Kingdom of Khotan
|Kingdom of Khotan|
Map of Tarim Basin in the 3rd century C.E. Khotan kingdom shown in green in the southern region.
|Languages||Gāndhārī language 3-4th century.[web 1]|
|•||c. 56||Yulin: Jianwu period (25–56 CE)|
|•||Khotan established||c. 300 BCE|
|•||Yarkant attacks and annexes Khotan. Yulin abdicates and becomes king of Ligui||56|
|•||Tibet invades and conquers Khotan||670|
|•||Khotan held by the Muslim, Yūsuf Qadr Khān||1006|
Part of a series on the
|History of Xinjiang|
The Kingdom of Khotan was an ancient Buddhist kingdom that was located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China). The ancient capital was originally located to the west of modern-day Hotan (Chinese: 和田) at Yotkan. From the Han dynasty until at least the Tang dynasty it was known in Chinese as Yutian (Chinese: 于闐, 于窴, or 於闐). The kingdom existed for over a thousand years until it was conquered by the Muslims in 1006.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Historical timeline
- 4 Early names
- 5 Buddhism
- 6 Social and economic life
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
The geographical position of the oasis was the main factor in its success and wealth. It is situated in one of the most arid and desolate desert climates on the earth, the Taklamakan Desert, at the far south, extending along the foothills of the Kunlun Mountains for around 40 miles.
Khotan was irrigated from the Yurung-kàsh and Kara-kàsh rivers, which water the Tarim Basin. These two rivers produce vast quantities of water which made habitation possible in an otherwise arid climate. The position next to the mountain not only provided irrigation for crops but it also increased the fertility of the land as the rivers reduce the gradient and deposited their sediment, creating a more fertile soil. This therefore increased the productivity of the agricultural industry which has made Khotan famous for its cereal crops and fruits. Therefore, Khotan’s lifeline was its vicinity to the Kunlun mountain range and without this Khotan would not have become one of the largest and most successful oasis cities along the Silk Roads.
- Karashahr — One of the four garrisons
- Kucha — One of the four garrisons
According to legend, Kushtana, said to be a son of Ashoka, the Mauryan emperor, founded Khotan when he settled there about 224 BCE. The first inhabitants of the region appear to have been Tibetans and Indians from South Asia.
Afterwards king Vijaya Krīti, for whom a manifestation of the Ārya Mañjuśrī, the Arhat called Spyi-pri who was propagating the religion (dharma) in Kam-śeṅ [a district of Khotan] was acting as pious friend, through being inspired with faith, built the vihāra of Sru-ño. Originally, King Kanika, the king of Gu-zar [Kucha] and the Li [Khotanese] ruler, King Vijaya Krīti, and others led an army into India, and when they captured the city called So-ked [Saketa], King Vijaya Krīti obtained many relics and put them in the stūpa of Sru-ño.— The Prophecy of the Li Country.
The town grew very quickly after local trade developed into the interconnected chain of silk routes across Eurasia. By the time of the Han conquest, the population had more than quadrupled. The Book of the Later Han, covering 6 to 189 CE, says:
The main centre of the kingdom of Yutian (Khotan) is the town of Xicheng ("Western Town", Yotkan). It is 5,300 li (c.2,204 km) from the residence of the Senior Clerk [in Lukchun], and 11,700 li (c.4,865 km) from Luoyang. It controls 32,000 households, 83,000 individuals, and more than 30,000 men able to bear arms.
During the Yongping period (58-76 CE), in the reign of Emperor Ming, Xiumo Ba, a Khotanese general, rebelled against Suoju (Yarkand), and made himself king of Yutian (in 60 CE). On the death of Xiumo Ba, Guangde, son of his elder brother, assumed power and then (in 61 CE) defeated Suoju (Yarkand). His kingdom became very prosperous after this. From Jingjue (Niya) northwest, as far as Shule (Kashgar), thirteen kingdoms submitted to him. Meanwhile, the king of Shanshan (the Lop Nor region, capital Charklik) had also begun to prosper. From then on, these two kingdoms were the only major ones on the Southern Route in the whole region to the east of the Congling (Pamir Mountains).
