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An Shih Kao

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An Shih-kao (?-~170) (安世高; pinyin Ān Shígāo) was a prince of Parthia, nicknamed the "Parthian Marquis", who renounced his throne in order to serve as a Buddhist missionary monk.

The prefix An in An Shih Kao's name is an abbreviation of Anxi (Ch:安息), meaning Parthia in ancient Chinese: Anxi is a transcription of "Arsaces", the founder of the Arsacid Dynasty of Parthia. Most Parthian visitors who took a Chinese name received the An prefix to indicate their origin.

In 148, An Shih Kao arrived in China at the Han Dynasty capital of Loyang, where he set up a centre for the translation of Buddhist texts. He translated thirty-five texts from the Theravada school of Buddhism.

An Shih-kao is the first Buddhist missionary to China to be named in Chinese sources. Another Parthian monk named An Hsuan is also said to have joined An Shih-Kao at Loyang around 181 CE, where he took charge of translating Mahayana texts.

See also

Lokaksema

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