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Central Asia and Tibet 





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Frontispiece lo Vol. II. 

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Towards the Holy City of Lassa 


SvEN Hedin 

Author of "Through Asia," etc. 

With 42Q Illustrations from Drawings and Photographs^ 

Eight FulUpage Coloured Illustrations from Paintings, 

and Five Maps, mostly by the Author 

VOL. 11. 





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' 300593 ' 


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List of Editions. 











Charles Scribners Sons 
F. A. Brockhaus- 

Felix Juven 

A. Devrien 

Ulrico Hoepli - - - - 

F. Wodianer & Sons - - 
Albert Bonnier .... 

Alb. Cammermeyer - - - 
Jos. R. Vilimek .... 

G. Robertson & Co. 

Proprieury, Ltd. 

Hurst and Blackett, Limited 

New York. 



St. Petersburg. 




I Melbourne. 


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I. — ^A Trip to the Ayag-kum-köll .... 
II. — Crossing the Passes of Northern Tibet . 
III. — A Journey to Anambaruin-gol . 
IV. — Amongst the Särtäng Mongols . - . 

V. — Searching for Water in an Unknown Country 







VI. — The Ruins of Ancient Lop-nor . . 
VII.— Lou-LAN 




VIII. — Surveying the Lop Desert 153 

IX, — A Wandering Lake 163 

X. — Preparations for Tibet 177 

XL — The Last of Islam Bai 190 



XII. — Across the Border Ranges to the Kum-köll. 
XIII. — From the Kum-köll to the Arka-tagh . 


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XIV. — Across the Arka-tagh in a Snowstorm 
XV. — First Contact with the Tibetans . 
XVI. — Quagmires and Sky-scraping Passes . 





XVII. — ^The Start for Lassa 295 

XVIII. — A Night Attack 305 

XIX. — A Wet Night-watch 314 

XX. — First Meeting with the Nomads .... 327 

XXI. — Yak Caravans 342 

XXII. — Prisoners 351 

XXIII. — Cross-questioned by Kamba Bombo .... 368 

XXIV. — Sent Back Under Escort 384 

XXV. — Back at Headquarters Camp 400 













-SouTH Again .... 
-Death and Burial of Kalpet . 
-The Emissaries from Lassa 
-The Nakktsong-tso . . 
-Storm-stayed in the Chargut-tso 
-Yamdu Tsering. a Side Excursion 
-Via Dolorosa .... 
-Tso-ngombo or the Blue Lake . 
-From the Panggong-tso to Leh 



XXXV.— A Visit to India . . . . 
XXXVI. — Home via the Monastery of Himis 




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Lord Curzon Frontispiece 


Our Headquarters Camp at Temirlik 5 

The Cossacks Cherdon and Shagdur 7 

Our Camp on the South of the Kalta-alagan (15-16 Nov., 1900) . 9 

The Northern Face of the KLalta-alagan 11 

Our Camp on the South of the Kalta-alagan . . .13 

The Author in the Skiff on the North-west Shore of the Ayag-kum- 

köll ; Tokta Ahun holding it 17 

Islam Bai and Kutchuk Pushing Off. In the Background the 

Isolated Mountain Group at the North-west Corner of the 

Ayag-kum-köll 21 

Our Baggage Horses on the Shore of the Ayag-kum-köll . . -25 
The Glen Leading up to the Pass of Ghopur-alik . . . .28 
The Cossacks Cherdon and Shagdur, and their Trophies — Ali Ahun, 

the Tailor, on the right 31 

The Camels Loaded up 39 

Camp in Northern Tibet 40 

Glen Leading up to the Pass of the Akato-tagh . -41 

Making a Road over the First Pass 42 

The Cul-de-Sac where we Turned Back 45 

The Two-storied Glen 47 

A Vault in the Glen 47 

Taking up the Camels one by one to the Main Pass .... 49 

The Spring of 22nd December, 1900 49 

Cooking and Washing at Anambaruin-gol — Looking North-west . 5 1 

Grass at the Spring of 22nd December 53 

Gravel-and-Shingle Terrace at the Spring of 22 nd December . 53 

View looking S.E. from our Camp at Anambaruin-gol • • • 55 

Our Mongol Guides when Returning to Anambaruin-gol ... 59 

Our Camp in the Glen of Jong-duntsa 63 

Up the Gorge of the Anambaruin-gol 65 

Our Camels at Jong-duntsa 67 

Stone Huts at Lu-chuentsa 7° 

One of our Mongol Guides 70 

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Looking North from Jong-duntsa 71 

The Mouth of the Ravine of Jong-duntsa 73 

Our Camp at Lu-chuentsa 75 

The Caravan on the Ice at Lu-chuentsa 79 

Our Camp in the Middle of the Sandy Desert 83 

Watering the Camels at Camp no. CXXXVIII 85 

Sand-dunes of the Middle Gobi 86 

The Terrace seen from the Last of the Oases 87 

Shagdur and Khodai Kullu Digging a Well at the Last Oasis. In 
the Background the Extreme Outlier of the Kurruk-tagh 

towards the Desert of Gobi 91 

The Caravan Marching Through the Desert of Gobi (coloured) facing p. 94 

Altimish-bulak or Sixty Springs 97 

The Author Testing his Levelling Instruments at Altimish-bulak . 99 

The Wounded Wild Camel loi 

The Dead Wild Camel 102 

Cleansing the Camel's Skeleton at Altimish-bulak . . . .103 

Our Camp at Khodai Kullu's Spring 104 

An Ice-Sheet below Khodai Kullu's Spring 105 

Khodai Kullu and his Wild Camel 107 

The First Clay Tower 113 

A Copper Lamp from Lou-Ian 115 

A View to the South-west from the Tora at our Camp. (In the 
Foreground is my Yurt, protected by Beams against a Landslide. 
In the Background the Clay Desert with its Wind-sculptured 

Yardangs) 116 

The Ruined House nearest to our Camp 117 

The Clay Tower seen from the. North-east 119 

The Top of the Tower Falling 120 

The Clay Tower seen from the South 121 

Ruined House with its Doorway still Standing in situ . . .123 
Carved Poplar Wood. On the right an Image of Buddha ; under- 
neath it a Fish 125 

Carved Pieces of -Wood from the Ruins 127 

Excavating the Buddhist Temple 129 

Clay Tower near the Buddhist Temple 130 

The Ruined Building in which the MSS. were Discovered . -131 

A Signal Fire at the Tower of Lou-Ian (coloured) . . f cuing p, 132 

Some of Shagdur's Discoveries 133 

Carved Wooden Ornamentation from a House in L6u-lan , .135 
On the Left an Earthenware Vase, in the Middle a Wheel, on the 

Right the MSS. House, and in the Distance the Clay Tower . 137 
Excavating a House in Lou-Ian. In the Foreground the Big 

Earthenware Jar 141 

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" Finds " from L6u-lan. The Clay Desert in the Background . . 143 

Reloading on the March 148 

The Caravan for the Levelling Expedition 155 

A Gully in the Shor (Salt) Desert 159 

Our Camp Beside one of the New Arms from the Lake of Kara- 

koshun 167 

An Oflfshoot of the Travelling Lake — the White Patches on the 

Surface of the Water are Foam 171 

The Stag. On the Left a Chinaman, Chernoff, and Turdu Bai, and 

on the Right Islam Bai 178 

The Yurt in the Orchard at Charkhlik 1 79 

A Corner of the Stable- Yard in our Serai. Sirkin seated on the Rice- 
Sacks, Turdu Bai standing in Front of the Dromedary . . 1S3 
Sirkin and Chernoff with the two Baby Camels . . .185 

In the Shade of the Willows beside the Serai Reservoir at Charkhlik . 187 
At Charkhlik the Day before the Start . . . . .191 

Shereb Lama on Golden Ears, with YoUbars on a Cord . . - 195 

Our Camp in the CAen of the Charkhlik-su 207 

The Last Sharp Turn in the Transverse Glen of the Charkhlik-su. 211 
Our Camp at Unkurluk, Looking up the Side-Glen . . . .215 
Buying Sheep from the Shepherds of Unkurluk . . . .219 
The Camel-Loads Stacked Beside the Kum-köU . . . .223 
The Camels on the Shore of the Lake of Kum-köU . . . .225 

Turdu Bai's Tent 233 

View at Camp no. XVI 239 

The Tibetan Bear 241 

Fording a River in Northern Tibet 249 

Our Landmark 252 

A Wounded Orongo Antelope 255 

The Veteran of 1 896. Sirkin Holding Him 259 

Our Camp of 13th July 267 

The Camels Fording a River 271 

Scanty Grazing in the Great Latitudinal Valley . . .273 

A Young Kulan Wounded 277 

The Two Ice Margins 285 

Hewing a Path Down off the Ice 287 

The Author in Mongolian Dress 297 

Our Start from the Headquarters Camp 301 

A Night Surprise 307 

Shagdur, the Author, and Shereb Lama in Pilgrim Attire . . ' 3^^ 

An Encampment of the Three Pilgrims 315 

In the Pouring Rain and Mire 323 

A Young Tibetan Shepherd 329 

An Older Tibetan 331 

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A Tibetan Woman 335 

A Tibetan Caravan-man 343 

A Tame Yak, the Animal I Rode from Leh to Kara-korum in 1902 . 345 

Our Lama in Conversation with the Natives 349 

A Group of Tibetans 355 

The Tibetans Charging Past Our Tent 359 

Tibetan Horsemen 365 

A Tibetan Soldier 366 

Tents of Tibetan Chiefs, White with Blue Borders . . -371 

" Not Another Step Towards Lassa." 377 

Tibetan Cavalry 381 

Lamas Blowing Trumpets 386 

A Lama Playing on a Drum and Metal Plates 387 

A Lama Reading 389 

A Lama with a Prayer-wheel 391 

Tibetan Soldiers 395 

A Camp in the Tibetan Highlands. . 403 

A Camel Sinking in the Quagmire 405 

Caravan Animals Grazing , . .407 

Sirkin's Kökkmek Goat 415 

A Frozen Deer and Goat 416 

A Visit from the Shepherds of Jansung . . . . . .417 

Our Lama Detaining the Three Tibetans 421 

Tibetan Women 425 

Two Shepherd Boys 427 

Tent of a Tibetan Nomad in a Recess of the Mountain . -429 

Kalpet's Bed on the Back of a Camel 433 

Tibetan Marksmen 435 

Charge of the Tibetans at Yaggyu-rapga (coloured) . . facing p, 437 
Our Camp at Yaggyu-rapga. In the front line Vanka the Ram, and 

the Dogs YoUbars, Malchik and Hamra 439 

Our Hospital . . 443 

Kalpet lying Dead on his Bier 445 

The Funeral Procession . . -447 

Kalpet's Grave .......... 449 

Hlajeh Tsering Smoking his Pipe 457 

Hlajeh Tsering and Yunduk Tsering 459 

Hlajeh Tsering and Yunduk Tsering 461 

View Across the Chargut-tso, Looking West - . . . .473 
The Tibetan Emissaries' Guard at the Chargut-tso . . . »477 
Tibetan Soldiers Gambling beside the Chargut-tso . . . . 48 1 

Our Camp on the First Island in Chargut-tso 483 

The South Shore of the Western End of the Second Islet . . 485 
A Storm on the Chargut-tso 489 

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Tents of the Tibetan Emissaries 493 

The River Boggtsang-sangpo, Looking South-West . . . -497 
Shagdur and Ördek Fishing in the Boggtsang-sangpo . . -499 

The Valley of the Boggtsang-sangpo 501 

A Mountain Group North of Camp no. XCII. . . 505 
A Mountain Group North of Camp no. XCII. (continuation of Illus- 
tration on p. 505.) 509 

Our Lama on the Left ; Yamdu Tsering and Tsering Dashi on the 

Right 513 

Loading up the Yaks 515 

Camp no. CIIL, at an altitude of 15,946 feet 517 

Laying out Mohammed Tokta 520 

Our Camp near the Western Shore of Lakkor-tso . . .521 

Camp no. CXIV. ; the Mountains on the South Side of the Valley . 525 

Lamas Blowing Trumpets 527 

Camp no. CXIV. ; the Mountains on the South Side of the Valley . 529 
Camp no. CXIV. ; the Mountains on the North Side of the Valley . 533 
Our Camp beside a Frozen Marsh, in the beginning of November . 537 
The North Shore of the Lake of Tsolla-ring-tso . . -539 

A Scene in Western Tibet 541 

Our Lama Quarrelling with the Leaders of the Yak-Caravan. . 545 

View South-east from Camp no. CXXIX 546 

Vicinity of our Camp of 21st and 22nd November . -547 

Terraces of Gravel-and-Shingle 548 

Open Country at Tsangar shar 549 

Double Terraces of Gravel-and-Shingle 551 

The Cossacks Angling on the March 553 

The Temple Village of Noh 555 

Our First Encampment beside the Tso-ngombo . . . -557 
View S. across the Second Lake of Tso-ngombo . . . -553 

The Middle Basin of Tso-ngombo 559 

A View of the Western Tso-ngombo 560 

A Difficult Bit beside the Tso ngombo 561 

The Dangerous Path Along the Mountain Side ; some of the Yaks on 

the Path, Others Above it ... . - - b^3 

Carrying the Baggage across the Ice on a Make-shift Sledge . -565 

Converting the Skiff into a Sledge 567 

The Skiff on Lake Panggong-tso 570 

Gulang Hiraman and his Ladakis 571 

Camp no. CXLVIII. beside the Panggong-tso 575 

The Camp of i6th December, 1901 577 

The Temple of Tanksi 579 

Musicians and Dancers at Drugub; beside a Chorten . . .581 
Gulang Hiraman on his Pony 583 

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View from the Temple of Tikkseh 585 

The Town of Leh 587 

One of the Courtyards of the Temple of Tikkseh .... 589 

Lamas of Tikkseh. The Man on the Right is the Prior of the Temple 589 

The Last of our Camels Arriving at Leh 591 

All Old Ladaki 599 

On the Way up the Zoji-la 600 

My Coolies Resting During a Snowstorm on the Pass of Zoji-la 601 

A Dancing-Girl of Kargil 603 

Huts Below Baltal 607 

A Young Woman of Ladak 614 

The Entrance Door of the Temple of the Doggtsang Raspa. . .615 

The Prior of Himis 616 

The Temple Court-yard at Himis 617 

A Lama Attired for a Religious Festival 618 

The Idol of the Doggtsang Raspa 619 

A Lama Wearing a Mask 621 

The Kitchen at Himis 623 

In the Valley of Sheyok 625 

A Flute-player at Sheyok 626 

The Pass of Kitchik-kumdan near Kara-korum . . .627 

A Portion of the Glacier of Kitchik-kumdan 629 


Map of Central Tibet at end of Vol. 

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ch „ 

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g (final) 

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tsch „ , 

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Across the Desert of Gobi. 

Mountain Defiles and a Waterless Desert. 


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As soon as I was settled down in my yurt beside the springs 
of Temirlik, my day was spent in the following manner : After 
a good sleep and breakfast, I spent several hours making clean 
copies of my scientific observations and journals, so that I 
might have a double set to send home. I also wrote letters 
to friends in Europe, and then sat down beside the fire to read 
my Swedish newspapers, using a sort of home-made arm- 
chair which Islam had contrived for me. When it got dark, 
I had a fire lighted in the cave, and developed photographic 
plates until a late hour of the evening, and finally, when this 
was finished, went back to the yurt and had my dinner, or 
supper, whichever you please to call it. 

I paid the men their wages for the time I had been absent, 
and bought four more excellent camels, thus increasing the 
number to fourteen. I dismissed Musa of Osh and young 
Kader, both of whom were very anxious to return home. 
To the former I entrusted my big budget of letters for posting 
in Kashgar. Several of these were of great importance. 
We had been through what remained of my money, and found 
it was not enough. I wrote therefore to my father and to the 
Swedish Ambassador at St. Petersburg, Count Gyldenstolpe, 
begging them to send a considerable sum in Russian bank- 
notes to Consul-General Petrovsky, who would change them 
into Chinese silver money, and send it on to me at Charkhlik 
by the following summer. I also wrote to Colonel Saitseff 
at Osh, asking him to send me a fresh supply of preserved 

Between the 25th of October and the 4th of November, 
the Cossacks, accompanied by Tokta Ahun, MoUah, and Tog- 
dasin Beg, made a hunting excursion to Kum-köU. As I 
VOL. II. I* 

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should have no opportunity myself to cross over the Chimen- 
tagh and Kalta-alagan in that direction, I commissioned 
Shagdur to draw me a sketch map of the route they took, to 
make meteorological observations throughout the trip, and — 
what I was chiefly anxious about — to note the altitude of the 
pass. This task he executed in a faultless manner. His map 
agreed beautifully with the calculations which, by way 
of check upon his work, I afterwards made from the compass 
bearings and distances. At all events, Shagdur's map bridged 
over an important gap in my own cartographical observa- 
tions. The Cossacks killed and brought back with them a 
large number of deer, but had had a rather raw, cold time of 
it in the mountains, which were now one unbroken sheet of 
snow from summit to base. 

Our new camp at Temirlik was as busy a centre as Tura- 
sallgan-uy on the Tarim. All the gold-prospectors and hunters 
who were on their way back from Bokalik naturally dropped in 
to pay us a visit, while several men came up from the low- 
lands seeking employment. I however lived peacefully and 
quietly on my terrace, having a good view of the camp over on 
the other side of the brook, which was crossed by a little bridge. 
My idyllic peace was perfectly undisturbed except for the 
hoarse cawings of the ravens, which housed in the caves, and 
which had to be frightened away with half-a-dozen shots when 
I wanted to begin my series of astronomical observations. 

By the nth of November, however, everything was ready 
for a fresh start. My first object was to explore and map 
a part of the Chimen-tagh and Akato-tagh which had never 
before been visited, and thus fill up a big lacuna which existed 
on my map of^Northem Tibet. I did not enter upon this new 
expedition, which would last about a month, with any antici- 
pations of plecLsure, starting as I did towards the middle of 
a bitterly cold winter ; but the work had to be done, and the 
best thing was of course to go and do it. 

I selected the following men to accompany me : Cherdon, 
Islam Bai, Turdu Bai, Tokta Ahun, Khodai Värdi, and Tog- 
dasin. The last-named knew the region we were going to as 
intimately as he knew the country close around his own dwell- 
ing. Kutchuk and Niaz went with us for the first few days, 
to help lead the horses, which, after their thorough rest, were 
rather lively, and danced about a good deal with their loads. 
There were thirteen of them, and we also had four mules. 

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though no camels. I had promised myself that I would not be 
inconvenienced as I had been on my last trip, and therefore took 
a sufficient supply of tins of preserved food, and also the heat- 
ing-stove. I' appointed Shagdur chief of the camp at Temirlik, 
bidding him continue the meteorological observations. Before 
starting I packed away into one of the caves all the baggage 
I left behind, so as to secure it against the risk of fire, and 
directed that the entrance to the cave should be guarded day 
and night. 

As the country we now explored was very similar to the 
regions I had visited during the past summer, I shall cut my 

The Cossacks Cherdon and Shagdur. 

narrative short. We traversed the 84 miles to the lower lake 
of Kum-köU in six days. The first day we marched diagonally 
across the valley of Chimen, over its level, sterile clay bottom, 
through a belt of sand-dunes 40 to 50 feet high, and then, by a 
gigantic gate-way, as it were, of granite cliffs, entered the 
Chimen-tagh. The glen, or rather gorge, of Savugluk was 
threaded by a brook, now, however, cased in ice as bright and 
transparent as glass. The path ascended all the time, and 
when we encamped for the night we obtained a splendid bird's- 
eye view of the whole of the valley behind us, right away to the 
dome-shaped mountains of the Akato-tagh, the crests of which 
were entirely free from snow from the one end to the other. 

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When next morning I was awakened out of my dreams after 
a beautiful night's rest, I had at first some difficulty in realising 
that we were again on the march. My short holiday had fiown 
all too quickly. But there was no time for reflections ; break- 
fast came in, was despatched, and off we went. We were now 
to traverse a mountainous region, in which granite of every 
conceivable variety was the prevaiUng formation. Togdasin 
led us across one of the foot-hills of the Chimen-tagh by an 
easy pass, where the snow lay in an unbroken sheet, completely 
covering up the marmots' holes. But the animals them- 
selves were snugly curled away in their nests for the winter. 
Wise little creatures ! Northern Tibet is raw enough in all 
conscience, even in summer. 

The main pass by which we crossed the Chimen-tagh was 
remarkably easy, and consisted of a gently-rounded saddle, 
where the hard rock nowhere cropped out. On its southern 
side we went down into the same latitudinal valley which we 
had crossed higher up — that is, farther to the east — in July. 
The district a little beyond our camp bore the name of Att- 
attgan, or the "Shot Horse " ; and was thus named because a 
hunter, who had had a long run of ill-luck, and was on the point 
of perishing of hunger, was at last forced to shoot and eat the 
horse he rode. The spot where we encamped was called Mölleh- 
koygan, or the "Flung-away Saddle," because it was there the 
man abandoned his riding-saddle. Here the temperature 
dropped during the night of the 13th of November to — 21^.9 C, 
or — 7°.4 Fahr. 

Shortly after entering, on the south side of the valley, a 
narrow glen which led up to the summit of the Kalta-alagan, 
we disturbed a herd of yaks, which were peacefully grazing on 
the mountain-side. In their flight they' carried with them a 
troop of kulans, which were also grazing a little higher up. 

We descended the pass on the other side by a steep water- 
course strewn with blocks of granite and gravel, and shut in on 
both sides by reddish granite cliffs. Those oil the left consisted 
of a series of sharp detached peaks and pinnacles, while the crest 
on the right, although quite as serrated, was more continuous. 
The strong sunshine, combined with the clear pure atmosphere, 
accentuated the shadows in every cleft and ravine and behind 
each cliffy headland, making them almost perfectly black, 
and causing the immense rocky wall to stand out in strong 
and fascinating relief. 

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The view southwards across this broad upland basin was un- 
limited ; the mountain-chains along the horizon were mere 
narrow braidings, the outlines of which were only just per- 
ceptible in the strong simlight. The stream which flowed from 
the upper to the lower lake of Kum-koU glittered like a silver 
ribbon. Upon emerging from the trumpet-shaped valley, we 
directed our course towards the south-west, and went along the 
foot of the mountains, the spurs and ramifications of which were 
sculptured into divers fantastic shapes by wind and weather. 
They resembled tables and chairs ; they resembled cups ; they 
resembled necks and heads. Indeed, in some places, where the 

The Northern Face of the Kalta-alagan. 

erosive power of the wind had wrought with the greatest effect, 
the thinner sections were completely cut through. 

The lake of Ayag-kum-köU flashed like a gigantic sword- 
blade in the south-west. But as it was too far to do the distance 
in 'a single march, we halted in the barren waste, where we 
obtained water by digging down about 4^ feet. 

The next day, which was a rest day, I granted Cherdon, 
Togdasin, Islam Ba^, and Turdu Bai permission to go in quest 
of game. They divided into two parties ; but only the two 
last-named returned in the evening. We of course wondered 
what had happened to the others ; and when the evening passed, 
and the night became far advanced without our seeing anything of 

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them, we began to fear they had lost their way. Nor did they 
turn up until ten o'clock the next morning, and then in a truly 
deplorable condition. They had ridden up several rugged glens 
in pursuit of a flock of arkharis, until, the ascent growing too 
steep, they had been compelled to leave their horses behind them 
and scramble on over the rocks and screes without them. As 
they were trudging along, Togdasin all of a sudden collapsed, 
complaining of acute pain in the head and heart. He was un- 
able to do another step, and even after Cherdon fetched up 
the horses was unable to keep his seat in his saddle. Under 
these circumstances they were forced to spend the night on 
an exposed gravelly slope, without either shelter or water. 
The sick man besought the Cossack to return and leave him 
where he was. He would soon die in any case, and it didn't 
matter much where it happened ; but Cherdon stayed beside 
him all night, and every now and again shook him to prevent 
him from freezing to death in the bitter cold. As soon as ever 
day broke they were on their feet again, and dragged themselves 
slowly down to the camp. And Togdasin really was in a most 
pitiable condition. When we started again he had to be tied 
on his horse. 

That night we encamped beside the Ayag-kum-köU, or 
the lower lake of Kum-köll, although the only accommodation 
consisted of a few scattered clumps of yappkak and small 
patches of ice along the shore. On the morning of the i8th 
of November we got the boat ready for a trip across the lake. 
My boatman was Tokta Ahun, and we carried a considerable 
load, as, in addition to the sail, oars, life-belts, sounding ap- 
paratuses, and other instruments, we also carried supplies for 
two days — meat, bread, preserved foods, and coffee — as well 
as cooking utensils, a chugun, or copper vessel, filled with water, 
and a little bag packed with pieces of ice. And when to 
these we added furs and felts, there was very little room 
left in our skiff. Once launched, I held a straight course for 
a prominent rocky headland in the south-west. The weather 
was magnificent, the lake still and calm, its surface just moved 
by a scarce perceptible swell. Every quarter of an hour I 
measured the velocity and sounded the depth. The latter 
increased as we approached the middle of the lake, where it 
amounted to 64^ feet. Soon after leaving the shore we en- 
countered a thin sheet of ice, which, however, as it was also soft, 
we easily cut through. It extended on our left all the way 

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to the southern shore, to which it was firmly attached. These 
patches of ice, which were from a quarter to half an inch thick, 
glittered in the sunshine with such intense brightness that it 
was impossible to look at them without smoked glasses. The 
wavelets which our boat made in passing set them rocking and 
grinding together. It appeared to me as if a thin layer of fresh 
water, coming from the stream, had spread itself over the Salter 
water of the lake, and that the former then froze. Towards 
the west, however, there was no ice. The surface water had 
a temperature of — -o°.3 C, or 3i°.4 Fahr., so that it was 
very cool work using the sounding line. Every time it 
came up it was quite stiff and frozen, and it was as much 
as I could do to get my hands warm between the successive 

The hours flew rapidly, and yet we did not seem to get any 
nearer to the rocky headland ; but then we were crossing the 
lake diagonally. Towards the latter part of the afternoon 
we noticed eddies of dust and "sand-spouts" curling up along 
the southern shore. These soon became fused together into a 
greyish-yellow cloud, which drifted rapidly overland. It boded 
nothing good. Soon afterwards we began to feel the strong 
north-west wind which was blowing.. Not long after that there 
came a rushing noise from the west. The first puffs of wind 
struck us. The surface of the lake, lately as smooth as a fish- 
pond, began to ripple all over. The ripples curled higher and 
higher, and soon grew into waves ; and these again became 
bigger and bigger in proportion as we became more and more 
exposed to the full force of the gale. However, we held steadily 
on until the pitching of our heavily-laden boat compelled us 
to turn to the south and south-east. It now seemed only too 
likely that the wind would increase to a furious tempest, which 
might fling us on some inhospitable part of the shore, where our 
fragile craft would be rent to tatters. We must make haste 
and get to land as soon as we possibly could. It was already 
twilight, and it would be extremely hazardous to land in the 
dark, even at a favourable spot, when the lake ran so high 
behind us. 

Before starting I had ordered the caravan, after march- 
ing for five hours along the northern shore, to stop for the night, 
and there light a big signal fire, to serve as a beacon to us in 
case it should be dark before we got to land. But we never 
saw their fire, and accounted for it partly on the ground that 

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the distance was too great, and partly that the air was heavily 
charged with dust. 

Meanwhile our little skiff was pelting bravely along her 
dangerous course. Fortunately for us the wind and waves 
played havoc with the ice-sheets along the southern shore, 
otherwise their sharp edges would have cut our boat to pieces. 
After a while we detected a white line gleaming through the dark- 
ness ahead ; it was made by the waves breaking against the 
beach, which, luckily, at this spot consisted of sand, and shelved 
steeply down to the lake. Before we knew where we were, 
we were amongst the *' breakers." We were flung on shore, 
but the next moment were drawn back again by the recoil of 
the wave. Again we were flung on the sand, until the frame- 
work of our boat creaked ominously, and the canvas swelled 
as if it would burst. However, Tokta Ahun jumped nimbly 
out, and by our united exertions we got her up on to dry land, 
though not before two or three hungry waves had leapt into her, 
drenching the baggage in the after part. 

We encamped quite dose to the lake, behind a little hill, 
where we found plenty of köuruk plants, a species of low, woody 
steppe " grass," which made excellent fuel. The only signs 
of life apart from this were a few goose feathers and the kulan 
tracks. What the country was like we could not tell, for we 
were surrounded by pitch-dark night on every side ; indeed, we 
were only able to find fuel by the aid of Uttle fires, which we 
made here and there at intervals. As soon as we got together 
a sufficient supply, we crouched beside the fire, with our skin 
coats over our shoulders, and set to work to prepare a luxurious 
supper. Mine consisted of ox-tail soup, cheese, bread, and 
coffee, while Tokta Ahun munched a leg of mutton and washed 
it down with tea. After that we sat and puffed away manfully 
. at our pipes, and discussed the projected journey which I in- 
tended to make across the Desert of Gobi to the marsh of Kara- 
koshun. Tokta Ahun knew the latter intimately. 

After the wind died away, and the sky cleared, it gave promise 
of being a cold night. At nine o'clock the thermometer was 
down to — 14° C, or 6°. 8 Fahr., and as our fuel was all done, 
we thought it time to think of bed. My worthy boatman 
received my proposal, to convert the two halves of the boat into 
a tent, with a look of polite scepticism ; but he very soon realised 
the ingenuity of the idea. Rolling ourselves up inside our 
kennels, we prepared, with a certain amount of trepidation, for 

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a bitter night. Indeed, after sleeping a few hours, I was 
awakened by the intense cold (-22°.i C, or — 7°.8 Fahr.). 
Thereupon I called my companion, and he helped me out of 
my nest, which was anything but adapted for Ught summer 
dreams. By this we were half-frozen, and I had lost all feeling 
in my feet, although they were protected by four pairs of 
woollen stockings and a pair of huge boots, lined with sheep- 
skin with the wool still on, which Ali Ahun had made for me. 
Our first business was to collect enough fuel to make a big 
roaring fire ; then I peeled off some of my integuments, so that 
I might restore the circulation by massage. But having got 
the night cold into our bones, we could not get it out again 
all the next day — in fact, it was not until we returned to our 
usual conditions of comfort that we thoroughly recovered. 

When we launched again the temperature was -19° C, 
or — 2°.2 Fahr., but the weather was magnificent as we started 
to row back across the lake towards the spot where the caravan 
were, or ought to be, waiting for us. The maximum depth was 
783- feet; the surface water had a temperature of — o°.5 C, 
or 3i°.2 Fahr., and the bottom water a temperature of —0^.3 
C, or 31^.5 Fahr. Between the two was a layer which stood at 
— o®.o C, or 32^.0 Fahr. Before we had gone very far, we thought 
we could see what we were in quest of — namely, the tent, yurt, 
and horses ; but when we came near enough to distinguish 
clearly through the glass, the tent and yurt turned out to be 
two little hills, and the horses a troop of kulans. 

After that we continued along the shore until in the far 
distance we perceived a column of something rising against the 
setting sun, though we could not quite make out whether it 
was smoke from a fire or a cloud of dust raised by a troop of 
kulans. In the twilight we doubled one rounded headland 
after another, until Tokta Ahun eventually ran aground 
in shallow water. All this time I sat in the fore part of the 
skiff, nimibed with cold ; but my boatman kept himself warm 
by paddling, whilst he sang a plaintive song about the reed- 
huts of Abdall. At length, however, we saw the light of a 
fire gleaming through the darkness ; but these night fires, how- 
ever encouraging at first, were apt to prove deceitful. So on 
the present occasion, as for three hours we rowed towards the 
firelight ; then it disappeared. However, we still continued, 
shouting loudly at intervals, and at last were answered by the 
barking of dogs. Again the fire leapt up, this time quite close 
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beside us, and a man with a lantern came down to the lake 
to meet us. 

Togdasin, whom we first fell in with up in the mountains, 
just as we did with Aldat, seemed destined to meet with the 
same fate as the Afghan. His illness was evidently taking a 
bad turn. The man crouched, as the Mussulmans do when they 
are not well, on his knees, with his body leaning forwards and 
his head touching the ground. We could not persuade him to 
touch a mouthful of food, though he continually craved for 
cold water, and was delirious, groaning every time he took his 

Tokta Ahun told me that this illness, which was unquestion- 
ably a very aggravated form of mountain-sickness, was very 
common amongst the hunters and gold-miners of those moun- 
tains. According as the individual attacked was a man or an 
animal (horse or camel), the Mussulmans called it tutek (or 
** shortness of breath "), or mountain-sickness ; or they simply 
said, " Is allup ghetti " — that is to say, " He has got the moun- 
tain sickness." If a man had suffered from one attack previously 
there was little likelihood of his pulling through a second. When 
the attack first comes on, the sufferer has an intense wdesire 
to get down to the lowlands, though he never does get down 
unless he recovers in the mountains. (That very summer two 
gold-miners had died near Temirlik whilst on their way home.) 
But after the disease has made headway, the patient is said to 
be no longer able to appreciate his own condition. He does 
not know that he is ill, and is unable to describe his symptoms. 
These consist in the body swelling, the lips turning black, 
sleeplessness, and an entire want of appetite ; and there is 
pain in the head and heart, combined with thirst, weakened 
heart-action, and falling temperature. According to Tokta 
Ahun's experience, smoking was the best remedy, and that was 
why we always saw him with his pipe in his mouth. For my 
own part, I have never felt any trace of mountain-sickness, 
not even when travelling at 15,000-17,000 feet above the level 
of the sea. The essential precaution is not to over-exert 

However, it seemed as if death was going to be busy amongst 
us again; and the worst of it was I was perfectly powerless 
to combat the evil, for such treatment as I was able to pre- 
scribe seemed to be of no avail. Both the sick man and we 
who had been across the lake urgently needed a day's rest. 

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Accordingly the next day I sent Islam Bai, with Kutchuk to 
row him, across the lake to take another series of soundings, 
which I required for the completion of my map. Unfortunately, 
Islam could not write, so that he was reduced to working 
mechanically, like a self -registering instrument. He did, in- 
deed, understand a watch, and he also knew how to take the 
soundings at every quarter of an hour. The device he adopted 
was at the first sounding to tie a piece of string with one knot 
round the sounding-line ; at the second sounding to tie another 
piece of string with two knots ; and so on. These distances 
I could of course afterwards measure with a tape ; and I already 
knew the mean rate at which the skiff travelled. That night it 
was extraordinarily dark, the sky being covered with clouds 
of such inky blackness that it was impossible to tell the difference 
between land, water, and atmosphere. When I opened the 
yurt a thin stream of light cleft the darkness ; but, except for 
that, the only object the eye found to rest upon was the fire 
in front of the men's tent. The interior of my dwelling was 
fitted with every comfort. The floor on which my cases stood 
was covered with a Khotan carpet ; my bed rested on the 
ground, and so served me for a divan as well. There I used to 
sit cross-legged and make my notes and draw my maps. At 
intervals Cherdon came in with a brazier of hot embers, with- 
out which it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to 
work in — 20°.o C, or — 4°.o Fahr. 

When I now, surrounded as I am by all that I value most, re- 
call those long, cold, silent winter evenings in Tibet, I am almost 
amazed that in that terrific loneliness — a loneliness which 
never changed day, month, or year — I never found the time 
hang heavy on my hands. But then I always had plenty to 
do ; sometimes more than enough. I was surrounded by faith- 
ful and trusty servants, and I carried with me a little book con- 
taining Bible texts for every day in the year, which I knew was 
faithfully read in my own home in Stockholm. But it was 
always very depressing to have a sick man in camp, and Tog- 
dasin's ejaculatory supplications to his God — " Ya, Allah ! " " Ei 
Khodaim ! " — made me very uneasy. I could not get them out 
of my thoughts, even though I took out and tried to read 
Kipling's glorious songs in The Seven Seas. 

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The return journey to Temirlik, which we begun on the 22nd 
of November, occupied 12 days, and led us across the mountain- 
ranges of Kalta-alagan, Chimen-tagh, and Akato-tagh — the last 
range twice. 

The first day's march was a dogged piece of work. We were 
travelling west, and the wind — a half gale — ^was dead against 
us ; while at i p.m. the thermometer stood at - 2^.0 C, or 28°.4 
Fahr., and at 2 p.m. at - io°.o C, or i4°.o Fahr. Seldom 
have I felt so exhausted and incapable. The ice on the Ayag- 
kum-köU was broken up by the storm, and driven to the eastern 
end of the lake. The lake itself looked fearfully grim ; it was 
cold and dark blue, and edged round with white foam. To have 
attempted to cross it in our small craft would now to a dead 
certainty have been disastrous. The entire eastern half of the 
lake was only six or eight inches deep, and the boat would 
infallibly have been forced against the hard, jagged edges of 
the ice, and been rent to pieces. The bottom of the lake con- 
sisted of ooze, and had we been stranded in it, there would 
have been no help for us. The Cossacks, whilst out hunting, 
tried to cross on horseback the mouth of the river that con- 
nected the two lakes, but the first horse dropped into the 
quagmire up to the neck, and was only extricated with the 
utmost difficulty. 

At the point where we now crossed the range, the architecture 
of the Chimen-tagh was of a highly remarkable character. 
The glen, by which we climbed up to the pass, was itself so high 
that its threshold or culminating point was scarcely distinguish- 
able. On the northern side, however, the descent was corre- 
spondingly steeper, dropping step by step down a succession 
of rocky platforms or declivities, through a ravine squeezed in 

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A ,Tr^ 

\ .,::.> .■-.^.^-"»•- \ 

<«X AN» \ 

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between naked walls of rock and craggy promontories. We had 
already made a long march, and when 1 reached this mountain 
gorge the caravan was on in front. It was dark, and Islam 
Bai came back to meet me with a lantern ; but all the same 
my horse stumbled every time he stepped from one platform 
to the next. The camp fire was a long way below our feet, 
in the deep glen of Kum-bulak, the springs of which, fenced 
round with sand, were sheeted with a thick panoply of ice. 
With very considerable difficulty we at length reached my yurt, 
which was set up on the brink of a rocky shelf, with a deep preci- 
pice immediately underneath it ; though it was not until we 
were ready to start the next morning that I realized in what a 
dangerous position it stood. For it had been pitched right in 
the throat of a funnel, by which the rock avalanches that thun- 
dered down all the surrounding precipices made their way into 
the glens below. During the night I had, indeed, occasionally 
heard landslips and falling avalanches ; but, happily, my 3mrt 
escaped uninjured. 

Nor was the rest of the descent through that gorge any 
easier. In two or three places the ravine itself was choked with 
granite, which formed a giant staircase, the faces of the steps 
being each a dozen or fifteen feet high. Here we had to unload 
each of the animals in turn, and cautiously help it to slide down 
the steep slope. In another place, the gorge was covered 
from side to side by a thick sheet of ice, which penetrated every 
crevice and hole, and presented a surface as hard and 
slippery as porcelain. We had to strew sand on it before we 
durst think of leading the horses across. It was a real relief 
to emerge from this difficult ravine, and drop down into the 
Chimen valley, and encamp on the same spot where we were 
met by the relief caravan a month previously. 

From this place I sent Kutchuk back to headquarters in 
charge of Togdasin, who was now somewhat better, and of the 
boat, whilst the rest of us continued our way north over the 
Akato-tagh. The night of the 27th of November was the coldest 
we had hitherto experienced that winter, namely -24^.6 C, 
or -I2°.3 Fahr. 

We crossed the Akato-tagh by the pass of Ghopur-alik 
(16,162 feet), up to which we cUmbed by a steep, gloomy granite 
glen. As we should be unable to do the whole distance in one 
march, we halted near the bottom of the glen, amid a chaos of 
fallen stones, without water, without grass, and without fuel. 

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Next morning we set ourselves to scramble up the steep acclivity. 
The horses breathed quick and with great diificulty, so that we 
had to let them stop incessantly, or we should have lost some 
of them. The summit of the pass was as sharp as a knife-blade, 
and the ascent on both sides precipitous. We all, of course, 
went on foot. I got some assistance by holding on to my horse's 
tail. The loads kept slipping off ; the horses kept falling. We 
had to be constantly on the alert, and prompt in going to their 
assistance, för fear they shouFd roll down the precipices and be 
smashed to pulp hundreds of feet below. Mules being surer 
footed than horses, I directed that one of them should carry 
my cases of instruments. The west wind was howling like a 

The Glen leading up to the Pass of Ghopur-alik. 

monsoon ; and with the thermometer down to - i5°.o C, or 5°.o 
Fahr., it was what you might call decidedly fresh. Nevertheless 
the sky was bright and pure, and the mountains were bathed in 
sunshine. At length we reached the summit of the pass, and 
from its sharp crest obtained a sublime view. We beheld those 
stupendous mountain-ranges linked together as in a single pano- 
rama, each covered with snowy armour, which glittered daz- 
zlingly in the sunshine ; while an inextricable chaos of rugged 
heights shut in the west. Looking back, we saw the gorge by 
which we had ascended winding down the mountain side like a 
steep dry rivulet shrouded in gloom, and were amazed th%t we 
had been able to climb it. On the north the view was boul^ded 

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by the immense snowy mass of the Illveh-chimen, with its 
crowd of eccentric peaks, a group we had already made 
acquaintance with during our previous excursions. 

Having taken the usual observations, I longed to fill my 
lungs with less rarefied air, and to get some shelter from the 
wind. We descended by another magnificent gorge, which was 
joined by numerous secondary glens from both sides. To stand 
in the throat of one of these and look up, was like gazing through 
a gigantic gateway, with perfectly perpendicular walls of rock, 
at one of Nature's most eccentric efforts in the way of cliff 
formation, with the snow hanging like friezes and patterned 
reliefs from every projecting shelf. These snowy draperies, 
tinged as they were by the soft purple glow of the afternoon 
sun, were not imlike the decorations in a Tibetan temple. 

There was again no grass where we encamped, at 13,311 feet 
above the sea. The wind still continued unabated ; the ther- 
mometer registered - i2'^.o C, or 10^.4 Fahr., inside my yurt, 
and the brazier of hot embers was not sufficient to keep the 
ink from freezing in my pen. Owing to the cross draughts, 
which we were unable effectually to shut out, a stearine candle 
burnt down in three hours, guttering fearfully before it went 
out. Cherdon shot a yak bull, and I heartily pitied Turdu Bai, 
Tokta Ahun, and Khodai Värdi, when at 9 o'clock at night 
they went out in the stinging cold to cut him up. As long as 
the body was warm, they were able to keep their own hands 
warm. They returned at midnight, each man carrying a 
load of meat, frozen as hard as stone. When they chopped 
it up with their axes the pieces scattered in all directions 
like broken glass. 

Our next camp was somewhat better ; the hard frozen 
tussock grass of the highland steppes made excellent fuel, and 
the snow gave us a supply of water. The next morning the sun 
tipped the roqjcy pinnacles of the Illveh-chimen whilst we were 
still shrouded in gloom ; but there was no wind. We soon got 
started ; but did not travel very far, for in a glen which ran up 
into the mountain-mass just mentioned, we discovered excep- 
tionally good grazing, and could not afford to go past it. I 
was just putting up my theodolite stand when down came the 
westerly storm, and put an end to all work out of doors. 
Whipping up the men's tent, it carried it clean away, and dropped 
it on the ice on the bottom of the glen. 

Shortly afterwards we perceived a man riding along the 

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flank of the opposite mountain on a camel. Thinking that he 
was possibly a messenger looking for me, I sent Tokta Ahun to 
find out who it was. But the man turned out to be a Mongol, 
belonging to a train of pilgrims on their way from Kara-shahr 
to Lassa. The rest of his caravan had gone by in the morning, 
and he had hngered behind because his camel had grown tired. 

Every year large numbers of Mongol pilgrims travel from 
the tributary states of Russia and China, in the north of Asia, 
to the holy city of Tibet, via Temirlik, Ghaz-nor, and Tsaidam. 
They always make the journey out during the late autumn or 
winter, and return at the same season in the following year. 
They never pass through Abdall in the warm season, lest their 
camels should be tormented to death by the gad-flies. By the 
time they return they are always in a sad plight, only a few of 
their animals are left, and most of the men are reduced to travel- 
ling on foot. Upon reaching Abdall they generally try to 
exchange their erfiausted camels for horses, so as to be able to 
reach their distant homes before the season gets too far ad- 
vanced. One poor camel is considered equivalent to a horse, 
three camels in moderate condition as equivalent to one per- 
fectly fresh camel, and a thoroughly emaciated beast as 
equivalent to one ass. The pilgrims carry their food in boxes 
and sacks, and on their way back usually replenish their supplies 
at Abdall. When going to Lassa, it is their habit to leave their 
camels behind them, with their kindred by race, the Mongols 
of Tsaidam, and perform the rest of the journey on horses, which 
they there hire. In this way several of the Tsaidam Mongols 
earn a considerable income every year. 

These people must be animated by an intense conviction of 
the truth of their religion, when they sacrifice an entire year, 
with the fatigues, privations, and expenses incidental to it, for 
the sake of visiting the holy city, and taking part in its temple 
festivals and processions. They always arrange to be accom- 
panied by a pilgrim who has been to Lassa before, and at 
Tsaidam they pick up a guide who knows where all the suitable 
camping-places are. The journey to Lassa takes them four 
months ; for they travel leisurely and comfortably, using 
argussun (argol), that is yak-dung, for fuel. The evenings they 
spend round their camp-fires, drinking tea and eating tsamba. 
And when at length they catch sight, from the last mountain ram- 
part they cross, of the white temple facades of Lassa, their hearts 
are, I daresay, as full of holy reverence as those of the Mecca 

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pUgrims, when, from the top of Mount Arafat, they for the 
first time set eyes upon their holy city. 

It was a curious experience to find these pilgrims in our 
inunediate neighbourhood following the trail that led to Lassa. 
For one moment I was tempted to disguise myself as a Buriat, 
and, taking Shagdur with me, go and attach myself to their 
company. But, upon second thoughts, I saw it would not do ; 
I had other plans for the winter, and it would be inconvenient 
to alter my arrangements. 

In the meantime we followed the trail of the Mongols' camels 
— that is to say, the light-coloured indentations which their 
soft pads had made in the sand. The prospect towards the 
north was arrested by the Astyn-tagh, which stretched right 
across from east to west. Towards evening the atmosphere 
assumed a light blue tint, although there was a white shimmer 
immediately overhead : in all probability this last was caused 
by the rays of the moon breaking into delicate pencils of light. 
The mountains wore a pinky colour, and gave a decided im- 
pression of wintry cold. No matter how warm we were personally, 
we could not help " seeing " that this region suffered from the 
disintegrating power of frost. 

Travelling east, we at length approached the salt lake of 
Uzun-shor, lying close to the northern foot of the Akato-tagh ; 
indeed the latter thrust several small spurs out into it. The lake 
was surrounded by luxuriant kamish (reeds) and bushes. As we 
crossed over these ramifications, we observed a great number 
of fresh-water springs bubbUng out of the ground, and, lower 
down, uniting together into a single stream, before they entered 
the lake. Although there was ice at the embouchure, the salt 
water of the lake itself was quite free from ice, notwithstanding 
that its temperature was — 7°.9 C, or I7°.8 Fahr. In places the 
layer of salt which covered the bottom of the lake was so thick 
as to project above the water in the form of ridges and small 

We were all glad to reach " home " again, on the evening of 
the 5th of December, especially as everything was quiet and 
in order. The springs of Temirhk were now hidden under big 
pyramids and domes of ice. Togdasin had, it was evident, 
experienced a serious breakdown, for he was no better. The 
men had lodged him in a cave next to that which I occupied, 
and, as long as I remained in camp, I nursed him myself with 
every attention. When, at the end of December, the head- 
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quarters camp was flitted down to Charkhlik, he was taken with 
it, and I did not see him again until April of the following year. 
He was then a cripple ; both his feet had literally dropped off 
bit by bit ; but he was nevertheless cheerful and contented, 
and I gave him what I could spare for his support. 

As jfor the Mongol caravan, Shagdur told me that it consisted 
of 75 men — all lamas — and 2 women, and that it rested one day 
at Temirlik. One of the lamas, or priests, was a man of dis- 
tinguished rank, for the others treated him with the greatest 
possible respect. Of these about 25 were so poor that they 
were travelling on foot, and had only been allowed to join the 
caravan on condition that they acted as servants to their more 
well-to-do countrymen. The Mongols had with them money to 
the amount of about 10 yambas (£75-£ioo) ; besides which 
they had about 120 yambas (£i,ooo-£i,20o) of tribute for the 
Dalai Lama. In other words, they brought money with them 
to pay for the all festivals, ceremonies, and solemnities in which 
they were to take part. It is upon this " Peter's pence " that 
** the Pope of Lassa " lives. The band was well-armed against 
Tangut robbers and other enemies, having about 30 Mongol 
muskets, 2 Berdan rifles, and i Winchester. Shagdur in\'ited 
two or three of them to go out with him to shoot kulans, but 
they replied that blood-shedding was absolutely forbidden so 
long as they were on pilgrimage. The man who lagged behind 
was a lama, who had spent ten years in Lassa, and was now going 
to stay there another three. I just wondered whether he would 
recognise Shagdur again, in case we should, later on, be so for- 
tunate as to reach the holy city. The caravan consisted of 120 
camels and 40 horses, and, in addition to these, they led seven 
other horses of exceptional value, intended as a present to the 
Dalai Lama. Their rations consisted of minced meat, dried 
and frozen into small lumps, roasted wheat-flour (talkan), 
and tea. 

The pilgrims manifested the Uveliest curiosity in our camp, 
and asked no end of questions as to what I was doing in that 
part of the world. I have not the slightest doubt that on 
arriving at Lassa they related to the authorities all the infor- 
mation they succeeded in picking up concerning us, and that 
this was one of the reasons why the northern frontier of the 
country was afterwards so jealously guarded. 

Shagdur on his side, also, extracted some useful information 
from them. The Mongols told him that a strict watch was kept 

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upon all pilgrims who approached Lassa. As soon as they 
reached the borders of Nakkchu everybody was stopped and 
examined, and compelled to state his name, the place whence 
he came, the over-lama under whose authority he lived, as well 
as to show his passport, which must not only set forth which 
temple or monastery he was ascribed to, but also clearly explain 
the real object of his pilgrimage. After all these formalities had 
been compUed with, a report was made to Lassa ; but the pil- 
grims were not allowed to proceed until a special pass arrived 
for them from the authorities of the city. But once they got 
there, they were subjected to no further control. These pre- 
cautions were said to be taken with the object of preventing 
** Russians " — that is to say, any Europeans — from smuggling 
themselves into Lassa. For the same reason orders had been 
sent a few years previously to the Turgut (Torgod) tribes, who 
are Russian subjects, that no pilgrims from their country would 
be admitted to Lassa ; but just recently the inhibition had 
been cancelled, and their pilgrimages had been resumed. One 
of the lamas of the caravan said there existed a prophecy 
in an ancient and holy book at Lassa, which said that the Tsagan 
Khan, or White Emperor, would some day rule over the whole 
world, conquer Tibet and destroy Lassa, and that the lamas 
would then carry the holy things up to the top of an inaccessible 
mountain in the south of Tibet. The same man invited Shagdur 
to travel with him ; he said he would have no difficulty, especially 
if he gave out that he was a Turgut Mongol. In the evening, 
when the camp was quiet, I discussed these things with my 
faithful Cossack, who was intensely interested in all he heard. 
From his boyhood he had heard speak of the holy city, and was 
consumed with eagerness to visit it. He had, of course, no 
idea that it was my intention to try my luck along the prohibited 
roads. But, as I have already said, Patience ! I had more 
important matters to attend to first. The very idea of trying 
to enter Lassa in disguise was one of those perilous enterprises 
which never tempt a man except when he is young. 

I spent six days in our headquarters camp at Temirlik. The 
ice volcanoes continued to grow around the springs, and the 
temperature went down to - 27°.o C, -or i6°.6 Fahr. I was 
supposed to rest ; but there were a thousand things to attend to. 
Once more I took a complete series of astronomical observations, 
to determine the position of this important point of cartographi- 
cal control. I also developed the negatives which I had recently 
VOL. II.- 3* 

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taken ; got ready a new post-bag for Kashgar, and paid up all 
arrears of wages. 

One sunny day we carried Togdasin out into the open air, 
and the Mussulmans gathered around him, and sought to banish 
his sickness by all sorts of ritual, including the sacrifice of a he- 
goat to Allah. 

I naturally spent a good deal of time, too, in preparing for 
my forthcoming expedition through the Desert of Gobi. Pro- 
visions and stores, sufl&cient for a journey of over 1,200 miles, 
were selected and put on one side, divided into loads, packed up 
in boxes and bags, and lashed to the pack-saddles, ready for 
lifting on the camels' backs. My little 3mrt was repaired and 
renovated, its sides being re-covered with white felt, and the 
top or dome with red. Then I gave Cherdon lessons in the art 
of taking meteorological observations, although he had already 
made a beginning during our last trip to Kum-köll. He was 
to attend to this business during my absence, and generally to 
read and look after the self -registering instruments. 

The men I left behind were Cherdon, Islam Bai, Turdu Bai, 
and Ah Ahun. I also engaged, temporarily, five hunters and 
gold-miners to help them down to Charkhlik, where the amban 
(Chinese governor) and native begs promised to look after them. 
In fact, all they had to do during our absence was to take care 
of my cases and other belongings, and see that the animals 
were in good condition, ready against when I should want them 
in the spring. I also ordered Islam Bai to send from Abdall 
two canoes, with paddles and fishing-nets, to the lake of ChöU- 
köll in the marsh of Kara-koshun ; and he was to instruct the 
men who took them that they were to set up a m'sAan, or 
"landmark," on the top of some high and conspicuous sand- 
dune, so that we might know where to look for them. I saw 
distinctly that we should not ge{ down there until after the 
ice had broken up. 

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My new caravan consisted of the Cossack Shagdur and the 
following Mussulmans — FaisuUah, who acted as caravan-bashi, 
or leader of the caravan ; Tokta Ahun ; MoUah tom Abdall, 
who was to guide me to Anambar-ula ; Kutchuk^; Khodai 
Kullu ; Khodai Värdi ; Ahmed ; and Tokta Ahun, the hunter, 
whom we had recently engaged, and who, that we might dis- 
tinguish him more easily from the other man of the same name, 
we called Li Loyeh — he spoke Chinese and Mongolian, had 
stolen horses at Bokalik, and was not quite right in his head. 
The animals embraced eleven camels, to carry the baggage, and 
eleven horses, to ride on. This left only one reserve horse ; but 
.if we required more, we could buy them from the Mongols. 
Three dogs accompanied us : Yolldash, Malenki, and Malchik. 
As it was my intention to sound Lake Ghaz, I took Turdu Bai 
with me for two or three days in charge of the boat. He wanted 
to go the whole journey, but after all the exertions he had under- 
gone, I thought he needed rest. 

On the morning fixed for starting, the 12th of December, I 
was awakened before it was light ; the men drove in the horses, 
and the camels stood all ready tethered beside their loads. The 
day broke bright and clear, the atmosphere being still and the 
sky serene ; in fact, it was a perfect spring day when we set 
off. All the men were eager and cheerful at the prospects of 
the trip. For my own part I was longing for the comparative 
ease of a journey across the desert. This time we should have 
nothing to fear from driving snows and sleet of hail. Cold, 
indeed, we might expect, for it was the middle of winter ; but 
it would be a dry cold, which we could fight if we had plenty 
of fuel. It was also gratifying to have three full months of 
winter before us ; we ought to get most of the problems of the 

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trip settled before the warm days began again in spring. Never- 
theless we did not neglect the precaution of taking light summer 

After a friendly farewell to poor Togdasin and those I was 
leaving behind, I gave the order to march. Tinkle, tinkle said 
the bells, as the long dark train of camels stalked away with 
lordly gait from Sum-tun-buluk,* or the Three Hundred Springs ; 
for thus Temirlik was also called in a combination of one Mon- 
golian and two Tibetan words. All the camels behaved them- 
selves well. But the foam clung like soapsuds about the drome- 
dary's lips, and kept dropping to the ground in big clots ; he 
would have made a fuss if he could. One of his forelegs was 
chained to his pack-saddle, so that, though he was able to walk 
well enough, he could not run away. He was fastened to his 
predecessor in the string by both a rope and a chain, and had 
a muzzle on to prevent him from biting his neighbours. Truly a 
magnificent brute, this veteran from Kashgar, with his wild, 
coal-black, flashing eyes, especially when he rolled them so as 
to show their gleaming whites, as he always did when in a bad 

Every animal in the caravan was in the pink of condition ; 
indeed, two or three of the camels had been idle ever since they 
arrived at Yanghi-köU, more than a year ago. All had got 
their winter coats, as thick and fluffy as wool. The two biggest 
and quietest camels were selected to carry my personal belong- 
ings. The bulk of the loads consisted of flour, rice, maize, and 
tolkan (roasted flour) ; but the weight would diminish every 
day, so that by the time we reached the regions where it became 
necessary to carry ice and fuel, we should have animals to spare 
for the purpose. 

Our programme for the present journey was as follows : — 
First, I proposed to cross over the Astyn-tagh, and then skirt 
its southern flank, so as to clear up its orographical structure. 
This would take us to the north-east, into a region called by 
the Mongols Anambar-ula,f or by the Mussulmans Khan-ambal, 
the latter word being a corruption of the former. The distance 
was 240 miles. Thence I proposed to strike to the north, across 
an unknown part of the Desert of Gobi, until I reached the 
mountain ranges on its northern confines. After that we intended 

* The Mongolian buluJ: = the Turki öu/ai' = Eng. spring (of water), 
t Or, with the genitive suffix, Anambaniin-ula. 

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to turn west, until we came to the springs of Altimish-bulak, 
whence I hoped to explpre the ruins which Ördek discovered 
in the Lop Desert. Finally, we should cross the desert itself to 
Abdall, and thence to Charkhlik, our next rendezvous. 

The journey to Anambar, which I will now briefly describe, 
took seventeen days. The first two took us across a hard frozen 
marsh, with hard crisp deposits of salt and sharp-edged laminae 
of clay, to a spring that lay north of Lake Ghaz. The 14th of 
December I made a little excursion to the lake, thinking to row 
across it and sound it ; for I had been told that it was so salt 

The Camels Loaded up. 

it never froze. We readily found the way to it by following a 
kulan path ; but the ground at the lake-side, despite the frost, 
was so soft, that the horses dropped in up to their knees. In a 
few places the ice formed arches or bridges which we crossed, 
but many of them were so thin that the horses' feet went through 
and down the poor beasts came. It was no easy matter to cross 
this treacherous belt; but we did manage it at last, and we 
encamped near the mouth of the stream which collected all 
the spring-fed rivulets of the Chimen valley, to pour them 
into the lake. A little distance away we saw five yaks, and 
were just starting to hunt them, when Tokta Ahun observed 
that one of them was spotted, consequently they were tame 

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yaks, and had probably run away from some Mongol camp in 
the neighbourhood. 

A sail on the lake was not to be thought of ; it appeared 
to be ice-bound throughout. But, as we had the boat with 
us, we converted one-half of it into a sledge, its wooden frame- 
work making capital runners. Seated in this light equipage, 
I was drawn by Tokta Ahun and Khodai KuUu a merry race 
across the frozen surface. The ice was uneven, sometimes 
hummocky, sometimes covered with a thin layer of water, 
sometimes cracked and fissured. But the sledge rode easily 
over all obstacles, and I was just beginning to think that I 

Camp in Northern Tibet. 

might obtain a second series of soundings right across the lake, 
when the ice-sheet began to crack and wobble. Tokta Ahun 
went through, and would have had a cold bath had he not 
clung to the edge of the boat. 

After a quiet, uneventful night on the shore of this salt 
marsh, we rejoined the caravan next day at Yulgun-dung, or 
the " Tamarisk Hill." Here we rested one day ; and I sent 
Tokta Ahun up the glen which penetrated the Akato-tagh 
north-east of our camp, to see if there was a practicable road. 
His report, when he returned in the evening, was to the effect 
that the glen led up to a pass, and that on the northern side 
of the range, a similar pass led out upon the table-lands imme- 

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diately south of the Astyn-tagh. On the 17th of December we 
started therefore to follow his track. The previous night was 
the coldest we had experienced so far that winter, namely, 
— 29^.6 C, or - 2i°.3 Fahr. Turdu Bai went back to Temirlik 
with the boat. 

Turning our back upon the scanty vegetation from which the 
Tamarisk Hill derived its name, we started to cross the sterile, 
gravelly, gently-rising ground which led up to the mountains ; 
and entered them by means of a rocky gateway, about 120 
yards wide, with a seven foot deep gully at the bottom, which 
sometime or other had carried off the rainfall of those now arid 

Glen Leading up to the Pass of the Akato-tagh. 

regions. AU daj' long the glen ascended, its floor being as level 
as an asphalted street, though it wound backwards and forwards 
round several sharp elbows. Thus I had to take fresh compass 
bearings about every three minutes, as one rocky buttress after 
another hid the next angle of the glen from my sight. 

The substance of which the Akato-tagh was built up in this 
locality consisted of fine yellow argillaceous rock, but so soft 
that I was easily able to break off pieces with my naked hand. 
No wonder, then, the precipitation had worn the surface into 
the most fantastic and extraordinary shapes. On both sides an 
endless number of narrow gateways and dark arches were cut 
sheer down through the perpendicular walls, affording exit to a 

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host of small torrents, streams, and dry ravines. The entire 
region was singularly barren, cold, and arid. The main glen 
was in places so narrow that two or three men were required 
at each projecting angle to prevent the camels' bulky loads 
from jostling against it. Every now and again this extraordinary 
" hollow " road opened out before us a fascinating perspective 
of views, the precipitous — sometimes overhanging — buttresses 
standing one behind the other en i^chelon, like the side scenes in 
a theatre. The bottom of the glen was choked with masses 
of stone of every conceivable shape and size, while others seemed 
to hang over our heads, as it were, by a mere thread. It was 

Making a Road over the First Pass. 

difficult to understand what kept them in position ; the first 
gust of wind, or the first gentle shower would seem to be enough 
to send them hurthng down. My heart always came into my 
mouth when the caravan was passing these dangerous places. 
Pyramids, walls, towers, terraces, corridors, grottoes followed 
one another in never-ending succession. However, the caravan 
steadily and quietly pursued its course along the bottom of the 
smooth watercourse. Fortunately it was dry ; otherwise the 
camels would have sUpped and slided as badly as if they had 
been travelling on ice. As it was they marched confidently 
along, and left no impress of their footprints behind them. In 
fact, it was not easy to see the trail of the iron-shod horses. 

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But by degrees the relative altitudes decreased, and the 
glen lost its character of a deep-cut gorge. However, we did not 
quite reach the top of the pass, but encamped just below it, 
having brought up with us sufficient ice in tagars or sacks to 
last four days. Early next morning we said adieu to this silent, 
desolate camp, fully convinced that we should nevermore see it 
again. The last part of the ascent just before the summit of 
the pass was reported to be steep and difficult ; and Tokta Ahun 
and two or three others started early to level it down with 
spades. But when we reached the spot, I was amazed to find 
that, instead of continuing up the main glen, they had turned off 
to the east, through a side-glen, which was so narrow that when 
a camel stopped at an angle it was impossible to get past him. 
Still, our guide knew what he was about ; and there they were, 
working with their spades amid a cloud of dust. By dint of a 
good deal of hauling and pulling and pushing, we managed to 
get the first of the camels up. Two or three of the animals 
fell, and had to be unloaded, and their loads carried up by the 
men. But the beast which carried the fuel had the worst time 
of it, owing to the bulky character of his load ; however, after 
coming down on his knees once, he succeeded in pulling 
through all right. « 

Upon reaching the top of the pass (11,372 feet), Tokta Ahun 
turned to the south-east. This struck me as being wrong ; 
but our guide had reconnoitred the road himself, and now as- 
sured me that the glen we were striking into, a deeply-scarped 
gorge like that by which we ascended, would soon curve round 
to the east and north-east, and eventually lead out into the 
open country. However, down we went, zigzagging backwards 
and forwards in the most surprising manner. There was only 
one difficult piece of road to face, he said, where the gorge was 
so deep and so narrow that there was scarcely room for a man 
on foot to get through ; but the camels could be led over 
the declivity at the right. 

A little bit further down the whole caravan came to a dead 
stop. The men hurried on to the front. The gorge was so 
narrow that the camels' loads touched the rocks on both sides, 
and the beasts were unable to advance until the rocky walls 
had been pared down with axes. Whilst the men were doing 
this, I went on a Httle way ahead, until I eventually came to a 
spot that was ten times worse than anything we had yet encoun- 
tered. The gorge literally merged into a tunnel, which ran 

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close in underneath the precipices on the left. Indeed, the rocks 
overhung it, and were cracked and riven in a highly dangerous 
way. There was no road over the top of this natural tunnel ; 
the only path led through it. But just at its narrowest part 
the passage was choked by an avalanche of stones, which had 
come down quite recently. Some of the blocks we were fortu- 
nately able to roll aside by all of us putting our shoulders to 
them together. Others which were too big to be moved bodily 
were hewn to pieces with spades and axes. After widening the 
passage by cutting away the rocks on both sides, we first led 
through the horses, and then along the path which they made 
cautiously guided the camels one by one. The camel with the 
fuel, however, stuck fast in the middle, and in the midst of the 
desperate efforts he was making to force his way through, his 
load crashed to the ground, bringing down two or three big 
fragments of rock on the top of it. My heart turned over when 
I saw the caravan disappear in a cloud of dust. Had a fresh 
avalanche of stones fallen just then, whilst we were in the 
tunnel, we should have been buried alive. 

Tokta Ahun cut a sorry figure, and lamely confessed that 
he had not ridden to the end of the dangerous gorge. Hitherto 
he had always» been so very accurate in the information he 
gave me. 

I have never seen a more peculiar glen formation than that 
was. It really consisted of two glens, or rather was a glen 
constructed in two storeys. The lower storey plunged down from 
the floor of the upper one to a further perpendicular depth of 
over thirty feet. The sides of the former were cut into terraces 
or shelves to which there was no possible access. Further on, 
the upper glen, too, grew so narrow, that the two storeys, the 
upper and the lower, merged into one, forming a tremendously 
deep fissure carved right through the argillaceous rock. The 
bottom was shrouded in gloom, and subject to frequent rock- 
slides of the most dangerous character. 

However, on we went, stopping time after time, now to cut 
away some projecting angle, now to shovel aside the fallen 
debris which impeded our path. At last the caravan stopped 
in dead earnest. Tokta Ahun came and reported that there 
was no road. The ravine was choked with rock and stone, 
which had shot down the mountains from several htmdreds of 
feet above our heads. However, a stream of water had forced 
a passage underneath the rockslide, and the only way to advance 

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f — ■ 1 

' »T*», . EUeX AN» I 

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was over the top of this ** glacier " mouth, as it were — that is, if 
it would bear the weight of the camels. Before deciding anything 
I preferred to reconnoitre myself. A Uttle way past this pre- 

The Two-storied Glen. 

A Vault in the Glen. 

carious and perilous arch the lower valley narrowed to a mere 
crevice of not more than two feet in width, with a depth of 
from^forty to fifty feet, while the stream issued from an under- 

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ground cavern. Thus the gorge became a vault, or a cave pass- 
age, so dark that a cat could hardly have found its way 
through it. 

The situation was now clear : we must turn back. But the 
caravan was so tightly wedged in between the rocky walls 
that we had to back the last of the camels some distance before 
we could get room to turn him round in, and we had to do the 
same with each of the others. By this it was quite dark, and we 
were forced to encamp in a small expansion of the glen, where 
we were safe from being crushed by an avalanche of stones, 
though there was nothing to give the animals, either to eat 
or to drink. How dark, how silent, how weird it was in that 
rock-lined trough so distant from the busy haunts of men ! 
Especially when the camels shook their heads, causing their bells 
to tinkle with a thin metallic sound. The voices of the men, 
chattering around the fire, were multiplied tenfold by the echoes. 
It was like talking in a dim wide cloister, or in the empty ban- 
queting hall of a feudal castle. 

It was irksome to return in our own footsteps, and not least 
so that our path lay along the bottom of a ravine, where tons 
upon tons of rocks hung, as it were, by a thread above our 
heads, threatening to crush us and our camels like beetles. 
If a big rockslide had taken place during the night, we should 
have been caught like rats in a trap. It took us a whole day to 
get back to the point where the main glen bifurcated. In. the 
meantime Tokta Ahun and MoUah rode on ahead to the top 
of the main glen, and when they came back in the evening, 
assured us that this time they really had discovered a road 
through the intricate labyrinth of the Akato-tagh. 

On the morning of the 20th of December I was awakened 
while it was still pitch dark. It was stinging cold, and I made 
haste to dress, wishing I had a cup of boiling hot tea. 

Long before it was light some of the men had hastened up 
to the pass to level down the road and make it easier. This 
time we were on the right path ; but the last bit of the ascent 
was dangerously steep — the camels would never have got up 
without help. But, once we were at the top, the extensive 
view which opened out before us proved that we were at 
the summit of the range (12,133 feet). On the north was 
the long-drawn ridge of the Astyn-tagh ; on the south 
Chimen-tagh ; south-east the desolate wastes of Tsaidam ; 
while to the east was something which might have been a 

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mountain, or a cloud, or dust haze, or merely a reflection of 
the desert. 

The Akato-tagh is unlike any other mountain system of 

Taking up the Camels one by one to the Main Pass. 

The Spring of 22nd December, 1900. 

Northern Tibet, in that it consists of an inextricable chaos of 

rounded domes and flattened tops of argillaceous rock, cleft 

hv narrow ravines and unfathomable fissures, driven in every 

VOL. II. 4 

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conceivable direction. A gloomy and lifeless region I The only 
indications of animate existence the skeleton of a kulan and 
the track of a bear I But when we got down to leveller ground, 
we came across a path which must have been made by human 

Owing to our getting entangled in this defile, we lost so 
much time that our supply of ice was now rapidly running out. 
So, for safety's sake, I sent back two or three of the men in the 
morning, with six horses, to fetch a fresh supply from Yulgun- 
dung. Fortunately also, close beside the spot where we en- 
camped, we found a few snowdrifts in a sheltered crevice. 

Tokta Ahun had spoken about a pass, Kara-davan, which 
would have to be crossed on the way to Anambar, and after 
we had traversed in a north-easterly direction the broad, flat 
valley which intervened between the Akato-tagh and the Ast}^!- 
tagh, it began to be time to look about for his pass. We soon 
discovered again the track which we had noticed the day before, 
at the bottom of the Akato-tagh, but it was now considerably 
broader. Continued use had made it deeper and more con- 
spicuous, even where the ground was hard. The hills and pro- 
jecting crags on both sides were crowned with ilehs or "land- 
marks," consisting of small heaps of stones. In places there 
were several parallel tracks, showing that a large company 
had travelled over the ground in separate columns. It was 
clear that this route had been employed by Mongol pilgrims 
on their way to and from Lassa, when the usual roads were 
either unsafe or in a disturbed condition. We lost it, however, 
amongst the hills. Nevertheless we pressed on up the valley 
until we came upon what we least expected to find in this inde- 
scribably barren region, namely, a little spring bubbling up in 
the midst of excellent grass. Though the spring itself was 
salt, the patches of ice which formed immediately below it for 
about i6o yards down the valley, were perfectly fresh. WTien 
they stopped, so also did the vegetation. 

When, however, we at length came out upon the plain, we 
found that it was a thousand times worse than the lab3ninthine 
defiles of the mountains. The surface consisted of saliferous 
clay, crumpled into ridges and folds and steps as hard as brick, 
and all running at right angles to the way we were going, that 
is, they stretched from north-west to south-east. It was just 
as though the integument of the earth had shrivelled up, and 
thus become covered with wrinkles like a withered apple. The 

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A.'^^r. f-sf} . ft 

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interior of the ridges, which were three to four feet high,f'was 
hollow, and, as we could see through their innumerable cracks 
and crevices, perfectly black. The spaces which intervened be- 

Grass at the Spring of 22nd December. 

Gravel-and-Shingle Terrace at the Spring of 22nd December. 

tween the ridges were only three or four yards across. Two 
or three of the men, who went on in advance, were kept hard 
at work levelling them down with spades. 

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The next evening, too, we were lucky enough to find a spring, 
with grass around it. Whilst we were pitching camp amongst 
the thickets of reeds, Shagdur stalked a solitary wild camel. 
Upon hearing the muffled echo of the shot, I rode out to see 
what he was doing. The animal, which was wounded in one 
of its forelegs, was vainly trying to escape ; but Khodai Kullu, 
coiling a lassoo, flung it round its neck, and dragged it to the 
ground, whereupon it was soon despatched. This supplied the 
men with fresh meat for several days ; nor did we omit to take 
possession of the valuable fat in its humps. To judge from the 
tracks and droppings, this spring would appear to be frequented 
by large herds of wild camels in the summer. 

The next morning, after collecting a supply of fuel, and 
filling a^ couple of sacks with ice, and cutting up the camel skin 
for pillows, we started along the track before mentioned, which 
we lost up in the hills, but had now found again at the springs. 
Here there were no less than twenty parallel tracks. Perhaps 
they were made at a time when the Mongols, who dwell farther 
east, used to drive their flocks to Temirlik to graze. It was 
quite dusk when we reached the foot of the Astyn-tagh, and 
pitched our tents at the entrance of a glen between two sub- 
sidiary ranges, in a spot that was absolutely destitute of organic 
life. Considering the bleak and desolate character of the region, 
the Christmas Eve we spent there was all that could well be 
wished. The air was still, the sky clear and blue. As soon as 
the camp was settled down, we kindled a big roaring Yule fire, 
though that was the only thing to remind me of the festivities 
at home. Wishing to banish the melancholy reflections which 
that day always brought to me when in the heart of Asia, I 
called in Shagdur, and unfolded to him my idea of trying to 
reach Lassa. He was immensely interested, and thought that 
we could manage it, if we travelled in the prescribed garb, and 
secured trustworthy Mongols to travel with. After this we 
often discussed this adventurous project of an evening, though 
we generally spoke in Russian, so as not to let the Mussulmans 
know what we were talking about. 

During the last days of the century we threaded the valleys 
which lay between the parallel chains of the Astyn-tagh. It 
was very cold, and the wind still continued, bringing with it 
snow, though it only remained in sheltered hollows and comers. 
Whenever the clouds broke, the moimtains peeped out in their 
white shrouds. The track was easy to travel : we crossed over 

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a succession of small, self-contained basins, which, after rain, 
would be converted into miniature lakes, though the water 
would of course soon evaporate again. The thin steppe tussock 
grass, with the teresken and yapptak scrub, furnished us with 
ample fuel. The only evidences of wild animals which we noticed 
during these days were the tracks of wild camels and a few 
ravens which accompanied us for short distances. Tokta Ahun, 
who was a far less trustworthy guide in these regions than 
amongst the marshes of Kara-koshun, never managed to hit 
the pass of Kara-davan ; however, I found my way through the 
mountains without his help. 

When I peeped out of my yurt on the morning of the 27th 
of December, it was stinging cold, and the ground was 
covered thick with snow ; in fact, it continued snowing all day. 
However, the snow was welcome, as it gave us a supply of water 
for the horses ; they, poor brutes, had had none for two days ! 
On the 29th of December we went to sleep in a storm. We awoke 
the following morning in a storm. We rode the whole day 
through tempestuous squalls ; and at night, when we again 
encamped, it was once more in a storm. It was impossible 
to keep the draughts out of the yurt ; and we had to pin it 
down well all round, to prevent it from* blowing over, which 
might have been fatal, for I had a lighted stove inside it. Oh, 
that we were in the desert ! The atmosphere there during the 
cold months was never in this state of infernal uproar ! 

Some of the springs beside which we encamped bore Chinese 
names — Lap-shi-chen, Ku-shu-kha, Ya-ma-chan. The last- 
named perpetuated a bloody episode in recent Chinese history. 
In the summer of 1896, during the time that I was in northern 
Tibet, the scattered remnant of the rebellious Dungans,* who 
had been driven out of the district of Si-ning, .arrived at 
this spring. The Chinese despatched an army against them 
from Sa-chow, and an engagement took place. The Dungans 
were defeated and very many of them killed, while others 
were taken prisoners and carried to Sa-chow. A large number 
of skeletons were still lying in the immediate vicinity of the 
spring. About 500 of the Dungans, including women and chil- 
dren, escaped, taking with them a number of camels, mules, 
and horses ; but, being totally destitute, they were forced 
gradually to consume all these. At the height of this commo- 

♦ See my former book, Through Asia, vol. II., pp. 1175, 1203-9 ^"^ ^247. 

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tion, a deputation was sent from Abdall to Sa-chow, consisting 
of one Chinaman, one Dungan, and two Mussulmans, namely, 
Islam Ahun, a relative of Tokta Ahun, and Erkeh Jan, the 
elder brother of Niaz Baki Beg, one of our friends at Kum- 
chappgan. These four men, when on their way back, fell in 
with the fugitive Dungans amongst the Astyn-tagh mountains, 
and were all killed by them at this spring of Ya-ma-chan. The 
500 Dungans continued on to Abdall, where they were met by 
a Chinese force, which compelled them to capitulate. They 
were then taken to Kara-kum, a newly-founded colony to the 
south of Korla, where they are living peacefully and unmolested 
at the present day, a proof that the Chinese do not always deal 
barbarously with their rebellious subjects. 

A stone pyramid, five feet high, which stood beside the 
spring of Ya-ma-chan, bore a plate with a Chinese inscription ; 
but whether it commemorated this wretched victory over a hand- 
ful of weary fugitives, or whether it merely indicated that this 
remote and valueless region belonged to the Celestial Empire, I 
do not know. 

Some thirty years ago Dungan hunters often used to visit 
these regions, though they left no memorials behind them, 
except some fox-traps, which the Mussulmans called kazghaky 
for at that time fox skins were worth a good deal of money. 
These Dungan traps looked exactly like churchyard graves, or 
oblong heaps of stones, but were hollow inside, like a tunnel. 
A piece of meat was placed at the far-end to serve as bait, and 
just above it a heavy stone, fixed in such a way that, when the 
fox crept into the tunnel, the stone would crash down upon 
him and kill him. 

During the night of the 30th-3ist December the tempest 
raged more fiercely than ever, and brought the roof-spars of 
my yurt to the ground. New Year's night was, however, bright 
and biting cold ; and the moon gUttered like an electric light. 
I read the Bible texts and psalms which are sung in every church 
in Sweden on the last night of the year, and so entered upon 
the new century, alone, solitary, though of good heart, in the 
centre of the vast Asiatic continent. It was a solenm moment. 
Although not ushered in by the glad pealing of the bells, the 
wind, which knows nothing of the change of centuries, never- 
theless sang a funeral dirge to the crashing of its own organ 
notes. On the ist of January, 1901, the tempest still raged 
with unabated energy, inexhaustible cascades of wind being 

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poured through the rugged defile. We got our first glimpse of 
the stupendous mountain-mass of Anambaruin-ula across c^ low 
saddle, by which the river Anambaruin-gol broke through the 
Astyn-tagh, to enter the sandy desert, where it speedily died 
away. This region was, we knew, often visited by Mongols, 
especially in the summer. Hence, no sooner did we catch sight 
of a soUtary horse grazing in the distance than we jumped to 
the conclusion that we should soon be in touch with these people ; 
and yet, even whilst we were pitching o.ur tents in an expansion 
of the glen by which the river emerged, we noticed that the 
animal regarded us in a shy sort of way. Next day I sent off 
small parties of the men in different directions in search of the 
Mongols ; but they all returned without finding them. Evi- 
dently it was a long time since they had visited that locahty. 
This was a stroke through our reckoning, for we had counted 
upon gleaning a good deal of information from their knowledge 
of the local topography. Still, as we had plenty of time, I de- 
cided to keep steadily on until we did find them, although it 
would mean a detour of nearly 200 miles — ^in fact, it meant 
making a complete circuit of the Anambaruin-ula. 

Thinking it would be a pleasant surprise for the first Mongols 
we met, we went out to catch the horse that had escaped from 
them ; but it proved a very much harder task than we had 
anticipated. We tried to lassoo him ; we tried to drive him 
into a comer. But it wouldn't do ; he took to his heels, and 
galloped up the valley. He had grown as wild and as shy as 
a kulan. 

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For several days after this we travelled due east. The first day 
took us up a magnificent gorge, deeply trenched between naked 
walls of rock, at the bottom of which the Anambaruin-gol lay 
boimd in fetters of ice, blue, shimmering, slippery. Our path 
was rendered difficult by reason of the masses of rock and debris 
which had plunged down the mountains on each side. A few 
solitary stone huts proved that the glen was occasionally visited 
by Mongols. We stopped below the pass which fenced in the 
gorge on the east. Just as we were pulling up, a flock of 
arkharis, or wild sheep, scrambled with the agility and sureness 
of monkeys up the crags beside the path. But, when they 
stopped to regard the caravan, Shagdur crept in underneath 
them. A shot awoke the sleeping echoes of the glen, and down 
crashed a big ram from a height of i6o feet or so. If these wild 
sheep chance to slip or slide along their craggy pathways, they 
are said always to fall on their horns ; and certainly Shagdur's 
victim proved the truth of the observation, for he came down 
on his horns amongst the rattling gravel. We had had a long 
march, and there was a good deal to do when we stopped, so 
that it was midnight before the men came in, bringing the arkhari 
on a camel. 

It turned out a frightfully cold night, namely, —28^,5 C, or 
— 19°.3 Fahr. With the sky clear and the moon shining bright 
and high above the snowfields on the moimtain flanks, we almost 
fancied we could actually see the cold vibrating in the night air. 
Next day we crossed another pass, and reached a part from 
which numerous streams descend in the summer southwards to 
the sandy basin of Tsaidam. In one place we caught, between 
two detached groups of mountains, a gUmpse of that desert. 
The snow formed one unbroken expanse all around us. A party 

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of Mongols had recently been there — the ashes of their camp- 
fires were still lying amongst the stones. 

On we went through that wild mountain region, fighting 
against the wind, suffering from the cold, for we had no fuel, 
except what we obtained by the sacrifice of our pack-saddles. 
Nor were the camels any better off than we were ; for, not only 
was the pasture scanty, it was also of miserable quality, and 
springs of water were few and far between. It does no harm 
to camels to go several days without water, but horses must 
have it. Ours, for want of anything better, nibbled at the snow 
as they passed along. When it dawned on the 6th of January, 
the moimtain-mass of the Anambaruin-ula lay on our left, and 

Up the Gorge of the Anambaruin-gol. 

on our ri^ht, that is, to the south and south-east, stretched open 
table-lands, while before us lay the highland basin of Särtäng, 
inhabited by the Särtäng Mongols, who are tribally akin to the 
inhabitants of Tsaidam. Still farther to the east we caught 
glimpses of the httle lake of Bulunghir-nor, and of the streams 
which fed it. The excellent grazing for which these table-lands 
were famous was pretty certain to be withered ; still, such as 
it was, we resolved that our animals should have their fill of it. 
Although it was already twilight, we determined to make an 
effort to reach the pasture-grounds that night. In the distance 
we observed some black dots, which we took to be huts and 
herds, though they were too far away for us to make them out 
VOL. II. 5 

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distinctly, and very soon the landscape was wrapt in dark- 
ness. ITien Shagdur and Mollah galloped on ahead, and about 
an hour later we saw a fire flaring up through the night. This 
was a signal that they had reached the edge of the steppe. 
However, owing to the slow pace at which the caravan travelled, 
it took us a good two hours to get up to them ; but, once there, 
the animals were turned loose to graze all night : there was no 
fear of them running away from a spot like that. 

Before I was called the next morning, the men had already 
hunted out two or three Mongol encampments farther on. 
Accordingly, making for them, we came first upon three jmrts, 
with large numbers of cattle, horses, and sheep grazing in the 
vicinity. An old woman came running to meet us, without 
showing the least trace of fear ; indeed, all the time she was 
talking to us, she went on with the work she was about — ^namely, 
plaiting a cord. But she begged us not to stop there, for all the 
men were absent. Accordingly, we proceeded towards three 
other jnirts, from which two men came forward and welcomed 
us, and said that we might pitch our tents beside theirs. We 
were quite at home amongst these friendly Mongols of Sando, as 
the place was called. They readily sold us what provisions 
we wanted, but, unfortunately, they had no caravan animals 
to spare. As a matter of fact, the district was very thinly in- 
habited; there were but a few yurts altogether, and quite 
recently one big caravan had started for the temple of Kum- 
bum in Kan-su, and another for Sa-chow. However, what 
Mongols there were soon came to visit us. This gave me an 
opportunity to freshen up the Mongolian I learnt during my 
former journey, although I already had an excellent interpreter 
in Shagdur — in fact, Mongolian was his mother-tongue. 

