“Rhapsody on the Ershi General Spring” (Ershi quan fu 貳師泉賦) from Mogaoku, Dunhuang Introduction and Translation

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Charles Sanft

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Abstract




Among the many manuscripts that emerged from the library cave at Mogaoku 莫 高窟 are copies of a medieval vernacular rhapsody entitled “Rhapsody on the Ershi General Spring” (Ershi quan fu 貳師泉賦). The poem relates a legend about the Han general Li Guangli 李廣利 (d. 89 bCe), who is said to have created a spring to provide drinking water for his troops traversing the desert near Dunhuang 敦煌. This article introduces the manuscripts containing “Rhapsody on the Ershi General Spring,” discusses the background and content of the rhapsody, and translates it.




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