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0283 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 283 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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we do find the immediate vicinity of the Naghara-khanah occupied by a well-known Mazar, that of the Three Ghazis. According to the story as related to me, the three holy men had, after the martyrdom of the Four Imams, sought for their resting-place without finding it. They then stopped at this site when the earth closed over them 25. The saints' tomb is marked by a relatively well-built ` Gumbaz ', and forms an object of popular pilgrimage from all parts of the oasis.

It is also to the south-east of the capital, but at a distance nearer than the Aiding-Kul marsh, that we have to look for the site of another Buddhist convent which Hstian-tsang mentions in connexion with an interesting local legend 2°. To the south-east of the royal city, five or six li 27, so the Hsi yii-chi tells us, there was a convent known as the Lu-shé Sangharama, founded by the queen of a former ruler, to whom tradition ascribed the introduction of sericulture into Khotan. In old times the country knew nothing of either mulberry trees or silkworms. Hearing that China possessed them, the king of Khotan sent an envoy to procure them ; but at that time the ruler of China was determined not to let others share their possession, and had strictly prohibited seeds of the mulberry tree or silkworms' eggs being carried outside his frontiers. The king of Khotan then with due submission prayed for the hand of a Chinese princess. When this request had been acceded to, he dispatched an envoy to escort the princess from China, taking care to let the future queen know through him that, in order to assure to herself fine silk robes when in Khotan, she had better bring some mulberry seeds and silkworms with her.

The princess thus advised secretly procured mulberry seeds and silkworms' eggs, and by concealing them in the lining of her headdress, which the chief of the frontier guards did not dare to examine, managed to remove them safely to Khotan. On her first arrival and before her solemn entry into the royal palace, she stopped at the site where subsequently the Lu-she convent was built 28, and there left the silkworms and the mulberry seeds. From the latter grew up the first mulberry trees, with the leaves of which the silkworms were fed when their time had come. Then the queen issued an edict engraved on stone, prohibiting the working up of the cocoons until the moths of the silkworms had escaped. ` Then she founded this Sangharama on the spot where the first silkworms were bred 29 ; and there are about here many old mulberry tree trunks which they say are the remains of the trees first planted. From old time till now this kingdom has possessed silkworms, which nobody is allowed to kill, with a view to take away the silk stealthily. Those who do so are not allowed to rear the worms for a succession of years 30.'

25 The names were mentioned to me as Khwaja Pakian Ghäzi, Khwaja Shaikh Atä-ulwali Ghäzi, Khan Amin Nukrubil Ghäzi. M. Grenard probably means the same shrine when speaking of the tomb of ' Keytous Maghrébî,' a follower of the Four Imams, as adjoining the Naghärakhänah ; see Mission D. de Ridas, iii. p. 40, note x. Much in the nomenclature of modern Muhammadan legend about Khotan seems to be subject to similar variations.

2a See Mémoires, ii. pp. 237 sqq. ; Si-yu-hi, ii. pp. 318 sq.; Ville de Kholan, pp. 55 sq.

27 Thus Beal and Rémusat ; regarding Julien's ` cinquante ou soixante li au sud de la capitale,' which may be merely a mistake of translation, see below.

28 For the correct interpretation of this passage, Beal's and Rémusat's versions must be consulted.

2Y Beal's version reproduced above is substantially also that of Rémusat, loc. cit., p. 56. Julien translates : ' Aussitôt après, elle fit construire ce couvent en l'honneur de la déesse des vers à soie.'

3Ö Julien's version of the concluding passage slightly differs ; but there can be no doubt that the prohibition of the killing of the silkworms within the cocoon is referred to. Such a practice would necessarily be opposed to Buddhist notions about the sanctity of animal life, whatever its advantages from the point of view of the silk producer. The purport of the queen's alleged edict is curiously illustrated by a paragraph of The Pioneer, June z r, x 905, recording ' an unexpected and unforeseen difficulty ' which has cropped up in connexion with the spread of silk production in Ceylon. The demand is now said to be almost entirely for unpierced

Hsüantsang's Lushé convent.

Legend of the introduction of silkworms.