After a few days' welcome and agreeable rest, during which, 
however, the temperature went down to —32^.5 C, or —26^.5 
Fahr., we started to return to Anambaruin-gol, but now on the 
north side of the mountain-mass. The next four days were spent 
in crossing this, the eastward prolongation of the Astyn-tagh. 
Our first station was Bulunghir-nor, where the wolves howled 
all night. The principal pass, Sho-ovo, or the " Little Obo," 
was a sharp-cut lintel or crest, extraordinarily steep on its 
northern face ; indeed we were obliged to lead the camels down 
one by one, lest they should topple headlong down the precipice. 
The transverse glen beside us was evidently traversed in summer 
by a large river, which had left behind it unmistakable evidences 

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of its excavating energy. Partridges were very plentiful ; and 
although we had an abundant supply of mutton, I lived upon 
nothing but game throughout the whole of the Anambar-ula 

From the Uttle aul or " tent-village " of Sho-ovo, at the 
northern foot of the mountain, we directed our course to the 
west, although we were only a single day's journey from the 
large town of Sa-chow on Tung-khuan, called by the Mussul- 
mans Dimg-khan. It was probably fortunate that we did not 
visit that city whilst the disturbances were in progress in China, 
for of these we were quite ignorant. Tung-khuan is inter- 
esting as the definitive termination of the important journey 
which Count Béla Széchenyi made in company with two others, 
MM. L6czy and Kreitner, in 1877-80. Our guide was a nice old 
Mongol, who knew the country intimately ; he let me hire 
from him five camels as far as Anambaruin-gol, and sold me as 
much com as we were able to carry with us. The surface was 
covered with snow, yet not sufficiently to prevent the animals 
from grazing ; it was also grooved by an infinite number of 
trenches and ravines, some of them as much as 35 feet deep, 
and all of them deeply scarped. The second station was called 
Davato. There a most trying wind blew straight down out of 
the mountains. It appeared to be a sort of local föhn, for it 
ceased the next day immediately we crossed over a low secondary 
pass, and so long as we felt its influence it raised the tempera- 
ture to — i6°.o C, or — 3'^.2 Fahr. 

On the i8th of January we approached the gorge of Jong- 
dimtsa, a very broad trench scooped through thick beds of 
boulder clay to the depth of some 160 feet. A countless number 
of similar deep trenches radiated northwards from the moun- 
tain-mass of Anambaruin-ula, until they gradually converged 
into a smaller number of water-courses, which penetrated the 
desert, and eventually disappeared in the sand. The only way 
by which we could get down into the gorge just mentioned was 
by a little side ravine. The gorge itself was like a gigantic rail- 
way cutting, with perpendicular sides driven through the gravel- 
and-shingle, and echoed like a corridor. It was pretty steep, 
and grew narrower and darker as we advanced ; but upon 
turning a projecting angle, it opened out into a sunny glen, 
clothed with vegetation, and traversed by a now ice-bound river. 
We encamped on the left bank of the latter amid scenery which 
was at once fantastic and sublime. On both sides were the lofty 

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vertical walls of gravel-and-shingle, with their sharply accentu- 
ated lights and shades, and black, gaping portals, that is to say, 
the mouths of the side glens which opened out upon the main 

Stone huts at Lu-chuentsa. 

One of our Mongol Guides. 

glen. On the south was a chaos of wild, snow-capped mountain 

The lower extremities of the glens which streamed down 

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from the stupendous mass of Anambaruin-ula were in truth 
both grand and charming. In one of them, called Lu-chuentsa, 
there was a grove of small willows surrounding big sheets of 
ice, and themselves encircled by belts of excellent grass ; while 
stone huts and cornfields showed that Mongols had dwelt there 
not very long before. On the other hand the country was all 
the more difficult to travel in, owing to the gigantic ravines just 
mentioned, and the countless number of small gulleys which ran 
into them. These with their vertical sides made, as it were, a 
choppy sea of detritus very picturesque, but difficult to traverse. 
Often the caravan, dipping down into one of these huge trenches, 

The Mouth of the Ravine of Jong-duntsa. 

became quite lost to sight, until it began to climb up again on 
the opposite side. 

The wild camel was very common in the neighbourhood of 
Gashim-gol. We frequently saw troops of 15 to 20 individuals, 
sometimes on the right of our march, that is to say, on the 
outermost slopes of the mountain next the desert, sometimes, 
strange to say, well inside the higher valleys on our left, where 
one would think they ran a risk of being driven into a cul-de-sac. 

Leaving Gashun-gol on the 24th January, we travelled the 
remainder of the way to Khan-ambal, where we encamped on 
the same spot that we occupied three weeks before. Close to 
this place we encountered the only caravan we met during the 
whole of the four months this expedition lasted — ^namely, two 

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Chinese with ten camels laden with dry and frozen fish for Sa- 
chow. They told me they came from Lovo-nur, that is, Lop-nor. 
I wanted to buy^a parcel or two of their fish, but they stubbornly 
refused to sell me any. My men proposed that we should simply 
help ourselves to what we wanted, but I objected to use 
violence, and let the Chinamen go on their way unmolested. 

In thus returning to Camp no. CXXXL, that is counting 
from Abdall, we had made the complete circuit of the Anam- 
baruin-ula ; and yet we had not attained the object for which 
the detour was deliberately undertaken. We had procured no 
camels, we had not even bought a single horse. All we had 
done was to tax the strength of our own animals to no profit. 
The camels, it is true, were still in good condition ; but several 
of the horses already showed signs of exhaustion. And yet the 
expedition had not been altogether wasted ;' we had traversed 
a region which, from the geographical point of view, Was one of 
singular interest. 

As we still had vast stretches of unknown country before us, 
I thought it advisable to make a change in the caravan before 
we started again. In the first place, we weeded out half-a-dozen 
horses, which did not seem strong enough to stand another 
two months of hard work, and then put aside as much of our 
baggage as we could conveniently spare, and such as was no 
longer necessary, e.g., skeletons of animals and geological speci- 
mens, and thus made up a little caravan, which Tokta Ahun 
and Ahmed were to conduct back to Abdall. I also gave the 
first-named another commission, namely, to continue with the 
horses as far as Charkhlik, and there obtain from Cherdon and 
Islam Bai a number of stores which we should subsequently 
want. With these he was to return to Abdall, and there await 
our arrival, bringing with him at the same time the post-jighit 
who, according to my arrangement with Consul-General Pet- 
rovsky in Kashgar, ought in the meantime to have arrived at 
Charkhlik. Each jighit had been strictly ordered to deliver his 
post-bag into my own hands with the seals unbroken. After 
that, Tokta Ahun was to take three fresh horses, and travel along 
the northern shore of Kara-Koshun, a good three days' journey 
from Kum-chappgan, and then in some suitable locahty make 
a permanent camp. At the same time he was to take with him 
some of the fishermen of the neighbourhood, with two canoes. 
Next they were to build a hut, and lay in a supply of fish and 
wild-duck, so that when we came in from the desert, we might 

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find both shelter and good food after our privations. They 
were to be at their rendezvous not later than 45 days after the 
27th of January; and as soon as ever they arrived there, they 
were to find out a hill that was visible for a long distance to 
the north, and on the top of it Ught a big signal-fire twice every 
day — ^at noon and again as soon as it was dark, and so continue 
until we arrived. Tokta Ahun did not like leaving us ; but I 
consoled him by telling him that if he executed his task well 
he should be handsomely rewarded. 

Having sent off the little caravan to Abdall, we started on 
the 27th of January to cross the Desert of Gobi, from south to 
north. In the beginning we followed the glen which the Anam- 
baruin-gol had carved through the Astyn-tagh. In a bend of 
the stream we came across three stone huts, surrounded by 
patches of cultivated ground, belonging to the Mongols. But 
the glen soon widened out, the mountains on each side of it 
forming detached groups, low hills, and swellings, which finally 
merged in the desert. At the same time the river dwindled, 
until eventually it became a mere trickling rill, while its en- 
closing terraces grew lower, and its patches of ice thinner. The 
snow also became less frequent as we advanced. Upon reaching 
the last patches of ice, we made a critical pause. When should 
we next find water ? We did not know — ^we had no means of 
knowing. I therefore ordered the men to break the ice, and 
fill five sacks as full as they would hold. This would keep us 
supplied for ten days — that is to say, one sack was considered 
sufficient for men and horses for a period of 48 hours. 

In proportion as we travelled away from the mountain- 
chain, the details of its conformation grew fainter ; but, on the 
other hand, the two main ridges began to stand out with 
increasing distinctness. The more distant, which the Mongols 
called Tsagan-ula, or the White Mountain, lifted its magnifi- 
cently modelled, snow-capped crest with imposing and majestic 
grandeur to a lofty height ; but the nearer range to the north, 
that which was pierced by the Anambaruin-gol, was black, and 
drawn in soberer, modester outlines. 

But both the scenery and the surface now underwent a total 
change. The grayelly debris, over which we had struggled for 
a month past, thinned away, until it disappeared, and the ground 
became soft ; at the same time by riding round the patches of 
snow, we were able to spare the horses the disagreeable balling 
of the snow under their feet. At intervals the steppe vege- 

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tation, consisting of teresken and tamarisks, was really luxu- 
riant. To the north the view of the desert " ocean " was as yet 
cut off by a low, reddish-coloured mountain. We found a 
suitable stopping-place beside a little hill, where the dry clumps 
of vegetation furnished not only food for the camels, but 
materials for firing ; while a lingering snow-drift in a cre\dce 
close by enabled us to husband still longer our stock of ice. 

The next day a gale sprang up from the west, driving before 
it the cold, grey, heavy clouds, and carrying in its arms an 
immense quantity of dust. The gigantic barrier of the Astyn- 
tagh was obscured by the clouds, and only the extreme edges of 
the low desert range were visible through the dust-haze. 
Following the dry river-bed we gradually approached the foot 
of the nearer desert range. The steppe vegetation, still in places 
plentiful, consisted of the berry-bearing bushes and scrub akin 
to the ordinary tamarisk, which the Mussulmans call chakkandeh 
and köuruk. Some of these were withered, and so made 
excellent fuel. Soon we came to a broad but shallow river- 
course running towards the west-north-west, in the direction 
of the Lop-nor basin, the common termination of all the 
water-channels in the vicinity, both those that came down 
from the Astyn-tagh and those that flowed out of the desert 
range. Crossing this big water-course we scrambled up the 
opposite side, which was rather steep, and soon came to the low 
pass that led over the red and grey granite of the desert range. 
Over on the other side of it we put up our tents amongst the 
low, dry sand-dunes, which had drifted up against its northern 
foot. Below the pass suk-suk or saksaul (Anabasis Afntnoden- 
dron) made its appearance for the first time. 

During the 29th January, whilst threading our way through 
a chaos of insignificant hills, we came upon an ancient, but 
unmistakable, highway ; though there was no trace of it what- 
ever on the surface, it was obliterated ages ago. Every hill, 
however, and every headland — there were at least a score of 
them — was crowned with a cairn of stones by way of landmark. 
As a 'rule they consisted of two flat stones, one large and the 
other small, propped one against the other ; but sometimes of 
a square stone supporting two round ones, oae on the top of the 
other. These cairns could not possibly indicate a hunter's 
track, for hunters neither follow fixed routes, nor do they build 
landmarks of stones such as these were. It was probably a 
continuation of the road we had formerly seen in the Astyn- 

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tagh, and hacj undoubtedly been used by pilgrims, though it 
must have been many ages ago ; for the cairns were beyond 
all question very old. The stones could not have been affected 
by anything except weathering ; it would have been impossible 
for any storm to have worn them down in the way they were, 
or to have displaced them from their positions. 

One more pass and there was the yellow desert stretching out 
before us, its ridged dunes looking weird and repellent. We 
halted in the throat of the last glen on the coast as it were of 
the desert " ocean." Here the saksaul grew very luxuriantly, 
attaining a height of over ten feet. 

The extreme 'outliers, which embraced this glen between 
them, were half buried in sand, for the dunes climbed half way 
over them, and they themselves dipped down to an unascertained 
depth under the desert waves. It was evident that this elevated 
tract on the edge of the desert was sometimes visited by rain, 
for there were a number of dry rivulets winding in and out 
amongst the sand-dunes, until finally they united to form a dry 
channel, which gave signs of carrying at times a considerable 
volume of water; First it ran towards the east ; then, striking 
against a sandy hill, turned to the north. Then again, it went 
towards the west, until it was once more deflected at a sharp 
angle towards the desert by another lofty dune. It was amazing 
to find that the downfall here was strong enough to contend 
successfully with the sand. Anyway, without this natural 
"road," we should have experienced considerable difficulty in 
making our way through the belt of formidable drift-sand. 

Owing to the icy wind I preferred to walk all day and serve 
as guide, the post I usually filled when our march lay across the 
desert. Yesterday the tracks of the wild camels and antelopes 
were exceedingly numerous ; to-day they entirely ceased. The 
saksaul only survived in an occasional plant half buried under 
the sand. In places pieces of granite as big as a man's head 
were l3ang on the sand at a distance of several miles from the 
foot of the mountains. , How did they get there ? Why were 
not they too buried under the drift-sand ? I could only account 
for it by the direction the wind took. They looked wonder- 
fully like pieces of wood floating on water. 

Gradually the water-course became less distinctly marked, 
and the sand invaded it in several places. The sand-dunes were 
now nothing like so high as they were at the foot of the moun- 
tains. The little desert range, which we had twice crossed, 
VOL. II. 6 

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acted as a sort of breakwater, and not only prevented the drift- 
sand from travelling farther to the south, but also protected the 
belt of steppe which lay along the northern foot of the Astyn- 
tagh. At length the water-course terminated amongst the dunes 
in an expansion which resembled a small lake, although now 
absolutely dry. Here sacksaul bushes grew very luxuriantly. 
The Uttle depression was bounded on the north by a steep sand- 
dune, and beyond it stretched the real " ocean " of the desert 
in all its stupendous desolation, though locally differing in no 
respect from several other regions in which I had crossed the 
Desert of Gobi. Its boundary was drawn with marvellous sharp- 
ness : not a single plant crossed the line. Eafet, north, west — 
nothing but sand — ^sand — sand ! That day we encamped in the 
middle of the desert. 

Next day the dunes gradually decreased in height, and even- 
tually were succeeded by the underlying clay, disposed in a 
succession of terraces that looked towards the north. On the 
ist of February this formation became still more developed, the 
terraces pointing Uke fingers towards the north-north-east, and 
presenting vertical faces of as much as 170 feet in height. A 
keen wind shrouded the desert in clouds of dust, so that we 
were unable to see more than a mile ahead. Towards evening 
we experienced a very pleasant surprise in another belt of steppe, 
where kamish and tamarisks grew luxuriantly, and the tracks of 
wild camels, antelopes, and wolves were very numerous. We 
dug a well, and at a depth of 3I feet obtained saltish drinking 
water ; but it trickled so slowly out of the sand that it did little 
more than whet the camels' appetite for more. This belt of 
steppe-land lasted for a whole day. We followed the wild 
camels' tracks that led across it towards the north, passing 
an occasional clump of venerable and ragged poplars, all, 
however, withered, with the exception of one, in which there 
was just a spark of hfe. 

At Camp no. CXXXVIII. on the edge of this steppe-land we 
had everything we wanted, and thoroughly enjoyed two days 
of much-needed rest. Whilst I took an observation of the sun, 
the men baked bread, and had a big wash, for we were staying 
beside an especially copious well. The camels had a thorough 
good drink, each swallowing about seven bucketsful. The water 
was almost perfectly fresh, and by pouring it out into a little 
pool, and letting it freeze, we were able to secure a fresh stock 
of ice. 

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Beyond this belt of steppe-land we again plunged into the 
desert. Here the clay was carved and sculptured by the wind 
into cubes, pyramids, and obelisks, some of them more than 25 
feet high, and often bearing a confusing likeness to the ruins of 
houses and town walls. That evening we struck the astin-yol, 
or " lower caravan road," leading from Abdall to Sa-chow. Here 
Mollah's topographical knowledge came into play, for on two or 
three occasions he had travelled that road with caravans, and 
knew where all the wells were situated and their names. It was 

Watering the Camels at Camp no. CXXXVIII. 

beside one of these, Achik-kuduk, or the *' Salt Well," that 
we pitched our tents ; and well it deserved its name, for the 
camels positively refused to touch the water it yielded. The 
moist sahferous ground around the well showed, that not long 
ago a caravan had passed that way from Abdall to Sa-chow. It 
was no doubt laden with fish, a food upon which the Chinese 
set great store. Amongst the footprints we recognised the foot- 
gear of both Mohammedans and Chinese. 

This desert route had been already traversed by M. Kozloff 
and M. Bonin, and possibly also by Marco Polo. It had been 
my intention simply to cross it on my way north ; but prudence 
dictated that it would not be wise to enter upon an absolutely 
unknown stretch of country without a sufficient supply of ice. 

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Mollah told me that the next well to the west, Tograk-kuduk, 
or the " Poplar Well," yielded good water. Accordingly we 
proceeded thither, and rested a day beside it ; and, as the ther- 
mometer went down to — 27^.5 C, or — 17°.5 Fahr. during the 
night, and the next day was only two or three degrees higher, 
we experienced no difficulty in filling our sacks. Thus when, 
on the 8th of February, we began our long and extremely risky 
journey towards the north, we carried with us sufficient ice to 
last men and horses for ten days. The camels drank as much 

Sand-dunes of the Middle Gobi. 

as they could hold at the well before starting, and they had also 
done full justice to the kamish beds. 

We now bent our steps through the dry yellow reeds, which 
rustled and snapped in the intense cold, towards a region about 
which we possessed absolutely no knowledge whatever either 
from European or Asiatic sources. I, as usual, led the way. 
The tracks of wild camels and antelopes ran in endless number 
in every direction ; but there were no signs of kulans — the atmos- 
phere was doubtless too heavy for their spacious chests. All of 
a sudden the vegetation came to an end, amid a labyrinth of 
clay mounds, each crowned with a dead tamarisk. Upon 
reaching a depression where the ground looked damp, I thought 
it might pay to dig a well, especially as we had in front of us a 
terrace some 230 feet in height, resembling a gigantic ornamental 

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1 r.r .N f^•.(.^^/Tlf'N*. 

i^,^ ^ 

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frieze. The grazing was good, and I thought it a pity not to 
let the camels have a good feed. We dug our well ; it gave 
tolerably good water. As for the bitter cold — ^we did not mind 
it much after we got our rousing big fires made. 

Next day we penetrated the clay terrace by a cleft or glen, 
which we followed till nightfall, and which had a scarce percep- 
tible ascent. Now, according to the existing maps of the centre 
of Asia, there ought to have been a considerable mountain-range 
across our path ; but such elevations as we saw were so insigni- 
ficant as scarcely to deserve the name of mountains at all. Here, 
in a little cranny, I found fragments of a very ancient iron 
cooking-pot, of a spherical form, and a tripod with a ring 
hanging from it. Chinese or Mongols had clearly visited the 
spot at some time or other. Was this, perchance, a further 
continuation of the road which we had seen in the Astyn-tagh, 
or did it indicate some ancient route to Khami ? That we were 
in a region where anciently means of communication did exist 
was proved beyond a shadow of doubt next day. We were 
following a broad depression, which led straight north, and all 
alongside it was a string of cairns and landmarks of stone. 
Finally, in a flat undulating expansion of the valley, the old 
road bifurcated, one branch going west-south-west, the other 
north-west. The former led, no doubt, to the ruins which we had 
previously discovered on the northern shore of the old Lop- 
nor basin ; the other, which we now followed, appeared to lead 
to Turf an. The track soon took us over a low ridge of reddish, 
weather-worn granite. Beyond it our view was obstructed 
by a somewhat higher range in the far distance. The country 
was strangely silent, desolate, and deserted. As the traces of 
man were here of great antiquity, and only survived in the land- 
marks of stone, so also the mountain-ranges themselves were on 
the point of disappearing off the face of the earth. After the 
stupendous mountains of Tibet, I almost doubted the propriety 
of appl3äng the term " mountains " to these comparatively low 
swellings. In point of fact they were the crumbling remains of 
primitive foldings of the earth's surface, which are now being 
broken down bit by bit under the influence of the atmosphere. 

In a sheltered nook on the north side of the range we dis- 
covered a snow-drift, which came in very opportunely for the 
camels. Perhaps it actually saved them from perishing of 
thirst, for, as it turned out, we had a very long way to travel 
before we came to water again. 

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We now began to observe the first premonitions of spring. 
The winds were not quite so bitingly cold as they had been. 
The temperature seldom dropped below — 20°.o C, or — 4^.0 
Fahr. And it was indeed time that our long winter did come 
to an end, for it had begun in July of the previous year, and 
had continued ever since without a break. 

On the nth of February we crossed a swelling that was rela- 
tively insignificant in height, though the pass which led over it 
was exceptionally difficult. Here the tracks of the wild camels 
were extraordinarily numerous, and many of them appeared 
to lead to the snow-drift which we had just left. But on the 
12th we traversed, north-north-east, an unspeakably desolate 
country, where there was scarcely a wild camel's footprint 
to be found. The prospect was open in every direction, though 
low scattered hills shut in the horizon, and for some time it was 
impossible to tell in which direction the contour fell. The 
surface was, it is true, seamed with shallow, winding water- 
channels ; but they were all as dry as tinder, and most of them 
looked as if they had not contained a drop of water for dozens 
of years. On the 13th, as no change took place, and the hope 
of discovering springs or snow appeared to be desperate, we 
once more changed our course back to the north-west and west. 
The going was now capital, and we thought 18 miles by no means 
a long day's march. At i p.m. the temperature went up to 4.^5 
C, or40.°i Fahr. 

The two following days we turned south-west, steering 
by the compass direct for Altimish-bulak. After the detour 
we had made to the north-east, our position was now become 
critical. We still carried with us a sufficient supply of ice 
to last men and horses for several days, but we could not afford 

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A V 

u,v. p«,i NftrTtf>N3. 

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a single drop for the camels, and all our efforts were now directed 
towards the necessity of saving those untiring veterans. I began to 
enter on my map every wild camel track we came across, for I 
thought that the directions in which they ran would afford some 
clue as to the whereabouts of springs and grazing. Most of the 
tracks, I soon ascertained, ran towards the north-west or south- 
east. In the latter direction were the kamish steppes of the 
ast5m-yoll which we had recently crossed ; in the former there 
were no doubt springs which the camels knew of, and they only. 
I now spent most of my time walking, for when things begin 
to look serious I have no longer patience to ride. The camels 
remained immovably calm and patient, and lay perfectly 
still aU night. But then there was not a blade of grass to be 
obtained in this unspeakably sterile region. All we had to give 
them was a little of the com we had bought from the Mongols. 

On the i6th of February I was forced to the conclusion that 
the only way to avoid disaster was to strike straight for the south, 
and try to reach once more the salt wells of the astyn-yoU. 
We were engaged in an exciting hunt for water, and in vain did 
we look and strain our eyes for a single surviving snow-drift. 
No, there was nothing else for it ; we must go down to lower 
ground where we could at least try to dig a well. Upon climb- 
ing to the top of a pass in an insignificant range the view I 
obtained was an3rthing but encouraging. Low swellings in every 
direction — the same moon-like landscape as heretofore — the 
same arid hills, without a trace of grass, or any other indication 
of moisture. 

In a broad watercourse close by I perceived the fresh tracks 
of no less than 57 wild camels. They radiated inwards from 
every direction until they converged into a single main track. 
A little bit further on we counted 30 other tracks, all uniting 
with the same highway. We stopped and called a council of 
war. That these numerous tracks all led to a spring nobody 
doubted for one moment ; but the question was, how far off 
was it ? Perhaps several long days' marches ? Would it not 
be better, then, to keep straight on to Altimish-bulak, the position 
of which we did at least know ? Finally, we decided to ignore 
the tracks, tempting though it was to follow them ; for, though 
they had been quite recently made, strange to say there was 
not a glimpse of the camels themselves to be seen anywhere 
about. The principal track led towards the north, perhaps 
towards Pavan-bulak, a spring which Abdu Rehim told me the 

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year before he knew of by hearsay, though he had never 
visited it. 

On the 17th of February our position began to look most 
serious. It was ten days since the camels had had anything 
to drink, if we except the few mouthfuls of snow they picked 
up a week ago. Their strength would not hold out for ever. 
During the course of the day we passed successively the two 
desert ranges which we had crossed over on our way north. 
They ran towards the west, and both alike disappeared in the 
sand, and consequently could not be directly connected with 
the Kurruk-tagh, although they belonged to the same oro- 
graphical system. We saw the chains of the Kurruk-tagh a 
long way to the west, but they were higher and altogether bigger 
than these. As there was far greater likelihood of our finding 
water near them than in the desert, we decided to make for them. 
Turning my back on the outliers of the mountains, I soon reached 
the level plain, composed of saliferous clay, but diversified by 
ridges and swellings not more than six feet in height. The desert 
was perfectly open both south-west and north-east, and resembled 
the long, narrow bay of an ancient sea. After tramping for 
five hours, I stopped to wait for the caravan. The country now 
changed, and became worse than any sandy desert I ever 
traversed. It consisted of yardangs, or *' clay ridges," like those 
which I have described in an earlier chapter, only here they 
were 20 feet high and 30 to 40 feet across the top. North and 
south they stretched in endless succession. Had it not been for 
the small gaps broken through them, we could not possibly have 
progressed, for their sides were perfectly perpendicular. An 
advance of ten or a dozen yards sometimes necessitated a sweep 
roimd of a furlong or even of a quarter of a mile. At length, 
however, I succeeded in finding a way out of the wearisome 
labyrinth, and we halted amongst low, flat hills, absolutely 
destitute of every trace of organic life. 

Next morning, when the Cossacks came to call me, I 
seemed to have had a precious short sleep, for I had been 
desperately tired the night before when I turned in. At day- 
break there Mras already a half gale blowing ; and on towards 
the afternoon it quickened into a regular kara-buran (black 
tempest). The surface was abominable ; we crossed one low 
ridge after another, up and down, up and down, and all at right 
angles. I was still leading the way, and trudged on for over a 
score of miles. Our fuel was exhausted some time previously — 

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we had not a splinter left. We were in a veritable rat-trap — 
stones, gravel, and sand — these and nothing else ! The moun- 
tain-range for which I was making, and at the foot of which 
I hoped to find a spring, seemed to recede as if in mockery 
when I approached it, until at last it vanished altogether in 
the dust-haze. It grew afternoon, and our goal seemed further 
off than ever. In spite of the forced march, our camels were 
keeping up magnificently, despite the fact that they had not a 
blade to eat or a drop to drink ; they nevertheless marched 
steadily on with a long, swinging stride and head aloft. The 
wild camels* tracks were now all directed towards the north-east, 
evidently making for the mysterious spring which we no doubt 
left behind us a few days ago. 

It grew dark. We encamped in an open guUey, with no 
shelter whatever against the storm. My yurt was covered 
with a triple layer of felts, but I could not have the stove lighted 
for want of fuel. The only sources of warmth were my own 
body, my faithful travelling companion, YoUdash, and a flicker- 
ing candle which would keep going out in the gusts of wind. 
The men banked up the sand all round the lower edge of the 
yurt, but in spite of that, its interior was like a cellar. Our ice 
was all done except a few small fragments. The unfortunate 
men had to content themselves with bread and a few fragments 
of ice for their supper, and then made haste to creep in under- 
neath their sheep-skins. I managed to get a cup of tea, although 
at the sacrifice of one of the spars of theytirt. 

The storm raged all night, but I slept well and peacefully. 
Next morning, the 19th of February, after a mug of tea and a 
piece of dry bread, off 1^ started tramping again. Water! 
water ! was the one thought uppermost in everybody's mind. 
Somewhere, somehow, we must find a spring, for it was now 
twelve days since the camels had touched a drop of water. 
Our situation was very serious indeed. If we failed to find 
water the camels would drop and die one after the other, just 
as they did in that awful march through the Takla-makan 
Desert. Here, however, we had certain advantages — the air 
was cold, and the ground hard and level, so that we were 
enabled to do long stages. 

I was taking a bee-line for Altimish-bulak, the position of 
which I knew from our visit the spring of the year before. 
But according to what Abdu Rehim told me, there should be 
three springs somewhere to the east of Altimish-bulak ; it 

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was upon them my hopes were fixed. And yet how easily 
they might lie hidden behind some slight swelling of the surface, 
or be screened by a low ridge. The storm, also, occasioned 
us great inconvenience, for it obscured the country, except in 
our immediate vicinity, to such an extent that the map which I 
had made the year before was of little use. When crossing the 
Takla-makan, we knew that if we kept advancing east we were 
bound the strike the Khotan-daria somewhere ; and again when 
travelhng down the bed of the Keriya-daria, we had only 
to keep steadily to the north, and we were bound to strike the 
Tarim. In both these cases we were aiming to reach a line at 
right angles to our course ; but here we were aiming for fixed 
points, which we might only too readily miss in the dust- 
clouded atmosphere. If we did miss them, one thing was cer- 
tain, we should never reach the marshes of the Tarim. 

We studied with strained interest every wild-camel track 
we came across. Although obliterated on the loose sand, they 
were plain enough to see on the clay. We all knew that they 
led to water or from water, and that, if we followed them in 
one direction or the other, we were quite certain to reach a 
spring ; but then it might be days — it might be weeks — before 
we got to it. These tracks I was continually tempted to follows 
and several times did follow them, until, without either rhyme 
or reason, they suddenly turned away at right angles. On 
the whole, they ran generally north and south. But in the 
former direction we were confronted by a reddish-brown moun- 
tain-barrier, while south there was nothing except the boundless 
waste of the desert. After all, it was best to keep pegging away 
west until we struck one or other of Abdu Rehim's springs. 

Driving ahead for dear life, I soon left the caravan a long 
way behind. My native-made boots barely held together 
after the i8o miles tramp, and my feet were sore and blistered. 
Shagdur, who generally kept with me, and led my saddle horse, 
was nowhere to be seen. I had made up my mind that I would 
not stop until I did find water. That day (19th of February) 
was my 36th birthday, and I meant to have a pleasant surprise 
before it was over. The camel tracks were now more numerous, 
and they led towards the west. I seldom went two minutes 
without coming across one. 

At last I reached a low ridge which forced me to turn to the 
south-west and south-south-west, and in the drj' watercourse 
which skirted it I counted the footprints of no less than 30 wild 

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camels which had passed quite recently. A little bit further, 
and I observed a tamarisk, then the tracks of hares and ante- 
lopes. I stopped. These animals were not wont to travel 
a tremendous distance from water. Shagdur came up. We 
took counsel. There were several tamarisks to the south, 
and we made for them. The ground thereabouts was decidedly 
moist, although covered with a thick layer of salt. At length 
the caravan arrived, and we dug a well. The water was un- 
drinkable ; it contained a concentrated solution of salt. We 
again resumed our march. The storm, being now at our backs, 
helped us 'up the slopes, though down them we went rather 

Allimish-bulak or Sixty Springs. 

faster than we liked. I and Shagdur hurried on in advance, 
my white horse following me unbidden, like a dog. YoUdash 
was scouring the neighbourhood, hunting and sniffing everywhere. 
At length we got on the track of a troop of 20 wild camels, 
which brought us opposite to a glen or opening through the 10 
to 15-foot clay terraces on the right, with the crest of the range 
showing four or five miles back at the head of the glen. All 
the camel tracks converged into one principal trail, which 
turned up the broad, trumpet-shaped glen. I followed it, and 
before I had gone ten minutes I saw YoUdash drinking beside 
a white patch of ice-water. We were saved ! 

The spring itself was, as usual, salt ; but the sheet of ice, 
which was not more than 12 to 14 yards across, nor more than 
VOL. II. 7 

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four inches thick, was perfectly fresh. Strange to say, the 
only vegetation it supported consisted of two tamarisks. Shag- 
dur was quite amazed when he saw the ice ; he thought I must 
have had some secret knowledge of this hidden spring, seeing that 
I had marched straight to it. The cornice of the clay terrace 
on the left of the spring was crowned by a crescent-shaped wall, 
like a rampart or breast-work — evidently a hunter's ambush, for 
the spring was frequented by wild camels. 

Here, I need hardly say, we encamped. FaisuUah and Li 
Loyeh went up the glen to reconnoitre, and brought back each 
an armful of withered tussock grass, and with that the camels 
had to be content. We did not think it wise to let them touch 
the ice until they had recovered a little from the strain ; but we 
let the horses try their teeth upon it at once. When the camels 
were at length watered it was quite a pleasure to give them 
small pieces of ice, which they crunched between their strong 
teeth like children eating sugar-candy. The weather still remained 
cold ; but although at i p.m. the thermometer did not rise 
above freezing-point, the ink no longer froze in my pen, for I 
was now able to have the stove lighted again. The ice-sheet 
proved more enduring than we thought it would ; for it more 
than supplied our wants, and when we started again on the 22nd 
of February we took several sacksful with us. 

The scenery changed but little from day to day. It was 
terribly monotonous ; the ground hard, often a good deal 
broken and furrowed by the watercourses all running out into 
the desert. The spurs of the Kurruk-tagu stuck out like short, 
truncated ribs. We now knew for certain that these ranges 
grew lower and more insignificant as they advanced to- 
wards the east, while at the same time the country became 
more sterile and the springs fewer, as well as more saline. 
Silence, desolation, and waste on every side ! Absorbed 
in my own thoughts I mechanically followed another camel 
track, and it led me to a new spring, likewise with a con- 
spicuous patch of ice about it. Upon this too all the camel 
tracks of the locality converged, as they had done in the case 
of the previous spring. Whilst our animals rested here a 
little to graze, I continued towards the south-west, and was 
threading some low hills when I caught sight of a handsome 
camel, which, however, did not observe me, owing to the wind 
blowing in the wrong direction for it. I stopped and waited 

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~ I 

*5TC«, LtN^X AN» 


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for the caravan, so as to give Shagdur a chance of a shot ; for 
not only were we in urgent want of fresh meat, but I was also 
anxious to get a complete skeleton and skin of a wild camel ; 
but the dogs put him to flight, and he escaped. At another 
similar oasis which I soon came to I observed no less than i8 
camels grazing. But Shagdur, who came up at a run, was 
too hasty, and fired prematurely. Here, however, we found an 
abundance of everything we wanted — fodder, fuel, and water. 
This was the third of Abdu Rehim's springs, so that his informa- 
tion was perfectly reliable. According to my reckoning, Altimish- 
bulak ought to be about 17J- miles from this oasis, in the direc- 

The Wounded Wild Camel. 

tion 60° west of south. Hence on the 24th of February I 
led the way towards it, though I was soon forced by a mountain- 
spur to keep a more westerly course. It was, I concluded, 
the range at the foot of which Altimish-bulak was situated. 
Had the atmosphere not been so obscured by dust, we ought 
to have seen it a pretty long way off. But my lucky star guided 
me right. I saw the yellow kamish ghttering through the haze, 
and I also saw the outlines of five camels over the top of the 
thickets. Flinging off his cloak and cap, Shagdur crept stealthily 
towards them. I watched him through my field-glass. At the 
report of his rifle they moved off — at first slowly, but after- 
wards more swiftly. Their dark silhouettes flitted across the 

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kamish, and disappeared at the edge of the oasis. There were 
fourteen of them. After another shot Shagdur came to me. and 
reported triumphantly that he had brought down two camels. 
One was a young she-camel, which I photographed as she stood ; 
after which we slaughtered her for food. The other was a big 
bughra (he-camel), which died instantaneously. His skeleton 
and skin eventually found their way to Stockholm. The 
Mussulmans were tremendously impressed by the fact that I 
succeeded in finding Altimish-bulak in the dust-haze. Our 
last day's march was 19J miles. Altogether I was less than two 
miles out of my reckoning, which, considering that my itinerary 

The Dead Wild Camel. 

extended over a total distance of 1,200 miles, was not so very 
bad. Here, then, I linked on my present series of astronomical 
and topographical observations with the series which I took the 
previous year. After that it ought not to be difficult to find the 
ruin we were come in quest of. 

My yurt was put up between the same clumps of tamarisks 
and patches of kamish as the year before, and the camels and 
horses were turned out to graze. This had been quite a red- 
letter day. 

We spent the remaining days of February beside the springs 
of Altimish-bulak. What cared we now for the never- tiring 
wind, or the never-lifting haze in which we were enveloped ? 

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We were encamped in a sheltered spot, and we had everything we 
needed. There was an inexhaustible supply of fuel, and I kept 
my stove going without cessation, except in the middle of the 
night. The Mussulmans found the young she-camel's meat 
first-rate eating. 

One whole day was occupied in testing the levelling instru- 
ments, and in instructing the men who were to help me. We 
measured the circumference of the oasis, and the vertical error 
in that distance of 3,014 yards amounted to no more than a 
millimetre (0.0394 inch), a result which promised well for 
our great levelling across the desert, a line of more than fifty 
miles long. 


• ^^Ms 

m\ ''. 

Cleansing the Gamers Skeleton at Altimish-bulak. 

Here is a little story about Khodai KuUu, who hitherto had not 
played any important part in the caravan. He was reputed to 
be a skilful hunter, and possessed a gun of his own ; but during 
the fourteen months he had been with us nobody had ever seen him 
use it. So far as we knew, he had not killed so much as a hare. 
The men came, therefore, to beUeve that he did not know how to 
shoot, and consequently it excited no surprise when one day he 
sold the weapon for a mere trifle to Li Loyeh, in whose hands it 
was just as harmless as in his own. But when Khodai Kullu 
got back to Yanghi-köll, he asserted that he had shot a camel 
at Altimish-bulak — as, indeed, he really had — and now that we 
were come to Altimish-bulak again, his comrades challenged 

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him to show them the skeleton of his victim. But Khodai 
Kullu prevaricated, and swore that the feat had been performed 
at some other spring in the neighbourhood. The others refused, 
however, to be put off in that way, and chaffed him unmerci- 
fully. Now, Khodai Kullu was a harmless, phlegmatic man, 
clumsy yet jovial, and with a very comical expression of coun- 
tenance. One morning he disappeared from camp before sun- 
rise, and the other men, who were busy most of the day clean- 
ing the skeleton of the camel which Shagdur shot, had no idea 
where he had gone to, although they suspected he was out hunt- 

f\t^m% III 



. - - i 

Our Camp at Khodai KuUu's Spring. 

ing, because one of the guns was missing. About dusk he came 
waddling back, and whilst still some distance away began to 
shout loudly in triumph. Anybody that liked might go with 
him, he said, and see the skeleton of the camel which he had 
shot the year before. The spring was now dry ; but the skele- 
ton was there right enough beside it. Then he went on to relate 
how he had discovered another spring, with abundant vegetation, 
and a plentiful supply of ice. There he had surprised four 
camels, and shot a bughra. In consequence of this feat Khodai 
Kullu, whose face beamed like the rising sun with genial good 
nature, rose considerably in the estimation of his fellows, and 
they became heartily ashamed of themselves for having mis- 
trusted him. 

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We decided to remove to the new spring which Khodai 
Kullu had discovered ; it would be a more convenient as well 
as a nearer base for the operations we contemplated amongst 
the ruins of the desert. Next day, the ist of March, was 
Khodai KuUu's great day. He marched along bravely at the 
head of the caravan, full of importance, singing his loudest, 
with an air of self-satisfied complacency, as if he were sovereign 
of all the deserts and oases, and of their inhabitants, the wild 
camels, whilst the rest of us followed meekly and submissively 
behind him. 

After passing some small low greenstone hills, greatly 

Khodai Kullu and his Wild Camel. 

weathered, there, sure enough, was the oasis in frontfof us. 
But it was so well masked by the configuration of the ground 
that it would have been impossible to find it, had we not known 
where it was, or hit upon it by mere chance, as Khodai Kullu 
did. Khodai KuUu's victim lay a few hundred paces from the 
edge of the oasis. As is usual with the wild camel, upon being 
wounded it had tried to escape into the desert. It was a fat 
and handsome male, and his head lay turned towards the spot 
where the bullet had entered his body. As soon as his blood 
turned cold, the ticks, which were in his coat, hastily deserted 
him. It was now getting warm enough — i5°.o C, or 59°.o Fahr. 
at noon — for these inconvenient Acarids to begin creeping about 

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the bushes and reeds. They frequent the borders of the sm all 
oases in vast numbers, and are carried from one oasis to another 
by the camels. 

The water at the new spring bubbled up at a number of 
points, and fell into a deep trough ; its temperature was i.°7 
C, or 35. "^i Fahr., and its specific gravity 1.0232. It was so 
salt that our camels would on no account touch it ; but as the 
sun was now warm enough to melt the surface of the ice-cakes, 
we experienced no lack of fresh water. The ice was thick and 
clear, and we filled nine tagars, or " bags of reed," to take 
with us. 

This oasis was, in fact, quite a God-send to us. It was, as 
I have said, yi miles nearer to the ruins, and as it afforded 
plenty of grazing, we were able to leave there all three horses, 
as well as three ailing camels, under the charge of Khodai 
Värdi, whilst we went in quest of the ruined village. For 
his own support we left with Khodai Värdi, out of our now terribly 
scanty stores, a matchbox, a small cooking-pot, and a handful 
of tea. He had plenty of water, and he could get what meat 
he liked from the dead camel ; the matches would help him 
to make fires for boiUng his tea and cooking his steak. As he 
told me afterwards, only one mishap befel him in his loneUnes^. 
The first morning, when he awoke, all three horses were gone. 
From their trail he saw that they had returned to Altimish- 
bulak, where there was better grazing. However, he fetched 
them back, and kept closer watch upon them in future. 

On the 2nd of March I started with seven camels, carrying the 
whole of the baggage and nine sacks of ice. In some respects 
it would have been better to follow the route we took the previous 
year ; for one thing it would have been easier to find the ruins. 
Three ancient cairns, or landmarks, showed that this little 
oasis was known to the people who once inhabited the region. 
Before we had advanced very far we came across traces of the 
northern margin of the desiccated lake. First we observed 
numerous fragments of earthenware ; then dead tamarisks, 
standing on their own mounds on the tops of little hills ; then 
brush-like stubble of ancient kamish-fields ; and, finally, snail 
shells, in some places in vast quantities. Here we were, then, 
once more in the wind-sculptured clay desert. 

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The Ruined Towns of Lou-Ian. 

A Vanished Country. 

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The morning of the 3rd of March was fresh andjcool, and, thanks 
to the easterly wind, the heat during the day never grew oppres- 
sive. According to my survey, we had 8J miles to go to reach 
the ruins we were in search of. We travelled slowly, keeping 
a good look-out in every direction, so as not to miss them. 
Immediately on our left, Shagdur eventually lighted upon the 
remains of two houses. The one on the east was 2ii- feet square, 
and its walls, ^i feet thick, were built of square bricks or burnt 
clay. The other house was constructed of wood, now much 
decayed through lapse of time ; still enough of it was left to 
show that it had been 85J feet long, and of the same breadth 
as the other house. In the bigger enclosure we discovered a 
small cannon-ball ; an object shaped exactly like a rowlock, 
but made of copper ; some Chinese coins ; and two or three 
red earthenware cups. 

A little bit further on, where my map indicated that we were 
quite close to the locality we were searching for, I stopped, and 
sent all the men off to explore the neighbourhood, except Fais- 
ullah, who stayed behind to look after the camels. They were 
absent several hours, and towards sunset I resolved to go and 
encamp at the foot of a clay tower, which stood about one hour 
east of the spot where we then were. But, owing to the steep and 
difficult ridges and yardangs which lay across our path, it was 
quite dusk when we reached the place. Having helped Faisullah 
to unload the camels, I took a rope and an axe, and climbed to 
the top of the tower. It was built round a framework of beams, 
branches, and kamish. On the top of it I lighted a fire as a 
beacon for the men. 

Thereupon they began to return, one by one. Two of them 
had discovered another high tora (clay tower), surrounded by 

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the ruins of several houses, and brought with them, as evidence 
of their discovery, some corn, a rusted cable chain, a copper 
lamp, coins, fragments of pottery, and a pitcher or jar. They 
recommended that we should make that our base of operations. 
Accordingly at sunrise next morning we went across to the 
new tora, and encamped on its south-west side, so as to obtain 
some sort of shelter if a storm should come on. We piled up 
the sacks of ice on a framework of timber under a clay terrace 
that leaned over towards the north. 

As soon as the camels were sufficiently rested, they were 
to be led back to Khodai Kullu's oasis. This important task 
I entrusted to Li Loyeh, instructing him to spend the first night 
just where the ground began to slope up towards the mountains. 
The following day he was to go to the oasis, and was to stay 
there two days ; and then, having loaded up all the animals 
with ice, was to take two more days to return to us. This 
left us deprived of all means of transport, and allowed us six 
days in which to pursue our investigations ; for as soon as the 
camels returned we should have to resume our journey. 

The first day I devoted to an astronomical observation, 
whilst the men roamed about the neighbourhood, hunting and 
investigating. Meanwhile I also took from the top of the tower 
two or three photographs, which are here reproduced (pp. ii6, 
117*), and which give a clearer idea of the locality than any 
amount of mere description. The view was broad and open, and 
altogether sui generis. The desert presented a uniform dreary 
aspect, with its sharp-edged, broken terraces and " tables " — 
yardangs of yellow clay. At intervals stood a house, more or 
less mutilated by time ; but the entire region was absolutely 
uninhabited except for myself and my dog Yolldash. As I 
surveyed the scene, a feeling of solemnity and of expectation 
stole over me. I felt — I knew, that I was face to face with a 
great problem, and its solution. Would this niggardly soil, 
which, beyond doubt contained many secrets hidden in its 
bosom — would it reveal to me something that was known to no 
other human being in the world ? Would it yield up to me some 
of its treasures ? Would it grant me an answer to the host of 
questions which thronged in upon my brain ? Anyway I meant 
to do my level best, to make those silent ruins speak. I 
had changed my original plan simply and solely that I might 

* See also Vol. I., pp. 379, 385. 

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come back here. Surely it was not to be a mere waste of time ! 
Surely my pains were not to be thrown away ! 

On the 5th of March, whilst my people were busy digging 
away with all their might, I took a morning walk amongst the 
ruins. In a Uttle while they turned over the interior of a house, 
but without finding anything of importance beyond the wheel of 
an araba (Turkestan cart), and some nicely-turned pilasters. 
At the same time they imearthed a few trifles of no value, except 
in so far as they suggested inferences as to the manner of life 
of the ancient inhabitants. Amongst them were pieces of red 
cloth, precisely like that which the lamas wear at the present 

A Copper Lamp from L6u-lan. 

day, felt rags, tufts of brown human hair, bones of sheep and 
cattle, soles of Chinese shoes, a leaden utensil, remarkably well- 
preserved pieces of rope, shards of clay pottery with simple 
ornamentation, an earring, Chinese coins, and so forth, and so 

In one enclosure, which had probably been a stall or fold, 
they came across a thick layer of manure, showing that horses, 
cattle, sheep and camels had been sheltered there. Its preser- 
vation was due to the fact that it had been buried imder a thick 
layer of sand and dust. But there were no inscriptions, not a 
single letter to throw any Ught upon the mystery. The only 
fragment of paper the men picked up was a small yellow strip, 
VOL. II. 8* 

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without any writing upon it. Close beside our camp stood the 
framework of another house, but inside it we discovered nothing. 
The circumstances here were altogether different from those 
of the ancient towns which I discovered during my former jour- 
ney beside the Keriya-daria. There the ruins were smothered 
in sand ; here the ground was perfectly bare. Everything that 
the former inhabitants left behind them or forgot was exposed 

A View to the South-west from the Tora at our 
Camp. (In the Foreground is my Vurt, pro- 
tected by Beams against a Landslide. In the 
Background the Clay Desert with its Wind- 
sculptured Yardangs. ) 

to the destructive influences of wind and weather. There was 
no sand whatever, except a thin layer on the sheltered side 
of the clay terraces, which nowhere exceeded ten feet in height. 
The most imposing edifice still standing was the tower. This 
had for me an especial attraction, and I ordered the men to 
begin work with it. It might, like an ancient Northern burial 
mound, contain valuable finds in its interior. But, before they 
could start upon it, a big piece had to be pulled down off the 

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top. Down it crashed like a waterfall, sending clouds of dark 
brown dust scudding across the desert. Then the men dug 
down into it, making a vertical hole like a well. To have made a 
tunnel in from the side would have been too dangerous ; for 
the walls were already full of big cracks, and the dry, loose 
material might easily have fallen in. The tower, however, was 
massively built, over 28|- feet high, and held together by hori- 
zontal beams. Up to the height of ten feet the sun-dried bricks 
had a reddish tinge, as if they had been slightly burned. Alto- 
gether there were in this immediate locality nineteen houses, 
stretching in a long line from 30° east of south to 30° west of 

The Clay Tower seen from the North-E^t. 

north. I made an accurate chart of them ; but to enter into 
a detailed description of them here would occupy too much 
space. I must confine myself, therefore, to a few brief general 

Some of the houses were built entirely of wood, the planks 
which formed the walls being morticed into a foundation frame- 
work of beams, resting immediately upon the surface. In others 
the walls consisted of sheaves of kamish, lashed by means of 
withes to poles and spars. A few of the houses were built of 
adobe, or sun-dried clay. Most of these ancient dwellings were, 
however, razed to the ground ; but several of the beams and posts 
still stood upright, although greatly decayed through wind and 

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sand. It was impossible to draw from the woodwork any infer- 
ences as to their age. It certainly looked very old, and was of a 
greyish-white colour, cracked, and as brittle as glass. One would 
have thought that such material, exposed as it was to storms, 
to drift-sand, and the enormous difference of 175° to 200° 
between the maximum summer temperature and the minimum 
winter temperature, would have been destroyed within a com- 
paratively short space of time. Three door-frames still remained 
in situ, and in one of them the door itself was still hanging, 

The Top of the Tower Falling. 

wide open, just as it had been left, probably, by the last occu- 
pant, but it was now half buried in the sand. 

The whole of the buildings stood upon elevated ground ; but 
a single glance was sufficient to show that they had originally 
been placed upon the level ground. For the earthem platforms 
were of precisely the same shape as the ground-plan of the houses ; 
while the soil all around, in so far as it was not protected, had 
been scooped out and blown away by the wind. As the trenches 
at the side were fully ten feet below the former level of the 
district, it was pretty evident that a very long time must have 
elapsed since these dwellings were deserted. The poplars, 
bushes and reeds also grew upon relatively elevated ground. 

When I awoke on the morning of the 6th of March, I found 
all five men had disappeared, and I had to light my fire and 

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get my breakfast as best I could. We had agreed the night 
before that we would spend a whole day looking for a better 
place, and the men had now gone off in different directions to 
make a thorough hunt for other ruins. Before they started, 
they had gathered a heap of wood, and if they were not back 
by dusk, I was to recall them by a signal fire. I described to 
Shagdur where our camp had been the year before, and where 
he was to look for the ruins which Ördek had discovered. 

Everything was as peaceful as a Sabbath morning, remind- 
ing me of the hours I spent in the leafy huts beside the Khotan- 
daria in 1895, after the shepherds had driven their flocks into the 

Ruined House with its Doorway still Standing in situ. 

woods to graze. I photographed several of the ruins ; I took 
a meridian altitude, finished my plan of the locaUty, and examined 
various strata of the clay deposits. These were six in number, 
and of varying thickness. Some of them contained snail-shells 
and vegetable remains ; others were without any, showing that 
they had been deposited at different periods and under different 
climatic conditions. Possibly the layers which were destitute 
of organic life were laid down in salt water. 

The day passed quietly. Towards evening my scouts came 
back one by one, recalled by the signal-fire I lighted. It was 
nine o'clock before Shagdur came in. He had been on foot 
the whole day without resting ; the others, I knew perfectly 
well, had slept through the middle of the day. He had had a 

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good many tumbles in the dark down the clay terraces ; for the 
depressions or trenches between them were perfectly black, 
it was impossible to see how deep they were. He was just 
making up his mind to stay where he was till morning, when 
he caught sight of the fire. But he had been successful : fine 
fellow that he was, he had persevered, until he did find, not 
only our previous camp, but also the scene of Ordek's discovery. 

The 7th of March we devoted to the investigation of the 
latter site. I set off at 8 o*clock, taking all the men with me, 
except Kutchuk, whom I left behind to look after the signal- 
fire. It was a beautifully bright day, with a cool north-east 
wind, which moderated the heat at noon. Guided by Shagdur, 
we proceeded due south from the clay tower of the 3rd of March. 
At intervals we observed beams Isdng on the groimd, pointing 
to the sites of former dwellings. One of these measured 25^ 
feet in length, its other dimensions being 13^ inches by 6J inches. 
Thus the poplars which once grew there must have been as fine 
trees as any that now stand in the primeval forests of the Tarim. 
We crossed on the way a deep depression resembling an old 
canal, and saw yet another tora ; in fact, every village or 
" town " in this locahty seemed to have had its clay tower. 

The country we were traversing was of exceptional interest, 
and deserves a word or two of description. We were marching 
west-north-west, and consequently had to cross the clay terraces 
in a zig-zag line up and down them. A few small clumps of 
primeval poplars were still standing, the arrangement being 
precisely similar to that of the existing poplar groves beside 
the Kara-köll and Chivillik-köU, and the lower arms and con- 
necting channels of the Tarim. That is to say, they sometimes 
stood in rows, sometimes were concentrated in clumps, plainly 
showing the outline of lake shore or river bank. Evidently in 
the places where they were wanting, there had been expansions 
of the lake or connecting river-arms. Kamish stubble was 
abundant everywhere, though it was only eight or nine inphes 
high. The stalks were so loaded with sand and dust that they 
crumbled like clay at the least touch ; but the long-bladed 
leaves, which, however, were far seldomer preserved, still re- 
tained their flexibility. In fact the very timber of this region 
was so heavily charged with sand that on being placed in water 
it sank. 

At length we reached the site of our camp of the year before, 
easily recognizable by the heaps of ashes left from our fires. 

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Another mile and we reached the scene of Ordek's discovery. 
Here we found eight houses ; but of these only three were suf- 
ficiently preserved to admit of being measured. They were 
arranged on the same plan as a Chinese yamen (or offices of a 
Chinese administrator) ; that is to say, a main building flanked 

Carved Poplar Wood. On the right an Image of Buddha ; under- 
neath it a Fish. The Vertical line on the left measures one 
metre (= 3.281 feet). 

by two wings, with a courtyard between them. The south- 
east side of the latter was fenced in by palings or a plank fence, 
with an open gateway, the side-posts of which were still stand- 
ing. The main building, which was rather small, had clearly 
been a Buddhist temple. This was the actual spot where Ördek 
had made his discoveries. The tracks of his horse were still 
discemibl&ipi a hollow close bv. 


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The spades were soon at work amongst the sand, and after 
a while out came Buddha hmiself , though not altogether in 
the most graceful form of incarnation. The image was made 
of wood, and the head and arms were still intact. But this, it 
was clear, was only the foundation or backing of a clay idol, 
which had been painted and decorated in the usual way. 

The accompanying photographs (pp. 125, 127, 133, 135) will 
convey a clearer idea of the carved woodwork which I brought 
home with me from this place than any amount of description 
in words. However, I may just dwell for a moment upon one or 
two of them. On one beam were depicted a row of images of 
Buddha, standing ; on another a similar row of Buddha, sitting, 
each individual figure being surmounted with an aureole, shaped 
Uke a roimded arch. One ornamental device consisted of a fish 
surroimded by leaves and scroll-work, the gills and scales being 
perfectly distinct. Now, the artist would never have thought of 
using such a poor decorative object as a fish, unless it had been 
a creature of peculiar importance in the locality, and, we may 
also say, unless it had constituted one of the most important 
items in the food of the inhabitants ; otherwise it would have 
been contrary to all rhyme and reason to combine fish instead 
of birds with leaves and garlands. Even if there existed no 
other incontrovertible proofs that these villages formerly stood 
on the shores of a lake, we should be quite justified in inferring 
the fact from the use of the fish as a decorative device in these 
wood carvings. Taking the country as it is now, a fish would 
be the very last creature in the world you would ever think 
of in such a connection. 

The lotus flower also formed a conspicuous and pleasing 
device in these wood carvings. It occurred in long rows on 
some of the thickest planks, as also on panels, nineteen or twenty 
inches long, fixed in between them. 

In this same place we also made another important dis- 
covery. Shagdur was digging and poking about with his spade, 
when he turned up a small tablet of wood, covered over with 
writing in a script which I was unable to decipher. This, how- 
ever, Shagdur had not noticed, for he had flung the piece of 
wood on one side as a thing of no value ; but I happened to 
be standing by, and thought how well-preserved it was, and so 
by mere chance stooped and picked it up. Every letter was 
sharp-cut and distinct, and written in India ink, but the script 
was neither Arabic, nor Chinese, nor Mongolian, nor Tibetan, 

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Carved Pieces of Wood from the Ruins. 

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What coiild be the purport of these mysterious words ? What 
was the information locked up in them ? I at once took care 
of the little tablet, and preserved it as if it were a precious stone. 
Hence the reward of ten sir (about 30s.), which I had promised 
to the first man who discovered a piece of writing of any descrip- 
tion fell to Shagdur. And as I offered a similar reward for the 
next find of the same character, the men redoubled their efforts, 
and without the slightest scruple literally turned the interior 
of the temple inside out. They sifted the sand through their 
fingers ; they pounced upon every scrap of wood, and turned 
it over and examined it from every side — but without success. 

Excavating the Buddhist Temple. 

The only things that came to light were the string of a rosary, 
some Chinese copper money, and a heap of small earthenware 
cups or bowls, which had clearly been placed in front of the 
images of the gods to hold the offerings of the faithful. 

How different, how exceedingly different, this region was 
now as compared with what it must have been formerly ! Here 
was now not a single fallen leaf, not a single desert spider ; the 
scorpions, which are very fond of withered poplars, would have 
sought a hiding-place in vain. There was only one power which 
brought soimd and movement into these dreary, lifeless wastes — 
namely, the wind. Unless we had had touch with a spring, we 
could not possibly have stayed there a week as we did. 
VOL. II. 9 

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The great number of wood carvings, small as well as great, 
which we excavated, plainly proved that this little temple, with 
its tasteful and minute ornamentation, must have been a perfect 
gem of artistic construction. I can imagine how beautiful a 
spot it was — the temple, with its elegant fa9ade, which was 
probably painted as well as adorned with wood carvings, em- 
bowered amid shady poplar groves, with an arm of the lake 
touching it, and the green or yellow reed-beds spread all round 
it, except where they were interrupted by patches of culti- 
vated ground, irrigated by the water of the winding canals ! 
Round about it were the scattered villages, their clay towers 

Clay Tower near the Buddhist Temple. 

peeping over the tops of the woods, and high enough to show 
their signal-fires to their neighbour-villages when danger or war 
threatened, but in times of peace marking the great high- 
way which passed near this sacred spot. Southwards stretched 
far and wide the bluish-green waters of Lop-nor, set about with 
forest groves, and bordered by immense expanses of reeds and 
sedge, swarming with fish, wild duck, and wild geese. The 
background of the picture to the north would be, then as now, 
in clear weather, the Kurruk-tagh, where the people were in 
touch with the springs and oases, and across which a road un- 
doubtedly led to Turf an. In other words, it was plain to us 
pilgrims of a later age that this region had once been more 

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beautiful than any now existing in East Turkestan. For at the 
present day one could nowhere find in that part of Asia houses 
decorated with such tasteful and artistic feeling as these were. 
And it requires no great effort of imagination to conceive how 
effectively the dense masses of foliage and their vivid green- 
ness would show up the architecture. 

Look upon that picture and then look upon the picture of 
the scene as it is now ! An endless array of cenotaphs ! And 
why is this ? It is simply because a river, the Tarim, has changed 
its course, and now empties itself into new lakes farther to the 
south. The ancient lake would seem to have dried up very 

The Ruined Building in which the MSS. were Discovered. 

quickly, perhaps in the course of a few years, though the forest 
and the reeds subsisted for a long time upon the moisture which 
had been absorbed by the ground, but afterwards they gradually 
withered away, the trees which had the deepest roots being, of 
course, the most tenacious of life. Now, however, they were all 
dead, and the country resembled a cemetery ; the inscriptions 
on its tombstones alone perpetuating the memory of its former 
luxuriant vegetation. 

We were well satisfied with our day's work, when towards 
sunset we suspended operations, and started back for camp. The 
wind freshened, the sky in the east was grey and ominous, the 
haze deepened ; it looked as if we were going to have a hard 
blow, and we made haste to get home before dark. The wind 
VOL. II. 9* 

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swept through the guUeys, or depressions between the clay 
terraces, driving rivers of sand before it. We could distinctly 
perceive their destructive effects in filing away the sides and 
edges of the terraces. At length we caught sight of Kutchuk's 
signal-fire, and succeeded in getting home in time, although com- 
pletely tired out by our seventeen miles tramp. It was not, how- 
ever, so much the distance, as the difficulties of the surface, 
which wearied us. And I can tell you that the big flagon of 
ice-cold water, flavoured with lime juice and sugar, was simply 
delicious, for we had had nothing to drink all day. 

The next morning, the 8th of March, the buran was still 
raging, and the air was thick with dust. It would have been 
impossible to find the ruins of the temple ; but the men, their 
zeal quickened by the hope of the promised reward, dug every- 
where all round the camp, working like niggers, and this time 
their efforts were crowned with a success such as I had scarcely 
dared to dream of. After ransacking the sand in a number of 
wooden houses without finding anything, they turned their 
attention to a building of sun-dried bricks, which resembled a 
stable with three stalls ; at any rate, it was apparently the least 
promising in the entire village. Nevertheless here Mollah un- 
earthed, in the highest stall, a fragment of crumpled up paper, 
with several perfectly distinct Chinese script-signs written upon 
it. It would certainly be no exaggeration to say that every 
grain of sand inside those walls was riddled, as it were, through 
a sieve. Two feet under the surface, buried under the accumu- 
lated sand, we came across what may best be described as a dust- 
heap or " kitchen-midden," containing a number of precious 
rarities, such as rags of carpet, pieces of shoe-leather, sheep bones, 
grain and stalks of wheat and rice, vertebrae of fish, and under- 
neath all this rubbish — over 200 strips of paper, containing 
writing, and 42 tablets of wood, resembling small flat rulers in 
shape — these also covered with writing. 

This was quite a triumph. Perhaps you will think that an 
exaggerated expression for a few fragments of old paper. Not 
at all ! I at once realised that these insignificant pieces of paper 
contained a little piece of the world's history, perhaps hitherto 
unknown, and that they would, at any rate, furnish me with 
the key to the Lop-nor problem. The purely geographical and 
geological investigations had disclosed the actual facts wdth 
sufficient clearness : that is to say, they proved that here where 
all was now desert, there must formerly have existed the basin of 

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A Signal Fire at the Tower of L6u-lan. 

[Vol. IL^Tofacep. 132. 

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a large lake, and that here amongst these ruins human beings 
had once dwelt. But these fragmentary documents would now 
put the crown upon my toilsome investigations, the object of 
my study and attention for so many years, by telling me in 
plain black and white, when this lake existed, and who the 
people were who lived here, under what conditions they 
lived, with what parts of the interior of Asia they had been 
connected — nay, perhaps the very name which their countrj* 
bore. This land which had, as it were, been wiped off the face 
of the earth — these people whom history had long forgotten, 
whose fate had perhaps never been recorded in any annals— 

Some of Shagdur's Discoveries. 

upon all this I hoped that light would]]now be shed. I held 
in my hands the story of a bygone age. I hoped to re-awaken 
it to life. Even though those people were a small people, and 
an insignificant community, my find would at any rate serve 
to bridge over a gap in the scheme of human knowledge. The 
Mussulmans had hoped, us usual, to find gold ; but I would 
not have exchanged these scraps of torn and dirty letters for 
untold gold. 

I inferred that this was a rubbish-heap from the fact, first 
that the space was too small for a dwelling, and secondly, that 
almost every piece of paper was a fragment, pointing to the 
originals having been torn up and thrown away. But this very 

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circumstance led me to hope that they consisted only or chiefly 
of local letters, in which case their contents would probably 
deal with local circumstances, and consequently, for my special 
purpose, would be of far greater importance than huge folios 
about any other locality. 

After my return home, I sent all this written material to 
the learned Chinese scholar. Herr Karl Himly, at Wiesbaden. 
This he is now studying, and he will in due course publish the 
results of his investigations. But his first preliminary scrutiny 
resulted in several interesting observations with regard to which 
he wrote me as follows : — 

" The data, and other indications of date, point to the period 
between the middle of the third and the beginnings of the fourth 
century a.d. The place where the discovery was made seems 
to have belonged to a well-to-do Chinese merchant, who carried 
on a sort of livery business, for he let out carriages and beasts of 
burden on hire, undertook to deliver letters to Tun-huang (Sa- 
chow), and so forth. People and goods were conveyed to that 
town by horses, carriages, and homed cattle. One document 
speaks of a military expedition, though without givÄjg a date. 
Amongst the geographical names we fmd the name of the coun- 
try in question— L6u-lan. The inhabitants must have carried 
on agriculture, for the documents make frequent mention of 
weights and measures of seed-corn, and some of them indicate 
different kinds of seed-corn. Very possibly at the place where 
these pieces of paper were excavated there formeriy^ stood a sort 
of treasure house or species of seed-corn bank, where^^eed-com 
was bought and stored, or received as security for debt. Thftee 
documents show one peculiarity : they are written on both sides, 
a practice which does not now obtain in Chii^, either with 
regard to writing or printing. ^ 

" In any case the collection, which is of great interest even 
for the Chinese themselves, is of such a character that for a long 
time to come it wiU be certain to claim the attention of European 
savants. Some of the sheets consist simply of exercises in 
writing. Others are fragments, differing but little in their 
script from that which is now in vogue. The wooden tablets 
have this advantage over the pieces of paper, that each, as a 
rule, contains one or more complete sentences, .and conveys 
some real information, d.g., an antelope has been delivered, so 
much seed-corn has been brought in, so many people have been 
provisioned for a month or more, and so forth. 

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" To judge from the following sentence, the governor, who 
had his residence here, would seem to have governed a not in- 
considerable province : ' Forty officials are to receive the army 
at the frontier (or shore ?), and the farms are numerous.' He 
seems also to have had two native princes at his court. 

" Most of the documents date from the years 264-270 a.d. 

Carved Wooden Ornamentation from a House in Löu-lan. 

In the year 265 a.d. the Emperor Yiian Ti, of the Wei dynasty, 
died, and in the north the Tsin succeeded to power under Wu Ti, 
who reigned till the year 290 a.d. Most of the copper coins 
which can be deciphered are what are known as wu-tshu pieces, 
and thus date from the period 118 B.C. to 581 a.d. Besides these 
there are numerous coins known as huo-thsiian, which date back 
to Wang Mang, who flourished between the years 9 and 23 a.d. 

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Consequently the dates on the coins agree with those of the 
letters and wooden tablets." 

Even -this short preliminary statement bj'^ Herr Himly makes 
it sufficiently clear that important information is to be derived 
from the collection which I brought home. For one thing it 
throws an unexpected light upon the political relations in Central 
Asia during the early centuries after Christ ; and, in the next 
place, it shows what extraordinary changes have taken place 
in that part of the world within the last i,6oo years. 

A learned mandarin at Kashgar, to whom I showed the 
manuscript, told me that the region round the existing Pichan 
near Turfan, was anciently called L6u-lan. This and other 
historical data, to which reference will be made in the next 
chapter, taken in conjunction with my investigations into the 
physical geography of that part of the world, and with my 
enquiries as to the shifting character of the lake of Lop-nor, are 
undoubtedly of inestimable value. Not only do they give us 
information about the country of Lou-Ian, on the northern shore 
of the ancient Lop-nor, but they also throw light upon several 
other unsolved problems of that part of Asia. They tell us, 
for instance, that there was a regular postal service between 
Lop-nor and Sa-chow, and thus that there existed an established 
means of communication through the Desert of Gobi. This 
discovery invests with a totally different meaning the ancient 
highway from Korla along the Koncheh-daria, where on a 
previous occasion I noted a chain of clay towers (pao-tais) and 
fortified posts. In a former chapter of this work I have had 
occasion to speak of the ruins of Ying-pen ; * they, too, without 
doubt, mark an important station on the same ancient highway. 

That agriculture was carried on in Lou-Ian is a piece of 
information of the greatest possible interest. How was it pos- 
sible ? Not a single rivulet now flows down from the Kurruk- 
tagh ; not a drop of rain now falls from the sky. Yes, but the 
climate may have altered, some one will perhaps say. Not at 
all. In the heart of a vast continent the climate does not under- 
go, even in the course of fifteen or sixteen centuries, such tre- 
mendous changes as that would imply. No ; canals must have 
been led off either from the Tarim or the Kum-daria, and from 
them again irrigation ariks (channels), such as are now foimd 
all over East Turkestan. Seed-corn banks, of the kind here indi- 

* See Vol. I., p. 344. 

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cated, are found at the present day in every town in East Tur- 
kestan. They are under the control of the Chinese authorities, 
and serve to secure an equal distribution of food amongst the 
native inhabitants. It is true, I only found four towns, the 
largest of which consisted of nineteen houses ; but the desert 
may quite easily contain several others. And the mention of 
" armies," *' 40 officials," and '* numerous farms " suggests that 
Lou-Ian was thickly inhabited. Perhaps the people lived, as 
they do at the present day, for the greater part in perishable 
huts of reed. In that case the ruins which we discovered would 
be those of the official centres, and the dwellings of the more 

On the Left an Earthenware Vase, in the Middle a Wheel, on the Right 
the MSS. House, and in the Distance the Clay Tower. 

distinguished men ; and it is also likely that these stood near 
the watch-towers, while the huts of the fishing population would 
be built along the lake side, and would naturally perish long 
before the more durable buildings. 

We had still one day left to spend at this — I was going to say 
holy — ^place. In any case, it was a locality which awakened 
feelings of sadness at the perishableness of earthly things, and 
at the thought that cities and races are swept off the face of 
the earth like chaff before the wind. When I awoke on the 
morning of the 9th of March the men had already been at work 
two hours, and came and brought their several finds to my 
ynrt. These consisted of fragments of paper and wooden tablets 

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like those of yesterday, all of which had been picked up in the 
north-east stall. Nothing was found in the other two stalls. 
Amongst the " treasures " the men displayed were fish-bones, 
bones of domestic animals, including those of the pig, rags, two 
or three pencils, a whip, a skeleton of a rat, and so on. Perhaps 
the most important of all was a red clay vase in perfect con- 
dition. It was 2 feet 3^ inches high and 2 feet ij inches in 
diameter, but had no handles. It was probably carried in a sort 
of willow basket with handles to it, which the men turned up 
beside it ; shards of similar pieces of ware were extraordinarily 
plentiful. We also dug out a smaller vase ; it, too, in perfect 

I spent a large part of the day in sketching architectural 
details, especially in noting carefully the manner in which the 
beams, posts and planks, which formed the framework of the 
houses, were put together. The tallest of the posts still re- 
maining in situ was just one inch above fourteen feet. 

In the afternoon the caravan arrived from the spring, bring- 
ing with them ten tagars (reed-bags) and six tulums (goat- 
skins) all filled with ice. 

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As it may possibly be of interest to learn something further 
about the country which bore the name at the head of this chap- 
ter, I will add the substance of two papers by competent authori- 
ties as to what it said about it in ancient Chinese sources. The 
first is a paper entitled, " Sven Hedin* s Ausgrabungen am alien 
Lop-nur " (i.^., " Sven Hedin's Excavations beside the Ancient 
Lop-nor "), by Herr Himly, in Petermanns Mitteilungen (1902 
Part XII., pp. 288-290) ; the other is a paper by Mr. George 
Macartney, of Kashgar, in the Geographical Journal, March, 1903. 
After a short introduction, Herr Himly writes thus : " The 
name Lop-nur is not an invention of the present (Turki) 
inhabitants, for the word nur, meaning a 'lake,' is a Mon- 
golian word.- Previous to the middle of the i8th century 
the boundary between the Khalkha Mongols and the Kalmucks, 

or Western Mongols, ran just here According to 

Hedin's statements in Petermanns Ergänzungskeft, No. 131 
(1900), he regarded the lake of Kara-köll, which lay further 
to the south-east, as a surviving part of the ancient lake. 
But this was known to the Chinese long before the Mongol 
era, and bore several names, some Chinese, some native — 
Yen-tsö, a Chinese word meaning * Salt Lake ' ; Puthshang- 
hai, ' hai ' being a Chinese word meaning ' sea ' ; Yao-tsö ; 
L6u-lan-hai, etc. Now L6u-lan was the name of a country 
which, by reason of its situation between the great northern 
highway and the great southern highway from China to Europe, 
played, in spite of its small size, a very important part 
in the wars between the Chinese emperors of the Han dynasty 

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and the Hiung-nu [Turks or Huns] in the second century before 
our era, in that it acted as a kind of buffer state between the two 
powers. The famous pilgrim, Huan-Tshuang (i.^.,Hwen-thsang), 
when on his way home from India, touched this country in the 
year 645 a.d., after crossing the desert from Khotan. Even at 
that time the inhabitants were being driven out of the towns, 
and their dwellings buried under the sand ; indeed, several of 
the cities north of Khotan were then in ruins. But the shifting 
sand was not the only danger the people had to fear : they were 
also in peril from vast accumulations of water. According to 
the Sht^-king-tshu, the waters were gathered in a basin of the 
lake north-east of Shan-shan (i.e., Löu-lan), and south-west of 
Lung-thshöng (Dragon Town), which was destroyed by an inun- 
dation in the Tshi-ta epoch (1308-1311). But the ruins still 
remained. Perhaps this was the ancient site which Hedin re- 
discovered on the occasion of his last visit to the Lop-nur 

district Amongst his finds were small covers, which 

were docketed, and for the most part bore little grooves for the 
strings by which they were tied. That these covers were intended 
for "envelopes" to hold documents might be inferred, partly 
from the dockets themselves, partly from similar discoveries 
which were made near the Niya river by Dr. Stein in January, 
1901 ; see Plate IX. of his Preliminary Report, where similar 

covers are very distinctly shown Amongst the 

smaller objects unearthed, the copper coins are of especial 
interest. With one exception they are Chinese, and belong to 
a definite series of centuries. All have the familiar square hole 
in the middle, by means of which they are wont to be strung 
together by the hundred. Inscriptions such as generally charac- 
terise Chinese imperial coins of the period beginning wdth the 
year 376 a.d., and which are without exception present on those 
subsequent to the year 621 a.d., do not occur on a single coin 
in Hedin's collection. His coins generally bear the number of 
the wu-tshu (5 tshu, or -^^ Hang, or i ounce) in ancient sphragistic 
script, in which the 5's resemble the Roman ten (X) ; this style 
was used between the years 118 B.C. and 581 a.d. Some of the 
coins bear the inscription huo-thsuan (according to Endlicher's 
translation = ' medium of barter '), well known from the Wang 
Mang epoch (9-22 a.d.). One coin, in which the central hole is 
oblong, bears an inscription which has not yet been interpreted. 

"Amongst the remaining objects a small cut gem is of 
especial interest. It shows clearly a Hermes, who, as the deity 


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' T r.fcv.N f^'l'NP'ATIONS. 

I '^ 

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of travellers, found his way through Bactria to Central Asia. 
Skilfully made triangular arrows, and others smaller and flat, 
perhaps intended for shooting birds, and both of bronze ; 
distaffs ; an ear-ring set with pearls ; copper wire ; iron nails ; 
cowrie shells, with an opening at the top made by some sharp 
instrument ; copper and brass bells (for horses ?) ; fragments of 
small bronze hand-bells ; amber and amber beads ; copper rings ; 
various kinds of domestic utensils or fragments of the same 
made of different kinds of stone or semi-precious stones, 
such as nephrite, alabaster ; ornamented green glass, etc. — all 
these convey an idea of the degree of development to which either 
the native handicrafts had advanced, or of the value which the 
native inhabitants attached to the products of other people. 
" As to the question of the period at which the place perished, 

" Finds " from L6u-lan. The Clay Desert in the Background. 

and what it — ^whether town or country — was called, here the 
docmnents which Hedin discovered speak more clearly. The 
name Löu-lan occurs both on the wooden tablets and on the frag- 
ments of paper, and in such a connection as to leave no doubt 
that this was the name of the place to which the letters were 
addressed, or at which they were preserved. One of the tablets 
speaks of letters which were sent to Tun-huang and Tsiu- 
Thsiian (Su-Chow). On the same tablet, but below this state- 
ment, the 15th day of the 3rd month of the sixth year of the 

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Thai-Shi epoch — that is to say, the sixth year of the Emperor 
Tsin Wu Ti (265 a.d.) — is given as the date on which a letter 
was received in Lou-Ian. On one of the covers, which exactly 
resembles the covers shown on Plate IX. of Dr. Stein's Pre 
liminary Report, except that it is smaller, the Prince of the Lake 
Concerns and his wife (Tien-sh! Wang Hu) are named as 
receiving the same in L6u-lan. The first date given is the year 
264, when the Wei dsoiasty ruled over the northernmost of 
the * three kingdoms.' Other dates are the years 266, 268, 269, 
and 270. The name L6u-lan occurs twice on the paper frag- 
ments, which seem to have been deliberately torn. One of them 
contains an insignificant statement, to the effect that a certain 
Ma, of L6u-lan, need not present himself on the sixth day of 
the sixth month ; here we have the year 310, in connection w^ith 
the town of An-si. 

" The contents of these various documents are of very 
divers kinds. Some of them speak of deliveries of seed-com ; 
some are communications from Tun-huang ; some speak of com- 
munications with Kao-tshang (ancient Turf an) ; some of judicial 
proceedings, etc. The wooden tablets clearly served, partly 
as diaries, partly for giving instructions to subordinates. One 
of the latter, which is broken, relates that 40 of the leaders of 
the army which has reached the border (pien (?) = 'frontier' or 
* shore ') are to be lodged in the farms near the dams. One small 
wooden tablet bears a non-Chinese inscription ; it resembles 
the Kharoshthi script of Dr. Stein (see Plates IX., X., XL). 

" From all this there can scarcely exist a doubt that this 
was the site of the ancient L6u-lan, and that Lou-Ian stood 
beside the [ancient lake of Lop-nur. The town would seem to 
have been destroyed by a desert storm or by an inundation, 
or by both, in the beginning of the fourth century. The people 
would then seem to have built in the same neighbourhood 
another town, the so-called Dragon Town, which in its turn was 
destroyed by a storm and flood in 1308-11." 

My old friend, Mr. George Macartney, of Kashgar, a pro- 
found scholar of Chinese, has a paper in the March number, 
1903, of the Geographical Journal, which I here, with his kind 
permission, repeat in extenso. It is entitled. Notices, from 
Chinese Sources, on the Ancient Kingdom of Lau-lan, or Shen- 
shen, and, when read in conjunction with Herr Himly's, 
furnishes a very clear conception of that kingdom of nearly 
2,000 years ago. 

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LÖU-LAN. 145 

The actual name of Lau-lan'is well known to modern Chinese 
geographers, but hitherto, apparently, neither they nor savants in 
Europe have been able to fix with anything like accuracy the position 
of the country anciently called by that name. Mr. A. Wylie, a 
Chinese scholar of eminence, in 1880 had computed this position to 
t>e 39° 40' N. lat. and 94° 50' E. long. Now this would show an 
error approximately of 250 miles if we are right in understanding 
that the place where Dr. Hedin found the Chinese manuscripts, 
bearing the name Lau-lan, was in about 40° 40' N. lat. and 90° E. 
long. The more accurate localization of Lau-lan, now apparently 
possible, may, it is hoped, lead to some useful results in the identi- 
fication of other neighbouring countries whose ancient names are 
known, but whose positions are still a puzzle to modem geographers. 

If the Tsien Han-shu (" History of the First Hans ") and the 
records left by Fa-Heen and Hsian-Tsang were consulted, we should 
find many places mentioned therein, with their distances given with 
reference to Lau-lan. Thus, the Tsien Han-shu (written roughly 
between B.C. 100 and A.D. 50) mentions the following distances: From 
Wu-ni (capital of Lau-lan) to the Yang barrier (evidently in the 
direction of Tun-huang), 1,600 li * ; to Chang-an, 6,100 li ; to the 
seat of government of the Chinese governor-general (name not given) 
in a north-westerly direction, 1,785 h ; to Si-an-fu, 1,365 li ; to Keu- 
tse (Ouigour) in a north-westerly direction, 1,890 li. Fa-Heen (fifth 
century A.D.), in the record of his travels, gives the following dis- 
tances : From Shen-shen or Lau-lan to Tun-huang, about 17 marches, 
1,500 li ; to Wu-e (Urgur ?), 15 marches on foot in a north-westerly 
direction. From Hsian-Tsang we learn that Lau-lan, which he also 
calls Na-po-po, is situated 1,000 li north-east of Chémo-tö-na, also 
called Nimo. It will be seen from this that the site of Lau-lan can 
serve as a point of reference for determining the position of several 
other places. Perhaps the indications given above may prove to 
be of use to subsequent archaeological surveyors. 

But this is far from all that can be learnt about Lau-lan from 
Chinese records. The Tsien Han-shu tells us that China began inter- 
course with this country in the reign of the Emperor Wu-ti (B.C. 
140-87), at whose time the western boundary of the empire would 
seem to have extended no further than the Yang barrier (possibly 
Tun-huang) and the Yu gate (modem Chia- Yu-kuan ?). The vast coun- 
try lying beyond these places was designated by the Chinese geogra- 
phers of the epoch under the vague term of Si-jm (western region), 
which they supposed to be divided into thirty-six different kingdoms. 
We are told there were two roads leading from China to this region; 
"That via Lau-lan, skirting the river Po (lower Tarim ?), on the north. 

» A li — -358 mile. 
VOL. II. 10 

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of the Southern mountains (Altyn-Ustun-tagh ?), and leading west 
to Sa-che (Yarkand) is the soutiiern road. That by the Palace of 
the Anterior at Keu-tse (Ouigour kingdom ? 1,890 h from Lau-lan), 
following the river Po in the direction of the Northern mountains 
(Tian-shan) as far as Su-leh (Kashgar) is the northern road." 

The watercourse in the Tarim basin is described in the following 
terms : " The river (Khotan-daria ?) runs northwards till it joins a 
confluent from the Tsung-ling (Onion range, in Sarikol), and then 
flows eastwards into the Pii-chang-hai (lit. Calamiferous Lake), which 
is also called the Salt Marsh. This is over 300 li from the Yu gate and 
the Yang barrier, and is 300 h in length and breadth. The water is 
stationary, neither increasing nor diminishing in summer or winter. 
The river is then said to run underground and issue again at Tseih- 
shih, where it becomes the Yellow river of China." 

The following is a precis of the account found in the Tsien Han-shu 
of the political relations between China and Lau-lan during the first 
century B.C. The Emperor Wu-ti, we are told, was desirous of culti- 
vating intercourse with Ta-wan and adjacent coim tries, and repeatedly 
sent ambassadors there. These had to pass through Lau-lan ; but 
the people of Lau-lan, in concert with the Keu-tse, harassed the officials 
on the high-road, robbed and attacked Wang-Kuei, one of the envoys. 
Moreover, the Lau-lans made themselves objectionable to the Chinese 
by acting as spies for the Heun-nu or Hiung-nu (Huns), and on several 
occasions aided them in the pillage of Chinese travellers. All this 
was not to be tolerated. Wu-ti, therefore, prepared an expedition 
against the disaffected state. Chao Po-nu was sent with an army of 
10,000 men to punish the Keu-tse, while the envoy Wang Kuei, who 
had suffered several times at the hands of the Lau-lans, received 
orders to act as Chao Po-nu's lieutenant. The latter, advancing at 
the head of 700 light horse, seized the king of Lau-lan, conquered the 
Keu-tse, and, relying on the prestige of his army, overawed the states 
dependent on Wu-sun and Ta-wan. The Lau-lans soon submitted, 
and sent offerings of tribute to the Emperor Wu-ti. But their sub- 
mission gave offence to their allies, the Huns, who lost no time in 
attacking them. On this, by way of satisfying his two powerful 
neighbours, the king of Lau-lan sent one of his sons as hostage to 
the Huns, and another to the Emperor of China. Thus ended the 
first episode in the relations between China and the kingdom in 

But more troubles were in store for Lau-lan. The Emperor Wu-ti, 
for some reason or other, had to send another punitive expedition 
against Ta-wan and the Huns. The Huns found the Chinese sirmyso 
formidable that they deemed it prudent to avoid any direct encoimter 
with it ; but this did not prevent them from hiding troops in Lau-lan, 

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LOU-LAN. 147 

the inhabitants' of which did not cease to be in league with them. 
These troops constantly harassed the army of Wu-ti. The Chinese 
soon got wind of Lau-lan's secret coalition with the Huns, and accord- 
ingly the general, Jen-wan, was sent to chastise them. Jen-wan 
proceeded to the city gate, which was opened to him, and reproached 
the king for his treachery. The king, in excuse, replied, " When a 
small state lies between two great kingdoms, it must perforce make 
alliances with both, or it can have no peace ; but now I wish to place 
my kingdom within the bounds of the Chinese empire." Confiding 
in these words, the emperor re-established him on the throne, and 
commissioned him to keep watch over the movements of the Huns. 

This king died in B.C. 92. Then a question of succession arose. It 
will be remembered that one of the sons of the deceased king was a 
hostage at the Chinese court. Now the Lau-lans made a petition to the 
emperor for the return of the hostage prince, in order that he might 
succeed to the vacant throne. The prince had not, however, been a 
persona grata with the emperor ; in fact, all the time he was in China 
he had been kept in honourable confinement in the Silkworm House 
Palace. It therefore happened that the petition from Lau-lan was 
not favourably received by Wu-ti, but the answer returned was that 
of a diplomat. ** I am tenderly attached,'* said Wu-ti, ** to my atten- 
dant prince, and am loth to allow him to leave my side ; " and the 
emperor suggested to the petitioners that they should install the 
next son of the deceased king in the royal dignity. 

