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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A survey of Uyghur documents from

Central Asian Survey (1999), 18(3), 281±301
A survey of Uyghur documents from
Turpan and their importance forAsian and Central Eurasian history
Since the end of the 19th century, numerous cultural relics and historicaldocuments have been unearthed in the Turpan Basin in present-day northwesternChina. Among them are medieval Uyghur manuscripts that provide invaluablehistorical material for scholars studying the history, literature, language, religionand arts of Uyghur civilization. The unearthed Turpan manuscripts and thediscoveries of the ancient mummi® ed human remains from the Tarim Basin inrecent years have rekindled scholarly debate about Central Asian history ingeneral and Uyghur history in particular. Coverage of these discoveries in theinternational media has captured not only the popular imagination but also theinterest of scholars now engaged in heated debate about the origins anddevelopment of the Indo-European UyghursÐthe single most populous group inChina’ s Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region.But who are the Uyghurs? Where is the Turpan Basin? Where else have theUyghurs lived in Central Eurasia? How, when, and why did they acceptBuddhism, Manichaeism and, ® nally, Islam? By what names did neighbours tothe east and west identity them in history? When did they become a part ofChina? How do we develop Uyghur historiography and how best to integratenewly unearthed archaeological evidence into Asian and Central Asian history?These important questions address such key historical issues as the spread ofreligious belief across cultures, migration across all of Eurasia, and culturalexchange over many centuries that linked the peoples of the vast Eurasiansteppe.Five hundred million years ago, there was only the land of the Tarim andYarish in the centre of Eurasia, surrounded by the waters of an inland sea. Aftera crustal upheaval in the Paleozoic Era, the waters of the sea graduallydisappeared. Approximately at the end of the third period of the Cenozoic Era,Dolkun Kamberi is senior editor, Radio Free Asia, Uyghur Broadcast ServicePrint 0263-4937; Online 1465-3354/99/030281-21Ó1999 Central Asian SurveyDOLKUN KAMBERIwhat was formerly the sea ¯ oor protruded and became the great mountain rangesthat today surround the Tarim and Yarish [Jungarian] Basins.According to Uyghur legends, this pre-historic period was `the time when thethree mountain ranges gripped the three basins’ . Today, the Uyghur homelandencompasses the Tarim, Yarish and Turpan Basins. The three basins aresurrounded by some of the world’ s highest mountain ranges: the Qurum(Karum), Qara-Qurum (Kara-Korum) and Altun mountains in the south; the`roof of the world’ Pamirs in the southwest; the Altay mountains of the north;and the TaÈ ngri (Tianshan) ranges which bisect today’ s Uyghur region. The latterseparate the Yarish (Jungar) Basin of the north from the Tarim Basin of thesouth. The Turpan Basin lies to the east of the Tangri mountain ranges,contiguous to the famous Buddhist caves of Dunhuang.Early in the century, German scholars published numerous scholarly workson Central Asia and on medieval Uyghur manuscripts in particular. Thelatter included such works as Uigurica, Turkische Turpantexte, Deutsche TurpanForschung, Berliner Turpantexte, and the like. These works and researchmaterials established the foundation for the ® eld of Turkology; at the sametime, they also stimulated explorers to search Central Asia for artefactsof past civilizations, resulting in a century of Silk Road archaeologicalexploration.Building upon this base, in the past few decades the study of Turpan Uyghurmanuscripts and Dunhuang documents has reached new heights. According tothe character and speci® c achievements in archeological ® eld work, I havedivided a century of archeological explorations in the Turpan and surroundingarea into four distinct periods. The ® rst was between 1886 and 1935; the secondfrom 1935 to 1955; the third 1955 to 1976; and the fourth from 1976 to 1996.During these four periods, archeologists discovered a range of manuscripts atTurpan and other sites written in a variety of ancient scripts. Among the mostimportant were well-preserved ancient texts in Sanskrit, Sogdian, Karoshti,Khotan-Tumshuqese, Tokharian A, Tokharian B, and many medieval Uyghurtexts as well (Kamberi, 1996).Since 1975 I have been involved in archeological ® eld work in the TurpanBasinÐa rich archeological site where extreme aridity has preserved manyimportant artefacts that include naturally mummi® ed human remains, art work inbronze and gold, textiles, and numerous petroglyphs. It is also the site ofdiscovery of numerous medieval Uyghur documents, charting both religiouspractice and economic development in the region. Religious documents includeworks of Uyghur Buddhist and Manicheaen literature, fragments of Manicheaenstories and poems, and Buddhist sutras, sutra colophons, dedicatory odes; thereis also much evidence of socioeconomic development, including fragments