after pleasures of all sorts must often lead to complete neglect of Adven-

serious material interests. It thus probably accounts to a great extent for the strikingly large toccupations.

number of cases in Khotan where men of all trades and classes, after having ruined themselves, seek refuge in more adventurous occupations. Of such Khotan has always offered a pleasing variety to those low down in their luck and averse to any constant exertion. Gold-washing, jade-digging, and ` treasure-seeking ' at old sites in the desert are all callings which imply the certainty of great privations and hardships with a very limited possibility of substantial profit. Yet their attractions are great, like those of a lottery, and usually suffice to prevent their votaries from ever returning permanently to settled lives. In this way the riches which the Khotan region keeps, or is believed to keep, buried below the soil have probably since early times exerted a demoralizing influence on social organization.

Notwithstanding the relatively large number of men following adventurous pursuits, the oasis Want of

of Khotan and the adjacent tracts are remarkably clear from crimes of violence. Considering how physical

little the existing administration could do to prevent them, we may ascribe this fact, partly at

least, to that law-abiding disposition of the population which the early Chinese observers noted.

20 Comp. Grenard, Mission D. de Rhins, ii. p. 91.

21 See Grenard, ib., ii. pp. 85 sqq.

22 Regarding the music practised, the instruments used, &c.,

see the full and interesting data given by M. Grenard (Mission D. de Rhins, ii. pp. 135 sqq.), whose information is of special value as having been chiefly gathered at Khotan.