(8) Watters approves of Klaproth’s determination of K’eeh-ch’a to be Iskardu or Skardo. There are difficulties in connexion with the view, but it has the advantage, to my mind very great, of bringing the pilgrims across the Indus. The passage might be accomplished with ease at this point of the river’s course, and therefore is not particularly mentioned.
(9) Who had preceded them from Khoten.
Great quinquennial assembly of monks. Relics of Buddha. Productions of the country.
It happened that the king of the country was then holding the pancha parishad, that is, in Chinese, the great quinquennial assembly.(1) When this is to be held, the king requests the presence of the Sramans from all quarters (of his kingdom). They come (as if) in clouds; and when they are all assembled, their place of session is grandly decorated. Silken streamers and canopies are hung out in, and water-lilies in gold and silver are made and fixed up behind the places where (the chief of them) are to sit. When clean mats have been spread, and they are all seated, the king and his ministers present their offerings according to rule and law. (The assembly takes place), in the first, second, or third month, for the most part in the spring.
After the king has held the assembly, he further exhorts the ministers to make other and special offerings. The doing of this extends over one, two, three, five, or even seven days; and when all is finished, he takes his own riding-horse, saddles, bridles, and waits on him himself,(2) while he makes the noblest and most important minister of the kingdom mount him. Then, taking fine white woollen cloth, all sorts of precious things, and articles which the Sramans require, he distributes them among them, uttering vows at the same time along with all his ministers; and when this distribution has taken place, he again redeems (whatever he wishes) from the monks.(3)
The country, being among the hills and cold, does not produce the other cereals, and only the wheat gets ripe. After the monks have received their annual (portion of this), the mornings suddenly show the hoar-frost, and on this account the king always begs the monks to make the wheat ripen(4) before they receive their portion. There is in the country a spitoon which belonged to Buddha, made of stone, and in colour like his alms-bowl. There is also a tooth of Buddha, for which the people have reared a tope, connected with which there are more than a thousand monks and their disciples,(5) all students of the hinayana. To the east of these hills the dress of the common people is of coarse materials, as in our country of Ts’in, but here also(6) there were among them the differences of fine woollen cloth and of serge or haircloth. The rules observed by the Sramans are remarkable, and too numerous to be mentioned in detail. The country is in the midst of the Onion range. As you go forward from these mountains, the plants, trees, and fruits are all different from those of the land of Han, excepting only the bamboo, pomegranate,(7) and sugar-cane.