ofcontracts, receipts for loans, of® cial orders, government documents and the like.I have deciphered and translated many of these manuscripts, noting that each hasits own characteristics in terms of ideology, language and culture. Thesematerials provide ® rst-hand data for the further study of Asian and Uyghurhistory.282A SURVEY OF UYGHUR DOCUMENTS FROM TURPANThe UyghursThe basic meaning of the name Uyghur is unity, but it may also be translatedas union, coalition or federation. The name appeared ® rst in records of theOrkhun KoÈ k TuÈ rk inscriptions and in early Uyghur. Later forms of the name canbe found in medieval Uyghur script, the Manichaean’ s Sogdian script, and theArabic script of the Qarakhanid and Chagatay period. Apart from these InnerAsian forms, the name can also be found in different periods and diverse textsin Chinese, appearing in more than 100 transliterated forms. The latter includesuch forms as Die, Chidie, Hu Saka/Scythian, Hun, Uysun, Dingling, Qangqil,Sogdian, and Tokharian.The lands inhabited by the above groups were called the Western Regions, orthe Western States in ancient Chinese records. Because of their location on theancient trade routes between East and West, connecting the Greco-Roman worldwith Indian Buddhist culture and with the Central and East Asian traditions, theregion that includes Turpan was very prosperous. Passing merchants’ caravansand warrior parties made stops for extended periods of time, leaving behind theirlegacy of material wealth and cultural practices. In the process, they imparted tothe region a cosmopolitan character, marked by linguistic, racial and religioustolerance. Uyghur culture and art at Turpan and other Silk Road sites thusdeveloped not only on the basis of their own steppe traditions but was alsoin¯ uenced by cultural exchange between the East and West.One of the most interesting facets of early Uyghur civilization is the developmentof a sophisticated urban culture. Although little attention has been paid toUyghur urbiculture in scholarly research, there is, in fact, a good deal ofdocumentation as well as archaeological relics that provide us with evidence ofurban society. One of the earliest written texts referring speci® cally to cities inthe early medieval period is the Maitrisimit, the Uyghur author of which wrote:Bu buyan aÈ dguÈ qõ È lõÈ nch kuÈ chintaÈ taÈ ngridaÈ m chogh yalõ È nlarõ È ashõ È lzun uÈ staÈ lzun ulusõ È mõ È nbalõ È qlõ È rõ È mõ È koÈ zaÈ duÈ ichtin sõÈ ngar ¼ migaÈ n bolmazun tashtõ È n sõÈ ngar yaghõ È boÈ ri bolmazunqamughun tõ È nlõ È ghlar maÈ ngilig bolzunlar.With aid from the power of merit and virtuous doing, I hope that the dignity of the highestlords will be greatly raised. Let them protect our state and cities; let us live without internalmisery, or the external world-like enemy; let all creatures be happy. (Kamberi, 1995)Another important written source on Uyghur cities is the 11th-century encyclopediaDiwan LughatõÈ t TuÈ rk by Uyghur scholar MaÈ khmud QaÈ shqaÈ ri. In thiswork, the author writes that the Uyghurs have a `long history of an urbanizedlifestyle’ . Under his entry for the name `Uyghur’ , he records that the Uyghursbuilt ® ve cities after Alexander the Great left his footprints in Central Asia; heindicated the position of these cities on his famous map of Asia. The followingdirect translation from the encyclopedia mentions the source of his information,a man of princely rank who acquired his information from his father, the Khan:Uyghur is the name of a state. It has ® ve cities. These cities were built after ZulqarnaÈ yin*reached an agreement with the Turk Khaqan. Nizamidin Isra® l Tuqan Tigin, the son of283DOLKUN KAMBERIMaÈ khmud ChaqõÈ r Tutqa Khan, told me what [information] he acquired from his father andsaid: When ZulqarnaÈ yin arrived near the Uyghur state, the Turk Khaqan sent four thousandtroop against him. The feathers of the troop’ s helmets are like the wings of an eagle. Theyshoot arrows forward as well as they do backward. ZulqarnaÈ yin was amazed by their skilland said: `They could ® nd food for feeding themselves without depending on others; nobird and beast would escape from their hunting. Whenever they want food, they can huntto eat’ . Since that time the state was called Uyghur. (Kamberi, 1995)*In Central Asia, Alexander the Great is known as IskaÈ ndaÈ r ZulqarnaÈ yin.Clearly, by the 11th-century the Uyghurs were known as a Central Asianpower. The encyclopedia notes that they have a `strong army’ with `excellentmilitary equipment’ , and are known to be `courageous and skillful in battle’ .These elements were no doubt one reason why QaÈ shqaÈ ri felt secure in describingthem as a `completely independent’ people since the time of Alexander theGreat. Interestingly, the words ascribed to Alexander have taken on newsigni® cance in light of recent archaeological discoveries: many of the recentlyunearthed mummies of the Tarim Basin wear hats trimmed with goose feathers,corroborating QaÈ shqaÈ ri’ s account of helmets decorated with feathers, as citedabove.MaÈ khmud QaÈ shqaÈ ri also discussed the Uyghurs of his own era. He dividedthem