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Sogdians in Yanqi 粟特人在焉耆

 Author: Bi Bo  Category: Central Asia, Chinese Scholarship, History, Identity, Journal, Xinjiang  Publisher: The Western Regions Studies, 2020(1),23-30  Publication Date: 2020  Language: Chinese

The oasis kingdoms around the Tarim Basin were important places for business and migration of the Sogdians who lived along the Silk Road during the Middle Ages. As an important oasis in the Northern route of the Western Region, Yanqi is also an important station for Sogdian activities in history. However, there are very few records about the Sogdian activities in ancient documents. Fortunately, archeological discoveries have provided many important materials. The silver bowls and ossuary of the Sogdian script found at Qigexing indicates that some Sogdian people were Zoroastrians during the 5th to 8th centuries, but, some adapted to Buddhism in the same period based on the Buddhist script written with Sogdian language. This is very likely to be the result of close economic cooperation with local Buddhist communities. During 9th and 10th centuries, Yanqi was under the control of West Uyghur Kingdom, and thus the official religion Manichaeism thrived along the Northern Silk Road. There were nearly half Sogdian listed on the Postscript of the “Manichaeism Hymn” found at Turfan. Some Sogdian and Uyghur documents unearthed in Turfan and Khotan indicate that some Sogdian Manichaeans were merchants engaged in cotton cloth trading between Central Asia and the Tarim Basin. In order to facilitate the trade, there might be a network among the Sogdian people in the oasis along the northern route in the Western Regions. At the same time, commercial cooperation with local Buddhist communities was also essential since the Buddhism won the favor among the Uyghur elites.