Emperor Taizong's campaign against states of the Western Regions began in 640 CE and Khotan submitted to the Tang emperor. The Four Garrisons of Anxi was established, one of them at Khotan.
The Tibetans later defeated the Chinese and took control of the Four Garrisons, and the Khotanese helped the Tibetans to conquer Aksu. Tang China later regained control in 692, but eventually lost control of the entire Western Regions after it was weakened considerably by the An Lushan Rebellion.
After the Tang dynasty, Khotan formed an alliance with the rulers of Dunhuang. The Buddhist entitites of Dunhuang and Khotan had a tight-knit partnership, with intermarriage between Dunhuang and Khotan's rulers and Dunhuang's Mogao grottos and Buddhist temples being funded and sponsored by the Khotan royals, whose likenesses were drawn in the Mogao grottoes.
Turkic-Islamic conquest of Buddhist Khotan
in the 10th century, the Iranic Saka Buddhist Kingdom of Khotan was the only city-state that was not conquered yet by the Turkic Uyghur (Buddhist) and the Turkic Qarakhanid (Muslim) states. During the latter part of the tenth century, Khotan became engaged in a struggle against the Kara-Khanid Khanate. The Islamic attacks and conquest of the Buddhist cities east of Kashgar began with the conversion of the Karakhanid Sultan Satuq Bughra Khan to Islam in 934. Satuq Bughra Khan and later his son Musa directed endeavors to proselytize Islam among the Turks and engage in military conquests, and a long war ensued between Islamic Kashgar and Buddhist Khotan. The war was described as a Muslim Jihad (holy war) by the Japanese Professor Takao Moriyasu. Satuq Bughra Khan's nephew or grandson Ali Arslan was said to have been killed during the war with the Buddhists. Khotan briefly took Kashgar from the Kara-Khanids in 970, and according to Chinese accounts, the King of Khotan offered to send in tribute to the Chinese court a dancing elephant captured from Kashgar.
Accounts of the war between the Karakhanid and Khotan were given in Taẕkirah of the Four Sacrificed Imams, written sometime in the period from 1700-1849 in the Eastern Turkic language (modern Uyghur) in Altishahr probably based on an older oral tradition. It contains a story about four Imams from Mada'in city (possibly in modern-day Iraq) who helped the Qarakhanid leader Yusuf Qadir Khan conquered Khotan, Yarkand, and Kashgar. There were years of battles where "blood flows like the Oxus", "heads litter the battlefield like stones" until the "infidels" were defeated and driven towards Khotan by Yusuf Qadir Khan and the four Imams. The imams however were assassinated by the Buddhists prior to the last Muslim victory. Despite their foreign origins, they are viewed as local saints by the current Muslim population in the region. In 1006, the Muslim Kara-Khanid ruler Yusuf Kadir (Qadir) Khan of Kashgar conquered Khotan, ending Khotan's existence as an independent state.
The conquest of Khotan led to alarm in the east, and it has been suggested it lead to the sealing of Dunhuang's Cave 17, which contained the Dunhuang manuscripts, after its caretakers heard that Khotan's Buddhist buildings were razed by and the Buddhist religion had suddenly ceased to exist in Khotan.
- The first inhabitants of the region appear to have been Tibetans and Indians from adjacent India bordering the Kunlun Mountains.
- The foundation of Khotan occurred when Kushtana, said to be a son of Ashoka, the Indian emperor belonging to the Maurya Empire settled there about 224 BCE.
- c.84 BC: Buddhism is reportedly introduced to Khotan.
- c.56: Xian, the powerful and prosperous king of Yarkent, attacked and annexed Khotan. He transferred Yulin, its king, to become the king of Ligui, and set up his younger brother, Weishi, as king of Khotan.
- 61: Khotan defeats Yarkand. Khotan becomes very powerful after this and 13 kingdoms submitted to Khotan, which now, with Shanshan, became the major power on the southern branch of the Silk Route.
- 78: Ban Chao, a Chinese General, subdues the kingdom.
- 105: The 'Western Regions' rebelled, and Khotan regained its independence.
- 127: The Khotanese king Vijaya Krīti is said to have helped the Kushan Emperor Kanishka in his conquest of Saket in India.