This the Lau-lans accordingly did. But the new king's reign was 
a short one, and on his death the question of succession again came 
to the front. This time the Huns, who, it will be remembered, had 
also a hostage prince from Lau-lan at their court, thought their oppor- 
tunity had come to regain in that state the influence they had lost. 
They therefore sent the prince back, and established ffim on the 
throne. This successful coup alarmed the Chinese, who endeavoured, 
by bribery and intrigue, to recover their ascendancy. They made no 
direct attempt to dethrone the Huns' protegé, but sent an envoy 
requesting him to pay a visit to the Chinese court, where, the envoy 
said, liberal gifts would be bestowed on him by the emperor. But 
the emperor and the envoy httle suspected that they had to reckon 
with a woman's cunning. The step-mother of the king was at hand, 
and she advised him, saying : " Your royal predecessor sent two sons 
as hostages to China ; neither of them has ever come back, and is it 
reasonable that you should go ? " The king thereupon dismissed the 
envoy with the words that, ** having newly acceded to the throne, 
the affairs of the kingdom were engaging his attention, and that he 
could not attend the Chinese court before two years." 

So far there had been no open hostility between the new king and 
the emperor, although, undoubtedly, relations between them were 
VOL. II. 10* 

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strained. But now the event which was to put an end to Lau-lan as 
an independent state was imminent. It appears that on the eastern 
border of Lau-lan, where this kingdom was contiguous with China, there 
was a place called the Peh-lung mound. This place was on the high- 
road, via Lau-lan, from China to the western regions, and it suffered 
from drought, and had no pasturage. The Lau-lans were frequently 
called upon by the Chinese to furnish guides and carry water and 
provisions to this spot for passing officials. In the discharge of these 
duties the inhabitants were often exposed to the brutality of the 
Chinese soldiery. Friction was thus created ; but the situation was 

Reloading on the March. 


made worse by the Huns, ever secretly instigating the Lau-lans against 
the Chinese. Finally, the Lau-lans resolved to break off friendly rela- 
tions with Wu-ti, and forthmth murdered some of his envojrs whilst 
passing through Lau-lan territory. This act of treachery was reported 
to the Chinese court by the king's younger brother, Hui Tu-chi, who, 
having made his submission to the Han monarch, was scheming to 
oust his elder brother from the throne. Accordingly, in B.C. 77, the 
Chinese general, Fu-keae-tsu, was sent to put the king to death. 
Fu-keae-tsu hastily selected a few followers, and, having spread a 
report that he was going to a neighbouring state on a mission of friendly 
inquiry, and had presents with him for the king, he journeyed to 
Lau-lan. On Fu-keae-tsu's arrival, the king, who suspected nothing, 
invited him to a sumptuous feast. Whilst the king was intoxicated, 
Fu gave the signal to his followers, and the king was stabbed in the 

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LÖU-LAN. 149 

back. His head was severed from the body and suspended over the 
northern gate of the dty. Hui Tu-chi, as a reward for his treachery, 
was set up as king in the place of his brother, and the kingdom was 
re-established under the new name of Shen-shen, for which a brevet 
of investiture was prepared. That nothing might be wanting to the 
prestige of the new ruler, one of the ladies of the imperial court was 
bestowed on him as consort, and on Hui Tu-chi leaving the Chinese 
capital for his kingdom, he was accorded a send-ofif marked with 
every honour. Thus was he estabUshed. But he did not feel himself 
secure in his new position. Being a Chinese protegé, he was looked 
upon with suspicion by the people over whom he had been called 
upon to rule. Moreover, the late king had left a son, and Hui Tu-chi 
lived in fear of assassination by him. Hui Tu-chi therefore petitioned 
the emperor to estabUsh a military colony in Lau-lan, in the city of 
E-tun, where, he said, the land was " rich and productive." This 
was done, and the emperor sent a cavalry leader with forty subordi- 
nates ** to cultivate the fields at E-tun and soothe the people." Thus 
was the rule of the great Han monarch extended over the state of 
Lau-lan, or Shen-shen. 

At the epoch when these chronicles were written, which, pre- 
sumably, was about the time of the birth of Christ, the kingdom of 
Shen-shen, we are told, contained 1,570 families, forming a population 
of 14,100, with 2,912 trained troops. 

On the physical features of the country, the Tsien Han-shu says 
(translation by Mr. A. WyUe) : " The land is sandy and salt, and 
there are few cultivated fields. The country relies on the neighbour- 
ing kingdoms for cereals and agricultural products. The country 
produces jade, abundance of rushes, the tamaria, the Clcecocca vermi- 
dfera, and white grass. The people remove their cattle for pasturage 
wherever they can find sufficiency of water and herbage. They have 
asses, horses, and camels. They can fabricate military weapons, the 
same as the people of Tso-kiang." 

So much, then, for the information contained in the Tsien Han- 
sku. Here is what Fa-Heen says regarding Lau-lan, which he passed 
through in the fifth century a.d. on his way from China to India to 
procure the sacred books of Buddhism. The translation is that of 
Dr. J. Legge : '* After travelling for seventeen days, a distance we may 
estimate of about 1,500 U (from Tun-huang), the pilgrims reached the 
kingdom of Shen-shen, a country rugged and hilly, with a thin and 
barren soil. The clothes of the conmion people are coarse and like 
those woven in our land of Han, some wearing felt, and others serge 
or cloth of hair. The king professed our law, and there might be in 
the kingdom more than 4,000 monks, who are all students of the Hina- 
yana (small vehicle of salvation). The common people of this and other 

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kingdoms in this region, as well as the sramans (monks), all practise 
the rules of India, only the latter do so more exactly, and the former 
more loosely. Here the pilgrims stayed for about a month, and 
then proceeded on their journey, fifteen days' walking to the north- 
west bringing them to the country of Wu-e. In this there were more 
than 4,000 monks, all students of the Hinayana." 

Hsian-Tsang, or Hwen-thsang (629-645 a.d.), passed through 
Lau-lan on his retmn from India, two centuries later than Fa-Heen, 
but his notice on this country is extremely meagre. We are merely 
told that, after leaving the walled but deserted town of Tche-mo- 
to-na, or Nimo, '* he travelled 1,000 h in a north-easterly direction 
and reached Na-po-po, which is the same as Lau-lan." 

All this goes to show that in its day Lou-Ian was a country 
of some importance. It is very probable that further excava- 
tions in the same neighbourhood would result in discoveries 
even more important than those which I made. 

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A Survey of the Lop Desert. 

A Wandering Lake. 

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The camp was astir early on the morning of the loth March ; 
we were to leave the silent ruins to their millennial peace. Would 
any European pilgrim ever set foot within the walls of L6u-lan 
again ? 

We gave the camels three sacks of ice, and let them eat as 
much com as they liked ; even then their loads were too heavy. 
The carved woodwork and other finds were tied up in bundles 
and the baggage rearranged, for I was now going to divide the 
caravan into two parties. Myself, I intended to cross the desert 
southwards to Kara-koshun, taking with me Shagdur, Kutchuk, 
Khodai Kullu, and Khodai Värdi, my object being to make an 
exact levelling of the ancient basin of Lop-nor. We only had 
four camels, three to carry ice, and one to carry our baggage ; 
for we took with us nothing but food, clothes, the levelling instru- 
ments, one-half of the yurt, and one-half of my bed. The men 
slept in the open air. Our pro\'isions, which consisted of rice 
and bread only, were divided into rations calculated to last eight 
days. The other half of the caravan, consisting of six camels, 
three horses, three dogs, and all the heavier baggage, besides 
ice and provisions for four days, was to pursue] another route. 
This detachment I put in charge of Faisullah, and gave him 
Li Loyeh and Mollah to assist him. 

Faisullah, who had crossed the desert with me from Altimish- 
bulak the year before, was instructed to proceed direct to Kum- 
chappgan, and there await our arrival. To make quite sure, I 
gave him a thorough lesson on the compass, and impressed it 
upon him that he was to stick to the south-west. I had every 
confidence in his prudence and good sense ; but all the same, 
I thought it best to keep in my own hands all my map sheets, 
the MSS. and wooden tablets from Lou-Ian, my diaries, and 

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my scientific observations. FaisuUah, before startitvg»^^ ^^ lo 
help Khodai Värdi, whom I left behind to bring ^;.g -p ^^"^^ 
camels. 2^-i^^ S ^ S 

Meanwhile I began the levelling, almost by 
at the foot of the clay tower where my yurt had s^ 
the levelling-pole, which was about 13 feet high.; 
for the first time ; it was always fixed on a plate, 

sink in when we gave it a half turn. This iustr"T~ *-ro*-;^5^o-;öC 
into Shagdur's hands, and he managed it capitally^ sS^o^too''*^;^*^? 
We carried the levelling-tube 100 metres (no 
south, and I took my first reading ; then Shagdu.: 
levelling-pole another 100 metres to the south 
on, turn about, day after day, all the way to KaL ^f 2 ?^ 
distance of 50^ miles. The distance between the "tö! 
pole was measured by Kutchuk and Khodai Kullu 
metre tape. Kutchuk also carried the levelling-'t:^ p $ § ä ^ §'^ ^ S. 1 
stand, whilst I noted down the readings, took '^Ägf^"*^o 5 ^S 2 
bearings, entered the route, and made notes of the^«5 ^ ^V^f? § ^ S ^ 

All this was absolutely new work to the men, ^aui^"^ S %S § ^. 3 ^ 
we made slow progress ; but they soon learnt what was r^ yinc^'^ B f 
of them, and after that everything went without a hitci^ '^^^ 

Travelling south from L6u-lan, we easily distinguished \vu 
we crossed the shore-line of the former lake. The dead tre ^^ 
bushes, and reeds came to an end quite suddenly, and we stepT>erf' 
almost at a stride, upon the dreary greyish-yellow day, destitut ' 
of even the smallest trace of vegetation, which filled the bottom 
of the ancient lake. We moved the tube and pole ninety times 
the total distance travelled being 5 miles 1,196 yards, before 
we stopped for the night. It was then rapidly growing dusk • 
but there were no signs of Khodai Värdi and the four camels. 
We went to the top of the nearest hill ; no camels in sight ! 
What was become of them ? Had Khodai Värdi misunderstood 
my orders ? Had he followed Faisullah ? Had he stayed be- 
hind at the ruins ? or — had he got lost ? We made a big signal- 
fire as soon as we could find enough material. Shagdur went 
off into the darkness to look for him. I was a prey to the keenest 
anxiety. If Khodai Värdi had lost his way, his fate was sealed^ 
He had never been in this quarter before, and had no idea as 
to the direction of Kara-koshun. If he failed to turn up, our 
position, too, would be highly critical, for we had neither water 
nor food with us. The distance to the lake was so great that I 

we should scarcely be able to reach it, and a return to th^ | 

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little spring was not to be thought of. What made me most 
uneasy was the thought of losing the results of four months' 
labour, and all through the stupidity of a servant. 

We piled up the fire ; we listened ; not a sound ! The 
desert was as dead and deserted as though it belonged to an 
uninhabited planet. We were parched and tired after our hard 
day's work ; and instead of quenching our thirst, we had this 
gloomy disquietude to fight against. It only wanted a desert 
sandstorm, and our cup of misery would have been full. How- 
ever, things were not so bad as we imagined. Towards midnight 
we heard shuffling sounds in the darkness ; it was Khodai Värdi 

The Caravan for the Levelling Expedition. 

with the camels. I was so glad at seeing them that I forgot to 
give the fellow the rounding-up he deserved. He explained that 
it was the clay terrace which had forced him to deviate too far 
to the right, and he had been unable to hit upon our track again. 
Towards evening he had caught sight of a fire, which he knew to 
be Faisullah's, in the south-west, and then he understood where 
he was, and turned back. Eventually he perceived our fire, but 
it was a long way ofiE ; however, by keeping it steadily in sight he 
had at last found us. It was a wonder that in the dark none of 
the camels broke their legs in crossing the deep, gaping hollows 
between the terraces. We made haste to get up the tents and 
boil the kettle. Even to this day I cannot understand how a 

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man who generally showed common sense, could spend twelve 
hours wandering backwards and forwards over a tract of country 
which measured (along the straight Une we followed) less than 
six miles, especially as even from our camp that night the clay 
tower of Löu-lan was distinctly visible. 

But now Shagdur was missing. I sent out Khodai Kullu to 
fire a succession of shots by way of signal, and for some time 
we heard them gradually dying away in ther distance. Eventually, 
however, Khodai Kullu came back without finding Shagdur, 
and we went to sleep, for I was under no uneasiness on Shag- 
dur's account. I knew that he could, in case of need, readily 
find his way to Kara-koshun ; besides, he always carried a 
compass with him, and knew how to use it, and was familiar 
with my maps. 

Next morning I was awakened by a violent storm, which 
swept dense clouds of fine sand through the depression in which 
we were encamped ; it was like a river pouring in full flood 
down a newly-made channel. Surveying was, of course, quite 
out of the question : we must just stay where we were. Having 
nothing else to do, I spent a good deal of the time with the camels, 
patting them and talking to them. They were calm, contented, 
and dignified, as they always were, and appeared to think that 
it was part of the inevitable day's work that they should tramp 
backwards and forwards twenty or thirty miles through the 
desert. Regardless of the consequences, I ordered the men to 
give them a sack of kamish, and another of ice, which we had 
brought from the spring. Poor beggars ! all except one died 
later on in Tibet ! 

About midday I was perfectly amazed to see Shagdur emerge 
out of the thick dust haze with a light, elastic step. Fine fellow ! 
he was worth a dozen Mussulmans any day ! He had been on 
foot since five o'clock the previous afternoon, having during 
the night visited Faisullah's camp, attracted by his fire. For, 
by way of experiment, I had requested Faisullah to keep up al 
good fire, that we might ascertain whether it was possible to 
see such a signal twelve miles across the desert ; but it wasn't. 
Obtaining from Faisullah a small supply of rice and ice, Shagdur, 
notwithstanding that the storm was even then coming on, at 
once set off to return to us. Fortunately, he had kept a note 
of his compass-bearings. But that he ever did find us I regard 
as a remarkable feat. Nobody but a Buriat, who had spent 
his life in the open air, and who was a Cossack to boot, ever could 

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have done it. For, you must bear in mind, the distance between 
the two camps was fully twelve miles, the contour as level as 
a billiard table, and, owing to the sand-storm which was raging, 
it was impossible for any man to see fifty yards in front of him ; 
while the wind soon obliterated entirely every footmark we left 
behind us. 

I had not contemplated losing a day like this ; but what 
mattered it, seeing that I had escaped the heavy loss I feared ? 
We made an attempt to continue ; but it would not do. The 
wind was blowing at the rate of 24^ miles an hour, and the pole 
would not stand firm, nor the tube either ; so we just had to 
exercise patience, and spend yet another night in that dreary 

The 12th of March, however, was a splendid day, and we 
made an early start, and worked on until sunset, only stopping 
for about ten minutes at one p.m. to take the readings of the 
meteorological instruments. I now made Khodai Kullu lead 
the camels, and keep close behind us. Our course lay to- 
wards the south-south-east ; but as the depressions, eroded by 
the wind, ran towards the south-west, we had, of course, to cross 
each successive ridge or " table " at right angles. Not that this 
mattered much to those who were on foot ; but to the camels it 
was very tiring, as they had to make long detours. One of 
these depressions was no less than 400 feet wide and 26J feet 
deep. This must have been one of the deepest places in the 
former lake, or possibly it was part of an ancient river-bed. 
That evening I examined, with the keenest interest, the results 
of the day's work : they showed that the contour had fallen 
eight feet in just imder seven miles. I should never have been 
able to continue this tiresome and wearisome labour had I not 
expected it to yield important results. 

The next day, although the country was depressingly mono- 
tonous to the eye, it was, on the other hand, all the easier to 
survey, and we made rapid progress. Upon seeing five succes- 
sive flocks of wild-duck passing northwards overhead, Kutchuk 
shrewdly surmised that it was our rehef expedition under Tokta 
Ahun which had frightened them up from the northern shore 
of Kara-koshun. It is probable that the wild-ducks spend the 
winter on these marshes, but go to Bagrash-köll for the summer. 
During this day's survey we ascended nine feet, and conse- 
quently were now only about six inches higher than our start- 
ing-point at L6u-lan. To be accurate, in twenty miles we had 

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ascended a little over four and a quarter inches ! This day's 
work gave me the key to the Lop-nor problem. The first two 
days we had descended, and the third ascended ; thus we had 
manifestly crossed a depression, and that depression was the 
basin of the former Lop-nor. No matter what the results of 
the next day's work might be, this conclusion could not be 
upset. No matter what the level of Kara-koshun might be, as 
compared with our point of departure^ we had, as a matter of 
fact, crossed a basin ; and that this basin had contained water 
was conclusively proved by the snail-shells, and by other cir- 
cmnstances which I have already mentioned. 

Just on the stroke of seven o'clock we heard a shrill whistling 
in the north-east, and, two or three minutes later, down came a 
black buran. We hurriedly took all necessary precautions — 
damped down the fire, saw to the fastenings of the yurt, and 
so forth. At nine o'clock Shagdur came into my yurt and fixed 
the boiling-point thermometer, and then set out to return to 
his own sleeping-place. Half an hour later, hearing a faint call 
in another direction, I shouted at the pitch of my voice — and 
Shagdur appeared at the opening of the yurt. He had lost his 
way, although his sleeping-place was only fifteen paces from 
mine. But then it was pitch dark ; and it was impossible for 
any man to stand. Shagdur had been on his hands and knees 
the whole time. And now he was only able to reach his own 
quarters by creeping backwards with his eyes fixed on the light 
which streamed through a chink of the tent-cloth I held open 
for him. Only those who have been out in such a storm can 
form any conception of what it is like. You get bewildered, 
and want to keep going, without knowing where. Your sense 
of locality is paralyzed, and although you think you are going 
in a straight line, you are in reality describing a circle. It is a 
kind of desert-storm sickness, more nearly resembling the panic 
which seizes a person on the edge of a precipice than sea-sickness 
or mountain-sickness, because it affects the brain. If Khodai 
Värdi had been caught by a storm like that, he would infallibly 
have been lost. 

Next morning the effects of this grim desert tempest were 
very easy to see ; the sand was heaped up all round my yurt, 
and there were little mounds on the sheltered side of the camels. 
Thus, as soon as the drift-sand meets with a hindrance, it begins 
to form dunes, otherwise the wind carries it westwards. For- 
tunately the wind dropped at eleven o'clock, and we were able 

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to resume our survey. The desert was painfully monotonous : 
the ground consisted of what the natives call shor, i.e., sand, 
dust, lime, and salt — all fused together and baked as hard as 
a brick, though sometimes the salt lay in a thin layer on the 
top. After the water left it, this mass would appear to have 
expanded, for it was crossed in every direction by a countless 
number of little ridges, some of which were as much as two to 
three feet in height. Of course there was not the slightest sign 
of organic life, not even so much as a snail-shell. There could 
be no question about it — this was the bottom of a salt lake ; 
and we know that the Chinese did anciently call Lop-nor by a 

: ..: :v^. ^ 


, '^jfm 

^fc^^^^^^^^ - ^^^T^E 

■ ^^ ^ 


A Gully in the Shor (Salt) Desert. 

name which signified salt lake. In Kara-koshun, too, there are 
basins cut off from connection with the main lake, in which the 
water is salt ; and on the south side of that lake the district 
which was formerly under water now presents precisely the 
same appearance as this locality along the southern shore of 
the ancient Lop-nor. 

The contour still continued to rise, although only two feet 
in the seven miles. Thus, when we encamped at the end of 
the fourth day, we were two and a half feet above our point of 
departure. It was beginning to be too much of a good thing ! 
At this rate Kara-koshun would soon lie higher than Löu-lan ! 

On the 15th of March shor, shor all day long. It was abomin- 

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ably monotonous. The weather, however, was beautiful, and 
at one p.m. the temperature was not higher than ii° C, or 5i°.8 
Fahr. But our position was becoming rather serious, for we had 
scarcely any thing left to eat. Our rice was all done ; and we had 
only one little bag of tolkan, öv roasted flour. Except for that, 
and tea, for the men, and coffee and sugar for myself, we had 
literally nothing left. The camels were all right as yet ; they 
could eat up their pack-saddles. We still had plenty of water, 
though it tasted objectionably of goatskin. However, there 
were a few pieces of ice still swimming in it, and these were not 

We searched the horizon in vain for the smoke from Tokta 
Ahun's signal-fire. Towards the end of the day we came across 
trunks of poplar trees, half buried in the shor. They were drift- 
wood, which had been carried there when the country was 
formerly under water. The result of the day's measurement w^as 
a drop of barely one foot in ten miles. It would be impossible 
to find a flatter, leveller region on the face of the earth. Thus 
we had already passed the watershed — if there was one — and 
in all probability the contour would now fall away to the southern 
lake basin. 

According to our itinerary of the preceding year, we had 
barely twelve miles left to Kara-koshun when we started on the 
morning of the i6th March. Soon after starting we came upon 
the first indication that we were nearing the shore of this desert 
ocean, in two or three dead or dying tamarisks. After a while 
they became more frequent, and were attended each by its 
favourite associate, a sand-dune, three or four feet high, on the 
sheltered side. Numbers of wild-duck were out ; but, strange 
to say, they were very erratic in their movements. Sometimes 
they flew towards the north, sometimes towards the south ; then 
again they came from the south-west, and, after circling round, 
disappeared towards the south-east. What could be the mean- 
ing of this ? The result of the day's work was a fall of y^ feet 
in exactly ten miles. We were thus well down into the basin of 
Kara-koshun, the southern depression of the Lop desert. 

We awoke on the 17th in high spirits : we must now be 
near our journey's end. The wild-ducks were flying from east 
to west to the south of us ; we even observed two or three hawks. 
At the seventeenth pole, which was planted on a sand-dune, 
the men stopped and pointed southwards, shouting, " Water — 
water everywhere ! " In fact, we were so near to it that the 

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nineteenth pole was planted actually in the water itself. How 
different this northern shore of Kara-koshun was from the place 
where we struck it the preceding year ! The beach was abso- 
lutely bare and barren, and bordered by a narrow belt of sand. 
The lake was perfectly open : there was no kamish, except in 
the far, far distance. Although the water was decidedly salt, 
it was at any rate better than the nasty thick " soup " we had 
in the goatskins. 

As soon as we stopped, I sent off Khodai KuUu to the south- 
west, with instructions to push on day and night without rest 
until he found Tokta Ahun, who must be somewhere not very 
far away. There was no sign of a trail beside the lake ; con- 
sequently he could not have gone past the spot where we struck 
it. My scout disappeared in the thick haze, taking nothing with 
him to eat, though there was no fear of his suffering from thirst. 
Meanwhile we were to remain where we were till he came back. 

Once more we lived a la Robinson Crusoe. Our first aim 
was to get hold of something to eat. Shagdur went out with 
the fowling-piece, and brought back a couple of fat ducks, which 
we shared in brotherly fashion amongst us. Kutchuk, anxious 
not to be behind his comrade, said he would try his luck at 
fishing — if he had a boat. Now I was, as you know, an experi- 
enced boat-builder ! My water-tight instrument-case, with one- 
half of the levelUng pole and some goatskins lashed on each 
side of it, formed the principal part of Kutchuk's venture. 
Then with a spade for his oar, off went Kutchuk paddling 
across the lake. But he got no fish — the water was too salt, 
and there was not a scrap of vegetation for the fish to live on. 

Whilst Kutchuk was thus risking life and limb, I worked out 
the results of the day's survey, and found that we had dropped 
another 21^^ inches. Hence, the northern shore of Kara-koshun 
lay 7i feet below our point of departure at Löu-lan. That is 
to say, in the entire distance of 50^ miles, the fall did not exceed 
7i feet. I had, therefore, not only proved from the relief that a 
lake could have existed in the northern part of the Lop district, 
but I had proved that one actually did exist there. My survey 
line was not, of course, absolutely trustworthy ; for I ought to 
have returned to the place of departure, and checked my readings 
again, until their errors amounted to nil. But the season was 
too far advanced, and I could not afford the time. My main 
object — proof of the existence of a depression — was sufficiently 
established even by this simple survey. 


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Here, towards evening, the fourth storm burst upon us ; it 
was a good thing it did not come on at noon, and stop our work 
on the eve of completion, for it proved a long-winded storm, and 
kept us prisoners for two days and three nights, the air being 
all the time as thick as muddy water. I was very sorry I had 
let Khodai KuUu go, especially when the second day came, and 
we heard nothing of him. Something was clearly amiss. I 
began to be uneasy. Fortunately Shagdur shot five wild-ducks, 
which went down capitally, although they were over-plentifuUy 
peppered and salted with drift-sand. The time hung fearfully 
heavy on our hands, and I was consumed with impatience, 
especially when I thought of the mail-bag which Tokta Ahun had 
with him. 

On the 19th of March our supplies were completely exhausted, 
and we were ravenously hungry. I had never been on such short 
commons since those terrible days in the Takla-makan Desert 
in 1895. Shagdur, when taking a stroll, made an unexpected 
discovery. A short distance to the west of where we were en- 
camped, he stumbled upon a lake, stretching to the north-west 
and north, and alongside it observed Khodai Kullu's footsteps. 
This threw light upon the matter : we were entangled in a laby- 
rinth of shifting lakes. Possibly Tokta Ahun had encountered 
the same obstacles. Something must be done. How would it 
be, if we left the others to their own devices, and made our way 
independently to Abdall, keeping to the east and south of Kara- 
koshun ? But no ; we had no provisions, and in two or three 
days we should be in the most desperate straits. All the same 
I sent Kutchuk east to reconnoitre. After going about seven 
miles he came back and reported that he had found some kamish 
huts, abandoned years before, had climbed a hill, and seen the 
water disappear in the haze at his feet, and that was all. 

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On the morning of the 20th it was perfectly clear to me that 
we could not any longer count on Khodai Kullu. He had pretty 
certainly failed to find the others ; indeed, he might esteem 
himself lucky if he succeeded in reaching human beings before 
he perished of hunger. Accordingly we made haste to quit this 
inhospitable shore, which we had first beheld with such high 
hopes. The sky was grey and heavy ; the diffused light cast 
no shadows ; the surface of the water was crumpled by a slight 
south-south-westerly breeze. A narrow fringe of ice, about 
three-quarters of an inch thick, had formed along the beach ; 
and of this we took half a sackful with us ; it would be better 
than having to swallow down the unpalatable contents of the 
goat-skins. The camels were well rested, and had light loads, 
and we travelled pretty fast. The water on our left, the biggest 
expanse I had seen since I left Kara-koshun, forced us to the 
north-west and north. But it was shallow ; the ducks — thousands 
of them — ^were busy a long way out from the shore. On our 
right was the desert. 

After going a few hours I cUmbed to the back of the riding- 
camel I had used the year before, so as to command as wide a view 
as I could, that I might warn the men of any marshes and water- 
courses that lay in our way. About 80 or 90 paces from the edge 
of the water we again perceived, amongst a narrow belt of dunes, 
traces of the presence of human beings — two kamish huts, buried 
up to the eaves in sand. Against one of them leant a canoe, 
the fore end projecting some two feet above the sand. This 
discovery was not without its interest. The huts, the canoe, 
and the household utensils which were left showed that two 
or three fishermen's families had lived there, probably twenty 
or thirty years before. My first thought was, why not make 

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use of the canoe ? So at it the men went with their spades ; 
but when they got about six feet of it clear, they found a gaping 
hole in its side, so we left it to rot where it was. 

Shortly afterwards we turned sharply to the west. Here 
there were reeds near the edge of the water ; and Shagdur, 
creeping up behind another abandoned hut, let drive at a flock 
of wild-duck, and managed to bag no less than seven. His 
return was greeted with shouts of triumph ; we were safe for 
two days longer. But this lake appeared to have no end ; its 
south shore was not visible. For the greater part of the day we 
followed Khodai .KuUu's track, until the lake allowed us to turn 
to the south-west. Here we found, before we had gone very far, 
that Khodai KuUu had swung off to the north-west. What on 
earth was the matter with the man ? Had he gone out of his 
mind ? Why should he want to go back into the desert again ? 
At length, upon reaching some salt pools, where there was plenty 
of kamish for the camels and for firing, we halted for the night. 

When, late that night, the haze lifted a little, we again made 
up big fires of dry tamarisks. They flared up ; they crackled ; 
they glowed ; they died out — ^no answer. The night was peace- 
ful and still — not a sound, suspicious or otherwise. No horse- 
man came galloping up to the camp with happy tidings. My 
impatience and uneasiness grew hour by hour. We no longer 
counted upon Khodai Kullu. FaisuUah was by this, no doubt, 
safe at Kum-chappgan. But why did we hear nothing, of Tokta 
Ahun ? When he left us at Anambaruin-gol he was ordered 
to meet us here, and ought to have arrived several days ago. 
Why was he not here ? I knew that I could implicitly trust 
him. I began to wonder if any accident had happened to him, 
and he had never got back to Charkhlik at all ? Or was it nothing 
more than these strange wandering lakes, which alter so from 
year to year, that were baffling him ? Who could answer these 
perplexing questions ? 

The next day we continued in the same direction, skirting 
the borders of lakes and doubling creeks and bays, the ground 
all the time being bare steppe. Shagdur went after the wild- 
duck, and again brought in a couple. At length we reached a 
fresh-water lake, where the reeds stood thicker than usual, 
and found ourselves stopped by a narrow watercourse. It was 
only two or three yards wide, and not at all deep, but the bottom 
consisted of ooze, so soft and dangerous that we could not dream 
of trying to take the camels across ; and in attempting to go 

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round it by the south we soon became entirely surrounded on 
everj'^ side by water, except along the narrow path by which we 
had approached. We wanted to go to the south-west. Never- 
theless, the next morning we were forced to turn back and travel 
towards the north-north-east. Never before had I so distinctly 
had the impression that Kara-koshun was nothing more than a 
gigantic marsh — not a real lake at all, but merely a series of 
wretched depressions, covered with water. 

During the night fresh arms were formed, and we had to be 
up and off in a hurry to escape getting shut in on an island. 
That would not have inconvenienced us, but it would have been 
fatal to the camels. That strange shore, as hard as brick when 
it was dry, became as soft as pap when it got underwater. Upon 
reaching a broad channel we again saw Khodai Kullu's foot- 
prints ; evidently he had swum acrqss it. I wondered what had 
become of the poor fellow, for it was now five days since I sent 
him away. Even if he were alive, which I greatly doubted, 
he would not — indeed, he could not — now return to us ; for I had 
told him that if he delayed too long we should go in the opposite 
direction — east and south round Kara-koshun. 

On the 23rd of March we were still travelling north-east, 
beside a chain of lakes united by small channels. I rode on a 
long way in advance of the others, and saw — actually saw with 
my own eyes — that Kara-koshun was feehng its way back north 
and north-east towards the basin of the ancient Lop-nor. Could 
I have a clearer proof of the correctness of the theory I had formed 
in 1896 ? It was becoming more and more evident to me that 
both Tokta Ahun and Khodai Kullu, and possibly also FaisuUah, 
had got completely bewildered by the changes which were now 
taking place throughout the whole of this region. Its features 
did not in any way agree with the descriptions which I had given 
them. Tired and dispirited, I stopped at a point where the creek 
contracted to seven or eight yards in width, just before it entered 
a lake. As the bottom of this watercourse consisted of hard 
blue clay, I thought it a good opportunity to get the camels across. 
But before beginning the business I sent Shagdur to the north to 
have a look round. After a good hour's absence he turned up 
on the east side of the next lake, and with the most excited 
gestures began to beckon us to go over to him. But I preferred 
to hear what it was before moving. Shagdur then set off running, 
and as soon as he came within hailing distance, pointed to the 
south-west and cried, breathlessly, *' Horsemen ! horsemen ! " 

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And sure enough there were two mounted men galloping 
towards us amid a cloud of dust, as hard as their horses could put 
hoof to ground. We watched them through the glass in a state 
of the utmost excitement. But I soon recognised them. They 
were Tokta Ahun and — ChemofiE ! We were saved ! 

My good Cossack was so delighted to see me again that he 
actually trembled, and his cheeks • were red with eagerness, 
he was so anxious to tell me all he knew. ChemofiE ! Yes, it 
was Chemoff. As I have already said, the summer before a 
messenger arrived to tell me that, owing to the unsettled aspect 
of affairs in Asia, my two West Turkestan Cossacks, Sirkin and 
Chemoff, were to return at once to Kashgar. But about two 
months after they arrived there a telegram came from St. Peters- 
burg to Consul-General Petrovsky, commanding the two Cossacks, 
in the name of the Czar, instantly to report themselves to me 
wherever I might happen to be. This order arrived on a Satur- 
day afternoon. The Consul summoned the Cossacks, and bade 
them buy horses and set off next morning. They asked if they 
might not stay over the Sunday ; but, no, an order from the 
Czar admitted of no delay. Accordingly, early oh Sunday 
morning, they were in the saddle, and rode vid Aksu and Korla 
to Charkhlik, which they reached after a ride of 48 days, in the 
end of December. But not finding me there, they had taken 
the matter quietly, and set about doing something useful. Sirkin 
took charge of the meteorological observations. Chemoff, 
meanwhile, went down to the delta of the Lower Tarim and pre- 
pared a series of maps of the latest changes which had taken 
place there. As he was unable to write, he took with him a 
mirza, or scribe, who prepared the drawings. This proved of 
immense service, the information being most valuable. 

As for Tokta Ahun, he also executed his commission to the 
utmost satisfaction. He had ridden from Anambaruin-gol to 
Charkhlik, losing on the way only one of the six worn-out horses ; 
had given my letters to Islam to forward ; then, after being supplied 
with provisions and fresh horses, had travelled in company with 
Chemoff vid Abdall to Kum-chappgan, and so on north-east along 
the northem shore of the Kara-koshun. There was only one point 
in which he had not implicitly obeyed my orders. He had only 
gone two days' journey from Kum-chappgan instead of three ; 
but he was fully exonerated, because he had been hindered by 
the newly-formed lake which occasioned us so much trouble. 

The two men encamped near the fishing-station, where we 

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struck the lake the year before. There they built a hut, snared 
wild-duck and caught fish ; thus we were plentifully supplied 
with sheep, poultry, eggs, flour, bread, and maize. Every night 
after dark they used to light a big fire on the hill, from the top 
of which I first saw the water of Kara-koshun in the year 1900. 
But we had been prevented from seeing their fires, and they from 
seeing ours, by the dust-haze. And yet the distance between 
their camp and the point where we were first stopped by the water 
was only two miles. But two miles though it was, it had taken poor 
Khodai Kullu five days to get to them. The fact was, the two 
camps were separated by the new, deep, broad arms which were 
flowing northwards, out of the Kara-koshun ; and Tokta Ahun's 
camp could only be reached either by going right round them or by 
swimniing across them. 

For twelve days Chernoff and Tokta Ahun, whilst waiting 
for our arrival, led an idyllic life — walking, rowing, hunting, and 
fishing, until one fine day our good Khodai Kullu suddenly 
emerged out of the desert and put an end to their easy-going 
existence. The very hour he arrived they packed up and set 
off, with Khodai Kullu as guide, to look for us — and now they had 
at length found us. 

After talking over and discussing everything that had hap- 
pened since we parted, we moved towards a pool quite close to 
our camp of the 20th March, picking up Khodai Kullu on the 
way. He sat on a clump of grass, and, upon catching sight of 
me, began to weep bitterly ; he was so overcome by the recollec- 
tion of the adventures he had gone through during the five critical 
days. On and on and on he had walked, and at last in sheer 
despair he had set to and swum across several lakes. On the 
third day he was sitting tired and dispirited on the margin of 
another lake, when a flock of wild-duck flew over his head. As 
if by a miracle, one of the ducks dropped just at his feet, with its 
wing either broken or injured. Like a wild animal he flung 
himself upon it, and ate it up, bones and feathers and all, alive 
just as it was. Strengthened by this meal, he pushed on two 
days longer, imtil he at length found those he was in search of. 

In several places he had come across the trail of FaisuUah's 
caravan, from which he inferred that they were all alive, including 
the three horses and the three dogs. But at length the trail 
had turned away from the lake into the desert, as though old 
Faisullah had suddenly lost his bearings. Where he was gone to 
we were completely ignorant, and I became exceedingly anxious 

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about him. His caravan carried everything that was of value 
to me, except my maps — all my scientific collections, photographic 
negatives, wood-carvings, and a great part of the MSS. which we 
had discovered at Lou-Ian. Were all these to be lost ? Tokta 
Ahun, however, assured me that the two parties which he had 
sent out into the desert in search of Faisullah, one from Kum- 
chappgan, and the other from Abdall, would be sure to find the old 
man. Besides, Faisullah was a clever and prudent man. 

I gave Khodai Kullu a gratuity in silver for the courage and 
resource he had shown. He told me, quite calmly, that he was 
fully determined the whole time that he would not turn back, 
but would accomplish what he was bidden do, even though it cost 
him his hfe. Ever since he had killed the wild camel, Khodai 
KuUu's prestige had been rising. After this he was never called 
anything but Batir, or '* the Hero." These are the sort of men 
you want about you ; but amongst the Mussulmans they are, at 
any rate, rare. 

We were now at the end of our long wanderings. My good 
star had not deserted me. My anxiety with regard to the various 
sections of the caravan was at an end. How delightful it was 
to rest beside this fresh, translucent water ! We stayed there 
two days, and fared right sumptuously on the ample supplies 
of the relief expedition ; they had brought even tea and tobacco 
with them. But the best of all was the mail-bag from home. 
It kept me chained to the inside of my yurt, so that it actually 
required a special effort to go out and take an observation for 
latitude. My letters were full of news ; but it was very strange 
that I should be told about the Boxer movement in China in a 
letter from Stockholm. His Excellency the Swedish Minister 
for Foreign Affairs warned me of it, so that it was probably for- 
tunate we did not go to Sa-chow when we were so close to it. 

' This camp, no. CLXX. on my map, was one of the very best 
throughout the journey. I shall not readily forget it. 

This pecuhar northerly extension of the Kara-koshun may 
also to some extent have been caused by the hydrographic 
relations of the Tarim basin taken as a whole. All the streams 
of East Turkestan had been unusually high during the preceding 
summer and autumn, this being no doubt caused by exception- 
ally heavy falls of snow on the encircling mountains. This 
circumstance, again, can only be explained by a more compre- 
hensive view of the broad factors of the problem, such as the 
distribution of the atmospheric pressure and the extent of the 

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winds, especially the monsoons. In consequence of the more 
copious flood in the streams, the terminal lakes of the Tarim 
system had naturally swollen to greater dimensions than usual. 

On the 26th we turned our faces towards the north. Both 
this day and the next the going was difficult. The clay ridges 
and grooves, or trenches, were all directed towards the north- 
east, so that we had to cross them each and all in turn diagonally, 
and the creeks of the new lake all ran like fingers in the same 
direction, compelling us to turn to every point of the compass 
to get round them. When at length we had doubled the last 
of these hindrances, and were able to turn finally to the west 

An Offshoot of the Travelling Lake— the White Patches on the 
Surface of the Water are Foam. 

and south-west, we were half-way back to L6u-lan. Had I had 
a conception of the way the water was behaving I might have 
confined my survey to the first half of the distance. About the 
point where we turned dead forest was quite common ; and some 
of the poplars and tamarisks still stood upright. Here we were 
probably skirting the southern shore of the ancient lake of 

In two or three places in this quarter I was surprised to come 
across old camel-droppings. That these could only be attributed 
to wild camels was perfectly clear. It showed that those animals 
were in the habit of crossing the desert, and knew of the exist- 

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ence of the lakes farther south, though for such swift-footed 
creatures the distance was really but a trifle. 

After we turned south-west we travelled more easily and 
more quickly, for we were now able to follow the wind-scooped 
trenches ; indeed, for long distances we actually trod in Fai- 
suUah's footsteps. If we had had any doubts as to its really being 
his caravan we were following, fhey were finally dispelled 
when we came across Shagdur's brown horse lying dead 
on the trail. The animal had been opened, and its intestines 
removed, and the tenderer and better parts of the meat taken 
away ; which showed that the caravan was at the end of its 

We stopped on the edge of a newly-formed stream, where 
the water flowed quite strong towards the north-east. This 
was pretty certainly the more northerly depression which we 
crossed when making our survey, and the slight rise between 
the northern and the southern basins was here totally wanting, 
or broken down. 

On the 28th we continued along the edge of the capriciously 
wandering water. Here we observ^ed a very interesting phe- 
nomenon on the edge of a pool which had formed since Chemofi 
made his sketch-map of the locality seven days before. The 
pool was now quite cut off, and was fed by water which trickled 
out of the ground. Its surface, about twelve acres in extent, 
was like water boiling in a pot ; it bubbled and gurgled as if there 
were a hot blaze underneath it, and threw up bubbles of air, 
each of which became the nucleus of a patch of white foam. 
Sometimes the welling water gushed up several inches high, 
like a miniature geyser, and the pool splashed as if big fish were 
rising to its surface. The specific gravity of the water was 
1.0036, and to us, who were accustomed to a greater infusion 
of salt, it tasted almost fresh. The greatest depth of the pool 
was yi feet, and this little lake had been entirely formed in the 
course of — one week. Even whilst we stood and watched it, the 
water lapped over on both sides, giving rise to fresh runnels, 
which trickled away, penetrating into every cranny and depres- 
sion of the ground. How far would these new lakes travel before 
the year was out ? Would they get all the way to the ancient 
Lop-nor ? These questions can only be answered after a fresh 
visit to the locality. 

Thus we travelled west, south-east, and east round the lakes, 
where poor Khodai KuUu had floundered along so bravely with 

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nothing to eat. When we reached the spot where FaisuUah 
had struck out into the desert, I thought the action looked so 
hazardous that I sent Shagdur to see where the trail went to. 
With the help of his compass he jotted it down on a piece of paper 
for about six miles, and ascertained that the old man had merely 
made a detour, after which he had continued in the original 
direction. Had he stuck to the lake side, one day more would 
have brought him to Tokta Ahun's camp. Next, at the first 
salt lake beside which we had encamped the year before, we came 
upon two or three empty preserved food tins. On that occasion 
we thought it owed its origin to the Shirgeh-chappgan, for it was 
only a narrow arm, which we waded across without difficulty ; 
but it was now so swollen that we could have readily drowned 
ourselves in it and the camels as well. 

During the night the gulls screamed on the lakes, heralding 
a storm ; and we got it at daybreak. The widespread sheets of 
water were whipped into foam. Our last day's march around this 
tiresome lake brought us at last to Tokta Ahun's camp, where 
we found Tokta Ahun himself quite comfortable, but alone. 
All the men from Kum-chappgan had returned home, under 
the belief that we had gone the other way round Kara-koshun. 
Fortunately they had left behind them two canoes. As we 
had plenty of provisions except fresh fish, Tokta Ahun, taking 
his horse, at once went off to fetch some of the latter from 
Kimi-chappgan . 

On the 30th of March we were kept indoors the whole day 
by the storm ; but on the following day, although it still continued 
to blow, we were able to measure the volume of the water which 
was returning to the ancient lake of Lop-nor. The surface 
was, however, too rough to venture out in a single canoe ; so 
we lashed our two canoes together side by side. Chernoff and 
Khodai Kullu were my boatmen. The former, during the time 
the men were waiting for us, had explored this reedy labyrinth 
in every direction, and knew exactly where to steer. In spite 
of that, however, the trip was a very tickhsh piece of work. 
Six days previously Khodai Kullu and Tokta Ahun, when on 
their way to the hut, had swum across eight considerable streams ; 
but I only succeeded in measuring six, each of them distinct 
and clearly marked. Their united volume amounted to 1,130 
cubic feet in the second, a figure which is certainly too low, for 
a good deal of the water percolated unseen through the dense reed- 
beds without my being able to measure it. At any rate, we ascer- 

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tained that enormous masses of water were on their way to the 
north. In view of the unexampled flatness of the region, a 
volume of 100,000,000 cubic feet of water in the 24 hours is 
sufficient to form a very respectable lake. In the swiftest current 
the water flowed at the rate of ij miles an hour. Now it is 
undoubtedly strange that the lake had not advanced more than 
two days towards the north-east ; yet it must be remembered 
that enormous quantities were being absorbed by the arid ground. 
The deep sand must first be moistened, then fully saturated, 
before the restless element was able to secure for itself a suffi- 
ciently firm channel along which to flow. 

However, I was beginning to feel that I had had enough of 
these marshes, and began to turn my eyes longingly towards 
the mountains. 

During the last few decennia — that is, since the time of 
Przhevalsky's visit — Kara-koshun had clearly shown a tendency 
to dry up. The reeds encroached upon it more and more ever\' 
year, and the marsh grew less in area. I am con\'inced that in a 
few years' time the lake will be found in the locality where it 
was formerly placed by the Chinese cartographers, and where 
Baron von Richthofen proved by an ingenious deduction that 
it must once have been. I have said above sufficient to show 
that the actual facts are in agreement with Baron von Richt- 
hofen's theory. Nor is it surprising that such should be the 
case in this desert, which my survey proved to be almost per- 
fectly horizontal. While the lake of Kara-koshun, which had 
existed a long time in its southern half, was being filled up with 
mud, drift-sand, and decaying vegetation, the arid northern half 
was being excavated and blown away by the winds, and thus 
being hollowed out to a deeper level. Now these changes of 
niveau are determined by purely mechanical laws and local 
atmospheric conditions ; consequently the lake which serves as 
the terminal reservoir of the Tarim system must be extremely 
sensitive to their influence. It is a matter of mere physical 
necessity that the water should overflow and run towards the 
relatively lower depressions. Then vegetation and animal life, 
as well as the fishing population, inevitably accompany the water 
as it migrates, and the old lake-bed dries up. In the future the 
same phenomena will be repeated again, but in the reverse 
order, although the laws dictating it will be precisely the same. 
It will only be then, however, when there exist more abundant 
materials to go upon, that the length of the period of oscillation 

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will admit of being determined. All that we now know for 
certain is that in 265 a.d., in the last years of the reign of the 
Chinese Emperor Yiian Ti, Lop-nor lay in the northern part 
of the desert. In fact, Lop-nor is, as it were, the weight which 
hangs on the pendulum of the Tarim river, and even though a 
single oscillation should stretch over a thousand years, still, 
measured by the clock of geologic time, that is comparatively 
speaking little more than one of our seconds. 

On the ist of April we struck into a part of the country 
which I already knew from the year before. The only interest 
attaching to it was the comparison I could now make between 
my present map and my old map. For instance, the new stream 
which came from Shirgeh-chappgan now carried a volume of 
335i cubic feet, as compared with a very insignificant quantity 
in 1900. On the 2nd of April we were met by Niaz Baki Beg, 
Numet Beg, and our old Mollah, who told us that Faisullah 
was safe at Abdall, and all the caravan with him. 

Upon reaching the lake of Ak-köl, we stopped at sunset to 
wait for boats. It was a beautiful afternoon, peaceful and cool. 
Not that we had any cause to complain of the heat, but eight 
months of winter had made us rather sensitive on this point. 
At last we heard the splashing of oars and the voices of the boat- 
men, and up glided a flotilla of five canoes. By means of these 
we carried our baggage across the Ak-köl, and a tangle of lakes 
beyond it, and finally emerged upon the big river immediately 
opposite to Kunchekkan Beg's former dwelling, Kona Abdall, 
where I visited him in 1896. From there strong arms paddled 
us up the Tarim. There was a glorious moon, and by its light 
I continued my mapping. It was one of those enchanting, 
never-to-be-forgotten trips by moonlight on still, silvery water, 
like a lovely night in Venice, which I had enjoyed on two or three 
occasions before on that peaceful stream. It was late when my 
swift canoe pulled up amid the fierce barking of our dogs, which, 
however, soon changed to transports of delight when they recog- 
nised us. 

The next day I measured the volume of the river ; it amounted 
to 5,517 cubic feet in the second, the greatest volume I have 
recorded anywhere throughout the Tarim system ; it was due, as 
I have already explained, to the cold, snowy winter and the 
unusually thick formation and long continuance of the ice. 

Faisullah gave me an account of all that had happened to 
him from the day we parted at the ruins of Lou-Ian. He had 

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been seventeen days on the road, and had made several unex- 
pected hydrographical discoveries, which,, however, I cannot 
now stay to dwell upon. 

At ten o'clock in the morning a black storm of the usual 
character burst upon us like a clap of thunder, sweeping be- 
fore it everything that was not securely fastened down. The 
next day was wasted ; it was impossible to face such a howling 
tempest. That was the desert's last lingering good-bye to me, 
and it lasted 41 hours. When it at length ceased, the air was 
thick with fine dust. We bought, however, three good camels, 
making seventeen in all. 

Three more days' march through another of the inevitable 
storms brought us to our headquarters camp at Charkhlik, 
where we were received on the evening of the 8th of April by a 
large escort of mounted men, and were by them conducted 
through the scattered orchards to our serai. 

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I NOW enjoyed a delightful and much-needed rest in^^the little 
town on the edge of the desert. And yet rest I can hardly call 
it, for I went on working from morning till night. There were 
endless things to arrange, endless preparations to be made, for 
the last and most difficult part of my programme, the journey 
right across Tibet. I took up my quarters in a very comfortable 
serai, near the Chinese yamen, or residence of the Governor, on 
the left bank of the Charkhlik-su. 

A public gateway led off a street of grey clay-walled houses 
into a courtyard, with partly open, partly covered, stalls for the 
horses and mules. In the opposite wall of the courtyard another 
gateway opened into a large apartment where the Mussulmans 
Uved, and from which a passage led to the Cossacks' quarters. 
Beside this last was a smaller room, which Sirkin had already 
converted into a photographic dark-room. Behind this house 
lay a large walled-in garden, planted with mulberry trees, 
poplars, and willows. Here, in a shady spot, the big Mongolian 
yurt was set up for. my use. We always had a watchman 
posted at the gates of the serai during the night, and another 
in the garden. In this peaceful retreat, where I was secure 
from inquisitive eyes, my only companions were the two dogs, 
Yolldash, and the big black savage YoUbars (tiger), which had 
been so severely wounded by a wild boar at Yanghi-köll. No 
stranger durst ever go near him, though with me he was as 
quiet as a lamb. There was yet another inhabitant of the 
garden, namely, a stag, a beautiful animal, with big brown eyes, 
which had been caught young in the forests of the Cherchen- 
daria, and had been presented to me by JanDaloi, the Governor 
of the place. The stag was quite tame, and let me feed him 
with bread. The first two or three days, but only the first two 
VOL. II. 12 

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or three, I did rest in the armchair which Islam Bai had knocked 
together^for me whilst at the grottoes of Temirlik. And yet 
even then I was not idle : I spent my time reading the big budget 
of letters which the jighit, Yakub, had brought me a little while 
back from Kashgar. The first to be devoured were, of course, 
the letters from home, from those near and dear to me ; then 
came a pile of Swedish newspapers, and, lastly, some books by 
my favourite authors — Selma Lagerlöf, Rudyard Kipling, and 
several others. The evenings were devoted to the development 
of the negatives which I had taken during the last four months. 
In this work Sirkin proved exceedingly useful, in getting the 

The Stag. On the Left a Chinaman, Chernoflf, and Turdu Bai, 
and on the Right Islam Bai. 

dark-room ready, and in tidying it up afterwards, in mixing the 
different chemicals, and in drying and printing the plates. 
Besides that, he looked after the meteorological observatory, 
which was placed on the flat roof, well protected against the 
sun. Meanwhile it was Chemoff's duty to look after everything 
that concerned the caravan, as well as to provide and cook my 
meals, though Cherdon was my body-servant. 

But this was only until the 12th of April, when I gave the 
two Buriat Cossacks a special and important task to perform. 
When I made my big journey across Tibet, I intended, if possible, 
to try and get into Lassa (Lhasa), disguised as a Mongol. For 
that purpose it was necessary that I should have a complete 

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Pl'i^.iCLiL: At Y. 


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outfit of Mongolian clothes and appurtenances of travel — in fact, 
an outfit including everything that the Mongols are accustomed 
to take with them when they pilgrimage to the holy city. 
Shagdur was the only man in my caravan who had any know- 
ledge of my plans, so I sent him to Kara-shahr to buy what I 
wanted. It was a long journey, and would take him a month 
to go there and back, so I let Cherdon go with him for company. 
The days shpped past, and yet there, still remained plenty 
to do ; but I soothed myself with the thought that it was too 
early to go up into the mountains. For one thing, the grass was 
only just beginning to sprout down here, and it would be fully 
six weeks later before it showed in the higher regions. In the 
meantime our animals were all resting, and gathering strength 
for the hard times which almost certainly awaited them. We 
gave them as much kamish and maize as they could eat, and 
they were capitally looked after by their attendants. Turdu 
Bai was the captain of the camels, and answerable for their 
condition. This, the dite corps of the caravan, was increased 
by a score new camels, which Islam Bai bought in Charkhlik ; 
so that, when we at length started, we had no less than 39, of 
which, however, three were young ones. The last of these was 
bom on the 6th of May, and I at once went to see it. The little 
creature could scarcely stand on its long, tottering legs, and 
gazed about it with an air of observant curiosity at the restless 
bustle of the scene into which it had been thus suddenly trans- 
ported. Yet, within a few days, it was running about the stable 
courtyard, playing, and quite at home, and soon became a 
general favourite. During the day the camels were taken out 
of the town to graze, but at nightfall were driven back to an 
open square just outside the serai, and given a good meal of 
maize, poured out on mats. At the same time the horses and 
mules had their com in their mangers. On warm days we gave 
them a bath in a big pond, surrounded by shady willows, which 
was immediately outside the entrance-gate to the serai, a pro- 
ceeding which was always witnessed by a crowd of curious 

The support of my now numerous and continually increasing 
caravan soon began to cost a good deal of money. I had to 
feed all the men whose names were enrolled on my caravan, 
and make them advances of wages. Every day we killed at 
least one sheep, and rice, bread, and eggs disappeared wholesale. 
But, on the other hand, it was an important matter that we all. 

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men and animals alike, should be well set up for the hard days 
before us. I will introduce the new members of our company 
as I go along. Even before our return to Charkhlik, Islam Bai 
had laid in stores sufficient to equip the caravan for a ten months' 
journey, consisting of rice, flour, and tolkan. This last, burnt 
flour, when mixed with water, is eaten like porridge. For flesh 
meat we intended to rely upon the weapons of our hunters, 
but all the same I resolved, when we started, to buy a flock of 
sheep and drive them on with us. For my own use I had a 
couple of hundred tins of preserved food, which Colonel Saitseff 
had sent me from Osh. But I soon grew so sick of them that I 
turned over the greater part to the Cossacks, except preserved 
fruits, vegetables, and soups, which were always good. 

We bought a large supply of maize in sacks for the camels 
and horses ; it was a heavy load to carry. I thought at first 
of buying asses, for they were cheap in Charkhlik, only costing 
ten sär, or 30s. each. There was, however, one objection to 
this : an ass caravan big enough for the purpose would require 
at least half-a-dozen men to look after it, and after the poor 
beasts were all dead, we should have these men hanging about 
our necks with nothing for them to do, and yet should have to 
feed them. I decided, therefore, to hire 70 asses for two months. 
They cost me, it is true, five sär each the month, or practically 
as much as if I had bought them ; but in this case the ass- 
drivers would have to find their own way back to Charkhlik 
when I had done with them. I arranged this business with an 
honest old fellow named Dovlet Caravan-bashi, from Bokhara, 
who did excellently well, though he made very little money out 
of the transaction, for nearly all his animals died before they 
got back. 

On the 28th April my old servant, MoUah Shah, arrived from 
Cherchen. I could not possibly do without him, for he had 
accompanied Mr. Littledale in his journey to Tengri-nor and 
Ladak, and consequently knew more about the country and its 
resources than anybody else. Every day men came to me in 
the garden asking me to employ them, but my company 
was already made up. I did not want too many men. 
Indeed I had made up my mind that as soon as we were 
across the Arka-tagh, and the animals had become accustomed 
to their work, I would send back some of those I had already 
engaged. Amongst others who came to visit me was Aldat's 
old father ; I gave him a present of money. Jan Daloi, the 

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I'll Li; i 


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Amban or Governor of Charkhlik, had gone to Kara-shahr on 
official business, but his little six-year-old son often used to 
come to see me. Both in speech and bearing he showed that 
refined, elegant breeding which is characteristic of cultured 
Chinese. I gave the boy sweetmeats and illustrated newspapers, 
besides a number of trifles, with which he was immensely 
delighted, and in return he used to bring me fruit or send bundles 
of fresh clover for my horses. But in the beginning of May the 
little chap died of the measles, and his poor father reached home 
just one day too late. 

The weather was splendid : there were storms almost every 

1 (. 

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■1 ^^1 




Sirkin and ChemofF with the two Baby. Camels. 

day, which kept the air fresh and cool. Even as early as the end 
of April the temperature went up to 25^.0 C, or 77°.o Fahr., and 
down to i2°.o C, or 53°.6 Fahr. The atmosphere was so thick 
with dust that we could not see the sun, and of an evening it 
sometimes grew so cold that I had to have a brazier to warm 
the yurt. But during the day I enjoyed listening to the wind 
whistling through the mulberry and plum trees. This stay in 
Charkhlik recalled vividly to my mind the month I spent in 
1896 in the peaceful garden at Khotan, just before I started for 
my journey through the north of Tibet. But by the beginning 
of May it was decidedly warm ; on the first of the month the 
thermometer registered 32^.7 C, or 90^.9 Fahr., in the shade. 
The atmosphere was still and bright, so that we were able to 

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see the snow-fields which crowned the loftiest summits of the 

But the days were slipping past, and it was getting time to 
start. The baggage was divided and packed into boxes and 
sacks, which were lashed to the pack-saddles and placed ready 
to be lifted on to the animals' backs. When these were all 
arranged in a long row, I was quite dismayed at the sight ; but 
Turdu Bai assured me that the animals could easily carry them. 
With the view of lightening the load as much as possible, I had 
already weeded out everything that could possibly be spared, 
including the scientific collections, such as the geological speci- 
mens, skeletons of animals, botanical specimens, and archaeo- 
logical finds from Löu-lan. These things, which made up eight 
substantial camel loads, were to go to Kashgar, to be taJcen 
charge of by Consul-General Petrovsky. Who was there I could 
put in charge of such an important caravan ? Should I entrust 
it to the tender mercies of the Chinese ? No, not for worlds. 
I was thinking of writing to Khalmet, the aksakal of Korla, 
when the difficulty was solved in a very simple and quite un- 
expected way. One afternoon, when I was alone in my yurt, 
Islam Bai came to me and begged that he might take my col- 
lections to Kashgar. I was quite taken aback at his wanting to 
leave me just then, when the real difficulties and dangers of the 
journey were beginning, but answered without more ado, 
" Yes." He urged, as a reason for wanting to go, that he was 
getting old and tired, and was afraid he could not be of so much 
use to me as I should expect. It was very hard to part from 
him ; but I had already found out that he did not like the 
Cossacks, and was pretty stern with the Mussulmans, amongst 
whom he maintained an exemplary discipline. I had a great 
deal to thank him for, and as a proof of my confidence, made 
the following arrangement with him. He was to take my col- 
lections to Kashgar, through Korla, Kuchar, and Aksu, as far 
as Korla byjcamels, and the rest of the way by arabas (Turkestan 
carts), and was to spend two months on the road. In addition 
to paying him the wages due to him, some 300 roubles (about 
£32) in gold, I defrayed all the expenses of his journey, both for 
himself and the animals, and gave him letters of recommenda- 
tion in each of the large towns he was to pass through. From 
Kashgar he might go back to his home in Osh, and stay there 
five months, then return to Kashgar and do something for me 
which Consul-General Petrovsky would tell him about. This 

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TILfc-EN F*ltN>/>l K.N' , J 

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was to meet me at Ladak with a large sum of money and my 
post-bag, which by that time would, no doubt, be a large one. 
This mark of my confidence not only flattered Islam, it recon- 
ciled us both to the bitterness of parting. 

Old Faisullah accompanied him to Kashgar. He was tired 
and afraid of the rarefied atmosphere up in the mountains. He 
had served me faithfully, and in an exemplary manner, for two 
years, so I gave him a large sum of money and a riding-horse. 
The other men tried in vain to induce him to go with us, for 
he was a general favourite. Islam's departure, however, was 
viewed with nothing but the liveliest satisfaction. 

They started on the 5th of May with eight camels, three 
horses, and three extra men, who were engaged to accompany 
them as far as Korla. It was a very stormy day, and at the 
end of the very first lane their caravan disappeared in a thick 
cloud of dust. During the past year I had not seen much 
of Islam Bai ; he had always remained as caravan-bashi at 
headquarters whilst I was absent on the different excursions. 
Nobody had lodged any complaint against him ; but now that 
he was gone I soon noticed a difference. The men were cheer- 
ful, and went about their work with pleasure, and were happy 
and contented. 

I sent with Islam Bai a very heavy post-bag. One letter, 
to my father and mother, was no less than 216 pages long, quite 
a book in fact. Besides which there were long letters to Oscar, 
King of Sweden, and to the Czar of Russia. I also wrote to 
several of my friends at home, amongst others to Baron Adolf 
Nordenskiöld. The letter reached him a few days before he 
died. He was one of those friends whom nothing but death can 
take from you. Another important missive was addressed to 
Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, to be forwarded by Mr. 
Macartney from Kashgar. I told his Excellency that I expected, 
towards the end of the year, to be at Leh in Ladak, and begged 
that I might be allowed to lift in that town a sum of £200. I 
also hinted at the possibility of a short visit to India, and 
asked permission, in that case, to take one of my Cossacks with 
me. The kind answer which I received to this letter belongs to 
a later chapter of this book. 


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The route I chose for reaching the Tibetan highlands led 
up the narrow gorge of the Charkhlik-su, a road which no Euro- 
pean had ever tried before, but it was a road that was absolutely 
impossible for camels and extremely difficult for pack horses. 
Hence, I had to make this arrangement. The big caravan, led 
by Chemoff, Cherdon (when he returned), and Turdu Bai, was 
to go by way of Tattlik-bulak and Bagh-tokay, until it reached 
the west shore of the Lower Kum-köll, whilst I, followed by 
only a few men, ascended by the nearer, but more difficult, 
route up the glen. 

On the 8th of May everything was ready for the start ; the 
loads, some eighty in number, were arranged in long rows out- 
side the big gate, and were soon swung up on to the animals' 
back. It was an immense caravan, the biggest I have ever led, 
the biggest, in fact, any European has ever led into the interior 
of Tibet. It was divided into several sections, which filed off 
one after the other. First, my boxes and trunks, then the men's 
belongings, then the tent and the boat, and after them the 
different stores. How much easier it is for an expedition by 
sea, or one that starts not very far from the coast, to get its 
collections home ; but in the interior of Asia, every single object, 
from the very beginning of the journey, has to be carried 
many hundreds of miles, and under the most unfavourable con- 
ditions, on the backs of camels or horses. The loads have to 
be taken off and put on again every morning and evening, week 
after week, and month after month. And had it not been for 
the great kindness of the Dalai Lama, I never should have got 
out of Tibet the collections which I made during this, the journey 
that was just beginning. 

I sent on with the caravan the big, roomy Mongolian yurt. 

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and so had to make shift with a smaller one, which consisted of 
a score of staves, the smoke-ring at the top, and a few white 
felts. This was my " house " all the way to Ladak. When the 
men moved my things from the one yurt to the other they found 
underneath one of the boxes a big, ugly scorpion, of a straw- 
yellow and grey colour. It had probably been keeping me 
company the whole time, but, strange to say, never did me any 
harm. On the other hand, once when one of the men was giving 
straw to the horses, he was severely bitten by a scorpion, and 
had to keep his bed for a couple of days. 

Away went the caravan then. The older camel-foals fol- 
lowed their mothers, but the youngest was packed in felts, and 
hoisted up between two boxes on the back of my old riding- 
camel. His .mother followed immediately behind him, and was 
very uneasy until she discovered where he was. The horses, 
which had put on flesh whilst resting, played fine pranks when 
they got out upon the road. They flung off their loads, and broke 
loose, and galloped away ; but as they only carried sacks of 
maize and such like, no harm was done. The long train of 
baggage animals, windipg away from our quiet serai, and the 
shade of the willows, to the tinkling of their own bells, the shouts 
and cries of the men, the screaming of the camels, and the 
neighing of the horses made quite an imposing spectacle. As 1 
stood and watched them I was uplifted with pride at being the 
owner of such a magnificent caravan, and yet my mind was 
full of melancholy and sorrowful reflections, for I feared — I 
feared this would be a fatal march for most of them ! And in 
point of fact it did turn out to be the hardest and most difficult 
journey that I have ever performed. Two or three of the men 
died, and all the rest, myself included, were utterly worn out 
when we reached the other side of Tibet. In fact, I was, myself, 
two or three times nearer death's door than when I so nearly 
perished of thirst in the Takla-makan Desert in 1895. Then 
my sufferings did not last more than a couple of weeks, but in 
Tibet it was a matter of daily occurrence for weeks together. I 
would rather cross the Desert of Takla-makan ten times than 
make another journey like that through Tibet. 

Chemoff was in supreme command of the caravan. Turdu 
Bai was head of the camel caravan. Their instructions were 
to go first to Abdall, and thence follow the well-known trail up 
into the mountains. At Abdall they were to buy fifty sheep, 
and wait for Cherdon, who was on his way back from Kara- 
VOL. II. 13 

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shahr. The stag went with them, following the camels like a 
dog. And they had seven dogs, amongst them Malenki and 
Malchik, both of which had crossed the Desert of Gobi with us. 

After they were gone the courtyards were empty, and the 
serai felt quite lonely and deserted. Sirkin now acted as my 
body servant, and Li Loyeh was cook, while Mollah Shah looked 
after the horses. These were the only three men I retained with 
me. Yolldash was, as always, the faithful protector of my yurt. 

It only remained to send off the ass caravan. They were to 
travel across the Ovraz-sai, by way of Kara-chokka, and meet 
the big caravan at Bagh-tokay. On the morning of the 13th 
old Dovlet, Caravan-bashi, was ready, his seventy asses laden 
with maize, and his ten subordinates supplied with provisions 
and pelts. And so off they went; too, the tross, or camp-followers. 
My forces were now more broken up than they had ever been. 
Here was I in Charkhlik ; the big caravan was on its way to 
Abdall ; the ass caravan on the way to the Astyn-tagh ; Shag- 
dur had not yet returned from Kara-shahr ; and Islam Bai was 
to spend the hottest months of summer carrying my collections 
to Kashgar. I felt like a general who has to keep his ftnger 
on each detachment of his army. 

At noon on the 14th of May, a man from the village of Lop 
arrived with a message from Shagdur, reporting that all was well, 
but that Shagdur's horses were exhausted. Accordingly, Sirkin 
set about getting three fresh horses ready to go and meet his 
comrade ; but before he got outside the gate Shagdur and his 
little caravan rode in. Cherdon had received my orders at 
Chegghelik-uy, and, taking a canoe, had hurried to Abdall. 
Shagdur had performed his task splendidly. Not only had he 
brought a complete Mongol equipment for our pilgrimage to the 
holy city, but he was also accompanied by a real living lama, 
Shereb Lama, twenty-seven years old, a native of Urga, but 
belonging to a temple outside Kara-shahr. He was dressed in 
his red, priestly garb, most like a long nightgown, held together 
round the waist by a yellow girdle, and on his head wore a 
Chinese skull-cap. I gave him a very friendly greeting, so that 
from the first moment he might feel himself at home, and I at 
once began to brush up my rusty Mongolian, and before many 
weeks were past I was able to talk quite fluently with the Lama, 
as we generally called him. This man became the most inter- 
esting figure in our company. In the course of two or three 
days he grew quite confidential, and always used to bring his 

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little worries to me. Indeed, he was ready to lay down his 
life for me — ^in fact, it was a miracle he did not lose it for my 
sake. He had returned from Lassa only the year before, having 
spent some time there studying the holy books in two of the 
temples. He had been accompanied by another lama from 
Kara-shahr, and on the way there had seen Kozloff's expedition 
in Tsaidam. This was the only time in the course of my journey 
that I heard anything about my Russian friend.' 

Upon being approached by Shagdur, Shereb Lama had at 

Shereb Lama on Golden Ears, with Yollbars on a Cord. 

once shown himself ready to accompany the Buriat Cossacks 
to Lassa, and had talked in such a high strain of the glories of 
the holy city that Shagdur was simply dying to get there. All 
the same he had not been free from suspicion, and asked 
whether a " Russian " was going with them ; because, if so, he 
could have nothing to do with the expedition. It would be as 
much as his life was worth. In reply Shagdur had protested 
that no " Russian " was going with him. Putting Lassa on 
VOL. II. 13* 

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one side, our Lama was quite ready to go wherever I wanted 
him, and would be satisfied with a salary of two yambas (£20) 
for as long as I liked. At different times our Lama told me 
various things about the holy city and the pilgrimages to it. 
Amongst other things he said that at a distance of ten days' 
journey, it was surrounded by a ring of frontier guards, who 
minutely examined every caravan, as well as every solitary 
horseman, that arrived. In short, they stopped everybody, 
allowing nobody to proceed until their passes had been examined 
at Lassa, and permission given for them to do so. The big 
Mongol caravan which had passed our camp at Temirlik the 
year before had been detained ten days, solely because of a 
rumour that our caravan was on the border of the country of 
the Tsaidam Mongols, and the Tibetans were apparently afraid 
some undesirable person might be with them. 

Shagdur also brought two other travellers with hitn, both 
of them old acquaintances. One was Ordek, the man who dis- 
covered the temple in Lou-Ian ; the other was Khalmet Aksakal 
from Korla. Thus our little company was increased by a very 
interesting quartette, and our spirits again rose. Shagdur gave 
me an account of his mission, presented his accounts, and re- 
turned me the balance of the money I had given him, which 
was about one-half. Any other Asiatic would of course have 
put it in his pocket ; but Shagdur was an honest and an honour- 
able man. The very idea of stealing would have seemed to him 
utterly absurd. Ordek was now quite well again, and begged 
in the most touching way that he might go with me wherever 
I was going, and under any conditions I chose. When he left 
me the year before, he had done so under the pretext that he 
was suffering from a malignant disease ; but he now told me 
that that was not true. The real cause was Islam Bai had 
threatened to kill him if he dared to show himself at Temirlik. 
The clouds seemed to be gathering about poor Islam now that 
he was gone ! However, I engaged Ordek on the same terms 
as before, and ordered him to follow after the asses to Kum-kölL 

Then it was Khalmet Aksakal's turn ; but before he began, 
I asked him if he would do me a great favour, and of course he 
was quite ready to do it, namely, lend me ten yambas of silver, 
which at the existing rate of currency was equivalent to £100 ; 
and at the end of an hour he counted out the silver pieces in 
my tent. Without this augmentation of my " treasury,'* my 
position would have been extremely awkward when I reached" 

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the south of Tibet. At my dictation Khalmet Aksakal wrote 
a letter in Jaggatai Turki to Consul-General Petrovsky, and 
I signed it. This was a bill upon him for the amount named, 
to be repaid at the time stated upon it. 

At last everything was ready, and we were to start the next 
morning, the 15th of May ; but fate decreed otherwise. At five 
o'clock in the morning it began, by way of a change, to pour 
with rain, and the thunder rumbled in the mountains — a suit- 
able background to the sad surprise that awaited me that 

Fresh clouds were gathering round the head of the unfortu- 
nate Islam Bai. Khalmet Aksakal complained that Islam had 
borrowed twenty-seven sär (about £5 5s.) of him in Korla, and 
when he reminded him of the debt, Islam had abused him and 
jeered at him. He then went on to say that he had good reason 
to believe that I also had been cheated. I did not understand 
what he meant. Islam Bai ! Impossible ! The man who had 
shared my destinies for five years, who had looked death in the 
face at my side in the desert, who had exhibited so many proofs 
of devotion, who had been the recipient of so many favours, 
who had higher wages than any of the rest, who wore my 
king's gold medal for his fidelity and honesty — impossible ! I 
could not, I would not believe it. But upon my making cautious 
enquiries at Charkhlik certain things came to light which I durst 
not ignore. At Temirlik Shagdur saw him buying 165 sär (about 
£33) worth of gold from the gold hunters of Bokalik, but had 
not interfered, for he naturally assumed it was done by my 
command. Sirkin and Ördek had been cheated, the one out 
of 16 sär (about ^^3 3s.), the other out of 10 sär {£2) ; but 
neither had cared to worry me with complaints. The real truth 
of the matter may be said to have been brought to my know- 
ledge by a mere accident. I had commissioned Khalmet Aksakal 
to buy sugar and other commodities, and send them to us. 
When I got back to "headquarters and examined his account, 
it struck me as being excessively high, and in spite of all Islam's 
explanations, he was bound to admit that it was 23 sär 
{£4 IDS.) too much. Thereupon I sent for Osman Bai, Khalmet 
Aksakal's brother, who was a merchant in Charkhlik, and gave 
him a bit of my mind, teUing him that his brother was a dis- 
honest man. Osman defended him, and besought me by all 
that was holy not to believe the slander. When he found he 
could not move me, he sent a special messenger to his brother 

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at Korla, advising him to come without loss of time, or he would 
suffer very serious injury. So here he was, come back with 
Shagdur. When the little party met Islam near Tikkenlik, 
Islam was greatly disconcerted, and said that he had been 
ordered to tell the Cossacks that I had altered my plans, and 
that they must take the road through Abdall and Chimen if 
they wanted to find me. If they had beUeved him, they would 
not have met me until they reached Kum-köll, in the beginning 
of June. Islam's idea was, of course, to get a good start on 
the road to Kashgar ; but the Buriats, like true soldiers, had 
obeyed orders. They knew that they were never to do anything 
without written or verbal orders from myself, and, fortunately, 
as it happened, I had sent a letter to Shagdur a few days before 
through the Chinese post, and so he took no notice of Islam's 
intrigues, but came straight back to Charkhlik. 

The preliminary investigation which I now made into all 
these things delayed us two or three days longer, and when 
we did at length make a start, the Aksakal accompanied us 
the first day out. Upon his return to Korla he took with him 
a letter to the Consul-General, requesting him to arrest Islam 
Bai, who was a Russian subject, immediately he arrived at 
Kashgar, and have all his effects examined. He would, of 
course, seize all the Chinese silver, as well as all the gold, he 
found amongst them. 

But before relating what happened to Islam in Kashgar, 
I will first show that he fully deserved the punishment he brought 
upon his own head. As soon as I reached Kum-köll, and joined 
the caravan, I called, my men before me and examined them one 
by one. With only one exception they had all been cheated 
out of money, some more, some less ; altogether they had been 
done out of 12 yambas (£120). Chernoff was the only one amongst 
them who had not been cheated. It also came out that Islam 
Bai had robbed me of about 9 yambas (£90), the greater part 
of it when he bought the last batch of camels. At Yanghi- 
köU, too, I had bought a large supply of chapans (Turkestan 
cloaks), furs, and boots to give to my men. These things had 
certainly been distributed to them ; but Islam had, I found, 
made them pay for them, and had put the proceeds into his 
own pocket. It is, I confess, strange that I never observed I 
was being deceived in this rascally way, but the matter is eéisy 
enough to explain. In the first place all payments from my 
exchequer were properly booked, and nothing was ever stolen 

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from me directly. Islam was too clever for that. But the pay- 
ments for every big purchase of stores, camels, and horses, as 
well as the men's wages, went through Islam's hands, so that he 
had an opportunity to make deductions, and give the purveyors 
less than they were entitled to. There was never any leakage 
in my exchequer. I always knew how much was paid out 
and how much was left in, and the amounts always tallied. It 
was the poor natives who suffered. 

You will perhaps think it inconceivable that none of the men 
who were cheated ever complained to me ; and, indeed, I am 
myself astonished, when I look back, that they did not. But 
Islam was a big, strong fellow, and the Mussulmans stood in 
great awe of him. In fact, they feared him as they would an 
Asiatic despot, and never dared to say a word, but held their 
tongues and accepted whatever he chose to give them, especially 
as, I heard at Kum-köll, he threatened to break the head of any 
man who dared to complain to me. As long as he was amongst 
them, therefore, they were afraid to speak, but now that he was 
gone the truth came out. " Oh, God ! how many there are," 
they cried, ** who have had to weep because of him ! " 

On the ferry-boat, and across the Desert of Cherchen, the 
only occasions when Islam Bai worked under my own eye, he 
was the same steady, trusty servant that he had been all through 
my journeys in 1893-97. It was for this reason that I chose 
him to take charge of my headquarters camps, and did 
not take him with me on my long excursions. When I returned 
from them nobody made any complaints, everything seemed to 
be in the best of order. The circumstance that we were generally 
separated will explain to a large extent why it was I never noticed 
any irregularities. Besides, I should never have suspected 
Islam Bai. I placed the very highest confidence in him ; to 
that extent I am answerable for his misfortune. Psychologi- 
cally, I soon unriddled the causes of his fall. For three years 
he had always been the chief man in my caravan. From being 
a simple groom with a horse-caravan that plied between Osh and 
Kashgar, I had promoted him to be caravan-bashi, and out of 
gratitude for this he had served me with exemplary devotion. 
During this present journey also he had been my right-hand msm 
until the arrival of the Cossacks. They were, of course, much 
more useful than Islam, and I naturally valued their society 
more. Hence, while the Cossacks were employed on more 
personal services to myself, Islam looked after the Mussulmans 

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and superintended the harder work of- camp-life. He was 
piqued at being thrust into the background by " unbelievers," 
and I have no doubt he reasoned within himself in this way: 
" If I am to give way to them, I will at least have some recom- 
pense." And so he began his peculations at Yanghi-köll, aod 
continued them all the time we were at Charkhlik. I was very 
sorry for the poor fellow, and made up my mind that I would 
endeavour, as far as possible, to mitigate his punishment, especially 
as Mussulmans generally exaggerate in their accusations. Yet, 
even though only the half of what they charged him with were 
true, it was sufficient so send him to Siberia. But I did not 
forget that in the Takla-makan Desert he had saved for me 23 
yambas (say over £200), and on numerous other occasions 
had rendered me great and invaluable services. 

But in the meantime several other disagreeable stories came 
to light, which made me completely indifferent to his fate. At 
Yanghi-köll he had taken three young " wives," one of whom, a 
daughter of Mirab, had cost him 100 sär (jfi5-£2o) at a time 
when he had not received more than 30 sär of his wages. During 
the twelve days he stayed in Cherchen, whilst I made my forced 
ride to Andereh, he had taken another wife, and now again in 
Charkhlik he had '* married " yet another. These ladies he had 
dismissed from favour one after another, as he moved from place 
to place, and now that he was starting finally for Kashgar, he 
washed his hands of them all. The worst side of this hateful 
business was that all the time he had his own lawful wife and five 
children at home at Osh. Now it is an expensive business to 
maintain five wives. In the first place, the lady had to be bought 
for ready money ; then she had to be dressed, and her taste for 
Chinese silks and so forth had to be gratified ; and, finally, she, 
and perhaps also her parents, had to be supported. This last 
would of course be readily accomplished with the aid of my 
stores, so that it would seem to have been I who paid the piper, 
and not Islam. 

Perhaps I had better give here the end of his story. As soon 
as he arrived at Kashgar, Consul-General Petrovsky examined 
his effects, but failed to find much ready money. Such as he 
did find, however, was restored to those from whom it had been 
taken. Islam was allowed to retain his freedom, but was for- 
bidden to leave Kashgar. When I arrived at that city in May, 
1902, he was still unemployed. He came out as far as Yappchan 
to meet me, and flung himself at my feet, bathed in tears. I 

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was heartily sorry for- the man, he looked so pale and haggard, 
and realised that he had ruined his life. I earnestly besought 
him, at his trial, which was about to take place in Kashgar, 
to keep strictly and faithfully to the truth. If he did so, he should 
escape punishment ; but if he lied I should without further 
consideration leave him to the tender mercies of the Russian law. 
He promised he would follow my advice. Had he behaved as 
well on .this journey as on the former, he would have been a man 
of consequence in his own native town. His name was already 
known throughout the whole of Central Asia, but now it would be 
synon3anous with reprobation. When the trial came on, and 
the witnesses were examined, Islam was cold and hard, and 
stubbornly denied every point of the accusation. He could not 
be brought to admit even the most obvious peccadillo, but swore 
that it was all a base calumny from beginning to end. I re- 
minded him that it was in his own interest to confess, but all to 
no purpose. Not a voice was raised in his defence. He was 
ordered to report himself to Colonel Saitseff at Osh, the town 
where, according to the Russian law, the sentence was to be pro- 
nounced. He arrived there shortly after I did, but again denied 
everything. As by his thefts he had offended against the Russian 
Criminal Code, and by his loose conduct transgressed against 
the Sheriet, or customary law of the Mohammedans, he was 
declared worthy of banishment to Siberia ; but his actual punish- 
ment was reduced to three months' imprisonment. At my 
special intercession, this was still further reduced to 14 days, 
for he still had his co-rehgionists to reckon with. The Russian 
authorities had promised to allow him the privilege of wearing a 
gold embroidered khcUat, in honour of the services he had rendered 
to me ; this, and all other dignities and honours, he had for- 
feited by his arrogance and folly. This was the end of Islam's 
saga. I never saw him again. 

The moral of the whole story is — never trust a Mussulman. 
You would think that after a man had served you faithfully 
for so many years, and been the recipient of so many favours, 
you could trust him with untold gold. But not so the Moham- 
medans ; they never forget they are serving an " unbeliever." 
From the moral point of view, these Central Asiatics stand at 
a low level ; but they must not be judged too severely ; their 
conditions of life are exceptionally hard. The Mongols stand 
incomparably higher than they do, and when you have the good 

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fortune to be accompanied by an escort of Cossacks, you need only 
employ Mohammedans for the more laborious tasks. Several 
of my Mohammedan servants, however, such as Turdu Bai» 
Kutchuk, Khodai KuUu, and Ördek, were first-rate fellows ; but 
they were never exposed to severe temptation. 

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Across Tibet from North to South. 

Travelling Amongst the Clouds. 

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On the 17th of May I was at last able to take the saddle again 
for a full year's further wandering through the vast wastes of 
Central Asia. I set forth with fresh courage and high expec- 
tations to explore the most inaccessible regions of the continent 
If I succeeded in my plans there would remain, relatively speak- 
ing, little of that part of the world which I had not visited. 
I hoped much from this journey, but was fully aware that it 
would prove to be the most difficult of any I had yet undertaken. 
Yet somehow difficulties have their attractions. In the midst 
of the hard and unremitting labour which each day brought 
with it I was stimulated by the thought of the adventures 
which awaited me " Over de höje Fjaelde " (across the moun- 
tains high). 

But before we left the hospitable httle town on the edge 
of the desert we made an unpleasant and disconcerting dis- 
covery. On the afternoon of the day before we were to start 
there arrived a caravan of ten Mongol pilgrims from Tarbagatai, 
with eleven horses and twelve camels, who pitched their tents 
in the grove a short distance from the bazaar. Shagdur and 
our Lama had met them in Kara-shahr, and knew that they 
were bound for Lassa, and the Mongols, too, were fully aware 
that there was a big caravan somewhere in the neighbourhood, 
for two or three of them spoke Turki. We could not of course 
start without being seen. When Sirkin rode past their camp 
with the pack-horses, they asked him point-blank where he was 
going to, and he answered that he was on his way to Ladak 
and Kashgar. Shagdur and the Lama and I were most anxious 
not to be seen. The first two started early in the morning, and 
made a wide detour to the west, while I struck up the river- 
bed, accompanied by Khalmet Aksakal and that worthy old 

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gentleman Togdasin Beg, of Charkhlik — he who had guided us 
through the bed of the Ettek-tarim. As soon, however, as 
we got out of sight of the trees of the oasis we joined forces 
with Shagdur ajid the Lama. The Mongols had not, at any 
rate, seen me, so that if we should meet again under critical 
circumstances, they would be unable to identify me. 

But why all this needful precaution against a band of peace- 
ful Mongols, who would not harm even a cat ? The reason was 
they would reach Lassa before we did, and would unfailingly 
report that we were coming. It is true, their camels were very 
much done up, and it would take them a long time to get to 
Tsaidam, where they would, as usual, exchange their animals 
for horses. But, even allowing for that, they would travel 
easier and faster than we should, for we were intending to cross 
the very worst parts of Tibet. And, in spite of our precautions, 
my forebodings proved true. 

The caravan with which I now crossed the northern ranges 
of the Kwen-lun system consisted of Shagdur, Sirkin, Mollah 
Shah, and Li Loyeh, together with the Lama and a guide, and 
we had twelve horses and the dog Yolldash. The mountains 
towered in front of us in overpowering majesty ; south-east 
was the throat of the glen out of which the Charkhlik-su emerged, 
and to the south stretched the Kumik-sai and the Korumluk-sai, 
which we had first to traverse. The glen by which the river 
pierced the northernmost range of the Astyn-tagh was too deep 
and rough to be ascended. The sun burned, and the gnats 
were hungry ; but they disappeared as soon as we reached the 
barren, desolate country which ran up to the foot of the moun- 
tains. In the distance, on the left, we perceived a few solitary 
horsemen watching us : they were Mongols. 

The first place we camped at was called Yiggdelik-tokai, on 
the left bank of the Charkhlik-su. The water was a muddy red, 
and foamed along at the bottom of a trench 130 feet deep, 
hemmed in by precipitous cliffs of gravel-and-shingle. We 
reached the stream by means of a break-neck path down the 
cliffs. Here, in spite of the violent storm which came on in 
the afternoon, accompanied by a considerable drop in the tem- 
perature, Khalmet Aksakal and Togdasin Beg, who had hither- 
to been our guides, turned back and left us. 

