The Monasteries of Luoyang (洛陽伽藍記) 5 (English)

Luoyang Qielan Ji (洛陽伽藍記) or "The monasteries of Luoyang" is a report written by the 6th century official Yang Xuanzhi (楊衒之) in 547, focusing on all the Buddhist monasteries in Luoyang (then capital of the Northern Wei dynasty).
At the beginning of the tenth month (519 C.E.), [the envoys] arrived in the state of the Yedivar (Hephthalites). The lands and fields [of their country] are numerous, extending [quite far]. [An abundance] of mountains and lakes fill up one's field of vision. They do not reside within their walled cities; rather, [their king] travels with his army, ruling [on horseback].

Their homes are made of felt, and they migrate (in search) of water and grass. In the summer, they seek cool [lands]. In the winter, they seek warm [lands]. They do not appreciate their land; moreover, they are illiterate and lack rites and propriety.


They have many vassal states that pay them tribute. In the south, [their land] reaches Zabul (牒羅). In the north, [their land] reaches the Tägäräk (Tiele) (敕勒). In the east, [their land] reaches Hvatäna (于闐). In the west, their land reaches Fars (波斯). Over forty states all arrive at court to pay tribute.

The king pitches a large felt yurt that is forty paces square. Kilims made of wool are hung all around the walls. The king is dressed in brocade and sat on a golden couch, with four golden phoenixes serving as the feet of the couch. When he saw the envoy of the Great Wei, he bowed twice in respect [before] receiving the imperial edict.


When it comes to the arrangement of their rhythms, one person [begins] the song. Following this, the guests [join] in singing one after another. Afterwards, the gathering is dismissed. They only have it in this fashion. It does not come across as music.


The imperial concubines of the Yedivar also wear robes of brocade, which was eight chi long and hung three chi from the ground, so that people [had to] hold it up. She wears a single horned diadem that is three chi long with multi-colored rose-tinted pearls adorning its top. When the imperial consort leaves, she is carried out on a palanquin. When she enters, she sits on a golden couch [in the shape] of a white elephant with six tusks and four lions [serving as the feet] of the couch. The rest of the great minister’s wives follow her, [wearing] an umbrella-like headdress also shaped like a horn. [It] is round and hangs down, resembling a bejeweled cover. They also have clothing and accessories [to distinguish] nobles [from the] common folk.