- 127: The Chinese general Ban Yong attacked and subdued Karasahr; and then Kucha, Kashgar, Khotan, Yarkand, and other kingdoms, seventeen altogether, who all came to submit to China.
- 129: Fangqian, the king of Khotan, killed the king of Keriya, Xing. He installed his son as the king of Keriya. Then he sent an envoy to offer tribute to Han. The Emperor pardoned the crime of the king of Khotan, ordering him to hand back the kingdom of Keriya. Fangqian refused.
- 131: Fangqian, the king of Khotan, sends one of his sons to serve and offer tribute at the Chinese Imperial Palace.
- 132: The Chinese sent the king of Kashgar, Chenpan, who with 20,000 men, attacked and defeated Khotan. He beheaded several hundred people, and released his soldiers to plunder freely. He replaced the king [of Keriya] by installing Chengguo from the family of [the previous king] Xing, and then he returned.
- 151: Jian, the king of Khotan, was killed by Han chief clerk Wang Jing, who was in turn killed by Khotanese. Anguo, the son of Jian, was placed on the throne.
- 175: Anguo, the king of Khotan, attacked Keriya, and defeated it soundly. He killed the king and many others.
- 399 Chinese pilgrim monk, Faxian, visits and reports on the active Buddhist community there.
- 632: Khotan pays homage to China, and becomes a vassal state.
- 644: Chinese pilgrim monk, Xuanzang, stays 7–8 months in Khotan and writes a detailed account of the kingdom.
- 670: Tibet invades and conquers Khotan (now known as one of the "four garrisons").
- c.670-673: Khotan governed by Tibetan Mgar minister.
- 674: King Fudu Xiong (Vijaya Sangrāma IV), his family and followers flee to China after fighting the Tibetans. They are unable to return.
- c.680 - c.692: 'Amacha Khemeg rules as regent of Khotan.
- 692: China under Wu Zetian reconquers the Kingdom from Tibet. Khotan is made a protectorate.
- 725: Yuchi Tiao (Vijaya Dharma III) is beheaded by the Chinese for conspiring with the Turks. Yuchi Fushizhan (Vijaya Sambhava II) is placed on the throne by the Chinese.
- 728: Yuchi Fushizhan (Vijaya Sambhava II) officially given the title "King of Khotan" by the Chinese emperor.
- 736: Fudu Da (Vijaya Vāhana the Great) succeeds Yuchi Fushizhan and the Chinese emperor bestows a title on his wife.
- c. 740: King Yuchi Gui (Wylie: btsan bzang btsan la brtan) succeeds Fudu Da (Vijaya Vāhana) and begins persecution of Buddhists. Khotanese Buddhist monks flee to Tibet, where they are given refuge by the Chinese wife of King Mes ag tshoms. Soon after, the queen died in a smallpox epidemic and the monks had to flee to Gandhara.
- 740: Chinese emperor bestows a title on wife of Yuchi Gui.
- 746: The Prophecy of the Li Country is completed and later added to the Tibetan Tengyur.
- 756: Yuchi Sheng hands over the government to his younger brother, Shihu (Jabgu) Yao.
- 786 to 788: Yuchi Yao still ruling Khotan at the time of the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Wukong's visit to Khotan.
- 969: The son of King Lishengtian (Vijaya Sambhava) named Zongchang sends a tribute mission to China.
- 971: A Buddhist priest (Jixiang) brings a letter from the king of Khotan to the Chinese emperor offering to send a dancing elephant which he had captured from Kashgar.
- 1006: Khotan held by the Muslim Yūsuf Qadr Khān, a brother or cousin of the Muslim ruler of Kāshgar and Balāsāghūn.
- Between 1271 and 1275: Marco Polo visits Khotan.
The name of the kingdom in the region now called Khotan has received many forms. The local people about the third century CE wrote Khotana in Kharoṣṭhī script; and Hvatäna- in Brahmi script in the somewhat later texts, whence as the language developed came Hvamna and Hvam, so that in the latest texts they have Hvam kṣīra ‘the land of Khotan’. The name became known to the west while the –t- was still unchanged, and as is frequent in early New Persian. But under different influences the local people wrote also Gaustana, when they felt the prestige of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, or Kustana and Yūttina, when the prestige of the Chinese kingdom in Śacu was at its height, in the ninth century. To the Tibetans in the seventh and eight centuries the land was Li and the capital city Hu-ten, Hu-den, Hu-then and Yvu-then.