Next morning it was fresh and cool, and we found it expe- 
dient to don warmer clothing. Soon after starting we entered 
the echoing gorges of the Stony Valley, having on either hand 

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I'L , 

A8T©n LtNex '.w» 


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cliffs of granite, striped black or red, and hard, dark-coloured 
schists. The prospect was for the most part bounded by bare, 
jagged peaks, though every now and again we obtained, up the 
successive side-glens, a magnificent panorama of mountains, ris- 
ing higher and higher, one behind the other — a chaos of pinnacles, 
summits and mountain groups, with picturesque snowfields 
hanging at intervals from their shoulders. The bottom of the 
glen was littered with blocks of gravel-and-shingle, and fragments 
of granite of various sizes, which made riding irksome. Tama- 
risks and wild briars abounded, and at one place, Tograk-bulak, 
there were a few solitary, but beautifully green, poplars. The 
rain during the night had given rise to a rippling brook. I was 
completely fascinated by the bold and sublime features of the 
landscape. After our long winter amid the monotonous and 
sterile deserts, it was perfectly delightful to let our eyes rest 
again upon the ever-changing variety of the mountains, to hear 
our voices flung back by the echoing cliffs, and to feel our 
limgs expand with the pure crisp mountain air, free from all 
admixture with the everlasting dust and sand. 

Sometimes the glen was so narrow that we had to climb 
over the low buttresses which jutted out at the side. We were 
now travelling east, and after riding over a detached group of 
heights, we turned into the main valley of the Charkhlik-su. 
The river was considerably swollen from the rain, and in a sharp 
bend, near the end of the gorge, we pitched our tent for the 
night under a solitary poplar. Here we had to wait a whole 
day for ten asses which I had hired to accompany us to the 
Kum-köll with maize for the horses. But nobody objected to 
the delay in such a beautiful locality, for we had plenty to do, 
and there was quite as much grazing as we wanted. But besides 
that, there was no need to hurry. We should any way reach 
the rendezvous before the slowly-moving camels. 

The asses came up before nightfall, and next day we resumed 
our journey. It was a stiff march we had before us, up the deep- 
cut glen, in which the grey granite chffs, in places undermined 
by the tumultuous flood, hung over like a vault or roof. We 
knew we had to cross the Charkhlik-su no less than sixteen 
times, and consequently would have to keep a sharp look-out. 
A shepherd whom we met gave us anything but encouraging 
news. His horse had fallen in the middle of the stream, and 
he had lost the whole of its load of bread, maize and clothes. 
The river, which had a volume of 318 cubic feet in the second, 
VOL. II. 14 

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was churned into foam as it thundered amongst the water-worn 
rocks. But, thanks to our care, we suffered no mishap. The 
Mussulmans, Ughtly clad, tried every ford before we ventured 
to cross, and the horses which carried the most valuable loads 
were led cautiously across one by one. At one of the fords, 
one of two mules which we had with us refused to follow the 
other animals, but thought she would go over a little at one side. 
But she lost her footing and was swept away by the stream, 
and flung upon a bank of gravel a good bit lower down. The 
Cossacks dashed in with their clothes on, and got her upon her 
feet again ; but the whole of her load, which luckily consisted 
of flour and bread, was lost. Unfortunately we were now en- 
veloped in a thick mist, and in the dim afternoon light the 
mountain peaks disappeared like the roof of a temple amid 
clouds of incense. Indeed, the spot where we encamped was 
known as Mesjid or Meschit-sai (the Mosque Valley). 

On the 4th day we turned our backs upon the Charkhlik-su, 
and struck up a side-glen, narrower and wilder than even the 
preceding. So steep indeed did it become at last that we pre- 
ferred to get off and walk ; in some places we had literally to 
clamber up hand over hand. To get pack-horses up these steep 
places was a decidedly awkward business : their loads kept 
slipping off behind them, or turning round underneath them, 
and we were incessantly putting them to rights. There was 
seldom any track visible on the stony, gravelly surface — in 
point of fact, the route was very seldom used. On a projecting 
crag above our heads we once caught a glimpse of three arkharis 
or wild sheep ; but they were too far off for the Cossacks to 
get a shot at them. At length we reached a deep notch in the 
next range, called Yaman-davan, or the Bad Pass ; and a suit- 
able name it was, for its summit was so sharp and difficult that 
there was only room for one horse to stand on it at a time. On 
both sides the pass was shut in by wild and lofty cliffs. On the 
east the descent was very much less steep, and the surface was 
covered with earth and overgrown with grass. The air was 
now clear again, and the view magnificent. Nor could we com- 
plain of the heat, for on the summit of the pass the thermometer 
registered only 2°.6 C. or 36°.7 Fahr. 

Next day we continued up a new gorge, which at first was 
so narrow and difficult that in one place, where it was com- 
pletely choked with granite debris, we were forced to unload 
the animals, and by our united efforts haul them one by one 

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1TP - ^ •. ^ 

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up a rocky step or threshold, twelve or thirteen feet high. But, 
beyond that, the glen widened out again, and the going was 
easier. We observed no signs of animal life except partridges 
and " mountain swallows." Two or three of the horses and one 
of the mules were going stiff and lame in consequence of the 
hard and stony character of the path. That evening we en- 
camped at a place called Tölkölik, where the thermometer regis- 
tered only 5°.4 C. or 41^.7 Fahr., though during the night it 
fell to —6® C. or 2i°.2 Fahr. Winter in the middle of summer ! 
That year my summer lasted little more than six weeks in all. 

On the 23rd of May a long and tiring march led us out upon 
open plateau-like uplands {vidder), a highland steppe in fact, 
carpeted in places by the yellow withered grass of the year be- 
fore. We had crossed the last of the border-ranges, and were on 
the Tibetan tableland. The kulans now began to show them- 
selves by ones and twos. And our arrival was greeted by 
heavy, dark clouds which at intervals shook out their contents 
over us in the form of rain and snow. Towards evening, when 
riding down a scarped ravine, we came, at a place caUed Hashek- 
lik, across our old friend the Charkhlik-su. HeJ-i^jits volume 
was less, and its water of a peculiar milky-white colour, evidently 
caused by its springing out of or passing through some species 
of disintegrated white rock. 

Shereb Lama, in his red robe, his yellow girdle, and his blue 
cap, which he protected in rainy weather by a Mongolian bashlik 
(hood), was the most picturesque member of our caravan. He 
was already on a footing of intimacy with both Shagdur and 
myself ; but he made little acquaintance with the others, for 
as yet he could only speak a few words of Turki. But he was 
quick at learning, and soon began to pick it up. During these 
long marches he was very thoughtful, though what he thought 
about I do not know, unless it w£ls about the strange company 
he had got into. It was an awful business to initiate his priestly 
reverence into the utility of astronomical observations and map- 
making. He evidently regarded me as a wonderful person, and 
he clung to me with unshaken confidence, even showing a degree 
of affection that was touching. He understood perfectly well 
that, though we were strangers, we should do him no harm. 
Every afternoon he gave me a lesson in MongoUan. I wrote 
down lists of words and phrases, and learnt them ready for the 
next day, and I have seldom had a pleasanter teacher. He was 
most anxious that I should make haste and learn his language 

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sufficiently to be able to discuss with him the subjects in which 
he was most interested. 

We gave the horses a day's rest on the meadows of Hasheklik, 
but we had raw wintry weather, with snow and hail, so that 
it was impossible to work in the open air. I therefore called 
in the Lama for a talk, for, whatever might happen in the future, 
I did not wish him to think or believe that I had deceitfully 
led him on into any crazy-brained adventure. I wanted to 
give him an opportunity of returning, if he were so minded, to 
his own country before his reputation was compromised, and 
so I thought it best to tell him now, before we went further, 
that I intended accompanying him and Shagdur to Lassa, dis- 
guised as a Mongol. The news filled him with consternation, 
and he tried to convince me that it was utterly impossible. 
Nobody would dare to touch me and Shagdur ; but he, being 
a lama, would be sure to lose his life. He was not afraid of the 
Dalai Lama, or of the Mongol or Chinese pilgrims in the city ; 
but he was afraid of the Tibetans who watched the roads to it. 

" If they do- not kill me," he said, " they will destroy my 
career as a lama ; I 'shall be looked upon as a renegade and 
traitor, who guided a European to Lassa." 

Yet even now his resolution wavered, and he proposed that 
the whole caravan should march straight for the city. The 
worst that could happen to us would be that we should be 
firmly but politely turned back. He could then disguise him- 
self as a Turk, and none of his friends in Lassa would have the 
least suspicion that he was with us. But when I stuck to my 
plan he proposed that I should call myself a Urankha — a people 
dwelling in the Altai Mountains, who are adherents of Lamaism, 
but speak a Turki dialect, resembling Jaggatai Turki, in which 
I was perfectly at home. 

We spent the whole day discussing this matter, and by the 
time we had done, the Lama was greatly disturbed and upset. 
He agreed, however, to accompany us as far as the Kum-koll, 
whence, I promised him, if he were so minded, he might return 
home. Some of the ass-drivers, who would be no longer needed, 
were in any case to return from that lake, and he might go 
back with them to Charkhlik. He was, he said, afraid of the 
summer in the lowlands, and would prefer to go to Chimen, 
I at once saw through him : he meant to go and join the Mongol 
caravan and accompany them to Lassa, where in some un- 
guarded moment he would be led to betray my plans. 

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I TIL .i .' h^UN^ATlUN!. 

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That must be prevented at all costs. Whether we tried to 
get into Lassa or not, there was one very important service 
that he could render me. I needed an interpreter in Tibet. 
If my long tramp through unknown Tibet was not to lose 
half of its value, it was of the utmost importance that I 
should be able to converse with the people I met in the course 
of it. I explained all this to the Lama, and he at once saw that 
I was right. Finally, I proposed to him that he might remain 
behind with the caravan whilst I and the two Buriat Cossacks 
went to Lassa But this again did not suit him : he was not 
without his ambition, and he was no coward, as he proved on 
several subsequent occasions. 

The following days he was silent and depressed, and rode 
by himself, thinking, no doubt, that he had drifted into queerer 
company than he had at first imagined. After this he was 
never quite friendly with Shagdur : he considered, and rightly 
too, that Shagdur ought to have acquainted him with my secret 
purpose before they left Kara-shahr. I explained to him that 
Shagdur had acted by my express order, and that, if he had 
let it be known that a European was thinking of going to Lassa 
in disguise, there was not a single lama from one end of MongoUa 
to the other that would have accepted his offer. Every day 
after this, both when we rode along the valleys and when we 
stopped in the twilight, we discussed our plans about Lassa. 
Shereb Lama underwent a veritable martyrdom of the spirit. 
I found great pleasure in his company : he was one of the best 
men I have ever associated with. For piety, resignation, and 
genuine goodness he would bear comparison with his colleague 
in Kiniy one of the best characters Kipling has ever drawn. 
For the present, then, the arrangement stood thus : he was to 
accompany us to the Kum-köU, and there make his decision. 
He would then be like Hercules at the parting of the ways : 
on the one hand he could return to his quiet and peaceful cell 
in the monastery at Kara-shahr ; on the other hand, he would 
have to make up his mind to face many remarkable, if not 
perilous, experiences. 

During the next few days we crossed several of the contri- 
butories which flowed north-west to join the Charkhlik-su. Upon 
reaching the big cauldron-shaped valley or corrie of Unkurluk, 
which we did in a heavy snowstorm, we saw several herds of 
sheep scattered over the surrounding mountain slopes ; but 
though the Cossacks scoured the neighbourhood, they failed to 

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find any traces of human beings. A little higher up we stopped 
at the entrance of a side-glen, where there was good grass, though 
no water ; and as soon as the air cleared a little, we perceived two 
tents and ten or a dozen men. The Cossacks rode to the moun- 
taineers to buy from them fuel and milk, and a dozen or so of 
sheep. They learned that there were eighteen shepherds settled 
there, in charge of sheep and horses from Cherchen, spending 
the winter in wretched earthen caves, partly covered with felt 
mats. The district abounded in game and other animals — 
arkharis, ibexes, yaJks, bears, and wolves. But since the 
autumn before the shepherds had seen no yaks : those animals 
frequent higher altitudes in the summer. Partridges were call- 
ing to one another all over the mountain-sides ; and the Cossacks 
went out and shot a few brace. That afternoon it snowed thick 
and fast, and we were again in the midst of winter. 

It was cold and wintry weather when we left the Valley of the 
Earth-Caves on the 27th May. Here we dropped the guides from 
Charkhlik and five of the asses, whose loads of maize were con- 
sumed, and took in their stead three of the shepherds, and a 
dozen rather poor sheep, without fat tails. We were now at 
a considerable altitude (12,458 feet), as was evident from our 
difficulty in breathing, though as yet nobody showed symptoms 
of mountain-sickness. 

The following day we crossed four easy secondary passes, 
and after traversing an undulating country covered with snow, 
reached the Valley of Kar-yaggdi, and a spring, from which 
gushed the brightest of sparkling waters. Snow-clad mountains 
shut in the view on the south and south-east. The glen ascended 
by än easy, pleasant gradient, and down its middle meandered 
the several arms of a brook, which issued from the fresh-fallen 
melting snow, and was tinged red by the finely disintegrated 
sandstone of the locality. Shortly afterwards we crossed over 
a pass, which, although quite easy and gentle, was yet one of 
great geographical importance, in that it formed the water- 
shed between East Turkestan and the valley of Chimen. 
Its altitude was 13,383 feet, and the snow lay quite thick 
upon it. 

We reached the broad valley of Chimen by an open glen, 
which ran towards the south-east, having the snowy ridge of 
Piazlik spread out in a glorious panorama before us. It was now 
colder and more wintry than it was in the previous October, 
and, summer though it was, all the mountains, except the top- 

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j TIL^lN P«UNr.ATlON!S. 

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most pinnacles, were wreathed in snow. We encamped on the 
left bank of a stream, which lower down joined the Togri-sai. 

Here Shagdur suddenly became very ill ; his pulse went 
up to 134, and his temperature to 38^.6 C. or ioi°.5 Fahr. I 
may say that my own temperature, even at 13,000 feet and 
above, seldom exceeded 36°.o C. or gö.^S Fahr. Here we had to 
stop a day to nurse the sick man. Sirkin went out with his 
gun and brought back two orongo antelopes, so that we were able 
to give our sheep a few days' longer reprieve. At this season the 
antelopes were very lean, for the new grass had not yet sprung 
up. They were fatter and better in the autumn. On the 30th 
Shagdur was better, and positively insisted that we should go 
on. We crossed the broad stream of the Togri-sai, and pene- 
trated the transverse glen which cut south-east through the moun- 
tain range of Piazlik. The weather was splendid, not a shimmer 
of cloud marred the pure turquoise blue of the sky, and the 
fresh-fallen snow for the most part melted and evaporated. 

After advancing for a good bit up the glen, we missed the 
invalid and the Lama, and I sent back Li Loyeh to see what had 
become of them. When a little later they all three came up, 
Shagdur was faint and giddy, and scarcely able to sit in the saddle. 
I took some alcohol out of one of the flasks for zoological speci- 
mens, and made him a stiff glass of hot grog, and packed him in 
felts till he perspired. Towards evening he was decidedly better ; 
his temperature dropped to 37°.2 C. or 98.^9 Fahr., and his 
pulse to 112. Except for this alcohol, I carried no spirits with 
me; and I will say, to the honour both of the Cossacks and 
the other men, none of them seemed to miss them. Spirits are 
an intolerable nuisance in a caravan ; they slacken discipline 
and undermine the men's strength. Here, again, we rested a 
full day, to give the invalid an opportunity to get thoroughly 
well ; and by the time we reached the lake of Kum-köll he was 
quite recovered. 

It was the ist of June when we struck the lake. We were 
travelling south-east across excellent ground, when in the dis- 
tance we first caught sight of its immense, bright, ultramarine 
blue water. In the east the range of Kalta-alagan presented its 
vast dimensions to us in shortened perspective, its crest show- 
ing up dim and white. Every watercourse and ravine was dry ; 
the lake had just then no active contributories. Hence it cost 
us a long search for water. At length one of the shepherds 
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by digging a well, and his surmise proved to be correct. The 
district abounded in kulans and orongo antelopes. 

Here, according to agreement, we were to wait for the cara- 
van. We waited the 2nd of June, we waited the 3rd of June ; 
but no caravan turned up. The surface of the Kum-koll was 
ruffled with pretty big waves by a strong east wind, whose mono- 
tonous whining was the only sound that broke the silence of the 
wilderness. At times there was a mist ; but even when it was 
dear we were unable to see the eastern shore of the lake. The 
wind was fresh and cool, Uke a sea breeze ; in fact, when it brought 
with it squalls of hail or snow, it was a good deal too cool. The 
shepherds, who had now accomplished their task, were impatient 
to go home. After stowing beside the Cossacks' tent the three 
ass-loads of maize which were still left, they set off to return. 
I cannot imagine anything more tedious than month out, month 
in, to wander amongst those mountains, watching other people's 
sheep. And yet the shepherds were happy and contented enough ; 
a very small thing delighted them down to the ground. For 
my own part, I found it a sufficient trial of patience to have to 
wait over two days for the caravan. I began to wonder if any- 
thing had gone wrong with it, although I knew it was in the trusty 
hands of Chemoff, Cherdon, and Turdu Bai. 

Meanwhile Shagdur was treated with massage and cold 
bandages, and gradually recovered. Sirkin rode to our camp 
of the year before, on the north-west side of the lake, to measure 
a line for controlling my itineraries. And there he left a sign- 
post — a piece of wood with a hand drawn on it, pointing towards 
our camp in the west — in case the caravan should strike the lake 
on that side. 

The 4th of June was a beautiful day, the atmosphere being 
perfectly clear, so that we were able to follow the Kalta-alagan 
right away to its outermost extremities. Its crest appeared to 
vanish to a needle point. The lake presented a fresh play of 
colour — light green, striped with white foam. The horses 
were grazing some distance from the camp, and most of the men 
were asleep ; but our Lama maintained an incessant look-out 
for the caravan. He was greatly interested in my telescope, 
and very fond of using it. I was working in my yurt, when he 
came and said he thought he could see them coming. I took the 
telescope, and sure enough there they were at the foot of the 
mountains — a long black Une, followed by several small dots. 

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Nothing more was done that day ; we were all too much 
interested in watching the progress of the caravan. 

The distance was still too great for them to be able to see our 
tents ; but instead of steering directly towards our camp, they 
were travelling due east. Then, to our great surprise, they 
stopped, unloaded, and turned the camels loose to graze. I sent 
Mollah Shah to them. At length we saw a horseman ride out 
and meet him, and both continued to their camp. Then the 
camels were again driven together, and the caravan once more 
got under way, the long line curling round like a railway train 
circling round the end of a valley. Then from behind a detached 

The Camel-Loads Stacked Beside the Kum-köU. 

group of hills in the east there emerged a solitary rider, approach- 
ing at a good hand-gallop. It was Kutchuk. Chemoff , the cara- 
van leader, had sent him off two days before in advance, to re- 
port their approach. Kutchuk had seen Sirkin's sign-post on 
the north side of the lake, and had at once understood its meaning. 
He rode my old Kashgar horse, and brought nothing but good 

Meanwhile the caravan was approaching in good order. 
The two Cossacks galloped up and, saluting in military fashion, 
reported that all was well. Men and animals were alike in first- 
rate condition. One mule, however, had been left behind at Bagh- 
tokai, as unfit for work. I gave her to some of the men who 

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were returning, to see if they could make anything of her. Next 
came the ass caravan, with Dovlet Caravan-bashi at its head ; 
and in the rear of this motley company appeared a kulan, 
galloping amid a cloud of dust straight towards our camp. 
But when he perceived he was running into danger, he turned 
tail and went off towards the west. 

- Next arrived Turdu Bai, leading his camels ; they were fat 
and in excellent condition, and full of play, evidently well content 
with the cool mountain air. And no wonder they rejoiced at 
being freed from the oppressive heat and murderous insects 
of the lowlands. During their rest-days on the march the men 
had made chapans, or " white felt rugs," to protect them against 
the extreme changes of temperature. The three little ones with 
their white coats were a pretty sight as they trotted at their 
mothers' heels — in fact, the youngest of them skipped and 
jumped about without showing the least signs of fatigue. He 
was only a few days old when he got up into the rarefied moun- 
tain air, so that his lungs became adapted to it in good time ; 
it was to this circumstance, I feel sure, that he showed a greater 
power of endurance than the other two, and long survived them 
both. Even the stag, which generally accompanied the camels, 
had put on flesh. He had only one fault ; he would eat too 
much maize, and refuse to touch the yellow mountain grass. 

Last in the procession came the horses, with their loads and 
drivers. Each detachment defiled in front of me and the 
Cossacks, who were standing beside me, and as they marched past 
the men saluted poUtely. It took some time for the full caval- 
cade to pass in review. Then they pitched their tents and 
stacked their baggage immediately south of our camp, arranging 
the loads so as to make an enclosure or fold for the sheep. Of 
these we had quite a flock ; on the march they obediently fol- 
lowed Vanka, a ram from Kuchar. This animal had been with 
us ever since the autumn of 1899, ^^^ was the only one out of all 
the animals of the caravan which was still with us when, a year 
later, we returned to Kashgar. 

When the camp was all ready, the shore of the lake resembled 
a lively corso, with groups of men chatting roimd the fires, the 
animals scattered all over the niggardly steppe, trpng to pick up 
what they could. Meanwhile the water beat — ^beat against the 
shore, for the lake was again churned up by a regular easterly 
gale, and down came the rain thick and fast until our settlement 
was drenched. 

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A whole day was spent in making arrangements for a fresh 
start. For the first thing, I re-packed my own travelling cases, 
so that I might have ready to hand in the two which always 
stood inside my yurt such instruments and other things as I 
should want every day. The meteorological observatory, which 
Sirkin took charge of, was kept in a special box, under his 
own eye. Then the preserved foods which would be required 
in the inunediate future were also packed up separately. 

The time was now come for our Lama to make his final deci- 
sion as to whether he would accompany me or return, and his 
decision was already made — with the help of Li Loyeh. The 
latter, who had performed his duties irreproachably for close 
upon a year, now wished to leave me, alleging that he had learned 
his old father had died in Keriya, and he must go home to look 
after his own interests. But I did not take him seriously, for 
twice before, when we were in the middle of the desert, he had 
dished up the same story. Had he not been paid half a year's 
wages in advance at Charkhhk, it would not have mattered much. 
In fact, it was strange he had not simply run away, for he rode 
his own horse, and it was one of the very best in the caravan. 
Now our Lama had made up his mind to go with Li Loyeh, his 
intention being to find out the Mongol caravan in the Chimen 
valley or Tsaidam. But, when he learned that Master Li Loyeh' 
was not to be allowed to return, even though we had to keep guard 
upon him, he changed his mind, came to nie-in my yurt and 
declared that, let happen what would, he would ioUow me to the 
end of the world. The only condition he made was, that in 
case he fell ill, I would not desert him ; but I soon convinced him 
that he had nothing to fear on that score, for we never deserted 
even our animals until their case was absolutely hopeless. This 
matter therefore was soon settled. Without the Lama we could 
scarcely have made our way through the inhabited parts of 
Tibet ; and Li Loyeh, whose real name was Tokta Ahun, 
although a little bit " dotty," was a general favourite. He 
told funny stories and related comical anecdotes, and did his 
work splendidly all the way to Ladak. 

Finally, I called together all the Mussulmans, and formally 
nominated Turdu Bai tugachi-bashi, or " leader of the camels," 
while Hanu-a Kul, a big, strong man from Charkhhk, who had 
his son, Turdu Ahun, a lad of 16, with him, was appointed att- 
bashi, or " leader of the horses." The other men were straightly 
enjoined that in everything which concerned the animals they 
VOL. II. 15* 

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were to render implicit obedience to these two. MoUah Shah, 
on the other hand, was not promoted, because, on the way up 
to the Kum-köll, when set to guard the horses, he did not know 
when they all ran away. By evening, it is true, he managed to 
recover them all except five, which did not turn up till the fol- 
lowing morning. The Cossacks ranked, of course, above the 
Mussulmans, and each had his own special duties to perfom, 
besides looking generally after all the rest. 

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The next day was the first, since I began my tramp through 
Central Asia, that I had the whole of my caravan collected 
together xq one place. We were now to march in a solid body 
south through Tibet. The work of striking camp and loading 
up proceeded pretty smartly, for each man had his own 
appointed duty to do. Whilst some of them took down the 
tents, and re-packed the boxes which we used every time we 
stopped, others lifted the loads upon the camels and horses, 
and as each section got ready it started off by itself. 

First went the camels in five different groups, each with its 
leader, Turdu Bai himself riding at the head. Amongst the 
animals, as amongst the men, some possessed special features of 
interest, e.g., the three young camels which trotted at their 
mothers' heels. The youngest, although only a Uttle more than 
a month old, easily did his 23J miles without being distressed. 
Amongst the bigger camels, the tall, handsome bughra (male), 
which helped me through the desert of Kenya in 1896, and 
which we had bought again recently in Charkhlik, was especially 
noticeable. Nahr, the dromedary, which had crossed the Gobi 
with us to Löu-lan, always wore a muzzle, to prevent him from 
biting the others. The two artans (castrated males) which had 
taken part in all three desert journeys, and one of which I had 
ridden, being the quietest, carried my instrument cases. My 
old riding-camel was one of the nine which survived to Ladak. 

The horses and mules, to the number of 45, were also led or 
driven in separate groups, each accompanied by men on foot, 
to see that the loads rode level, and did not fall off. The sheep 
followed Vanka, and scarcely required looking after. We had 
eight dogs, which ran and frisked about the animals, as if the 
whole were a huge joke. As for the stag, the very first day he 

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turned unwell and was unable to keep up, nor could he eat his 
maize. When I saw that he had not strength to travel with us, 
I gave orders for him to be killed, although it was wdth an aching 
heart I did so ; but I preserv^ed his skeleton. 

The asses were always the last to be ready, and we soon left 
them behind ; in fact, they did not reach camp at all that day. 
Although they numbered now about 60, only two or three of 
them lived to the end of the journey. 

This long caravan of animals, laden with boxes, cases, tents, 
yurts, bundles, and sacks, made a picturesque, and even im- 
posing spectacle, as, with slow, heavy tread, they wound through 
the desolate landscape beside the blue-green lake. Cossacks, 
Russians, and Buriats, in their threadbare uniforms, and their 
felts strapped behind them on the saddle — Mohammedans in 
their chapans and skin caps — ass-drivers, more like a band of 
banditti and tatterdemalions than anything else — the Lama, in 
his red robe, turning up, now here, now there, in different parts 
of the caravan, like a good-natured Puck — all these contributed 
to make up a varied and lively picture. It put me in mind of an 
army marching to conquer a new country. And, in truth, that 
is precisely what we were ; but it was to be a peaceful conquest, 
namely, to subdue unknown countries to human knowledge. 
All the men, as well as all the animals, were now in splendid 
trim ; but how long would they remain so ? Experience had 
taught me that it was only a question of time before they would 
begin to melt away. I knew perfectly well that the journey 
would not be accomplished without victims. I had 30 men, but 
several of them were to return when we reached the Arka-tagh, 
including all who attended upon the ass-caravan. 

My place was sometimes in the van, sometimes in the rear 
of the procession ; but my own special work, of which plotting 
the route was the most important, generally took up the greater 
part of my time. 

At first we travelled south, close beside the lake, but were 
soon turned south-east by the treacherous marshes and morasses, 
and then followed the foot of a ridge, having on our left a large 
lagoon, with intensely salt water. We reached the other side 
of the ridge over a little pass, which consisted of soft, loose earth, 
that made it difficult and tiring for the heavily-laden camels. 
On the other side we were led straight down into a brook, which 
trickled along a veritable ravine. The bottom was nothing but 
brick-red mud, in which we should have been smothered, had 

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we not kept to the middle of the brook. Even though the 
stream was flowing, it was nevertheless in places intensely salt. 
The camels kept slipping and falling to their knees. With the 
view of escaping out of this wretched hole, we struck up the 
first side-ravine we came to, surmounted another pass, crossed 
another valley, and cUmbed up to a third pass. This last 
was hemmed in by steep banks of soft, reddish-brown earth, 
sculptured into fantastic towers and bastions, so that it was 
like riding through the ruins of an ancient town. 

At sunset we encamped (No. XII.) in the dreariest region 
it is possible to conceive. We had not indeed expected to 
find either pasture or fuel; but we did expect to find water. 
Fortunately about 9 o'clock it began to snow quite briskly. 
We at once put out all the cups and dishes we had, and in that 
way gathered sufficient to make a few mouthfuls of tea for each 
man. The animals were allowed to have as much maize as they 
could eat ; for it was clear thkt the asses would not be able to 
go very far, and it was better to use up their loads in this way 
than to leave them behind or throw them away. 

As soon as it stopped snowing we set to work, although it 
was then late, and dug a well ; but, after getting down 3|- feet, 
we gave it up as a bad job. Next morning, however, there was* 
a pretty large pool, big enough to supply all the men, and all 
the dogs as well. Dovlet came up with half of his ass-caravan. 
That day we did a short journey, so as to give the rest of it a 
chance to catch us up. 

Chemoff had already reconnoitred the country ahead, and 
now led us south-west, across hard, firm ground, with scanty 
clumps of yappkak,. networked in every direction by kulan 
tracks. We could still make out the range of the Kalta-alagan to 
the north ; but the lake which lay on this side of it was hidden 
by the hills we crossed the day before. By this we were quite 
familiar with the characteristic Tibetan weather — violent hail- 
storms, followed immediately by sunshine, or a bright sky above 
head, with black, gravid clouds ringing round the horizon. 

The same order which governed the march prevailed also 
when we stopped for the night. Every evening the camp was 
arranged on the same plan, so far as the varying contours of 
the ground would admit of it. At one end of the long row of 
loads stood Turdu Bai's tent, which he shared with Hamra Kul, 
Mollah Shah, and Rosi MoUah. The last-named, the Moham- 
medan priest of the caravan, was a pleasant, trustworthy man 

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from Charkhlik, about 40 years of age, who was able to write. 
Like Li Loyeh, he rode his own horse, and was paid the same 
wages as most of the Mussulmans, namely, 8 sär (about 30s.) a 

The tent at the other end of the baggage was occupied by 
Kutchuk, who used it as a kitchen for myself and the G)ssacks. 
Cherdon was my own steward, with Kutchuk for his assistant. 
Chernoff cooked for the Cossacks. In this way our kitchen was 
separated from that of the Mussulmans, who object to eat with 
" unbelievers," and have a mortal horror of any cooking-pot 
into which, by any chance, a piece of bacon might happen to 
find its way. On the other hand, the Cossacks had just as 
decided an objection to pollute their cooking-pot with the flesh 
of the wild-ass, for which the Mussulmans have a special fondness. 

The next in the arrangement was the big yurt, occupied by 
Sirkin, Shagdur, and the Lama. Each man had his own bed, 
consisting of felts and skins, besides a pillow, and kept his 
private effects in a box. The natives' personal belongings were 
not very bulky : in most cases a kurchin, or " double knapsack " 
of leather, was sufficient to contain them all. 

Although I issued strict orders to Shagdur to abstain from 
hard work after his illness, before many days he was hard at it 
again, lifting boxes and sacks with the best of them. As for 
our Lama, I had given him to understand that, being a " Doctor 
of Divinity," he need not perform any of the harder work inci- 
dental to caravan life, for that belonged to the Mussulmans. His 
sole duties would be, I told him, to give me lessons in Mon- 
golian, and afterwards, when we got into Tibet proper, to act 
as my interpreter of Tibetan, or Tangut-kälä, as it is* called in 
MongoUan. These instructions I repeated several times, but it 
was all to no avail ; there was no work which the Lama thought 
too rough for him, although his soft hands were far more 
accustomed to handling the holy volumes. He would rush in 
and lug off the heaviest boxes, or hoist them up as ably as any 
man in the caravan. Old Turdu Bai just laughed, and chuckled 
to himself at getting such a useful hand. By this means our 
Lama earned a certain degree of popularity in the caravan, and 
piqued the Mussulmans' ambition. A believer could not, of 
course, allow himself to be beaten by a Kaper, or " heathen," 
who ate swine's flesh. The Lama was a keen observer, and had 
a wide knowledge of men. Before very long he had taken the 
measure of every man in the caravan, and grouped the Moham- 

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f . ' 

S ' i ' ^ ■ , 

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medans in a double series, one according to their value as workers, 
the other according to their intrinsic worth as men. 

The next tent was Chernoff and Cherdon's httle yurt. 
Chernoff' s business was to superintend the actual labour of the 
caravan ; he was held responsible for everybody doing his duty. 
Cherdon was, as I have said, my body-servant and cook. 

At the extreme end of the opposite wing stood my yurt, 
guarded by YoUdash and Yollbars, whose zeal was often too 
lively with regard to imaginary enemies — that is to say, our 
own horses and camels, when they happened to be peacefully 
roaming about the neighbourhood. For sometimes, when the 
latter failed to find anything to eat, they would go up to Turdu 
Bai's tent and beg for maize. 

The rest of the men had to content themselves with tents 
of a more temporary character, such as felt carpets stretched 
between the camels' loads. They cooked their meals over fires 
lighted in the streets and market-place of our tented town. 
Some of them were on duty every night, keeping watch upon 
the animals, to prevent them from straying too far. In this 
irksome duty they of course took turns, while Chernoff saw that 
nobody shirked his turn, sometimes even riding out in the 
middle of the night to where the animals were grazing, to con- 
vince himself that the guards were not asleep. As for the sheep, 
they were always folded at night, because of ;,^e wolves. 

Every evening, as soon as the tents were pitched, the camp 
presented a busy scene of Ufe and movement. The men talked 
and argued in Jaggatai Turki, Russian, and Mongolian, for 
about an hour. Then Turdu Bäi led off the camels, and Hamra 
Kul the horses, to pasture, and issued their orders to their sub- 
ordinates. After that any pack-saddles which had burst open 
were mended ; while the camels or horses which were not up 
to the mark were kept in camp, and specially looked after. Our 
fuel consisted now almost entirely of argol, or the dung of wild 
yaks and kulans ; although we had a valuable reserve in the 
strong wooden frames to which the baggage was lashed. As 
the loads grew gradually less, these saddle-frames became no 
longer necessary, but were gradually used up, though at first 
only for starting the other fires. Whilst supper was cooking, 
the men gathered in groups round the fires, talking or resting. 
When, as was the case to-day, the usual westerly storm burst 
over the camp, with a heavy fall of snow, making the country 
white and wintry in the course of a few minutes, the men simply 

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flung felt carpets over their shoulders, and without further 
concern, continued the preparations for their supper. 

The felts and skins, which made my bed, were placed, like 
those of the men, immediately upon the ground. As soon as 
my yurt was up, and my bed ready, I sat »down and wrote up 
my diary for the day. After supper or dinner, call it which you 
like, I plotted out my map, reckoned the compass-bearings 
and distances, and marked the situation of the new camp on a 
general or key map. Thus, I always knew exactly where we 
were, and could avoid approaching too near to the routes of Mr. 
Littledale. and M. Dutreuil de Rhins on the west, or that of 
Prince Henri d'Orleans and M. Bonvalot on the east, and at 
the same time was able to direct our course towards Lassa. 

The ass caravan camped separately, close beside ours. As 
yet only 30 asses had turned up, and we knew nothing of the 
rest. Next morning, the 8th of June, I sent back the old man 
Dovlet to see what was become of them. 

Meanwhile we continued our journey up a dry ravine, carved 
through soft disintegrated clay and sand of . a red colour. The 
sky was everywhere clouded, grass was scanty, hares the only 
animals. After a while the country became difficult. Hundreds 
of dry watercourses gathered into a glen that pointed towards 
the north, and was pretty deeply trenched through the hills. 
We descended into it, and followed the bed of the brook ; but 
it was so soft and loose that the camels splashed the mud about 
them at every step, and soon began to sink in. Shouts of warn- 
ing — shouts of encouragement arise €very moment. A camel 
has capsized — a horse has flung off its load — a mule is stuck fast 
in the mire ! The most malevolent imagination could not invent 
a more irksome and tiresome surface to travel over. Sometimes 
these deep, but intermittent runnels were no bigger than mere 
gutters a foot wide. Thousands of them ran together at steep 
angles to form bigger rivulets, and these again gathered into 
others stiU bigger, until, finally, they issued into the main valley 
which ran down to the Kum-köU. Hence to march along the 
bottom of the main valley was hke walking with leaden soles 
or heavy weights attached to our boots ; for, of course, on 
ground like that everybody went on foot. In one pool that I 
stepped into, I left my boot, and dumped into the mud up to 
the knee. The paths which led to Dante's hell could scarcely 
be worse than this seven-fold, accursed highway. And the 
worst of it was, it was taxing the animals' strength to no pur- 

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pose ; in fact, two camels soon became exhausted, and had to be 
released from their loads. Yet in the distance these heights 
had looked so easy and innocent that the men had asserted we 
should have almost level ground to travel over. 

At last things grew so bad that we were brought literally to 
a standstill. Out of this horrible quagmire we must get some- 
how, and that soon. Turdu Bai proposed to climb up the bank 
on the left, and summoned a dozen men with their spades and 
set them to work to prepare a sloping pathway up. Whilst 
they were doing this, Chemoff rode on to reconnoitre, but soon 
came back, and said that it was impossible for a man even on 
foot to advance further in that direction. I at once gave the 
order right-about-face, and immediately the long procession 
turned about, each animal on the ground where it stood. This, 
however, was no easy thing to do, owing to the narrowness of 
the space. But if going up the ravine was bad, going down it 
was ten times worse, for the ground was now trampled into 
mire. After numberless small mishaps, we eventually managed 
to struggle back out of this treacherous trap. Next we tried 
another glen, which led up to another pass on the west, 
and which Sirkin had already examined. The middle of the 
glen was occupied by a dry watercourse with vertical sides. 
This we had to cross two or three times, and as the sides 
consisted of red soil, as loose and soft as flour, it cost us 
a good deal of spade labour to get up and down. Upon 
reaching the top of the little pass, I sat and watched the 
caravan file past me, down into the more open country on 
the other side. Of the two camels which had given up, we 
were only able to get one over, and that not without five 
men bodily pushing him up. He, I saw, would be the next to 
give in. 

Upon reaching a little meadow beside a fresh spring we 
halted, and for four reasons. In the first place, the pasture was 
exceptionally good, better than beside the Kum-köU. In the 
second place, the animals were exhausted. In the third place, 
we still had to wait for the asses, which were now a long way 
behind, and were going very badly ; several of them had, in 
fact, perished during the last two days. And, lastly, it was 
necessary to send scouts to look for a practicable road south, 
for it was a sheer waste of time to take on the whole of the 
caravan until we had ascertained what the country was hke 
ahead. MoUah Shah and Li Loyeh were the men chosen for 

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scouting duty, and they were instructed not to return until they 
had found a decent road. 

At three o'clock we had a storm from the west, accompanied 
by snow, and at nine o'clock a storm from the east. I sat and 
worked in my furs, half leaning over a brazier, and this was in 
the — middle of summer, i6° south of London ; but then we were 
at an altitude of over 13,000 feet above the level of the sea. I 
felt sorry for the poor camels, being brought into such a cold 
cUmate just when they had shed their coats, though we pro- 
tected them as well as we could with thick felt rugs. All the 
next day it snowed fast, except that at noon it cleared sufl5- 
ciently to let me take an observation for latitude. In the after- 
noon the scouts returned and said they had found a practicable 
road. Upon this I decided to start at once ; we could wait at 
the next camp for the asses to catch us up, as well as send out 
fresh scouts to prepare for the following day's march. It is by 
no means such an easy thing to travel through Tibet as some 
people would have us believe ; it requires a very great deal of 
forethought and study. During the night the temperature fell 
to — i3°.o C, or i8°.6 Fahr., and during the day seldom rose 
above freezing-point. 

Our scouts now led us due south, and although it was good 
travelling, we soon had to leave behind two of our camels, one 
of them being the individual which had such a rooted objection 
to passes. At length we approached the left bank of a con- 
siderable stream, the biggest we had seen for some time ; it was 
full of water, and there were large, thin sheets of ice floating on 
its surface. We stopped on a hill slope about 100 yards from 
its margin, at a spot where the first blades of grass were just 
shooting up. I walked towards the stream, and found myself 
on the edge of a precipice of loose, vertical gravel-and-shingle, 
about 76 feet high. Places like that were dangerous for the 
camels, their heavy weight causing the ground to give way 
under them. During the course of the evening Dovlet arrived 
with his 30 asses. 

As this was a suitable camping-ground, we remained three 
days, but led the camels to a safer valley to graze. Six more 
asses arrived with their burdens intact ; but as we heard nothing 
of the rest, I sent Cherdon back with some of the mules and 
horses to help them up. It was three days before he returned, 
but he brought with him all their loads. One day nine of them 
had perished, and thirteen on another day, so that only two or 

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three now survived, and they were no longer fit for use. Of 
the two camels that we left behind Turdu Bai succeeded in 
bringing in one, the other I entrusted to the care of the ass- 
drivers, who were returning, desiring them, if possible, to get 
the animal down to a warmer climate. 

The Cossacks spent their time hunting, and shot several 
orongo antelopes and wild-geese; the latter were resting on 
their journey north. In the evening Sirkin used to read aloud 
to his comrades Przhevalsky's Fourth Journey, in which they 
were greatly interested. 

Sirkin and MoUah Shah were appointed guides, and went off 


View at Camp no. XVI. 

with provisions and heavy coats, in case they should not be back 
before night. This was the 14th June. We had a favourable 
start, up a broad, open valley, with a gentle ascent, although 
in places it was dangerous in the lowest parts. Once Chernoff 
nearly disappeared, horse and all. Wild-geese swarmed every- 
where ; the men asserted that they were a peculiar species, and 
were not found north of the upper lake of Kum-köll. One 
which the Cossacks shot at and wounded, fluttered down into 
the bottom of the valley. With marvellous agility Ördek 
scrambled down the steep bank and ran after it ; but he forgot 
where he was, and nearly fainted for want of breath and the 
violent beating of his heart. After killing the goose he lay flat 

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on his back for a long time motionless. I sent two of the other 
men to help him, and at the end of an hour he was all right 
again. Shagdur shot three partridges, and a little bit further 
on Sirkin shot another orongo antelope. Kulans ako abounded, 
the troops generally numbering about a score. But we saw 
no wild yaks, although their droppings were abundant. 

On and on plodded the caravan to the dull jangle of the big 
bells. We were directing our steps towards a glen which pene- 
trated the formidable mountain-range that lay across our road. 
At the entrance of the glen the grass was thick, though short, 
and the glen was nearly filled with a big sheet of ice. It was 
just the place for a camp, much too good to be passed by. But 
hardly was the tent up, when an unexpected incident happened. 
We had stooped on the very edge of the ice sheet, and on the far 
side of it the men éoon perceived a black object, which they took 
to be a stone. But it moved. Then they thought it was a 
young yak deserted by its mother. I heard the Cossacks whis- 
pering earnestly together. Presently Chemoff stole towards me 
with the telescope, and whispered in a state of great excitement, 
" There's a bear ! It's making straight for the camp ! " And, 
sure enough, Bruin, taking not the slightest notice of either the 
tents or the camels, was marching calmly towards us as though 
he belonged to us. The dogs were hastily coupled together and 
led away out of sight, so as not to spoil sport. The Cossacks 
ran for their horses, for they thought that the bear would soon 
get scent of us and run away. But I advised them to stay where 
they were and wait quietly ; it was so enjoyable watching the 
animal's movements through the telescope. Nearer and nearer 
came the shaggy recluse. He must have been both deaf and 
blind. He was now actually on the ice, barely 200 paces 
away. He advanced diagonally across it, making straight for 
the camp. He moved extremely slowly ; evidently he was 
tired. Every now and again he stopped and sniffed the ground, 
though all the time he kept his head down. Then he dipped 
down into a hollow of the ice, and stayed there some time to 
drink. I advised the hunters to creep close up to the edge of 
the ice, and there wait for him. 

Bruin came on again, marching straight to his doom. The 
three shots rang out as though they were one. Bruin did not 
stop, but went off at a gallop up the slope past the camp. 
The horses were standing ready. In a moment the hunters 
were in the saddle and after him. Another volley and down 

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tumbled the brute, rolling like a ball to the bottom of the steep 
declivity. Picking up my big camera, I went to the spot where 
he lay and took two or three photos of the hermit of the moim- 
tains — the Tibetan bear. Then the men flayed him, for I 
wanted to keep his skin and skeleton. He was well riddled by 
the bullets. His teeth showed that he was an ancient male, 
for they were full of gaping, big holes. He must have suffered 
horribly from toothache, but it was now radically cured. In his 
stomach we found a marmot, which he had just devoured, and 
several herbs. The former he had swallowed whole, skin and 
all, although he had been unable to crush its bones. But he 
had exercised great ingenuity in making his meal as palatable 
as possible ; for he had skinned the marmot down to its toe 
ends, rolled the skin up into a ball with the hair inside, and 
gulped it down whole. 

The next day Sirkin and Mollah Shah returned, and under- 
took to guide us for two days. We had intended to start on the 
i6th June ; but when the men called me in the morning, they 
told me a violent snowstorm was raging. It had snowed all 
night, and the snow lay several inches thick on the ground. In 
face of this, we decided to wait a bit, and we did. It snowed all 
day, and kept us there all the next night. But on the following 
day the weather atoned for its own bad behaviour ; the sky 
was pure and bright, and the snow soon disappeared. With 
Sirkin as our guide, we ascended a very broad, waterless valley, 
leading up to the Arka-tagh. Except for green sappy moss, 
the pasture came to an end, and when we at length struck a little 
spring, we thought it best to halt. Again it snowed, coming on 
in the afternoon with a north-north-west wind, and the yurts 
were soon white. 

The following day Sirkin again led the way up to a flat, easy 
pass, and at the end of an hoiu: or so we reached the summit of 
the range, which for some days past had blocked our road. Then 
to the south-west there again rose before us another mountain- 
range, mantled from summit to foot in snow : that could be no 
other than our old enemy the Arka-tagh. Between the two 
ranges, but nearer to us, was a basin of self-contained drainage, 
with a little freshwater lake at the bottom, which was com- 
pletely icebound. As there was grass beside it, we decided that 
that should be the place for a stop. Early next morning three 
men went off to reconnoitre again, with instructions that they 
were all to return if they discovered grass within about six 
VOL. II. 16* 

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miles ; but if they found none, then one of them was to come 
back and tell us, whilst the other two went on. At noon, one 
of the three returned, but it was two days before we saw the 
others again. They reported that they had discovered a pass, 
though not a very easy one. From this camp (No. XVIII.), 
which was 15,529 feet above sea-level, I sent back several of 
my company. The few asses that survived were in such a 
pitiable condition that it would have been cruel to take them 
over the Arka-tagh. I therefore gave Dovlet Caravan-bashi 
permission to return. At best he would only be able to 
save half-a-dozen of his animals. I packed up the skeleton 
and skin of the bear and the stag, and entrusted them to the 
old man to send on to Kashgar when he got home, for he had 
horses with him as well as asses. At the same time I sent back 
three of the men I had engaged at Charkhlik — ^namely, Niaz, 
Kader, and Kurban. None of them wanted to go, but we had 
three men too many, and these were the least useful. 

Thus reduced in strength, we resumed our march on the 
2ist June towards the south-south-west, the groimd being in 
every respect favourable — a gentle ascent, just hard enough to 
bear the animals, and overgrown with scanty grass. When I 
speak of grass, I do not wish to suggest an exaggerated idea of 
the reality. Generally speaking, the region was perfectly barren, 
except for a few small patches of hard, sharp yellow blades, one 
or two inches high ; this was called grass. I would not advise 
anybody who was wearing thin summer clothing to fling him- 
self down on " grass " of that description for a siesta ; for it 
was as hard as whalebone, and pierced like a needle through even 
thick clothes. Yet in that inhospitable country this was the 
only fodder obtainable. 

Shagdur and Sirkin shot two antelopes. When the latter 
was riding to pick up his game, his horse stumbled head over 
heels with him, flinging his rider, who rolled for some distance. 
The horse lay stone dead ; either he had broken his neck, or 
had a stroke. Strange to say, Sirkin, who came limping back, 
was Uttle the worse for the mishap. He was very sorry tp lose 
his favourite ; it was a beautiful and powerful animal, with a 
long mane, and reminded me of the war-horses of Charles XII.'s 

Once more our friend the pass-hater failed to come in, and 
Turdu Bai, who remained behind with him, turned up at night 
alone. Next morning I sent two men back, with orders to kill 

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him if he refused to follow. But when we got over the Arka- 
tagh I learned that they had not killed the beast, their hearts 
having failed them. The camel was strong and well, and they 
left him to find his way back by the way he had come. 

At Camp no. XIX. my old riding-camel, Chong-artan, was 
seized with some peculiar affection. His hind legs were as if 
paral3^ed, and he was unable to move them, except as the men 
Ufted them each in turn. I was always sorry to lose my 
veterans, and had them looked after with extra care. But even 
thus early there were no less than nine camels that showed signs 
of exhaustion. Every evening we gave them a big dose of flour 
— in fact, we used up that important commodity at such a rate 
that our supply, which was originally calculated for ten months, 
was reduced to scarce sufiicient for six. On the other hand, 
the diminution in the number of carriers — the tired camels — 
made the burdens of the survivors all the heavier, and rather 
than leave anything behind, we thought it best to use it up a 
Uttle recklessly. The lame camel was massaged, and released 
from duty whilst crossing the Ärka-tagh ; and he recovered in 
an amazing way, and was, as I have said, one of the nine sur- 
vivors which marched into Ladak. His place was always in 
the van, and he carried a big bell. 

The day we reached Camp no. XIX. we did twenty 
miles ; but it was a long time before we ever accomphshed 
as much again. 

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On the 22nd of June I was called at daybreak. The morning 
was cold and raw, and the yurt but badly warmed, and I made 
haste to get into my clothes. The caravan, too, was promptly 
ready, and off we started, keeping as close together as possible, 
to storm the Arka-tagh. But we had barely got a stone's-throw 
from camp when one of the camels gave up. We" took off 
his load ; he got up, and went on a bit ; then he fell headlong 
on a slope. He was evidently done for, and a slash with a knife 
put an end to his sufferings. 

The sky at starting had not been very promising, and when 
we were half way up the valley the storm burst — one of the verj' 
worst I have ever experienced in Tibet. It was brought by the 
north-west wind, and shook out tons upon tons of snow and hail 
over men, camels, horses, mountains — ever5rthing. The snow 
melted on our clothes till we were wet through and stiff with cold. 
It was in vain we sought shelter against the cutting blast. 
Although the ascent was nothing worth speaking of, it was 
nevertheless killing work at that altitude, and in such weather. 
First one camel and then another stopped exhausted, and re- 
fused to advance further. One after one we uncoupled them 
and left them behind, each in charge of a man. 

So blinding was the snow that it was utterly impossible 
to see where we were going to. At noon it was twilight, and at 
twilight it was pitch dark. And the snow tumbled down in- 
cessantly, until everything was dazzling white, except the stream, 
which tinkled with a sharp metallic sound as it rippled like a dark 
winding ribbon down the middle of the valley. I sat leaning 
forward in my saddle, trying to protect my map as well as I 
could. Where we were going to I did not know. I simply fol- 
lowed bUndly the nearest caravan-bell. Slowly, like snails, 

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like tortoises, we crawled up that wretched pass, the ascent 
gradually growing steeper as we advanced. Time after time 
the air was rent with the hoarse scream of the camels. Time 
after time came the warning shout, " Tuga kalldi,'' i,e,, " A 
camel has stopped ! " Then one of the men would take com- 
passion upon the poor beast and draw him aside, and let the 
others pass, and afterwards follow slowly on in their wake. 

The snow grew deeper and deeper. Taking the Lama with 
me, I pushed on to see if the pass was practicable. In itself it 
presented no difficulty ; but the altitude ! the snow ! There 
we sat waiting, waiting, wrapped in our cloaks, seeking what 
shelter we could behind -the horses. The sharp, keen snow 
crystals cut our faces. We shook and dithered with cold, and 
gasped for breath. We were 17,025 feet above the level of the 
sea ! Through the howling of the tempest — and it was fiercer 
than ever up here upon the top — we heard the shouts of the men 
and the mournful jingle of the bells ; but it was a terribly long 
time before the first emerged like spectres from amongst the 
" pillars " of driving snow. 

Thank God ! I thought to myself when I counted the thirtieth 
camel go past. That was all except four. Two of them had 
given up at the foot of the last descent, and the other two almost 
on the very summit of the pass. Amongst them were the oldest 
of the three young ones and its mother. The horses stood the 
strain capitally, and the mules were very little the worse. The 
sheep, too, came through the ordeal splendidly. 

On its southern face, the Arka-tagh offered a long, gentle 
slope, a sort of wide, open rotunda, surrounded on all sides by 
relatively low mountains. But under foot it was abominable : 
the fresh-fallen snow was converted into slush, which splashed and 
" sucked " at every step. We had to make long detours round 
the worst places. Camping on such ground was, of course, 
not to be thought of. We should have lost all our camels and 
packages in the mire. We were now possessed by only one desire, 
and that was for a dry, firm spot on which to pitch our tents. 
Grazing — fuel — these were luxuries we did not dream of asking 
for. At last we reached a gravel slope with moisture trickhng 
through it ; and there we pitched our tents. 

Turdu Bai and several of the men did not turn up till ten 
o'clock that night. They had been obliged to leave the four 
camels behind them, but at daybreak on the 23rd of June they 
returned, taking horses with them to bring in the camels' loads 

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and the hay in their pack-saddles, if they could not save the 
animals themselves. But their hopes were deceived. The 
camels were too far gone, and had to be killed, though we never 
took the final step until we were perfectly sure the case was 
hopeless. Thus in one day we lost no less than five camels, 
the biggest loss I ever had on any of my joumej^, even counting 
that across the Takla-makan in 1896. The main body of the 
caravan having been thus reduced one-sixth, the loads were too 
heavy for the survivors. Accordingly I gave orders that both 
horses and camels should have as much flour and maize as they 
could eat. Next day we only travelled seven miles. 

The principal thing now was to find a suitable camping- 
ground, so that the animals might rest after their strenuous ex- 
ertions. This we eventually found on the farther side of a little 
brook, where a few miserable blades of grass were sprouting. It 
was as much as ever one of the other exhausted camels could do 
to reach the spot. A horse, which looked perfectly fresh and 
well, dropped dead all of a sudden right amongst the tents. 
This was, however, but a beginning. Every day we lost at least 
one of our animals. This part of our route could easily have 
been traced by the dead animals we left behind us. A lugubrious 
road, when skeletons stand for the milestones ! I have fre- 
quently observed that a camel will begin to shed tears when it 
feels death inuninent and the blood stiffening in its veins. 

The weather now took a turn for the better ; the sun was quite 
warm, and soon dried us after our soaking on the Arka-tagh. 
This diminished very appreciably the weight of our loads. On 
the morning of Midsummer Day, although the sky was clear, 
the country looked decidedly wintry. As soon as I had had my 
breakfast I went and thoroughly inspected the caravan animals. 
During the day Hamra Kul, the leader of the horse caravan, 
was reported to me as being seriously ill ; and the man did indeed 
look wretched. He complained of pains all over his body ; but 
I gave him quinine, and let him ride, for all the Mussulmans 
had been constrained to walk the day before, after the camels' 
loads were transferred to their horses. 

The next on the Ust was my favourite riding-horse. He was 
scarcely able to stand. Our Lama, who in addition to his 
priestly dignity, was a medico by profession, and lugged about 
with him a whole chestful of more or less efficient drugs from 
Lassa, took him in hand, and promised that he would cure him. 
He opened the arteries in both fore-legs, so that the black blood 

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gushed out by the cupful. Then he bound up the wound, and 
the horse tottered after us into camp. Several camels were out 
of sorts ; all were tired, and two or three carried no loads. 

Midsummer Day passed without any further mishap. We 
zig-zagged south, in and out, round the countless little fresh- 
water lakes and pools which lay embedded amongst the low 
hills, and most of which were sheeted with ice. After a while 
we saw another imposing range peeping up from behind the 
hills. Turdu Bai, who always led the way, wanted to cross it 
by the first pass we came to ; but I said, " No ; let us follow this 
wide glen which runs to the west-north-west." We did so, and 

Fording a River in Northern Tibet. 

stopped at the first pasture we came to, and were there greeted 
by a stinging shower of hail. Our first care was to examine and 
classify the animals. Those that were in good condition were 
let out to graze, but those that were not up to the mark were kept 
beside the tents. The Lama again bled my horse, and then gave 
him a long, icy-cold foot-bath in the nearest brook. After this 
the horse soon grew better, and grazed a bit, and then cnmched a 
handful or two of maize. As we had still six camel-loads of rice 
left, I gave orders that in future the animals should have rice and 
maize mixed, partly to keep up their strength until we reached 
fresh grass, and partly to lighten their loads. 

It was now two years since I started on this series of tSravels, 

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and as I looked back upon the work I had accomplished, I felt I 
had every reason to be satisfied and thankful. 

It was a long time since we had come across any fuel, and 
the wooden frames of the pack-saddles had been used up as fast 
as the camels died. I could not work without a little brazier 
in my terit. It was stinging cold of a morning, and during the 
night the thermometer generally fell below freezing-point, so 
that for a couple of hours after daybreak the ground was hard. 

On the 25th of June we travelled almost due west, following 
the latitudinal valley which ran parallel to the Arka-tagh 
on the south. We did less than twelve miles. I was making 
for the camp where we had rested on the 28th and 29th September, 
1900, the position of which I had determined astronomically, 
and I now wanted to control it by a fresh series of observations. 
As is usual in these broad, desolate, sterile main valleys of the 
northern Tibetan mountain ranges, the scenery was absolutely 
monotonous, with scarce a trace of animal life. It was an 
important event when we caught sight of an orongo antelope 
scuttling across the valley. The surface was undulating, and the 
view not very extensive. We would see our guide sitting on his 
horse like a sharp-cut silhouette on the summit of the next ridge, 
and were led to think that the man had a boimdless panorama 
spread out before him. But nothing of the kind. His road was 
stopped by another similar ridge, only a short distance in front 
of him. And so it went on, ridge after ridge, all day long, until 
we halted beside a tiny lake, ice-bound, but with open shores. 

At dusk I inspected the camp as usual. It was seldom I now 
found everybody well. Hamra Kul was better, but instead of 
him Rosi MoUah, the priest, had sore-throat, and Mohammed 
Turdu, the old camel-man, complained of pains in the chest. 
I gave both of them some medicine, which, thanks to their own 
imaginations, soon made them better. In the meantime they 
were exempted from duty. Several of the other men complained 
of headache, and I gave each of them an antipyrin powder, 
and comforted them with the assurance that in those high alti- 
tudes nobody escaped without signs of tutek, or " mountain-sick- 
ness." For my own part, fortunately I never felt the least 
symptoms of it. 

My horse was now out of danger, but several of the camels 
were wretchedly lean. As the two little camel foals were imable 
to get as much milk as they wanted, I had them fed with flour 
made into a paste ; this they swallowed greedily when we put the 


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balls into their throats. At nine o'clock a storm came from the 
north, and the temperature went up to 8°.9 C, or 48^.0 Fahr. 

We were evidently the first to penetrate amongst those moun- 
tains, for we failed to discover the slightest indications of previous 
visitors. We had long ago burnt our bridges behind us, and we 
were now entirely dependent upon ourselves. But — in pro- 
portion as we advanced amongst those barren and desolate 
mountains, so were our animals dying one by one, and those 
that still survived were growing every day weaker. 

On the 26th of June we had very peculiar weather, gloriously 
bright in the morning, with warm summer airs ; but it was not 
long before the wind began to blow with such violence from the 
west that we, who were riding in its teeth, literally gasped for 
breath. Even without that, our animals had quite enough to 
do to struggle along in the rarefied air, and an adverse wind tried 
them terribly. You might almost speak of a west monsoon, 
so consistently did the wind blow from one direction. It was 
precisely the same sort of furious gale, whirling the sand and dust 
high into the air, and threatening to buckle up tents and ynrts 
alike, that we had encountered at Camp no. LVI. of the autumn 
before. Our present camp, no. XXIV., thus coincided with 
Camp no. LXI. of the preceding year, and gave me an invaluable 
point of control for my map. All that remained of our previous 
\asit were the ashes and embers of our fires. We pitched our 
tents on the same spot, on the left side of the little brook. 

The lake was still, for the greater part, coated with soft ice ; 
it would be the middle of July before the ice all melted, and then 
early in November it would freeze again. .The tendency of the 
different lakes to freeze, and the periods during which they 
remained frozen, naturally varied with the size, salinity, and 
more or less exposed situation of each lake. The little fresh- 
water pools close to the Arka-tagh remained frozen for the greater 
part of the year. We had, as I have said, summer weather, 
and at one p.m. the temperature, in spite of the tempest, rose to 
20°. o C, or 68°.o Fahr. In fact, it was a warm current of air, 
a sort of föhn, which was sweeping across those lofty, icy 
uplands — a summer wind crossing the ice-bound lakes ! 

Here we rested a day, and I took advantage of it to fix the 
position astronomically. Meanwhile Sirkin and Turdu Bai 
reconnoitred the country to the west, and found no hindrance in 
our way. The Cossacks, with the view of marking this important 
point, built a double-headed landmark of slates, on which Sirkin 

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and Shagdur cut their names, whilst on another big slab our 
Lama engraved his everlasting ** On maneh padmeh hum^ 
The obo stands on rising ground on the right bank, and will be 
easy to find should any traveller in the future chance to direct 
his footsteps into that region. In fact, if he carries my map 
with him, it is so detailed that he will be able to march straight 
to our camp. The Mussulmans, not to be outdone by the " un- 
believers," built up a bigger pyramid for themselves. 

On the 28th we continued south-west along the lake side, 
and soon came to another lake, which turned us to the south- 
east ; although we were aiming in the former direction, so as 

Our Landmark. 

to avoid the difi&cult^and mountainous country which we here 
abouts got entangled in on our journey of the previous year. 
On the 29th June we travelled i6f miles, making at first for 
a low pass, which, like the region in general, was free from snow. 
Its summit afforded a magnificent view of a fresh latitudinal 
valley, broad and flat, and studded with lakes. Of these the 
biggest lay in the south-west, and as it was free from ice we 
concluded that it was salt. On the farther side, that is the 
south, it was backed by softly-rounded hills of a fiery-red 
colour, which contrasted sharply with the glorious, pure 
ultramarine blue of the lake, especially as both were set in a 
landscape of monotonous grey. 

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Our chief want now was water. The watercourse which 
ran down to the lake contained a brook, but it was salt ; nor 
was there any spring near the left shore. So Shagdur rode on 
a little bit, until he found a fresh-water spring. At sunset it 
was a dead calm ; but at eight o'clock a gale set in from the north, 
blowing at the rate of 38 miles an hour. Its somewhat plaintive 
wail drowned every other sound, except the shrill shouts of the 
men when [an5rthing chanced to break Joose or threatened to 
blow away. 

Next morning we crossed the red heights beyond the lake 
without any trouble, but after that we had an extremely dif&cult 
march, for we had to climb over three passes, all cut through 
the soft red soil, plentifully sprinkled with bright crystals of 
gypsum. At last we struck a stream, which we soon recognised 
as the upper course of the one we had recently encamped beside. 
Had we had the least suspicion of the fact, we should, of course, 
have avoided the passes, and travelled up the bed of the stream 
itself, for it ran over hard ground. But, then, we were travelling 
in an utterly unknown part of the world, and it is just the dis- 
covery of these things that constitute the pleasure and fascina- 
tion of travel. 

On the 1st of July we covered almost exactly 17 miles. 
Before us rose an imposing mountain-chain, its upper reaches 
capped with snow which gUttered like ice. This we had of 
course to circle round, either on one side or the other. While 
Chemoff tried it on the west, Cherdon and the Lama went to 
see what it was like on the east. The former soon came back, 
and said it would be impossible for the camels to get round 
that way ; the latter reported that we could advance, but 
must prepare for a stiff climb. 

Up we went, at a slow pace, towards the dizzy heights. The 
path grew steeper. The nearer we approached the snows the 
bigger waxed the stream, for it was fed by countless rivulets 
gushing out of every crevice. The water was thick and red, 
and poured, a heavy sullen flood, down the glen. 

Vegetation ceased ; there was not even a scrap of moss 
amongst the gravel. At length we conquered the last steep slope 
— ^we were on the top. The camels breathed hard ; you could 
distinctly hear them labouring for breath. Some of the men, 
who had climbed the ascent on foot to look after the loads, 
flung themselves down on the ground. Everything danced 
before their eyes. On the top of the pass stood the Lama, 

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waiting for us, his red robe now rather less conspicuous than 
usual, owing to the predominant colouring of his surroundings. 
The rock was red conglomerate, and the whole landscape was 
tinged with its colour. 

Although five of the camels were in a bad way, and three 
came up minus their loads, they all managed to reach the top 
of the pass, which was 17,511 feet above the level of the sea, 
a good deal higher than the Arka-tagh. But the pass was, 
fortunately, free from snow, and, again fortunately, we were 
spared the inevitable snowstorm. Leaving the snow-field, a 
thousand feet or more above us, on the right, we struck down 
the bare southern face of this dominating mountain-knot. 
There again we found a considerable stream, which curved 
away to the south-east, and disappeared amongst the rugged 
hills. As so often happened before, we were unable to ascertain 
where it went to ; in all probability it emptied itself into some 
hidden lake. We pitched Camp no. XXVIII. on its right bank. 

It had now become part of the established order of the day 
for the medicine chest to make its appearance at every camp^ 
Chemoff had a splitting headache, Turdu Bai had a sore eye, 
and when I gave him cocaine its effect produced a profound 
impression upon the other men. The same result had been 
produced the day before, when I cured Hamra Kul of toothache 
with some " drops." Probably it was curiosity rather than actual 
need that now brought me three fresh patients ; one of them, 
Islam Ahun of Charkhlik, in especial, complained of toothache. 
The truth was they wanted to see if the effects of the medicine 
really were in agreement with Hamra Kul's description. The 
worst case was Mohammed Tokta, who complained of his heart, 
and suffered from sleeplessness, I gave him morphia occa- 
sionally to make him sleep. For a long time past he had done 
no work, and he was destined never to do any more. My medi- 
cine chest was thus looked upon as a miraculous talisman. As 
soon as I produced it, all the men who were disengaged used to 
gather outside my tent. Many were the supplicating glances 
directed towards its brass lock during those long months. For 
my own part, I was only too glad never to have occasion to make 
trial of its contents. 

On the 2nd of July we also had a good day, doing 16^ miles. 
The country consisted almost entirely of red sandstone. The 
worst of it was that the camels, in consequence of the insufficient 
pasture, were growing thinner and thinner, and were fast using 

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up their strength. We had only three sacks of maize left. 
Should we — this was now the all-important question — should we 
reach better regions before it was too late ? 

At last we hit upon a valley that descended towards the 
south, but before long it contracted into a disagreeable, 
winding gorge, the bottom of which was choked with slabs of 
sandstone that hurt the camels' feet. To escape this we were 
forced to turn up over a low rounded pass, where Sirkin shot a 
little antelope. Yolldash rushed blindly upon the wounded 
animal, but was greatly taken aback upon being met by a pair 
of sharp horns. The men never indulged in hunting for the sake 
of mere sport, only when we were in need of food. Besides, 
we had to think of the ammunition. Each of the Cossacks had 
only 142 cartridges left — quite sufficient if it were well husbanded ; 
but we did not know what the future had in store for us, and it 
was best not to waste it. 

After crossing a fiat saddle, we perceived beyond it a small 
lake, and its farther side was — ^green ! An hour later we were 
amongst it ; it was, it is true, very thin and short, but it was 
fresh and tender. And, to crown our good luck, there was an 
abundant supply of kulan droppings for fuel. 

All day the weather was everything that could be desired^ 
much too warm for winter clothing. There was one character- 
istic of the winds of this region which I had for several days 
observed. Almost invariably the west wind dropped at sunset. 
Then, whilst twilight lasted, it was a dead calm, so that I 
used to dine with a light burning and the door open. But 
shortly after eight down came the gale from the north, and in a 
few moments the camp was all confusion. The men rushed off 
in all directions, to fasten their tents, and hurry under shelter 
any things that chanced to be lying outside. The sparks from 
our fires whirled up like comets' tails, and we had to keep a 
good look-out to see that nothing caught fire. That evening the 
wind had a velocity of nearly 36 miles an hour. As a rule the 
storm continued as long as I was awake, or, say, until mid- 
night ; but when I was called in the morning, just before seven, 
the atmosphere was again in equilibrium. Thus there were two 
prevailing winds in those regions, a westerly and a northerly, 
the former blowing by day, the latter by night. Wherever 
accumulations of sand were formed, it was always on the west 
side of the north-and-south valleys — that is to say, on the side 
that was sheltered from the west wind. 

VOL. II. 17 

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Just before the storm burst that afternoon, our camp and 
its immediate surroundings presented quite an idyllic picture, 
if one may ever use the word " idyllic " with regard to a Tibetan 
landscape. The sun had set, but its purple afterglow still lingered 
in the heavens. In the east the moon, pale yellow and of a 
frigid aspect, slowly sailed across the dark blue sky, and filtered 
its rays through the thin white haze, throwing everything into 
magic relief — softening the harsh tints, and obscuring the sharp 
angularities. Across the moon hung a narrow, coal-black strip 
of cloud, like a black ribbon flung athwart a silver globe. It 
made me fancy that Saturn and his ring had somehow 
wandered astray in the heavens. The sky was in places fringed 
with light, fleecy clouds. The caravan animals were scattered 
over the hill-sides, eagerly plucking the scanty grass. Such 
camels as were not up to the mark lay huddled together beside 
Turdu Bai's tent ; and close by were the two little ones with 
their mothers. 

Here we stayed yet another day. According to my reckon- 
ing this was the valley in which we had buried Aldat the autumn 
before, though his grave lay nearly 20 miles farther to the east. 

On the 4th of July we travelled almost due south, over a 
gently undulating surface, with thin grass, numerous salt pools, 
and an abundance of game, especially kulans and antelopes. 
Yak dung was very plentiful too, and, what was more to our 
purpose, it was dry. The ground also was in general remark- 
ably dry, as compared with what it was the autumn before, 
when we were several times very nearly engulfed in the mire. 
But then it was a long time since there had been any downfall. 
When the wind blew, clouds of dust hung over the track of the 

Once more we were approaching a fresh pass, which we 
reached by a steep, gravelly ravine. On the way up we dropped 
one camel. On the summit, 17,094 feet above the sea, the only 
vegetation was yak moss. Thence we had a most extensive 
view : for fully four days ahead there appeared to be no serious 
difficulties to encounter. But, looking back, what a very different 
view! Range behind range, crest overtopping crest, until the 
high-pitched horizon was closed by the mountain knot we had 
cUmbed round, with its lofty pass and its perpetual snow ! The 
landscape wels for the most part dressed in light shades, red 
predominating. Faint tinges of yellow and green revealed the 
pasture-ground we had recently left. In places the eye caught 

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the gleam of snow. The whole scene suggested a flat desert 
picture, and above the whole stretched the turquoise-blue 
canopy of the sky. We pitched our tents on the slope going 
down from the pass, at an altitude of 16,582 feet. We obtained 
water by digging a well in a dry watercourse, but next morning 
discovered a spring. Sirkin and Cherdon shot six brace of 
partridges ; and in another place they bagged two yaks. 
Although we thus fared sumptuously, the poor camels looked 
wretchedly thin and miserable. Nor were the horses much 
better ; here at Camp no. XXX. one had to be killed, and we 
were obliged to give the others a day's rest. 

On these rest days Shagdur and the Lama were busily em- 
ployed getting my Mongolian dress ready. A very remarkable 
change had by this come over the last named : his courage had 
grown, and he was now actually longing to get back to Lassa. 
All this while my lessons in Mongolian went on without inter- 
ruption, and the Lama drew me plans of the holy city, its temples, 
and its squares. The enterprise, as a whole, now presented 
itself to him in rosier colours, and he was wont to express his 
views in the following pregnant sentence : "Mo bollneh ikkeh 
mo bollneh gué, sän bollneh ikkeh sän bollneh," i.e., " Goes it 
bad, it goes not very bad ; but goes it well, it goes very well." 

Every evening, on the stroke of nine, I used to pay a visit to 
the big ynrt inhabited by Sirkin, Shagdur, and the Lama, to 
examine the meteorological journal kept by the first-named, as 
well as to take the reading of the self-registering thermometer, 
a duty I always performed myself. Then I used to sit and chat 
with them for an hour, while Turdu Bai and Hamra Kul came 
and made their reports about their respective animals. That 
evening they told me there was scarcely a sack of maize left, 
and whatever the consequences might be for ourselves, we must 
give up all the rice and flour we could possibly spare for the 
animals. Turdu Bai considered it absolutely essential that we 
should hurry on in search of grass, and then allow the camels 
at least a month to recover. 

Another item of news they brought me was less satisfactory, 
namely, that during the day nearly all the sheep had run away. 
They had not been missed until dark, but most of the Mussulmans 
had gone off in quest of them. Chemoff .also joined in the search 
on horseback, taking some of the dogs with him. I was afraid 
it would prove a repetition of what had happened the preceding 
year, and was rather dreading the scolding I should have to give 

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to the offender. The plain truth of the matter was, the flock had 
been left to the tender care of Vanka, the ram ; and indeed he 
had managed his business as well as any Mussulman. At ten 
o'clock the searchers came back tired, but without the sheep. 
They said they would wait an hour until the moon rose, and 
then go and look for them again. It was midnight when they 
finally returned ; but luckily they brought all the sheep with 
them. They had found them in a side ravine, lying at the 
bottom of its deep watercourse. 

As the animals' strength declined, so did our marches grow 
shorter and shorter. We seldom managed more than 12 miles 
a day now. But on the 6th of July they were slower than usual. 
I used to take the Lama and ride on in advance, and wait for 
them at the top of some pass ; but that day our wait was a 
very long one. 

We were now surrounded by primeval nature in its most 
desolate and deterrent aspects. Never before had a human being 
set foot in those wild tracts. Days, weeks, months passed, and 
we were the only human beings to impart life to the region. 
Orographically the same parallelism of the mountain-ranges 
obtained which we had observed the year before. Every chain 
and every latitudinal valley between them, as well £is every 
individual summit, stretched from east to west, and as we were 
travelling south, we had necessarily to cross them all one after 
the other. Scarce a day passed without our climbing over some 
pass, and very often we had two or more to our credit in the 
day. Yet it was very strange how seldom the bare rock 
cropped out. Both that day and the next the surface consisted 
of soft, sandy material, dry and tolerably firm, though in the 
bottom of the valleys there was generally some gravel. Gra- 
dually the grass, too, improved. When we stopped, two of the 
camels lagged, as usual, behind ; one of them was the veteran of 
1896 ; his days were now plainly numbered. But before he 
died, I took the accompanying (p. 259) portrait of him. 

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On the 7th of July the going was unusually favourable ; we 
had no pass to surmount, and the ground was firm. Our journey 
lay down the sloping side of a flat, open, cauldron-shaped valley, 
with an almost circular lake at the bottom. Its water was pure 
and intensely blue, girdled by a broad band of cr5^tallized salt, 
which in the distance glittered like ice or snow. The western 
shore was overhung by heights of a brick-red colour. The strip 
of shore consisted of moist saliferous ooze, and it was no easy 
matter to obtain a canful of the water, to see what it was like. 
In fact it was only after Kutchuk had devised a pair of makeshift ■ 
skty or snow-shoes, that he durst venture to cross the dangerous 
margin. But the water contained such a heavy solution of 
salt that the areometer refused to sink by the half of its height. 
Of course the scale was no use at all, and we were forced to make 
a special mark on the glass. Fortunately, this treacherous strip 
of mire was sharply marked off from the slopes around by a 
distinct swelling. Passing the lake, we steered to the south- 
east, making for the mouth of a valley which led up to the 
next pass. We now began to look for water, for it was 
nothing like so plentiful hereabouts as in the Arka-tagh. I 
rode on first, to see whether there was a spring at the bottom 
of the valley. There we eventually dug a well, and at a depth 
of nearly two feet obtained cold, fresh water. 

On the 8th of July, although we travelled no more than 
8 J miles, only 27 of the camels managed to reach camp — 
no. XXIII. (16,540 feet). They were now so far gone that 
we preferred to make a long detour round even insignificant 
passes, rather than risk losing one or two of the animals by 
crossing over them. But the pass which lay before us, 16,600 
feet in altitude, could not be avoided, and our Lama, who had 

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reconnoitred it, assured us that it was not difficult. Nor was 
the ascent, indeed, of any account ; still, it was hard -work for 
our exhausted beasts. On the other side the contours were more 
intricate and unfavourable. There were several crests which 
would have to be got over by some means or another ; and 
at our feet were four fresh-water pools, each embedded like a 
saucer amongst the hills. Shagdur went on in advance to 
examine the country, and came back and reported that the next 
pass would be too high for the camels. Already three were 
lagging behind, and, sooner or later, we should have to wait for 
them. This we did beside a fifth pool, although the grass was 
thin and poor. ' Next day two out of the three laggards managed 
to get up to the camp, the third lay stiff and cold on the spot 
where he had been left. 

It was clear things could not go on in this way much longer. 
A change must be made in the order of our march. The best 
thing seemed to be to weed out the weak animals, and leave 
them to follow on slowly after, whilst with the rest I pushed 
on at a faster pace. The first step was to reconnoitre our 
position, for we were now, as it were, in a sack, from which we 
could not get out until we found a hole somewhere. Chemoif 
rode to the east ; the road was blocked by steep diffs. Mollah 
Shah, who tried the south, reported that the two or three low 
passes he had crossed were not particularly difficult. 

Then we picked out eleven camels, five of which had carried 
no loads during the last two or three days, and six horses, and 
left them to get a few days' rest, after which they were to follow 
on our trail by short, easy stages. This important task I en- 
trusted to Chemofi, and told off five men to help him — namely, 
Rosi Mollah, Mollah Shah, Kutchuk, Khodai Kullu, and Almaz, 
the last-named an old man from Charkhlik, whose euphonious 
name means the same thing as " jewel." I also left with them 
four of our dogs — Malchik, Hamra, Kalmak, and Kara-itt — as 
well as half of our surviving flock of sheep, now reduced to 
about a dozen. The selection of the animals was made with 
great care and circumspection by Turdu Bai and the Cossacks. 
At first only ten camels were picked out ; the eleventh was 
added just as we .were starting. Eight camel-loads of baggage, 
consisting exclusively of provisions, were left for them to bring 
on; but all the instruments and other important things we 
carried with us. 

It was not at all convenient to divide the caravan in this 

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way just then, when we were approaching inhabited regions, 
and might perhaps require the whole of our strength undivided. 
But we had no choice in the matter, and I left the rear-guard well 
armed with two rifles and several revolvers. 

I arranged with Chemoff that on hard ground, more especi- 
ally when we kept to the watercourses at the bottoms of the 
valleys, or crossed hard gravel, we would leave heaps of stones 
to mark which way we had gone. I could not of course tell 
him where the main caravan would stop, for the simple reason 
that I did not know myself. It would all depend upon cir- 
cumstances, principally upon the presence of grass, and the 
chance of encountering human beings. 

A change in the weather occurred at Camp no. XXXIII. 
The morning was bright and clear ; but at noon the hail was 
dancing a witches' carnival on the hill-sides ; and the first squall 
was soon followed by a second. After that there was a drizzling 
rain for the rest of the day, and at nightfall it turned into a 
good, steady downpour. We did not derive much satisfaction 
from listening to the monotonous patter-patter of the rain, for 
we knew that every drop would only add to the weight of our 
loads by making tents and yurts as heavy as lead, and would 
at the same time convert the ground into a quagmire. 

We said good-bye to the rear-guard on the loth July. Cher- 
noff understood that it would be a feather in his cap if he brought 
in the greater part of the eleven camels I left in his charge. 
After a big snowfall during the night the ground was heavy 
and slippery. Amid these dreary surroundings the caravan 
we left behind looked even more forlorn and wretched than 
usual. Only one or two of the animals thought it worth while 
trying to hunt for a bite in the slushy snow ; the others just 
lay still and rested. The Mussulmans wished me a successful 
journey, and at parting I gave Chemoff a hearty grip of the 
hand. I should not see him again until after I returned from 
my pilgrim journey to Lassa — that is, if I did return. 

All day long the weather was terrible. One burst of hail 
was so fierce that we simply could not face it, but were com- 
pelled to stop, wrapped in our cloaks, until it passed. Next 
moment the sun shone out, and dried us, until the sky 
opened its ready sluices again. I and the Lama rode on in 
advance to choose a spot to encamp in. We did 14^ miles ; 
for although the caravan, having got rid of the worst animals, 
went better and travelled faster than usual, we still had to wait 

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a long time before they came up. This was too good an oppor- 
tunity for the weather to neglect : it rained again — pouring down 
in torrents. The Lama sat repeating, with philosophic patience, 
his never-ending " On maneh padmeh hum,^^ and let the io8 
beads of his rosary trickle through his fingers as he recited. 

On the whole, the day's march had been across favourable 
ground, especially after we had surmounted two low passes. 
On the southern slope of the second six wild yaks were grazing, 
and as we had for some time been without fresh meat, Sirkin 
and Shagdur took their rifles, and each brought down one. 
Then Turdu Bai and Ördek went with their knives and axes to 
fetch in the best pieces of the meat. 

Meanwhile from the top of the pass {17,015 feet) I was enjoy- 
ing the delightful prospect of open, level country for at least 
two days ahead. But my joy was short-lived ; for right across 
the horizon, from the south-east to the south-west, stretched an 
unbroken chain of immense snow-fields, which, clearly, there 
was no avoiding. What scanty pasture there was in the broad, 
latitudinal valley, which, as usual, stretched from east to west, 
consisted chiefly of moss and wild garlic. This last was most 
welcome. It made nice flavouring for my soups. The Mussul- 
mans chewed it raw, alleging that it was a preventive of moun- 
tain-sickness. The camels ate it greedily, preferring it to evety- 
thing else. When there was nothing better to do, Turdu Bai 
used to set the men to collect this herb, and even on the march 
he used to stop occasionally, when it was plentiful, to give the 
camels a taste of its juicy and aromatic leaves. 

Our next camp stood 16,346 feet above the level of the sea. 
The nth of July was the anniversary of two events which have 
to do with altitudes. It was just four years since poor Andrée 
made his daring and in every respect successful ascent from 
Spitsbergen, and started on the journey from which he was 
never to return. I say deliberately " successful ascent," because 
the plan was so bold and grandiose in its conception — no other 
nation is able to boast of anything equal ^o it. It was also 
on the nth of July, but eleven years ago, when I climbed to 
the top of Mount Demavend in Northern Persia. Then I had 
a hard day's work to do my 18,750 feet ; but on that occasion 
I had only a single peak to climb, and it was surrounded by 
laughing valleys on every side ; whereas here before me stretched 
a boundless expanse of barren uplands, across which we should 
have to drag ourselves with heavy, weary feet. 

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I Tur.^. 

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Our march ran east-south-east, and although we met with 
no obstacles, still we did not seem to approach perceptibly 
nearer to the snowy range which lay hidden behind its dark 
foot-hills. The rainfall was copious ; the showers came too quick 
together for the ground to be able to dry between them. Conse- 
quently the surface was converted into mud, causing the camels 
to slip. Our Lama said it was the rainy season begun, and it 
would last two months. " At least, it is so in Lassa," he added. 
There is no need for me to describe the pelting showers we now 
encountered. They were in every way typical of the worst 
features of the worst Tibetan weather, and nothing could well 
be more villainous. The march was tiring and disagreeable. 
When we spread our beds on the groimd they turned damp, 
and the ynrts stimk vilely. It was seldom that I got an oppor- 
tunity to use my camera or astronomical instruments, and the 
sheets of the map, upon which I was working, used soon to get 
wet, and then curled up. 

The next day, after travelling east till noon beside the stream 
near which we had encamped, we turned south-east across gently 
undulating ground. But we failed to discover good water. The 
first pool we Ccune to was salt. We dug a well ; its water was 
salt. Then Shagdur took a couple of copper vessels, and went 
ofl on horseback ; about an hour later we saw him riding back 
at full gallop. We wondered what he was in such a desperate 
hurry about. He said he had been attacked by a wolf, which had 
twice flown at him. Having nothing but the two copper vessels 
to defend himself with, he had flung them at the beast, and 
then taken to his saddle. Through the telescope we saw the 
big brute, almost white, following in Shagdur's tracks ; but 
when Shagdur and Sirkin rode out to meet him with their 
rifles, Mr. Greylegs thought it best to show a clean pair of heels. 
That night we penned up the sheep more carefully than usual, 
and appointed men to watch the horses and mules. 

Continuing in the same direction the following day, we 
traversed a region of rounded hills and ridges, with numerous 
salt-pools embedded amongst them, and crossed six insignificant 
passes before we reached a pretty large stream. But again we 
were disappointed. The water moved with painful slowness, 
and emptied itself into an elongated lake, with a belt of crystal- 
line salt all round it. But whether the water from the lake 
was blown back up stream, or whether the stream itself origi- 
nated in a formation impregnated with salt, an5rway the water 

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was intensely salt. However, a little way further on we at 
length found a small pool of good water, so that at last the poor 
animals were able to drink their fill. 

