Buddhist records of the Western world (Xuanzang)

by Samuel Beal | 1884 | 224,928 words | ISBN-10: 8120811070

This is the English translation of the travel records of Xuanzang (or, Hiuen Tsiang): a Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled to India during the seventh century. This book recounts his documents his visit to India and neighboring countries, and reflects the condition of those countries during his time, including temples, culture, traditions and fest...

Chapter 5 - Towns and Buildings of India

The towns and villages have inner gates;[1] the walls are wide and high; the streets and lanes are tortuous, and the roads winding. The thoroughfares are dirty and the stalls arranged on both sides of the road with appropriate signs. Butchers, fishers, dancers, executioners, and scavengers, and so on, have their abodes without the city. In coming and going these persons are bound to keep on the left side of the road till they arrive at their homes. Their houses are surrounded by low walls, and form the suburbs. The earth being soft and muddy, the walls of the towns are mostly built of brick or tiles. The towers on the walls are constructed of wood or bamboo; the houses have balconies and belvederes, which are made of wood, with a coating of lime or mortar, and covered with tiles. The different buildings have the same form as those in China: rushes, or dry branches, or tiles, or boards are used for covering them. The walls are covered with lime and mud, mixed with cow's dung for purity. At different seasons they scatter flowers about. Such are some of their different customs.

The saṅghārāmas are constructed with extraordinary skill. A three-storied tower[2] is erected at each of the four angles. The beams and the projecting heads are carved with great skill in different shapes. The doors, windows, and the low walls are painted profusely; the monks' cells are ornamental on the inside and plain on the outside.[3] In the very middle[4] of the building is the hall, high and wide. There are various storeyed chambers and turrets of different height and shape, without any fixed rule. The doors open towards the east; the royal throne also faces the east.

Footnotes and references:


Such is the meaning generally assigned to the symbo1s "leu yen". I do not understand the translation given by Julien; the texts perhaps are different.


The phrase "chung koh" means "a storeyed room or pavilion;" so at least I understand it. M. Julien translates as though it meant a double-storeyed room, or a pavilion with two storeys. The passage literally translated is: "Angle towers rise on the four sides; there are (or they are) storeyed buildings of three stages"


I take "li shu" to mean "the monks" or "the religious," the dark-clad.


The phrase "ngau shih" may mean "the sleeping apartments," as Julien translates; but I hesitate to give it this meaning, because the monks slept in their cells and not in a dormitory. The hall I take to be the hall for religious worship. The account here given corresponds very closely with the description of the Vihāras in Nepal at the present day.

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