Introducing Kuqa

Grimy strip-mall-modern meets traditional donkey carts amid dusty poverty in Kuqa (Kùchē), a former Buddhist city-state and oasis on the ancient Silk Road. Here Kumarajiva (AD 344?−413), the first great translator of Buddhist sutras from Sanskrit into Chinese, was born to an Indian father and Kuqean princess, before later being abducted to Dūnhuáng and then Cháng’ān to manage translations of the Buddhist canon. When the 7th-century monk Xuan Zang passed through, he recorded that two enormous 30m-high Buddha statues flanked Kuqa’s western gate, and that the nearby monasteries held over 5000 monks.

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