Maitreyasamitināṭaka is a Buddhist drama in the language known as Tocharian A. It dates to the eighth century and survives only in fragments. Maitrisimit nom bitig is an Old Uyghur translation of the Tocharian text. It is a much more complete text and dates to the tenth century. The drama revolves around the Buddha Maitreya, the future saviour of the world.[1] This story was popular among Buddhists and parallel versions can be found in Chinese, Tibetan, Khotanese, Sogdian, Pali and Sanskrit.[2] According to Friedrich W. K. Müller and Emil Sieg, the apparent meaning of the title is "Encounter with Maitreya".[3]

The fragments of the Tocharian text come from six different manuscrips, five from the Shikshin Temple and one from Qocho.[1] Albert Grünwedel and Albert von Le Coq discovered the Tocharian text during the third German Turfan expedition in 1906.[4] The Uyghur text is represented by three manuscripts, two from Turfan and one from Qomul.[1] A colophon to the Matrisimit notes that it was translated from toxrï. Since the text shows a "clear dependence" on the Maitreyasamitināṭaka, scholars named the unidentified language of that text Tocharian on the assumption that toxrï was related to the Tocharoi of ancient Greek texts.[5]

The Maitreyasamitināṭaka was originally a long text consisting of twenty-seven acts of ten to fifteen leaves (twenty to thirty pages) each. The Tocharian fragments come from manuscripts of high aesthetic value, indicating a text that was meant to be read. There are stage directions, however, such as lcär poñś ("all have left [the scene]") at the end of each act, which suggests that it was also performed. It is in the champu style with sections of prose mixed with sections of verse. The Maitrisimit translation is all prose.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Peyrot and Semet 2016.
  2. ^ Ji 1998, pp. 5–6.
  3. ^ Kumamoto 2009, p. 2.
  4. ^ Ji 1998, p. 1.
  5. ^ Zieme 2000, p. 48.


  • Kumamoto, Hiroshi. 2009. "The Maitreya-samiti and Khotanese". [Based on a paper read at the Symposium franco-japonais : «Interactions et translations culturelles en Eurasie» («Dynamic Interactions of Cultures in Eurasia»), jointly held by the University of Tokyo and École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris on 12–13 December 2002.]
  • Moerloose, Eddy. 1979. "The Way of Vision (Darśanamārga) in the Tocharian and Old Turkish Versions of the Maitreyasamitināṭaka". Central Asiatic Journal, 23(3): 240–249. JSTOR 41927265
  • Peyrot, Michaël; Semet, Ablet. 2016. "A Comparative Study of the Beginning of the 11th Act of the Tocharian A Maitreyasamitināṭaka and the Old Uyghur Maitrisimit". Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 69(4): 355–378. doi:10.1556/062.2016.69.4.1
  • Ji, Xianlin (ed.). 1998. Fragments of the Tocharian A Maitreyasamiti-Nätaka of the Xinjiang Museum, China. Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs, 113. Berlin–New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Zieme, Peter. 2000. "The Search for Knowledge Through Translation: Translations of Manichaean, Christian and Buddhist Literature into Chinese, Turkic, Mongolian, Tibetan and Other Languages". C. E. Bosworth and M. S. Asimov (eds.), History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Volume IV: The Age of Achievement, A.D. 750 to the End of the Fifteenth Century, Part II: The Achievements. UNESCO Publishing. pp. 43–51.

Further readingEdit

  • Durkin-Meisterernst, Desmond; Kasai, Yukiyo; and Yakup, Abdurishid (eds.). Die Erforschung des Tocharischen und die alttürkische Maitrisimit. Silk Road Studies, 17. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2013.