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Pilgrims in Old Uyghur Inscriptions: A Glimpse behind Their Records

 

Old Uyghur inscription from a wall of ruin Q in Kočo

Introduction

 

The remains of Old Uyghur Buddhist scriptures of varying content, as well as records and documents of Buddhist communities and monasteries which are preserved in numerous Central Asian collections worldwide, clearly demonstrate the widespread and fairly long-lasting Buddhist orientation of the Uyghurs and their affiliation to different Buddhist schools or varieties of Buddhism.1

In addition, colophons added to the copies of Buddhist texts and cartouches added to Buddhist wall paintings deliver information on translators, writers, readers and sponsors.2 Finally, a significant number of Old Uyghur inscriptions were left by pilgrims at various sites. But, as far as we know today, indigenous records on Buddhist pilgrimages like those of the famous Chinese Buddhist monastic travellers Faxian (ca. 340–before 423, 法顯), Xuanzang (600/602–664, 玄奘), and others, are just as limited as manuals or descriptive itineraries for pilgrimage in Old Uyghur Buddhist literature.3

 

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Source: Buddhism in Central Asia I

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