On a hillside near by the dogs set upon a big black yak bull ; 
and for some time it was quite comical to see them and the 
yak dancing round and round one another, the yak snorting, 
puffing and blowing, with his tail in the air and his horns 
lowered, ready for a lunge. YoUdash, the cunning rascal, kept 
hanging on to his fringes. The yak's attention was so engrossed 
with the performance that I was able to photograph him ; 
but unfortunately the negatives were not satisfactory. I almost 
thought it was a tame yak which had escaped from some Tibetans, 
he was so nonchalant. 

In the middle of these proceedings Turdu Bai came and 
pronounced the yak's death sentence ; we were in want of meat. 
The dogs were called off, and very soon two shots rang out 
simultaneously. But the yak seemed not to take the slightest 
notice of either reports or bullets. The dogs were let loose upon 
him again. But by this the yak had got his dander up, and he 
charged them in dead earnest. Up the hill they went ; but all 
at once down came the yak headlong, and when we reached 
him he was quite dead. He was a magnificent bull ; and the 
tips of his horns were worn and frayed from ancient battles with 
his rivals. After taking the best pieces of the meat and the 
fat, we left the rest for Shagdur's friend, the wolf. 

It was a strange thing that we should go two whole daj^ 
without finding water, especially as it was the rainy season, and 
there were pools in every direction. We certainly travelled ten 
or twelve miles from one fresh-water supply to the next. It 
was now a daily question — a question of the utmost, of vital 
importance — ^where we should find good grass, and make our 
headquarters camp. We were still very nearly 240 miles 
from the north-west comer of Tengri-nor ; but we could 
scarcely expect to come across human beings before we reached 
the other side of the lofty range, which occasionally showed 
its snowy peaks above the hill-tops. The wild yak we had 
just shot had clearly never been in contact with human 
beings ; otherwise he would never have allowed himself to be 
photographed at the cost of his own life. And yet, curiously 
enough, the skeletons and skulls of kulans and orongo 
antelopes were scattered all over the locality ; these must 
have belonged ^to animals which died a natural death, or 

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were killed by wolves, for the Tibetans never meddle with 

On the 13th we kept to the latitudinal valley, so as to spare 
the camels crossing any pass. The grass, however, was of the 
scurviest description, although we now came across a new 
species, which our Lama called buka-shirik, or " yak grass " ; 
it was, he said, very common in the neighbourhood of Lassa, 
and along the routes the Mongol pilgrims take to that city. 
The whole region abounded in game — yaks, kulans, orongo 
antelopes, hares, and partridges. Upon reaching a brook which 
carried 177 cubic feet in the second, we thought it wisest to stop. 

The Camels Fording a River. 

During the course of the day it rained, snowed, and hailed, some- 
times in succession, sometimes all three together. 

On the 15th of July the temperature rose to 11°. i C, or 52^.0 
Fahr., although the night before it was down as low as -3°.4 
C, or 25^.9 Fahr. We still continued our south-east course, 
keeping a sharp look-out all the time for a gap or depression in 
the lofty range which parted us from the secrets of the Holy 
Land of the Lamaists. Once on the other side of that gigantic 
natural wall, which it was very probable was of climatic import- 
ance, and we should find it warmer, and meet with better grass, 
and no doubt human inhabitants as well. Up to the present 
we had not seen the slightest trace of human beings. About 
the middle of the day's march we crossed the biggest river we 

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had encountered since we left the Tarim. It flowed north-west 
into a very large lake, which we had only seen in the distance, 
as it glinted between the hills. The stream, which was di\^ded 
into about a score of big arms, and the same number of smaller 
arms, had a volume of upwards of 8io cubic feet in the second, a 
velocity of two and a quarter miles an hour, and a maximum 
depth of just under two feet. Had the current been confined 
to one channel, it would have been impossible to get across wth- 
out the boat. As it was, it took us a good half-hour to reach 
the opposite bank. Its bottom consisted of fine gravel. I was 
strongly tempted to unpack the boat, and sail down with the 
current into the lake ; but upon second thoughts decided it 
would be wiser to postpone all such ventures until after my 
hazardous trip to Lassa was over. 

In the far distance, up the broad open valley we were tra- 
versing, there appeared a tall, upright object moving towards 
us. We took it for a man, but could not be quite sure by reason 
of the distance and the reflection of the atmosphere. Sirkin, 
the Lama, and Turdu Bai, who examined the object through 
the telescope, were all positive it was a man ; the Lama added, 
that he was gathering argol, or " yak dung," and that there were 
two black tents behind him. A little way back the hills on the 
left bank of the river we had just crossed were dotted over wth 
yaks, numbering about 75. Tibetans with their yaks thus early ! 
It was a stroke in our reckoning to be surprised in this way 
whilst on the march ; it would make our Mongol disguise useless, 
and so upset all our plans. I also watched the approaching 
wanderer through the telescope ; then we waited some time to 
let him come nearer. Finally, our man became transmogrified 
into a kulan, which we had seen in perspective. The black 
tents were nothing more serious than the shadows cast by the 
high banks of an eroded gulley, and the yaks were wild ones. 

A little bit farther on YoUbars started a young hare, which, 
however, managed to escape into a hole. But even there poor 
puss was not safe, for Shagdur put in his arm and pulled her out. 
I took the timid little beastie, and stroked it and patted it, and 
when the caravan was safe past with all the dogs, I set it at 
liberty. Away it scuttled, overjoyed at its unexpected release ; 
but before it got very far a hawk, which we had not observed, 
swooped down upon it. Shagdur hurried after it with his gun, 
but arrived too late. The leveret was dying, with its eyes 
picked out. Incidit in Scyllam, etc. It was little incidents like 

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these that formed the only break in our otherwise monotonous 

Soon after this we came to the western bank of another 
river, which, a little farther down, obviously joined the one I 
have recently spoken of. Here the pasture was better than 
it had been for a very long time, and as there was also an abun- 
dance of fuel (yak dung), we decided to stop. The weather was 
glorious ; flies even were buzzing about. A Uttle higher up the 
hillside was dotted over with yaks, and there were more kulans 
and antelopes than we could count. Even partridges and wild- 
geese, with their young ones, were denizens of this uncommonly 
hospitable region. 

Here, on the i6th July, we rested all day. I sent Turdu Bai 
and Hamra Kul to the head of the valley, to see if we could 
advance with the whole of the caravan ; I did not want to turn 
back again. Just as I had got my theodolite set up for an 
observation, down came a terrific hailstorm. The sky turned 
black in the west, and the thunderclaps followed one another 
so swiftly that the earth literally shook. I was glad to creep 
under cover again. The hailstones rattled like peas on the 
canvas, and the ground was soon white. 

Then we heard excited shouting. Cherdon, who was on 
duty for the day, announced that the other two Cossacks had 
routed out a big bear, and it was at that moment limibering at 
a smart trot towards the camp. But, suddenly turning, Bruin 
plunged into the river, splashed across it, and clambered up the 
opposite bank, followed by the two horsemen at full gallop. 
Scarcely had they disappeared when crack went Cherdon's rifle. 
A huge whitish-grey wolf had sneaked close up to the camp, but 
now paid the penalty of his rashness. 

An hour later, or a little more, we saw the two Cossacks 
coming back at a smart trot. They rode straight towards me, 
and even before they pulled up, it was plain that they brought 
important news. The bear, after a parting shot, managed 
finally to escape, though not before the two Cossacks rode 
plump into the middle of a Tibetan camp. At their approach 
a man, armed with a gun, disappeared behind a neighbouring 
hill, and there were horses grazing in the vicinity. Perhaps 
the score of yaks which we had seen the day before were tame 
ones after all. Then the Cossacks, who were not able to talk 
to the man, hastened back to bring me the news. 

Now that he found himself face to face with reahties, our 
VOL. II. 18* 

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Lama was filled with consternation. So long as we were travelling 
through uninhabited regions, my plan, no doubt, appeared to 
him somewhat vague, and he had failed to realize it thoroughly. 
Now, however, the crisis was come. Having obtained touch 
with the natives, it was time for the caravan to halt, and for us 
to think of starting on our adventurous expedition. Perhaps, 
after all, the. kulan we saw the day before was a man ; at any 
rate, it was a warning, an indication that we were approaching 
inhabited regions. 

We called a council of war. But there was no time to lose ; 
the Cossacks were under the impression that the Tibetans had 
at once set to work to collect their yaks and horses, with the 
intention of striking camp. They must not escape. By hook 
or by crook we must get hold of them. In the first place, they 
would be able to give us valuable information about the routes 
and other circumstances. And it would be a good thing to 
try and win their confidence, and induce them to keep company 
with us, so as to prevent them from spreading the news of our 
approach ; for, once it got wind, the tidings would, we knew, 
travel like wildfire all the way to Lassa. 

The distance to their camp was, Sirkin said, not more than 
two miles. They must infallibly have seen us, for we had been 
where we were since the day before. Yet, were they Tibetan 
nomads, or were they Tangut robbers ? Probably they were 
nothing worse than peaceful yak hunters, carrying meat and 
skins to the south. I had not expected to come across human 
beings thus early. It was strange, because we had not hitherto 
perceived any traces of old camp-fires. 

In the meantime I ordered the Lama and Shagdur to ride 
to the Tibetan encampment as fast as they could, and detain 
the men in conversation. Before starting, however, my Cossack 
put on his Mongolian attire, and he looked the real thing in it- 
Indeed, that is what he was, for the Buriats are closely akin to 
the Mongols. I gave him some money to buy horses with, in 
case the Tibetans should have any to sell, and also let him take 
some tea and tobacco for presents, to convince them that they 
had to do with people who meant them no ill. The two men 
ploughed their way through the river, and disappeared in the 

The moment which I had wished to postpone as long as 
I could was come quite unexpectedly. It would be an obvious 
advantage to have our main strength advanced as far south as 

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pi T -^ ; , 

Tiii-. S 

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possible, so as not to be cut off from it by too great a distance. 
We had already made up our minds to stop as soon as we 
came in contact with human beings, even though we should 
actually be on the march. The idea was that when we first 
perceived them, we pilgrims should don our disguise, ride back 
unseen, and approach the Holy City by a different road, so as 
to disarm any suspicion which might arise of our being con- 
nected with the big European caravan. 

Some two hours later our horsemen returned ; it was then 
pitch dark. The Tibetans were, however, already gone, their 
trail leading to the east ; but their argol fires were still smoking 
when Shagdur and the Lama reached their camp. Shagdur 
thought that the first shot at the bear must have aroused them, 
and that they had begun to pack up on the instant. According 
to the Lama, they were three yak hunters ; two or three heads 
and some hoofs were lying about in the vicinity. Our first idea 
was to pursue them ; but, as they would probably travel all 
night and all the next day without stopping, we were forced to 
give up the idea ; our horses were not fresh enough. 

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From this day on there was no peace in our camp. Sentinels 
were posted at night, and the caravan animals were never let 
out of our sight. We lived pretty nearly as if on the war-path ; 
indeed, I began to wonder whether it would not be too risky to 
leave the caravan at all. It would soon be well known that a 
caravan was approaching, and after I left them my men might 
be exposed to an attack. On this ground, therefore, after 
talking the matter over with Shagdur, I decided to leave Cherdon 
behind with Sirkin to defend the camp. Later on, when Chemoff 
arrived with the invalids, he, too, would materially strengthen 
the defence. Yet, as there was now no prospect of our reaching 
the Holy City before the news, exaggerated and no doubt 
perverted, of our arrival got there, there was the less need for 
us to make our headquarters camp where we were, especially 
as our horses were anything but fresh. To Lassa and back 
would have been a ride of over 650 miles, and that was certainly 
too much for our horses, especially if we attempted, as we 
should, to do the thing by forced marches. 

However, we had to stay another day at Camp no. XXXVIII. 
to await the return of Turdu Bai and Hamra Kul. This delay 
we utilized in getting our Mongolian equipment ready, in case 
we should be compelled to slip away from the caravan at a 
moment's notice. Inside one of my Mongolian top-boots I 
contrived a sort of pocket for a thermometer, and made other 
pockets in the lining of my overcoat for my watch, aneroid, and 
note-book. Our two scouts turned up at dusk, and announced 
that as far as they had gone up the valley they had encountered 
no hindrance to our advance. In two or three places they 
noticed the remains of old camp-fires, which indicated that the 
valley was pretty well known to the yak hunters. 

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On the i8th of July we resumed our journey to the south- 
east, and crossed the river three times. During the day one of 
the camels, although apparently perfectly well — indeed, he was 
rather fatter than the others — barely managed to crawl into 
camp. Next day, as we could not induce him to move, we 
decided to leave him. It was only incorrigible laziness, and he 
would be picked up by Chernoff and his men. The Mussulmans 
said he would be quite safe from wolves, for, fierce though these 
animals were, they had never been known to attack a camel 
carrying a pack-saddle. AU the same, we stuck up a spar of 
the yurt on a little hill close by, and tied to the top of it an 
empty preserved food tin, containing a strip of paper with the 
following message written in Turki : " We have left a camel 
here. If you don't see him, follow his trail till you find him." 
For we thought that, after he had rested a little, he might 
follow us in quest of his companions. 

This was the first of the 18 to drop out of the ranks. The 
last we saw of him he was bending down his head to graze, and 
none of us ever saw him again. As it happened, Chernoff, who 
always encamped on the same spots that we did, made just 
here a detour, and never saw the camel at all. This was the 
only camel I ever left behind me alive without learning what 
became of him. 

We now began to ascend, keeping on the left bank of the 
river. But the country soon changed, becoming bare and barren, 
and the weather changed too, for the summer warmth and the 
flies of the day before were succeeded by wintry snow and 

One day more and we should be in the heart of the snowy 
range which we had so long had on our right. The camels still 
held out, but their strength was fast sinking. The dromedary 
seemed as if he would be the next to go ; he was nothiilg but 
skin and bone, and used to weep pitifully when we stopped. 
For supper we gave him a good bucketful of flour balls, the 
hay out of a pack-saddle, and two or three lumps of raw 
mutton-fat, which was said to be especially strengthening. 

But the sun, as well as the alpine features of the landscape, 
was soon hidden behind impenetrable clouds. We were now 
going south-south-west, and the tempest — one of the very worst 
I have witnessed — drove directly in our faces. Bashliks (hoods) 
were no use whatever. The hail and snow met us horizontally, 
stuck fast inside the collars of our overcoats, and, melting, ran 

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down inside our necks. Every now and again we had to turn 
our back to the storm so as to catch our breath. To ride and 
write under such circumstances was no easy task. We felt — 
we could not see — that we were gradually ascending ; but when 
the tempest lifted a moment we were disagreeably surprised to 
find that we were apparently no nearer to the snowy group. 
Still, we kept doggedly at it, gradually rising, but so gently, so 
slowly. In fact, the ascent was so imperceptible that at times 
I thought we were travelling over perfectly level ground ; the 
rivulets alone showed that it was not so. But the poor camels ! 
They slipped, and their feet sank in ; and one actually went 
down with such a thud that the earth shook under him. What 
made the path so difficult was not only its loose consistency, 
but its saturated condition. Several glacier fingers stretched 
down towards the pass from both sides. All were completely 
buried under the snow ; but from each of them trickled a 
rivulet. The margin of the glacier was literally black with yaks. 
We counted considerably over 300, many of them quite little 
calves. Cherdon shot one of these last to replenish our larder. 
As we approached them they gradually moved over to the south 
side of the pass. 

Down the middle of the broad depression by which we were 
climbing up to the summit of the pass trickled a brook some 
two or three yards wide, and not more than three and a half 
feet deep. It was bordered with thick, moist yak-grass, and 
contained small fish. Yes, fish at an altitude of 16,500 feet ! 
As usual I took specimens in spirits. 

At length, however, brooks and rivulets came to an end, and 
the ascent grew steeper. With the Lama I pushed on to the 
summit. We were 17,921 feet above the level of the ocean, the 
aneroid registered 394 mm. (15.5 inches). The caravan was 
still struggling up the slope. The descent on the other side was 
blocked by a big yak, which looked very wild and threatening ; 
his tail was curling backwards and forwards in the air, his horns 
were lowered, and he gave no sign of running away. We thought 
it wise to wait for the rifles ; but when the first of the camels 
showed above the crest the yak lumbered off. 

Meanwhile we examined, through the telescope, the country 
which unrolled itself on the other side of the pass. It was a 
chaos of mountain peaks and ranges, threaded by a tangled 
labyrinth of glens. A Uttle way down we struck a pretty big 
stream, and decided to follow it. Here seven old yaks were 

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attacked by the dogs. Four took to flight at once. Three stood 
their ground ; but when their enemies concentrated their efforts 
upon one of the three, the other two shpped away. The survivor 
had a lively time of it with his assailants, until he hit upon the 
ingenious tactics of taking his station in the middle of the river, 
where the water foamed about him, greatly bothering the dogs. 
After a while t^^o of the other yaks returned to see how their 
comrade was getting on ; but by that time the dogs had grown 
tired of the game, and were sitting on their haunches, with 
their tongues out, watching their victim. 

Just as the men were taking the loads off the camels for the 
night, one of the Cossacks let fly with a shot-gun at a partridge 
which sat motionless right out in the open watching us. Then 
as she fluskered about in her dying agony, we saw that she was 
brooding three young ones, which ran about cheeping anxiously 
for their mother. Had it not been that this was a stingy land, 
and we were in absolute need of food, I should have felt like a 
criminal at disturbing the idyllic peace of such an innocent 
creature. As it was, it was a very long time before I got that 
cowardly shot out of my mind. The only thing that consoled 
me was that the partridge would, in any case, have been dis- 
turbed by the dogs. 

After the heavy downfall of the day the ground was soft 
and spongy, and as the grass was not only scanty, but tough 
and hard, it came up by the roots when the camels pulled at it. 
Even then they had to browse a long distance before they 
gathered a mouthful big enough to chew. 

The Lama, who was an intelligent fellow, observed quite 
correctly, that this stupendous mountain-range filled the same 
place in the Tibetans' regards that the Arka-tagh did in the 
case of the people of East Turkestan, in that it served as 
a frontier wall to shut out the unknown and the uninhabited, 
and formed a dividing line which was seldom crossed except by 
the yak hunters. Between these two ranges lay the highest, 
the barrenest, and consequently the most inaccessible parts of 
Tibet. We were now barely 170 miles distant from the northern 
shore of Tengri-nor, and we might expect almost any moment 
to stumble across the camping-grounds of the nomads. 

When I awakened on the morning of the 21st July the snow 
was falling fast. Heavy clouds, almost black, hung about the 
crest of the snowy range ; in fact, it was shrouded in them, 
and there would have been nothing to reveal its existence had 

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it not been for two glacier arms which, like the paws of a 
gigantic polar bear, stuck out from underneath the cloak of the 
clouds. I estimated that the limits of perpetual snow ran at 
about 350 feet above the pass, or say, 18,250 feet above sea- 
level. In spite of this stupendous altitude, we had no actual 
case of mountain-sickness, although Cherdon, who had been out 
after the yaks, complained of headache. 

We followed the river due south, having the hail and rain in 
our faces all day. The wind blew up the pass with cutting keen- 
ness. A little way down our stream was joined by another 
from the right, and afterwards was deflected to the south-east. 
At the confluence two or three thick sheets of ice still survived, 
although with big cracks in them, through which we could see 
the water flowing on underneath. It amazed me that these 
fragile bridges did not collapse under the weight of the camels ; 
but their surface was soft and decomposed, so that the animals 
walked as safely as they would have walked on gravel or sand. 
After a while the ice became thicker, and formed a continuous 
bank, with vertical or overhanging edges on each side of the 
glen, while down the middle between them flowed the river. We 
were marching on the right bank, but at a turn in the glen the 
ice was broken, and we were forced down on to the gravel at 
the bottom. The drop was 6^ feet down, so that we had to get 
out our axes, crowbars, and spades, and cut out a sloping path. 
This took a long time. Meanwhile Shagdur rode on to recon- 
noitre ; for, to my eyes, this looked an extremely hazardous sort 
of road, especially as the gorge narrowed rapidly. After strewing 
the ice with sand, we cautiously steered each of the animals in 
turn down to the bottom, which was 60 to 120 feet wide. Then 
we travelled very often in the stream itself, the water splashing 
all about us. As the thermometer was a few degrees above 
freezing point, there was a continuous drip, drip from the 
edges of the ice. Altogether our surroundings were pretty 

After proceeding in this way for a good while we met Shagdur. 
He said we might go three or four miles farther ; but then the 
ice came to an end, and the river was forced into a deep ravine, 
which it would be impossible to get through. If we did not 
look out we should be penned in both up-stream and down- 
stream. If the water came down upon us from above — ^and the 
river would very likely go on increasing in volume until a late 
hour of the night — we might not be able to turn back, and 

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the glen contained no bays or expansions into which we 
could lead the camels safely out of harm's way. 

Right-about-turn, then, and back through all the pools and 
the river, and over the ice ! It was water, water everywhere 
— ^water all around us, and the ice was cracking and crumbling 
fast. No doubt in winter the entire glen was sheeted with ice 
from side to side. It may appear amazing that such huge 
masses of ice as these should survive till the middle of July, but 
it was partly explained by the altitude and partly by the fact 


l - " - - -. 

,A^^^^^ -A^^H^^ 1 



^v . -& 


The Two Ice Margins. 

that the glen was screened from the southern sun by a precipi- 
tous cliff. 

Upon reaching the confluence of the two streams, we turned 
up the tributary, leaving at the apex, between the two rivers, 
a cairn of stones, with an arrangement of other stones like an 
arrow pointing south-west, to show Chemoff which way we had 
gone. Thus, instead of descending, as we had hoped, into 
warmer regions, we were now led up a perfectly sterile glen to 
still higher altitudes. The hail came down more fiercely than 
ever, but we were now beyond caring what happened. We were 
dead beat, and as it was perfectly evident that we had another 
pass before us, and there was no hope of reaching pasturage 
until we got over it, we decided to stop. 

Towards evening the sky cleared ; the setting sun coloured 

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the clouds brownish red, and at dusk heavy rain-drops pattered 
against the yurt. I went to Sirkin's tent for a chat. We won- 
dered how Chemoff was getting on with his exhausted camels. 
Then we discussed our expedition to Lassa. I suggested that 
we might smuggle two or three heavy and bulky articles with 
us in the stuffing of a mule's pack-saddle. 

" No," said the Lama decidedly ; " you are never safe in 
this country. They would perhaps steal the mules with their 
saddles and all." 

Next day the country showed no improvement. Having 
built up another cairn, we proceeded to breast the pass. In 
' the distance it looked a mere bagatelle ; but in reality it was 
more difficult than the one we had crossed last. I rode on with 
the Lama up the river-bed, for that was the only strip of firm 
ground there was. Two paces out of the water and in dropped 
the horse above the fetlocks. The slope consisted of a gigantic 
sheet of mire, of the consistency of porridge, and to judge from 
the cracks which ran across it and all round it, the entire mass 
was slipping slowly, though imperceptibly, down the mountain- 
side. The immense altitude and the steepness of the slope, com- 
bined with the shifting and insecure foothold, were enough to 
play havoc with any caravan. And then, to make matters 
worse, a terrific hailstorm came on and drenched us all to the 
skin. It took the camels two hours to get to the top, and only 
fifteen of them turned up. Two were left behind, each in charge 
of a man. But the southern declivity was ten times worse 
than the ascent. There was not an inch of firm groimd, and it 
was absolutely impossible to ride. One man went on first to 
pick out the way. Turdu Bai followed him with the camels, 
urging them on as fast as he could, to prevent them from sink- 
ing too deeply in the mire. However, that did not help much. 
A scream arose. The cord by which one of the camels was tied 
to another in front of him was drawn too tight, and cut his 
nose, owing to his having lost his feet. Up rushed the men to 
help him. Off came his load, and he was hauled up. Then on 
the string of camels proceeded again. The ground was so soft 
and soppy that when a camel lifted his foot, the hole closed up 
again. The rain came down in a deluge. The clouds covered 
us as with the darkness of midnight. Not a ray, not a glint of 
light broke through. Men and animals alike were dripping wet. 
Breathing was difficult and painful. What a ghastly land ! 
It was amazing to me that the camels pulled through at all. 

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Even the mules began to get into difficulties ; one of them 
stuck fast in the morass, and it cost us no end of trouble to get 
her out. Not only had men refused us their assistance, but the 
very elements, the earth itself, were conspiring to torture us to 
death. We should never reach those refreshing pastures, that 
blessed rest that we dreamed of at nights ! How on earth would 
Chemoff's wretched camels ever get through ? I fully made 
up my mind that not a single one would survive the two passes 
and the shifting mire, which every additional shower would of 
course make worse and worse. 

At length we reached a pretty big stream. Where it came 

Hewing a Path Down off the Ice. 

from, and where it went to, we could not see ; the snow was so 
thick, and the rain came down in such torrents. One consola- 
tion, however, we had : the gravelly bed was firm, and we were 
no longer in danger of being swallowed aUve. We were all 
so thoroughly soaked, that splashing down the middle of the 
stream could not make us wetter than we were. A little bit 
lower down I observed some grass on the right bank, and there 
too, Shagdur picked up a big earthenware vessel. From its size 
the Lama inferred that it had belonged to strangers, and not to 
the nomads of the neighbourhood ; they would not drag about 
with them such a big thing. It had evidently been left by the 
yak hunters in what was a permanent camp. 

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Of the two camels which had been left behind, only one suc- 
ceeded in reaching camp ; the other stopped just below that 
miry pass, and Hamra Kul proposed to stay with him all 
night. The poor beast was hterally swallowed up in the mud, 
and all attempts to get him out failed. Hamra Kul sent tci 
ask me what he was to do. I instructed two men to return to 
him with food and fuel, and to stay all night beside the camel, 
and in the morning, when the ground was frozen a little, they 
were to try their best to get him up with spades and felts. 
Besides that, I promised I would also send back all the other 
men to help them ; for about half a mile lower down Li Loyeh 
had discovered good pasture, so that we should stay there all 
the next day. But all our preparations to save the poor 
beast, which was otherwise sound and well, were unavailing. 
The men found him in the morning dead, frozen fast in the 
treacherous soil. 

During the course of the next day, Sirkin and Shagdur, who 
had been out hunting, reported that two or three miles further 
on the valley was studded with low hilLs, covered with beautiful 
grass, much better than any we had hitherto come across. 
Turdu Bai, in fact, spent most of the day down there ; he could 
not tear himself away from the pleasure of seeing the camels 
eat. There was grass enough, he declared, to last for a month, 
and a good long rest was the only thing that could save the 
caravan. Upon hearing this, I immediately made up my mind 
that that was the place for our headquarters camp. There the 
tents should be erected, the loads stored, and the whole en- 
trenched. Then, after determining the position of the place 
astronomically, we would put the finishing. touches to our Mon- 
golian equipment, and make a start for Lassa. And it was high 
time. Two or three of the Mussulmans, who had been out 
collecting fuel, had heard a shot. Probably we had neighbours, 
and it would be as well to keep a sharp look-out. 

Originally I had intended taking with me to Lassa both the 
Buriat Cossacks as well as the Lama ; but since our approach 
had now certainly been reported by the yak hunters we unex- 
pectedly stumbled across, I dare not leave my main camp with 
only one Cossack to defend it. Even though the probability was 
slight, that the Tibetans would make an attack upon our base, 
still it was more prudent to be prepared for any eventuality 
that might happen ; and it might be a long time before Chemoff 
came up with the rest of the caravan. I decided, therefore, to 

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leave Cherdon behind ; his repeating rifle would be a formidable 
addition to the defences of the camp. I was extremely sorry to 
have to tell him my decision, and put it off as long as possible. 
I knew it would be an intense disappointment to him, for 
amongst Lamaists the pilgrimage to Jo (Lassa) counts as high 
in point of sanctity as the pilgrimage to Mecca does amongst 
Mussulmans. But, by way of comforting the poor fellow, I 
told him there was little likeUhood of our breaking through the 
jealous cordon which the Tibetans undoubtedly kept upon their 
city, and I promised him that he, as well as his comrades, should 
visit some holy temple or another befQre the journey came to 
an end. Now a Cossack does not, as a rule, show what he thinks 
or feels ; he simply answers, " Thank you, sir." His one law 
is obedience. But I understood only too well what this change 
of plan meant for honest Cherdon. 

This decision meant also a great difference to us three pil- 
grims, in that it diminished our strength by one-fourth. Still 
the enterprise was altogether so risky, that it would make 
very little difference whether there were 'three of us or four. 

On the 24th of July we moved down to the place where the 
Cossacks had found the promising pasture. The distance was 
barely two miles ; but on the way my mind was assailed by 
anxious thoughts. Would this be the last occasion on which I 
should travel with my caravan ? Should I ever see them 
again ? Would they be left alone in peace until I returned ? 

The glen descended steeply, the river tumbUng from step to 
step in foaming cascades. We crossed it repeatedly. The grass 
on the hills through which it wound its way gradually improved. 
Not that it ever became thick and continuous, but it grew in 
patches, and was fairly sappy and luxuriant, especially on the 
slopes that were exposed to the southern sun and sheltered 
against the cold north winds. The place I chose for the im- 
portant camp was the flattened top of a rounded hill, close to 
the left bank of the river, at an altitude of 16,822 feet. But 
although the grazing was all that the men promised, the camp 
was badly chosen from a strategical point of view, seeing that 
it was commanded on all sides by the hills which surrounded it. 
If a band of Tanguts took it into their heads to open hostihties, 
they could scarcely wish for a more favourable situation. 

I appointed the 27th of July for the start. On the last 
evening I locked up the valuable boxes I was leaving behind me, 
except the chronometers, packed in cotton wool in their respec- 
VOL II. 19 

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tive cases. These I left in charge of Sirkin, after instructing 
him to observe the utmost caution in winding them up. And 
he W£is cautious, much too cautious ; the very first evening after 
we left one of them stopped, because Sirkin was afraid to wind 
it up fully, for fear of breaking the springs. And the same 
thing happened to the other one the second day. However, no 
great harm was done, for I had subsequently an opporttmity to 
repeat the observations which I took here at Camp no. XLIV. 
During my absence it was also Sirkin's business to take charge 
of the meteorological observatory, and this he carried through 
without a hitch. In the presence of all the men I formally 
nominated him chief of the headquarters camp, directing them 
to obey his orders as though they were issued by m5^elf. 
To Turdu Bai, however, owing to his skill and experience in 
the management of camels, I reserved the right to propose a 
shift of camp whenever he should deem it advisable. He 
thought that they could remain where they were for ten days, 
and then make a short flit. It was further agreed between 
us that when they moved they should leave at this camp a 
document, telling us in which direction they had gone and how 
far, and at each successive camp a similar document. 

I talked to each of the men separately and exhorted them to 
do their duty. Li Loyeh had his own private plans. He had 
asked permission to accompany me to Lassa, and when I gave 
him a decided refusal, he begged to be allowed to return to 
Charkhlik by the way we had come, over the mountains — a 
distance of 570 miles. Then came MoUah Shah and Hamra Kul, 
who said they wanted to go with him. Realizing better than 
they did the utter absurdity of the thing, I quietly answered 
them that they were perfectly at liberty to do as they pleased. 
But under no circumstances could I spare them horses, so that 
Li Loyeh, who was the only one who had his own horse, could 
alone ride. I promised to give them provisions, besides which 
Li Loyeh had his own gun of native manufacture. Then I took 
out the general map I had made of the journey, and pointed out 
to them each separate station where we had encamped all the 
way from Charkhlik, and wound up by sketching to them the 
probable issue of their mad attempt. MoUah Shah, who was 
an old man, would be the first to give in, and would be left 
behind, for he could not suppose that the other two would 
hamper themselves with a sick man. Then it would be Li Loyeh's 
turn, for he was not over and above strong. Hamra Kul, being 

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a big powerful man, might, I said, if he were fighting for his life, 
succeed in struggling back to Charkhlik, but he would never do 
it. He would be tom to pieces by the wolves in the Arka-tagh. 
I wished them a successful journey, and prayed that Allah 
would keep His protecting hand over them. 

Now, whether it was that this sketch made a deep impression 
upon them, or whether they came to take a more sensible view 
of the matter — anyway, in the evening they appeared at my tent, 
and penitently flinging* themselves upon their knees, besought 
me, in the name of all that was holy, to let them remain with 
me, which I of course granted. I never ascertained what evil 
. it was had entered into them, and I was too much taken up with 
my own enterprise to get to the bottom of it. They swore that 
it was simply a longing for home ; but the same day Sirkin dis- 
covered in one of the glens behind the camp the fresh track of a 
man, who sometimes walked, sometimes rode, and during the 
last night or two the dogs had barked furiously. It was already 
whispered in camp that the Tibetans were spying upon us, and 
had us under constant observation. This, however, I did not 
believe, because kulans showed themselves now on the one side 
and now on the other of our route, and the track Sirkin noticed 
might equally well have been made by them. A score of ravens 
were very busy flitting about the camp — under the existing cir- 
cumstances no very happy augury. 

Finally, I had a talk with Sirkin, and unfolded to him the 
serious nature of the risk we were running. He listened silently, 
and gravely shook his head. " If we are not back in two and a 
half months' time," I said, " you are to break camp and return 
to Charkhlik, and from there go to Kashgar." I did not really 
think we should lose our lives ; but I must of course prepare 
for the worst eventuality, and make the best arrangements I 
could for securing the safety of my maps and note-books. I 
gave him the key of my treasure-chest, so that he might have the 
means wherewith to equip a fresh caravan at Charkhlik. I also 
gave him the general map I had made of our route, although the 
sense of locality possessed by the native Mussulmans would be 
quite sufficient to enable them to find their way back. Although 
there was, of course, little likeUhood that a single camel would 
survive the journey back, still some of the horses might pos- 
sibly struggle through, and Sirkin knew which were the boxes 
he had to save at all costs. And no matter how long they might 
remain at Camp no. XLIV., they were to keep strict guard both 
VOL. II. 19* 

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day and night, and the animals were never to be let out to graze 
without two armed men and two or three of the dogs accom- 
panying them. After that I went to bed, for the last time for 
several da}^ under " civilized- conditions." I dropped to sleep 
at once, and did not wake until Shagdur came and called me next 
morning, and said it was time to start. 

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A Dash for Lassa. 

The Forbidden Land of the Holy Books. 

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During the two days we rested at Camp no. XLIV. the five 
mules and four horses which we intended to take with us had 
been looked after with especial care. They were reshod, and 
their saddles and rugs repaired. The whole of our baggage 
was squeezed into two MongoUan boxes. , The only instruments 
I carried with me were three mariner's compasses, two watches, 
an aneroid, two thermometers, three pairs of coloured wire 
spectacles, and the Verascope camera, with eight dozen plates. 
In addition the following articles were absolutely indispen- 
sable : — The sheet of the map of Asia, containing Lassa, by the 
General Staff of the Russian Army, small note-books for my 
diary, and others for the itinerary, ink, paper, and pens,^ 
measuring compasses, razor and soap, scissors, a lantern, an axe, 
a dozen stearine candles, and boxes of matches, some medicines, 
ten yambas (£75 to /loo) in silver. Our provisions consisted 
of flour, rice, talkan, and meat ; but I only took ten tins 
of preserved foods, just for the first day or two, and each tin 
as it was emptied was filled with stones and dropped into a lake 
or stream for safety's sake. Our weapons consisted of a Russian 
repeating^ rifle, a Berdan rifle, and a Swedish army officer's 
revolver, with 50 cartridges for each. Besides this, we each 
carried upon our persons a number of small things which the 
Mongols never go without — for instance, round my neck a rosary, 
and a gavo (a case for holding a sacred talisman), with an idol 
inside, whilst at my girdle hung a case-knife, Chinese ivory chop- 
sticks to eat with, a skin tobacco-pouch, a long pipe, and tinder 
and flint. Each man was provided with a double suit of clothing, 
for we were not likely to travel far without getting wet through. 
All our utensils, such as cooking-pots, jugs, cups, etc., were of 
genuine Mongolian make. We selected the smallest and lightest 

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of the yurts to sleep in, and last, but not least, the Lama made a 
comfortable cloak of thick white felt for use whilst doing sentry- 
go at night. Everything that would have been likely to excite 
the suspicion of the Tibetans was hidden away in one of the 
boxes underneath our stock of provisions. Most of them were 
of such a character that, in case of urgent danger, they could, 
without serious hurt, have been put under water. But things 
would have to get pretty bad before I should willingly consent 
to part from my instruments and note-books. 

When Shagdur called me, I made hsiste to don my disguise, 
stuffed the instruments I should want on the journey away into 
their respective hiding-places, and felt that I was now a Mongol 
indeed. Even from the very first I was quite at home in my new 
coat, which was of a dark-red colour. It w£is soft and comfort- 
able ; and the only thing I missed about it were the many con- 
venient pockets with which my ulster was provided. The com- 
pass and route-book I simply stuck inside my coat, trusting to 
the girdle to keep them in place. My head-covering consisted 
of a yellow cap, with turned-up flaps. For some time past I had 
been wearing the coarse, clumsy Mongol boots, so as to get them 
easy and comfortable ; besides, I had found them very service- 
able on wet ground, because of their thick soles and tumed-up 

It was a bright, sunny morning, and the air full of flies and 
butterflies, so that I did not require my big yellow overcoat. 
The horse I had chosen to ride upon was my favourite white one. 
It was now perfectly well again, and I was in the act of adjusting 
the soft Mongolian saddle, when Sirkin came up behind me and 
addressed me in Mongolian ; but he was taken rather aback, and 
quickly checked himself, when he saw that it was I. He had 
taken me for the Lama. The mistake rather flattered me : it 
showed me that my disguise was not amiss. 

All the dogs were tied up except Malenki and Yollbars, who 
were to go with us. Our little caravan was loaded up, we 
mounted, and were off. Sirkin turned his head away to conceal 
his emotion ; Hamra Kul wept like a child, and followed us a 
little way on foot, tramping unheedingly through the river in 
his distress. Camp XLIV. disappeared behind the hills. We 
rode at a smart pace down the glen. Should we ever see that 
peaceful spot again ? I did not doubt the Almighty Hand 
which had hitherto guided my steps across the deserts and over 
the mountains. Shagdur simply revelled in the prospect of the 

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The Author in Mongolian Dress. 

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adventures which were now beginning. As for the Lama, he 
was as unruffled as a bowl of sour milk, and when, according to 
the understanding arrived at at Kum-köU, I asked him if he 
wished to stay behind, he refused to hear of it. He would not 
desert me, he said, but would go with me even though it cost 
him his life. 

Shagdur rode a yellow horse, and the Lama the knowing little 
mule which we very nearly lost the year before, beside the lake 
where the two cairns of stones were erected. My two comrades 
led the pack animals, while Ördek, who rode the fourth horse, 
gave an eye to the loads. I was taking the last-named with us 
to watch the animals the first two nights, after which we should 
have to watch them ourselves. Cherdon and Turdu Bai also 
went with us for two or three hours, and then, after a last fare- 
well, they too turned back. 

The glen we travelled down was narrow, and hemmed in by 
steep hills. For the most part the current ran in a single bed, 
but in places was divided into several arms. The volume of the 
stream was immensely increased after the last two days of 
sunshine, which had caused the glaciers to melt faster. At the 
very beginning of the journey we crossed the river no less than 
nine times. At the sharp turns its banks shot down vertically, 
and several brooks, fed by natural springs, joined it from the 
left. The prevailing rock was red sandstone ; but it was so 
disintegrated that the hard rock was a rarity — it was mostly 
gravel and big stones that we saw. Owing to this the entire 
landscape wore an aspect of redness. At one spot on the right 
bank two small heaps of stones appeared to indicate a ford, and, 
sure enough, close by we discovered traces of a hunters' camp — 
namely, three smoke-blackened stones arranged for the support 
of a cooking-pot. Another evidence of the presence of visitors 
was a dead yak, which had been shot not very long before, 
though it was now dried up, and either that very day, or the 
day before, there had been a bear prowling about it. 

After fording the river two or three times more, we emerged 
upon an open expanse of country, with no mountains in sight 
except in the extreme distance. Here we left the river, which 
turned to the north-east, whilst our route lay to the south-east. 
The southern faces of the mountains behind us bore far less 
snow than their northern faces. Kulans, hares, and mar- 
mots, in addition to a single wolf, were the principal creatures 
we noticed on the open plain. Upon reaching an open basin 

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beside a spring (namaga), where the grass was luxuriant, we 
pitched our first camp. One reason why we stopped here was 
that one of the mules was beginning to limp badly. I made 
the fire, whilst the men did the rougher work. The horses and 
mules were hoppled by means of a rope going from one fore leg 
to one hind leg, so as to prevent them from stra5dng too far. 
After that we prepared our simple meal of roast meat, rice, 
bread, and tea. When the meal was served, we ate it with our 
nands and the Chinese chopsticks, and drank out of a little 
wooden Mongolian cup ; spoons and forks were luxuries we did 
not defile our boxes with. Our Lama, however, had no appe- 
tite ; in fact, he seemed to be in a decidedly bad way, and com- 
plained of headache. It would be very hard if he was going to 
fail us now after we had got him so far ; but he was so very 
much out of sorts, that I was reaUy afraid he would have to 
return with Ördek. 

I spent the afternoon stretched out on the ground, and got a 
good baking from the sun ; but at eight o'clock we all went to 
bed, for the simple reason that we had nothing else to do. While 
we three pilgrims crept into our tent, which we shared in 
brotherly fashion together, Ördek kept an eye upon the animals. 
There was a bright moon, and how glad I was we had it during 
the trying nights that awaited us. I decided to take Ördek 
with us yet another day, for our Lama was really far from well. 
He reeled in his saddle, and had to keep getting off and Mng 
on the groui^d. 

The surface was hard and very favourable, and we did 24 
miles with the greatest ease. Although the hills and valle5rs we 
passed on the way were scantily furnished with grass, yaks and 
kulans were remarkably numerous. Occasionally we counted 
them by the hundred ; but then there was any amoimt of moss 
and herbs, which our tame animals would not look at. Every 
now and again one of us would ride on in advance to the top of 
the next rising ground and take a peep over on the other side ; 
but as yet we saw no signs of human beings. Not that we were 
now anxious to shun them ; on the contrary, if we came across 
a nomad camp, or mounted men, we should first endeavour to 
get Ördek away unperceived, so that he might return to Camp 
no. XLIV., and then, like the honest pilgrims we were, we 
should ride straight towards them. We were now travelling 
east-south-east, having before us, on the eastern horizon, a 
gigantic snow-capped mountain-mass, with a beautiful blue lake 

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M F N ' 

*' - — ^"■.— - " ■* 

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at its foot. Upon reaching the lake side, which we had meant to 
follow to the south-east, we were turned back by vertical sand- 
stone cliffs, which rose sheer out of the water, and were of the 
same brick-red colour which was so characteristic of the Tibetan 
landscape thereabouts. After a wearisome detour over a series 
of low hills we once more struck the lake, and found ourselves 
confronted by fewer difficulties. Concentric rings of beaches 
and terraces round the shore showed, at a glance, that the lake 
was shrinking, and consequently must be salt. And, as^a matter 
of fact, it was absolutely destitute of life, and the ground aU round 
it perfectly bare — there was not even so much as a blade of 

We did not want to tire our animals too much, and it began 
to be time to think of stopping ; but it was no use looking for 
fresh water anywhere near the salt lake. However, after ad- 
vancing for some distance along a kulan track, we caught a 
glimpse of another lake, somewhat smaller, but, strange to say, 
containing fresh water, although its surroundings were just as 
fiat and dreary as those of the salt lake. Here we made our 
second camp. Our Lama was now a good deal better, and we 
were all in very good spirits. For some time we^sat round the 
fire and chatted, and discussed our plans for reaching the holy 
city. I reckoned out how long our march had been, and how 
much farther we had to go. The Lama described the strictness 
with which* the Tibetans examined, in Nakkchu, all pilgrims 
who arrived from Mongolia ; we therefore thought it best to 
avoid that route, and, road or no road, make our way as best we 
could to the eastern end of Tengri-nor, and thence go down upon 
Lassa by the pass of Lani-la. In this way we should strike the 
great pilgrim road between Nakkchu and Lassa, and so could 
mingle with the stream of pilgrims unobserved. 

Then followed a comical scene : my head was to be shaved. 
I sat down on the ground beside the fire, and Shagdur played 
Vandal's havoc with my hair. After he had cropped me as close 
as the scissors would go, he soaped my head well all over, and 
then Ördek appeared on the scene with his razor. Within a few 
minutes my head was as bright and smooth and round as a 
billiard-ball. Shagdur and the Lama looked on, intensely inte- 
rested. Then I laid hold of my moustaches, and in a trice they 
were off, although I confess I thought it was a pity to spoil 
in this ruthless way the appearance of a not bad-looking fellow. 
I congratulated myself that I was allowed to keep my eyebrows 

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and eyelashes. When the process of spoliation was completed, 
I confess I looked perfectly hideous — worse than Caesar's bust. 
But there was nobody to see me, and my appearance was quite 
in keeping with those bare, close-shaven uplands. 

But I was not yet done with, for our Lama still had to have 
his turn. Like an experienced quack and old hand at the 
business, he began to rummage amongst the paper pokes and 
pouches, in which he kept his medicaments, and then with a 
light touch smeared my face all over with grease, soot, and 
brown colouring matter, until it shone like a cannon-ball in the 
sun. A little hand-glass, which I had with me, speedily con- 
vinced me that I looked the genuine thing. I was almost afraid 
of my own self, and had to study my visage a long time before I 
succeeded in convincing myself that the Mongolian baboon I 
was looking at really was the same person as my father's son. 
After the concoction had dried my complexion became a dirtj' 

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Our camp stood on a tongue of land between the two lakes, 
and in a quite open situation, except for a few low hills on the 
south-west. Here we regarded ourselves as absolutely secure, 
for we had not observed the slightest traces of human visitors, 
and our dogs were perfectly quiet. About five o'clock the wind 
set in from the north, and drove clouds of sand and dust across 
the salt lake and over our camp. We of course took refuge 
in the yurt, and by eight o'clock, it being then almost dark, 
we crept in under our furs and felts. Ördek was about 200 yards 
away, guarding the horses and mules. He was to remain up 
aU night, so as to give us an opportimity to get a last good 
sound sleep, and in the morning he was to return to Camp 
no. XLIV. 

At midnight the tent-flap was Ufted. Ördek put in his head 
and cried in a terrified whisper : *' Bir adam kelldi ! " " There's 
a man ! " His words acted like an electric shock. We all 
three jumped up, seized our rifles and revolvers, and rushed out. 
The storm was stUl raging ; the moon himg pale amid tattered, 
swift-fl3mig clouds. Ördek led the way, telling us as he ran 
how he had seen a dark spectre stealing in amongst the horses. 
But he was so terrified that, instead of shouting an alarm, he 
had run off to the tent to tell us. The consequence was that 
we of course arrived too late. In the dim light of the veiled 
moon we could just discern two dark mounted shadows hurry- 
ing off, driving two loose horses in front of them. The next 
moment they disappeared behind the hills. Shagdur fired, but 
without effect. Then he, the Lama, and Ördek hastened in 
pursuit of the robbers, whilst I remained behind to guard 
the camp ; perhaps it was even now surrounded by the 
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accomplices of the depredators. My men returned in about 
an hour, after what had proved a bootless errand. 

We at once held a council of war. The first thing was to 
count our animals ; all the mules and the two worst horses 
were still there, quietly grazing. But our two best horses, my 
white one and Shagdur's yellow one, were missing. From the 
tracks it would appear that three mounted men had stolen 
upon the camp in the teeth of the wind. They had approached 
on foot, leading their horses, which they hid in a, depression or 
dry watercourse that ran down into the lake. From there one 
of the men approached the camp alone, creeping on his hands 
and knees, until he came quite close to the two outermost horses. 
Then, suddenly jumping up, he drove them down towards the 
lake, where his two companions were waitmg with their own 
horses. Then mounting, they galloped off over the hills. It 
was just at this moment that we saw them as we rushed out 
of the tent. I think I was never more annoyed in my life. 
To have our horses stolen from under the very nose of our 
own watchman, with two big savage dogs to help him! My 
first impulse was to abandon the expedition to Lassa alto- 
gether, and make the thieves pay dearly for their temerity. I 
felt inclined to track them down, even though it should take 
weeks, and then surprise them in the same way. I entirely forgot 
to scold simple Ördek ; he had always proved a capable man 
hitherto. But his real place was in the desert, and similar 
uninhabited regions ; he was in some respects right when he 
said that men are the worst enemies you have to contend with 
— far worse than tigers and sand-storms. 

But after a while my indignation cooled down, and I was 
able to take a calmer view of the situation. We again followed 
the trail to the top of the hUls, and there found it disappear 
amongst the hard gravel. Shagdur could with difficulty be 
restrained from pursuing the thieves ; his weapon actually 
burned his hands. He was desperately loth to lose his hoise, 
which he had cared for Uke a child. But he also quieted 
down when I told him that these men, whether they were 
professional thieves or simply yak-hunters who thought the 
opportunity too good a one to be lost» would certainly not stop 
until a late hour the following night. Besides, there was not 
the remotest prospect that we with om: stale horses would be 
able to overtake them. They were our best horses they had 
taken, and their own animals were no doubt full of go. and 

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habituated to the mountain-air. And then they knew the lay 
of the country, while we were entirely ignorant of it ; so that 
they would be able to take advantage of the river-courses and 
gravel-beds, both to hide their own trail, and to lead us astray 
with blind ones. Finally, if two of us pursued them, and two 
stayed behind, we should still further weaken our little com- 
pany, which was much too weak even as it was. That idea 
must, therefore, be abandoned ; it was too risky. We might 
congratulate ourselves that the robbers had been content with 
two horses ; and I consoled Shagdur by telling him that had 
I been in their place I should have stolen all the horses, so as 
to render it quite impossible for us to pursue. 

This was a lesson to us. The difficulties of the enterprise 
were now upon us in real earnest, and we must make up our 
minds to be more vigilant. Even in the midst of these lonely, 
dreary mountains, a band of robbers had sprung up, as it were, 
out of the very ground, and carried off our horses without so 
much as a dog barking. In all probability they had no connec- 
tion with the yak-hunters whom we saw at Camp no. XXX VIII.; 
it was much more likely that the footprints which Sirkin noticed 
in the valley, and the shot which the Mussulmans heard about 
the same time, had something to do with our midnight visitors. 
And no doubt they had kept us steadily in sight since then. 
Being afraid to tackle the big caravan, they had retired into some 
hidden glen, and there lain in wait for the opportunity which 
they no doubt foresaw would sooner or later come. They had 
watched us, the little pilgrim band, set out, had followed us 
stealthily at a distance, dogging us like wolves from behind the 
hills, and, finaUy, had availed themselves of the storm which 
came on to accomplish their nefarious purpose. But we were 
determined to profit from the experience. From this moment 
onwards we must live as if we were in an enemy's country, 
and be prepared, at any hour of the day or night, for an attack 
from the most unexpected quarter. 

Sleep was out of the question for the remainder of that 
night ; so we made a little fire outside the >nirt, and crouched 
round it. Wrapping ourselves in our overcoats, and lighting 
our pipes, we sat and talked, the moon peeping out at intervals 
from between the lowering clouds. Towards daybreak we boiled 
the kettle lor tea, and that, together with rice and bread, con- 
stituted our breakfast. Then we made an early start. I and 
Shagdur mounted the remaining two horses. As for Ördek; he 

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sat over the fire weeping, beside himself with terror at the 
thought of having to return the 40 miles back to Camp 
no. XLIV. alone, on foot, and unarmed. He begged and 
prayed that he might go with us, and promised that he 
would keep better watch in future. Then, finding me 
inflexible, he asked that he might have the revolver ; but 
our midnight adventure had convinced me that it was not 
advisable to travel in that region without weapons. 

I hurriedly scribbled a note to Sirkin on a leaf which I tore 
out of my diary, telling him what had happened, and enjoining 
him to keep a vigilant look-out. Robbers were prowlii^ about 
the neighbourhood, and as they were apparently well informed 
as to our circumstances, he would have to maintain the strictest 
watch both day and night, and take particular good care that 
the caravan animals were not stolen away from him. And, 
in conclusion, I ordered him to let Cherdon, Li Loyeh, and one 
other man pursue the thieves, but not to waste more than a 
week over it. All other information he would be able to obtain 
from Ordek, who would show them where to pick up the trail. 
Ördek stuffed the letter into his girdle, and was given a box 
of matches, so that he might light a fire when he stopped for 
the night; When he parted from us he looked like a condemned 
criminal setting out on his last dread procession to the scaffold. 
But no sooner were we mounted than we saw him stealing along 
at a half-trot along the lake-side. He thought, I suppose, that 
it would rain robbers all day, and any moment a bullet might 
come whistling through the air and pierce him to the heart. 

Later on, when our Lassa expedition was ended, he told 
me how he got on on his way back. All that day, the 29th 
of July, he did not stop a single moment ; nor did he dare to 
follow our trail in the open, but stole along like a wild cat, 
through the ravines and watercourses, no matter how they 
winded and doubled. All day he kept longing intensely for night ; 
but when night came, and the rain poured down in torrents, 
he was afraid of the darkness, and thought every moment he 
would be set upon by cutrthroats. Two or three times he was 
nearly frightened out of his wits by kulans peacefully grazing. 
Then he would stop and crouch down, and roll himself into a 
ball Uke a hedgehog, and lie breathlessly still for a time. At 
last, however, in the pitch-dark night, he came to the throat 
of the vaUey where the camp was, and after that he literally 
ran. The river beside him rumbled in its deep bed, completely 

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drowning all other sounds. AU the way he kept thinking he 
heard somebody pattering behind him. Every stone hid a 
lurking miscreant aiming at his heart. How in the darkness and 
the rain he managed to find his way down the steep slope he 
did not know. He just kept hurrying on, stumbling, falling, 
picking himself up again, and time after time forded the river, 
getting wet to the waist. 

Even then his troubles were not ended, for upon approach- 
ing the camp, he was as near as possible shot by the sentry, 
who gave the alarm. But, luckily, Ördek called out to him, and 
the sentry recognised his voice. The other men came out and 
crowded round him in amazement, overwhelming him with ques- 
tions. But for a long time Ördek was not able to answer them ; 
he was so utterly overcome with fatigue, and dropped breathless, 
like a wet rag. He had never touched the piece of bread he took 
"with him, nor did his appetite come back until after he had 
slept through the whole of the following day. 

Ordek's story and my letter naturally aroused the fears 
of the men in camp, and caused them to dread the worst, see- 
ing that only the second night out we had thus been exposed 
to attack. The incident, however, produced one good result. 
The men were henceforward always on the alert, and had any 
robbers been so ill-advised as to think of paying them a visit 
during the night, they would have met with a very warm re- 

Early the next morning Cherdon got ready to start. He 
took with him Turdu Bai and Li Loyeh ; poor Ördek was not 
in a condition to go. In spite of the rain, our trail was dis- 
tinctly visible the whole of the way, and they also managed 
to hit upon the robbers' trail. About 20 or 25 miles from our 
camp the latter had stopped early in the morning, and there 
been joined by several other men, accompanied by 15 yaks. 
After that they took to the water, and rode such a long way on 
gravelly ground and in the streams that Cherdon and his com- 
panions never succeeded in picking up the trail again. 

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But to return to our pilgrimage. After Ördek left us, 
we steered our course south-east and east-south-east, and 
travelled close upon 24 miles. The mules could easily have done 
more, but we had to think of the horses. On the shores of a 
sheet of water, close beside the spot where we encamped, we 
observed indications of sheep having grazed at a comparatively 
recent date. Thence we struck up a broad valley, where there 
was an abundance of pastxure. A little distance away, in a notch 
in the hills, on the right, were abou]t 200 yaks. We stopped, and 
through the telescope looked about for the herdsmen, for the 
animals appeared to be tame. But when we approached nearer, 
the yaks took to flight. Now, wild yaks are never found very 
near to human dwellings ; accordingly we might count upon 
having another two days before we came into contact with the 
Tibetan nomads. 

All the glens and watercourses seemed to converge towards 
the south-west, where, no doubt, there was a lake. Kulans and 
antelopes were very numerous. But throughout the march the 
landscape did not vary — an open expanse, bordered on the south 
by low mountains. We halted beside a little brook, and as there 
were now only three of us, I gave a hand with the xmloading and 
putting up of the tent, and, in fact, did anything there was to do. 
Whilst Shagdur and the Lama looked after the animals, and 
hoppled them, I gathered dry yak droppings in the skirt of my 
voluminous Mongol coat — and found it a very interesting occu- 
pation. When I had done, the other two pilgrims congratulated 
me upon the big heap I had managed to get together in such 
a short time. 

It was now no longer ** Vasheh Prevoshoditelstvo," for I had 
strictly forbidden Shagdur and the Lama to show me any outward 
tokens of respect ; on the contrary, they were to treat me as if 
I were their groom. Shagdur was to pose as the leader of the 

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1 I t ► '. r « H S pi A ■- I ) N 5 . 

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party, and when we camped it was his duty to issue all com- 
mands. Speaking Russian was strictly tabooed ; nothing but 
Mongolian issued from our hps. Shagdur played his part 
splendidly, and I think I may say I acted mine not amiss. At 
first my good Cossack was reluctant to issue orders to me ; 
but eventually his scruples sat very lightly upon him. As for 
our Lama, he had no need to personate any character at all ; he 
had simply to be what he actually was — a Lamaist Lama. Mine 
was the hardest task, seeing that I had to perform two roles at 
one and the same time — first that of a Mongol, secondly that of a 
menial. After having so honourably done my duty as collector 
of fuel, I had my dinner, drank my tea, smoked my pipe, and lay 
down and slept like a log until eight o'clock. When I awoke I 
was alone ; the other two men were driving in the animals for 
the night. But both Shagdur and the Lama were less cheerful 
than usual. Whilst I was asleep they had seen three Tibetans, 
who came over a pass in the east, and rode past our camp towards 
the north-west. Once they had stopped as if to confer together, 
after which they turned towards our camp ; but eventually 
they disappeared behind a hill, and were not seen again. Their 
conduct was highly suspicious ; they were no doubt waiting 
for the night. We were now convinced that we were dogged 
by spies, and that mounted scouts continually patrolled the line 
oiE our march. But whether the men whom Shagdur had just 
seen were acting on their own initiative or by the command of 
others, we, of course, did not know. 

At half-past eight we picketed the animals to a rope stretched 
between two pegs. The plan on which we arranged our camp 
that night was the plan we observed throughout. As night- 
attacks would almost certainly be made against the wind, 
especially seeing that we had dogs with us, we placed the tent 
so as to have its one opening on the side that was sheltered from 
the wind, and the animals were picketed some five or six feet in 
front of it. As soon as it grew dark, we let the fire die down, 
and brought in the boxes, cooking utensils, saddles, &c., which 
lay outside. On the other side of the horses and mules we chained 
the big black dog, Yollbars ; while Malenki, a big black and white 
savage beast, was fastened on the other side of the tent, a little 
distance s^way. 

We divided the night into three watches of three hours each 
— 9 to 12, 12 to 3, 3 to 6, and as a rule I took the first, and the 
Lama the last. Consequently I was the first to go on night-duty ; 

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and this night, at any rate, I experienced no difficulty whatever 
in keeping awake. For one thing I had already had a good sleep, 
and in the next place I was kept on the tenter-hooks in momentary 
expectation of an attack. The other two were fast asleep and 
snoring before nine ; they were both tired after the excitement 
of the previous night. I began my vigil, backwai:ds and for- 
wards, backwards and forwards, sometimes close to the tent, 
sometimes further away. Never shall I forget the numberless 
heavy footsteps I took hour after hour between Malenki and 
YoUbars. The minutes crawled. I counted the turns I took — ^5, 
10, 15, 20 — and that only took ten or twelve minutes. Oh, those 
weary, weary nights ! Then I sat down and played with Yollbars, 
who barked and jumped with joy when I patted him. Then I 
stopped and stroked the horses, and after them the mules. Then 
I went and cheered up Malenki a bit. Then I — but why enumerate 
the tiresome devices I successively adopted for killing time ? 

The morning had been warm, and at intervals copious showers 
fell, but the afternoon had been tolerably fair. At 9.30, however, 
a furious tempest came on. The sky turned as black as ink, the 
lightning flashed from behind the clouds, and the thunder rolled 
and rumbled amongst the mountains and over our lonely camp 
with demoniacal fierceness. The worst of all was the rain ; it 
came down like a deluge. I have never seen it rain faster. It 
lashed the tent and rattled against the canvas as if it would 
rend it to pieces, while the tent inside was Med with a fine spray 
like that from an eau-de-cologne bottle, wetting everything. 
But the sleeping men paid no heed to either dampness or 
rain ; they only pulled their coats up a bit higher, and went 
on driving their pigs to market for all they were worth. Out- 
side the big splashing raindrops played a loud but merry and 
musical time on the Mongolian saucepans and saucepan-lids, 
which were still standing beside the fire. 

For some time I continued my slippery prom«iade, back- 
wards and forwards, between the dogs, until, feeling at length 
as wet as a drowned cat, I took shelter inside the tent. The 
moon was now of little use, for the clouds were wedged together 
in a compact mass, and the rain came down as if it never meant 
to stop. However, it was not absolutely dark ; the moon 
did shed a faint, diffused light, just sufficient to show the shadows 
of the caravan animals, a trifle darker than the background of 
the night behind them, so that I was able to keep an eye upon, 
at any rate, their numbers. 

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Then, lighting my pipe and setting up a candle-end behind 
the lid of a small box, I jotted down my reflections on the joys 
and beauties of the night ! One sentence, and then a turn round 
the camp ; then back again to the light ; another sentence, 
and another round ! The rain drip, dripped off my coat-sleeves, 
my cap was glued to my bald head as if the two had been cast 
together in one piece, while my artistic countenance, after these 
repeated drenchings, bore a close resemblance to a zebra's skin. 
The temperature did not fall below 4^.0 C, or 39^.2 Fahr., so we 
had no groimd to complain of the cold. The rain continued to 
stream down without intermission ; its monotonous patter-patter 
drowned all other sounds. But, hark ! what was that ? A 
plaintive cry in the distance ! Were the Tibetans going to set 
up the same hyaena concert that the Tanguts did at Karasharuin- 
kubb (Khara-nor) in 1896 ? No, it was only YoUbars expressing 
his disgust at having to lie out in the persistent rain. Another 
alarm ! What was it ? Nothing more than a distant roll 
of thunder. And time after time was I thus deceived by the 
thunder and the rain, and time after time I rushed out, with my 
revolver cocked under my cape, and stood and listened intently 
through the falling rain. Then, when all was quiet again, I 
returned to my candle-end. It was perfectly wretched, especially 
when my pipe refused to bum ; it too had caught the pre- 
vailing fashion, and, like everything else, was wet. 

Although the rain did not abate, the pigs began to want 
less forcible driving. We shall have a glorious ride to-morrow ! . 
I thought to m3rself. The monotonous breathing of the mules 
began to make me feel drowsy, and my eyelids grew heavy ; 
but I never forgot myself for more than five minutes together. 
Had I failed in my watch I should have been overwhelmed 
with shame, and should have despised myself. 

Every now and again, when the rain tickled them, the animals 
whipped their flanks with their tails, and occasion?Jly the dogs 
growled softly. Every time they did so I at once jumped up and 
took a turn round the camp. At 11.30 1 went out, firmly resolved 
not to come back again until my time was up ; and I stayed out 
until well over 12. Shagdur slept so soundly that I hadn't 
the heart to wake him, and had just persuaded myself to let him 
have an extra half-hour, when all of a sudden both the dogs 
began to bark furiously. The Lama awoke and hurried out with 
his rifle. I cocked my revolver. We put out the light. We 
stole round the mules in the direction where we suspected the 

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danger to lie. There we distinctly heard the tramp of horses ; 
the Lama even declared he heard the barking of a dog in another 
direction. He was just going to fire, but I stopped him. T was 
determined I would not be the first to begin hostilities ; but if 
the Tibetans made an attack upon us — ^well, that would be quite 
another kettle of fish. 

That there were horsemen within a few hundred yards of us 
could no longer admit of a moment's doubt. Leaving the Lama 
beside the tent, I awoke Shagdur, and we both proceeded down 
the wind, quietly, cautiously, listening every few paces. Then 
we distinctly heard a horse departing. After that everything was 
quiet, and the dogs gradually settled down. 

Now it was Shagdur's turn. I heard him splashing through 
the slush as I crept into my damp sheep-skin. Nights like this 
are more exciting than instructive — more interesting to read 
about than to experience. " But you will soon get used to it," 
I thought to myself, and I very quicklj' dropped off, and slept 
well and soundly. 

Our Lama, who had had the last watch, came and called us at 
five o'clock ; he thought riding would be preferable to sitting 
still and indulging in matutinal dolce far niente amid such 
surroundings. I cannot say that we felt particularly brisk or 
lively after the novel experiences of the night. The air was raw 
and damp, and we were wet and chilly, and everything smelt 
sour and nasty. But then it all formed part of the piece ; it 
was the little touches like these that impressed us with the 
reality of the thing. Nobody had ever heard speak of Lassa 
pilgrims who were exactly what you might call " Scented 
darlings ! " For my own part, I began to think we were getting 
along swimmingly. In situations like ours, impressions are apt 
to be a good deal influenced by the sun. You have a burning 
desire to see where you are going to, and what your surroimdings 
are like. The night, with its deceitful shadows, is obnoxious 
even to those who have not the slightest fear of the darkness. 

When I started on this crazy expedition my Mussulmans 
evidently considered that I had somehow, somewhere dropped a 
goodly portion of the common sense with which Mother Nature 
had endowed me. And truly it was a crazy project, I will 
admit, to risk so much, my life included, merely for the pleasure 
of seeing Lassa, a city which, thanks to the descriptions of 
Indian Pundits and Buriats, their maps and photographs, is far 
better known, both in respect of its topography and its appear- 

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ance, than most other towns in Central Asia. But, after two 
years of quiet, peaceful rambling through the uninhabited parts 
of the continent, and after my long stretch of strenuous labour, 
I will honestly confess that I felt an irresistible longing for an 
adventure which should have a genuine spice of danger in it. 
I was fascinated by the idea of getting myself involved in diffi- 
culties which it would tax all the powers of manhood in me to 
get out of again with a whole skin ; in fact, I wanted to have a 
good tough tussle with fate. I wanted to pit my alertness, my 
courage, my resourcefulness, and my resolution against the 
strong hand of destiny. In a word, it was adventures I sought 
for, far more than I sought to get to Lassa. My friend the 
Lama had described the holy city to me so thoroughly that I 
was almost sick of it. I wanted to see the Tibetans — I wanted 
to talk to them — I wanted to get to the bottom of their rooted 
detestation of Europeans. A few years ago an uncritical young 
man astonished us with tales of his having been tortured in 
Tibet ; but I was in no degree deterred by his sensational stories 
— for the simple reason that I did not believe them. It would be 
a gain for everybody concerned if people who find it difficult to 
stick to the plain truth would leave the writing of books alone. 

As you might expect, none of us had a very good appetite 
that morning, especially as it consisted of nothing better than 
bread and tea. But after our pipes were lit, and we were well 
started in the saddle, the day passed in the usual manner. 
However, it was rather trying to my patience to plot the route 
from the back of a beast that moved like an antiquated family- 
coach. The day was as dull and gloomy as the night had been, 
without a glimpse of sunshine. The skirts of the heavy black 
clouds hung so low down that we kept expecting to see them 
burst — crash ! — upon the earth. The downpour, however, 
turned out, when it did come, to be less formidable than we had 
exf>ected — only a little occasional splatter of rain, with a deter- 
mined hail-squall between, whilst we were crossing the mountains 
on the south. 

During the course of the morning the Lama announced that 
he saw a black tent away in the south-east, and wanted to go 
to it to gather information ; but I preferred to keep on. Upon 
entering the glen which led up into the mountains, the ascent 
increased rapidly, until it soon became a stiff climb. Quitting 
the brook which trickled down it, we rode zigzag up the hills 
of red, disintegrated sandstone. In two or three places we 
VOL. IL 21 

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observed camping-grounds which had been recently used, and 
there was a cairn on the summit of the pass. Over on the other side 
we went down by a very steep declivity into a broad glen leading 
to the south-east. A little way down, in an expansion of the 
glen, we came across the dead body of a sheep, with its load on 
its back, consisting of salt packed in a two-ended sack. It had 
evidently been left behind by a Tibetan sheep-caravan, which had 
been up to the small lakes where our robber friends had paid 
their respects to us, to fetch salt, which, as I have already said, 
lay thickly around some of them. We had, indeed, observ^ed 
traces of sheep in the locality. As we advanced the deserted 
camp-fires became more and more frequent, as well as the bones 
of the animals upon which the Tibetans had dined. Moreover, 
a herd of yaks had recently travelled up one of the side-glens 
we passed. 

Upon reaching a point where our glen swung away to the 
south-west, we turned our backs upon it, and struck up into the 
next mountain-range. Here Shagdur soon hit upon a frequented 
track, and from the top of the pass to which it led us, we again 
commanded a wide prospect to the south, though it was not a 
very encouraging one — being merely an endless succession of 
mountains and mountain ranges as far as the eye could reach. 
Not a man, not a black tent, not a herd or a flock within sight. 
A little longer, then, we were to be still free from inquisitive 
glances ; though all the time we had a presentiment that hidden 
spies were dogging our footsteps, and never lost sight of us. 
The sky was gloomy and heavy as lead, and the hours crawled 
wearisomely past. Day though it was, we were still on the 
stretch. We knew nothing whatever about the country we were 
traversing, we knew nothing whatever about its circumstances 
or its people. Yet we were convinced that, sooner or later, the 
unexpected would happen. Never for one moment durst we 
relax our vigilance ; a critical moment might come when we least 
of all expected it. From the pass we again followed a path 
which was perfectly distinct, and evidently much used, until we 
reached a valley that abounded in marshes, pools, natural 
springs, brooks, and rivulets, with luxuriant grass. The yak- 
dung had been turned over to dry, so that whoever did it meant 
to come back again. And there were signs of nomad camps in 
every direction. 

As the grass seemed to thin out further on, and there hap- 
pened to be a suitable position from the strategic point of view 

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, •-••jseATioNS. 

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for our solitary camp, we decided to stop where we were. The 
wet tent was reared on a neck of land, about 230 feet across, 
between two small lakes. We viewed the approaching night 
with a certain amount of uneasiness. We felt that something 
would happen, we wondered what. The usual routine over, 
we lay down and tried to sleep ; though, for my own part, I heard 
the rain streaming down in torrents all the time ; indeed I felt 
it drip — drip — dripping from the canvas down upon me. 

At eight o'clock we tethered the animals in the usual way. 
The air was still, but it rained as it" only rains in Gilan and Mazan- 
deran (the two Caspian provinces of Persia) ; in fact, the only 
place where I have seen rain anything Uke it was at Asterabad. 
But this night proved much worse than the preceding : it was 
as though hundreds of gutters were emptying themselves without 
cessation over our little camp. But then it was the regular rainy 
season in that country, and we had no right to complain. If 
you kept watch, as I did that night, for four hours at a stretch, 
and got drenched to the skin till you hadn't a dry stitch on you, 
you would no longer need to ask what is meant by a good, 
thorough, honest, well-intentioned rain. Sometimes I sat in 
the tent-door for a little shelter. To hear the rain beating on the 
mules' pack-saddles was like the swish of clothes in a wash-tub ; 
it ran off them in a stream. When the animals shook them- 
selves, it was Uke the spray of a waterfall. Every now and 
again they pricked their ears, and the dogs growled menacingly. 

I let Malenki loose for a bit, that he might go and hunt up a 
bone or two at a camping-ground close by, for during the last two 
or three days neither he nor YoUbars had had anything to eat 
except bread. All at once one of them began to bark, and very 
soon the other joined in too. But it was a false alarm : one of 
the mules had struggled loose, and was taking a walk up the 
nearest hillside. I, of course, went to fetch her back ; but it was 
easier said than done. She was fresh and lively, and kept me 
dodging about the hillsides a long time before I succeeded in 
getting hold of her halter. Her escapade demoralized one of 
her companions, who followed suit. Again it was a nice business 
to catch her. For a good half-hour or more I could not com- 
plain that I belonged to the " unemployed." 

When I was awakened, after only a couple of hours sleep, on 
the morning of the 31st of July, to help with the packing up and 
reloading, the rain was still coming down with the same lusty 
energy. There was, however, nothing for it : the order was 

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inexorable : " Mount at daybreak." And so away we posted 
to the south-east across a difficult and heavily roUing country. 
There was not now a single dry rag throughout the whole of our 
little caravan ; the rain could not make us any wetter. But, 
oh ! we did long for just a little sunshine to come and dry us. Yet 
we never saw anything of it that day ; the grey and lowering 
clouds never lifted, though they did distinguish themselves by an 
extraordinary generosity. When I got into my soft saddle, the 
water squelched out of it, and my boots were soon so full that 
every time I moved them, the water inside swished backwards 
and forwards. When I lifted my arm, it was like wringing out a 
wet dout. Wretchedness, thy name is Rain in Tibet ! Oh, if 
only it had snowed instead ! 

The route we were following plainly led, we now saw, to Lassa. 
After crossing five passes, the trail joined another which came 
from the west, and was freshly trampled by a big herd of yaks ; 
and as the heavy rain soon blotted out all animals' footsteps, we 
concluded that the herd in question must have passed quite 
recently — maybe that very morning. If we made haste, we might 
possibly overtake the caravan. 

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Before we got very much further, we saw, away in the far 
distance, a number of black dots :' they were yaks. A little 
while after that a flock of sheep loomed up out of the semi- 
darkness ; then a tent, which had hitherto been masked, came 
into view on the edge of a brook. Whilst I and Shagdur con- 
tinued oiu: journey, the Lama rode across to the tent to see what 
he could make of its inmates. We assumed, of course, that 
they were Mongol pilgrims, and thought that we might perhaps 
travel in company with them. But they turned out to be 
Tanguts, making a pilgrimage from the temple of Kum-bum, 
in north-west China. They were travelling very slowly, resting 
one or two days at every camp, and considered that it would 
take them still a fortnight to reach Lassa. They manifested a 
far too lively interest in us, and pumped us about everything — 
who we were, how many we were, where we came from, where 
we were going to, and so on, and so on. They had 50 yaks 
with them, two horses, and three dogs ; but these last quickl)* 
repented their desire for a nearer acquaintance with YoUbars 
and Malenki. 

The flock of sheep consisted of no less than 700, and were 
only guarded by an old woman, who, however, was apparently 
quite accustomed to pilgrims, for she exhibited not the least fear 
of us. She might very well have done so, for after all the rain 
and mud and mire we looked little better than tramps. The 
worst knights of the road would have had no cause to blush 
for us, for the very last traces of refinement in our appearance 
had been punctiliously but thoroughly washed away. The old 
woman told us that in the next glen we should find a black tent, 
where we could obtain everything we wanted, above all, infor- 
mation about the road to Lassa. 

And, sure enough, we found the tent in the spot she indi- 
cated, and encamped about three-quarters of a mile from it, 

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choosing, for safety's sake, an open situation. The Lama at once 
went to the people in the tent, and returned well satisfied with 
his visit. The tent, which he found guarded by dogs, was 
inhabited by a young man and two women, who, however, 
refused to sell us either sheep, or milk, or fat, or tsamba, on 
the ground that it was a sacred day. If, however, we would 
wait patiently until the morrow, we might have everything we 
wanted ; but, seeing that we were peaceful Mongols, they gave 
him there and then some dry argol, or yak-dung. The Lama 
brought a bagful of it with him ; and it was a good thing he 
did, for our own supply was so wet that we should hardly have 
been able to make a fire without it. In reply to his question, 
as to whether they would sell us two or three horses, the people 
answered that that rested with the master of the encampment, 
and he was just then absent from home. 

Scarcely had the Lama finished his story, when the man in 
question appeared on a hill-side not very far away. As soon 
as he saw us, he stopped and scrutinized us closely. The Lama, 
however, went and invited him to our tent, and he came without 
ceremony, showing no fear whatever, and squatted down on 
the wet ground just opposite the tent-opening. Sampo Singhi, 
for that was his name, was a man probably about forty years 
old ; his face black rather than sunburnt, beardless, and 
wrinkled ; his dirty hair as black as a raven's wing, and the 
rain trickled off it down upon the ragged sack-like cloak he 
wore ; boots of coarse felt, which had originally been white ; 
pipe and tobacco-pouch hung from his girdle ; everything from 
top to toe unspeakably filthy — such was the appearance of the 
first Tibetan we came into contact with. He was bare-headed 
and bare-legged, except for his boots — in other words, he was 
minus inexpressibles. It must have been pretty cool, riding 
about in those rains clad in such primitive attire. 

He kept blowing his nose incessantly with his fingers, and 
with an amazing display of energy ; and we, for safety's sake, 
did the same, for we did not know but that these demonstra- 
tive acts of politeness were imperatively demanded by Tibetan 
etiquette when you met a stranger. The picture we made in 
that streaming rain was one which would have rejoiced the 
hearts of the gods. Pity there were none to see us ! 

Sampo Singhi pried, without the slightest sh3aiess or com- 
punction, into all our belongings ; so that it was a good thmg I 
stuffed away my instruments and diary before he came. He was 

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A Young Tibetan Shepherd. 

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VII i ■. 

TILE'tN F^U.-ft/-^! N% 

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particularly pleased with our tubs, which were narrow at the 
top and broadened out towards the bottom. He remarked, 
with the air of a connoisseur, that the Mongols always had tubs 
like those. Of me he manifested not the slightest suspicion ; 
but then I was nearly as dirty as he was. The acquaintance 

An Older Tibetan. 

made, and confidence established, our Lama succeeded in 
squeezing out of Sampo Singhi the information that the site of 
our camp of the previous day, between the two small lakes, was 
called Merik ; and a river which we had seen that day in the 
east was called Garchu-sänghi. The spot at which we were 
then encamped was caUed Gom-jima, and the nearest mountain- 
range in the south-east, Haramuk-lurumak. He told us also 

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that for two days more we should hardly be likely to meet many 
nomads, but on the third day their tents would be numerous. 
If we travelled by short, slow stages it would take us twelve 
days to reach Lassa ; but if we travelled at the rate we had 
done that day — we did very nearly 26^- miles — we should reach 
the city in eight days. Yes, he said, the road we were following 
led right enough to the pass of Lani-la. 

Shagdur and the Lama were both snuff-takers, and Sampo 
Singhi was induced to take a good strong pinch. But he ought 
not to have done it ; it was naughty of him. He began to 
sueeze, and sneezed and sneezed as though he never meant to 
stop. Nor was he the least bit put out when we laughed ' 
at him. He asked, quite innocently, whether we were accus- 
tomed to put pepper in our snuff ; but he was not to be tempted 
to indulge in a second pinch. 

Suddenly bethinking him of the responsibilities of his position, 
Shagdur roared^ out at me: "Boy, don't sit there with your 
mouth open. Go and fetch in the horses." We did not know 
whether Sampo Singhi understood Mongolian or not ; but, at 
all events, he manifested not the slightest astonishment when 
I jumped to my feet, ran up the hill-side, and began to drive 
the animals towards our tent. Fortunately he took his de- 
parture before I had been at it very long, otherwise he had sense 
enough to have asked himself, what does that fellow know about 
mules ? For no sooner did I get them all together, than Sank 
Kullak, or '* yellow-ears," took it into his head to gallop back to 
the abundant pasture from which I had fetched him. I follo\¥ed 
him, and brought him back ; but when we got to the spot where 
I had left the other mules, behold ! they were gone. The mules 
were masters of the situation. Finally, I managed to catch 
three of them, and took care to keep fast hold until I had them 
safe on the picketing line. 

In the evening the sun, when setting, condescended to honour 
us with a parting glance from underneath the heavy masses of 
cloud, and about nine o'clock the moon peeped out for a few 
short minutes. But soon after ten the wind got up in the west, 
and I had to turn my attention to the tent. A little later on 
the rain began to stream down again, steadily, resolutely, per- 
sistently. It was as much as ever I could do to see the animals. 
That night, however, we were a good deal easier in our minds. 
Since our unexpected meeting with the yak-hunters, we had 
not come across any of the natives, although we felt that they 

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were hovering about our path like evil spirits, and once had 
even caught us napping. Now, however, we had the peaceful 
nomads for our nearest neighbours ; besides, Sampo Singhi 
assured us that there were no robbers in that part of the country. 
But for all that we did not relax our vigilance one whit ; the 
only difference was that I now ventured to light the brazier 
inside the tent. It made our already abominably dirty dwelling 
still more dirty by adding soot to the mud. 

On the 1st of August I was awakened with the words : 
" Three Tibetans are coming to see us ! " I made haste to get 
up and hide away any little articles that lay about and might 
have betrayed the presence of a mysterious stranger. The 
approaching visitors were two men and a woman, and their 
errand, it was. evident even at a distance, could only be a peace- 
ful one, for they were leading a sheep behind them, and carried 
several things in their hands. Sampo Singhi was again the 
principal spokesman, as he arranged his various delicacies round 
our fire. " Beautiful things — beautiful things ! " he exclaimed. 
After our scanty fare of the last few days, we should feed like 
princes ! He had brought us a big piece of mar (fat), a bowl of 
sho (sour milk), a dish of chord (powdered cheese), a can of oma 
(fresh milk), and some bema (clotted cream). WTiat more could 
we wish for ? And, truth to say, they were all first-rate except 
the cream, which was very little different from a packet of 
hairy, sooty pieces of skin, squeezed tight together. Powdered 
cheese is one of the main ingredients in tsamba, the others being 
flour, tea, and lumps of fat or butter — all mixed in the proper 
proportions, and stirred together in one dish. I must confess 
I never succeeded in cultivating a thorough liking for this 
delicacy, though the Mongols set such immense store by it. 
On the other hand, I cannot speak too highly of the sour milk. 
It surpassed all my previous conceptions in that line ; and when 
it was all done, had some Fortunatus come to me and offered 
me a choice amongst all the delicacies of the earth, without 
hesitation I should have chosen just another bowl of sour milk. 
It was thick, and white, and tart. Tibetan sho is unsurpassed by 
anything of the kind in the world ! 

But the time came to pay for these fine things, and Shagdur 
drew forth a few pieces of Chinese silver. Sampo Singhi took 
them and weighed them, and pronounced them beautiful, but 
declared that he never accepted anything but silver struck at 
Lassa. As we had no such money, we tried him with blue 

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Chinese cloth, and that bait took. Sampo Singhi stroked it 
tenderly, passed it through his fingers, examined it closely, 
studied its effect at arm's-length — in a word, he was enraptured 
with it. His noble spouse's little eyes were alight with covetous- 
ness. We had brought with us two bundles of this cloth ex- 
pressly for purposes of barter,' and Sampo Singhi complacently 
assured us he would be satisfied with one of these. Then began 
the usual Asiatic higgling and bargaining, which resulted in 
Sampo Singhi finally contenting himself with a third of a 
bundle — 9 J yards. But no matter how we tempted him, he 
would not part with any horses. When this important busi- 
ness was settled, each party congratulated themselves that 
they had got the better of the other ! 

At my suggestion our Lama then asked Sampo Singhi to kill 
the sheep, and cut it up ; he might then, as a reward for the 
hospitality and friendliness he had shown us, keep the skin 
for himself. He was delighted with the suggestion. With 
carefully veiled indifference, I watched how he set about it. 
Flinging the animal on its left side, he tied together three of 
its feet, leaving the left fore-foot free ; then he wound a thin 
soft leather strap several times round its nose, pulling it tight ; 
next, placing the animal's head in such a position that its two 
horizontal cork-screw-like horns touched the ground, -he put 
his feet on them. The sheep lay motionless as if in a vice. 
Then Sampo Singhi stuck the thumb and fore-finger of his 
right hand into his victim's nostrils, his object being to kill it 
by suffocation. I took a stealthy peep at my watch to see how 
many minutes it would take, though I afterwards forgot to note 
down the time ; but I do remember that it took a good many 
minutes, and that I suffered unspeakably, as I witnessed the 
poor animal kicking and struggling in the convulsions of death. 
The whole time the old man kept repeating at a desperate rate : 
" On maneh padmeh hum." It put me in mind of the Mussul- 
mans' method of killing sheep, for they also, whilst reddening 
the knife-blade with innocent blood, as if at one and the same 
time to quiet their own consciences and flatter their Creator, 
generally gabble a string of prayers in praise of the Almighty ! 

At last, however, the sheep ceased to struggle ; its legs 
relaxed, and Sampo Singhi got up. It was hard to witness this 
cruelty without taking steps to stop it. However, I dare not 
betray my feelings ; besides, it would have profited little to 
interfere with time-honoured customs. After that we break- 

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fasted together on the milk foods which we had bought, and I 
let the dogs stuff themselves with meat, as a reward for their 
faithful services at night. As for Madame Sampo Singhi, she was 
so enraptured with her piece of cloth, that she quite lost her 
appetite, and could do nothing but nod good-naturedly first to 
one of us and then to another, time and time again. She was 
dressed in a similar manner to her lord and master, except that 
her coarse black hair was gathered into two long plaits hanging 
down her back, though for the most part it stuck out like rats' 

A Tibetan Woman. 

tails in every direction all over her head. How on earth she 
contrived to get so amazingly dirty as she was, I could not for 
the life of me understand ; but oh, how I did envy her ! I 
suppose my skin was of finer texture — at any rate, the rain 
persisted in washing it " clean." But upon that good lady's 
cheeks the filth was plastered so thick and firm that she might 
have forced potatoes in it with every prospect of success. I 
imagine the pores of a Tibetan's skin are atrophied — at all 
events, they never can discharge their proper functions rightly. 
'WTien we started again Sampo Singhi good-naturedly 
helped us to load up ; and our tent, after all the rain it had 

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absorbed, was twice its ordinary weight. The honest nomad 
wished us a successful journey and a pleasant visit to Lassa, 
and did it, our Lama said, in such courteous terms, as showed 
that he was no stranger to the elegancies of Lamaist manners. 
Evidently he had no desire to detain us ; otherwise he would 
have given us some warning of what we should have to face 
before the day was over. He simply said, however, that we 
should have "to cross a pass, and that the road to Lassa was 
everywhere quite easy to follow, and that was all. We pro- 
mised to look him up when we returned, and did so, but failed 
to see him, as he had moved his household Penates to fresh 
pastures green. 

