This manuscript, acquired from the David-Weill donation collection with the support of Aline Mayrisch, contains passages from the biography of Xuanzang, one of the most famous translators of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Chinese. It is in fact the translation of a Chinese work into Turkish, using an alphabet derived from Aramaic via Sogdian, by Sïngqo Säli tutung (in Chinese: Shengguang fashi), a native of Bechbalik (present-day Guchen). The 10-volume work, entitled “Biography of the Master of the Law of the Three Baskets of the Monastery of the Great Passion”, relates the life of the celebrated Buddhist monk Xuanzang who, in the 7th century, played a key role in the propagation of Buddhism in China, translating the religious writings that he had brought back from India. The Chinese text was written between 664 and 688 by two of his disciples, Huili and Yencong.
The translation is only known of from this manuscript. The Musée Guimet possesses one third of the text; the other two thirds are in collections in Beijing and St Petersburg.
The text appears within rectangular red line frames, with 27 lines per page. Cursive inscriptions have been added at the end of the chapter. One third of the way down the left side of each page, a small, red, centrally pierced circle recalls the formal derivation of the manuscript from Indian counterparts.
The manuscript consists of 123 fragments of light brown paper, on which the text is written in black ink, with red ruled lines visible in places.