On the Rawak stūpa and clay sculpture

Our knowledge of Rawak, a Buddhist site in the Khotan oasis, is based on Sir Aurel Stein’s account (1907) of the results of his own field-research, on Gerd Gropp’s description (1974) of the materials unearthed by the Trinkler Expedition, and on the extensive analysis carried out by Marylin Rhie (1991). Mentions of Rawak also occur in a number of studies throughout the 20th centuries and during the last two decades, but mainly for the sake of comparison with the architecture and the sculpture yielded by other Central Asian or Gandharan Buddhist settlements. This paper will propose a critical overview of previous studies, with a special focus on the criteria upon which the hypotheses on the dating of the Rawak stūpa and sculpture have been formulated (from the 2nd to the 7th century CE), with an attempt to reduce the chronological span within which the monument is possibly to be accommodated.