into two groups according to their religious beliefs. Those living south ofthe TaÈ ngri [Tianshan] in the capital cities of QaÈ shqaÈ r and Balasaghun hadalready converted to Islam, as had QaÈ shqaÈ ri himself. Those living north of theTaÈ ngri, where the most important cities were BaÈ sh Balõ È q and IÈ dqut, followeddifferent faiths, including Buddhism, Manichaeanism and Nestorian Christianity,although the latter group was small. Because these Uyghurs were not Muslim,he de® ned them as `the most in® del’ of people. Speci® cally, of the contemporaneousnorthern Uyghurs, he wrote:The State of Uyghur has ® ve cities. Their people are the most ferocious in® dels, and themost skilful shooters. Those cities are Solmi, which ZulqarnaÈ yin let them build, and Qochu,Jan Balõ È q and Yengi Balõ È q. (Kamberi, 1995)More evidence of Uyghur urbiculture comes from the important observationsfound in the report of the medieval Arab traveller, Tamim Ibn Bahr, who visitedUyghur cities at the end of the 8th century. Of the Uyghur capital city he wrote:This is a great town, rich in agriculture and surrounded by rustaqs [villages] full ofcultivation and villages lying close together. The town has twelve iron gates of huge size.The town is populous and thickly crowded and has markets and various trades. Among itspopulation, the Zindiq (atheist, non-Muslim) religion prevails. (Minorsky, 1948)One of the most important written descriptions of Uyghur urbiculture andcivilization comes from a Chinese traveller, Wang Yande. Wang visited theUyghurs in 981 CE and submitted a written report to the Song dynasty court uponhis return. Because his account is written in great detail, presented in a coherentand clear writing style, his is among the most valuable written sources on10th-century Uyghur culture. As he neared the town of Qumul (Hami), he wrote:284A SURVEY OF UYGHUR DOCUMENTS FROM TURPANWe next passed through the I-li Wang-zi (Ellig Prince’ s) domain. There (we came to) theHelochuan (river). It is the place where the Uyghur princesses of the Tang period resided(618±907 CE). The foundation of the city wall still remains. There are lots of hot springs.Tradition has it that formerly the Kitan were herding sheep for the Uyghurs, and the Tatarswere herding cattle for the Uyghurs. When the Uyghurs migrated to Gan Zhou, the Kitanand Tatar struggled for supremacy and fought among themselves. (Izgi, 1972)Wang continues his account with a vivid depiction of a ¯ ourishing medievalUyghur culture, describing an urban environment, textile production, irrigated® elds with varied agricultural products, and many orchards. He notes that thereis no poverty, suggesting good government and strong leadership in this af¯ uenturban centre:The river which comes out of the Ching-ling mountain is led to encircle all the national city(capital) and to irrigate farms and orchards and to run water mills. This place produces thewu-ku (® ve grains) but no ch’ iao mai (buckwheat). Rich people eat horse (meat). The resteat beef and wild geese. In their music they use many kung-hou (ancient musicalinstrument). They produce sable skin pelts and cotton and embroidered-design blossomcloth. In this land there are no poor people. They give relief to those who lack food. Peoplemostly live long, generally over a hundred years. There are not any at all who die young¼ We rested at the Kao-tai (high platform) monastery. Their king (Arslan Khan) cookedlambs and horses. The King, the princesses, and the heir-apparent each breed horses. Theygraze them in a ¯ at valley which stretches out more than one thousand li (one li equals halfa kilometre). They distinguish their herds by the colour of the coats (of the horses). Nobodyknows the number of the herds (innumerable herds). The spread of the Pei-t’ ing (BaÈ shBalõ È q) valley is several thousand li. There are found eagles, kites, falcons and vultures.There is much nice grass, below which there are pebble-rats (gophers?) as big as hares.Birds of prey catch and eat them. (Izgi, 1972)In addition to the textual evidence discussed above, information on Uyghururbiculture also comes from the work of the medieval Uyghur thinker, YuÈ suÈ pKhas Hajip. This author of poetic dramas devoted the longest chapter of hiswork, Outadghu Bilik, to discussion of the quali® cations and values of Uyghurleaders and professionals, con® rming the existence of a rich urban culture inInner Asia (Outadghu Bilik, 1984). From this and other texts noted above, it isevident that the medieval Uyghurs built cities and developed a distinctivecultural life, earning a place of importance within Central Asian history.Archaeological evidence is another category of proof for the vitality ofUyghur urbiculture. Fieldwork in the present-day oasis of Turpan has deepenedour understanding of medieval urban life through the discovery of new artefactsand written records. The results of some of this recent excavation work aresummarized in the following sections.Historic Turpan and environsThe name Turpan means settlement in medieval Uyghur. Turpan was once astrategic town on the Silk Road noted for its Buddhist culture during