When we started, about nine o'clock, the clouds lowered hea\'y 
as lead over the earth, boding nothing good, and it was only 
half light. On the other side of the hills and knobby mountains 
we struck the river Garchu-sänghi, which on a closer inspection 
of it looked anything but inviting. As we proceeded, its glen 
narrowed rapidly, and the dense masses of water rolled along 
with a hollow rumble between their containing cliffs. The path 
was in places very difficult, crossing over the shoulders of the 
crags by dangerous pathways. Here marmots and hares were 
particularly numerous, and our dogs put themselves to a vast 
amount of unnecessary trouble in their passion for disturbing 
them. Five minutes after we left Gom-jima, the inevitable rain 
begun again, and we were very soon wet through. It would soon 
be a novel experience to feel dry. The ground was simply one 
illimitable morass. Our animals splashed and squelched and 
plumped their way through the slush. Over a final pass and 
down a steep slope, and the country once more opened out ; 
for as far as the rain would permit us to see there were no moun- 
tains in the south. But leaving the Garchu-sänghi on our left, 
we soon turned south-east, taking precious good care not to 
wander off the track into the deep, tenacious mud. After pro- 
ceeding a good distance in this new direction, we found ourselves 
moving straight down upon the right bank of a river, so big and 
so broad that at first we took it for a lake, especially as the rain 
prevented us from seeing the opposite bank. But above the 
sharp splashing of the rain-drops on its surface we soon de- 
tected a hollow, rumbling roar, as of a vast flood in movement. 
The yellow muddy colour of the water also told us plainly that 
it was a river ; and as we stood on the brink, and saw it 
rolling its overwhelming masses west-south-west, we realized 

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that our fate was sealed. There was no other way except to 
ford it. 

It was, in short, no other than the Sachu-sangpo, which had 
been previously crossed in this neighbourhood by M. Bonvalot, 
Prince Henri d'Orleans, and Mr. Rockhill ; but in consequence 
of the enormous rainfall it had swollen amazingly, and was 
divided into at least a score of arms, each of them big enough 
to make a respectable river. Four of these were, indeed, so 
formidable that I thought it would be almost impossible to ford 
them. Without a moment's hesitation and without making the 
least examination of the ford, our Lama, who always led the 
way, rode straight into the water, and we of course followed 
obediently in his footsteps. However, everything went off all 
right — for a time. The river was not more than three feet deep, 
except in one or two places, though every moment I kept ex- 
pecting to see the Lama, who rode the smallest mule, disappear 
amid the turbid flood. After scrambUng about half-way over, 
we stopped to rest a minute or two on a mud-bank, where the 
current flowed more gently and was barely a foot deep. Up 
to this point I had been in a state of great anxiety, but now felt 
considerably relieved. My self-congratulation was, however, of a 
precarious character. We had half the river behind us, it is 
true, but the other half was still before us, and there we were, 
in the middle of that vast, roaring, racing, foaming flood, rolling 
down its immense volumes upon us as if it meant to sweep 
us away like straws. With these broad expanses of water 
moving swiftly past on both sides of us, it was not at all easy 
to keep one's head and ward off giddiness. 

The Lama, digging his heels into his mule, once more plunged 
into the boiling current. Ten paces and the animal was im- 
mersed to his tail. Up went the rider's knees, to keep the water 
out of his boots. Almost at the same instant the mule which 
carried our two skin-covered boxes was in difficulties. The 
boxes, being watertight, lifted her off her feet, and the current, 
swinging her half-round, carried her with it. She was, of course, 
drawn by the suction into the swiftest part of the current, till 
nothing of her was visible except her head and the two boxes. 
I gave her up for lost. But in some extraordinary manner she 
contrived to get her footing again. By that time she was quite 
close to the left bank, up which she managed to scramble un- 
aided, although she was a very long way down stream. 

As soon as we saw what had happened to the mule, Shagdur 
VOL II. 22 

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and I shouted franticadly to the Lama to turn back ; but he 
did not hear us. The river churned and foamed around him 
as if he were a paddle-wheel. He merely hoisted his knees higher 
up on his saddle, and patted his mule as she sank deeper and 
deeper into the water. I can only say that the contempt of 
danger which on this occasion he displayed was nothing short of 
heroic ; for you must remember he was dressed, as indeed we 
all were, in a big, heavy sheepskin, saturated with rain, and 
was, besides, unable to swim. For my own part, I had fastened 
up my coat and loosened my girdle, so as to be ready to fling 
them off at a moment's notice. Although I by no means wanted 
a bath — that is to say, deliberately wished for one — I was fully 
prepared for a dip, for in that incessant rain we got stiff and 
spiritless, and the weather was much too cool to tempt one to 
take a bath, especially now, when everything in the nature of 
personal cleanliness was so diametrically at variance with our 
Mongolian principles. 

But fortune favours the brave, and we very soon saw our 
Lama's mule beginning to rise out of the water, and the young 
man soon after dropped his feet into the stirrups. For us, with 
our bigger horses, the passage was not so dangerous. 

The Sachu-sangpo, however, as if in revenge for our audacity, 
was resolved not to let me off without a wetting. " If you dare 
try," it said, " to penetrate to the holy of holies of Tibet, you shall 
at least ^ have reason to remember your insolence in defjäng 
the hindrance which I put in your way." The last of the arms, 
one of the four biggest, although not more than loo feet across, 
was deep and very swift. The Lama and Shagdur were already 
safely across, for I was lingering behind. Without noticing 
which way they had gone, I struck straight across towards the 
spot where I saw them standing. My horsp sank in up to the 
flanks. Higher and higher rose the water. Ugh ! here it was 
pouring into my boots ! Now it was over my knees. Now it was 
at the 'top of my saddle. Very soon there was nothing left 
above water but the horse's head and neck. The Lama and 
Shagdur screamed themselves purple trying to make me under- 
stand which way the ford ran. But not a sound did I hear 
owing to the roaring of the river. Now it was up to my waist. 
I was just going to slip off my horse when his feet went from 
under him, and he began to swim. Instinctively I laid hold 
of his mane ; as it turned out, it was the very best thing I could 
have done ; for he soon touched bottom again, and, making a 

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desperate effort, succeeded in scrambling up the steep bank, 
the water pouring like a tide off both horse and rider. I had 
had my bath, a thorough one and no mistake. But the strain 
made me shaky in the knees for a long time afterwards. 

This wetting made, it is true, very little difference to us, 
for we were all thoroughly drenched to the skin already by the 
rain ; yet somehow rain is preferable to being dipped bodily 
with your clothes on into a running river. AU our belongings 
— tent, boxes, clothing, food — were in the same condition. 
After this adventure our little party, standing on the bank, 
cut a sorrier figure than ever. Still, it was a good thing to be 
safe on the other side of the river. Nobody could tell how long 
this ever-blessed rain would continue, and until it stopped the 
river would certainly not fall. It had taken us twenty-six 
minutes to cross from one side to the other ; but then we had 
forded the stream slowly, and portions of the river-bed, between 
the arms, were not covered with water. As I counted them, 
my horse took 716 steps in those parts of the river only which 
were actually under water ; in other words, the stream, if con- 
tinuous in breadth, would have been close upon 550 yards wide. 
To calculate the voltmie of a river so split up as this was, and 
under such circumstances as those we crossed it in, was not to 
be thought of. I should, however, estimate it approximately at 
8,000 or 9,000 cubic feet in the second. It is only in the rainy 
season, and then not very often, that the Sachu-sangpo attains 
such enormous dimensions. Anyway it is one of the largest 
rivers in the interior of Tibet. I am not, of course, speaking 
of those which find an outlet to the ocean, but only of those 
which have the whole of their course from source to mouth 
within the country itself. At a later period we were again des- 
tined to form a close acquaintance with this river, namely, in 
the lowest part of its course. 

The valley through which it flowed stretched 85° west of 
south, but was soon lost to view in the blur of the rain. Grey, 
chill, dreary — such was the landscape that faced us when we 
turned our dripping backs upon the Sachu-sangpo. My boots 
were now painfully watertight — until it occurred to me that 
there was really no need for me to haul along with me the great 
weight they contained. This was not, indeed, the first time 
that I had earned water in my boots. One previous occasion 
was in the Desert of Takla-makan in 1895 ; but then it was to 
save a man's hfe. Now, however, nobody's life was at stake, and 
VOL. II. 22* 

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we certainly could not complain of want of water. I stopped 
and emptied my boots, and then hung them on the saddle behind 
me, and rode barefoot. The boxes were less tenacious reservoirs ; 
the water was already dripping out of them, and went on drip- 
ping until we encamped. And this we soon did, for we had all 
had enough for that day. We found a grassy hill, where the rain 
had penetrated the ground without converting it into a morass, 
and there, beside a little brook, we halted. Before dark the 
brook had swollen out to three times the size of what it was 
when we arrived, and I drew a sigh of satisfaction as I thought 
of what the Sachu-sangpo would be like behind us. It would 
have been utterly impossible to cross it then. I was sure that 
Sampo Singhi had deliberately abstained from warning us, either 
lest we should stay too long on his pasture-grounds, or because 
he did not wish to accompany us and show us the best place 
for fording the stream. I must simply call the Camp no. L., for 
I do not know what was the name of the locality. And truly a 
cheerful camp it was ! AU our baggage was saturated, and several 
of our things destro5'ed. Our Lama was most concerned about 
his medicine-chest — that is to say, the cloth and paper bags 
in which he kept his medicaments and other remedies. For a 
little while we were puzzled how to get a fire. There was plenty 
of yak dung, but it was so wet it would not bum. But after 
stripping off the outer wet layers, and wrapping the inner cakes 
in dry paper, we at last succeeded. Then I took off my clothes 
and at the risk of scorching them dried them at the anything 
but odoriferous argol fire. 

Pitiless and unemotional, night wrapped her wings about the 
earth, and the moon was unable to send even one transient 
gleam to light up the rain-drenched uplands of Tibet. When I 
began my four hours' wearisome watch, it was chill and gloomy 
and dark and wjnd5% and it rained as if — as if the sluice-gates 
of heaven were pulled up and burnt ! The tent canvas flapped 
like a sail in an unsteady wind. I fancied I heard stealthy foot- 
steps approaching. Then it was horsemen charging down at 
full gallop. Twice during the night, and from different directions, 
I heard shouts. Perhaps they were the pilgrims from Kum- 
bum ; but, no, surely thej*^ would never be so foolish as to 
try to cross the Sachu-sangpo. 

What with watching at night and the stretch we were kept 
upon aU day, the suspense was beginning to play upon our 
nerves. There was now no longer any secret about our being 

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on the way. We were already amongst the Tibetans, and each 
succeeding day brought us nearer to a crisis. We were, it is 
true, slowly but surely approaching our goal ; but we were 
getting tired — very tired. In fact I almost longed that we 
might be stopped in some way or other. I would give worlds 
to sleep my sleep out. On the other hand, I thought that 
having surmounted two such difficulties as the attack of the 
robbers and the passage of the Sachu-sangpo, fortune would 
surely go on and favour us to the end, and permit us to reach 

That night also one or two of our animals broke loo^^e during 
my spell of watching. Both my companions were sleeping 
heavily. Our Lama, strange to say, was now in good heart, 
and took a cheerful view of our prospects, and yet at first he 
had not been willing to come with us. Shagdur was calm, but 
grave. They were both splendid fellows, just the sort ot men 
to have with you in an enterprise like that which I was em- 
barked upon, if it was not to have a disastrous termination. 
When midnight came, I gave poor Shagdur not one minute's 
grace. Whilst he, after examining his rifle, crept out into the 
rain, I crept into my miserable bed. He was too giddy with sleep, 
I was too drowsy, for us to talk. We changed places without 
exchanging a word. 

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Our Lama whiled away the tedium of his watch by converting 
a preserved fruit tin into a lamp, fashioning a wick out of a 
rope-end, and feeding his lamp with mutton fat. That was the 
only light we had on the morning of the 2nd of August. During 
the day a remarkable thing happened : it stopped raining ! 
The sky was, it is true, threatening enough, but it cleared up 
towards evening. JOurJlpoor "animals were, however, unable to 
do more than 15^ miles. Both the horses were completely 
done up, and two of the mules had sore backs. 

We now followed the little brook beside which we had en- 
camped until we came to a small pass. Then, after traversing 
a chaos of hills, we once more reached open country, and in 
the far distance, that is, to the south-east, soon perceived a 
mysterious black patch on the horizon. When we approached 
nearer to it, it turned out to be a herd of yaks, belonging to a 
caravan encamped on a hillside immediately overlooking the 
road. The herd numbered about 300, all pack animals. 

The men of the caravan, 25 in number, having no tents, 
sat round their fires in the open air. Their baggage, which 
consisted of cube tea, sewed up in sacking, was stacked up in 
a dozen piles beside them. They were carrying it from Kum- 
bum, in the west of the Chinese province of Kan-su, to Tashi- 
lumpo, on the Brahmaputra. They would therefore soon turn ofi 
to the right, that is, to the south of the highway to Lassa. They 
were only travelling by night, halting during the day to let their 
animals graze. That is unquestionably an excellent plan when 
you know the way, and are not making maps. A troop of 
fierce dogs, which came rushing to meet us, were received bv 
Yollbars and Malenki in a fashion which inspired even their 
owners with respect. We were riding quietly past their stacks 
of tea, when several of the men came down to the roadside to 
look at us. Thereupon we stopped. They were all naked to 

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the waist, their coats being flung back from their brown chests 
and shoulders, and held in place by the girdle. Their first 
question was ** How many are you ? " cLS though they wanted 
to know which side would be most likely to win in case of a 
scrimmage. Then they asked : " Have you anything to sell ? 
Where do you come from ? How long have you been on the 
road ? Where are you making for ? " And when we told them 
** Lassa," they thought it a perfectly natural thing that we 
should do so. All the same, I overheard an old man, as he 

A Tibetan Caravan -man. 

pointed to me and nudged his neighbour, utter the solitary 
word, *' Peling ! " i,e,, European ! 

They were a rough-looking crew, a good deal like robbers. 
With their dirty-brown complexion, and thick black hair, which 
was often gathered into two pigtails, they were not unlike North 
American Indians. One of them understood a little Mongolian 
and asked good-naturedly, " Amur sän baneh ? " or " How do 
you do ? " Most of them, however, paid not the shghtest atten- 
tion to us, but remained beside their camp-fires, drinking tea 

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and smoking, as though there was nothing at aU uncommon 
in the sight of pilgrims. The men who interviewed us, how- 
ever, invited us to stop and encamp beside them ; but we were 
not ambitious for company, and after a few minutes' further 
conversation we resumed our march. 

My horse now so far gave up that he was unable to keep 
pace with the mules, so that after going about a mile further, 
we judged it prudent to stop and pitch the tent beside a spring 
in the open, about a stone's throw south of the road. The 
latter was now a regular highway, and afforded evidence of a 
lively traffic. 

It was a splendid afternoon ; the sun warm — ^nay, quite 
hot — and we spread out everything we possessed to dry — clothes, 
sheep-skins, wraps, rugs, etc. — and a gentle south-west breeze 
helped the sun. However, not long after this we once more 
heard the thunder, and in a little it was followed by a fierce 
squall of hail, and this again was succeeded by a sharp burst 
of rain ; so that we had to bundle our belongings hurriedly 
together and pitch them helter skelter into the tent. Most of 
the thunderclaps had a peculiar metallic sound, which died 
away slowly in the far distance, like the echo of a church bell. 
I have never heard anything like it before. It was only imme- 
diately over our camp that the storm raged; the country all 
around was bathed in bright sunshine. That evening we sat 
a long time over our fire, discussing our position, and decided 
at the first opportunity to exchange our exhausted mules and 
horses for fresher animals — even yaks would be better than 

During the last few days nothing of a suspicious character 
had happened in our neighbourhood ; but our Lama thought 
that the yak-hunters would almost certainly send intelligence 
to the chief of Nakkchu, and in that case he would at once 
despatch special messengers into every part of his province, 
with instructions to keep a sharp watch upon the roads that 
led to Lassa. Once we reached the more inhabited districts, 
where the people were accustomed to pilgrims, we should be 
less likely to attract attention. That night we kept careful 
watch, for the escort of the tea caravan, ten at least of whom 
carried firearms, had not inspired us with an over-great degree 
of confidence. Had they chosen to fall upon us in the darkness 
our position would have been desperate indeed. Although it 
was urgently desirable that we should push on as fast as possible. 

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we nevertheless decided to rest the 3rd oi August where we were. 
The locality was called by the Tanguts Amdo-mochu, and they 
said that for a yak-caravan it was a journey of five days thence 
to Nakkchu, and seven to the pass of Lani-la. 

I was awakened at nine o'clock next morning by my com- 
panions, after a thorough good night's rest. They said the 
tea caravan was approaching, and would be worth looking at ; 
and, in truth, it was an extremely original and picturesque 
sight. They marched in military order, and in divisions of 
30 or 40 yaks each. The animals travelled slowly, with short 
pottering steps, but kept rank without occasioning much trouble 




iii ^M 


— u-'^^BI^M 


^ f « ^ 





A Tame Yak, the Animal I Rode from Leh to Kara-korum in 1902. 

to the two or three men who were in charge of each detachment. 
If a yak chanced to stray from the ranks one of the drivers 
would stretch out his arms towards it, and whistle shrilly, and 
the beast would at once return to its place. The men urged on 
their animals with short, shrill, staccato cries. Considering the 
strength of a yak, their loads were light. All the men travelled 
on foot, and none of them were in the least degree inquisitive. 
Although they went close past our tent not one stopped and 
peeped in ; they were too intent upon their business. 

Our Lama went and spoke to two or three of them. They 
said that by way of a change they had rested the past night, 
and were now marching by day; also that, having reached 

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a region where the grass was more abundant and of a better 
quality they could let the yaks graze during the night, particu- 
larly as it was moonshine. They again invited us to get ready 
and accompany them to their next camp. This travelling 
company from Kum-bum were Tanguts, men of the same race 
as the Tibetans, and speaking the same language. The entire 
caravan — the yaks, the men, their clothes, their weapons, their 
dogs — aU were perfectly black, and they were accompanied by 
black shadows, for the sun now came out. It was like a pro- 
cession of demons ! They were, as I have said, on their way to 
the holy temple of Tashi-lumpo, and the bazaars of Shigatse, 
where they would sell their tea. 

With the whole day before us we meant to have a thorough 
good rest. As this was the first real opportunity we had had 
to get our belongings dry, we spread everything out in the 
sun on sheepskins and cloaks, and with the thermometer at 
I4°.6 C. or 58°.3 Fahr. it was appreciably warm. I even took 
off most of my own clothes, and put them also in the sun. Then 
we fiUed our boots with warm, dry sand, so as to make them 
reassume their proper shape. That day I had the indescribable 
pleasure of cooking our dinner. After cutting the pieces of 
meat into thin rashers I roasted them in butter from Sampo 
Singhi's *' farm," and they made a very delicate dish, flavoured 
as they were with powdered cheese and salt. The sour milk 
was unfortunately all done, but we had some tea and raisins 
for dessert. The latter were discovered by our Lama when he 
was rummaging amongst his precious medicine bags. He had 
brought them with him all the way from CharkhUk, but had 
never produced any of them before. The rest of the day I 
spent basking in the sunshine with my pipe, and a saddle for 
my pillow. I have seldom felt so indolent as I did on the 3rd 
August, 1901. Shagdur and the Lama slept most of the time ; 
though we took care to keep our animals within sight all day. 

The Lama, with the mien of an artist, painted my head all 
over down to the roots of my hair, and even inside my ears. 
For future use he provided me with a little box of brown paint 
and a small brush, so that when necessary I could, with the 
help of my bright watch-case, touch up the colouring myself. 
For I admit it is annoying when you, like a conjuror with his 
one-two-three ! change your skin, to find a pink patch showing, 
much as if a piece of a ball-beauty's dress were to get pasted 
on a chimney sweep's nose. 

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The only language we used was Mongolian ; neither 1 nor 
Shagdur ever uttered a word of Russian. Before going farther 
we thought it best to be prepared with the answers we should give 
in case we should be cross-examined by the Tibetans. Our 
story was to be that we were all Buriats from Sakhir, and had 
travelled through the land of the Khalkha Mongols and Tsaidani. 
Our Lama would on no account allow himself to pass for a 
Mongol : he was a Buriat, and, lest he should be recognised again 
by his acquaintances in Lassa, he put on darkened wire spec- 
tacles like those I wore, but he intended to keep out of their 
way as much as possible. The man he was most afraid of was 
the chief lama of the temple in which he had pursued his studies. 
If he were recognised he expected the consequences would be 
serious. The Tibetans would allow us to return, but would 
detain him, under the pretext that he was a Lassa lama, and 
would then punish him as a traitor who had showed the spies 
of the Europeans the way into the forbidden territory. Whether 
we were resting or whether we were crossing the unknown moun- 
tains he gabbled incessantly his prayers to the eternal gods, 
and argued the point with his conscience again and again. 

He took the greatest interest in Christianity, and repeatedly 
asked me to tell him about my faith. As far as he could see, 
there were many points of contact between Christianity and 
Lamaism, and I had quite as good a right as anybody else to 
make the pilgrimage to Lassa. His knowledge was confined 
to what he had gleaned from the holy books of Tibet and Mon- 
golia, and seeing me engaged about so many things of which 
be had never hitherto had the slightest conception, such as 
investigating the nature of the earth's crust, studying the 
heavenly bodies, and reading strange books, he came to the con- 
clusion that I was at least as good as a lama, and that the 
authorities at Lassa ought to thank me if I chose to pay them 
a visit. The Dalai Lama was omniscient : he knew who we 
were, and why we were travelling to Lassa ; indeed, he knew 
what we talked about every day. He would see to it that no 
ill happened to me ; but what his attitude would be towards our 
Lama himself was another and a very different question. If 
my God was Almighty, would I pray to Him that He would 
preserve the Lama's life and limbs, for it was solely for my sake 
that he had embarked upon this perilous adventure. I assured 
him that he might be perfectly easy. Whatever happened we 
should all stick together ; I would never desert him. 

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Between sunset and the moment when the moon began her 
nightly journey through the star-Ut vault of heaven there was 
one hour of intense darkness, so that we were quite reheved 
when at length she showed her face. I had the first watch — 
from 8 to II. It was so peaceful and still, there was not a 
sound far or near. By way of a change the Lama and Shagdur 
slept outside the tent. The nearer we came to the scene of 
danger the calmer I became. It is far easier to be in the midst 
of peril than to wait for and anticipate its arrival. 

Starting again at five o'clock on the morning of the 4tb of 
August, we directed our course to the south-south-east, and 
traversed a fairly open country, be-ribboned with rocks. Upon 
reaching a point where the road bifurcated, we stopped in i>er- 
plexity ; but finally decided that the road to the left must 
lead to Lassa, and the road to the right to Tashi-lumpo. But, 
after riding about an hour along the former, we found that it 
swung away sharply to the east, and so concluded that it led to 
Nakkchu. Accordingly we turned back to the other road, and 
soon had proof that we were in the right way. For we met 
a caravan of a hundred yaks, all lightly loaded, and driven 
by half a dozen armed men on horseback, and they were 
coming from Lassa. The men wore big tall yellow hats, with 
wide brims, and had goats and dogs with them ; but they 
seemed afraid of us, and hurried on past us as fast as they could. 

Our mules hadi picked up tremendously after the good grass 
and the day's rest. But whether it was that they considered 
the yaks more sociable, or that they thought them comical 
creatures — anyhow, they turned siiddenly about and joined the 
caravan. The yaks, however, were of a different way of thinking 
— probably they had never had any previous close acquaintance 
with mules — for off they started across the plain, followed by 
their owners and three of our mules, all at full gallop. The 
Tibetans whistled, we shouted, while our dogs and the dogs of 
the yak caravan improvised a bloody melee, so that the utmost 
confusion and uproar prevailed. At last, however, we managed 
to get hold of our rebellious animals, and order was once more 
restored. But some perverse spirit of evil seemed to have taken 
possession of one of our mules, a brute called Dungan, because 
she was bought from a Mohammedan Chinese. A little while 
afterwards, without any pretext whatever, she suddenly set 
off at a wild gallop, until everything she carried on her back, 
saddle included, littered the plain behind her. We caught her, 

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and loaded her up again ; but, as the same manoeuvre was re- 
peated twice again, we finally led the frisky jade in a rope. The 
rest had also done my horse so much good that he easily knocked 
off the 22^ miles we did that day. Our Lama slumbered and 
snoozed in his saddle, and kept making the most comical lurches, 
so that every moment I expected to see him measuring his length 
on the groimd ; but somehow or other he never lost his balance. 
The weather was magnificent, and the two days' unbroken 
sunshine had thoroughly dried the ground, as well as made our 
loads very considerably lighter. The track now led up to a low, 
easy pass, marked by an obo, constructed as usual of slabs of 

Our Lama in Conversation with the Natives. 

sandstone, and bearing the inevitable inscription On maneh 
padmeh hum ! The ground was, however, riddled all over with 
the runs and holes of a species of small rat, causing the horses 
to stumble, and making riding difficult. But their folly in under- 
mining the highway cost some of them their lives, for our dogs 
hunted them incessantly. Malenki ate them up — ^bones, skin, 
and all; but Yollbars contented himself with giving them a 
nip in the back of the neck and a final toss in the air. The 
slopes on both sides of the pass were dotted with flocks of sheep 
and herds of yaks, with several black tents amongst them; 
but we saw none of the occupants. 

Over on the other side of the pass we dipped down into an 

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open, saucer-shaped valley, fringed round with distant hills. Here 
from one of the tents, there emerged an old man, with whom 
our Lama conferred. But the nomad positively refused to either 
sell or let on hire his horses. Curmudgeon that he was, he even 
refused to let us buy milk. He had plenty, he said, but it was 
not for sale ; he wanted it all for himself. As we advanced the 
track grew broader and more distinctly marked ; but it was a 
remarkable fact that we never met any person travelling alone, 
either on horseback or on foot. It seemed to be the practice in 
that country to travel only in large companies. There was an 
abundance of grass, and in every direction large herds of yaks, 
horses and sheep, with shepherds and herdsmen in charge of 

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The tents now became much more numerous, being dotted about 
like black points all over the country. In one place there were as 
many as fourteen, all standing close together. Outside each tent 
there was as a rule a big pile of argol or yak dung, stacked up 
for winter use, though sometimes it was spread out, so as to dry 
the better. After a while we again passed the big tea caravan, 
encamped beside a small lake. We did not see anything of the 
men in charge of it. Probably they had gone to the nomads* 
tents to talk, and smoke, and drink tea. We thought it prudent, 
however, to continue for about an hour further, and then en- 
camped beside a small hamlet of four tents. Our Lama paid a 
visit to one of them, and came back bringing with him a piece 
of fat and a domba (Mongolian bowl) of sour milk, which he had 
obtained in exchange for a Chinese porcelain cup. 

Meanwhile we were visited by a young Tibetan, an ex- 
tremely friendly and communicative fellow, who talked in- 
cessantly, although we did not understand a single word he said, 
until our Lama came and interpreted for us. Our uninvited 
guest said that he was a man of Amdo, and his dialect was very 
different from that spoken at Lassa. He told us the names of 
the nearest mountains, though I will not answer for the accuracy 
of his information. He said that the lake which we saw in the 
south-east was called Tso-nekk — that is, " Black Lake " — a 
name which was very likely correct, for it is a common enough 
designation throughout Central Asia under various forms, such as 
Kara-köU, Khara-nur, etc. The road we were following would 
soon divide, he told us, one branch going to Lassa, the other to 
Tashi-lumpo ; and there was yet another road farther to the 
east, which joined the great highway to Lassa. 

We were very anxious to get rid of the stranger, for we took 
him for a spy, who had been sent to learn all he could about us ; 
but as the man refused to take the hint, Shagdur and I retired 

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into the tent and, closing the flap, had our dinner, lea\'ing the 
Lama to entertain the guest. At dusk, however, the fellow 
succeeded in tearing himself away. He had turned his horse 
loose to graze, and went to catch him ; but it was easier said than 
done. The horse went off southwards, and for as long as ever 
we could see them, even with the help of the telescope, the horse 
was trotting on ahead and his would-be rider pegging away 
industriously behind him. In reply to our enquiry whether 
there were robbers in that part of the country, our young friend 
replied, " Not for us Tibetans ; but for you, who come from so 
far off there is no safety ! " 

On Monday, the 5th of August, we covered 22 miles, and our 
camp that night was no. LIII. We were still pursuing the same 
direction (south-south-east), and soon after starting reached the 
shore of the lake of Tso-nekk. Almost every brook and water- 
course we crossed that day ran down towards this lake. Then 
we crossed three more passes, and so reached an extensive plain, 
encircled by mountains, which, especially in the south and south- 
east, reached a high altitude. Here we halted in the vicinity 
of twelve black tents. This was the limit of our journey ; thus 
far we were to go, but no farther — that is to say, 162 miles from* 
our headquarters camp, and one to five days from Lassa. It 
was now warmer. At one p.m. the thermometer registered over 
20^.0 C. or 68°.o Fahr. 

During the course of the ride we were astonished that our 
passage nowhere excited any attention, and that nobody came 
and spoke to us, although we saw Tibetans sitting outside several 
of the tents beside their fires, with the little children playing 
with the lambs and puppies. Nor did any of the curious come 
to visit us when we pitched our tent beside the little brook ; not 
that we were anxious for visitors or burning to be cross-ques- 
tioned. For my own part I should have preferred to go and 
greet our neighbours in their own tents, but thought it on the 
whole wiser to keep away from them. 

After a thorough shaving, painting, and massaging with 
fat, I had my dinner and went and lay down. Just at dusk 
Shagdur came in and woke me up, saying there were three Tibetans 
approaching. The Lama and he went to meet them, while I 
stayed behind. It was now quite dark, and there was a fine 
drizzle, and as the sky was clouded, I was quite unable to make 
out our animals, nor could I see any of the men. My com- 
panions were absent a long time, and I was beginning to be un- 

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easy about them, when Shagdur at length turned up. He was, 
as usual, calm, but the fact of his addressing me in Russian 
showed that he had serious intelligence to communicate. " Things 
look bad for us," he said. " I did not understand a word they 
said, but they kept repeating incessantly ' Shved Peling,* 
' Chanto ' (Mussulman), ' Buriat,' and ' Lassa,' one after the 
other. I left them talking. The Lama is almost weeping, 
and is crushed with humility, and bows at almost every second 

Soon after this the Lama himself came hurrying in, tre- 
mendously excited, and quite downcast. For some time he was 
imable to speak ; but after he had calmed down a little his 
words came by jerks, and in a trembling and broken voice. To 
judge from his headgear, one of the men was a noyyin (chief or 
officer). His bearing was quite pleasant and polite, but he had 
spoken in a decided, authoritative tone, which brooked no con- 
tradiction ; and yet, added the Lama, his eyes were treacherous. 
The chief said that three days ago they learnt that a Shved 
Peling, that is a " Swedish European," was on the way to Lassa ; 
also that some yak hunters, who had just reached Nakkchu, 
had reported that a number of Europeans, strongly armed and 
with a big caravan, were coming south over the mountains. 
Then the poor Lama had been overwhelmed with a multitude 
of questions. Did he know anything about these Europeans ? 
Were any of them with him ? How many did his company 
niunber ? How many animals had they ? Had they any 
weapons ? Where did they come from ? Where were they 
going to ? Why had they chosen this back road which Mongols 
never travel by ? " You had better answer me truly," said the 
chief. " How can you, who are a Lama, keep company with these 
unknown strangers ? " 

Our Lama replied that he had been commanded by the 
amhan (governor) of Kara-shahr, to act as interpreter to the 
European caravan as far as Ladak. The carayan was up in the 
mountains, nine days' journey distant, and whilst the caravan 
animals rested, he and two companions had received permission 
to visit Lassa. 

The chief then put several searching questions about the main 
caravan, to all of which our Lama gave truthful answers, for 
he took it for granted that the Tibetans already knew all about 
us through their spies. He told him how many baggage animals 
we had, and that the men in the main camp numbered three 
VOL. II. 23 

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" Europeans " and fourteen Mussulmans. The chiefs decision 
was this : " You must stay where you are. To-morrow I 
will come to your tent, ^nd we will discuss the matter again. 
I will bring with me a Mongolian interpreter, so that he can talk 
to the other two. As for provisions and horses or yaks, we will 
consider all that to-morrow." 

It was already late, and after picketing the horses and mules 
as usual, we sat round a brazier and discussed the situation. 
The first thing was to prepare for the cross-examination next 
day, and Shagdur was very insistent that the Lama should 
act as interpreter. 

What interested me most was to learn where they got the 
words " Shved Peling " from. My first thought was that some 
rumour of my project had filtered up from the English newspapers 
in India ; only Shved was not an English word, whereas it was 
a Russian word, namely, the Russian equivalent of " Swedish." 
Then I thought of the big caravan of Mongol pilgrims which 
passed our camp at Temirlik in the autumn of 1900. Could they 
have somehow picked up the word ? But at that time nobody, 
not even the Cossacks, had any idea as to my future plans, 
and I could only suppose that the Mongols, when talking to 
Shagdur and Cherdon in their own language, had asked whether 
I was a Russian or an Englishman, and had been told I was a 
Shved, or Swede, ä word which could not be translated into 
Mongolian. These people, I concluded, had carried the news 
to Lassa, being well aware that the warning of the approach 
of such undesired guests would be well rewarded. And the yak- 
hunters, whom we saw at Camp no. XXXVIIL, would confirm 
the intelligence that the European caravan was approaching. 

There was, however, a third possibility, namely, that our 
Lama, during his conversation with the Tibetan chief, had been 
himself the first to use the word. Ih that case, our Lama was 
acting treacherously, and Shagdur actually asserted that he 
would not trust him for anything he could see. His demeanour 
the whole time struck him as being very strange, and the purport 
of his conversation seemed to be of a corroborative character. 
The whole affair was shrouded in mystery. The only points 
which were certain were, that somehow or other the word " Shved " 
had become known to the Tibetans without their imderstanding 
precisely what it meant. To me, however, the addition of the 
word " Peling," which signifies " European," and has through 
some channel or other been introduced into Tibetan as the 

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equivalent to the Persian " Fereng," or " Ferenghi," made it 
perfectly plain what they intended. This was the first — and 
I am certain it will be the last — time in my hfe that I was not 
proud to be called a Swede. However much I tried, I was re- 
luctant to believe that the Lama was behaving treacherously. 
I did not believe it then ; I do not believe it now. The little 
cloud of suspicion under which he for a moment rested was soon 
dissipated, and I never let him suspect, even by a chance word, 
that the barest suspicion had ever been entertained against him. 
Perhaps it was for this reason that afterwards, throughout all 
the long journey right away to Astrakhan, he showed a devotion 

A Group of Tibetans. 

and fidehty which might b^ taken as a penance for a moment's 
'weakness, or as if intended to atone for a passing cowardice, 
which, whilst it exposed me, seemed to secure him a means 
of retreat in case of need. One thing, however, spoke tremen- 
dously in his favour. It was his interest, as much as it was 
ours, to get through the ring of guards, scouts, and spies, who 
watched all the roads that led to Lassa from the north, without 
his own identity being recognised. If we were discovered and 
made prisoners, his position would be infinitely more serious 
than ours ; for if I thought well to take off the mask, and pro- 
claim myself a European, nobody would dare to injure me ; 
whereas the Lama would have been held responsible for acting 
VOL. II. 23* 

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as guide to a European in disguise, and would perhaps have been 
tortured to death. For this reason I do not believe that he 
betrayed us to the Tibetans. Besides, it is extremely likely 
that, even before the 5th of August, our arrival was expected. 
At one of the nomads* tents a man enquired whether we had 
seen any Europeans on the road, and the reader will remember 
one of the men with the tea caravan pointed to me and called 
me " Peling ! " 

For my own part, I was glad that the uncertainty was 
coming to an end. Something was going to happen ; but what ? 
We were now thoroughly committed to the adventure, and we 
should soon hear what fate had in store for us. With so many 
neighbours all around us, we might perhaps have thought we 
were safe against an attack, but nobody could tell what even they 
might be planning against us, and — well, for the present it would 
be wise not to relax our vigilance. We therefore picketed our 
horses and mules as usual, and kept a good watch. All through 
the night the dogs kept barking in the nomad encampments, 
the fires of which we saw glimmering through the darkness all 
around us. Our Lama thought that the nomads were going 
about from tent to tent, carrying the news of our arrival, and 
discussing what was going to happen. 

The next day, the 6th of August, our fate was, therefore, 
to be decided. Immediately after sunrise three Tibetans came 
to visit us, though they were not the-same as the three inquisitors 
of the night before. After tethering their horses at a suitable 
distance from our tent, by linking their forelegs together with 
a leathern throng, they came and squatted down beside our 
fire, and began to fill their pipes with tobacco, which was light- 
coloured, dry, and fine-grained. Their real business seemed to 
be to examine the colour of my eyes, for no sooner did I take 
my place between them than they asked me to take off my 
blackened spectacles. Now, they were no doubt convinced 
that all Europeans are fair, and have blue eyes. Consequently 
they were quite astonished to discover that my eyes were as black 
as their own. They were evidently satisfied, for after a series 
of friendly nods, they went on talking, and talked quick and fast. 
Then they asked to see our firearms, a request that we complied 
with with the greatest alacrity. They could not fail to be 
impressed with them. Shagdur showed them his repeating rifle, 
and explained to them how it was used, and I did the same with 
my revolver ; but when we showed them how to insert the 

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cartridges, they shook their heads, and begged us to put the 
murderous things away. 

Shortly after that they became convinced that they wotild 
be safer at a distance, though before going they thought well to 
inform us that it was a three months' journey from where we were 
to Lassa. Their object plainly was to deter us from continuing 
our journey ; possibly they hoped we might turn back of our 
own accord. But I instructed the Lama to tell them that we 
required no information on that point. We were as well in- 
formed about the country as they were. Then they got up, and 
moved slowly and watchfully — walking backwards all the time — 
to their horses ; nor did they mount until they thought they 
were well out of range of our rifles. 

After that we had peace for half an hour ; then we per- 
ceived four other men approaching on foot. Three of them 
had long black hair, and were very dirty, and were armed with 
swords, and carried pipes ; but the fourth was a tall lama, with 
close-cut grey hair, and he wore a red robe and a yellow cap. 
He appeared to be a thorough " gentleman." He never cast 
a single inquisitive glance at me, nor did he ask one indiscreet 
question. All he wanted to know was the strength of our main 
camp, which we at once told him. 

The old mau, who wore an air of great respectability and 
showed some knowledge of the world, replied, with disconcerting 
firmness, " You will stop here three or four, or at the most, five 
days. This morning we sent messengers to the chief of Nakkchu, 
to ask whether we are to let you go on or not. In answer we 
shall either have a letter with instructions how to act, or our 
chief, Kamba Bombo,* will come here himself. In any case, 
until then you are our prisoners. If we were to let you go on, 
and it afterwards turned out that you are people who have 
no right to go to Lassa, we should forfeit our lives. The chief 
of Nakkchu is the next in authority above us, and we must be 
guided by what he orders." 

I proposed to send a special courier to Lassa to ask permis- 
sion to proceed, but the old lama refused. He said it might 
take a month to obtain an answer that way. Then I proposed 
that we ourselves should ride on to Nakkchu. This also was 
refused. Our interviewers no doubt considered that once out of 
their sight, we, instead of going to Nakkchu, should be sure 
to press on to Lassa. And he finally cut short all negotiations 
by declaring decisively that there was no need to discuss the 

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matter further : they knew what they were about, and we were 
in their power. It was clear they were perfectly well aware that 
we belonged to the big caravan which was approaching from 
the north, and it was equally clear that they were fully in- 
formed about everything concerning us, and only wished to 
test the truth of our statements. 

Before he went the old man bought a teacup from us, and 
told us that he would be happy to supply us with anything 
we wanted. During the course of the conversation our visitor 
let drop what rank it was he held amongst the Lamas. What- 
ever it was, it made a profound impression upon our modest 
Shereb Lama ; for he at once got up, placed the palms of his 
hands together, and touched the old man's brow with his own. 
On both sides the usual formalities of politeness were observed, 
and neither party was sparing in their assurances of friendship and 
regard. At length these guests also took theijr leave. 

We now hoped that we should be left in peace for the rest 
of the day ; but within a minute or two something happened 
which filled us with a certain degree of uneasiness. There was 
a small group of tents about half a mile away, and from eVery 
direction we perceived little bands of horsemen approaching 
them, each man armed to the teeth with spear, lance, sword, and 
long black musket, with a forked rest to fire it from. Some of 
them wore tall white felt hats, with brims, others dark scarves 
round their heads, and all were enveloped in cloaks, brown, red, 
black or grey. They looked more like bandits or highway 
robbers than anything else ; but they were evidently soldiers, 
mobilised to meet the threatened invasion of southern Tibet. 
Where had they cc«ne from with such 'amazing suddenness ? 
They seemed to have sprung like mushrooms out of the ground. 
The vicinity of the nomads' tents grew quite black with horse- 
men. We counted one, two, three, up to 53 men. They took 
counsel with the livehest gesture. They dismounted and put 
up a big white tent. They gathered rotmd the fires in little 
groups. But all the time not one amongst them appeared to 
pay the slightest heed to us three poor pilgrims — ^rather an 
ominous circumstance that ! We watched them with the 
greatest interest through the telescope. Our Lama was greatly 
downcast, and thought they were about to take our Uves. Had 
they really contemplated anything of the sort, we were, we 
knew, comparatively powerless ; but I thought if they really 
did mean to make a clean sweep of us, they could do it without 

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1 ^ -• 

ii G.-, v 1- 

• Til r,". -. r«..)Ni *FI^N." 


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all that amount of ceremony, and would have a better chance 
of success if they attacked us at night. 

The day was dull, and cold, and rainy, and every now and 
again the view was obscured by the mist and the blur of the 
rain. We were wondering and speculating as to the meaning 
of the Tibetans' measures, when, as if in answer to our enquiry, 
they executed a manoeuvre which was not at all calculated to 
dispel our fears. After seven of them had set off at a smart 
pace eastwards, probably to Nakkchu, and two others had 
disappeared in the direction of Lassa, the rest galloped in a com- 
pact body across the plain, straight towards our tent. For one 
moment I really did think it was all up with us. We held our 
weapons ready, and sat or stood at the entrance to our tent. 
The Tibetans, flourishing their lances and spears above their 
heads, and uttering the wildest whoops, charged straight down 
upon us. The horses' hoofs beat ominously upon the bare 
ground, and the clods flew in every direction around them. 
Some of the men, who brandished swords, seemed to be issuing 
words of command. When they arrived within a few horses' 
lengths of the tent they pulled their horses round, some to the 
right, some to the left, and, thus split into two wings, returned 
to the point from which they started. This manoeuvre they 
repeated two or three times, whilst a few scattered horsemen 
were all the while circling round our camp. Their object clearly 
was to inspire us with a proper degree of respect ; and in this 
surmise we were shortly afterwards confirmed, when they dis- 
mounted and began to shoot with their long black muskets. 

At two o'clock in the afternoon there was another change 
in the proceedings : the Tibetans, mounting again, and wrapping 
their cloaks about them, for it was raining in torrents, rode 
away towards the north-west — that is to say, in the direction 
from which we had come. At this I was seriously alarmed, and 
feared they meant to make an attack upon our headquarters 
camp whilst we were separated from it, and I felt strongly urged 
to turn back and go to my men's assistance. 

As soon as the Tibetans had taken their departure and the 
coast was clear — at least in our immediate neighbourhood — 
two nomads put in an appearance from the nearest tents. They 
brought with them fat and sour milk, and explained that they 
>vere forbidden by their chief to receive anything in recompense. 
I wanted to give them a porcelain cup ; but they said that 
without the chief's assent they durst not accept it, although 

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later on they returned, and said they might have it, the chief 
had no objection. 

In this way we were entertained all day long by our neigh- 
bours. The last and most pertinacious were, however, four 
men who arrived about three o'clock in the afternoon. One 
of them was exceedingly impudent, and examined closely every- 
thing he could lay his hands upon. Amongst other things he 
unearthed a mariner's compass, which interested him immensely. 
He asked what it was, and when I described it to him minutely 
he exclaimed, '* Just so, just so ; the Chinese have things like 
that." Once or twice he pointed to me and said, "That man 
is not a Buriat." He was painfully inquisitive, and asked how 
it was we had chosen that back way, instead of travelling by 
the ordinary pilgrim high roads. " Don't you know," he said, 
" that you may lose yourjieads for coming this way ? Everybody 
who goes to Lassa this way has his head cut off." Our Lama 
thought to get out of the difficulty by explaining that we had 
travelled in company with a big caravan from Lop-nor, and 
that we intended continuing to Lassa. The man answered, 
" You must first obtain permission of the Governor of Nakk- 
chu." But on the whole these men too, spies though they were, 
were friendly and imconstrained, and promised to bring us 
various necessaries on the morrow. As we were unable to get rid 
of our troublesome visitors in any other way we went and lay 
down in our beds ; but even that proved of no avail. The sky 
clouded and grew quite dark, and then the rain began to pom- 
down in torrents. Upon that all four crept inside the tent, 
where we were already sufficiently cramped for room without 
them. And they stayed until dusk, for the rain came down in 
dead earnest, and was mingled with hail and snow. As our 
tent stood on a gentle slope, we soon had to go. out and dig a 
trench all round it to lead off the water. After that we sat over 
our pipes and wooden bowl of sour milk, and chatted till ten 
o'clock, our damp, cold quarters feebly lighted by a miserable 
tallow candle. The rain pattered monotonously on the canvas ; 
it was pitch dark outside, and the wretched weather made the 
dogs surly. Relying upon the old Lama's assurances that there 
was nothing to fear from robbers, we that night turned otur 
animals adrift, and left them to look after themselves. I con- 
jectured, however, that no one would want to deprive us of the 
means of leaving the country ; on the contrary, their one con- 
cern was to get rid of us as speedily as possible. The Tibetans 

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offered to send us four watchmen ; but we declined — ^it meant 
spies. During the night we saw several camp-fires glimmering 
faintly through the blur of the rain, especially along the road 
to Lassa. We afterwards learnt that there were that night 
no less than 37 outposts keeping guard all round us. 

We now slept all three at one and the same time, no longer 
troubling ourselves about either animals or rain. It was 
the reaction from the forced ride and the fatigue of the past 
vreek or so which made us sleep. At daybreak next morn- 
ing I was awakened by the murmur of voices ; it was the first 
relay of Tibetans come to visit us. And all that day, the 7th 
of August, they kept it up, one group coming after another, 
so that we seldom had even so much as half an hour to ourselves. 
No sooner did one band depart than a fresh one appeared, and 
the same man seldom came back a second time. It was like a 
continuous changing of guards. Our very inquisitive friend of 
the day before came again, bringing us a bowl of sour milk, 
a sack of first-rate, well-dried argoL and a pair of bellows — this 
last a very welcome gift. Another Tibetan stayed with us a 
good three hours, drinking tea, feasting on tsamba, and smoking 
— in fact, he made himself quite at home. His "face was sur- 
roimded by a perfect forest of black hair, which stuck out in 
tufts in every direction, without the slightest pretence at ar- 
rangement. The " love locks " which himg over his eyes were 
shortened, though that did not at all add to the beauty of his 
countenance. His back hair was, however, gathered into a 
plait, the end of which was adorned with two or three gavos, 
or cases for holding idols, and with ribbons, on which coloured 
pearls or stones were stitched. When he rode on horseback, 
he wrapped his plait round his head or round his hat. We sub- 
sequently saw many others who wore their hair in the same 
fashion. This man, who seemed as if he never would go, showed 
plainly enough that he was a spy. Indeed he was so frank as 
to ask us not to run away during the night, otherwise he would 
lose his life. He told us it was five days more to Lassa ; but 
we subsequently ascerteiined that there was a properly organized 
post along the road, with stations where horses could be changed ; 
for when we sent a special messenger, he returned on the second 
day — that is to say, he took one day to travel to Lassa, and one 
day to return. The name of the valley in which we were en- 
camped was Jallokk, and that of the mountain nearest to us 
in the west Bontsa. 

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When this tiresome person at length left us, we saw three 
horsemen come to meet him, and then they all four remained 
for a good half -hour in conversation. The three mounted men 
were evidently questioning the spy about the observations he 
had made, and about the questions we had put to him. After 
that all four turned round, and drove our mules and horses 
away to another pasture-ground. Early next morning there was 
not one of them to be seen ; but towards noon they again put 
in an appearance not far away. Evidently they had been driven 
off to prevent us running away during the night. 

Amongst others who came to visit us was a long-haired old 
man, bent with the weight of many years, whom the other 
Tibetans treated with a certain amount of reverence. Although 
he was very long-winded in his talk, and spoke half the time 
in a sort of whisper, nevertheless the other Tibetans listened 
to him with the greatest attention. Our Lama picked up the 
following words which fell from him. " These three men," he 
said, " are not what they should be. They must not of course 
go to Lassa. In two or three days Kamba Bombo will be here, 
and then we shall see. Meanwhile we must take care that they 
want for nothing, and we must give them everything they need 
Nobody may take anything in payment. If they should make an 
attempt to escape, the guards must at once come and tell me, no 
matter when it is. Amgon Lama has consulted the holy books, 
and has ascertained that these men are questionable characters, 
and must not be allowed to go to Lassa. The hunter Onji saw 
them long ago amongst the mountains in the region of Merik- 
jandsem, and he says they are an enormously big company. 
Intelligence was at once sent to Lassa." 

" Did Amgon Lama beheve that that man was a Buriat ? " 
asked one of them, as he pointed to me. 

" He said he couldn't tell," answered the old man. 

Every explanation he made was received by the others with 
the remark, " Lakso, lakso ! " — a word which signifies obedience, 
subjection, and reverence all combined. Our poor Shereb Lama 
had it constantly on his lips when talking with the Tibetans ; in 
fact, he almost trembled before them. His attitude was pain- 
fully submissive, and his voice whining. He now pictured our 
future in the darkest colours, and feared the very worst. 

To-day, again, there were numbers of horsemen constantly 
coming and going all over the neighbourhood. The whole coun- 
try was manifestly up in arms. One of our guests confessed quite 

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openly that it was because of our big camp in the mountains. 
Another said they were only patrols and scouts sent out to 
watch and see that no enemies forced their way into the country. 
I was not half so anxious about ourselves as I was about 
the headquarters camp. Had we not been prisoners in the 
hands of the Tibetans,. I should have at once gone back to 
strengthen their defence. 

It poured with rsiin all night; and next morning, the 8th 
of August, I was awakened half suffocated by smoke. The tent 
-was full of it, and the rain came in like a fine spray ; it was, in 
fact, a regular raw, cold morning. Back with the tent-flap, then. 



K^>tf(^> ^^^^1 

iramår^::^^mL.tii^r^Mm * ^v^ 

» .■^■■j - 

^^RSI^^I^^^^^mI^Vi ^n^B^^^^B^^^kflii^B^^^Btr^lik ^Jö^ r J23 

•*• .. - > 

Tibetan Horsemen. 

:and let the fresh air come in ! The rain might do its^worst. 
'That morning at any rate it was a comfort to be ready the 
imoment we awoke, without having any further toilet to per- 
form. The layer of fat that was last rubbed into my face was 
now covered with a thick coating of soot ! 

Our stream of visitors continued as on the previous day, and 
proved a great trial to our patience. The first to arrive were 
five men with a sheep. They asked us if we required an3rthing 
further, and we ordered fat, butter, fresh and sour milk — all of 
which they brought in far greater quantities than we could use, 
.even when we called in the dogs to help us. They then asked us 
vwhether *Qur bag camp was sufficiently near to the nomad tents 

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for it to be supplied with such provisions as our men might need. 
This was at any rate reassuring, and I began once more to doubt 
whether the call to arms was aimed at our main camp. We 
were also told that Kamba Bombo of Nakkchu and Nanso Lama 
were on their way, and would arrive next day. Then the cross- 
examination began all over again ; but I told them plump and 
plain that they might wsiit until Kamba Bombo came. What- 
ever he wanted to know I would tell him. It was no business of 
theirs who we were. If they didn't stop their string of silly 
inquisitive questions we would not let them come into the tent 
any more. This disconcerted them ; they bowed, cried depre- 

A Tibetan Soldier. 


catingly, " Lakso ! " and put out their tongues. Our Lama 
declared that they stood terribly in awe of me. I admit our 
situation struck me as bemg not unlike that of Charles XII. of 
Sweden in Turkey. We had penetrated into a foreign coimtry, 
a ridiculously small troop opposed to overwhelming nimibers. 
The people of the country would not allow us to go where we 
wanted to go, and yet they were anxious to get rid of us at 
all costs. 

Our Lama, however, was gloomy and despondent. He had a 
lively recollection of Kamba Bombo of Nakkchu, and of the 
thorough way in which he had searched the caravan of Mongol 
pilgrims with which our Lama formerly travelled to Lassa. If 

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Kamba Bombo should happen to recognise him again, his fate 
was sealed ; and even if he did not recognise him, our Lama's 
destiny was not a little uncertain. He told me about a Mongol 
Lama, who for some transgression or other forfeited his right 
to visit the holy city, and who by way of atonement for his 
offence was ordered to travel from Da-kuren (i,e,, Urga) all 
the way to Lassa in the attitude of prayer — that is to say, on 
his knees. Flinging himself prone, with his hands stretched 
out on the ground in front of him, he drew his knees up towards 
his hands ; and then flinging himself forwards again, with his 
hands stretched out in the same way, again drew his knees 
up to them ; and in that way travelled the whole of the long 
Avearisome distance — a task which took him six years to accom- 
plish. And when he arrived within his last day's march of the 
city-gate, the Dalai Lama refused to allow him to enter. A 
second time, and yet a third time the man performed this pain- 
ful penitential journey on his knees, until they became as hard 
and homy as the callosities on the knees and breast of a camel. 
Still the Dalai Lama's heart did not soften. "And now," our 
Lama concluded, " seeing that I have sinned in guiding you here, 
^^^hat will happen to me ? Even if I escape with my life, my 
career wiU be ruined, and I shall never see Lassa again." 

During the course of the day, Ben Nursu, the spy of the 
day preceding, and the day before that, put up a tent two or 
three himdred yards to the south of ours, and there, as he 
honestly admitted to us, took up his quarters so as to be able 
to keep his eye upon us. About noon we saw some 15 horse- 
men gallop to the east. We assumed that they were gone to 
meet Kamba Bombo, who probably was not now very far 
away. In the afternoon we slept for a couple of hours, bemg 
for that period actually left in peace ; in fact, we had nothing 
eke to kill the time with, except sleeping and eating and getting 
our meals ready. Waiting in inaction like that was exceedingly 
trying to our patience, and we longed for the arrival of Kamba 
Bombo. The only thing that consoled us was that we escaped 
riding in the everlasting rain, when everything was so cold, and 
raw, and wet, and dreary. 

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Fresh, strange, inquisitive faces kept cropping up one after the 
other without cessation, though one person there was who stuck 
to us like a leech, and that was Ben Nursu. He used to have his 
meals with us — in fact, he almost lived with us. But we made 
some use of him by setting him to blow the fire with the bellows 
when it rained. Hardly one of our visitors came without bring- 
ing something eatable with him ; in fact, their care for us was, 
like their attention, touching to a degree. According to what 
they told us, all this was done by command of the Dalai Lama. 
From this we inferred that the authorities in Lassa were kept 
informed every day of all that took place in our camp. The 
mounted men who kept coming and going in the direction of 
Låssa were couriers and special messengers. We were ako told 
that the supplies which the nomads brought us would be sub- 
sequently paid for by the Government in Lassa. It was on this 
same plan that their soldiers were supported in the field. The 
latter are privileged to take whatever they want from the nomads, 
who are subsequently recompensed by the authorities in the 
capital. Thus our peaceful journey had created a terrible 
commotion in the country. JaUokk had become a sort of stand- 
ing camp ; it swarmed with scouts, spies, couriers, messengers, 
outposts — mounted men, in fact, of every description. 

About two o'clock the sun flung aside its veil and peeped out 
for a little. Seven old men were at this time sitting round the 
fire outside, keeping us company. Whilst we were thus quietly 
talking, all of a sudden a band of mounted men appeared in 
the south-east. They were riding hard, and riding directly 
towards our tent. 

*' Ha ! " cried the old men ; " that's the bombo (governor) 
of Nakkchu." 

We rose to receive the strangers, but when they drew nearer 
our visitors said it was not the governor himself, but his Mongohan 
interpreter, accompanied by four chiefs of the neighbourhood and 
their respective foUowings. 

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The interpreter was by nationality a Tibetan, and his Mon- 
golian was a good deal more halting than mine ; but he was a 
cheerful and amusing fellow, and not in the least degree inquisi- 
tive. He told us that as soon as the news of our arrival reached 
Nakkchu, Kamba Bombo had at once commanded him to ride 
on in advance, and he, the governor, would follow after as fast 
as he could. Thereupon the poor interpreter immediately 
mounted, and with his escort rode day and night through the 
rain until he came to Jallokk. And then, without even pulling 
up at the Tibetans' tents, he had ridden straight to us. 

Once more our cross-examination was begun, and for the 
twentieth time we gave a detailed description of our head- 
quarters camp, and of the strength of. our force. Although the 
Tibetans had without doubt spied out our caravan, and knew 
all we could tell them about it, it was nevertheless difficult to 
induce the newcomers to believe our statements. They had 
got it into their heads that our main camp did not represent the 
whole of our strength, but that it was nothing more than an 
advance guard, which would be followed presently by a force 
of several thousands. This fear thrust into the background 
all inquiry as to my real nationality. The interpreter said it 
did not matter where we came from, or what tribe we belonged 
to. To Lassa we should not be allowed to go under any cir- 
cumstances ; we must turn back to our main camp in the 
mountains. No harm would, however, happen to us, for the 
Dalai Lama had issued orders to that effect. 

After this Shagdur and I began to talk away at him in 
Mongolian, until the poor interpreter must, I am sure, have been 
ready to give his ears for a moment's peace. We told him that the 
Dalai Lama had never forbidden Buriats who dwelt in Russian 
territory to make the pilgrimage to Lassa. If Kamba Bombo 
presumed to prevent us from continuing our jpurpey, it might 
cost him his head. There was no need to send to him, for we 
refused absolutely to negotiate with anybody except a high digni- 
tary from Lassa. Every word we said was translated by the 
interpreter for the benefit of his companions, who began to look 
quite serious. As for Russia and India, they had no very clear 
conceptions about them, so that what we said about the power 
and greatness of those powers made no impression upon 
them whatever. Finally we agreed that they might send a 
messenger to Kamba Bombo, with the request that he would 
hasten, though only under the condition that another messenger 
VOL. Ue 24 

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went off to Lassa. The interpreter was a thorough gentleman 
except in one particular ; he kept asking us for brandy, a com- 
modity we did not possess. We told him it was a queer country 
we had stumbled into, where peaceful strangers could not travel 
without being set upon by robbers. He seemed to know about 
the theft of our horses already, and assured us that the animals 
should be replaced to our complete satisfaction, adding that if we 
wanted anything, we need only mention it and we should have 
it. We had told him that the chiefs of our standing camp 
were two " Europeans." He asked us what were their names. 
We told him Sirkin and Chemoff, and he wrote the names down. 
But when he asked us what our own names were we told him 
that that had nothing to do with him. We only told such 
things to men of distinguished rank. 

After this emissary at length left us we sat up a long time 
as usual, discussing the events of the day and the prospects for 
the immediate future. As for our horses and mules, we no longer 
troubled ourselves about them. They were, so to speak, boarded 
out with the Tibetans, and we did not even know where they 

On the 9th of August our shallow valley wais again the scene 
of hfe and movement. A number of mounted men and patrols 
were engaged in driving the flocks and herds up into the moun- 
tains on the south-west, imtil the whole neighbourhood rang again 
with the shouts of the men and the hoof-beats of the horses, 
the bleating of the sheep, and the angry grunting of the yaks. 
At the same time small bodies of horsemen started off both to- 
wards Nakkchu and towards Lassa. We could not make out 
what all this meant ; it looked as if the nomads were flitting 
to fresh pastures. But Shereb Lama, to whom everything just 
now presented itself in dark colours, thought they were clearing 
out so as to jnake room for the charge of the cavalry who were 
to ride us down. 

At ten o'clock our friend the interpreter arrived £^ain» 
attended by three other men. I asked him to send the. latter 
away ; there were several important matters to be considered, 
and I thought we could do it more comfortably without them. 
Against this he, however, protested most energetically ; he con- 
sidered it too risky to be left alone with such questionable cha- 
racters as we were. Besides, he had come on a special errand, 
and as soon as he had delivered it he wanted to return. Kamba 
Bombo of Nakkchu had, it seemed, arrived with a large suite. 

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'♦' -2 









k-. ■ • T 

Tll.f . ^* ' >«: TlON'j. 

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and wanted to see us. At the same time quite a village of tents 
was being run up about a mile to the south on the road to Lassa. 
One of the tents, a white one edged with blue, was of considerable 
dimensions ; the others which surroimded it were of smaller size. 
From several of them columns of smoke began to curl up. 
Crowds of horsemen were swarming all round the village, 
and our Lama was unable tq put down the telescope and tear 
his eye away from the scene. Clearly his apprehensions were 
rising. The interpreter now invited us, in Kamba Bombo's 
name, to shift ourselves, our tent, and all our belongings, and 
establish them close to his own tent ; further, he invited us to 
go and dine with the powerful governor. The banquet was 
already in preparation. The place of honour was to be given to 
a sheep roasted whole, and there were cups for tea and bowls 
of tsamba ; and as soon as we arrived each of us should be 
honoured with a haddik, i.e,y a thin, light-coloured scarf which 
the Mongols and Tibetans are accustomed to confer upon dis- 
tinguished guests as a token of respect. 

Without a moment's hesitation I replied that if Kamba 
Bombo had the least spark of politeness about him it was surely 
his duty to come and visit us first. Besides, we had never 
heard speak of him, and did not know what right he had to 
assume authority over us. He need not for one moment suppose 
that we should obey his request to movj? our camp ; if he wanted 
to be near us, he was perfectly at liberty to come and pitch his 
own tent beside ours. We had no business with him, and had 
not sent for him. If he wanted to see us and talk to us, he was 
free to come to our tent whenever he chose. Our few days* 
stay in JaUokk had already taught us more than enough of the 
impertinence of the Tibetans. We were not likely to go and 
make ourselves neighbours of Kamba Bombo and his following 
unless we were actually forced to it. We were peaceful strangers 
from the north, and had a perfect right to make the pilgrimage 
to Lassa. We only wanted to know whether the road to Lassa 
was open to us or was not. If it was not, we should at once return 
to our main camp, and leave Kamba Bombo to answer for the con- 
sequences. AU this, and a good deal more to the same effect, 
I flung at the head of the poor interpreter, until he wished 
himself, I am sure, miles away. His position of intermediary 
was certainly no bed of roses. He begged and prayed us to alter 
our decision and to go back with him ; but we were inflexible, 

" The banquet is all ready," he said, " and they are waiting 

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for you. If you do not come, I shall be blamed — ^perhaps 
disgraced and dismissed." 

He importimed me for over two hours ; but as I refused to 
alter my decision, he at last rose and mounted his horse. Even 
in the saddle he paused and once more besought me to think the 
matter over, pledging himself that no harm should come to us. 
I simply told him it was a matter of perfect indifference to me 
what excuse he chose to make to Kamba Bombo, but to his 
banquet we should not go ; and if the governor did not see fit to 
come and visit us, he should never see a glimpse of our faces. 
Thereupon the interpreter saluted, and took his leave and rode 

This answer in reply to a friendly invitation may perhaps 
seem harsh and impolite, and you may think it was not seemly 
in three poor pilgrims to ruffle their feathers in this way against 
a powerful and distinguished governor. He was the ruler of 
Nakkchu — the province is also called Nag-tshu, and stretches 
beside the river of the same name, i.e., the Upper Salwin — ^and 
it was his duty to examine all caravans, and scrutinise all travel- 
lers, pilgrims, and wayfarers who approached Lassa from Tsaidam 
by the great highway over the pass of Tang-la. If he did not 
exert his authority now, when real danger was approaching 
in the shape of a large and strong caravan, he would be sure to 
lose his appointment — perhaps even his life. Besides, it was 
pretty clear that he had been specially commanded from Lassa 
to quit his post for a few da37S, and go to Jallokk and ascertain 
precisely how matters stood there. 

And in truth the harshness of our answer was in no sense 
dictated by a love for turmoil or disturbance. But ever since 
we had been stopped, the Tibetans had adopted a warlike atti- 
tude towards us. They had summoned troops, and with them 
made a direct display of strength against us. For my own part, 
I will confess that I could forgive them if they had been annoyed 
by our enterprise, for it really was meant to deceive them. 
Nobody could have blamed them if they had reasoned thus 
about it : " Here is a European who is trying to steal into Lassa 
in the disguise of a Buriat ; and here is a Lama, who has actually 
studied in Lassa, come with the stranger as his guide. Come, 
let us make an example of them, and show the world that schemes 
of this kind are bound to turn our badly." As late as the 9th 
of August we were still in ignorance of our fate. The only thing 
we knew with absolute certainty was that under no circumstances 

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should we be allowed to reach the capital. We naturally won- 
dered, therefore, whether the preparations which' we saw being 
made, and the restlessness which had taken possession of the 
Tibetans, really did not point .to some sort of a decisive coup. 
Was this invitation at bottom only an attempt to entice 
us into a trap ? When people go to a banquet it is customary 
to go unarmed. Perhaps the Tibetans were merely seeking a 
pretext for separating us from our weapons, of which we knew 
they entertained the profoundest respect. If it really was their 
intention not to let us escape alive from our imprisonment, 
we were firmly resolved we would at least make good use of the 
cartridges we had with us. Europeans had been known to 
disappear in Tibet ; the. last were Dutreuil de Rhins and Rijn- 
hard, although it was not so close to Lassa as we were now. A 
European in disguise was naturally exposed to much greater 
danger, for if in the future any reckoning should be demanded 
with regard to him, the Tibetans would be able to reply, and 
quite justly, too, " We did not know he was a European ; he 
called himself a Buriat." Thus, although several of our new- 
found friends had assured us that our lives were in no danger, 
and that no serious harm would befall us, nevertheless, in the 
light of these circumstances, I admit I was anything but con- 
vinced of our safety. Although I had not hesitated to expose 
myself to a very great danger amongst this people, who were so 
persistently hostile to Europeans, and although I had carried 
the enterprise to the utmost possible lengths, I was all the same 
desirous to bring the adventure to an honourable termination, 
and, if need be, before we would allow them to crush us, we were 
resolved we would up and, hke the Vikings of old, " play like 

Left thus to our own meditations, we sat for a couple of 
hours or so discussing the peril of our situation. During this 
time nobody came near us ; we were as still as the grave. But 
the tents of the governor of Nakkchu were all alive. Men 
were constantly coming and going. They were determining our 
fate. What were they saying ? What was to be the issue 
of their deliberations ? We felt that a crisis was at hand. 
Perhaps Kamba Bombo was affronted by the rude answer I 
had sent him — perhaps he was even now preparing to give us 
a stem lesson. The wait seemed interminable; the suspense 
was fearful. I still remember it as if it were only yesterday. 
At the end of two hours, or rather more, the ranks again 

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formed up round the white tent. The Tibetans appeared to be 
in desperate haste. They loosened their weapons. They 
mounted. Then a long .black line of horsemen streamed 
out from amongst the tents and rode towards us at full 
gallop. It was npt raining just at that moment, so there was 
nothing to prevent us from witnessing uninterrupted what 
was in truth a really magnificent spectacle. The Tibetans 
approached rapidly, keeping their horses steadily at the gallop. 
At first we only heard a confused hollow rumbling ; but very 
soon we caught the swift thud, thud of the horses' hoofs beating 
the ground. It was as though a hving avalanche were sweeping 
down upon us. A moment more and we should be annihilated. 
We held our weapons ready ; but to see us standing there calmly 
waiting outside the tent, nobody would have suspected the 
terrible sense of uneasiness with which we were consumed. 

On came the Tibetans in one long line stretching across the 
plain. In the middle rode the chief on a big handsome mule, 
though all the rest were on horseback. His staff of officials, 
military, civil, and priestly, who rode inunediately behind him, 
were all dressed in their finest holiday attire. The wings con- 
sisted of soldiers armed to the teeth with gun, sword and lance, 
as though they were taking the field against a hostile tribe. 
We counted close upon 70 in all. 

Then a small body detached themselves from the line, and 
quickening their pace, arrived two or three minutes in advance 
of the rest. They dismounted and saluted. One of them was 
my friend the interpreter, who simply announced that his Ex- 
cellency Kamba Bombo was about to honour us with a visit. 
The great man himself arrived, and pulled up immediately in 
front of our tent. In a moment his attendants were out of the 
saddle, and had a carpet spread on the ground for their chief 
to step upon. He took his seat on a pile of cushions, which 
his servants held ready, and by his side sat Nanso Lama, a 
distinguished priest of Nakkchu. 

I walked quietly forward and invited hini into our tent. 
He at once entered, and after a little hesitation accepted the 
seat of honour I pointed to, a wet maize sack in the middle of 
our ill-smelling, almost mouldy, effects. His countenance 
expressed both cunning and sly hmnour ; he blinked his eyes, 
and chuckled to himself. He was a man of about forty, httle 
and pale, with a worn, tired look, though he was evidently 
delighted at having us safe in his toils. He knew it would be 

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** Not Another Step Towards Lassa.' 

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! -- 1 

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a great feather in his cap when he reported his success to Lassa. 
His dress was tasteful and elegant, and he had evidently put it 
on specially for the occasion, for it was spotlessly dean. His 
servants removed his outer garb, consisting of a red Spanish 
cloak and a red bashlik or hood. He then stood forth arrayed 
in a suit of yellow silk, with wide arms, and a little blue Chinese 
skull-cap. His feet were encased in Mongolian boots of green 
velvet. In a word, he was magnificent. One of his men brought 
in pen, paper and inkhom, and again the cross-examination 
began. Kamba Bombo was much less interested in us than in 
our headquarters camp and the strength of the caravan. He 
plied the pen himself, for he intended to send a detailed report 
to Lassa. Then he examined our belongings ; but, strange to 
say, he never once expressed a wish to see the inside of our 
boxes ; he was quite satisfied when we told him they con- 
tained our provisions. He seemed to have perfectly made up 
his mind with regard to myself, and even considered it super- 
fluous to put any questions to me of a personal character. 
Shagdur, upon being questioned, adopted the tone of a field- 
marshal in giving his replies. He said he was a Russian subject 
and a Buriat, and as such had a perfect right to go to Lassa. 
The Russian authorities would regard it as an affront if we 
peaceful pilgrims were hindered, from making the pilgrimage ; 
nobody had any right to interfere with us. 

But Kamba Bombo laughed, and said : " You need not think 
you can frighten me. I am going to do my duty. I have just 
had express orders from the Dalai Lama with regard to you, and 
I know better than you do what I have got to do. You will 
not go to La<^a. You will not go another day, not another step, 
towards Lassa. If you do you will lose your heads," and he 
drew his hand significantly across his throat. He added, that 
if he allowed us to go, he would lose his own life. " It doesn't 
matter the least who you are, or where you come from. Your 
actions are in the highest degree suspicious. You have slunk 
in by a back road, and must just go back to your headquarters." 
'•We saw that we should have to obey ; there was nothing 
else to be done. Shagdurjthen told him about our horses having 
been stolen.. At first Kamba Bombo equivocated, and said 
he could not be answerable for what happened outside the 
boimdaries of his own province. Shagdur replied, " Oh. so that 
country does not belong to you ; perhaps then it belongs to 
Russia ? " - At this Kamba Bombo grew angry, and said that 

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the whole country belonged to the Dalai Lama. Shagdur wats 
afterwards immensely proud of the reply he made. The chief 
now rose, and taking Shagdur with him, went and sat down on 
the cushions outside. After a little while I was called out. 
Kamba Bombo was willing to procure two new horses, but I 
must pay for one of them. I simply laughed in his face, and, 
turning on my heel, walked back into the tent, sa3dng, such 
presents would not do for us ; it must be either two horses or 
none. Thereupon Kamba Bombo promised to give us next 
morning two others in place of the two we had lost. 

On the whole he was very friendly and polite, not the least 
bit put out at having been disturbed, and compelled to ride 
over himself in this way. He was an excellent fellow to have 
to deal with : he knew his own mind and had a will of his own. 
Who I really was he never distinctly imderstood. I fancy, 
though, he must have believed that imder the disguise of my 
threadbare Mongolian coat somebody out of the common was 
concealed, otherwise he would not have turned out* with so 
much pomp and ceremony. The Tibetans are in constant 
communication with China, indeed they are nominally subject 
to that power, and China maintains a representative at Lassa, 
and a yamen or official residence in the vicinity of Potala, the 
temple palace of the Dalai Lama. There can be no doubt that 
the Lassa authorities had heard of the events which had recently 
occurred in China, and knew what stem vengeance had been 
exacted for the murder of Baron von Ketteler at Peking, and 
so considered it prudent not to injure a European.. 

Whilst this conversation was progressing, the other Tibetans 
crowded roimd us, and kept making comments and observa- 
tions. They carried their swords in handsome silver-mounted 
scabbards, decorated with corals and turquoises ; silver gavcs 
or cases for burkhans, that is, little images of Buddha; brace- 
lets and rosaries ; and in the long plaits of their hair, various 
parti-coloured ornaments — in a word, they were decked out in 
the handsomest finery they possessed. The more distinguished 
amongst them wore big white hats, with plumes in them ; others 
had scarves wound round their heads, while the rank and file 
were bare-headed. 
— Shereb Lama was quite overpowered by all this grandeur. 
He lay prone on his knees with his gaze fixed immovably on the 
ground, and when the chief questioned him, which he did right 
sharply, was unable to meet Kamba Bombo's eye. His answers 

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If^ijh,, .:I,It^^.;f 

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were short and hurried, as though he had no longer any secrets 
to conceal. What he actually said we did not know, for they 
spoke Tibetan ; but afterwards he told us that Kamba Bombo 
sternly reproached him for having come with us, and said he 
ought to have known that no European would be tolerated in 
Lassa. His name was recorded in the black books of the temples, 
and he would never be permitted to set foot within the holy 
city again. If he attempted to enter it hidden amongst a pilgrim 
caravan, he must take the consequences. He had been faithless 
to his priestly dignity, and was a traitor. 

Finally I proposed that I, with the help of our Lama and 
the interpreter, should write a letter to the Dalai Lama, who, 
if he really knew who we were, would, I asserted, be very pleased 
to receive us. But Kamba Bombo answered that it was quite 
unnecessary ; he himself received orders every day direct from 
Lassa with regard to us, and for a man in his position it would 
be unseemly to offer advice to the Dalai Lama ; it might lead 
to his dismissal, if not worse. 

Thereupon he politely took his leave, swung himself up into 
his richly-decorated saddle, and rode away at a smart trot, 
followed by his large staff. By this it was twilight, and the 
troop soon disappeared from our gaze, and with them my hope 
of setting eyes upon the Mecca of Lamaism. The stars twinkled 
brightly over the white temples of Lassa ; not a breath of wind 
disturbed the peaceful serenity of the night, and only a dog 
barked occasionally in the far distance. 

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That evening we sat up a long time talking. Our Lama was 
downcast and taciturn ; but Shagdur and 1 were in excellent 
spirits. It is true we had failed in our attempt to enter Lassa ; 
but we had the satisfaction of knowing that we had done oiir 
very utmost. When you meet with insuperable obstacles, it is 
then time to turn back, and you need have no compunction at 
doing so. Still, it was odd that the Tibetans released us 
without a single rough word. 

Early on the loth August we bade the nearest of our guards 
fetch our horses and mules to the tent ; for we had decided .to 
start back that morning as soon as we could get away. But 
as no messenger appeared from Kamba Bombo, I resolved to 
go to him alone, although Shagdur and the Lama both warned 
me against doing so. They thought we ought to continue to 
stick together as we had done hitherto. But, disregarding their 
adyice, I rode at a gentle pace between the marshes towards 
Kamba Bombo's white-tented village. When I got nearly half 
way, I was surroimded by a band of armed horsemen, probably 
a score in number. Without uttering a single word they formed 
up in front of me and behind me, and when about half a mile 
from their tents they stopped, formed a ring round me, dis- 
mounted, and signed to me to follow their example. 

After waiting barely a quarter of an hour, the same 
cavalcade as yesterday rode out from amongst the tents and 
approached us at the gallop, Kamba Bombo, in his yellow 
robes, riding in the middle of them. A carpet and cushions were 
spread on the ground, and he invited me to take a seat by his 
side. The interpreter was present, and we had a good talk. 

This method of receiving me on neutral ground was a touch 
of etiquette which was as tactful as it was fully justified. The 
day before I had refused to accept Kamba Bombo's invitation, 
and he, no doubt, thought to himself : " I will show them 

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they need not inconvenience themselves to come and visit me." 
He had likewise said : " You shall not take another step towards 
Lassa," and so he was come to prevent me. All my powers of 
persuasion were, however, not more successful now than they 
had been the day before. " I am not going to lose my head 
for you," he said. " So far as I myself am concerned, I don't 
care a pin whether you go to Lassa or not ; but I have had 
my orders, and I am going to obey them." I then said to him, 
in a jesting tone : " You and I together could go there and back 
in a few days, and nobody be a bit the wiser." But he only 
laughed and shook his head, and cried : " Back, back with you ! 
You must go back." 

Then he blinked once, twice, three times, and uttered the 
single word " Sahib " ; at the same time pointing south towards 
the Himalayas. It needed no interpreter tb tell me what he 
meant. "You are an Englishman from India!" And say 
what I might, argue as I would, I could not get that con- 
viction out of his head. Finding that he was not to be 
moved, I dropped the mask entirely, and admitted that I was 
a European, though not an Englishman ; but that I came 
from a country in the north, a long way the other side of 
Russia ; but he only laughed and kept repeating : ** Sahib ! 
Sahib ! " Then I told him that I had with me two Buriat 
Cossacks and two Russian Cossacks, lent to me by the Russian 
Czar, and asked whether he believed that an Englishman would 
travel with Russian Cossacks, and whether he thought it likely 
that they would come from the north, when India lay to the 
south of Tibet. To this reasoning he replied in the same terms 
as before : " They are all Sahibs. If you liave managed to 
get hold of a Mongolian Lama, you could easily secure a Buriat 
as well." 

Two horses were now led forward, a dun one and a white one ; 
these Kamba Bombo expressed himself as willing to present to 
me. " Let two of your men get on their backs and take them 
for a gallop," I said. They did so ; but the horses, which were 
as lean as scarecrows, stumbled and looked anything but first-rate 
animals. I then turned to Kamba Bombo and asked him how 
he, a rich and distinguished man, dared to offer to me, who was 
at least as distinguished as himself, two such wretched jades. 
I refused to accept them ; he might keep them for his own 
cavalry. Instead of being offended at this candid observation, 
he commanded two other horses to be led forward. They were 
VOL. II. 25 

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plump and in good condition, and after they had been duly 
tried, I agreed to accept them. 

After that we all rode back to our tent. Kamba Bombo 
sat for a good while, and ate raisins as a horse eats oats, and 
was entertained with tea, tsamba, and tobacco. We were 
surrounded by the whole of his staff, who made a fine show in 
their fantastic attire, their women's hats and long plumes inter- 
mingling peacefully with their warlike lances and swords. They 
made a gaudy picture in the sunshine ; and all laughed, as in 

Lamas Blowing Trumpets. 

duty bound, at the witticisms of their chief. We then exchanged 
some of our Chinese yambas for Tibetan silver money. Kamba 
Bombo had a pair of scales with him, and weighed very care- 
fully the silver we handed over to him. After that we showed 
him our weapons, and they evidently made a great impression 
upon him. I told him it was not a bit of use his raking together 
so many soldiers ; with their wretched muzzle-loading muskets 
we were not a bit afraid of them. If it came to hostilities, they 
should bear in mind that we could shoot down three dozen of 
them whilst they were loading. But he asserted that they did 
not want hostilities ; they only wanted to keep unauthorised 
strangers outside the frontiers of their country. 

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Then I asked him straight out why he durst not come to 
my tent without being attended by an escort of 70 men ; was 
he really so horribly afraid of me ? " Not at all," he answered ; 
" but I know you are a distinguished sahib, and I have been 
instructed from Lassa to show you the same respect that we 
show to the highest dignitaries of our own country." 

After waiting a long time, and waiting in vain, ioTa.deusex 

A Lama Playing on a Drum and Metal Plates. 

machind to open up for us the way to Lassa, I at length rose 
and gave orders to load up. This, with the help of the Tibetans, 
was accomplished in next to no time. Kamba Bombo then 
presented to me an escort of three officers and a score of men, 
who were to accompany us as far as the northern boundary of 
the province of Nakkchu. He assured me that as long as this 
escort was with us we need not trouble ourselves about any- 
thing ; his men would look after our animals and provide us 
gratuitously with all the provisions we needed. And he wound 
up by making me a present of six sheep, a stock of milk-foods. 



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and a number of bowls and dishes of fat. Then we said good-bye 
to this great chief, who had been at one and the same time so 
friendly and so inhospitable, and who had so inflexibly barred 
our way, and set off to return by the road we came. " Yes, my 
good Shagdur," I said — the fine fellow's courage and fidelity 
never wavered for a moment — " it is true we have not got 
into Lassa ; but we have preserved our lives, for which we 
have every reason to be thankful." 

After going some distance, I turned round in my saddle, 
and saw Kamba Bombo and his men poking and ferreting about 
the spot where our tent had stood. A few cigarette capsules 
and tag-ends of stearine candles would no doubt confirm them in 
the conviction that it was Europeans they had had to deal 
with. It was not imtil we had ridden for an hour or more that 
we fully understood how many men our escort consisted of, 
for first one turned back and left us, and then another, the 
last being our friend the interpreter, who importuned me in- 
cessantly for brandy. 

Our escort really consisted of two officers, Solang Undy and 
Anna Tsering, with a junior officer and 14 soldiers, armed with 
sword, lance, and musket. Besides these there were also six 
other men, who were not soldiers, and whose duty it was to lead 
the pack-horses which carried the commissariat, and drive before 
them a flock of half a score sheep. We rode at a good roimd 
pace, and I was greatly amused to observe how the Tibetans 
executed the orders given to them. They rode in front of us, 
they rode behind us, they rode on both sides of us, and never 
let us a moment out of their sight. If they could have done so, 
I am convinced they would have ridden above our heads and 
under our feet, so as to prevent us from climbing up to heaven 
or suddenly diving off to the nether world. 

The day was well advanced, for we did not get started until 
two, o'clock. Again and again the Tibetans stopped and sug- 
gested that we should encamp ; evidently they did not mean 
to hurry themselves. But they were now under my conmiand, 
and so, leaving our baggage animals behind us, I, Shagdur and 
the Lama rode on until we reached the vicinity of the lake of 
Tso-nekk. The Tibetans had promised to be answerable for 
our belongmgs, and sure enough they brought them up without 
grumbling. It was dusk when we halted. Our escort had with 
them two black tents, which they pitched one on each side of 
ours and close to it. As soon as the camp was quiet, the animals 

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were turned loose to graze under the charge of a couple of the 
Tibetans. Then I went and had supper with Solang Undy and 
Anna Tsering. The latter was a young man, with an excep- 
tionally pleasant and sympathetic face. Both were, like nearly 
all the Tibetans, beardless ; and Anna Tsering, with his long, 
black, dishevelled hair, looked very like a girl. 

For some time that evening their tents hummed like a bee- 
hive : it was the Tibetans reciting their evening prayers, awak- 

A Lama Reading. 

ening in our Lama melancholy recollections of the evenings he 
had spent in Lassa, where from every temple there used to go 
up at that hour of the day one voluminous swell of prayer. He 
feared he should never hear it again. 

•All night long it poured with rain ; but except for that our 
rest was not disturbed. When we arose in the morning, there 
were all our animals ready waiting for us ; but everything was 
wet and heavy, and the ground greasy and slippery from the 
rain. Although it looked threatening all that day, the nth 
August, it did not come down again. When the sun shone out, 

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it was almost oppressively hot ; at least it burned through my 
thin Chinese cap. Most of our escort wore nothing more than 
a coarse shirt, a sheep-skin, and big boots. They had a very- 
convenient and practical way of dealing with the second of 
these. When it was warm, they slipped out their right arm 
and pushed down the sheep-skin, so as to leave the arm and 
upper part of the body exposed ; but when it turned cold they 
pulled it up over their shoulder again. 

