- Coin of Gurgamoya
- King of Khotan. Khotan, 1st century CE.
Obv: Kharoshthi legend “Of the great king of kings, king of Khotan, Gurgamoya”.
Rev: Chinese legend: “Twenty-four grain copper coin”.
For some fifty years Sir Harold Bailey has studied and interpreted the northern area of Indian Buddhist culture in the Khotan Saka documents of Central Asia dated between the fifth and tenth centuries AD. In the VIIth volume of his Indo-Scythian Studies, the author discusses the form, provenance and identity of the peoples known to the Court of the Kingdom of Khotan and included within the Khotanese texts. Links are made with the languages, literatures and history of Asia, stretching from China to the Middle East. The Khotan Saka documents demonstrate the development of Indian Buddhist culture within Central Asia, and beyond. This volume of Khotanese texts documents and interprets the historical contacts of the peoples of ancient north-west China and of Sin Kiang before the dominance of the Turks.
According to legend, the foundation of Khotan occurred when Kushtana, said to be a son of the Indian Buddhist emperor Ashoka, settled there in the early 3rd century BCE.
However, it is likely to have existed earlier than this as the Yuezhi (known later as the Kushans) had been trading the famous nephrite jade from the region to China for some centuries prior to this.
The kingdom became one of the major centres of Buddhism. Up until the 11th century, the vast majority of the population was Buddhist. The kingdom is primarily associated with the Mahayana branch. It differed in this respect to Kucha, a Śrāvakayāna-dominated kingdom on the opposite side of the desert. Fa-Hsien account of the city states it had fourteen large and many small Buddhist monasteries. Many foreign languages, including Chinese, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Tibetan, were used in cultural exchange.
Khotan was the first place outside of China to begin cultivating silk. The story, repeated in many sources, and illustrated in murals discovered by archaeologists, is that a Chinese princess brought silkworm eggs in her hairdo when she was sent to marry the Khotanese king. This probably took place in the first half of the 1st century CE.
The ancient Kingdom of Khotan was one of the earliest Buddhist states in the world and a cultural bridge across which Buddhist culture and learning were transmitted from India to China.
End of Buddhist Khotan
Khotan came under Muslim control in the first decade of the 11th century. Marco Polo visited Khotan between 1271 and 1275 and remarked that the people were “all followers of Mahommet”. James MillwardMore realtes this end:
The one Tarim city state still independent of either Qarakhanid or Uyghur control at this point was Khotan, a Buddhist kingdom whose inhabitants, like those of early Kashgar and Yarkand, spoke the Iranian Saka tongue. Khotan’s indigenous dynasty (all of whose royal names are Indian in origin) governed a fervently Buddhist city-state boasting some 400 temples in the late ninth/early tenth century — four times the number recorded by Xuan Zang around the year 630. Khotan enjoyed close relations with the Buddhist centre at Dunhuang: the Khotanese royal family intermarried with Dunhuang élites, visited and patronised Dunhuang’s Buddhist temple complex, and donated money to have their portraits painted on the walls of the Mogao grottos. Through the tenth century Khotanese royal portraits were painted in association with an increasing number of deities in the caves, suggesting the Khotanese royalty knew they were in trouble.
The trouble, specifically, was the Qarakhanid empire. Satuq’s son, Musa, began to put pressure on Khotan in the mid-900s, and sometime before 1006 Yusuf Qadir Khan of Kashgar besieged and took the city. This conquest of Buddhist Khotan by the Muslim Turks — about which there are many colourful legends — marked another watershed in the Islamicisation and Turkicisation of the Tarim Basin, and an end to local autonomy of this southern Tarim city state. 
Sir Harold Bailey has studied and interpreted the northern area of Indian Buddhist culture in the Khotan Saka documents of Central Asia dated between the fifth and tenth centuries AD. In this volume he discusses the form, provenance and identity of the peoples known to the Court of the Kingdom of Khotan and included within the Khotanese texts.
Sir Harold Bailey
Indo-Scythian Studies: Khotanese Texts Volume VII
Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (August 20, 2009)