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0227 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 227 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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within a few years, for a similar decree in favour of his wife is recorded for the year 740 37. Of Wei-ch'ih Kuei's son and successor Shêng we possess somewhat fuller data, a special biography being devoted to him in the Tang Annals 38. We learn from them that during the period Tien-pao (742-755 A. D.) this Khotan ruler came to present offerings to the emperor and received from him an imperial princess in marriage. After returning to his territory he helped Kao Hsien-chih to attack and vanquish Sa-pi-po-hsien. In the latter M. Chavannes has recognized with good reason the chief of Little P`o-lü or Gilgit-Yasin, against whom, as we have already seen, Kao Hsien-chih directed his famous campaign across the Pamirs in 747 A. D. 39. In the latter year, as well as in 748, embassies from Khotan with presents for the imperial court are recorded". Shêng testified his attachment to the imperial house still further by leaving, in 756, his territory in order to support with five thousand horse the emperor Su tsung in his desperate struggle against the pretender An Lu-shan. Shih-hu (Jabgu) Yao, his younger brother, to whom he had entrusted the charge of his state, was in 76o appointed second in command of the ` Four Garrisons ', with the task of carrying on the government of the Khotan kingdom.

Shêng himself died in China, while his brother was still ruling, about 786, when Wu-k`ung passed through Khotan. The pilgrim's itinerary duly mentions him by the name of Wei-ch`ih Yao, and by his side the deputy-governor Chêng Chü, evidently a Chinese official 41. The special interest of Wu-ktung's notice lies in the fact that it relates to the very close of the period of Tang dominion in Eastern Turkestan. When sketching the history of this dominion in chapter III, we have already seen how the advance of the Tibetans east of the Tarim Basin had, during the last third of the eighth century, rendered more and more difficult the maintenance of Chinese authority by the officials and troops left behind in the ` Four Garrisons' 42.

Wu-k`ung's record and the Chinese documents brought to light from the ruins of DandanUiliq, bearing dates from 768-790 A. D., afford valuable testimony to the fact that Chinese administrative influence made itself felt at Khotan to within a year of the date (790-79I) when all connexion between the empire and the ` Four Garrisons ' was finally broken by the Tibetan occupation of Pei-t`ing (Béshbalik). We know that the direct route between the southern oases of the Tarim Basin and Kan-su had become closed long before through the advance of the Tibetans. A sidelight is thrown on the resulting insecurity of communication by a curious story which closes the notice of Yü-t`ien in the Tang Annals. It relates how Chu Ju-yü, a palace official sent in 78o A. D. to Khotan to purchase jade articles for the emperor Tê tsung, was on the return journey robbed of his precious acquisitions by marauding Hui-ho (Uigurs) 43.


From the year 790-791 Chinese records cease to furnish any information on the region once comprised in the ` Four Garrisons ' for nearly one and a half centuries. As the notice of the Posterior Tsin Annals to be discussed presently tells us, ` the troubles which agitated China



37 Turcs occid., p. 127 ; Notes addit., p. 61. The Annals give the name of the princess as Ma; the record of the Ts'é fu yuan kuei calls her Wei, perhaps an abbreviation of the royal family name.

sa Turcs occid., p. 127, with note 4.

S9 See above, pp. 8 sqq.


Ville de Kholan, p. 7i ; Chavannes, Notes addil., p. 80.

41 See Chavannes and S. Lévi, L'Itinéraire d'Ou-kong, 27.

42 See above, pp. 63 sqq.

43 See Rémusat, Ville de Kholan, pp. 72 sq.

A a

Wu-k`ung's visit to Khotan,

circ. 786 A. D.

End of Chinese supremacy, cire. 791 A.D.