Their horses were small and plump, and had very long hair ; 
but, in spite of their short, tripping steps, they got over the 
ground rapidly. Yet they stumbled a good many times and 
fiung off their loads, or bolted with them, dragging them along 
the ground. As, however, the men were watchful and alert, 
and, as will readily be understood, accustomed to caravan- 
travelling, things were soon put to rights again. 

One of the chiefs had brought with him a long-haired yellow 
greyhound, with a blue ribbon and bells attached round its 
neck. Before we started I advised him to leave the animal 
behind ; but he peremptorily insisted upon taking it. Before we 
got very far, however, Yollbars had a go at the brute, and 
mauled it fearfully. The greyhound, bleeding, limping, and 
howling, was then taken back in a string by one of the soldiers. 
The men of our escort stood terribly in awe of both our dogs. 
Even when they were mounted, they used to ride off directly 
Yollbars showed himself an5nvhere near, and when we pulled up 
at night they durst not dismount until we had tied up our dogs. 

If was exceedingly annoying to have to retrace our own 
footsteps ; but our Tibetans helped to shorten the road. I 
never grew tired of watching those wild men in their picturesque 
attire — their behaviour, their method of riding and managing 
their horses, of lighting their fires and cooking their food — every- 
thing they did, in fact, both in camp and on the march was inter- 
esting. All except the officers were the very image of high- 
waymen. Whilst on the march several of them rolled up the 
long plaits of their hair, and tucked them under their broad- 
brimmed hats. Two old men, lamas, wore their hair short, and 
as they rode, incessantly turned their korlehs, or prayer-wheels, 
mumbling On maneh padmeh hum I without for one moment 
tiring, their voices rising and falling in a monotonous, sleepy 
sing-song. By this we had to some- extent won the confidence 
of our escort, and they watched us less jealously. They chattered 
a good deal and were noisy, and evidently enjoyed the little trip. 

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A Lama with a Prayer-wheel. 

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Shagdur was very often surrounded by a group of soldiers, 
jesting and joking with them right heartily. They laughed fit 
to split their sides at his attempts to speak their language. 

Solang Undy wore over his shoulder a red cloth scarf with 
four big silver gavos sewn on the back of it, and carried at his 
belt his sabre, knife, steel and tinder-box, tobacco-pouch, pipe, 
and various other small articles, which rattled and jingled every 
time he moved. Amongst those I observed a small pair of 
nippers, with which he used carefully to pull out the hairs that 
dared to show themselves on his chin. His beardless face was 
seamed with wrinkles, making him look like an old woman. 
Carefully wrapping the plaits of his hair in a red handkerchief, 
he rolled the handkerchief round his head, and on the top of 
it balanced his felt hat with a big feather in it. 

After riding 3^ hours, the Tibetans stopped and dismounted, 
asking whether we had any objection to a short rest for tea. 
My two fellow-travellers voted for pushing on, but I preferred to 
let the Tibetans do as they wished, so that I might have an 
opportunity to study their habits. They said they had not had 
time to get their breakfast ; and certainly their assertion was 
fully borne out by the honour they did to the dishes. 

With their swords they carved three clods out of the soft, 
grassy soil, and upon them placed the pots in which they boiled 
the water for their tea. They had with them a supply of dried 
argol, so that the fires were soon alight. Then they produced 
pieces of boiled mutton wrapped up in cloth, and prepared 
their tsamba of fat, butter, tea and small pieces of meat. As 
for us, we contented ourselves with sour milk. Whilst we were at 
breakfast our escort informed us that they were only ordered to 
accompany us as far as the river Garchu-sänghi, the boundary 
of the province of Nakkchu. After that they did not seem to care 
in the least where we went. We invited them to go with us all 
the way to our headquarters camp, but for that they had not 
the slightest inclination. They said they had only to obey 
orders ; and it was easy to perceive that they fought very shy 
of our caravan, and of the force which they believed awaited 
us there. Thus in that particular part of the road which I may 
call the " robber-zone," we were to be left to look after ourselves. 
As it was now pitch dark at night, very different from the moon- 
light nights of our journey towards Lassa, we did not quite 
relish the prospect. 

After all the rain we had had the ground was, if possible. 

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still softer than before. The horses stumbled, floundered and 
stuck f£ist at almost every step. We seldom saw any of the 
occupants of the nomads' tents ; our guards seemed purposely 
to avoid them, for they always encamped at some little distance 
away. Such provisions as they wanted were fetched by one or 
the other of them as they rode past. 

That afternoon, when we stopped for good, the men of our 
escort procured from somewhere two additional tents, and were 
also joined by six more men. It was a quiet, beautiful evening, 
with the stars twinkling through a light veil of cloud. The 
camp-fires burned clear and bright under the gentle persuasion of 
the bellows ; and the smoke from our own fire curled up through 
an oblong rift in the top of the tent. Altogether our camp 
that afternoon presented both a picturesque and an animated 
scene, especially as the Tibetans were fuU of talk and laughter. 

Had Kamba Bombo been with us that night he would have 
discovered excellent grist for his mill, for I produced my watch 
and mariner's compass. The Tibetans were completely mystified 
by the ticking of the watch, and never grew tired of listening to 
it. I told them it was a gavo, with a little live bur khan, i.e., 
talisman, or image of Buddha, inside it. As soon as they were 
satisfied that my Verascope camera was not a revolver, nor any 
sort of mysterious infernal machine, they took no further notice 
of it. The camp that night was called Säri-kari. 

In spite of the short marches they made, our Tibetans were 
early astir on the following morning. They were evidently enjoy- 
ing the trip, and wanted to make it last as long as possible. 
In proportion as we approached the frontier of the province, 
our guards allowed us increasingly greater freedom. They often 
let us ride by ourselves a good bit behind their main force ; 
though it was never very long before we perceived two or three 
mounted men following a long way in the rear. Next day we 
crossed the spacious valley where we first came in contact 
with the tea-caravan. Throughout the march I was put 
forcibly in mind of our merry sledge-parties at home in the 
winter months. Every horse had a jingling bell round its 
neck, and the monotonous tinkle, tinkle had a very drowsy 
effect upon me. But just before we reached our former camp. 
No. LI., the Tibetans swimg off to the right and entered a 
little glen called Digo, where they stopped amongst the high 
luxuriant aromatic grasses. We had only been in the saddle 
4i hours, and I thought they were merely halting for tea 

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again. But no, they had had enough for that day, for up 
went the tents. When I thought of our poor lean horses and 
mules I raised no objection. In fact it was quite a relief, as 
well as a novelty, to be exempt from the responsibilities 
incident to the leadership of a caravan, and after our late 
fatigues, and the strain and anxiety we had undergone, the 
long night's rests did us a world of good. vSo long as we 
were favoured with the escort, we could afford to take things 
quietly; after they left us we should be able to make as long 
inarches as we liked. 

The rest of the day was £is beautiful as the spot we encamped 

Tibetan Soldiers. 

in. We set the end of the tent that looked towards the north 
open, so as to let in the light breezes which wafted down the 
winding glen ; but the other end we kept shut, for the sun was 
decidedly hot. I lay and slumbered for some time, partly lis- 
tening to the babble of a little brook which mingled with the 
talk and laughter of the Tibetans, partly playing with the beads 
of my rosary, and watching the rods of sunshine, which filtered 
in through the top of the tent, as they glinted on their polished 
surfaces. The thermometer went up to 19°.! C. or 66^.4 Fahr. 
In fact, it was quite idyllic and summery, the last summer day 
we Were destined to have. 

The Tibetans were masters in the art of travelling comfort- 

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ably and cheerfully. As soon as the order was given to halt, 
a troop of servants ran forward, and in a marvellously short 
space of time had the officers' tent up. Their saddles, bridles, 
saddlebags, and other accoutrements were flung carelessly on 
the ground round about, and their muskets placed across the 
forked supports, so as to keep them off the damp ground. As 
the weather was so fine everybody sat outside, and with the 
interest of adepts studied the preparation of their meals, an art 
that Asiatics love to practise above all others. They were 
unsurpassed in getting argol alight, and with the help of the 
bellows very clever in directing a tongue of flame against the side 
of their kettle, so that the water used to boil in next to no 
time. They prepared their tsamba in small wooden bowls 
very like our Mongolian bowls. Some of them used to knead 
the mass with their right hand, and add powdered cheese to 
the concoction. When they ate meat, they held it w4th the 
left hand and shaved off small pieces with a knife held in their 
right hand — much as an English farm labourer eats his bread 
and bacon. Anna Tsering used for this purpose an English pen- 
knife " made in Germany," which came, he said, from Ladak. 

I was very anxious to secure specimens of several parts of 
their equipment and outfit, but they asked such exorbitant prices 
for them I could not deal. For a sword in a silver mounted 
scabbard, studded with turquoises and coral, they demanded 50 
Hang (about £8 6s. 8d.), although it was not really worth more 
than II Hang, For a prayer-mill they demanded 100 Hang. 
When I enquired about their muskets and lances, they told me 
they belonged to the Government, and they durst not sell them, 
at any price. We spent a good many hours in their tents ; 
but they never once put foot inside ours. I suppose Kamba 
Bombo had forbidden them to do so, for I had said I wished 
to be left as far as possible undisturbed. 

At nine o'clock that evening the thermometer registered 
9°.i C. or 48°.4 Fahr., and at seven o'clock next morning 7°.8 C, 
or 46°.© Fahr. That day, the 13th August, there were only eight 
soldiers left, and they came in from the north, each leading a 
spare horse. They had probably been to reconnoitre, and con- 
ferred a long time with their chiefs before we got started. We 
now crossed the Sachu-sangpo again ; it carried only one-fourth 
the volume it did before. This time we forded it without 
the slightest mishap, for the Tibetans knew exactly where the 
ford was ; still, in the deepest places the water came up to the 

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horses' girths. The men of our escort pulled off their boots 
before entering the river, and put them on again when they were 
safely across. 

A short distance from the right bank we came to fresh springs 
and good grazing, which we somehow missed on the outward 
journey, and there we put up for the night. We had thus done 
three out of the nine stages, although these three had taken us 
four days. Next morning the Tibetans were to leave us ; but 
we were now on such friendly terms with them that we did not 
at all like the idea of parting from them ; we felt we should 
actually miss them. We tried to persuade them to go a little 
bit farther ; but they had done their duty, and would do no 
more. I threatened that, after they were gone, I would stay 
a little time beside the Sachu-sangpo, and then turn back, and 
once more make for Lassa. " Just as you please," they an- 
swered. " We were ordered to conduct you to the frontier, 
and we have done so.'.' 

That afternoon Solang Undy, Anna Tsering, and an old man 
Dakkyeh paid their first visit to our tent, and feasted upon tea 
and raisins. As they were now on the other side of the frontier, 
they no doubt thought they might allow themselves certain 
liberties. Dakkyeh was the little old man who once, during 
the course of our detention, laid down the law so positively 
in our tent. He was perfectly prodigious ; with his bronzy- 
brown, furrowed, dirty, beardless face and his long, bushy,, un- 
covered hair, he looked more like a broken-down European 
actor than anything else. Whenever he saw me out came his 
tongue as far as ever it would stretch, and up went his thumbs 
into the air, a delicate attention which I replied to by imitating 
him, and I did it with such aplomb that Shagdur nearly killed 
himself with laughing. 

I now succeeded in securing a few small trifles from the 
Tibetans, such as a dagger, two copper bracelets, a ring, a spoon, 
a pouch for gunpowder, and a flute, all for two or three yards 
of cloth. Cloth, Chinese porcelain cups, and knives were the 
most advantageous commodities for barter in that part of the 
world. That night we slept as long as ever we could, for after 
the Tibetans left us, we should have to do our own night- 
watching. I slept thirteen hours ; and when I awoke, the 
Tibetans asked jne whether we meant to stay there or not, 
and when I threatened to stay, they offered to go with us 
until we met some other nomads. Accordingly we rode on 

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to the vicinity of Sampo Singhi's camp, to a spot called 
Gong-gakk, the chief of which bore the name of Jangdang. 

With regard to the political and administrative relations of 
that part of Tibet, I was unable to obtain any very precise infor- 
mation ; very probably they are not definitely fixed. I was 
told that the Sachu-sangpo formed the boundary line between 
the country of the Dalai Lama on the south and the Chinese 
Emperor on the north ; but that the chief Jangdang was inde- 
pendent of both states. That the Sachu-sangpo did form an 
important dividing-line was evident from the fact that the Tibetans 
only escorted us as far as that river, and were indifferent where 
we went to after we were across it, as also from the fact that 
Kamba Bombo said he was not responsible for the robbers who 
stole our horses on the north side of it. 'WTien asked about the 
frontiers of Tibet, the Tibetans told us that in the west they 
coincided with the frontiers of Ladak, that east of it was eight 
days' journey to the boundary of China, and to the south three 
months (!) to the frontier of India, or Hindi as they called it. In 
the east of the country were two densely-populated districts, 
called Tsamur and Amdo ; while the country to the west was 
called Namru. 

As soon as we encamped the chiefs sent off a couple of men, 
as they said, to the nearest villages of Namru, and in the even- 
ing these men returned, bringing] with them two or three big 
bowls of sweet and sour milk. The Tibetans also offered to 
give us all their surviving sheep ; but we only accepted two, 
they would merely have been a hindrance to us during the 
forced and hurried marches we intended to make after our escort 
left us. Every afternoon or evening when we stopped the chiefs 
used to send out scouts into the neighbourhood. In all proba- 
bility they were afraid our main caravan had advanced farther 
south, and they were anxious lest we should join forces with 
them, and make a concerted attack upon them, and after that 
cut our way through to Lassa. 

Close by was a large yak-caravan, which was on its way 
home to Nakkchu after fetching in a load of salt. 

The 15th August was the day of the separation. Our friends 
tried to induce us to stay yet another day, under the pretext 
that in the evening they expected two or three men from 
Namru, who would be certain to go with us if.we wanted them, 
and watch our animals at night until we reached our own main 
camp. We preferred, however, to start. Solang Undy and 

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Anna Tsering advised us, if robbers ventured to approach our 
tent in the darkness simply to shot>t them down.. It was clear 
they were in no sense in collusion with the horse-thieves, for 
they had the profoundest possible respect for the efficacy of 
our fire-arms. 

As we were saying good-bye Solang Undy offered to take 
f oiu: men and go with us to Sampo Singhi's tent ; so off we 
all set together up the glen. On the way we met two mounted 
men, who turned about and likewise accompanied us. These 
men also were scouts, who had been out to see what our 
caravan was doing, and they now reported with the liveliest 
gesticulations the results of their observations. Although 
Sampo Singhi's tent still stood where it did, Sampo Singhi 
himself was not at home. Here our companions finally 
stopped. They invited us to stay the night over ; but we 
could not accede to their invitation. We took a friendly leave 
of them and rode over the nearest pass to the north-west, and 
never saw anything more of them. 

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Although our animals were in bad condition as well as exhausted, 
we, nevertheless, rode on at a steady pace, feeling somewhat 
lonely, and each wrapped in his own thoughts. The country 
was uninhabited except for two or three flocks of sheep and herds 
of yaks grazing on the adjacent hills. We stopped about an 
hour before sunset beside a fresh-water spring that bubbled 
up in a meadow, so as to give our horses an opportimity to graze 
before dark. The weather, which had so long been propitious, 
changed all at once. The sky darkened in the south-esist, and 
unearthly-looking clouds of a flame-yellow colour, and as thick 
as a desert sand-storm, mounted up over the hill-tops. That 
meant queer weather, we thought. The wind approached nearer 
and nearer ; it howled, it whistled. Down came the first pellets 
of hail, and it turned as dark as midnight. 

Meanwhile we had picketed the horses and mules immediately 
in front of the tent-opening. The weather being what it was, 
it would be necessary to keep the most vigilant watch ; besides 
which, owing to the storm, the night would be a couple of hours 
longer than usual. Perhaps, after having got us across the 
frontier, our late friends the Tibetans would no longer look 
upon us as guests, but would consider us hostile intruders, whom 
it would be meritorious to plunder. The weather could not 
very well have been worse. At eight o'clock the hail turned to 
rain, and it came down in torrents. The wind drove it against 
the tent with great fury, and it beat so violently upon the ground 
that the noise completely drowned the stamping of the horses 
and the drowsy footsteps of our sentinel. And it was in- 
tensely dark — impossible to see our hand before our face ; where 
our animals stood picketed, less than three paces from the tent- 
door, it was simply one indistinguishable wall of blank dark- 
ness. The rain drove in as well as the wind, and all our matches 
were damp, so that we were unable to have even the comfort 

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of a single candle. The tempest howled and whistled and 
whined. We sat crouched together in our sheep-skins, rocking 
backwards and forwards, and longing in vain for dayUght. All 
our firearms were loaded and ready for use, and our dogs tied up 
close beside the horses. From that spot it was a five hours' 
ride to our former camp, No. XLVIIL, and from it a seven hours' 
ride to No. XLVII., but when we reached No. XLIV. we should 
be home again. 

At eleven o'clock the rain slackened, and I went out and had 
a peep at Shagdur, who sat crouched under his felt rug amongst 
the horses, and was drenched to the skin. Just as I joined 
him he cautioned me to be silent and listen. There was a sound 
like himian footsteps down beside the spring. And sure enough, 
I heard them too ; but they were pattering steps. Then Shag- 
dur suggested it might be a kulan, but I thought kulans would 
not venture so near to the Tibetans' flocks and herds. The foot- 
steps came nearer, pattering, stealthy. Shagdur held his rifle 
ready. But it turned out to be only Malenki, who had been down 
to the brook to drink. This seemed to indicate that there was 
no immediate danger, so I turned in again and slept like a 
log till five o'clock. When the other two men called me it . 
was quite fine. 

At first we kept east of our former route, and I resumed my 
mapping. The surface was far easier than the old way, and there 
was a distinct tract along the west bank of the Garchu-sänghi. 
For some distance we followed the trail of a mounted man 
with two dogs. He must have gone that road quite recently, 
for their footprints had been made since it ceased to rain-. Who 
was this mysterious horseman ? What was he after ? Where 
had he gone to ? Was he a member of a band of marauders 
who had appointed a rendezvous in the mountains ? It looked 
as if our footsteps were being dogged again. Perhaps the mis- 
creants were only waiting an opportunity to fall upon us. 

But as the trail appeared to lead into the heart of a range of 
formidable mountains, we soon abandoned it and steered a 
more westerly course ; that is to say, we travelled north-west. 
Soon after passing Camp no. XLVIII., with its little lakes, the 
contour began to rise, and kulans and antelopes made their 
appearance. We liked their company a great deal better than 
we did that of Tibetan horsemen armed to the teeth. 

At length we stopped, after travelling 21^ miles. If we meant 
to get home in four days we ought to have done more than that,. 
VOL. II. 26 

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but our animals were dead beat, except the two new Tibetan 
horses, which we had to picket with special care to prevent them 
from breaking loose and running away back to their companions. 
The regions we were approaching were growing barer and 
barrener. The only people we could expect to meet here were 
yak-hunters and roving thieves. The hour or two after the tents 
were pitched were the pleasantest of the twenty-four. That 
was the only time when we obtained a little quietude, and could 
eat and smoke and talk in peace. As soon as it grew twilight 
we had to be on the alert, and as soon as ever it was dark we had 
to arrange the watches for the night. 

That night everything was perfectly quiet. A long way 
off in the west the summer lightning played on the horizon, 
though there was no thunder. In fact, the night was so still 
that I was almost afraid of it. The faintest sound travelled a 
long distance ; except for the low murmur of a rivulet, and the 
breathing of our own animals and my companions there was not 
a sound to be heard. The Lama kept talking in his sleep, and 
uttering Sirkin's name in a plaintive tone, as if he were calling 
upon him for help. As soon as day dawned we turned the 
animals loose to graze ; this and a spell of a couple of hours 
in the evening was all the grazing we were able to give them, 
and they were generally hungry. It was for this reason that they 
were always straying off the path, thus making it difficult for 
us to keep them together. 

On the 17th of August we were in the saddle nine hours, 
and covered nearly 25 miles. It was not very fast travelling ; 
but then the country was in places extremely difficult — a continual 
up and down, with soft ground underfoot. This time we kept 
a good deal to the west of our former track, and ascended, by a 
gently sloping glen, the big range that we had crossed on our 
way out. On the other side of the pass we descended by another 
glen, which ran towards the west, and was most of the way shut 
in by perpendicular cliffs. In fact, it took us a good deal too far 
to the west ; but once in it we were unable to get out again. 
Occasionally we saw yaks, evidently wild ones, although it 
was strange they should venture into such a rat-trap of a 
glen. That afternoon we put up our tent on a projecting 
crag, with deep ravines all round it, and felt pretty secure 
against attack. We had now little more than 40 miles left 
to our main camp, and with each day that passed our safety 
increased, although the Lama was of a contrary opinion, for 

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the main camp was, he thought, very likely invested by the 

The i8th of August was a hard and toilsome day. It cost us 
desperate efforts to get over the big range, though on the way 
out we had crossed it without any appreciable difficulty. The 
country was exceedingly broken and irregular, and we traversed 
no end of trenches, marshes, and miry pools, where the 
animals dropped in up to the fetlocks. All the watercourses 
were alike directed towards a little salt lake in the west-south- 
west. The entire region — hills and mountains alike — was of a 
brick-red colour, the predominant geological formation being 

^. ^j2^ 

A Camp in the Tibetan Highlands. 

red sandstone. Another pass, and we dipped down into a depres- 
sion in which lay yet another lake. Here the surface was 
exceedingly trying. It was as if for centuries past all the mud 
and mire had been washed down from the adjacent heights, till 
it covered the plain to an immense depth. There was not a foot's 
breadth of hard rock anywhere. Fortunately for us it was fine 
weather ; had it been raining, it would have been utterly impos- 
sible to advance. We were here a good bit west of the lake 
where our horses had been stolen. Between two and four in the 
afternoon, two of the mules showed signs of distress, and we pulled 
up to give them a little breathing-space. Meanwhile we our- 
selves dismounted, and drowsed and basked in the sun. The 
air was still, and the thermometer registered I9°.6 C, or 67°.3 
VOL. II. 26* 

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Fahr. in the shade, a temperature sufficiently warm at those 
altitudes to make us somewhat afraid of sunstroke. An horn- 
later and it was hailing, and we were again in the middle of 
winter. After the rest it was harder work than ever to get 
into the paces again. The continual marching and night- 
watching were terribly trying. 

Just as we were slowly approaching the top of a hill, Malenki 
rushed off to a neighbouring hill and began to bark furiously. 
Fearing there were people there, I hastily rode after him, and 
nearly stumbled on top of a bear, which was busy at work 
scratching out a marmot. As soon as he caught sight of me 
he leapt up and went off at a trot, followed by the dogs. 
The latter soon overtook him, whereupon Bruin faced about 
and prepared to give Malenki a hug. At this the dog turned tail 
and raced back to us. YoUbars, however, danced round and 
round him for a long time. 

As the animals were going slower and slower, we found it 
necessary to stop at the first grass we came to. The sky looked 
forbidding, for the clouds were of the same red or fiery yellow 
colour as the earth. Then followed another long wearisome 
night. This time we had not only to keep watch against the 
Tibetans, but also against bears. The message of the night is 
always sublime, except when you have to guard horses in Tibet. 
For the future I should always feel a certain amount of sympathy 
with the men who were out with the animals on night duty. 
Each of us kept watch in his own particular way. I used to 
write, sit in the tent door, and make the round of the camp at 
intervals. Shagdur used to wrap himself in his sheep-skin, 
and go and sit amongst the horses and smoke. The Lama used 
to pace backwards and fon\'ards, mumbling prayers in a sing- 
song tone. We were now only about 20 miles from camp, but as 
our beasts had already done 300 miles, there was little likeli- 
hood that we should be home next night. Still, if all went well 
we should get near enough to be within reach of its protecting 

Next morning, after turning the animals adrift for a good 
browse, we went back and finished our sleep. When we started 
again we hoped to see on the other side of the first pass the broad 
open valley in which we had spent the first night of the journey, 
but instead of that the pass showed us nothing but a confused 
assemblage of hills. The surface below the pass was the very 
slough of despond. We were forced to get off and walk and hop 

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as well as we could from one sandstone slab or mossy clump 
to another, or else we dropped in up to the knees. The poor 
beasts ! their bellies actually grazed the ground ; it was like 
marching through a river of mud. Every time we observed 
a spot that looked rather dry, we used every effort to reach it, 
so that we might get a moment to catch our breath and re- 
adjust the loads. This hideous pass was followed by two others 
equally as bad. Had I had the smallest suspicion of it, I should 
of course have stuck to our old route, which appeared to be a sort 
of foot-bridge leading across the quagmire. 

At last, however, although we were all pretty nearly completely 

A Camel Sinking in the Quagmire. 

done up, we struck a little glen which led us out into the open 
valley we were so eagerly longing to reach. When we stopped, we 
found that, whilst ploughing through the mud, we had managed to 
lose the spade. The Lama went back to look for it, but returned 
without it, though he did not return altogether empty-handed, for 
he brought back with him an old Tibetan tent-pole, which came 
in wonderfully useful for making a fire. The country abounded 
in partridges, hares, and kulans, and, as was usual amongst 
those unhospitable mountains, the ravens appeared to be the 
principal inhabitants. 

It was delightful to ride over firm ground again. For some 
little distemce nine kulans kept us company. Upon reaching the 
top of an eminence, we rested a few moments to take a look 

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round us. There was no smoke, no black dots, no signs what- 
ever of our caravan or its animals. The region was as silent 
and deserted as when we saw it last, absolutely nothing 
to indicate there were human beings within many miles of the 

Although the sun was sinking rapidly, my companions 
seemed to think that we could reach home before dark. As a 
rule we used to drive the mules all together in a clump ; but here, 
as the pasture was better, we kept them tied in two strings one 
behind the other. Shagdur led three of them, and the Lama 
the other three, while I urged them on in the rear. Shagdur 
was a long way ahead when my white riding-horse, though I was 
not at the moment on his back, suddenly fell and was unable 
to get up again. I thought his last hour was surely come ; 
but the Lama smeared his nostrils with butter, and forced him 
to munch garlic. Big tears rolled down his cheeks ; Shagdur 
said it was because he was unable to finish the journey. This 
decided the matter ; we encamped for the night, and turned 
the animals loose to graze. The night passed peacefully. The 
dogs never growled once, but we observed no traces of our men's 

On the 2oth of August we started off again in the pouring 
rain, though it inconvenienced us but little, for the surface was 
almost everywhere hard and firm. Even the white horse man- 
aged to hobble along with us. Soon after passing the red hills 
near which we made our first camp on the way out, we heard 
two rifle shots, and a short time afterwards a third. Then we 
saw a yak lumbering up over the hills. We at once directed 
our steps towards it, and soon perceived two black dots advancing 
behind it ; after a Httle the telescope showed us they were 
mounted men. Were they Tibetans ? No, for they were riding 
straight towards us. We stopped and watched them, and after 
a while recognised Sirkin and Turdu Bai. We at once dis- 
mounted and waited until they came up. They almost wept 
with joy at the success of their day's sport ; when they started 
out in the morning they little dreamt what " bag " they would 
make before night. It was very fortunate for us that we did 
thus stumble across them in the wilderness, for it would have 
been difficult for us to find them, now that the rain had com- 
pletely obliterated their trail. 

Some little time back Sirkin had flitted the camp into a side- 
valley on the south side of the river ; but it was so masked by 

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the formation of the ground that it would have been difficult 
to find it without help. We all rode on together, and after a 
while perceived Kutchuk, Ördek, and Khodai Kullu running 
to meet us, with tears in their eyes, and crying " Khodai sakkladi ! 
(God has preserved you !) Khodai shukkur ! (God be thanked !) 
We have been like orphans while you have been away ! " Their 
deUght was quite touching. 

An hour later and I was sitting once more in my comfortable 
yurt, with my trunks aroimd me, and my nice warm bed aU in 
order. After the month's privation and hardship we were 
delighted to return to '* civilisation." Sirkin reported that one 
of the horses had died and that the others had not vet recovered, 

Caravan Animals Grazing. 

but the camels were very much stronger. He had, as I have 
already said, let the chronometers run down, having been afraid 
to wind them up for fear of breaking the springs. As a con- 
sequence of this, the first thing to be done was to return to 
Camp no. XLIV., from which we started when we set out for 
Lassa, because I had aheady determined its position astronom- 
ically. This meant, of course, the loss of a few days ; but the 
horses and mules which had been with us would be all the better 
for a rest. During our absence it had rained nearly all the time. 
The men had occasionally made short excursions about the 
neighbourhood, and shot some kulans. Chemoff had succeeded 

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so well in his task that when he arrived, on the 2nd August, he 
brought nine camels with him ; he had only lost two camels 
and two of the horses. One of the former was my old veteran 
from the Keriya-daria, 1896. 

AU the men were well, and in the very best of spirits that 
evening. They confessed that after Ördek returned they had 
feared the very worst, and scarcely dared mention our names, 
but simply waited and waited. YoUdash nearly barked him- 
self into fits with joy, and at once resumed his place by my 
bed-side. As soon as I had inspected the camp, I asked Cherdon 
to get me a bath ready. He filled the biggest tub he could 
find with warm water, and carried it into my yurt. If ever a 
thorough ablution was necessary, it certainly was in my case, 
for I had not washed for 25 days. The water had to be 
changed several times. It was quite a treat to put on dean 
European clothes from top to toe, and take a long last farewell 
of my Mongolian rags. After a good dinner, and after writing 
up the events of the day, I went to rest with a good conscience, 
and enjoyed con amore the peace and comfort which surrounded 

I was satisfied to have made the attempt to get into Lassa ; 
and neither then nor now do I regard the attempt as a mistake- 
There are hindrances which no power of man — individual man — 
is able to surmount. It was upon such that my venture had 
stranded. Compared with the month which we had just lived 
through, the few weeks that followed stood out as, compara- 
tively speaking, a period of rest. Everything was pleasant and 
easy ; even the rain pattering on the roof of the yurt was a 
pleasant thing to listen to, and the monotonous song of the night- 
watchman luUed me to sleep. I was glad I had not to go out 
and keep guard over horses. As I dropped off, I heard Shagdur 
and the Lama snoring righteously in their tent. 

Next morning nobody had the heart to waken me, so that 
it was mid-day before we got started. As we advanced along 
the right bank of the river, I noticed that my men had built 
up stone pyramids on every outstanding eminence, and in 
the distance they looked like Tibetans. These were intended to 
guide us had we gone back to Camp no. XLIV. If any Tibetans 
saw these landmarks they would, I am afraid, accuse us of ha\ing 
planned a highway by which a large army would soon travel to 
invade their country. I also noticed an obo up a side valley ; it 
was as usual built up of a number of sandstone slabs, with the 

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usual formula, " On maneh padmeh hum," incised upon them. 
Upon reaching the camp we pitched our tents on the same sites 
they had occupied before. 

The journey to Lassa seemed like a dream. Here I was 
sitting on precisely the same spot and amid precisely the same 
siuToundings as a month before ; the yurt was standing on 
precisely the same circular plot, the supports of the theodolite 
stood in precisely the same holes, and the river babbled as before. 
It was as if only one or two days had passed. All those long 
nights of watching and anxiety were forgotten ; the venture 
was nothing more than an episode, a parenthesis, in the course 
of the journey. 

After this there followed several days of rest. It rained and 
snowed incessantly, and I was not able to take all the astro- 
nomical observations I wished. I was, however, anxious to be 
off again southwards, impatient to reach inhabited districts 
where we could get some assistance, for it was perfectly 
evident that our animals would not be able to advance very 
much farther. Not far from the camp Turdu Bai and Cherdon 
showed me a place where, on the very day of our departure, 
they surprised a band of Tibetan hunters. Those heroes had 
however been so startled that they went off in a panic, leaving 
behind them 17 pack-saddles, a tent, and the whole of the meat 
which constituted the produce of their chase. Everything was 
still exactly as they left it, except the meat, which had, no doubt, 
proved acceptable to the wolves and ravens. You may imagine 
what .wild rumours these panic-stricken fugitives would circulate 
as soon as they reached inhabited regions. They would, of 
course, greatly exaggerate, and assert that an entire army of 
Europeans was on its way to invade the country ; as indeed 
we heard ourselves at Jallokk. 

Although discipline had been maintained during my absence, 
after my return I sharpened it up a little more. Our animals 
were grazing in a valley a mile or two away. One night, when 
Chemoff rode out to them he found the watchmen asleep. 
He thereupon discharged his rifle, startling them not a little, 
and after that gave them a good drubbing. Next day the 
culprits came and complained to me ; but instead of giving 
them any countenance, I hurled at their heads a new rule which 
1 formulated on the spur of the moment — " Any man who shall 
hereafter be caught sleeping at his post shall be awakened by 
a bucket of cold water." Six Mussulmans were told off to keep 

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watch every night, two and two turn about, and it was the 
business of the Cossack who happened to be on duty for the day 
to see that the men were duly reUeved in succession. As a 
consequence of Chemoff's action MoUah Shah and Hamra Kul 
wanted to return to Charkhlik, but quieted down when I made 
them realise the folly of the idea. Quarrels and bickerings hke 
these cannot very well be avoided in a large caravan, in which 
incUnation and taste differ according to the views and customs 
of Christians, Mussulmans, and Mongolians. 

I now appointed Cherdon my cook ; Shagdur was to rest for 
a time, and also the Lama, who was gloomy and thoughtful. 
The old man, Mohammed Tokta, who had for some time been 
unwell, grew worse at the end of a week, and complained of 
pain in his heart. I recommended him to keep perfectly quiet. 
The whole camp was now in the best of spirits. The Cossacks 
made a balalaika, or stringed musical instrument, and with it, 
a Tibetan flute, a temple bell, makeshift drums, the musical- 
box, and some singing, they contrived on the last day of 
the hoUday to organize, amid the pouring rain, a concert which 
earned tremendous applause, any lack of harmony being more 
than counterbalanced by the energy displayed. 

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Across Tibet to Ladak. 

A Chain of Highland Lakes. 

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On the 25th of August we made a fresh start, and bent our steps 
south in quest of new experiences and new adventures. Our 
goal was now Ladak, but I was firmly resolved that I would 
not turn to the west imtil I was absolutely compelled. We knew 
that the Tibetans were on the alert, and the whole country in 
a state of siege ; the troops were already mobilised, and we might 
safely reckon upon coming sooner or later face to face with them. 
But until we did, our course was south. 

Strange to say, during the night that preceded our departure 
three of the horses turned queer, though none of the three had 
accompanied us to Lassa. One staggered and fell repeatedly ; 
another actually died before we got out of camp ; and the 
third, which I had ridden only four days before, just managed to 
struggle over the first pass, when down he went, and never got on 
his feet again. It was a depressing beginning, and proved con- 
clusively that sooner or later we should be dependent upon the 
Tibetans. When I was called it was snowing fast, and when we 
started the rain was coming down in torrents. The day's march 
proved to be one of the very worst we had ever had. The entire 
country looked like one gigantic dumping-ground for the mud 
and slush of half the cities in the world. Horses, mules, camels, 
and men all sank deeply into it, and were unable to find firm 
foothold. The poor camels, linked one in front of the other, 
constantly stuck fast and broke their nose-ropes. And all the 
time it went on raining, raining, raining, as if it would wash 
the very hills themselves away. Over on the other side of the 
pass things mended a little. Thanks to the scanty sunshine, 
the southern slopes were generally better than the northern. 

Next day both the weather and the country improved, but 
it was still a barren region, and ill-supplied with game. As the 
ground looked levellest towards the south-south-west, we bent 
our course in that direction. Some 20 to 25 miles west of our 

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route was a small mountain group, capped with snow, and 
bearing rudimentary glaciers on its shoulders ; and, very ex- 
ceptionally, it was continued southwards by a chain overtopped 
by an occasional snowy peak. 

Some time back Chemoff had reconnoitred that part of the 
country, and he now came to tell me that near a spring a little 
bit farther on he had observed distinct traces of camels. WTien 
we passed the spot on the 27th August, he pointed it out to me, 
and sure enough there had been a large herd of camels grazing 
there. Where they came from, and to whom they belonged, 
was a puzzle we never cleared up. Turdu Bai declared he had 
never been there with our camels. Perhaps they belonged to a 
Mongol caravan, which had strayed thus far out of its way. 
That same day we must also have crossed Captain Bower's 
route, but had no possible means of identifying precisely where. 
On our right was a long shallow lake, also lying north and south, 
while to the south another mountain-range ran at right angles 
across our route ; but we only managed to reach its foot, and 
there pitched Camp no. LXVII. The autumn had already 
begun ; the thermometer registered a minimum of -S^.i C, or 
22°.8 Fahr., while during the day it did not rise above 7^.9 C, 
or 46'^.2 Fahr. 

When the men were loading up on the 28th, one of them 
came to me and said that Kalpet, a native of Kenya, was mis- 
sing. Upon enquiry, I learned that Kalpet the day before had 
complained of pain in his chest, and had lagged behind. The 
men believed he had foUowed slowly on in our trail, and had 
reached camp after dark without anybody obser\dng him. 
But now he was nowhere to be found. I therefore sent the 
animals back to graze, and despatched Chemoff and Turdu Bai 
on horseback with a mule to bring the man in, no matter in what 
condition they found him. He might have been taken suddenly 
ill on the road ; in any case, he must be in a bad way, seeing that 
he had not been able to follow us, and had had nothing to eat 
for 24 hours. Chernoff and Turdu Bai returned at the end of a 
couple of hours, bringing the poor fellow with them. We nursed 
him as well as we possibly could, and when we at length got under 
way, we let him ride on the mule. 

Although the ground was firm, the day's march was extremely 
tiring, because of the great number of passes and ranges we had 
to cross. The morning was fine ; but about eleven o'clock it 
clouded over, and after that snowed smartly at intervals. 

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Camp no. LXVIII. was 16,628 feet above the level of the 
sea. At nine p.m. the temperature was down to — i^.g C, or 
28°.6 Fahr., and during the night it touched - 6°.2 C, or 20°.8 
Fahr. In the morning the ground was sUghtly frozen and 
covered with thick rime-frost like snow, though it disappeared 
quickly when the sun rose. The mountain-ranges again ran 
from west to east. We crossed three by low, but difficult, 
passes ; a fourth was pierced by a stream, and we accordingly 
followed its bed. The sites of old encampments were again 
very common, being indicated partly by the usual three stones 
for supporting the cooking-pot, partly by the bones of wild yaks 

Sirkin's Kökkmek Goat. 

and arkharis (wild sheep). Other signs went to show that that 
part of the country was visited by nomads as well as by hunters. 
Hares were plentiful, as were also yaks and wild sheep. One 
poor puss was chased by all seven dogs, and YoUdash caught 
her. Yollbars usually took these things quietly until the victim 
was caught, and then he displayed a superabundance of energy. 
Finding good pasture near one of these old encampments, we 
granted our tired animals an extra day's rest. The weather was 
perfect, the smoke went straight up, and our exhausted animals 
revelled in the good grass. 

Shagdur and Turdu Bai, whilst reconnoitring towards the 
east, discovered a series of ilehs, or boundary-marks, built, some 
of them of stone, and others of sods. They extended a long 

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way to the south, and stood so close together that Shagdur 
thought they were intended to mark the boundary of a pro\dnce, 
more especially as there was no indication of a trail, which they 
might otherwise be supposed to indicate. Sirkin shot a kökktnek 
goat, which I photographed, and then Shagdur shot a second. 
This last, as well as a pretty little yureh (Antilope Cuvieri), were 
set up in the evening, with the help of sticks and other supports, 
in the natural position the animals assume when leaping ; and 
in the morning they were frozen so hard that they stood by them- 
selves. This was done that I might have an opportimity to 
photograph them. Seven or eight wolves prowled about the 
camp all night, howling in a most unearthly way. 

A Frozen Deer and Goat. 

We had, however, reached a much more hospitable country ; 
the ground was firm, pasture commoner, the contours dipped to- 
wards the south, and we no longer had occasion to force difficult 
passes. The temperature, too, was higher, sometimes as high as 
i8°.2 C, or 64°.8 Fahr. All the streams of the district converged 
upon a little salt lake that lay south-west of our course. Beside 
it were some unusually big eagles, with their young ones scarce 
able to fly. The latter were set upon by our dogs, but defended 
themselves so successfully with beak and claws that the assail- 
ants were forced to retire baffled. 

That night, in the still, clear, bright moonlight, a flock of 
wild-geese flew over the camp towards the south-east ; they were 

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no doubt on their way to spend the winter in India. On the 
ist of September we crossed the next mountain-range, which was 
built up entirely of soft material, and exhibited rounded forms 
throughout, by a pass 15,929 feet above sea-level. From its 
summit the view southwards was unusually broad and open, 
though on the horizon a slight deepening of colour suggested 
another range ; but, except for that, the surface appeared level 
for fully two days. The country was very much greener 
than hitherto ; nevertheless, there were no nomads ; all the en- 
campments we passed were old ones. After doing 12J miles, we 
halted beside the first watercourse that contained water. Next 
morning the camp was astir at four o'clock. Further south the 
men pointed out some black dots, which they took for wild 
yaks, but which a glance through the telescope proved to be 
horses. Our Lama and the three Cossacks who were not on 
duty rode off to see what they were; though the Lama soon 
came back, leading his horse, for it had broken down. The 
strange horses were fat and in good condition, but shy. There 
appeared to be nobody in charge of them, nor was there any 
indication that anybody had gone off on the approach of the 
Cossacks. Apparently their owners considered the country 
quite safe, though we should not have dreamed of turning horses 
out without somebody to keep an eye upon them. However, the 
little excursion brought one advantage, in that it led to the 
discovery of still better pasture-grounds. 

Early next morning our Lama, Shagdur, and Sirkin went out 
in quest of the Tibetans, who we suspected could not be very far 
away, for the hills about a mile farther on were dotted all over 
with probably a thousand sheep, besides a herd of yaks. Shortly 
after noon our Lama came back with a domha, or " bowl," of 
milk, and behind him appeared the two Cossacks, literally driving 
on before them three Tibetans, who were leading their horses, 
and one sheep. My men had stumbled upon a tent contain- 
ing 13 inhabitants, most of whom alleged they were neighbours 
come on a visit. When my men appeared, the entire company 
took to their heels and fled in different directions ; but as they 
went off on foot, they were easily caught and driven, as I have 
said, towards us. But they were too terrified to be very com- 
municative, and the little information we were able to extract 
from them was not very valuable. 

They said the district was called Jansung, and the bombo, or 
" governor," who lived near the big lake of Selling-tso, would 
VOL. II. 27* 

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cut their throats if they sold us any of the necessaries of life, and 
they distinctly refused to do so. But after Shagdur — he hated 
the Tibetans, since they had prevented us from going to Lassa — 
had given one of them a taste of his riding-whip, they proved 
more complaisant, and agreed to let us have a sheep and a bowl 
of milk. They had so recently arrived that they had not yet 
had time to prepare sour milk, and the fresh, untrodden appear- 
ance of the grass around their tent corroborated their state- 

" Where are you going to ? " asked one of the men. 

" To Ladak," answered our Lama. 

" Then you are a good deal out of your way. You can't go 
more than a day's journey farther south. Your road will be 
stopped by the lake of Selling-tso, around which are much 
people." Their immediate chief was, they said, Banching 
Bogdo, who dwelt at Tashi-lumpo, but they did not know* how 
many days journey it was to that temple. To the east, Kamba 
Bombo ruled over the province of Nakkchu, and to the south- 
east the Dalai Lama over the country around Lassa. 

The three men approached our camp with evident trepida- 
tion. We invited them to take their place on a felt carpet 
just outside the yurt, and served them with tea and bread, 
which, after some hesitation, they accepted. For the sheep, 
which was at once slaughtered with the usual Mussulman cere- 
monies, we paid them in Lassa money, and gave them a porce- 
lain cup for the milk. They could not sell us any horses, they 
said, because the horses were not theirs. They sat the whole 
time as if upon thorns, although our Lama did his best to reassure 
them by telling them no harni should happen to them. As 
soon as we had got all we wanted out of them we let them go, 
and they were up in their saddles in a moment. In the meantime 
I had got my camera ready, and our Lama diplomatically de- 
tained them with a final question, as well as by holding one of 
the horses by the bridle, and by that means I managed to ^nap 
the three half-wild riders. They were bare-headed, though 
armed with swords. The moment the Lama released the bridle, 
they pulled round and galloped off with dangling rein, looking 
behind them as if they were afraid they would hear a bullet 
whistling on their track. As soon as they thought themselves 
safe out of range, they slackened speed, and began to talk 
vivaciously. They no doubt wondered what strange people 
these were who had behaved so nicely towards them. 

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■» I 

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On the 3rdr of September we travelled i8 miles south-south- 
west, across an open, flat, level country, studded with numerous 
pools and small lakes, and clothed in many parts with first-rate 
grass. There" was no hindrance in our path, and I assumed 
that Selling-tso lay between ourselves and the low hiUs which 
glimmered indistinctly on the southern horizon. We now kept 
all together, the sick camels not being allowed to lag behind. 
At intervals there were big flocks of sheep with their shepherds, 
but no dogs ; these were all kept beside the tents. The Lama 
and Shagdur visited one of the tents, and brought back a domba 
of sour milk. As we advanced, the black tents of the nomads 
became more and more numerous, and in some places actually 
formed villages. As the Cossacks were leaving one of these 
villages, they were followed by a horse which had broken loose, 
and was particularly lively. Its owner and another man, besides 
an old woman, two young women, and a boy, came running after 
it to catch it ; but when they tried to approach it with a rope 
it bolted, and came to us. At last we had to turn out and help 
the people to recover their property. 

The young women wore their hair divided into an endless 
number of small plaits, which hung from the forehead down 
the back and sides of the head in the shape of a fan, the ends 
being fastened to a strip of red cloth decorated with various 
kinds of ornaments. From the middle of the strip of cloth 
another broad, embroidered, multi-coloured strip hung straight 
down the back. They were bare-headed like the men, and, like 
them, wore sheep-skin and boots. Where the natural roses 
should have adorned their cheeks, they had rubbed into their 
skin some brownish-red colouring matter, and thus given rise to 
two cakes of thick shining varnish. Two or three of their tame 
yaks, upon being attacked by our dogs, sought refuge in the 
middle of a pool, till the water came up to their jaws. Then, as 
they had only their heads exposed, and they were protected by 
a pair of very respectable horns, the dogs, after swimming round 
them a time or two, were forced to beat a retreat. This extem- 
pore aquatic pantomime excited the utmost hilarity amongst 
the men of my caravan. 

Early that morning, six soldiers with white hats had suddenly 
appeared on our left flank, and thereafter accompanied us, 
but at a respectable distance. Another body ot seven now 
appeared on our right hand. Thereupon the first band rode in 
a long sweeping curve behind us, until they joined hands with th« 

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second band, and after that both bands together circled round 
our caravan, sometimes before us, sometimes behind us, some- 
times to the right, sometimes to the left, sometimes riding 
slowly, at others galloping. I suspect they were executing some 
sort of manoeuvres with the object of terrifying us. But when 
we simply continued to move steadily on, they approached within 
a couple of hundred paces of our rear, and entered into lively 
conversation with our Lama and Shagdur, who hung back to 
talk to them, after which they dismounted and entered one 
of the tents. 

Meanwhile we arrived at the bank of a large river flowing 
from the east, which I soon recognised again as the Sachu- 
sangpo. The question was how were we to get across its broad 
stream. The Cossacks went in search of a ford. Whilst we were 
waiting for them, Ordek took off his clothes and waded through 
the river at a point where it was divided by a mud island. In 
the nearer arm the water came up to his neck, but in the farther 
arm it only reached to his arm-pits. When he returned, he tried 
another place ; but had to take to swimming. Here then it 
was impossible for the camels to get over, especially as the bottom 
consisted of treacherous mud. 

Meanwhile the Tibetans had come up, and riding to the top 
of the hill beside the river, saluted with loud cries the obo wliich 
crowned it, and then turned and watched with the greatest 
interest what we were about. Naturally they did not volunteer 
to give us any information , and we on our part did not ask them 
for any. After a short march beside the river, I commanded a 
halt, and bade the men pitch the tents. We at once unpacked 
the boat and put her together, and then, with Ordek for my 
boatman, I sounded the river to see how deep it was. As soon 
as we discovered a suitable ford, we intended to stretch a rope 
across the river and back again, and so ferry all the baggage over 
in the boat, while the camels waded across without their loads 
and pack-saddles. Meanwhile the Tibetans moved a short dis- 
tance below our camp, and there sat watching us as mum as 
mice, thunderstruck at our having in some mysterious way 
conjured forth such a wonderful thing as a boat. At one time 
we thought of crossing in the darkness and silence of the night, so 
that next morning we should have disappeared ; but we aban- 
doned the idea because of the risk of the camels catching cold. 
In the evening, however, I made up my mind that we would 
not ^ cross the river at alL but would travel down its right 

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bank till we came to the Selling-tso, which we would then skirt 
by the western shore, because Littledale had formerly travelled 
along its eastern shore. 

The evening was still and bright, the silence broken only by 
the ripple of the stream, the tones of the balalaika, and the 
barking of the Tibetans' dogs. We saw the soldiers' bivouac 
fires on a hill to the north-west of our camp. 

Next morning whilst we were busy measuring the volume of 
the river — it amounted to 2,402 cubic feet in the second — the 
chief of the district turned up with a band of soldiers, and for 

■\/-.] ^ 

some time watched with speechless amazement what we were 
about. Then, singling out the Lama, he demanded to know 
distinctly what our intentions were, and assured us that if we 
would travel direct to Ladak, he would not only procure us guides 
for the first ten days of the journey, but would also sell us horses 
and sheep, and everything else we required ; but if it was our in- 
tention to go to Lassa we must wait till he sent a courier 
there to bring back an answer, and that would perhaps take a 
month. If, however, we pressed on straight for Lassa, he should 
forbid the nomads to sell us anything whatever, and at the same 
time he and his soldiers would do aU in their power to prevent us. 

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If he did not do so, he and his men would lose their heads. 
" And serve you right, too,*' I observed. Whereupon he laughed, 
and remarked that it would no doubt be advantageous to us, 
though hardly altogether pleasant for them. Finally I told him 
we wanted neither him nor his guides ; we knew perfectly well 
where we were, and which way we wanted to go. 

" Yes," he answered imdismayed, " you may indeed take 
our lives ; but as long as we retain them, we shall do our best 
to hinder you from going further south." 

The cameb were driven in, and the caravan started, having 
orders to keep as near as possible to the right bank of the river. 
Then I and Ördek embarked in the little skiff to drift down- 
stream. The trip was one of those delightful interludes in my 
Asiatic travels like the journey down the Tarim two years before. 
Immediately below our camp the river made a sharp bend, 
so that for a short distance we were actually drifting towards 
the east-north-east. The hill from which the Tibetans watched 
our proceedings consisted of conglomerate and red and green 
sandstone, and plunged steeply into the stream. The river was 
here narrow and the current exceptionally swift, and when it 
carried us close in under the precipice the Tibetans greeted us 
with wild shouts. I was afraid they were going to bombard us 
with stones, and was very glad when we got past that ugly place. 

After that the river nowhere flowed through a rocky confor- 
mation, but became perfectly straight, being enclosed between 
terraces of clay 12 to 16 feet high. The adjacent country grew 
flatter and more desolate as we advanced. At the same time 
the river-bed widened out, and was beset with an increasing 
number of mud islands, which divided it into several channels. 
Ördek began to ply his oar, and down the Sachu-sangpo we 
danced at a lively pace. After a while, however, the muddy 
stream turned towards the south-west, and we had on our right 
a low range of hills, the hoUows and declivities of which were 
dotted over with tents, and flocks of sheep, and herds of 5^aks. 
We could not see the caravan for the high bank, but Chemoff 
rode along the top of it, and so maintained commimication 
between us. In the afternoon a keen south-west wind got up 
and made the river rough. This hindered us, while at the same 
time we were smothered in clouds of dust. The next time the 
caravan readied a suitable pasture they halted, and their ex- 
ample was followed by the Tibetans, who had faithfully dogged 
their footsteps all day. 

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Now that our sick camels had no passes to climb, they kept 
up pretty well. Mohammed Tokta was, however, in a very bad 
way ; he appeared to suffer from an affection of the heart. 
Kalpet was pretty much in the same condition, still and quiet. 
He had no friends amongst the other men, and they said he was 
not ill at all, he was only maUngering. One of them beat him 
because they had to do the work which he formerly had done. 
I confess I did not know what to believe ; for, strange to say. 
the man had a voracious appetite. Fortunately I did not re- 
proach him ; I contented myself with asking Chemoff to keep 
an eye upon him, and I was glad I did so. I should have been 

Two Shepherd Boys. 

sorry if I had behaved imkindly to him, for the man really was 
ill, and he was friendless as well. 

Next morning, the 5th September, the weather looked threat- 
ening, and although a fresh breeze set in about noon — ^you could 
feel distinctly that it blew off water and not off the steppe — 
the atmosphere remained clear. At one place the river was 
narrow and confined, and lintels of sandstone ran athwart its 
course and broke its current into cascades. We passed them, 
however, without difficulty. About the same spot a deep ravine 
came down out of the mountains in the north-west ; but, al- 
though it only contained a Uttle stagnant water, it was difficult 
and even dangerous for Chernoff to ride across ; its bottom con- 
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river's course were as much as 22 feet in height, and very often 
perfectly vertical, and gapped by a vast number of narrow ravines 
and gorges. The depth was here pretty constant at about 
three to four feet. It was plain the lake had once been a good 
deal bigger than it was then, and the stream in that part of its 
course was cutting its way through its own former sedimentary 

Then the river took a sharp turn to the north-east, and after 
a long, tiresome curve flowed almost due south. Here its bed 
contained only two or three mud peninsulas, and the banks in- 
creased to over 26 feet in height, though subsequently they 
decreased in proportion as the river-bed broadened out from 
350 yards to a quarter of a mile. Through this peculiar funnel- 
shaped channel the wind blew dead in our faces and the skiff 
pitched violently ; so that, although Ördek laboured unweariedly 
at the oar, we made scarce any progress. In the distance, that 
is, to the south, the banks diminished in height, opening out a 
boundless vista, at once enchanting and sublime. We were now 
close to the Selling-tso ; though how close it was impossible to 
tell, owing to the atmospheric reflection of the water. Although 
the range which stood on the east shore of the lake was distinctly 
outlined, nevertheless it appeared to be hovering in the air, on 
a stratum of the atmosphere which quivered and undulated 
in a most confusing way. It was just the same with the camels 
which were marching about a mile west of us : they seemed 
to be stalking along on long, thin stilts, and the entire caravan 
to be treading on air. 

Finally the river opened out into a broad estuary, half a mile 
to a mile wide, and very soon both banks disappeared, and 
before us stretched the immense blue-green lake of Selling- 
tso. Here the banks were not more than four inches high, 
and the mud came up level with the top of them. The river 
was grey and muddy, and contrasted sharply against the beau- 
tifuUy clear, and undoubtedly salt, water of the lake. This last 
was, however, at first so shallow that we were forced to make 
a long detour before we could reach the north-west shore, where 
some of our men were waiting for us with horses. At the same 
time the wnd blew so crisply from the south that the surface 
of the lake was ruffled all over with white-crested, curling wave- 
lets. We found it advisable to take off our boots and haul 
the skiff up into a creek, and an hour later we were comfortably 
settled in our new camp. 

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The caravan also had had a good day, although the Tibetans 
had been annoying. Twice the Cossacks rode up to tents 
near the line of march for the purpose of buying provisions, 
but the scouts hurried there before them, and forbad the people 
to trade. On another occasion they met a caravan of 200 sheep 
laden with salt, and were negotiating with the owners when 
the Tibetan captain rode up and in a tone of authority absolutely 
forbad his countrymen to sell them anything. The Cossacks, 
who were more hot-headed than I am, instructed the Lama 
to tell the Tibetans that if they only pursued us for the purpose 
of preventing us from procuring suppHes, they had better keep 

Tent of a Tibetan Nomad in a Recess of the Mountain. 

out of range, for they would be instantly shot down. After that 
they did not show themselves again for the rest of the day. 
Thus the caravan was able without further hindrance to approach 
three tents and encamp beside them. The occupants, twelve in 
number, were very open-hearted, and readily sold us a sheep, 
some milk, butter and fat. Evidently the curmudgeon of a 
chief, who thought he could starve us out of the country, had 
not been near them. Later on these people paid a visit to our 
encampment, and were regaled with tea and bread and tobacco, 
and we also gave them a number of small presents, including a 
couple of knives, a compass, and two pieces of cloth, with which 
they were perfectly enraptured. They called the locality Shannig- 
nagbo, or the " Black Cap." 

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Here we rested one day. I thought it wise to take advantage 
of the opportunity, and early in the morning bought several 
sheep ; but I was only just in time, for at nine o'clock there 
arrived a troop of something like 50 horsemen, who proceeded 
to put up two tents, with blue domes, a mile or so away. About 
an hour after noon they sent a message to us, and our Lama 
went out and talked to them about half-way between the two 
camps. In reply to their message, 1 said that, if their most 
distinguished chief did not wait upon me personally, I should 
positively decline to have anything to say to them. After that 
the man did put in an appearance, followed by ten soldiers 
carrying swords. But we had the utmost difficulty in inducing 
him to enter our kitchen-tent, where tea, bread, and tobacco 
were set out on a stool. The Tibetans declined, however, to 
touch what we offered them. I suppose they thought it was 
not right to accept anything from people who were travelling 
through their country without permission. 

Then began the usual fruitless discussion. The old chief, 
who was really a very nice, modest old gentleman, with a pleas- 
ing countenance and sincere style of speech, begged that we 
would stay where we were at least four days, whilst he sent a 
special messenger to Lassa to get instructions from the Devashung, 
or Holy Council. I told him we had not time to wait, and 
intended resuming our journey again next morning. 

" Then we shall follow you," he said, '* and stop you from 
going to Lassa. We shall soon be reinforced." 

" If you do stop us," I replied, " you will have to shoot ; but 
remember that we also have fire-arms." 

Then the honest old fellow shook his head, and declared 
that they never thought of shooting, and he added that such 
hard words ought not to be exchanged between us. I offered 
him two or three presents, but he declined them, sa3dng, " If 
you will only wait four days, I shall have great pleasure in 
accepting your gifts, and I will give you others in exchange for 
them ; besides, I will procure you whatever supplies you want, as 
well^as caravan animals to take you to Ladak." 

In the afternoon Kalpet came to me snivelling and com- 
plained that one of the men had beaten him. I enquired into 
the matter, and warned the other men to be kind to him, and 
enjoined Chemoff, who was head-man of the caravan, to look 
specially after him. I was really very sorry for the man, for I 
never saw a creature more utterly forlorn. I shall never forget 

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the look of hopeless depression that sat upon his features when 
he came to me, nor the way his eyes lighted up when I took his 
part, and gave him drugs from my medicine-chest. When I went 
to see him later on, he was eating the national rice-pudding 
with a good appetite, so that I concluded he was only suffering 
from a passing attack of mountain-sickness. 

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When on the 7th September we started from Camp no. LXXV. 
and the steppes of the " Black Cap," one of our camels, a 
veteran from Kashgar, which had accompanied me on several 
of my desert journeys, was no longer able to rise, and had to be 
killed and abandoned. When the caravan was all loaded up, 
the Bombo came and made a last desperate attempt to induce 
us to stay where we were. But when I told him curtly that 
our road led to the south, he said no more and went away. 

We followed the shore of Selling-tso west-south-west, the 
surface being hard and level. On our right was a steep ridge, 
and along its foot rode the Tibetans, now over 60 in number. 
A troop of two score antelopes fled at our approach ; and just 
when the lake appeared to terminate, we rode into some ex- 
cellent grass, thick, sappy and a foot high ; we at once stopped 
to let the animals graze a little. Thereupon down galloped 
the Tibetans. Then they dismounted, unsaddled, and turned 
their horses adrift. Up went their tents, and in a very short 
space their fires indicated that they were getting their break- 
fast ready. 

Then, leaving our outwitted pursuers behind us, we struck 
away from the lake and travelled south-west across four ancient 
beach-lines, each most distinctly marked by an immense ridge 
of gravel, the last and highest of them being more than 160 feet 
above the existing level of the lake. SeUing-tso is thus rapidly 
drying up. After that we travelled along tolerably level 
ground for some time, until we reached a fresh ridge which 
dipped north-west towards another lake. Here we found 
ourselves on the edge of a very remarkable depression, ellip- 
tical in shape, with pools of fresh water in the middle, and a 
flock of sheep grazing round a solitary tent. Immediately to 
the south was a steep ridge, stretching from east to west, and 
some 500 or 600 feet high. As we were making for its western 

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end, eight Tibetans suddenly made their appearance on a hill, 
and sat watching us. But when shortly afterwards they dis- 
appeared, it struck us that we must be on a peninsula ; evidently 
they felt sure of us for some little time to come at any rate. 
Thereupon I sent on Sirkin and Shagdur to reconnoitre, whilst 
we followed slowly after them. When they turned back and 
met us, they told us that the two lakes were in reality one, 
and that we were in fact on a peninsula which turned its broad, 
steep brow to the south. We therefore turned back to the 

We encamped near a little tented village on the shore at a 


Kal pet's Bed on the Back of a Camel. 

place called Tang-leh, the people of which were very friendly, 
though they stubbornly refused to sell us anything. Thereupon 
I showed them four bladders of lard, which Cherdon had found 
in a crevice of the rock, though he left six others behind him, 
and asked them what was the price of them. "Three tsos* 
each," they answered ; but as the price was too high, we let 
them keep their lard, though the Lama observed, by way of 
a parting shot, that if we had been less pleasant people, we 
might quite easily have taken the whole ten bladders, and 
they^been none the wiser. 

The Tibetans encamped about a mile from us, with the 

* The tso, about y^d., is the current silver coin of Lassa. 
VOL. II. 28 

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exception of 15 men, who came and put up their tents close beside 
ours. It rained fast ahnost all day long, and two or three times 
the westerly squalls were so violent that we were forced to 
stop and wait until they passed over. In spite of the rain, 
however, the Tibetans went through various manoeuvres and 
warlike games on horseback, and then tested their marksmanship. 

Kalpet was a good deal worse, and had to be tied on his horse 
to prevent him from falling off. Chernoff was his nurse, and 
rode by his side. Next morning the sick man besought us to 
leave him behind, a request which we did not of course comply 
with. Instead of that we transferred him to the back of a 
camel, making him as comfortable as we could with felts and 

Had it not been blowing so smartly, I should have preferred 
to cross the lake in the skiff ; but as it was, I was constrained 
to accompany the caravan along the northern shore, which 
stretched in a pretty straight line to the west. As soon as we 
began to load up, the Tibetans also set about striking camp, 
and when we were a mile or two on the road, the old Bombo, 
with 12 men, rode up to us, and made yet another attempt to 
induce us to travel straight to Ladak. But when I told him 
I should go which way I pleased, and was not to be frightened 
by him and all his soldiers, he appeared very much dejected, 
and announced that he should leave us to our fate, and go home 
to his own tents. I heartily wished him a successful journey ; 
and the whole troop then disappeared, and we had the rare 
pleasure of being left in peace for the rest of the day. However, 
well on in the afternoon, two horsemen, evidently scouts, turned 
up in the distance, though they soon disappeared again amongst 
the hills. Here again the ancient beach-lines were distinctly 
marked ; you could in places ride along them for hours together. 
The lake extended a very long way to the south, and then turned 
to the south-west and south-south-west. Here there were a 
great number of mud islands, and the water between them 
was fresh, indicating that a river entered the lake somewhere 
close by. This we very soon reached, and Shagdur quickly 
found an excellent ford, with a hard, gravelly bottom. The 
water was as clear as crystal ; consequently the river must issue 
from another lake higher up the valley. Shagdur, whilst out 
reconnoitring, shot four wild-duck, and here they came floating 
down the river. We picked them up ; but two others, which 
were only wounded, managed to struggle past us. Cherdon, 

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daring and reckless, rode straight into the river after one of 
them, and cut its head off with his sabre. The other, however, 
disappeared among the flocks of gulls, which dotted the waters 
of the estuary in vast numbers. Their presence seemed to 
point to fish ; and as the spot was in every way too inviting to 
be passed, we pitched our tents on the summit of the right bank. 

No sooner was the camp arranged than two black lines 
appeared advancing rapidly from the north-west and the north- 
east ; they were the troublesome and pertinacious Tibetans, 
53 from the former direction and 13 from the latter, and they 
were leading after them a large number of pack-horses. They 
had clearly been to fetch fresh suppUes of food, and to 
equip themselves for a longer campaign. Crossing the river 
by the same ford that we did, they galloped past our camp at 
full speed, some in front of the tents, others behind them and 
between them, as though they intended to annihilate us in one 
tremendous charge. As they rode they whooped and flourished 
their hands above their heads, but to us they paid not the 
slightest regard. They did not even bestow upon us so much 
as a single glance, as they raced through us like a whirlwind. 
And yet they were very picturesque in their variegated attire 
and white hats, their ornamental saddles, silver-mounted 
scabbards, and red flags fluttering from the forked rests of their 
muskets. Immediately beyond us they halted and held a long 
palaver, gathering in three groups round their leaders, who 
appeared to be instructing them how to use their weapons. 
Every now and again there came a peculiar whoop, like a word 
of command. Then finally they ran up their tents and lit their 

The Tibetans pitched their camp on a gentle rise completely 
commanding our tents, and the Cossacks noticed that at dusk 
they planted all their muskets in a line, with the muzzles pointing 
in our direction. We wondered if they meant to open a fusillade 
upon us during the night. As soon as it was dark, therefore, I 
took Shagdur and the Lama with me, and we went to the 
Bombo's tent, where I received a polite welcome, and was invited 
to partake of tea and tsamba. Within one minute the tent was 
packed full of Tibetans. I declined his refreshments because 
he had not accepted those I offered to him. " Reh ! reh I reh ! " 
(true I true ! true I) he exclaimed. He then asked me what my 
name was. I replied that if he would tell me what the river 
was called he should know my name ; but he scorned the 

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transaction. Later on, however, we learnt that it was the 
Yaggyu-rapga. In answer to my question, whether it con- 
tained any fish, he answered, "Yes, plenty." I promised, 
therefore, to remain where we were over the next day, on con- 
dition that they, as a proof of their assertion, delivered at my 
tent at daybreak a moderate-sized fish. They promised to do 
their best, and borrowed a net from us, though they had, of 
course, no more idea how to use it than a baby. 

At daybreak next morning there appeared at my tent door 
some of the Tibetans carrying the net, with a][^little mountain 
asman (fish) fast in its meshes. They were immensely proud 
of their capture, and declared it had nearly cost them their 
lives. Some of our own watchmen had, however, seen the 
Tibetans go down to the river at daybreak, where, waiting until 
they saw a gull in a favourable position, they threw stones at 
it just after it had swallowed a fish, and so forced it to disgorge. 
However we stayed the day there, as we had promised to do, 
but it was to fish. 

Leaving Cherdon and all the Mussulmans, except two, to 
guard the camp, I and the other three Cossacks, with Kutchuk 
and Ördek, our experienced Lop fishermen, went to try our luck. 
Loading the skiff on a camel, we rode, followed by a crowd of 
Tibetans, up the right bank, till we came to a bend in the river, 
where there were two cataracts, one three or four feet high, the 
other just about one foot. At this spot the channel was narrow, 
being forced across and between sills of clay, mud, and gravel- 
and-shingle, and the water deep and of a blue-black colour. 
Here in a gentle eddy, just below the lower cataract, we put 
down our net ; then launching the boat, we paddled round it 
in a sweeping curve, and beating the water with the paddles, 
frightened the fish into the meshes. In this way we caught 
two or three fish at each haul. After catching 28 I went away, 
leaving the others to continue the sport. Meanwhile the Cos- 
sacks angled from the banks, and they, too, were successful. 
Chemoff also shot a couple of wild duck, which we retrieved 
with the skiff. In a word, we had a most delightful day, a 
welcome break to the long, tiring marches of the caravan. 
Although it often hailed smartly, the squalls in no way incon- 
venienced us. The Tibetans sat all along the bank watching 
us, and, black as they were, looked Uke a string of crows on a 
bam roof. Taking Ördek with me in the skiff, we drifted at 
a rattling pace down to the Selling-tso. Here I got out and 

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•-1 -"- Nlr. ' /^ 

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walked home, leaving Ördek to paddle and punt the skiff back 
to camp. We measured the river, however, and found its 
volume was 1,222 cubic feet in the second. 

That evening the Bombo and 30 Tibetans came to visit me 
in my tent, bringing with them two sheep and three pails of 
beautiful milk, a reward, no doubt, for our having stayed the 
day over as they begged us. We let them listen to the musical- 
box, and see several of our " sights," and the Bombo now con- 
descended to accept the presents I offered him. Meanwhile 
the Cossacks were looking on at the Tibetans shooting. The 
distance was not more than 45 yards, and the target was a little 
piece of wood fastened to a stake ; but out of 30 marksmen 
not more than three hit the target. Tlie Cossacks then offered 
to try ; but the Tibetans refused to allow them, and for a very 
good reason. That day we had fish for dinner, to everybody's 
satisfaction. The Tibetans have no taste for delicacies. " Eat 
fish ! " they cried. " You might just as well eat lizards and 
worms ! They are all the same sort of thing." 

When I awoke next morning, the Lop-men had already 
been out fishing ; so that I was able to breakfast off fish instead 
of roast duck, as I had intended. The morning promised well, 
being bright and sunny ; but very soon after we started the 
heavy banks of cloud, which hung on the horizon, advanced 
to meet us, and finally shook out their contents over us. It 
hailed, it rained, it turned raw and cold, and the ground became 
wet and slippery. Nor was that the only thing which depressed 
our spirits that day. The Tibetans were very tiring with their 
perpetual insistence that we should turn back. Besides that, 
our two invalids were rapidly getting into a serious condition. 
Kalpet, in particular,^was very much worse. 

The mountain-chain which ran south of the Yaggyu-rapga, 
was cleft by a natural and imposing rocky defile ; and through 
it we penetrated to the south-east, the cliffs on each side of the 
defile being vertical^and sharply outlined. Above them on the 
right circled a royal eagle, probably the same we had seen the 
day before preying upon the wild geese ; but the pretty rock- 
pigeons [hopped about on the ground without the least fear. 
Kulans [and orongo antelopes were very common ; and, like 
the fish, they appeared never to have been disturbed by man. 
The eastern extremity of the mountain-chain projected like a 
peninsula into the lake. At its southern foot we forded a large 
river called the Alla-sangpo, and then had once more on our left 

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the light blue waters of the Selling-tso. Every now and again 
we caught glimpses of a labyrinth of mountains in the south- 
west ; though for the greater part of the time it rained and 
hailed so incessantly that it was almost as dim as twilight, and 
I had to steer our course entirely by the compass. The country 
was like one boundless marsh. The Tibetans chose another 
route, and we finally thought it advisable to follow them. But 
when we did they stopped, thinking, no doubt, " Oh, they may 
just help themselves ! " Once it cleared for a few minutes, 
sufficiently to let us obtain a view of the broad bosom of the 
lake, with a few scattered tents beside it, and big flocks of wild 
geese along the beach. We recognised again several features 
which we had passed on the opposite shore, especially the little 
range of hills on the peninsula that we traversed by mistake. 

We were just on the point of turning towards a saddle in 
the south-south-east, when Kutchuk and Khodai Kullu came 
riding back to tell me, breathlessly, that Kalpet was a good 
deal worse. I hurried on and found him lying on a carpet on 
the ground, with the other men gathered round him. He was 
more dead than alive, and gasped for water ; but as we had 
none near at hand, we offered him milk, and let him drink all 
he wanted. His face was a sickly yellow, his hps white, and his 
eyes gUttered, though they wore, at the same time, a glazed 
expression. It was raining fast when we encamped beside a big 
pool of rain-water. One of the tents was converted into a 
hospital, and inside it we made Kalpet comfortable. He lay 
perfectly still, without appearing to suffer any pain. I gave 
him a small dose of morphia to help him to sleep. The old 
man, Mohammed Tokta, who was also placed in the hospital, 
was suffering from some ugly disease. His body was blown up 
and his face swollen ; nor was he made any better through wit- 
nessing his unfortunate comrade's struggle with death. 

That evening our friend the Bombo again came to visit us, 
and when we requested him to procure us some milk from the 
nearest nomad encampment, he replied that small-pox was 
raging there, and we might go and get it if we liked, but he, 
for his part, distinctly declined to do so. This time he brought 
with him three new individuals, amongst them a very fimny old 
lama. The newcomers said that they came direct from the 
special emissaries whom the Dalai Lama was sending to prevent 
us from going to Lassa. And then began the usual prayers and 
entreaties that we would not advance farther, and so bring mis- 

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fortune both upon them and upon ourselves. The emissaries 
from Lassa were not very far away ; in fact, we might expect 
their arrival within two days. But I was inunovable ; I said 
it was shameful to treat peaceful visitors in that way, and 
invest us with hundreds of soldiers, armed to the teeth. We 
were not come to wage war upon them, and had honestly paid 
for everything we took. But I refused to give them any clue 
to my plans before the emissaries arrived. At this they were 
greatly chopfallen, and looked quite distressed. 

Just at seven o'clock a squall came on, of so furious a cha- 
racter that the tents threatened to collapse under the weight 

Our Hospital. 

of the rain and the hail, and everything that was lying loose 
about the camp went whirling aloft. The Tibetans happened to be 
on their way back to their own tents, and so got another cold 
douche in addition to the one I had given them. When I made 
my last visit to the hospital that night, Kalpet was sleeping 
quietly ; but Mohammed Tokta complained of his heart. The 
first thing I did when I rose on the nth September was to visit 
the two invalids again. Mohammed Tokta was just the same, 
clear and sensible, sometimes even " joky " ; but he told me he 
was gradually losing feeling in his fingers. Kalpet, however, 
was in a much worse condition. He had difficulty in breathing, 
his cheeks were hollow, though his eyes still retained their 

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glitter. To me it seemed as if he could not last much longer ; 
but he talked sensibly, and said it was a kattik kessel (hard sick- 
ness) he had got, and that he had been a good deal worse ever 
since he was beaten by one of his comrades some days ago. As 
a matter of fact, it had been nothing worth speaking about, 
although the mind of the dying man had seized upon it, and he 
could talk about nothing else. The unfortunate man who had 
the blow upon his conscience would have given a good deal to 
have undone it. Gradually Kalpet's consciousness left him ; 
he no longer talked, but lay and stared straight before him, 
oblivious of everything that went on around him. I was 
thinking of staying another day ; but it was such a disagreeable 
place that'all the men voted for going on. We therefore made 
a soft, comfortable bed for Kadpet on his camel, and once 
more got under way. All the men knew we had death with us 
in the caravan, and consequently our spirits were depressed 
and gloomy. Travelling south-east, we perceived, from the 
first low saddle we crossed, a lovely lake, with ragged shores, 
embedded amongst low mountain ranges. Its water was as 
bright as crystal, and the aquatic plants and fish in it showed 
at once that its water was fresh, and consequently it could 
not be the Selling-tso. As, however, its western shore looked 
difficult, because of the steep rocks which lined it, I thought it 
best to send Sirkin and Shagdur on to reconnoitre. Whilst we 
were waiting, there came on a violent squall of hail, and we 
threw a felt rug over Kalpet to protect him. The thr^ Tibetans 
who had recently arrived now rode up and assured me that 
there was no road along the west side of the lake ; but if we 
insisted upon continuing there was a path along the northern 
shore, leading to the east. I suspected some trick, but did 
not very well see how I was to help myself, especially after the 
Cossacks came and confirmed what the Tibetans said. 

We accordingly continued our way along the northern shore 
by what proved to be a decidedly zigzag route. There was, 
indeed, a trail behind the hills leading due east ; but the Tibetans 
kept all the time behind us, and never showed us where it was. 
Hence we doubled the head of every creek and circled round 
every promontory and peninsula, without knowing in which 
direction the lake trended. In this way, although we took 
many unnecessary steps, I had the opportunity to obtain a 
detailed map of the capricious outline of the lake. We never 
saw more beautiful scenery in all Tibet : the creeks and fjords 

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■-5TCR . ;..>.* 

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cut deeply into the land in every direction, penetrating the 
low, picturesque, and rugged mountains which shot abruptly 
down into the lake. At intervals there were small islands, 
knobbed like the backs of dolphins. Here there were no 
ancient beach hues ; the freshness of the water suggested that 
this lake, Nakktsong-tso, as it was called, discharged into some 
other salt lake situated still farther to the south. Some of the 
creeks were semicircular in outline, and the lake lapped very 
pleasantly amongst the water-worn gravel which littered their 

After wandering about in this way for two or three hours, 

The Funeral Procession. 

we suddenly came upon the Tibetans, who had pitched their 
camp on the shore, and were making their usual halt for tea. 
They had gained upon us by taking the short cut behind the 
hills. We went on past them, and continued until the lake 
definitely swung away to the south-east. There the mountains 
also retreated from the lake, leaving a broad, level expanse of 
hard gravel. We terminated the day's march beside a group 
of tents at the east end of the lake, and there we again found 
the Tibetans, they having once more slipped past us, and their 
tents were already up. 

Kalpet had spoken several times on the march, caUing par- 
ticularly for Rosi Mollah, his fellow-townsman from Kenya. 

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He had asked for water ; he had asked to be turq^d over when 
he got tired of lying in one position. He had cried out loudly 
and distinctly that the camel was going too fast ; but for some 
httle time before we approached the end of the march he was 
silent. At last the men stopped his camel, and the Mollah 
listened. Then he rode on to fetch me. There was no longer 
any doubt ; my poor servant had ceased to breathe. His 
features were calm, and his eyes had lost their glitter. In 
fact, he was already cold, although it was scarcely an hour 
since he last asked for water. The Mollah closed his eyes 
and we went on again. The Mussulmans had as usual sung 
to relieve the monotony of the march ; but now they plodded 
on as silent as the grave, and nothing was heard save the 
footsteps of the animals as they tramped along the sand and 
gravel of the lake-side and the weary breathing of the camels. 
The caravan was converted into a funeral procession, the dead 
being borne on a living catafalque. 

When we passed the Tibetsms' tents, some of them came to 
meet us, and said we should have a long way to go to reach the 
next pasture. I told them we had a dead man with us, and must 
bury him in the ground. They received the intelligence quite 
calmly, and pointed out the best place for a grave. 

As soon as the tents were erected, I consulted the Mollah 
and Turdu Bai with regard to the burial. They proposed that 
it should be put off till the next morning, and should then take 
place with the customary ceremonies. The body was left all 
night in the white tent, being watched by one of the men. The 
next morning, the 12th September, was gloriously bright and 
fine ; only occasionally did a light, fleecy cloud drift across the 
sky, and a fresh breeze ruffled the surface of the lake. The 
grave was already dug, and Hamra Kul, Mollah Shah, and Ördek 
were swathing the body in a sheet after duly washing it. Their 
faces, with the exception of their eyes, were covered with white 
bandages to prevent them from inhaUng the smell of the dead. 
Outside the tent Sat Rosi Mollah, reading aloud from a prayer- 
book. The grave was only about three feet deep, with a kind 
of shelf on one side of it for the body. Then the funeral pro- 
cession started, Kalpet being wrapped in a white felt, and borne 
on a camel's pack-saddle by Mollah Shah, Islam, Li Loyeh, 
Khodai Kallu, Ördek, Hamra Kul, and Kutchuk. Putting 
down the bier by the graveside, they lowered Kalpet cautiously 
into his final resting-place. Mollah Shah and the Mollah stepped 

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down into the grave to put the finishing touches to the corpse 
as it lay on the shelf ; then the Mollah addressed a few words 
to the departed, saying, " You have been an honest and faithful 
Mussulman. You have never done any of us any wrong. We 
miss you greatly. We bewail your loss. You have been a good 
and faithful servant to Tura (i.e. the author)." 

After the two. men stepped out of the grave, the pack-saddle 
was placed across it and covered with a felt carpet, the comers 
of which were kept in place by clods of earth. Then they piled 
the soil on the top of the carpet. The first rain, or the first 
wandering yak which chanced to come that way, would of 
course cause it- to collapse. When the mound was completed, 
and a monument put up at its head, consisting of turves with 
stones on the top of them, the Mussulmans kneeled down round 
the grave, and, putting their hands before their faces, prayed 
silently, while the Mollah repeated certain forms of prayer for 
the dead. The spot where Kalpet was buried is marked on my 
map with a black cross. The mound is by this, no doubt, levelled 
down, and the flocks and herds of the nomads wander across 
it, while the wolves howl in the mountains in the dreaiy winter 

After the burial Rosi Mollah came to me and said, " Before 
we separate at the end of the journey, will you please give me 
a certificate, to the effect that Kalpet died a natural death, so 
that his brother in Kenya may not think that I or any of the 
others slew him." This I promised to do, and did do later on, 
as well as sent Kalpet's wages to his brother. 

The Tibetans, who had been spectators of the burial, ob- 
served that we took a great deal of unnecessary trouble about 
it. "Why don't you fling the corpse out to the wolves and 
ravens ? " they said, that being their own practice, as we wit- 
nessed on a subsequent occasion. The Mussulmans then burnt 
the tent in which Kalpet's dead body had lain, as well as his 
clothes and boots. In his case all the customary observances 
of the funeral were duly carried out ; whereas when Aldat died 
he was buried simply as he was. 

VOL. II. 29* 

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The day which followed this sad opening turned out bright 
and smiling, and the earth upon which men lead such a 
fugitive and uncertain existence again unfolded before us one 
of its most beautiful scenes. Once more we passed through a 
rocky defile or gateway, catching on our left yet another glimpse 
of the Selling-tso, and beheld from the crest of the low pass 
a wide expanse of open country, bounded in the extreme distance 
by mountains. Thence we directed our course due south, 
the Tibetans still hanging upon our rear. On the left of our 
route -were some black tents, as well as two white and blue ones. 
Thither our self-constituted escort betook themselves, and as we 
in our turn approached them, a troop of horsemen galloped out 
and announced that two high dignitaries had arrived from Lassa, 
and begged us to stop, as they wished to have an interview with 
us. At first I refused, and said we had nothing to do with these 
emissaries, and would continue. But upon observing the large 
numbers of men who were riding about the tents, and reflecting 
that they came direct from Lassa, I thought it on the whole 
more prudent to stop, and at least hear what they wanted. 
Accordingly I begged the Tibetans to tell their chiefs that I would 
speak with them if they would come to me. 

Shortly after this two elderly men in red robes approached 
on horseback, each horse being led by four attendants on foot. 
Stopping, but without dismounting, they greeted me politely. 
They looked quite friendly and good-natured; presumably the 
reports which they had heard of us during the last few days 
had been satisfactory. They said they had very important com- 
munications to make to me, and I positively must pitch my 
tents near theirs. To this, after raising a good many objections, 
I finally assented. Then they turned round and rode back to 
their own tents. 

After waiting a long time for them to return, I sent our Lama 
to them to say that it was they who had requested us to stop. 

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and if they really had anything important to say to me they had 
better make haste, or we should continue our journey. This 
stirred them up. Their camp was all commotion. The two 
emissaries hurried out, mounted, and rode towards us — the dis- 
tance was only about 150 yards. For safety's sake they were 
surrounded by a strong escort, armed with swords, though they 
left their firearms behind them. Dismounting, they again 
greeted me politely, and stepped into our kitchen-tent, which 
on such occasions was generally cleared and brightened up 
with a variegated Khotan carpet. Upon this I and the two 
emissaries took our places, while the Cossacks, Tibetans, and 
Mohammedans formed tightly-packed rings all round outside. 
Our Lama, who acted as my interpreter, took his seat between us. 

The elder of the two emissaries was called Hlajeh Tsering ; 
the younger, Yunduk Tsering. They announced that they 
were members of the Devashung, or Holy Council, of Lassa, 
and had been sent by it to prevent me from going to that city. 
They knew I had already tried to get there another way with two 
companions, but had been stopped and conducted back across 
the frontier by Kamba Bombo's men ; and their language was 
now precisely the same as Kamba Bombo had used. *' You 
shall not advance another foot to the south," and for three long 
mortal hours this ultimatum was repeated in every possible varia- 
tion. "We have millions of soldiers," said Yunduk Tsering, 
" and we shall prevent you." I asked them what they would do 
if we persisted in advancing in spite of them. They answered, 
" Either you or we will lose our heads. In our instructions it 
runs that we shall have our heads cut off if we let you go on. 
The whole country is full of soldiers." As far as our heads were 
concerned, I begged them to be under no apprehension ; they 
could not touch us, partly because we had the assistance of higher 
powers, partly because we were armed with terrible weapons of 

Both emissaries were greatly excited ; they shouted and 
gesticulated, and got very hot ; and when I, in spite of that, 
kept cool and quiet, and answered their threats with a dry laugh, 
they were ready to burst with indignation. *' Kari-sari " (What 
does he say ?), they asked incessantly. " He says he means to 
go south." " Mig yori " (if he has eyes), they shouted, " he shall see 
to-morrow how we will stop his caravan." " Mig yori ! njig yori ! " 
was incessantly on their lips, but I simply laughed and repeated 
after them, " Mig yori. To-morrow, when we march south. 

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see to it that your muskets shoot straight, for by heaven you shall 
have a hot time of it ! " Then they tried a new tack, and in 
pathetic tones earnestly besought me not to advance any farther. 
If we would only go back the same way we had come, they would 
procure us guides, and provisions, and everything else we wanted 
— ^in fact, all would then be well. 