themedieval period. Chinese and Uyghur texts from the pre-Qangqil, Qocho,285DOLKUN KAMBERIWestern Uyghur, and IdõÈ qut Uyghur Khanate all refer to the Turpan Basin ofUyghuristan. During medieval times, Turpan was the capital city of the Idõ È qutUyghur Empire and one of the centres of Uyghur culture. The territory of thiskingdom varied over time, but the city and its immediate environs remained thepolitical and cultural centre of Uyghuristan throughout the 15th century. Theimportant Bezeklik Buddhist cave complex, about 46 kilometres northeast ofpresent-day Turpan and 3 kilometres from Murtuq village, is evidence of thearea’ s importance as a religious centre. At Bezeklik, there are 84 cave grottoescarved into cliffs above a stream which ¯ ows along the ¯ oor of a deep gorge.Turpan is also the name given to the Turpan Basin, located northeast of thelarger Tarim Basin. The eastern reaches of the TaÈ ngri (Tianshan) Mountains areto the north of the basin which is 240 kilometres wide from north to south and300 miles in length. The basin holds East Asia’ s lowest point, Ayding Lake,whose surface is 154 metres below sea level, second only to that of the Dead Seain Jordan. The basin is also the hottest place in East Asia. Although it isextremely arid, with less than 16 millimetres of annual rainfall, it has plentifulwater resources for irrigation as a result of rivers that run into the depressionfrom the surrounding mountains. Since ancient times, this water has beenaccessible to cultivators via a unique irrigation system of deep, interconnectedunderground channels called kariz. The steady water supply has sustainedTurpan oases’ population whose cotton and grapevines have long been amongthe famous products of this productive area.Human settlement of Turpan can be traced back to as early as 10,000 BCE, thelate Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. Numerous stone implements have beenunearthed to the west of the Yarghul River, in the desert northwest of Astana,and along the southern rim of the Turpan Basin. Archeological discoveriescon® rm ancient records that the Turpan region was settled and developed into apowerful kingdom by the Qangqil peoples in the ® rst millennium BCE. They werefollowed by many kingdoms founded by such people as the ToÈ lis, Turan, Hun,Jurjan (Ruan Ruan), Turk, and Uyghur peoples. Archeologists have uncoverednumerous burial sites, Buddhist and Manichaean temples, and documents writtenin various scripts throughout the Turpan Basin. The burials, in particular, haveyielded a fascinating array of items, including unique pottery vessels, sophisticatedbronze weaponry and gold ornaments, and advanced woven woollenfabrics. Some of these are artefacts of the Qangqil, forerunners of the Uyghurwho established their capital at Yarghul (referred to as Jiaohe by the Chinese),about 10 kilometres west of today’ s Turpan. Situated on a narrow plateau thatrises some 30 metres above the river beds on either side, the plateau has asurface area of 49,000 square metres. This ancient city was inhabited from the3rd century BCE to the 15th century CE and is now a UNESCO world heritagesite.In the beginning of the 5th century CE, the centre of political power in theTurpan area was shifted from Yarghul to the ancient city of Idiqut, by the kingof the QuÈ family. Idiqut was a walled city, with an outside circumference of over5 kilometres. The extant city walls are approximately 12 metres thick at the base286A SURVEY OF UYGHUR DOCUMENTS FROM TURPANand 11 metres high. The city is divided into three sections: the palace city; theinner city; and the outer city. From its founding in the 2nd century CE to the 10thcentury CE, it remained a strategically important site. Artefacts and textualsources indicate that it was an international, cosmopolitan centre with diversepeoples, religions and a well-developed culture. This is illustrated clearly by therich and remarkable ® nds from graveyard sites near Idiqut. More than 450 graveshave been excavated from the famous Astana and Qara-Khoja sites, from whichover 10,000 cultural relics have been unearthed. Among the extraordinarilywell-preserved artefacts from Astana are wooden ® gurines, paper documents,paintings on silk, a bouquet of funerary ¯ owers made of silk, plaited silkslippers, a variety of dyed or embroidered silks, and bags of millet, wheat, cottonseed and fruit. Items of daily use include a wooden ruler, writing brushes,Persian silver coins, Roman golden coins, the dried remains of boiled dumplings,nan (¯ at bread that remains a staple of the diet today), dough patties, and¯ ower-shaped cookies. All these different objects show various aspects of thesocial life and culture of the ancient Uyghur people (Kamberi, 1996).Of special importance are the many written texts unearthed at Turpan. Manyof these documents are so well preserved that even today they remain clear andeasy to decipher. The majority of the manuscripts unearthed from Bezeklik werewritten in the old Uyghur language. Some are written in Chinese and others inSanskrit, Sogdian, Tanghut and Tokarian. Among those I personally uncoveredin Turpan is a Manichaean