The kingdom was one of the major centres of Buddhism. Buddhism was introduced in the first century BCE. Up until the 11th century, the vast majority of the population was Buddhist.
The country is prosperous and the people are numerous; without exception they have faith in the Dharma and they entertain one another with religious music. The community of monks numbers several tens of thousands and they belong mostly to the Mahayana.[web 3]
It differed in this respect to Kucha, a Śrāvakayāna-dominated kingdom on the opposite side of the desert. Faxian's account of the city states it had fourteen large and many small viharas. Many foreign languages, including Chinese, Sanskrit, Prakrits, Apabhraṃśas and Classical Tibetan were used in cultural exchange.
Social and economic life
Despite scant information on the socio-political structures of Khotan, the shared geography of the Tarim city-states and similarities in archaeological findings throughout the Tarim Basin enable some conclusions on Khotanese life. A seventh-century Chinese pilgrim named Xuanzang described Khotan as having limited arable land but apparently particularly fertile, able to support "cereals and producing an abundance of fruits". He further commented that the city "manufactures carpets and fine-felts and silks" as well as "dark and white jade". The city’s economy was chiefly based upon water from oases for irrigation and the manufacture of traded goods.
Xuanzang also praised the culture of Khotan, commenting that its people "love to study literature", and said "[m]usic is much practiced in the country, and men love song and dance." The "urbanity" of the Khotan people is also mentioned in their dress, that of ‘light silks and white clothes’ as opposed to more rural "wools and furs".
Khotan was the first place outside of inland China to begin cultivating silk. The legend, repeated in many sources, and illustrated in murals discovered by archaeologists, is that a Chinese princess brought silkworm eggs hidden in her hair when she was sent to marry the Khotanese king. This probably took place in the first half of the 1st century CE but is disputed by a number of scholars.
One version of the story is told by the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang who describes the covert transfer of silkworms to Khotan by a Chinese princess. Xuanzang, on his return from India between 640 and 645, crossed Central Asia passing through the kingdoms of Kashgar and Khotan (Yutian in Chinese).
According to Xuazang, the introduction of sericulture to Khotan occurred in the first quarter of the 5th century. The King of Khotan wanted to obtain silkworm eggs, mulberry seeds and Chinese know-how - the three crucial components of silk production. The Chinese court had strict rules against these items leaving China, to maintain the Chinese monopoly on silk manufacture. Xuanzang wrote that the King of Khotan asked for the hand of a Chinese princess in marriage as a token of his allegiance to the Chinese emperor. The request was granted, and an ambassador was sent to the Chinese court to escort the Chinese princess to Khotan. He advised the princess that she would need to bring silkworms and mulberry seeds in order to make herself robes in Khotan and to make the people prosperous. The princess concealed silkworm eggs and mulberry seeds in her headdress and smuggled them through the Chinese frontier. According to his text, silkworm eggs, mulberry trees and weaving techniques passed from Khotan to India, and from there eventually reached Europe.
Khotan, throughout and before the Silk Roads period, was a prominent trading oasis on the southern route of the Tarim Basin – the only major oasis "on the sole water course to cross the desert from the south". Aside from the geographical location of the towns of Khotan it was also important for its wide renown as a significant source of nephrite jade for export to China.
There has been a long history of trade of jade from Khotan to China. Jade pieces from the Tarim Basin have been found in Chinese archaeological sites. Chinese carvers in Xinglongwa and Chahai had been carving ring-shaped pendants "from greenish jade from Khotan as early as 5000 BC". The hundreds of jade pieces found in the tomb of Fuhao from the late Shang dynasty all originated from Khotan. According to the Chinese text Guanzi, the Yuezhi, described in the book as Yuzhi 禺氏, or Niuzhi 牛氏, supplied jade to the Chinese. It would seem, from secondary sources, the prevalence of jade from Khotan in ancient Chinese is due to its quality and the relative lack of such jade elsewhere.
Xuanzang also observed jade on sale in Khotan in 645 and provided a number of examples of the jade trade.
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