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Fabulous Horses out of Water in B.Sīlā as Depicted in the Kūshnāma: A Cultural Encounter between East and West Asia

  • LIU, YINGJUN (Center for Studies of Eastern Literatures and School of Foreign Languages, Peking University)
  • Published : 2019.06.15

Abstract

In the Iranian epic $K{\bar{u}}shn{\bar{a}}ma$, there is a rather interesting story that recounts how the inhabitants of $B.s{\bar{i}}l\bar{a}$ cross-breed their domesticated horses with a magical horse living in the sea in order to obtain fine-bred ones. What is even more interesting is that similar accounts are also seen in many of other classical Perso-Arabic works and Chinese sources. The regions that such events took place in mainly spread over Central Asia and western China while in $K{\bar{u}}shn{\bar{a}}ma$, the story happens in $B.s{\bar{i}}l\bar{a}$, a legendary kingdom with its historical prototype being Silla. By sorting out certain records of how ancient people sought fine horses by cross-breeding domesticated horses with wild horses that inhabited mountains and waters within Chinese sources and classical Muslim works, and comparing these accounts with similar plot lines as depicted in $K{\bar{u}}shn{\bar{a}}ma$, this paper attempts to elucidate that the story in $K{\bar{u}}shn{\bar{a}}ma$ is a result of flourishing land and maritime exchanges between East Asia and West Asia during ancient and medieval times, rather than a purely literary fiction. It was not only influenced by the horse culture that thrived over the Eurasian Steppe, but the story is also coincidentally in accordance with the fact that the nomadic zone which lies within the central Eurasian continent extends as far as the Korean Peninsula in northeast Asia.

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