scripture written in the Sogdian language. The papersize is 268 cm 3 26 cm. There are two musical ® gures painted in colour at thecentre of the scroll. This is one of the most valuable historiographic treasuresof Manichaeaism in the world, and I have described it in detail elsewhere(Kamberi, 1984).Uyghur manuscripts of the Turpan areaUyghur manuscripts unearthed from Turpan concern the religious, economic andcultural interaction of medieval Uyghurs with the peoples of neighbouringcountries during the period from the 8th to the 11th centuries. These documents,detailed below, reveal that the Uyghurs continued to develop as a civilizationand to expand their role as the leading cultural in¯ uence along the whole of theSilk Road in Central Asia.Among the most important caches of such texts is the Buddhist site atBezeklik. The name itself means `a place being decorated’ . `Being decorated’can also be extended to mean `wall painting’ or `the place with art’ in medievalUyghur. Many Bezeklik documents are preserved in museum collections inGermany, France, England, Japan and Russia; special items are today housed inBeijing, Urumchi and Turpan. These documents can be divided according to themedium used into two categories: written manuscripts and woodblock prints.The manuscripts are further divided into those written on one side and thosewritten on both sides; printed documents are one-sided. There are also a fewpages of Uyghur Buddhist sutras interspersed with Sanskrit, and small fragments287DOLKUN KAMBERIwith the Chinese translation added. The following is a brief classi® cation ofthese Uyghur documents unearthed from Turpan, in Uyghur script and Uyghurlanguage, based on the medium used.I. Woodblock Print Documents (one side only).A. Printed in Uyghur script.B. Printed in Uyghur script with Chinese characters inserted.C. Printed in Uyghur with Brahmi script inserted.II. Written Manuscripts.A. Formal style (Sutra writing style).1. Written on one side (on thick or thin paper, in formal Uyghur script).2. Written on both sides.(a) Both sides in formal Uyghur script.(b) One side in Uyghur, the other in Chinese.B. Cursive style.1. Written on one side.(a) Written on thin paper in very cursive Uyghur script.(b) All written in formal Uyghur.2. Written on both sides.(a) Both sides in Uyghur.(b) One side in Uyghur, the other in Brahmi.(c) Both sides in Uyghur, interspersed with Chinese.(d) One side in Uyghur, the other in Chinese.(e) Both sides in Chinese, with Uyghur written in columns in between.The Chinese characters inserted in some texts are simply numbers in mostinstances, but some fragments with interspersed Chinese are the remnants of anUyghur-Chinese dictionary. The Brahmi text consists of phonetic notes onSanskrit Buddhist terms. Of the documents with writing on both sides, thecontent of the Uyghur text differs from the Chinese text. Documents in Chinesewith Uyghur inserted in columns in between also have different contents on eachside.The unearthed evidence shows that the Idiqut Uyghur Kingdom was not onlya Buddhist cultural centre, but was also a printing centre, producing literaryworks and documents of many kinds. Wooden movable type for medievalUyghur discovered at Turpan dates back to the Idiqut Uyghur Khanate (605±1250 CE). The wooden type and the many documents from Turpan validate thetheory that block printing was primarily a Uyghur or Central Asiatic invention(Carter and Goodrich, 1988). It is also signi® cant that almost all the blockprinting of medieval Uyghur found thus far is used for Buddhist documents.These have been found at almost every site excavated in the Turpan Basin.288A SURVEY OF UYGHUR DOCUMENTS FROM TURPANToqsun, at the western edge of the Turpan oasis, is the western-most point atwhich Central Asian block printing has been discovered.Scholars know that the invention of printing from carved blocks made itpossible to produce multiple copies of a text with only one set of carved blocks,thus increasing the quantity of books produced and facilitating the disseminationof knowledge. Turpan played an important role in extending knowledge ofBuddhism as well as disseminating Buddhist learning for hundreds of years,proving that `¼ there was during the early Mongol times in the monasteries ofthe Turpan region a highly developed and widely extended printing industry,which had very likely been going on for several centuries’ (Carter and Goodrich,1988).These early Uyghur printing techniques as well as the literature and thedocuments themselves provide historical evidence for social activities in medievalUyghur cultural development. The texts can be classi® ed into generalcategories based on their contents: (A) Buddhist manuscripts; (B) Literarydocuments; and (C) Manichaean manuscripts. Examples from each of thecategories are detailed below.