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0317 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 317 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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left side of the leaf, as in most of the ancient manuscripts recovered from Eastern Turkestan.

Dr. Hoernle's examination (see list) shows that the leaf, numbered 8, contains a text written

in the non-Sanskritic (Proto-Tibetan ?) language, which he was the first to recognize in other

fragmentary manuscripts previously obtained from Eastern Turkestan, in part at least from

Khotan, and that the manuscript to which it belonged was probably that of a Buddhist canonical

text. The writing is attributed by Dr. Hoernle, on palaeographical grounds, to the seventh or

eighth century 1.

The find just described was made at a depth of about 5 feet from the surface and close MS. of

to the rough wooden post fixed in the floor as seen in Fig. 33. It was quickly followed by pâ âmitâ.

a series of other manuscript finds, all consisting of fragments, but varying in extent from

relatively large portions of single leaves to batches of numerous minute pieces. Among these

fragments (numbered D. III. 2-I I) the large majority could at the time be easily recognized, by

their conformity in paper, size, and handwriting as having originally formed part of a Sanskrit

manuscript treating of Buddhist canonical matter. Dr. Hoernle's careful analysis proves that

these fragments belong to the eighteenth and nineteenth chapters of a Mahayana text, apparently

some king of Prajnâ Pâramitâ, written in Gupta characters of the seventh or eighth century on

leaves of very large size, about 18 by 7 inches 2. A leaf of this work, as restored from two pieces

(D. III. 7, 8) is reproduced in Plate CV I I. The obverse contains the conclusion of the eighteenth

chapter (Bhûmiparivarta), marked also by a diagram of homocentric rings, and bears on its left

hand margin the pagination number 132. Dr. Hoernle's notes show that remnants of two other

Buddhist Sanskrit texts, one of them apparently containing the story of the Yaksa chief

Manibhadra (see Plate CI X), are represented among these fragments 3.

The position in which all these manuscript pieces were found, embedded in loose sand at Position

levels varying from 4 to 3 feet above the original flooring, proved beyond all doubt that they °emains.

could have got there only by accident. Their distribution in varying depths and places makes it

probable that they had fallen in from an upper story, while the basement was gradually filling

up with drift-sand. This assumption was borne out by small pieces of animal bones, felt, leather,

and oilcakes (kunjara), which turned up in the same layers. The earlier any manuscript remains

had reached the safe resting-place offered by the sand-covered basement, the more extensive they

might reasonably be expected to be. So I watched with growing eagerness the progress made

by my men on December 23 in clearing the sand nearer down to the original floor. The first

find, made a little to the east of the post already mentioned and about I2 feet above the floor,

was the portion of a document (D. III. 12) written on a sheet of coarse thin paper, about

10 by 8 inches, in cursive Brahmi characters of the eighth century (see Plate CX). In the text

Dr. Hoernle has recognized the same Eastern Iranian language in which a number of other

documents from Dandan-Uiliq are recorded. As in the majority of these, the writing is confined

to one side of the sheet only, since the thin unsized paper, like the modern Khotan paper, would

readily absorb the ink and let it pass through.

As the work proceeded towards the centre of the room, a massive beam of poplar wood Carved

(` Terek', Poftulus alba), 11 inches thick and in almost perfect preservation, was laid bare. Its Posts.

length, close on 19 feet, and its position showed that it had once stretched right across the room, undoubtedly supporting its ceiling. Two well-carved octagonal posts, each 4 feet 5 inches high

and exactly alike, had turned up before (see Figs. 32, 33). Their bell-shaped capitals, 4 inches high, were surmounted by single circular bands accurately reproducing the Amalaka ornament of

1 Comp. Hoernle, Report on C.-A. ant., ii. pp. 12 sq.,   2 See Dr. Hoernle's Note i. in list of finds.

18 sqq.   S See Notes ii. and iii. in list below.