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0220 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 220 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Khotan described in Liang Annals.

Sung Yün's account of Khotan (5x9 A. D.).


recorded by the Pd shih. In 445 A.D. Khotan was invaded by Mu-li-yen, chief of the T`u-yü-hun, whom a Chinese army had driven from the Tangut country, and who took refuge westwards 24. He is said to have killed the king of Khotan and to have effected great carnage 25. Embassies from Yü-t`ien and gifts of presents are recorded for the years 457, 466, 467, 468 A. D. Towards the close of the reign of Hsien Wên ti (circa 470 A.D.) an envoy called Su-mu-ch`ieh arrived from Khotan to ask imperial aid against an invasion of the Juan-juan, whose cavalry was ravaging the territory to the very gates of its capital 26. The emperor refused the requested help, on the ground of the great distance, and contented himself with sharing the hope of his ministers that Khotan would hold out behind its walls against the nomad hordes little versed in sieges.

Some time before this the king of Khotan, Ch`iu-jên-chê, had retained an ambassador of the king of Persia who was proceeding with elephants and rare presents to the Chinese court ; but a remonstrance from the latter had effected his deliverance, and tribute is said to have been paid subsequently with regularity. Though a real dependence on China, then divided between the rival dynasties of North and South, cannot be supposed, embassies from Khotan are mentioned in the years 502, 507, 512, and 513 27. Also the Annals of the Liang Dynasty (502-556 A. D.) record such missions in the years 509, 513, 518, and 541, and it is interesting to note that among the presents brought by them were figure vases in glass and a Buddha statue of jade carved in foreign lands 28.

The description of Yü-t`ien which the Pien i lien reproduces from the Liang Annals is brief, but not without interest 29. It mentions its numerous rivers, which lose themselves in the sands, the jade found in them, the ample produce of cereals and vines. The fruits and vegetables of the country are compared to those of China. The capital is designated as ` the city of the Western mountains '. •Of the people it is stated that they are much devoted to the cult of Buddha, and very courteous in manners, to the extent of kneeling down whenever they meet. The mention made of the skill of the workers in brass and of the liberties enjoyed by the women in social intercourse has already been noted. The reference to pieces of wood used for writing has received illustration by my finds at the Niya Site, and will be discussed later. A few minor points agreeing with notices of other Annals will also be noted further on.

Sung Yün, whose account we find reproduced in extenso by the Pien i tien, reached Khotan in 519 A. D. from the direction of Shan-shan . He relates at length the legend to be discussed in the next chapter about the first Stûpa of Khotan, erected miraculously by Vairocana. Of the territory he only tells us that it measured 3,000 li from east to west. Its king wore a gilt headdress resembling in shape a cock's crest, from which there descended behind as an ornament a band of silk two feet long and five inches broad 31. On ceremonial occasions there were players of various musical instruments, besides bearers of swords and other arms, in his following. Of the women of Yü-t`ien, Sung Yün notes that they wore girdles, short vests and trousers, and rode on horseback like men 32. The dead were burned, their bones subsequently collected

24 Regarding the T`u-yii-hun and Kuku-Nor region, compare Chavannes,

p. 11, note 4.

24 See Rémusat, loc. cit., pp. 18, 21 ;

p. i6 note.

26 See Rémusat, loc. cit., pp. 25 sqq

21 Ibid., p. 27.

23 Ibid., p. 17,

29 Ibid., p. x6,

their seats in the Voyage de Song Yun,

Voyage de Song Yun,

30 See Voyage de Song Fun, pp. 15 sqq.

31 The notice of the Liang Annals describes the royal headdress as of gold and in shape resembling that of the Tartar princes; see Rémusat, loc. cit., p. 16. Rémusat's text of Sung Yiin's passage mentions Iwo bands of silk.

32 Rémusat's version makes the women ride on camels as well as on horses ; see loc. cit., p. 22. The point is of some interest with reference to certain pictorial representations from Dandin Uiliq. See below, chap. ix. sec. vi.