(A) Buddhist manuscriptsAlthough the early Buddhist teaching of Gautama Buddha (also known as PrinceSiddhartha of the Sakya clan, and as Sakyamuni Sage of the Sakyas) probablybegan in the 6th century (C. 563±483 BCE), its oldest surviving remains andmanuscripts are dated much later. The ® rst independent evidence for Buddhismcomes in the reign of the Maurya Emperor Asoka (273±232 BCE), whose stoneinscriptions are the earliest Indian historical records. They mainly explain abenevolent creed which he called dharma, a word also used for Buddism. As thereligion spread and developed, the belief in Maitreya, the future Buddha (or, theBuddha Yet to Come) emerged among many Buddhist communities. Among theimportant Turpan texts is a medieval manuscript in Uyghur, the Maitrisimit,which records the story of Sakyamuni anointing Maitreya as his successor. Thisdocument is also the oldest written source to suggest a speci® c age for thebeginning of the Buddha’ s journey to enlightenment, as indicated in thefollowing translation from the original text by the author:Line 19: bu oÈ duÈ n ayaghqa taÈ gimligLine 20: burkhan toquz otuz yashõ È nta kapilavasLine 21: tu balõ È qtõ È n koÈ ruÈ nchuÈ laÈ yuÈ uÈ nuÈ p nayanchanLine 22: oÈ guÈ z qõ È dõ È ghõ È nta altõÈ yõ È l alp qõÈ lõ È shõ È ghLine 24: ishlaÈ yuÈ r oghurdaAt the time that the respected Buddha was twenty-nine years old, he secretly went out ofthe Kapilavastu city, on the side of the Nairanjana River and practised his belief withdevotion for six years ¼ (Kamberi, 1988)Other texts unearthed at Turpan indicate that medieval Uyghur Buddhistliterature and art ¯ ourished during the period of the Idiqut Uyghur Khanate in289DOLKUN KAMBERIthe Turpan Basin and spread throughout the Uyghur lands. These includeUyghur Buddhist literature, Buddhist sutras fragments, whole sutras, colophons,dedicatory odes, poems in praise of the Buddha, offering to the Buddha bysentient beings, as well as courteous Buddhist words that believers offeredrespectfully to the heavens. The two pieces of Buddhist writings selected here asexamples were discovered in Turpan in the early 1980s. Both relate to teachingsabout the future Buddha, Maitreya.The ® rst item, which I have assigned the number 80 T.B. I, 598, consists ofonly one page with six lines of characters, comprising seven sentences. Thepaper size is 20.5 cm 3 10 cm and the size of the script is 16 cm 3 6.5 cm. Thehandwriting is ordinary, but the language is excellent. After deciphering theselines, it became clear that it was a Buddhist document, but it was unclear initiallyas to what sutra it might belong.Further research, however, ® nally revealed that this page belongs to the thirdparagraph of the fourth Saddharma (Praising Maitreya), in the work VajracchedikaprajnaParamikta Sutra. This medieval Uyghur version was translatedfrom Sanskrit to Chinese by Fu Dashi, in the Liang Wudi period, 502±549CE. The Vajracchedikaprajna Paramikta Sutra was translated into Chinese inseveral different versions. Three versions, translated by Kumarajiva, Bodhiruci,and Chen Zhendi in the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420±589CE), became known as the Jingangjing. In the Tang dynasty, new translations byYi Jing and the monk Xuanzhang (Samszo) were known as the Neng DuanJingang Baropolomidojing.According to this sutra: `All things are empty, illusory and without substance;what appears real is actual illusion.’ It recommends one to `extricate oneselffrom all of appearance’ and become `without abode’ , which means one shouldnot rigidly cling to the `real’ world. Perhaps Uyghurs had received such ideas inthe Idiqut Uyghur Khanate period, or earlier. The transliteration and translationof this fragment of the sutra reads as follows:Transliteration in the ® rst line. Translation in the second line.1. (uÈ lguÈ suÈ z) k(a) lplartõÈ n1 baÈ ruÈ ki awant-lar tõ È ltaghlar1. Since time immemorial, predestined relationships were2. igid saqõ È nch aÈ rsaÈ r qaltõ È yawlagh yaghõ È taÈ g aÈ ruÈ r2. wild fantasy and vain thought exactly like an evil enemy.3. az amranmaq koÈ nguÈ l aÈ rsaÈ r aghulugh yõ È lanqa okhshayurc3. A loveless and senseless heart is like a poisonous snake.4. biroÈ k kuÈ suÈ sh-taÈ turup kuÈ suÈ sh-suÈ z bulghalõ È usar4. However, if one lives in an avaricious world without greed,5. niz-wani-ta turup niz-waniqa yoqlunmasar5. and lives in a vexed society uninfected by vexation,6. yirtinchuÈ uÈ zaÈ tayansar kkir-siz arõÈ gh orunqa6. standing ® rmly on the earth, one will reach the unblemished7. timin oÈ k tanuqlaghalõ È uyur nom khanõ È nõ È ngaÈ toÈ zin7. pure land and immediately gain the body of the moral king.This text is written in standard medieval Uyghur literary language. There is290A SURVEY OF UYGHUR DOCUMENTS FROM TURPANone Sanskrit loan word (kalp) which was commonly used in medieval UyghurBuddhist documents, and there are three Sogdian loan words (awant, niz-wan,nom). These suggest that the piece was probably translated from the Sanskritoriginal or from a Sogdian text. The translator showed surprising skill, choosingwords carefully to convey accurately abstract Buddhist philosophical concepts.The second item, to which I have assigned the number 80 T.B. I, 596, consistsof only three pages (numbered 596±1, 596±2, and 596±3). Each wood blockprinted page has ® ve lines of medieval Uyghur script, with a few insertedSanskrit characters. Because the three pages of the document come fromdifferent