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0284 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 284 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Panel illustrating legend.

Tibetan version of legend.

Location of Lu-she' convent.


That the legend here related about the origin of one of Khotan's most important industries enjoyed widespread popularity is proved by the painted panel (D. iv. 5) discovered by me in one of the Dandân-U iliq shrines, which presents us, as my detailed analysis will show 31, with a spirited picture of the Chinese princess in the act of offering protection to a basketfull of unpierced cocoons. An attendant pointing to the princess's headdress recalls her beneficent smuggling by which Khotan was supposed to have obtained its first silkworms, while another attendant engaged at a loom or silk-weaving implement symbolizes the industry which the princess's initiative had founded. A divine figure seated in the background may represent the genius presiding over the silkworms 32.

But the fame of the legend is also attested by the version of it which we meet with in the `Annals of Li-yul ' 33. There we are told that king Vijayajaya, the third successor of Vijayavirya mentioned above in connexion with the legend of the So-mo jê convent, married Princess Pu-nyeshar, the daughter of the ruler of China. Wishing to introduce silkworms into Li-yul she commenced raising some at Ma-dza, a locality not otherwise specified. Misled by a mischievous story told him by the ministers of China, the king had the house burned down where the silkworms were being raised. The queen, however, managed to save and rear some silkworms, and when she was able to show to the king the garments she had made of the silk thus procured he greatly regretted his previous deed. ` He called from India the Bhiksu Sarighaghosa and made him his spiritual adviser, and to atone for his wickedness he built the Po-ta-rya and Ma-dza tchaityas and a great Vihâra (or, the Caitya and the great Vihâra of Ma-dza).'

Different as the form of the legend here is, there can be little doubt that by the Caitya and Vihâra of Ma-dza the same sacred locality is meant where Hsüan-tsang found the Lu-shê convent. For the location of the latter the Hsi yü-chi s notice is our only guide ; and as the popular shrine of- Kum-i-Shahldân before mentioned occupies a position relative to Vatican, exactly corresponding in direction and distance to the 5-6 li to the south-east of the pilgrim's description, I believe we are justified in recognizing here another instance of the survival of old local worship, notwithstanding characteristic change in its objects. It is true that Julien's translation places the Lu-shê convent 50 or 6o li south of the capital. But even if this rendering is supported by a variant of the Chinese text and is not merely the result of inadvertence (by no means unfrequent in the Mémoires where figures and bearings are concerned), it could not claim much weight ; for the distance of 5o-6o li or io-i i miles to the south would take us far beyond the limits of cultivable soil to the stony waste of the ` Sai ' at the foot of the hills, where it is impossible to suppose that mulberries or any other tree-growth could ever have flourished within historical times. It must further be noted that the legend heard by Hsüan-tsang represented the Lu-shê convent as built on the site which had served as a halting-place for the princess coming from China immediately before her solemn entry into the royal palace. It is clear that a locality io miles or so to the south of the capital would not answer this description.

Among the sacred sites of Khotan described by Hsüan-tsang there still remains one awaiting our notice ; and as it was believed to be the oldest Buddhist sanctuary of the territory, and manifestly enjoyed great fame, I should not have referred to it last but for the uncertainty of its location. This uncertainty is the more curious since the shrine is mentioned not only by

Legend of Vairocana's convent.

cocoons, fetching ten times the price of pierced ones. Yet Buddhist sentiment in the island is strongly averse to the killing of the worm inside, which the working of unpierced cocoons presupposes.

$1 See below, chap. ix. sec. v.

82 This figure is male ; else it might be adduced in support of Julien's translation of a passage above quoted which represents the Lu-shê convent as constructed in honour ' de la déesse des vers à soie.'

33 See Rockhill, Life of !he Buddha, pp. 238 sq.