The pre-eminent sūtra. New traces of the Altun Yaruk Sudur
(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)
The large number both of fragments and different copies proves the pre-eminence of the Altun Yaruk Sudur, Skt. Suvarṇaprabhāsottamasūtra, “The Sūtra of Golden Light” among the Uigurs. More than 1100 of the altogether approximately 8000 Old Turkish fragments preserved in the Berlin Turfan collection (Depositum der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften in der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin — Preußischer Kulturbesitz) belong to the Altun Yaruk sudur or to closely related works. They mostly stem from manuscripts, but some of them are remains of blockprints, as well. The best preserved copy, a manuscript (in the past often referred to as a blockprint), of this scripture is preserved in the Institute of oriental manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. It forms the basis for most of the detailed studies on this text.
Only recently I have got access to some new manuscript findings from Bezeklik in the framework of the co-operation between the Museum in Turfan (Prof. Li Xiao), the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and a Japanese research group (Prof. Hiroshi Umemura) aimed at the study and edition of the Non-Chinese fragments excavated in Bezeklik after 1980 and preserved in the Turfan Museum’. Among them there are three fragments which were identified as remains of the Altun Yaruk Sudur by Peter Zieme. Generously I was given the chance to work on this material. In my paper I will report amongst others on the interrelationship of the findings of the Turfan Museum and the German Turfan expeditions.