Faxian’s and Xuanzang’s Wooden Maitreya and the Chartoi Rock Cut Niche at Gupis, Gilgit-Baltistan


  • Mueezuddin Hakal Assistant Professor, Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.


Gupis, Ghizer, Faxian, Xuanzang, colossal Maitreya


This note offers a short preliminary study on an artificial niche located on a cliff at the mouth of the valley of Chartoi near Gupis, Gilgit-Baltistan. The niche, looking like a gateway cut into the rock, has a mythological significance in the local folklore. This site, including the whole valley, is remembered as the abode of fairies (called the “mothers”), who can also reveal themselves through the possession of the local shamans. For this reason, the villagers offer near the niche the blood of animals or on the road congressionally cross this ravine in the occasion of marriages, etc. In this area even avoid cultivating the “hot crops” like onion or peppers in order not to upset these entities. The site can also has a topographical significance being located at the beginning of the shortest route connecting Upper Indus with Swat, therefore Gandhara. Of course, this may link the site to Chinese historical records. Finally, there is a strong suggestion that the rock niche may be associated with the site of the fabled colossal sculpture of Maitreya mentioned by Faxian and Xuanzang. 




How to Cite

Hakal, M. (2021). Faxian’s and Xuanzang’s Wooden Maitreya and the Chartoi Rock Cut Niche at Gupis, Gilgit-Baltistan. Journal of Asian Civilizations, 44(1), 251–262. Retrieved from https://jac.qau.edu.pk/index.php/jac/article/view/87