sections of the same sutra, I have selected only one page (596±1) fortransliteration and translation, below. This page is on paper 28 cm 3 11 cm, andthe script is 19 cm 3 7.4 cm in height.Transliteration in ® rst line. Translation in second line.1. Bu anchulayu KaÈ lmish-laÈ -gaÈ yiti aÈ rdini-1. If one worships the Buddha using2. laÈ r tapõ È nsar udõÈ nsar ol buyan2. seven kinds of treasure, merits3. aÈ dguÈ qõ È lõ È nchõ È ±nõ È ng uÈ lguÈ sin taÈ gin3. and good deeds would be measurable, but4. uÈ lguÈ laÈ gaÈ li sanaghalõ È boghay ¼ amita-4. someone who respects the Aparimitayuh5. ayusi sudur-qa tapõ È nmõÈ sh udunmõ È s5. Sutra, merit (would not be measurable)From this single page, it appeared that the text was part of a postscript to theAparimitayuh Sutra. The other two pages con® rmed this assumption because oftheir content. One page states that if one respects the Aparimitayuh Sutra, thatis equal to respect for all other Buddhist sutras. It even indicates that this Sutracan `bring the dying back to life’ .The Aparimitayuh Sutra is called the Maha-Aparimitayuh Sutra, or theMaha-sutra in Sanskrit. In medieval Uyghur, the title was Amita-Ayusi-Sudur,and in Chinese it was known by several names, including the Wulingshoujing,Dawulingshoujing, Dajing, and Dashuangjuanjing. The Chinese version wastranslated by the Wei dynasty monk, Kang Sengyi during the Three Kingdomsperiod (220±265 CE).This is one of the most important Sutras of the Sukhavati, or Pure Land, sectof Mahayana Buddhism. The story of the Sutra tells of a King named Dharmawho became a monk. As a monk, he swore 48 vows, one of which was this: Thecreatures from 10 directions should believe in joy from the bottom of theirhearts. One who wishes to be born in my country should obtain 10 smrti(memories). One who does not gain (this) level is one who will not reach thefruit of the Buddha (Kamberi, 1995). This monk ® nally became a Buddha calledAparimita. Because the land of this king who became a Buddha lay in the west,the sect based on his teachings became known as Sukhavati, the Pure Land orthe Western Paradise.291DOLKUN KAMBERIThe fragments translated above prove that this sutra was translated intoUyghur as early as the medieval period. And because the fragments includeSanskrit words inserted among the 15 lines of Uyghur text, it appears that thetranslator knew Sanskrit and most probably translated this from the originalSanskrit text.Texts from Turpan and other archaeological discoveries in this centurysuggest that there were several thousand Buddhist monks in the capital of theIdiqut Kingdom.2 These monks would have been responsible for the work oftranslation, and from the many fragments now collected from the Turpan area itis clear that virtually all of the TripitakaÐall the basic writings of BuddhismÐwere translated into Uyghur. Works for which fragments now exist includeMaitrisimit, Altun Yarug, Samso Acharining TaÈ rjimali, Abidarim KoshvardiSutra, Amitaba Sutra, Aryarajavavadaka Sutra, Mahamegha Sutra, TishastwustikSutra, Dashakrma Budaawtanamal Sutra, Mahamayuri Sutra, and many,many others. This Buddhist heritage suggests an open, cosmopolitan life amongUyghurs at Turpan where learning and the printing of religious texts played animportant role in medieval Uyghur urbiculture.(B) Literary documentsThe civilization of the medieval Uyghurs is re¯ ected in the Buddhist religiousliterature that remains one of the civilization’s most important legacies. Buddhistideals are similar to those of other universal religions in that they include theteaching that there is a place of perfection, peacefulness, happiness, freedom andhope ahead in the future. Good deeds in this world mean a rebirth in the future.Many pious Buddhist believers at Turpan used various mediums to convey theidea of an in® nitely merciful and kind future Buddha, Maitreya. As a result,many legends, myths, poetic eulogies, poetry, sutras, and Buddhist literarydramas about the future Buddha were created and/or recorded in Turpan, invarious versions.In particular, the manuscript of Maitrisimit written in Uyghur has been foundin seven different versions in Turpan. Six of these were discovered by a Germanarchaeological team at the beginning of the 20th century, in the Singgim andMurtuq areas of the oasis. The two versions unearthed at the former site are nowknown as the Singgim versions, while another three, from Murtuq, are called theMurtuq versions. The place where the sixth version was discovered remainsunknown.3 The most valuable version was discovered in April 1959 by a Uyghurvillager, YaÈ hya Rehim, from the Bashtura village in the ToÈ mirti Unit (threevillages consist of one unit in the Chinese administrative system), on the TaÈ ngriTagh Commune, Qumul (Hami) District. The villager was herding sheep on ahill near ToÈ mirti Unit when he found the Uyghur manuscript in a hole coveredby stones. The manuscript had been wrapped in a felt blanket and then hiddenin the hole. Both the blanket and the manuscript itself had started to decay.YaÈ hya Rehim presented the invaluable ® nd to Ismayil, director of the culturalstation of Qumul at that