Sec. vi] RECORDS FROM THE HU-KUO CONVENT 275
the eastern room (see Plate XXVI), which was cleared first, nothing was found but a small fireplace built of plaster against the southern wall. But the contents of the larger room adjoining it westwards, and measuring 18 by 121 feet, proved all the more interesting. In the sand which filled it to a height of about 5 feet, there appeared first in the middle of the east wall the remains of a well designed fireplace, 3 ft. 8 in. broad, surmounted by bold plaster mouldings. By its side, towards the south-east corner, there was first found, lying in the loose sand about I foot above the floor, the small painted panel D. vii. 1, and immediately below it the Chinese document D. vII. 2, neatly folded up into a roll about II inches long, which opened up easily into a completely preserved sheet (see Plate CXV). Lower down, and sticking to the mud flooring, there lay two small packets, D. vII. 3 and D. VII. 4, of Chinese papers, each consisting of several folded-up rolls, mostly fragmentary. Nearer to the south wall of the corner and several inches above the floor the two well-painted panels D. viz. 5 and D. vII. 6 were discovered in excellent preservation. Finally, about 4 feet to the west of the fireplace and near to the floor, there was found the almost complete document D. vII. 7 (see Plate CXV I), also folded into a roll, I I inches long, the specially interesting contents of which we shall have occasion to discuss presently. Owing to the complete decay of the greater part of the walls facing west and south it was impossible to determine where the entrance to this room lay. But the height of the posts still rising above the better protected east wall plainly showed that there had once been another story above it. A small structure built of rush-walls against the north wall of the house (see plan) may have served as a store-room.
The annotated translations which M. Chavannes has given in Appendix A of all the Chinese documents found in D. vii make it easy to realize that, petty as are the affairs with which they deal, their value for the determination of antiquarian questions directly concerning the site is very considerable. Owing to the damp that must once have reached them through the mud floor, all the small rolls of folded paper comprised in the packets marked D. vii. 3 and D. vII. 4 have suffered considerably. Some documents, of which only small fragments could be recovered, may have been partially broken up either before they reached the place where they were found, or before a sufficient cover of sand had accumulated to protect them. The folded condition in which they were discovered, with the damage caused by the partial peeling off of the outer folds, is illustrated by Plate CXV, which shows the document D. vII. 4. a both before and after the unfolding. In view of these circumstances it is particularly fortunate that the two documents D. vii. 2 and D. vii. 7, having been entirely embedded in sand and well above the floor, have survived almost wholly intact. Apart from their intrinsic interest they help to settle all doubts as to the character and origin of the rest. The position in which these two documents were discovered suggests that they might have fallen into the sand, which had already commenced to fill the room, from some higher receptacle on the walls or possibly through some fissure in the flooring of the upper story.
D. vII. 2, written on a sheet of thin yellowish paper measuring about 151- by I I â inches (see Plate CXV), is a formal bond dated in the 3rd year Chien-chung (A.D. 782) for a sum of one thousand pieces of money, i.e. ` cash ', which Ma Ling-chih, a soldier, has borrowed from Chien-ying, a monk of the Hu-kuo temple, at a rate of interest no less than ten per cent. per mensem, pledging for this loan all his movable property. We find the identical monk named as the creditor in another bond, D. vii. 4. a (Plate CXV), dated in the same year 1, which relates