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0396 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 396 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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a man. There is not a bird to be seen in the air above, nor an animal on the ground below. Though you look all round most earnestly to find where you can cross, you know not where to make your choice, the only mark and indication being the dry bones [left upon the sand].'

Fa-hsien's   ` After travelling for seventeen days, a distance, we may calculate, of about 1,500 li, [the

description pilgrims] reached the kingdom of Shen-shen (i. e., Shan-shan), a country rugged and hilly, with of Shan-

shan.   a thin and barren soil. The clothes of the common people are coarse, and like those worn in our

land of Han, some wearing felt and others rough serge or cloth of hair ;—this was the only difference seen among them. The king professed [our] law, and there might be in the country more than four thousand monks who were all students of the Hinayâna. The common people of this and other kingdoms [in that region], as well as the gramans, all practise the rules of India, only that the latter do so more exactly, and the former more loosely.... Here they stayed for about a month, and then proceeded on their journey, fifteen dap' walking bringing them to the country of Woo-e.'

Fa-hsien's   The description of the desert crossed by the pilgrims on the way from Tun-huang to Shan-shan

Shan-sh an

represents agrees so closely with the details given by Marco Polo of his journey through the ` Desert of Lop',

Charkhlik. and with other early accounts of the desert route between Lop and Tun-huang, that no doubt can arise as to the route followed by Fa-hsien and his companions. Moreover, archaeological evidence conclusively proves that the old settlement north of the Lop-nor marshes was by that time already abandoned, so that it seems certain that the Shan-shan forming Fa-hsien's goal was the Lop tract of which the remains of Mirân and Charkhlik mark the chief sites. This location is consistent with the seventeen days' journey and the distance of 1,500 li that he gives ; the actual marching distance, which we measured with the cyclometer, was close on 380 miles between Charkhlik and Tun-huang, or 332 miles between Mirân and Tun-huang. The pilgrims' subsequent journey of fifteen days to Wu-i (Woo-e), with its north-westerly bearing, also confirms the identification ; for there is good reason to

believe that Fa-hsien's Wu-i 'p3     is but a variant of the form Wu-cla`i ,   , which figures
in Buddhist works as the designation of the Yen-clii ,,, IA of Chinese historical texts, corresponding to the present Kara-shahr.' The distance from Charkhlik to Kara-shahr by the map works out at about 28o miles, for which fifteen days' travel appears a very reasonable allowance, fourteen stages being counted on the present postal route between the two places.

Fa-hsien's   Fa-hsien's description of the country as rugged and hilly with a thin and barren soil ' finds its

description explanation in the extensive mountain tract, towards the Chimen-tâgh and Gass Lake, which affords suits

Charkhlik. grazing   large the lar a flocks of Charkhlik and is still included in the district. This also accounts for the

prevalence of woollen clothing which the pilgrim mentions. The reference to the flourishing condition of Buddhism is interesting in view of the archaeological discoveries described below, and so is the mention of the four thousand Buddhist monks whom Fa-hsien found in the territory ; for, however large relatively the monastic portion of the population may be in Buddhist countries like Tibet, it appears to me improbable that the modern Lop region, with its available agricultural resources, could possibly maintain this number of idlers. The progress of desiccation, with its consequent reduction of the productive area, seems to supply the only adequate explanation of the statement.

Li Tao-   It is convenient to depart slightly from the strict chronological order in connexion with

ytian's   Fa-hsien's record ; for in conjunction with Sung Yün's itinerary it helps to render more certain

notice.      the interpretation of the important topographical data to be found in Li Tao-ytian's commentary on
the ` Book of the Rivers ', the Shui Ching. As the author died in A. D. 527, the latest date for the information it furnishes is approximately fixed in the time of Sung Yün. But there is good reason

   a Cf. Watters, Yuan Chwang, i. p. 46. Mr. Watters'   a passage of Li Tao-yiian's commentary on the Shui thing

   identification of Wu-i with Kara-shahr is confirmed by the   (see below), where Fa-hsien's notice is reproduced; cf.

   evidence adduced by M. Chavannes in his remarks upon   T'oung-pao, 1905, p. 564, note 2.