time. The manuscript was then transferred to a team of292A SURVEY OF UYGHUR DOCUMENTS FROM TURPANcultural relic investigators and it is now preserved in the regional museum atUrumchi. I call this the Qumul version of the Maitrisimit.No original version in Sanskrit has been found thus far, but according to theconclusion of each of the acts of the Uyghur version that have survived (Acts1, 2, 3, 10, 12, 16, 20, 23 and 25), there must be a Sanskrit original. Speci® cally,in the text of this Uyghur version the following clearly written line refers to suchan original:The Maitrisimit was translated from the Sanskrit into the Tokharian language byAryachantri who is from QarashaÈ haÈ r city of Uyghuristan, and then recreated in the Uyghurlanguage by Pirtanrakshit, who is from El-BalõÈ q (Idqut?) city of Uyghuristan. (Author’ stranslation)Having compared the published texts related to Maitreya Buddha, I believethat the content, artistic language, magic and metaphor, conception, compositionand quality of this version of the Maitrisimit are better than in any of the Sutrasmentioned above. In particular, the writing style of the other versions does notcompare to that of this Uyghur version. As further evidence, I have decipheredand translated a medieval Uyghur poem from among the medieval documents Idiscovered at Bezeklik. Currently preserved in Turpan, the original assignednumber of the document, is 80 T.B. I, 522, and it is on paper that is37.5 cm 3 3 cm. The content is a rhymed quatrain with the ® fth line in prose asa postscript. There is no date or author’ s name, but the poem conveys thecharacter of medieval Uyghur folk poetry in its harmonious rhythm and rhyme.Quatrains in early Uyghur carry an initial rhyme, and an escape line rhymes atthe end, as shown in the example below.Rhyme pattern:1. a . . . . . . . . . . . a2. a . . . . . . . . . . .b3. a . . . . . . . . . . . a4. a . . . . . . . . . . .b5. prose postscriptTransliteration in ® rst line. Translation in second line.1. oÈ zuÈ ng-ning oÈ graÈ nmish yandõ È rlarta1. No matter what subject, study by your own process.2. oÈ glinaÈ aÈ dguÈ -ki-maÈ busugh silikil2. Think more, be aware, do not be a show-off.3. oÈ ngi-maÈ naÈ guÈ -kim yanglar-ta oÈ sluÈ -3. Be careful and steady, whatever you do engage in.4. nchuÈ -singaÈ taÈ gi anchulayu ol umuq-4. That is the only way to be outstanding.5. luq koÈ zuÈ m birlaÈ oqõ È p sanga õ È dõ È m.5. I read it with my hopeful eyes and send it to you.This poem presents the kindly feelings of its author for his relative, probablysomeone who lives far away. The author not only greets him, but he also293DOLKUN KAMBERIencourages him to study hard, giving him good advice and wishing him greatsuccess when he returns. The poem also seems to re¯ ect the general attitude ofthe medieval Uyghurs toward learning. They believed that knowledge broughthappiness as well as great honour, and thus they took education very seriously.One extremely rare document unearthed at Turpan refers to the visual artswhich were also highly prized among the Buddhist community at Turpan. Amedieval Uyghur document today preserved in the Turpan museum records anorder for receiving seven Buddhist portraits, including embroidered depictions ofVajrapani, Samantabhadra, Manjusri and others. Collections in various countriespreserve many such Buddhist images, and portraits and wall paintings are stillto be seen in many places in the Uyghur region today, but documents concerningtheir acquisition are quite rare. Reading and interpreting this single documentthus contributes to the study of Uyghur Buddhist art, Uyghur paleography andprocessional performance.As indicated in the tenth and eleventh lines of the translation, below, thisdocument refers to an order for seven religious pictures. The short sentence, `buchuv tamgha minig ol’ , means `this receipt-seal is mine’ , suggesting that theorder had been ® lled and the pictures received (Kamberi, Umemura, andMoriyasu, 1990). Probably the paintings and portraits were to be used inprocessional performances, which were commonly held during Buddhist festivals.The document is thus also the earliest recorded evidence regardingperformance props.Medieval Uyghur Order/Receipt for Buddhist PortraitsTransliteration:1. yõ È lan yõ È l chakhsh [aput] ay yiti2. yangõ È qa maÈ n aÈ saÈ n t[ughmõ È ]sh buladan3. chim-ning suÈ [a]l[ayõÈ ]n sinsidu4. tan bir bash-balõ È q suÈ -si iki5. vachirapan chigin suÈ iki vukin6. manchushiri chigin suÈ yana iki7. qapõ È ghchõ È vachi[rapan] suÈ bilaÈ n8. yiti suÈ alghõ È l buladan9. chim kaÈ lmish-taÈ oÈ k birz-uÈ n10. bu chuv tamgha [minin]g [ol]11. aÈ saÈ n tughmõ È sh-tu oÈ z-oÈ m bi [tidi]mTranslation:1. On December 7, the snake year2. I, AsaÈ n Tughmõ È sh, will acquire portraits of3. Buladan Chim. Please get one painting of4. the Bash-Balõ È q (the Uyghur capital city), two5. embroidered portraits of Vajrapani, and two6. embroidered portraits of Majusri, another7. two portraits of Gatekeeper Vajrapani (?), all8. together seven pictures. When Buladan9. Chim comes, he should give (them) to you.294


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