Now I had no intention of pushing matters to extremes ; in 
fact, I had had enough of Tibet, and was, now only anxious to 
reach Ladak, or rather, let me say, home — I mean my Swedish 
home by the waters of the Skrägård. But not to throw up the 
game too suddenly, I once more told them all their attempts were 
in vain — I was determined to go on. " Very well, then," they 
said — " very well, we will not shoot you and your men, but all 
the same we shall render it impossible for you to advance." 

" How shall you manage that ? " 

" Ten or twenty of our soldiers will hold fast each of your 
men, and ten or twenty more will hold each camel, and we will 
hold them until they cannot stand." 

" And what if we shoot you ? " 

" It will make no difference ; we shall be killed all the same 
if we let you go on. We have received special orders from Lassa.'' 

" Show me your orders, and I will stop." 

"Willingly," they cried, and at once sent for the paper 
from their tents. 

The document, which was a remarkable despatch, was read 
aloud by Yunduk Tsering, our Lama reading over his shoulder to 
check him. After the missive had been read aloud and translated 
once, we went through it again, slowly, paragraph by paragraph, 
whilst I wrote it down in Mongolian, with Latin lettering. The 
address on the outside of the folded document was this : 

" In the year of the Iron Cow, the 6th month, the 21st day. 
This writing for the hands of the two governors of Nakktsong. 
It is from the Devashung, and is sent by post. It must be in 
their hands the 7th month, the 22nd day." 

And then followed the document itself : — " In the year of 
the Iron Cow, the 6th month, the 19th day, there arrived from the 
governor of Nakkchu a writing (to the effect) that Lama Sanjeh, 
secretary of the Mongol Tsangeh Khutuktu, besides several 
pilgrims, were making a pilgrimage to Jo-mitsing in Hamdung, 
and that he, together with Tugden Darjeh, made certain com- 
munications to the governor of Nakkchu (that is, Kamba Bombo).. 

" The governor of Nakkchu has communicated the said in- 
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telligence to the Devashung. Tsangeh's secretary said, when he 
was setting out on his journey, he saw European men, and 
travelled in their company a piece. After they bought a quan- 
tity of clothing, they travelled on further. In the bazaar he 
saw two Russian men. * Where travel you to ? ' he asked them. 
* Are you lamas ? ' ' We are lamas,' they answered. The 
Khalkha Mongol, Shereb Lama, the healer, was in their company, 
and guided them. On the road he saw six Russian men travel- 
ling. A large number of camels and other men were also on the 

" Let writings be sent with haste to Namru and Nakktsong, 
that it may be ever5rwhere known that from Nakkchu inwards, 
for as far as my (i,e,, the Dalai Lama's) kingdom extends, Russian 
(European) men cannot have permission to travel south. Writings 
must be despatched to all the chiefs. Watch the frontiers of 
Nakktsong. It is necessary to watch the country closely bit by 
bit.* It is positively unnecessary that European men come into 
the Land of the Holy Books to spy around it. They have nothing 
whatever to do in the province which obeys you both. If they 
say it is necessary (know) that these two chiefs must not travel 
south. Compel them to turn and go back the way they came." 

This missive cleared up certain points which had hitherto 
been obscure. Lama Sanjeh and Tugden Darjeh belonged to 
the caravan of Mongol pilgrims who passed through Charkhlik 
in May, 1900. Before that they had met with my two Buriat 
Cossacks and Shereb Lama in Korla and Kara-shahr, and the 
information which they had given, and which was embodied 
in the document, was in the main true. By " a large number of 
camels and other men" was meant our big caravan under Cher- 
noff and Turdu Bai. 

As soon as they reached Nakkchu, they told Kamba Bombo 
what they had seen, and the latter at once despatched a courier 
to the Devashung at Lassa. The messenger reached Lassa on 
the 19th of the 6th month, and on the 21st the fiery cross was 
speeding through the country north and west of the capital, 
especially through the provinces of Namru and Nakktsong, 
bidding the Tibetans maintain vigilant watch, and prevent any 
and every European from penetrating into the country. The 

* This passage runs thus in Mongolian : — ''Nakktsäng-tsonguin tsakhar hara, gadser 
gadser sän harreha kerekteh." The province is thus called Nakktsäng-tsong ; but 
the name we always heard used was Nakktsong, just as the lake was always called 
Nakktsong-tso. • 

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words " the province which obeys you both " proved that the 
document which had just been read to me was especially directed 
to the two emissaries who stopped us at Nakktsong-tso, and who 
were clearly the governors of Namru and Nakktsong respectively. 
From other information which we received it appeared that at 
the time when Kamba Bombo's report reached Lassa these two 
men happened to be in the capital, and their instructions were 
handed to them in person. Thus they were in possession of a 
number of details with regard to my dash for Lassa, and the way 
in which we had been stopped by Kamba Bombo. By " these 
two chiefs " were undoubtedly meant Sirkin and Chemoff, for 
when we were stopped by Kamba Bombo's men, we told them we 
had left two Europeans in our main camp, who would exact 
vengeance upon them if any harm happened to us. It was as 
we feared ; the Mongol (Turgut) pilgrims had played us a dirty 
trick, though even without their tatthng we should not have 
succeeded, for both Kamba Bombo and Hlajeh Tsering told us, 
they had received several independent reports from yak-hunters 
who had seen us. 

In reply to this, all I could say was that I acknowledged the 
document, and that they were perfectly right to prevent us from 
going further, and I honestly told them that the policy of isola- 
tion which they were pursuing was the only means by which they 
could preserve their country from destruction. " AU round 
Tibet," I said, " north, south, and west, Europeans have either 
conquered your neighbours or made them subject to themselves, 
and the same process has now begun in China. Your country 
is the only one in Asia which still preserves its independence 
intact." " Reh ! reh ! " they answered, " that is precisely 
how we wish it to remain ! We are very sorry for you, that 
you cannot go to Lassa, but we must obey orders. So far as we 
are concerned, we should have been far better pleased if we had 
been ordered to accompany you to Lassa, and there show you 
all there is to be seen." 

With the view of clearing up the situation, I asked them if 
they had any objection to send my Chinese pass to Lassa and 
wait with me for a reply. They said, " We cannot do it at any 
price, and for two reasons. In the first place, the Emperor of 
China exercises no authority whatever in our country, and in the 
second place the Devashung would suspect us of acting in your 
interests, and the least we could expect would be that we should be 
deposed from office." 

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Hlajeh Tsering Smoking his Pipe. 

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Shereb Lama's name was mentioned in the docmnent, and 
here they had him before them in the flesh. They told him that 
if it had not been for my sake they would have seized him and 
handed him over to the authorities in Lassa, who would have 
inflicted upon him the punishment he so richly deserved for 
having guided a European towards Lassa. His name was now in 
very evil repute in the Holy City ; it was written down in the " book 
of the suspect." It would be best for him if he never showed him- 
self in the Holy City again ; and with magisterial authority they 
laid down the law strongly to our poor Lama. But he, now that 
the die was cast, spoke out boldly and without reserve, abusing 


Hlajeh Tsering and Yunduk Tsering. 

the two emissaries unsparingly, and asking by what right they 
dared to use such language towards a lama who was not a Tibetan 
subject. He had received permission from the Chinese governor 
of Kara-shahr to accompany me, and also the consent of the prior 
of the monastery there ; and when he returned he would tell 
them how he had been treated. As the quarrel looked like end- 
ing in blows, I produced the big musical-box, and, with the help 
of its soothing strains, reduced their discordant feelings to 

Hlajeh Tsering was, however, the beau ideal of a gentleman, 
the perfect picture of a good-natured, indulgent, easy-going, 
favourite old uncle. Every member of our caravan, not ex- 
cluding the Lama, was perfectly enchanted with him. I hope 

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nobody will take exception to the phrase, if I say that he was far 
more like a wrinkled old woman than the distinguished governor 
of a province. Just, look at the portrait of him which I drew 
(P- 457)- His perfectly hairless face, the manner in which he 
wore his hair, his pig-tail, his head-attire, with its button of 
authority, his long ear-rings — all contributed to give him such a 
decidedly feminine appearance, that I asked him in all seriousness 
whether he really was not an old woman. This insinuation, 
which would have seriously offended any other man, seemed, on 
the contrary, rather to tickle Hlajeh Tsering, for he smiled 
mischievously, nodded, and twisted his parchment face into the 
most comical grimaces, put his hand before his eyes, and ended 
by laughing until the tears ran down his cheeks. " No ! " he 
assured me, he was not an old woman, he was a man. 

At seven o'clock that evening I, accompanied by Shagdur 
and the Lama, visited Hlajeh Tsering, in his tent, and stayed 
until midnight. This time we no longer discussed business, 
but laughed and talked and jested like a couple of students. 
Amongst other things we boasted of our weapons, and I proposed 
to try Shagdur 's sabre against a Tibetan sword. After the trial 
the latter was gapped like a saw, though subsequently we found 
that the Tibetans did possess several swords made of excellent 
steel. Hlajeh Tsering also showed me two or three exceedingly 
useful revolvers which he possessed. 

His white tent, with blue stripes and bordering, was neatly 
and tidily furnished. At the farther short end was a kind of low 
divan, made of cushions and bolsters, and in front of it stood a 
low table, upon which we were served with tea, sour milk, and 
tsamba. On the right-hand side of the divan, when you sat upon 
it, stood a small moveable shrine, with various burkhans (images 
of Buddha), gilded, and in part swathed in haddiks (scarves 
of honour), amongst them being the burkhan of the Dalai Lama. 
Two or three oil lamps were burning in front of it, and beside them 
were small trays of brass, containing various kinds of light 
refreshments, which were offered to the images, as is the custom 
in all the big temples. No sooner did any of us take a sip of tea 
than, hey presto ! a servant ran forward and filled the cup up 
again, even though it would hold no more than ten or a dozen 
drops. Hlajeh Tsering had a special attendant to look after his 
pipes. His favourite was a long Chinese pipe, and when I 
gave him a tinful of my tobacco he was perfectly enchanted 
with it. 

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Yunduk Tsering, a man of about 45, was less endowed with 
intelligence. It was he who thought he could frighten me with' 
big words, by dishing up his innumerable multitudes, and counting 
his soldiers by millions. I never h^d the least desire to become 
involved in hostilities with them, for I had only four Cossacks, 
and, as will readily be imderstood, I had neither the right nor 
the wish to use violence. If we had been so rash as to embark 
on any such mad and reprehensible undertaking, it would have 
been the easiest thing in the world for the Tibetans, with their 
immense superiority in numbers, to have entrapped us in some 
pass, and annihilated us. But the Czar had not lent me his 

Hlajeh Tsering and Yunduk Tsering. 

Cossacks for the purpose of creating disturbances in Tibet, but 
simply to serve as a guard for my own personal protection. 
Hence it was a point of honour with me to take them home, 
and return them to their quarters, as sound and uninjured 
as when they joined me. Yunduk Tsering, therefore, corpulent 
and bloated as he was, was not only slenderly equipped with 
brains, but I will even call him silly. In the course of our 
numerous discussions and disputes, he used repeatedly to draw 
his hand edge- wise across his throat, by way of illustrating 
what would happen to us if we persisted in pressing further to 
the south. He tried my patience to such a degree, that at last I 
called him point blank " a silly ass " ! 

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Both emissaries were neatly and elegantly attired, and 
brought several different suits with them ; some warm, some 
light, some intended for state occasions, and others suitable for 
everyday wear. The style was Chinese, that is to say, tunics 
and jackets or vests of silk or wool. The illustrations on pp. 
459 and 461 show them dressed in gala attire. 

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On the 14th September I left the camp, and began one of the 
most glorious lake-trips it has ever been my lot to make. 
Taking Kutchnk with me, and the skiff on a camel, I rode west 
to the shore of the adjacent lake of Nakktsong-tso. Strange 
to say, the Tibetans did not molest me ; but then I had told 
them I was only going fishing. I left orders with the caravan 
to stay where they were that day, and on the following morning 
to proceed to the west side of the lake, and there wait for me 
at the spot where we had been turned back two or three da}^ 

Fifty-two degrees west of south there was a Uttle rocky islet 
peeping above the blue waters of the lake. Towards it we 
directed our course, and it took us several hours to get there. 
The lake appeared to extend a long way in front of us. But I 
enjoyed the magnificent views, the lap-lapping of the bright, 
rippling water against the skiff, the beautiful weather, bright, 
cheerful, and warm (14^.2 C, or 57^.6 Fahr.) ; but even more 
enjoyable than these was the consciousness that I was safe 
from the amiable inquisitiveness and touching solicitude of the 
Tibetans as to the direction in which we intended to travel. 
The maximum depth along the line we took was 41^ feet. 

The little crag was crescent-shaped and rose about 160 feet 
above the surface. At its western extremity stood a stone slab, 
indicating, I have no doubt, some winter track across the ice. 
A little strip of thick, luxuriant grass grew along its foot, and 
was now, at any rate, safe from interference, for the Tibetans 
possessed nothing in the shape of a boat by which to reach it ; 
but the droppings of yaks and sheep showed that it was some- 
times visited in the winter, when the lake froze, and so became 
connected with the shores. The limestone cliffs plunged steeply 
down on every side, the angle of inclination being 47° north and 
43° west ; this being the prevailing slope of the entire region. 

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The top was crowned with three cairns of stones, and afforded 
us a splendid and very useful view of the southern reaches of 
the lake. As we were not likely to visit them, I seized the oppor- 
tunity to draw a sketch map of the lake in that direction. 

Whilst we were tramping towards " Kalpet Sound,' 
Nakktsong-tso had appeared to extend a long way to the south ; 
in fact, right up to the foot of the rocky ridge which blocked the 
view in that direction. But it now turned out that the islet 
was only about a mile distant from the southern shore ; the illu- 
sion being due to the refraction of the air, which caused the ex- 
tremely low steppe that stretched between the lake and the foot 
of the mountains to disappear. We perceived that it was covered 
with green pasture, and was sprinkled over with black dots — 
yaks, horses, and sheep ; and besides eight black tents, there 
were also two stone buildings, probably local temples. 

Beyond the island in the west three wild, irregularly formed 
crests appeared to rise from a larger island, or perhaps they — 
well, that was precisely what we were to find out presently. 
From the southernmost of the three spurs a low promontory 
jutted out a considerable distance into the lake. Having doubled 
this, we steered 80® west of south, and kept on in the same direc- 
tion until nightfall. Immediately on our right we had the most 
southerly of the three mountain spurs. It was like a gigantic 
wall built up of immense, rugged blocks of stone, and in places 
rose sheer from the lake, which was shallow, or seldom more 
than six and a half feet deep. Further west the lake contracted, 
and we seemed to have entered a cul de sac. Narrower and 
narrower grew the lake. We passed the west end of the first 
spur. We passed the west end of the second spur — ^it cul- 
minated in a fantastic sort of pinnacle. By this we were only 
about half a mile from the southern shore ; but what was this 
we had on our right hand ? Was it an island, or not ? These 
questions we kept asking ourselves at each stroke of the oars. 
Still on and on we rowed into the mysterious sound, until the 
scraggy promontory, which reflected itself in the still, bright 
surface of the lake, deepened its tints to purple and red where 
the setting sun fell upon it. In fact, the water was so trans- 
parent that the algae and aquatic plants at the bottom were as 
easy to see as the plants in an aquarium. 

We were following the shore-line, whicli now swung off to 
the north-west. As the strip of grass along its margin was un- 
touched, we again hoped it was an island, so that we might 

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spend another peaceful night free from the worrying attentions 
of the Tibetans. Opposite the western extremity of the second 
spur, that is on the other side of the water, towered an imposing 
mountain-knot, and at its southern foot, only a few hundred 
yards distant, we suddenly perceived a stone hut, with smoke 
rising from it. A solitary dog rushed out of it down to the lake- 
side and began to bark vociferously. 

By this it was twilight. We paddled steadily along the tran- 
quil sound, imtil the barking of the dog died away behind us. 
The cliffs, shooting up perpendicularly on both sides, flung back 
sharply the echoes of every stroke of the paddles. It was like 
rowing through an immense rock-built temple consecrated to 
Nature and Nature's God. Above head between the stupendous 
mountain walls a couple of royal eagles were sailing slowly round 
and round, poised on widespread, motionless wing. 

All at once the sound appeared to come to an end ; but no, 
it was only a low tongue of land stretching about seven-eighths 
of the way across the passage. Behind it the waterway still 
continued towards the north-west, though the jutting crags 
prevented us from seeing very far ahead. And then night 
dropped her veil over the scene, and lovely though it was, hid 
it from our eyes. It was time to stop and land. Now to turn 
in in an unknown country, and amongst strangers of whom we 
knew nothing, was not altogether pleasant, even though I had 
my revolver with me. As soon as we had drawn our boat safe 
on shore, we set to work to explore our immediate surroundings^ 
and to our great satisfaction soon discovered that the tongue 
of land left a passage-way about 150 — 160 feet wide along the 
south foot of the mountains, so that we were effectually cut off 
from the natives, who, having no boat, would be unable to 
interfere with us. There was plenty of dry and excellent argol, 
and we soon had a comfortable fire burning, its light blue flames 
being as noiseless as St. Elmo's fire ; for argol never crackles 
like wood. The night was bright and still, and we spent it quite 
peacefully crouched together in our sleeping-skins. Next morn- 
ing, as soon as the sun tipped the summits of the cliffs on the 
west ^ide of the sound, we were on foot again, and lit a lire, 
and put on the water to boil for tea. Thanks to Cherdon, 
we were well supplied with food in the shape of a whole 
roast goose, and two or three cakes of bread ; and this was 
not the first- time that I and Kutchuk had camped together. 
The little pools along the shore were sheeted with ice ; but 
VOL. II. 30 

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it soon grew warm, and at one p.m. the thermometer touched 
I4°.4 C, or 57°.9 Fahr. 

Nor was it long before Kutchuk's blade was once more cleaving 
the water, and we were skimming along towards the north-west. 
I can scarcely imagine anything more sublime and, at the same 
time, enchanting, than the cliffs we were travelling between — 
it was hke a Venetian lagoon flanked by ancient palaces of 
Cyclopean masonry. Time after time our view was curtailed 
by the jutting crags, and we repeatedly thought we had reached 
the point where we should have to turn back ; but the defile 
wound on and on, and the natural canal continued to open up 
one perspective after another. The depth did not exceed iii- 
feet, and the breadth was in general not more than a couple of 
hundred yards. All this time we were fortunately travelling 
north-west, the right direction to bring us to the rendezvous. 

But upon doubling a projecting headland on the right we 
were greatly astonished to perceive some yaks and horses. As we 
shot past the headland, three men came rushing down to the 
shore, and shouted and threw stones at their animals to drive 
them inland. At the foot of the next headland on the right two 
black tents made their appearance, and beside them stood a man, 
a woman, and a boy, all of whom displayed the utmost amaze- 
ment at seeing such strange visitors in their locality. Here, if 
anywhere, they should have lived in peace, for their dwelling 
was almost entirely surrounded by water. Seeing these nomads 
where we did, we assxmied that they dwelt upon a peninsula, 
and that we should soon have to turn and row all the long way 
back again. In fact, we thought we could hear the Tibetans 
crowing over us as we rowed deeper and deeper into the bottle- 
shaped channel. One of them ran to the top of the nearest head- 
land : was it that he might witness our discomfiture when we 
reached the end of the fjord ? 

But once again the; sound widened out, and yet another deep 
vista unfolded itself towards the north-west. By this the skiff 
was leaking, and we had to bale. Whilst we were busy with this 
it came on to snow, though shortly afterwards the sun peeped 
out again. All of a sudden the depth increased to 38^^ feet, and 
after that the view opened out still wider, and again our hopes 
revived. Perhaps, after all, we should be able to struggle out 
into the lake without being forced to tuYa back. But all at once 
our spirits sank to zero : the sound suddenly came to an end, 
terminating in low flat land- We got out and dragged our boat 

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as far as we could through the shallow water into a wedge-shaped 
bay, and there stuck helplessly fast. Kutchuk, taking off his 
nether garments, waded through the soft deep mud and climbed 
the nearest hill to look round. The first thing he observed was 
a river coming from the south, and entering a smaller lake, which 
appeared to be connected with the Nakktsong-tso. Thereupon 
we drew the skiff on shore, took it to pieces, and in a couple of 
journeys carried it and our baggage across the neck of land, 
500 or 600 yards wide, which separated the bay from the river, 
an entertainment which cost us three full hours. However, 
even that was better than turning back. The river was divided 
into two arms, and immediately opposite its mouth the lake 
was choked with mudbanks, on which hundreds of gulls were 
busy. We now rowed towards the north-east, having on our 
left an especially imposing cliff. It was still a sound we were 
in, though broader than the one we threaded before ; here the 
cliffs formed monumental gateways. 

At length our eyes were gladdened by the sight so long 
wished for. Behind a pier-like sandy headland, on which a 
score of gulls stood, glittering white in the setting sun, we per- 
ceived the widespread dark blue waters of the Nakktsong-tso. 
Thus we had at last succeeded. Strictly speaking, it was a 
peninsula we had rowed round, and its only connection with the 
mainland was the narrow isthmus across which we carried our 
boat. The isthmus evidently consisted of alluvial mud, depo- 
sited by the river, and it had gone on accumulating until at last 
it completely choked up the sound. Except for this the locahty 
where we saw the nomads would have been a perfect island. 
Thus Nakktsong-tso, which on several of the maps does not 
figure at all, while on others its position is greatly in error,- proved 
to possess a very remarkable configuration. That is to say, it 
formed* a watery ring or circle, like the lake of Yamdok-tso 
south of Lassa ; and while it was tolerably wide in the north, 
in the south it was as narrow as a fjord. 

On the other side of the pier-shaped sandy headland the 
depth increased suddenly from 10 feet to close upon 73. We 
rowed 60° east of north, and later on in the afternoon encoun- 
tered a head wind and a '* high sea." When the sun sank to 
the level of the horizon behind us, the water over those reaches 
which were only 10 feet deep changed from dark blue to a vivid 
green, through which we saw lacustrine growths below as 
distinctly as if we had been looking through a mirror. Our 
VOL. IL 30* 

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goal was a cape on the northern shore, whence we ought to be 
able to see the signal-fires of our camp. But the cape lay right 
in the teeth of the wind, and the shades of night were gathering 
fast about us ; hence we were forced to put in to shore at the 
first spot we could reach. The night was again exceptionally 
clear, with a \'ivid moon, though the wind blew cold and keen ; 
yet what cared we for that, once we were snugly tucked away 
like marmots in our warm furs ? Fortunately, during these 
two nights that we camped out, it did not rain. We were tired, 
and the lullaby of the lake soon hushed us to sleep. I shall 
not readily forget those beautiful nights under the bright sparkling 
sky of Tibet, with its thin, pure mountain air, and the hushed 
music of its entrancing scenery. 

That night the thermometer went down to a bare 2°.o C. (or 
35°.6 Fahr.). On the following morning we again started early 
with a strong east wind dead against us. It was cold and un- 
comfortable, and the lake ran so high that we had to keep close 
in to the shore. Then to cap all, five minutes after we started, 
we were overtaken by a terrific storm. The hail came down in 
such quantities that the inside of the boat was soon white all 
over ; though immediately after it began the wind dropped 
and the waves subsided. The squall lasted for over two hours, 
and all the time seemed to hang directly over our heads. Behind 
us the sky was black and the mountains shrouded in white, 
while to the east the landscape was bathed in bright sunshine. 
We ourselves were enveloj)ed in a sort of twilight, halfway 
between winter and summer. Gradually the hail changed into 
snow, which fell as soft as thistledown and clung to the canvas 
of the boat. For a couple of minutes the sun peeped out, then 
crept behind the clouds, and once more showed itself ; all this 
time the snow continued to fall thick and fast, and the lake 
was greatly agitated. The water was of a most wonderful blue- 
green colour, a lambent and impressionable element, through 
which, in spite of its agitation, we were able to study with perfect 
distinctness every feature of the bottom of the lake. 

Being compelled to rest awhile on a -promontory, I walked 
to the top of the rising ground to have a look round, and there 
on the northern shore, sure enough, was the caravan straggling 
along, dogged by the black swarms of the Tibetans. Soon after 
resuming our journey, we came to an island on our right ; it was 
of considerable size, and a score of horses were grazing on it. 
Here two capes nearly met, one jutting out from the island, the 

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other from the mainland opposite, hke the carbon sticks in an 
electric lamp. The strait between them was so shallow that the 
boat scraped the bottom. Here again there were large flocks 
of gulls fishing amongst the broken water, which frothed and 
foamed Uke a cataract in a river. This was the fjord that gave 
access to the island. 

An hour later and we were opposite the camp. It stretched 
all along the shore ; men an4 horses being sprinkled over every 
hill-side, while every now and again the columns of smoke which 
rose from the fires were snapped across and partly blown away 
by the wind. We had five tents, the Tibetans nineteen ; but 
most of the latter were encamped round a fire in the open air. 
All my men were down on the shore to meet me, the Cossacks 
receiving me as usual with a military salute. I greeted them, as 
I always used to do in a morning, in the three languages — 
" Sdrazdvicheh ! " to the Cossacks ; " Salaam aleikum," to the 
Mussulmans ; and " Amur sän baneh " to our Mongol Lama. 

When they found I did not return, the Tibetan emissaries grew 
terribly uneasy, and redoubled their sentinels round our camp. 
The first evening Hlajeh Tsering went to the Cossacks, and asked 
them what had become of me. They answered, without blink- 
ing or turning a hair, that I had rowed over to the southern side 
of the lake, whence I proposed to make a dash for Lassa, and 
they were ordered to stay where they were till I returned. Upon 
this the emissary was immensely put out, and hastened to send 
out patrols in every direction, especially to the south. But 
during the course of the second day they must have found out 
that we were still on the lake, for they forbade the nomads who 
dwelt along its southern shore to render us any ^"assistance. 
During the day's march they several times counted my men, 
and always found that two of us were missing. 

Although they could not quite understand how things hung 
together, they suspected that one of my men had taken the 
horses round the lake, so that I and one or two of my attendants 
might ride to Lassa. In consequence of this they dealt more 
stringently with the caravan, and refused to supply them with 
provisions, and doubled the outposts at night. Nor did they 
relax these measures until they perceived the skiff labouring 
shorewards through the breakers. Their strength now amounted 
to close upon 200 men, not counting several patrols which had 
not yet returned ; whereas we were only 18, that is to say, one 
against ten, or» if I counted the Cossacks only, one against fifty. 

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The Tibetans must have a very despicable opinion of us 
Europeans. Most travellers who have advanced as far as the 
** holy sphere " have arrived in such a pitiable and destitute 
condition, that it has only been with the assistance of the Tibetans 
themselves that they have been able to struggle out of the 
country. The Tibetans had never seen a strong caravan in 
good condition, one strong enough, I mean, to travel without 
asking their permission. I was, I admit, strongly tempted to 
play them a trick by crossing the lake secretly and making a 
dash for Lassa ; it would have been quite easy to smuggle 
two or three horses away from the pasture in broad daylight. 
However, as I should really have gained little, probably only 
two or three days' march at the most, I abstained. 

The Land of the Burkhans, the southern part of the Land of 
the Holy Books, is taboo to Europeans ; it is the patrimony of 
the Dalai Lama, a sacred land, his own peculiar property. It 
is not that the lamas are more fanatical now than they were in 
the days when they welcomed the Jesuit missionaries; and 
certainly they are not less tolerant at the present day than in 
1845, when Hue and Gabet spent several months in Lassa. 
Their policy of isolation during the last half century or so has 
not been dictated by religious, but by political motives. Their 
tactics, peaceful, but so far successful, have aimed at guarding 
their frontiers against Europeans, and conducting their \m- 
bidden guests politely, but firmly, out of the country. Still, 
Tibet will have to meet her destiny. So long as the Tibetans are 
inhabitants of the same planet as we are, they will have to 
reconcile themselves to our desire to know all about them, to 
study their religion and its sacred writings, their temples, their 
manners and customs, to explore their coimtry and its ap- 
proaches, to map their majestic mountains and sound their 
capricious lakes. So far, however, they have not fallen victims 
to specious representations about the growth of commerce — 
that is to say, the importation of tobacco, spirits, opium and 
fire-arms. They say, in effect, " Away with all your luxuries, 
with your steel, your gold and silver ! All we want is to be 
left alone in peace in our own country." 

When I said, " I will take the southern road to Ladak," 
they answered, " There is no southern road." When I spread 
the map out before them and pointed to the road, they objected, 
" Well, there is a road ; but it is only for us. You may not 
travel through the Land of the Burkhans." And when I pro- 

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tested, " You are inhospitable," they hastened to answer : 
** Your land is for you ; we have nothing to do there. But our 
country is for us ; you must therefore leave it, and go home to 
your own." 

It must have been a very expensive business to maintain a 
force of 200 men on a war footing, to say nothing of the loss caused 
by the men's absence from their own homes, and the care of 
their herds. But the expense did not trouble them, provided they 
were able to keep the intruder outside their borders. All this 
occasioned them an immense amount of trouble, and yet, in spite 
of it all, they were always friendly and polite. Their jealousy 
of strangers is only aimed against Europeans. Chinese, Ladakis, 
and the adjacent Asiatic races all have free entrance into Tibet. 
Hlajeh Tsering's cook was a Dungan or Mohammedan Chinese, 
who understood a little Chanto, or Turki, and had been in East 
Turkestan. The Mohammedans call everybody who does not 
profess Islam " Kapers," that is to say, " Heathens," equally 
whether they are Asiatics or Europeans ; but the Tibetans 
exclude from their country none except Europeans, consequently 
their isolation is political, not religious. A Chinaman, a Japanese, 
a Buriat, an Indian Pundit like Nain Singh or Krishna, a mer- 
chant of Leh, none of these would experience lany difficulty 
in entering Lassa. And when an Asiatic has been properly 
instructed, he has been able to bring home valuable reports of 
what he has seen. Hence, as I have already said, we know 
Lassa better than any other city in Central Asia, with the possible 
exception of Kashgar, Kulja, and Urumtchi. One who has been 
the guest of the lamas in Urga, Kum-bum, Himis, and other 
temples in Ladak, can testify that in each of these places he 
was received with the greatest hospitality, and never perceived 
any signs of intolerance whatsoever. 

After a bright stiU evening it came on to hail about ten 
o'clock, and then turned to snow, and snowed all night, so that it 
was quite strange to hear the crunching of our night-watch- 
man's footsteps as he trod his rounds. Next day, the 17th 
September, the snow quickly melted in the sun, though not 
on the northern faces of the hills. In the extreme south a 
stupendous pyramidal peak, which far overtopped all its neigh- 
bours, was a cone of glittering white, and being perfectly regular 
in formation, it bore a close resemblance to an extinct volcano. 

I now ordered the caravan to proceed to the mouth of the 
Yaggyu-rapga. The camel on which Kalpet had died fell 

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ill, and would soon die in its turn, because, as Turdu Bai said 
— and he understood all about camels — it had carried a dead 
man. The weather was so fine it tempted me on to the lake 
again ; and I was only too glad to escape a whole day's march. 
This time Ordek was my boatman. Putting the skiff and bag- 
gage on horses he rode north across the narrow neck of land 
which parted the Nakktsong-tso from the Selling-tso. This 
isthmus was of a remarkable character. The water-parting lay 
immediately north of the Nakktsong-tso and only 30 or 40 
feet above its level ; but to reach the Selling-tso was a ride 
of a considerable distance, and in the course of it we descended 
150 to 160 feet, so that the latter lake lay about 120 feet lower 
than its neighbour. I assume, of course^ that the Natkksong-tso 
must have an outlet, although I failed to discover it. Possibly 
it has an underground connection with the Selling-tso. As we 
went down towards the latter, we again observed the same 
distinctly marked beach-lines that we had noticed when we 
approached its shores before. 

The low-lying strip of sand next the lake was so muddy, that 
we were forced to wade a long way out before we could get our 
boat launched. The depth was trifling, seldom more than ten 
feet. The bottom consisted of greyish-blue clay, without a 
trace of vegetation, and the water was of a cheerful, spring-like 
green, and was arched over by a bright, sunny sky. Never- 
theless, the only feature of the landscape that stood out sharply 
and distinctly was the broad peninsula which had forced us to 
turn back a few days before ; we now saw that it was prolonged 
eastwards by a series of small pointed rocks, which seemed 
to hover just above the water. By directing the telescope to 
the left we were able to follow the caravan and its Tibetan escort. 
The latter had almost doubled in strength during the course of 
the day, owing to the arrival of several small reinforcements of 
mounted men. Above their heads hung a heavy, black hail- 
cloud, which, judging from the shafts of alternate light and 
dark that stretched down from it to the earth, kept persistently 
pouring out its contents over them the whole of the time. 
Not a drop, however, fell where we were. 

We steered at first north-north-west, until we had rounded 
the promontory where the AUa-sangpo entered the lake ; after 
that we went due west, making for the bifurcation of the moun- 
tain spurs which shut in the valley of the Yaggjm-rapga on the 
south. The sun was setting behind the mountains, causing 

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them to stand out like a black silhouette sharply outlined. It 
was quite dark when we reached the big camp, the fires of 
which gleamed Uke the gas-lights in a Uttle town. 

On the i8th September I gave orders to start early. Whilst 
we were loading up, some of the Tibetans came forward and 
asked us to stop over the day ; Hlajeh Tsering and Yunduk 
Tsering were obliged to return, and it would be in our own in- 
terest if he bought our horses and arranged for the hire of yaks 
before they finally left us. I answered that it was a matter of 
indifference to us where they went ; we were going on without 
delay. " In which direction ? " they asked. I pointed west, 
up the valley of the Yaggyu-rapga. "It is impossible for you 
to advance that way," they asserted, "you must go to the 
north-west." Our answer was to make an instant start up- 
stream, keeping to its northern or left bank. The valley was 
grand, embraced as it was between the imposing mountain- 
spurs. From the summit of a hill, soon after starting, we ob- 
tained a delightful view of another large lake in the west, richly 
diversified by rocky islands, headlands and creeks ; to all appear- 
ance it was almost as complicated as the Nakktsong-tso. 

Ere we had advanced very far we were overtaken by the 
Tibetans, riding in troops of 15 to 20. Wherever we turned our 
eyes there were the black horsemen, with the red flags fluttering 
from the forks of their musket-rests. 

Upon approaching nearer to the new lake, we perceived that 
the line of cliffs on our right stretched out some distance into 
the lake, and formed a peninsula with perpendicular faces. It 
would be impossible to get round it. The Tibetans, however, 
showed us a pass, and a very difficult one it was, in some places 
so steep and rough that had a camel slipped he would have been 
like a raw beefsteak by the time he got to the bottom. From 
the summit of the pass a new and glorious view burst upon 
our eyes towards the north-west, across another portion of the 
lake which was likewise beset with picturesque peninsulas and 
rocky islands. Down the slopes rolled the black troops of the 
Tibetans like a succession of avalanches, enveloped in clouds 
of dust. Spreading themselves along the regularly-formed strip 
of shore, they speedily ran up their tents, and the smoke was 
already curling from their camp-fires when we arrived. 

Camp no. LXXXIV., on the eastern shore of the Chargut- 
tso (15,135 feet), was one of the best and most comfortable I 
have ever pitched my tent in. No matter which way we turned, 

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the view was one to charm the eye and gladden the mind. To 
look west, deep into the fjords of the lake, was like looking into 
the vistas of a forest of stone. The islands and craggy head- 
lands grew lighter and lighter in tint as they receded in the far 
distance, and the whole scene was bathed in sunshine. The 
Tibetans, with their picturesque attire and warlike equipments, 
were just the figures that this rugged landscape demanded. 

The strip of beach was like the high street of a busy town 
— full of Ufe and colour. Without counting ours, there were 25 
tents, and yet the greater part of the native soldiery were 
gathered around fires in the open air. The shore was édive with 
men and horses. I only remember one occasion on which I 
dwelt in a larger camp, and that was in 1890, when I travelled 
in the train of Shah Nasr ed-Din to Mount Elburz. The numbers 
of our escort had gone on increasing until they approached 
500 men. At dusk Almaz came in alone. Kalpet's camel was 
dead — Turdu Bai was right. 

•We could not quite make out what 'the Tibetans were after. 
Our faces were now definitely set towards Ladak ; why then had 
they called together such a large force ? Did they mean to 
make an attack upon us by night ? At any rate we appointed 
strong guards for that night, and held our weapons in readiness. 
About an hour after midnight I was awakened by an un- 
pleasant dream. I was lying on my right arm, which was 
' stretched out along the ground, and the hand grew numb and 
wdthout feeling, and was icy cold. By chance I happened to 
touch it with my left hand, and being only partly awake, I 
fancied the Tibetans had flung a dead body into my tent. 
In a moment I jumped up and struck a light, and found the 
tent empty ; then, as soon as my thoughts cleared, I saw 
how the matter stood. 

Here beside this beautiful lake we stayed two days, and 
the time passed all too quickly, what with visiting the Tibetans 
and entertaining them, and discussing the pros and cons of the 
route to Ladak. I said frankly that I proposed to go my own 
way, and should refuse to receive instructions from anybody. 
But the Tibetans declared we should have an escort all the way, 
and they undertook to procure us everything we wanted until 
we reached Ladak. Hlajeh Tsering, having heard that Kamba 
Bombo had given me two horses, made me a similar present ; 
besides which, he said that, as our caravan had been so fearfully 
decimated, 40 yaks were always, by special' conmiand of the 

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Dalai Lama, to be at our disposal. Strange that the Tibetans 
should be so friendly and courteous, for this was the second 
time I had attempted to approach the forbidden land. Under 
similar circimistances almost any other Asiatic race would 
have promptly made an example of us ; but the Tibetans are 
far too good-natured and inoffensive to resort to violence ; 
they never advanced beyond threats and the empty alarums 
of war. 

At noon on the 19th September the Tibetans provided a 
magnificent spectacle for our entertainment. I had told Hlajeh 
Tsering that I wished to photograph him and his colleague, and 
after that the whole of his force of cavalry. They complied with 
my request with the greatest of pleasure, and at once called 
out 200 or 300 of their men. They drew them up in rank and 
file, but it was anything but an easy thing to get them to stand 
still. When I asked them to raise their swords and lances into 
the air they obeyed instantly ; but the action awakened their 
warlike instincts, the horses grew restive, and the whole troop 
burst away as if charging home in an attack, uttering the fiercest 
war-cries as they galloped. It was in truth a wild sight to see 
them racing across the steppe, their accoutrements jingling, 
their weapons flashing in the sun. My photographic ambitions 
had perforce to rest until their warlike ardour subsided, and they 
were made to understand that when it came to photographing, 
there was no need for them to make such a display of energy 
or shout so desperately loud. 

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The 20th of September was the day fixed for starting on the 
long journey to Ladak ; but the Tibetan emissaries begged us 
to wait until next morning, when they would accompany us 
some days on the road. The 20th was one of their great religious 
holidays, and they wished to stay quietly in their tents. To 
this request I acceded, and all the more readily because the en- 
chanting waters of the Chargut-tso had for me an attraction I 
could not resist, and yet the treachery of the siren lurked behind 
its smiHng face. 

This time I selected Khodai Kullu to be my boatman, and 
we directed our course towards the outermost extremity of the 
craggy peninsula which bordered our bay on the south. Thence 
we pushed out towards the open part of the lake, but were 
driven back by a storm from the west. As soon as we saw the 
sky begin to darken we at once turned back, and, at the risk 
of tearing our boat to pieces against the sharp-edged stones, 
effected a landing on the steep, rocky shore of the peninsula. 
I was not going to be detained a prisoner there, so, bidding Khodai 
Kullu launch again, we set off to paddle back to camp diagonally 
across the bay, which by this was in a state of considerable 
commotion. The lake, indeed, ran so high that one moment we 
were down in the " trough of the sea," and the next were balancing 
on the crest of a lofty wave. The boat pitched and shivered 
and creaked alarmingly, and we travelled at a terrific pace, our 
progress being watched with the closest interest by a crowed of 
Tibetans gathered along the shore. We could see them when 
we rose to the tops of the breakers ; they were watching us 
in silence, and with their hearts in their mouths. And, to tell 
the truth, we were not without anxiety ourselves. One moment 
we lunged forwards, and I thought we were going to be dashed 
to pieces against the shore ; but the next moment we were being 
sucked back by the receding wave. The next time we were 

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borne shorewards, Khodai Kullu, who held himself in readiness, 
leapt nimbly out, and at the same moment all four Cossacks 
plunged into the water, and literally carried me ashore between 
them. It was a smart piece of work. The Tibetans came hurry- 
ing up to convince themselves that I was ahve and unharmed. 

As soon as the storm subsided, we put out again, and suc- 
ceeded in taking a series of soundings. Indeed, we stayed out 
until after dark, and had to finish our measurements by torch- 
light. As we drew in to shore, our bay presented quite an ani- 
mated spectacle. Fires were blazing all roimd its shores, giving 
it the appearance of an illuminated harbour, and the smoke 

Tibetan Soldiers Gambling beside the Chargiit-tso. 

from them was being wafted across the lake, where it hung like 
a greyish-blue veil above the now placid waters. Then the moon 
came out and flung a broad ribbon of quivering silver across the 
lake, and so added the magic touches of her glamour to the already 
entrancing landscape. As we pulled ashore we heard the gossip 
of the men and the Tibetan soldiers. They were drinking tea, 
smoking, and playing dice. 

When I was called on the 21st of September, the thermometer 
stood just at freezing-point. The lake was as smooth as a mirror, 
and with its long chain of projecting rocky headlands looked like 
an immense fjord or river. It was such a bright, beautiful 
autumn morning, I just longed to be out on the water, especially 
VOL. II. 31 

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as it would take me away from the noise and confusion of the 
500 Tibetan soldiers. 

Taking with me Kutchuk and provisions for three days, as 
well as warm felts and such instruments as I should require, 
I once more embarked on the Chargut-tso. The caravan started 
about an hour later, the Tibetans accompanying them in small 
detached parties, which kept riding all round them. But we 
soon lost sight of the long black strings of moving animals behind 
the Y^tervening mountains. My men had instructions to encamp 
somewhere near the western end of the lake, and there wait until 
we joined them. The Tibetan emissaries were uneasy at this 
new lake-trip, and wondered what it meant. They did not like 
it at all. 

We had barely been started a quarter of an hour when a fresh 
breeze sprang up in the west, and the face of the lake clouded 
over. Then it grew crumpled ; then it began to rise ; and 
finally it broke into waves. In short, we were in for another 
gale, and had to suspend our soundings and look after our own 
safety. It was too late to turn back ; and even if we could have 
done so, there was nobody left at the old encampment to help 
us ashore. Nor was there a headland along the south shore 
behind which we could seek protection. All we could do was to 
row hard in the teeth of the storm, until we could obtain shelter 
behind the nearest craggy islet. However, I managed to obtain 
a couple more soundings. The maximum depth amounted 
to 138 feet. Every breaker we encountered drenched us to the 
skin. The water ran off' my cap, and I had hard work to see 
through my spectacles. Note-books, felts, all our paraphernalia 
were as if they had been dipped in the lake. We toiled like 
galley-slaves, struggling against both wind and lake. At length, 
however, we got under an islet, where the waves were not so 
high. Close underneath it the depth was no less than iiij 
feet. We were rather exhausted when we stepped on shore, 
but we made haste to pull our little boat weU up out of the reach 
of the waves. Were she to be washed away, we should be in a 
most precarious position. 

The little islet we landed upon was shaped like a saddle ; 
that is to say, it consisted of two rounded knobs, with a depression 
or isthmus between them, not more than 350 yards across. 
I walked to the western side of the islet, and — I blessed my stars 
I was not just then at the mercy of the tempest. Having ascer- 
tained what sort of a place it was we were imprisoned on, we 

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set about making ourselves comfortable. The boat set up on end 
afforded a certain amount of shelter against the wind, and a felt 
did duty as an awning, for all this while the sun was pouring 
down its golden rays out of a turquoise blue sky. By a fortunate 
impulse I had brought a book with me. Kutchuk dropped off 
asleep, and soon began to snore. Meanwhile the wind howled 
and whined in the crevices of the rocks. Having nothing better 
to do, about three in the afternoon we set to work and gathered 
sufficient yappkak and argol — there was plenty of both — and 
made a fire and had tea. At intervals Kutchuk got up and went 
to the western end of the islet, to see what the lake looked like ; 

Our Camp on the First Island in Chargut-tso. 

but he always came back with the intelligence that the boat 
could not possibly Uve amid such a seething tumult. With the 
help of the telescope we were able to make out large flocks and 
herds, and several tents, along the northern shore of the lake. 

Evening was approaching, and yet the wind showed no sign 
of abating, and the breakers continued to thunder against the 
west end of the islet. I had chosen this method of travel with the 
view of escaping the noisy confusion of the march, and enjoying 
the quiet beauties of Nature in solitude. Now, however, I was 
only anxious to get back to my people. Even the worst uproar 
of the camp would be better than being held a fast prisoner on 
a tiny island in the middle of a Tibetan lake. The sun set, bright, 
VOL. II. 31* 

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smiling with malicious glee. Deep shadows dropped down upon 
our little encampment, though the eastern shore of the lake 
was still bathed in brightness. Soon the shades of night began 
to creep up the mountain-sides. For a while their summits 
glowed scarlet ; then the glow faded, and night, blue and cold, 
held Nature in her silent ban. What would we not have given 
for a glimpse of the ring of camp-fires which had lined the bay 
the night before ! But our sole illuminant was the moon, half 
way towards the full. 

Perhaps the wind would drop during the night. We went to 
sleep early, Kutchuk having orders to waken me about a couple 
of hours after midnight. It was often quite calm in the early 
morning, and if it were so next morning, we meant to seize the 
opportunity and row across to the southern shore. Kutchuk 
called me at 4 a.m. The stars were twinkling brightly, but the 
gale was blowing as hard as ever. We soon had a fire going, for 
there were nine degrees (Fahr.) of frost, and the hot tea went 
down famously. Then we sat on the shore, silent, musing, 
waiting for day to break. At length the open spaces of the sky 
behind the mountains began to lighten ; and suddenly, as in a 
transformation scene, there was the sun streaming above the 
mountain-tops like a ball of burning fire. 

But the storm, instead of subsiding, still continued to increase 
in violence. It was a regular " trade-wind," and blew strong 
and steady without relaxing a moment, while at intervals light 
frigates of clouds went sailing swiftly across the lake. When 
my book was finished I amused myself by making a map of the 
lake as far as I could survey it to the east and west. Whilst we 
lay and droned the day away on the eastern end of the islet, the 
western end was full of the roar of a mighty waterfall, the waves 
beat up so portentously high. Then I mapped the island, whilst 
Kutchuk gathered fuel. Then we had dinner. Then we anchored 
my shelter with big stones to prevent it from being blown aw^ay. 
Then I went to the south-west edge of the island, where the difis 
descended vertically into the lake, and sat and listened to the 
thunder of the waves. I closed my eyes, the better to enjoy 
my day dreams. Every beat of the enraged water against 
the iron-bound coast seemed to cry in mockery, " What do you 
want in this holy land ? " Then I climbed to the top of the 
northern knoll to bid adieu to the sun when he set. Finally we 
built up a big fire, and practised the art of dolce far niente. 

About 6.30 p.m. the violence of the wind seemed to abate. 

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and our hopes again rose. At 7 p.m., there was no doubt about 
it, the gale was nothing like so violent, although the clouds, 
which had massed thicker together, streamed away at the same 
giddy pace as before, the moon sailing on over them like a swift- 
keeled silver schooner. We began to study the weather with 
quickened interest. We went repeatedly to the western side 
of the island, but the lake still presented an unbroken expanse 
of plunging waves. Due west of us was another Uttle rocky 
islet, the bearings of which I had already taken. We hoped 
we might at least manage to reach it before the moon set. 
Gradually the wind dropped, and we made haste to pack up. 

Doubling the south-east corner of the island, we had on^our 

Tlie South Shore of the Western End of the Second Islet. 

right the steep face of the cUff, hanging like a spectre — it was 
faintly lighted by the moon — over the waters of the lake. At 
the same time we became exposed to the after-swell of the gale, 
though, fortunately, it was not at all dangerous. But it was^so 
dark that we were unable to obtain a glimpse of our port, the 
next Uttle craggy islet ; it was merged in the mountainous 
background behind it. I knew, however, that it lay 87° west of 
south, and in that direction I steered, whilst Kutchuk rowed. 

But calm and still though it was, it was anything but pleasant 
to row across an unknown lake in the dark. The water was as 
black as ink, the contours of the shore indistinguishable, the sky 
a deep blue-black, and the clouds drifted silently and gloomily as 

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shadows over our heads. The only relief to the universal dim- 
ness was the band of silver moonshine dancing softly on the heav- 
ing water. The boat was heavily laden and deep down in the 
water, for we had packed into her as much fire-wood as she would 
hold. I was, however, very comfortable in the fore half. The 
sounding-line lay ready to hand, and my watch, compass, velocity 
instrument, and itinerary note-book were all placed so as to be 
within the radius of the lantern. Thus I was enabled to take my 
observations at leisure. The maximum depth was 123 feet ; 
we got it quite close to the first islet, but the contour of the lake 
bottom gradually rose as we approached the second islet. We 
had already passed the biggest of the promontories on both the 
north and south sides of the lake ; we could not now be very 
far from our goal. But the minutes passed, and yet we did not 
fetch it. Could we have gone past it in the darkness ? Scarcely, 
for I had taken accurate note of its bearings. No ; there it was, 
scarce a minute's distance in front of us. I thought we had been 
steering towards a peak at the western end of the lake. It is so 
confusing to row in the dark, even though one has the moon to 
help one. 

We went to rest with the intention of continuing again at day- 
break ; but long before that Kutchuk came and told me it was 
blowing again as hard as ever. For want of anything else to do 
I explored the little island. In outline it formed a right-angled 
triangle, with its hypotenuse facing north-west, though it was 
not more than 1,100 feet long. The southern part of the island 
consisted of a thin stratum of red conglomerate, and its shores 
were littered with rocks of the same material. The highest point 
did not exceed 50 feet, and it was crowned by a couple of piles 
of stones. The temperature at noon was over 15^.0 C, or about 
59°.o Fahr., and in the sheltered spots the gnats were dancing. 

At 12.30 p.m. it was perfectly quiet, but heavy black clouds, 
with long trailing fringes, charged with rain,, were looming up 
in the west. Evidently a fresh storm was brewing. But by 
far the hardest part of the lake still lay before us. Which was 
it wiser to do ; to go or to stay ? Our provisions were nearly 
done. I have never made a lake excursion under more unfavour- 
able circumstances. It seemed as if all the bad weather through- 
out the whole of Tibet were being forced to take the path across 
the Chargut-tso, or as if the gorge in which the lake lay were a 
sewer for carrying off all the dirty weather in that part of the 

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By two o'clock in the afternoon we had everything packed 
and on board ; but then the storm burst again, and it was a 
lucky thing for us we had not left the island. It rained for a 
while, then another storm swept over the country to the south 
of the lake, leaving all the mountains white in its track. But 
at the end of about an hour the weather suddenly cleared, and 
the lake rapidly subsided, except for a gentle swell near the 
shores. At the same time the sun began to droop, and the 
Chargut-tso looked lovely. Surely it could not be dangerous 
to make a dash across it ; we might surely hope to get behind 
one of the sheltering headlands on the south before a fresh 
storm burst. Kutchuk rowed his hardest, whilst I continued 
my soundings and steered. The maximum depth I obtained 
at this time was 157^ feet. 

Yet no sooner did we leave the sheltering headland behind us, 
than once again the sky darkened in the west, and the thunder 
began to rumble amongst the mountains to the south, where it 
was either snowing or raining smartly. At the same time yet 
another storm was venting its rage on the more distant mountains 
that bounded the lake on the north. On the lake itself, however, 
it was still fine, and the sun set amid a wreath of fleecy clouds. 
Then there rose above the perpendicular cliffs of the south 
shore, towards which we were steering, a threatening steel-blue 
bank of cloud. Meanwhile the atmosphere grew ominously 
quiet. The clouds appeared to stand still and pour out their 
contents in one and the same place. But we were not to get off 
so easily. Underneath the clouds appeared the unmistakable 
harbingers of another approaching storm. That is to say, their 
lower edges turned a fiery yellow, as though some gigantic 
conflagration were raging behind them. I scanned the shores 
anxiously. There was not a sheltering cove within sight. It 
would have been wisest to turn and run before the storm, until 
we again fetched the islet we last left. Our little craft would 
outride any storm, provided only she rode with it. But our 
supplies were nearly exhausted, and what would happen if we 
were to be shut up on that island without food, possibly for two 
or three days ? No, we must luff, and manage as best we could 
with what protection we could find under the cliffs on the 
southern shore. 

After a few preliminary puffs, down swooped the tempest 
like a hawk upon a defenceless dove. In with the sounding- 
line — away with the compass — out with the oars ! It will be 

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a fight for our lives ! Our boat creaks — she quivers ! Bang ! 

bang ! she smites the on-driving waves as they rush upon her 

like berserks to the fray. Her hull is but canvas — wiU it hold ? 

It bulges — it wiU burst — it must burst ! Still, in a lake of that 

size, there was a limit to the height to which the waves woiild 

rise, and so far our little craft had safely ridden over the biggest 

of them. Never did I exert myself so desperately as I did then. 

By dint of a long, steady, regular pull, we gained one inch, or 

maybe two, at each stroke ; for several days afterwards my hands 

were badly blistered. But the tempest was growing more furious 

— it was being forced through the mountain funnel in which our 

lake lay. " Pull away, Kutchuk ! The shore is coming nearer, 

there is no danger! But — man alive — look out, here comes a 

big one ! " A huge curler broke right along the stroke side. 

Our boat was half full of water. Backwards and forwards it 

washed with every pitch, with every roll. " Mind, Kutchuk ! 

Here comes another ! " If it goes on at this rate though we 

shall be drenched to the skin. We clench our oars till our 

knuckles whiten under the strain. We literally lift the boat 

upon our oar-blades. It can't go on much longer like this. 

We are sitting in water, the boat is actually half full, and the 

seas keep breaking over her bow. We shall go down — and soon. 

** Get your life-belt ready, Kutchuk ! I've got mine ready ! " 

" No, Tura, we can keep up till we reach that headland. Ya 

Allah ! " Kutchuk was right — we did reach it — thank God ! 

It was a perfect miracle we escaped disaster. I have never 

been so near it in any other of my boat-excursions in Central 

Asia, and that is saying not a Uttle. 

As soon as we came under the shelter of the headland the 
waves were less high, and we were able to take it more quietly. 
We just reached shore as it grew dark. It is, of course, no great 
feat to navigate a stormy lake in the dark if you have a good soimd 
boat under you ; but it is an altogether different thing when you 
have only a canvas skiff to trust your life to, and the gale is 
rending the clouds to tatters, and the wizardry of the moonshine 
is tipping each hissing and spitting wave with an unearthly light, 
and the dark, smooth hollows between suggest unfathomable 
depths — dark, cold and hungry ! 

No sooner did we land than the wind dropped. Then it 
began to rain, and it went on raining all night. We reared up 
the boat so as tö make a sort of carriage-hood over our 
heads, and lighted a fire and dried our clothes. Then we 

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went to sleep, and after our herculean exertions each of us 
slept like a top. 

On the 24th of September, after breakfasting off the only 
crust we had left, we rowed away west again in fine weather. 
The lake soon narrowed and came to an end in a trumpet-shaped 
river-mouth. Entering this, we rowed on for about half a mile, 
and then emerged upon another large lake. The Tibetan emis- 
saries had called it the Addan-tso, but the nomads whom we 
encountered on its shores gave it the name of the Nagma-tso. 
Observing some horsemen a long way off to the north, we hoped 
they were our own scouts looking for us ; but they soon dis- 
appeared, and evidently without having seen us. However, we 
were steering diagonally across the lake towards the northern 
shore, which was at no great distance away. 

As I have already described so many of our adventurous 
lake-excursions, I will now only add that on the way across the 
Addan-tso we were overtaken by a third storm, which literally 
drove us ashore, so that our boat filled and we had to jump out, 
carrying with us what we could snatch up first. But fortunately 
the rain held off ; and when we spread out all our felts and rugs, 
and took off our own clothes, and after wringing them out held 
them up in the strong wind, everything was very quickly dried. 
After that we stayed quietly where we were for several hours. 
At length, however, I grew so hungry that I got up and started 
to walk towards the nearest nomad tent. But I had not gone very 
far when Kutchuk called me back, and pointed towards the little 
stream that connected the two lakes. Turning, I saw two horse- 
men, with three pack-horses. They had already perceived us, and 
were riding directly towards us. It was Cherdon and Ördek, 
who had been looking for us for two days aU round the Addan- 
tso. All the men were extremely anxious about us. Chemofif 
and the Lama were looking for us round the Chargut-tso, and 
about an hour later they too joined us. Sirkin had ridden back 
the day before to see if we had by any chance turned up at 
the old camp from which we started. Not being able to find 
traces of us an3rwhere, they were beginning to fear the worst, 
and were debating what they should do if I did not return. 
One thing, however, they were resolved upon, and that was 
not to leave the locality without finding fragments of the boat 
or others of our belongings. 

Cherdon had had several little adventures. Patrols of 
Tibetans were out in every direction, they also looking for us ; 


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and in two places he had counted a^ many as eight tents standing 
together, guarding the roads to Lassa. On our way back to 
camp we were met by several bands of Tibetan horsemen, who, 
after greeting me politely by putting out their tongues, turned 
and escorted us in triumph to our own tents. The camp lay 
in a latitudinal valley, one which Littledale also probably 
traversed. The old man, Mohammed Tokta, was worse. 
Oae of the Tibetans had died ; we saw the corpse flung out for 
the vultures and ravens to feed upon. Although there was 
little more than the skeleton left, it was a loathsome sight. 
Oae of our camels also was dead. Hlajeh Tsering invited me 
into his tent, where he received me as though I had been a 
victorious general, and entertained me to a " magnificent ban- 
quet," presided over by the images of his god, wreathed in a 
cloud of incense. 

Except for two or three short river-trips, this was the last 
tine I used the little skiff in Tibet. I still preserve a very lively 
recollection of the days I spent on the Selling-tso, Nakktsong- 
tso, Chargut-tso, and Addan-tso ; they made such a delightful 
interlude in the long monotony of the caravan marches. Al- 
though my investigations can only be regarded as preliminary, 
still they were sufficient to afford a useful general idea of the hydro- 
graphy of that beautiful lacustrine region. If the surface of 
these lakes were to be raised some 150. to 180 feet, their basins 
would be converted into genuine fjords, like those of the western 
coasts of Norway and Scotland. Probably the region was once 
glaciated, though at the present day apparently no traces survive 
of either glacial striations or scratches, of moraines or erratic 
blocks. The surface rocks are disintegrated, and aU evidences of 
glaciation, supposing they once existed, have been swept away 
and destroyed. The Addan-tso was the highest, as well as the 
largest lake of the region. It received several streams from the 
adjacent mountains, especially from the immense snowy ranges 
on the south ; and it discharged its superfluous drainage into 
the Chargut-tso. This lake again sent its overflow through the 
river of Yaggyn-rapga into the Selling-tso. There it stajrs and 
evaporates ; thus Selling-tso is the only one of the lakes that is 
salt. What connection there was, if any, between the Nakktsong- 
tso and the SelUng-tso I was not able clearly to ascertain. The 
former may possibly communicate by a subterranean emissary' ; 
possibly it may empty itself into another lake situated farther 
to the south, which we did not see. 

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On the 25th of September our friends, Hlajeh Tsering and 
Yunduk Tsering, who had been with us since the 12th, were to 
take their leave. Each of them sent me his haddik, or " scarf 
of honour," and wished me a " successful journey." Then they 
came to say good-bye in person, and assured me that all the 
stores I wanted, as well as guides and pack-animals, would be 
provided for me by order of the Dalai Lama. When our caravan 
was loaded up and all ready for the start, I paid a hurried fare- 
well visit to the Tibetan chiefs, and gave them various presents, 
such as revolvers, knives, compasses, and pieces of cloth. I 
expressed my regret at not being allowed to go through 

Tents of the Tibetan Emissaries. 

to Lassa, and sent my compliments to the Dalai Lama ; but 
I promised them I should carve out my route for myself, 
and should not necessarily follow that which my guides wanted 
me to take. I told them blimtly that I would not permit the two 
ofiftcers who were to command our escort to assume a tone of 
authority towards us ; they must just content themselves 
with inquiring every morning which route I desired to adopt. 
If they made themselves disagreeable I threatened I would stuff 
them into two of our trunks, and take them all the way home 
with me. 

Hlajeh Tsering answered that he and his brother officer 
intended to remain, with a few hundred mounted men, twenty 

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days in the spot where we was then encamped. I saw at once that 
that was simply bluff, meant to deter us from turning back, 
and therefore replied that I intended stopping at the next fresh- 
water lake, and waiting imtil it froze. To this he repUed in his 
turn that they could quite well stay a year where they were. 
Thereupon I proposed that, as we both seemed to have so much 
time to spare, we might as weU keep one another company ; 
and so, with a good laugh on both sides, we dropped the game of 
brag. Hlajeh Tsering was eating meat-balls in his own tent. 
Yunduk Tsering sat in his tent, with his secretaries and a 
whole pile of papers in front of him. He was not only drafting a 
detailed report to the Devashung in Lassa, but was also sending 
on instructions to the local chiefs all the way to Ladak. 

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Our road ran west through a latitudinal valley nearly 20 miles 
broad, with imposing mountain-ranges lying parallel to it on 
both the north and the south. The weather was raw, cold, 
and windy, and the pasture very indifferent. Nevertheless, 
we counted 32 black tents, or, say, 150 inhabitants, in the 
course of i6| miles. The valleys in the south of Tibet were 
unquestionably more densely inhabited than the northern dis- 
tricts ; in fact, in the latter direction the inhabited country 
did not extend very far. Our escort was by this reduced to 22 
men, under command of a chief named Yamdu Tsering, with 
whom I quickly became on a friendly footing. The place where 
we encamped the first night was called Shalungs it lay east of 
a lake bearing the name of Jaggtseh-tso, and receiving at its 
western extremity a river called Boggtsang-sangpo. As this 
last occurs on the map of both Nain Singh and Littledale, it 
may be assumed that the other names also are right. Never- 
theless, I was able to identify only a very few of the names 
which Littledale gives. 

On the 26th of September we travelled as far as the mouth 
of the Boggtsang-sangpo. The river was divided into several 
arms, and the pasture on its banks was so plentiful that we felt 
a day would not be lost if we stopped amongst it. Out of our 
original 39 camels we had only 22 left, and all of these were 
suffering from fatigue ; while everyone of the horses that survived 
was in a pretty bad way. During the day's march of 17J 
miles we observed a very large number of flocks of sheep, but only 
16 tents. The country also abounded in game — e,g,, kulans, 
antelopes, partridges, hares, and wild geese, so that our hunters 
kept us well supplied with meat. The new lake, Jaggtseh-tso, 
was a good deal smaller than those we had* recently travelled 
beside, and its water intensely salt. The circular markings all 
round its shores indicated that it too was drying up. In one 

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place the former beach-lines numbered no less than seven, and 
all were distinctly marked, one behind the other. 

During the next few days we kept close to the Boggtsang- 
sangpo, and crossed it in one locality by the same ford by which 
Littledale did. Captain Bower's route, which we had touched 
at the Nakktsong-tso and the Chargut-tso, now ran a good deal 
farther to the north, and we never came in contact with it again. 
Nain Singh's route lay quite as far to the south. So that by 
following the course of the river I have just mentioned, I was 
able to avoid the routes of the three travellers, who previously 
to myself had visited this part of Tibet. Our knowledge of the 
country would, of course, be increased if I struck out an entirely 
fresh route ; though it was often impossible for me to tell 
whether I was keeping clear of Littledale's route or not. The map 
which that distinguished and capable traveller made was unfor- 
tunately drawn on too small a scale to enable me to recognise 
the topography of the regions he traversed. For this reason, 
and because my map was being constructed on such an incom- 
parably larger scale, I regarded even those tracts in which I 
could not avoid travelling over the same ground as my prede- 
cessor as, for cartographical purposes, unexplored country. 
Littledale's map shows neither the Nakktsong-tso nor the 
Chargut-tso ; and though Bower's map does show them both, 
it does not show the Selling-tso. Bower travelled between the 
Nakktsong-tso and the Chargut-tso, but he failed to elucidate 
the relation between the two. Of the Addan-tso he knew nothing 
whatever, nor does he show any outlet from the Chargut-tso ; 
and he apparently considered that the Yaggjni-rapga entered 
the Chargut-tso, whereas it really flows out of it. I am not 
here criticising the cartographical material for this part of Asia ; 
I am merely seeking to explain why it was essential for me to 
take several regions which are crossed by the well-known red 
route-lines as being still for my purpose a terra incognita. One 
of the chief objects in exploring an unknown country is, of 
course, to obtain materials for a map of it, and if a map is not 
reliable, it is virtually of little use. Both Bower's journey aind 
Littledale's afford wonderful proofs of exploring skill and en- 
durance ; but with respect to mapping, Nain Singh's work 
is a long way the ^best, though even his map urgently needs 

Our first day beside the Boggtsang-sangpo was favoured with 
glorious weather — perfectly still, a serene and flawless sky — just 

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the sort of weather we ought to have had on the Chargut-tso. 
And yet the night was cold, -8°.o C, or I7°.6 Fahr. Riding as 
we were towards the west, the left side of the face was so burnt 
by the sun that the skin peeled off, whereas the right side was 
icy cold, and it was the same with regard to the left foot and 
the right foot. 

On the 29th September v/e did 18 miles, and encamped close 
beside the river, in which my Lop fishermen let down their nets. 
At dusk up came the Tibetans, and reared their tents imme- 
diately over against ours. The next day we travelled along the 
southern bank. The river was here very sinuous and deeply 

Shagdur and Ordek Fishing in the Boggtsang-sangpo. 

scarped. The mountains which bounded its valley on the south 
were called Nangra. For two or three hours Shagdur was 
missing ; but when he overtook us, he flourished a bunch of five 
fish triumphantly in the air. As soon as the camp was settled 
down, therefore, I lent the Lop-men the skiff, and they drew the 
river at the sharper windings ; but the men who angled were 
the more successful. The current ran quietly and slowly ; in 
fact, when there was no wind it was perfectly smooth, so that it 
had the appearance of being a larger stream than it in reality 
was. The simsetwas superb. Not in consequence of any reflec- 
tion of the clouds, for the day had been bright and warm ; but 
there was a matchless illumination in the east, with sharply 
VOL. II. 32* 

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accentuated lights and shades, and magnificent modelling in 

Our general order of march was now, under ordinary con- 
ditions, three days tramping and the fourth a rest-day. The 
1st October was one of the last character, and most of the men 
spent it fishing. Shagdur was the most successful ; he captured 
i8 fish, and then, by way of a change, went out and shot an 
antelope. Turdu Bai stood all day long holding his fishing-rod 
in his hand, and fished away with the serene patience of a bom 
angler, and grinned most benignly when he came to show me 
his catch. Our Lama preferred to read his holy books (nom). 
The Boggstang-sangpo now carried a volume of 187 cubic feet 
in the second. 

The night of the ist October the thermometer went down 
to — ii°.o C, or I2°.2 Fahr. Winter was fast approaching; we 
must make haste to get to Ladak. We encamped again next 
night, the fourth in succession, beside the Boggtsang-sangpo. 
Its breadth was only 19^ feet, but its depth was very con- 
siderable. Hardly were the tents up than the fishing-rods were 
hard at work. During these days we lived principally upon fish, 
I almost exclusively. 

The 3rd October was our last day beside the river ; we left 
it on our left hand. I should like to have taken a more southerly 
route ; but the country was too mountainous for our camels. 
From Camp no. XCV. we obtained a glimpse of the mountain 
which Littledale called the *' volcano of Tongo " ; though I was 
told its name was Erenak-chimmo. Seen from a distance it 
did resemble a regularly formed volcanic cone. Whilst the 
caravan plodded along its own appointed track, escorted by the 
Tibetans, I, Chernofi, and the Lama rode to the moimtain I have 
just mentioned. We reached its foot across a couple of con- 
glomerate accUvities, and having ridden as far up its side as the 
horses were able to climb, got off and walked. But we soon had 
enough of mountaineering, and stopped and took a good rest. 
The bare rock only cropped out in a few places ; it consisted of 
granite, crystalline schist, and porphyry, though other rocks 
were represented amongst the loose pieces scattered about over 
the mountain-side. But the mountain was not a volcano, and 
never has been a volcano ; it was merely a link between the 
parallel ranges. From its summit the only recognisable features 
were the dominating snowy peaks ,and the valleys which we 
had ourselves traversed all the way from Jaggtseh-tso. All the 

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rest was one indistinguishable chaos of mountain peaks, ridges, 
massifs, spurs, ranges. Immediately to the north were several 
crests which presented the most fantastic outlines — ^pinnacles, 
denticulations, crenelated walls. It was so pleasant and peace- 
ful up there amongst the winds and the skies, quite away 
from the caravan and its petty intrigues, that I just longed to 
remain two or three days. 

In the eastern gable-end of the third of the short crenelated 
crests which I have just mentioned, we discovered a round 
grotto, divided into an inner and an outer apartment by means 
of a low wall of stone slabs. The entrance was about gf feet 
high. The thick canopy of soot which adhered to the roof 
seemed to indicate that the cave had been inhabited for a va^ 
period of time, and the floor also was covered with sheep-dung. 
There we stayed a short time, enjoying the pictur^^hat was 
presented when we gazed through the opening of the grotto. 
The^valley below was flooded^with sunshine, while we were in 
the shade, and cool,^and sheltered from the wind. The inevit- 
able Tibetan formula was hewn upon some of the slabs. Per- 
haps the cave had been occupied by a hermit, who had dedicated 
his life to the service of the deities of the mountain. On the 
northern flank of Erenak-chimmo we likewise came across an 
exceptionally fine obo, the largest wcf^had hitherto seen in 

On our way back to camp, whilst riding towards a very easy 
pass, we stumbled across Hamra Kul in a ravine. He lay 
motionless on his side as though he were dead. I went and 
looked at him; he complained greatly, and declared he could 
not walk. However, I knew exactly where the shoe pinched ; 
for on the previous day he had been deposed from his position 
as leader of the horse-caravan, because he had been found 
negligent, and Mollah Shah had been appointed to succeed him. 
The Tibetans had pitched their tents on the other side of the 
pass (16,451 feet), and they now came and complained to me 
that my men had paid no heed to them, when they warned them 
there was no pasture for a long distance to come. This, of 
course, I could in no wise help. I found my men encamped at a 
spot called Churing, where Mollah Shah, who had been a member 
of Littledale's caravan, knew where he was ; and as if in proof 
of the fact that it was the same locality, we picked up an ass's 
shoe, a thing which could not possibly have been dropped by 
any other caravan except Littledale's. 

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The 5th of October, when we advanced 15 miles towards 
the west, was one of the worst days I can remember. There 
had been over 24^ degrees (Fahr.) of frost during the night. The 
brook beside the camp was frozen, and I was awakened once or 
twice by the sheets of ice crashing together. It was killing 
work riding against the wind, which in the bitter cold cut like 
a knife. We were chilled to the bone, paralysed with cold, pros- 
trated. The sun shone most of the day, it is true, but its effect 
was neutralised by the wind. Everybody, both in my caravan 
and amongst the Tibetans, walked, otherwise they would have 
been frozen. For my own part, I confess it was fatiguing in the 
extreme to have to walk at that altitude and against such a 
powerful obstacle. When all feeling had departed out of my 
hands, I used to stop for a while in some ravine, and turn my 
back to the wind and have a quiet smoke. It will surely be a 
horrid winter, I thought, seeing that the autumn was beginning 
with such intense cold. The worst of it was, that nearly every 
one of our horses and camels was beginning to lose flesh. One 
of the young Charkhlik camels, which gave up that day soon 
after we started, was nothing more than skin and bone. After 
leading him myself a little way, I left him in charge of one of 
the men, and rode on ; but I had not gone very far, when I came 
upon two other camels, which were imable to keep up. And 
still further on I passed Kutchuk doing his best to urge along 
two exhausted horses. All the latter, as well as every one of 
the mules, were galled. 

Our sick-list was at this time greater than ever it had been 
before. Hamra Kul, who was left on the road the day before, 
was brought in by two good-hearted Tibetans. Tokta Moham- 
med was neither better nor worse : he sat tied on his horse silent 
and patient, leaning forward upon a cushion.' Almaz suffered 
from sore eyes, and complained that he was almost blind ; but 
he quickly recovered when I gave him a httle cocaine and a 
pair of darkened spectacles. With wind like that we needed 
to have exceptional eyes if we were not to suffer from them. 
I do not believe it would be so very horrible to freeze to death ; 
you would just sink into a state of lethargy and pass away 
without any very special degree of pain. That evening Khodai 
KuUu was likewise reported unwell ; he suffered from shivering 
fits and headache, for which I gave him a dose of quinine. At 
this rate we should soon have half the caravan on the sick-list. 
Summoning Yamdu Tsering, therefore, I told him, that the 

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.. .-» 

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time was come for him to provide us with the yaks which the 
Dalai Lama had promised ; and he at once undertook to supply 
them without loss of time. 

The native sheep-folds, of which we saw several during that 
day's march up a tributary of the Boggtsang-sangpo, consisted 
of a semicircular wall of stones, with their higher parts 
facing the prevailing westerly winds. The interior was generally 
hidden under a thick layer of sheep-dung, against which the grey 
walls showed up in decided contrast. Upon being brought to 
a standstill in the district of Setcha (16,563 feet) by a pretty 
large river, Ahmed, Islam, Hamra Kul, Mollah, and ChemofI 
were all behindhand, with three camels and two horses, and it 
was long after dark when they came in. The first camel had 
been killed, the second left until next morning, and only the 
third succeeded in crawling into camp. One horse had died ; 
the Kashgar horse was found dead next morning, 6th October ; 
a third collapsed during the next day's march. The caravan 
was dwindling with alarming rapidity. During the night the 
thermometer dropped to - 14'*.9 C., or 5°.2 Fahr., and the river 
Tvas frozen hard enough to bear. We only did a short march ; 
for upon reaching pasture we stopped, although it offered only 
very indifferent grazing. ' At this rate, we could hardly hope to 
reach Ladak before Christmas. 

At Camp no. XCVIIL, where the yaks were to join us, we 
set to work to rearrange all our baggage to suit them ; that is, 
we had to tie it up in smaller loads, for a yak cannot carry as 
much as a camel. As early as 9 p.m. the thermometer was down 
to — io°.6 C.,- or I2°.9 Fahr., and during the night it dropped as 
low as — 17'^.9 C, or — o'^.2 Fahr. This was definitively the 
beginning of winter, and winter lasted seven months ! 

On the 7th October, under the pretext of seeking for better 
pasture, though my real object was to escape travelling over the 
same ground as Littledale, I took Chemoff, the Lama, Li Loyeh, 
and Kutchuk, with four mules, five horses, and a proportionate 
quantity of supplies, and struck out a more southerly route. 
During the night eighteen excellent yaks had put in an 
appearance ; this released most of our animals, and esj)ecially 
the sick ones, which now travelled without loads. Shagdur was 
appointed chief of the caravan, with instructions to halt a few 
days at the first pasture he came to. All the invalids were mend- 
ing, except Mohammed Tokta ; but of his recovery there was not 
much hope, although he kept up his courage in a wonderful way. 

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Just as I was about to start, a band of Tibetans rushed 
forward, and seized hold of the reins and halters of our horses 
and pack-animals. We could not — we should not — ^go south ; 
it was as much as their lives were worth. I bid the Lama tell 
them that if they did not instantly let go, we should use our 
revolvers. Thereupon they drew back ; but nevertheless pur- 
sued us some distance on foot, insisting that the country 
to the south possessed neither pasture nor practicable path. 
But as we gave no answer, they finally turned back and left us. 

On the other side of a low pass in the nearest range we struck 
the upper course of the river Churing, now frozen over. Chemoff 
speared five moderate sized fish with his sabre, but in his zeal 
fell in and got an icy bath. Turning, we saw a band of a dozen 
Tibetans, under command of Tsering Dashi, racing down the 
steep declivity of the pass. They soon overtook us, and kept 
close at our heels for the rest of the day. It seemed as if we 
were never to get away from their everlasting chatter and the 
unceasing jingle, jingle of their bells. The rest of the Tibetans 
remained behind with our caravan, under command of Yamdu 
Tsering. The inhabitants of two or three tents we rode past 
rushed out in consternation when they saw such strange people 
passing. Tsering Dashi pointed to a pass in the north-west, 
exclaiming, " the only one possible " ; but we were not to be 
lured away, we continued our own course up the stream. We 
were at last forced to halt because a white horse gave up ; but 
we turned the time to account by fishing. In the evening a 
fresh troop of Tibetans arrived, and the two bands conferred 
together in the most animated fashion. At daybreak next morn- 
ing their force was still further increased, and amongst the new- 
comers was old Yamdu Tsering. None of them had any tents 
with them, but all sat and froze in the open air. The poor old 
man looked perfectly miserable ; he had been riding most of 
the night, and was cold, dispirited, and heavy-hearted, because 
of all the trouble we occasioned him. Once more he came and 
begged me to return to the caravan ; but when he found he 
could not prevail upon me, he added, that he had ordered his 
soldiers to tear the loads off the animals' backs ; if we would 
not go where they wished, they were no longer under any obliga- 
tion to serve us. But his statement was plainly untrue ; if it 
had been true, Shagdur would have been certain to send me a 

As we still continued to press on south up the valley, Yamdu 

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Tsering announced that he really would go back and drive away 
his yaks. " As you please," I answered, " but you had better 
beware of my Cossacks." Mounted men again swarmed about 
us on every side ; a fresh mobilisation had taken place. What 
an unconscionable amount of trouble we were giving to poor old 
Yamdu Tsering ! 

On our way up the valley we saw several other nomad tents. 
Whenever their inhabitants became too curious, it only needed 
a wave of the hand from one of the soldiers, and they instantly 
disappeared. Extraordinary the understanding which existed 
amongst these half-wild people ! It was as though there existed 
a sort of freemasonry amongst them. They rendered the most 
implicit and blind obedience to their deities, and to their supe- 
riors in authority, and seemed to be absolutely insensible to 
bribes. At any rate, we were unable to persuade even one of 
them to show us the foad south. Imagine a country which does 
not contain a single traitor ! 

We pitched Camp no. C. beside the lake of Jandin-tso, in 
which the river Churing had its origin. Its surface was slightly 
frozen, but the wind afterwards broke up the ice. The lake itself 
was fed by fresh springs, and close beside them Chemoff shot a 
wild-duck. On the 9th October the lake was again frozen, and 
the day turned out bitterly cold, with a cutting head wind. At 
this time there was only six Tibetans left with us. T-hey came and 
politely asked me what my plans were. I answered by point- 
ing towards a glen which opened in the west-south-west. No 
sooner did we strike into it than three of our escort rode off to 
inform Yamdu Tsering. The pass at the head of the glen was 
of considerable height, and afforded a magnificent view of the 
majestic moimtains around. Due west of us towered sky- 
wards the stupendous mountain-group of Shah-ganjum, sheeted 
throughout with perpetual snow. It consisted of three 
" humps," the middle one being the highest, and in the pure 
transparent atmosphere had a most imposing appearance. We 
halted beside a marmot warren in a district called Amrik-va. 
The wind howled fitfully and it was bitterly cold ; in fact, every 
bone in our bodies ached with cold. 

Next morning the wind was stUl playing its incisive accom- 
paniment amongst the craggy buttresses and clumps of moss. 
The sky was as pure as the purest turquoise, and yet the " trade 
wind," the most trying of the many evils of that ill-reputed land, 
never for one moment proved faithless to the law of its existence. 

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Our route led across several easy passes, through dark wild 
mountain scenery. Kulans, antelopes, and wolves abounded 
everywhere. At last, however, the glen opened out and we 
descended towards the north-west. That night we stopped 
under the shelter, as we fondly hoped, of a detached mountain 
group ; but the gusts came plunging down from the heights 
above like spinning waterfalls. From some of the ranges which 
were snow-clad the snow was swept off in trailing streamers ol 
white powder, which gUttered intensely bright in the sunshine. 

But on the nth October the condition of our horses forbade 
any further advance towards the south. We had penetrated to 
too high altitude^ ; it was time to return to our caravan. 
Accordingly we turned their heads towards the north-west, and 
rode across a wide open valley that lay immediately below the 
eastern foot of the magnificent massif I have just mentioned, 
the Shah-ganjum, with its four rudimentary glaciers. Little- 
dale, who passed it on the north, calls it Shakkanjorm. 

Half-way across we were met by Yamdu Tsering, who through 
his couriers had kept constantly in touch with us ever since we 
left the caravan. Strange though it may sound, both he and I 
were glad to meet one another, and our mutual greetings were 
of the most cordial description. He could now see for himself, 
I told him, that I had no evil intention in making this excursion 
to the south. He protested that he felt sorry I should have 
the toil of travelling over so many passes, and all for nothing ; 
he was so terribly afraid I should be tired ! 

After meeting him, we continued north-west through a trans- 
verse glen, and found the caravan beside a little brook of spring- 
water, which, although small, was deep and clear and full of 
fish, so that I again had fish for dinner. All, animals as well as 
men, were well, except our old invalid, whose body was swollen 
up as with dropsy. I treated him as best I knew how ; but he 
declared he did not want to be cured — he only wanted to see me 
once more and then he was ready to die. 

We finally parted from Yamdu Tsering and Tsering Dashi at 
Camp no. CIII. on the 13th October. Their orders were to 
accompany us to the boundary, and it was here their task ended ; 
for we were now arrived, it seemed, at the boundary between 
the provinces of Nakktsong and Bomba, this last a name which 
occurs also on Littledale's map. They asked me to give them a 
certificate to the effect that they had performed their duty faith- 
fully, and to my satisfaction. This proved that they had been 

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FN F^ 

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ordered to treat us courteously. After their departure we were 
to be taken over by a fresh chief, Yarvo Tsering by name. 

When we started, I failed to see Yamdu Tsermg and his 
colleague, so that L was unable to give them the revolvers and 
knives which I had selected as presents for them. I had akeady 
paid the yak-owners, and they were gone ; but imtil the fresh 
relay turned up, we had to look after our baggage ourselves. 
We found them, however, in the pleasant valley of Ramlung, ac- 
companied by the two old chiefs, who evidently did not intend 
to be deprived of their presents. From that valley we had an 
extensive prospect towards the east ; at sunset the distant 


Loading up the Yaks. 

peaks disappeared in a ruddy illumination suggestive of a 
prairie fire. The sky was bright above head, but dark blue on 
the eastern horizon — the reflection of the higher regions where it 
was already night. In the foreground, the tents of the Tibetans, 
some black, others blue and white, stood up sharply against the 
hard, yellow grass, where the men were busy amongst their 
picketed horses. We only travelled ten miles that stage ; indeed, 
under the prevailing circumstances it was seldom that we now 
did more than twelve miles a day. 

On the 14th October we made a fresh start with 22 fresh 
yaks, hired at the rate of one tsos ♦ a day for each animal, the 

• Wc received in this part of the country eight tsos in exchange for one liang or tael 
(about y. ) of Chinese silver, a transaction in which we were, of course, cheated. 

VOL. II. 33* 

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whole under the charge of 30 attendants. The Tibetans tried 
as much as they possibly could to curtail the length of the 
day's journey ; but I was one too many for them, for I always 
chose the new camping-ground myself. Water was becoming 
scarcer and scarcer, and sometimes it was impossible to find 
the springs without the help of the Tibetans. Shagdur, with 
the alertness and resourcefulness that never failed him, procured 
us both fresh milk and sour milk from a nomad, whose tent he 
discovered in a nook amongst the hills. The contour sank 
gradually towards the north ; sometimes we were able to count 
as many as six parallel chains one behind the other. We were 
at this point travelling south of Littledale's route. At the spring 
of Sholung, on the evening of the 15th, we found a fresh relay of 
yaks waiting for us, and on the following day fresh bands of 
soldiers sprang up as if by magic out of the ground. The old 
yak-men began to haggle about the price ; they insisted upon 
being paid in Lassa tsos, for they did not, they said, understand 
anything about Chinese silver. But when I answered them 
that it must be Chinese silver or nothing, they soon proved more 

Cherdon's horse died, and only a very few of the others were 
able to carry their riders. Four men were, in fact, riding mules ; 
the mules were standing the journey far better than the horses. 
Mohammed Tokta's feet were so swollen that we had to cut off 
his boots and wrap his feet in felts. We had not one drop of 
water all day long, and the pasture was extremely scanty, and 
the country more thinly inhabited. Nevertheless we were kept 
suppUed with sheep, as many as we wanted. Not far from 
camp that evening we perceived 200 kulans grazing in one place 
in the valley. 

On the i8th October we did an interesting stage of twelve 
miles towards the south-west. The Tibetans, with aU the yaks 
and our baggage, struck into a ravine which pierced the range 
that formed the southern barrier of the latitudinal valley, 
sa5äng that we too must follow them ; there was only a little 
pass to cross. That was all very well for the yaks, but it was 
killing work for the camels. Hence, we declined to follow them, 
but continued along the mountain foot, although in doing so we 
had to cross an endless niunber of gulleys and ravines. From 
the spur where we turned south, we perceived that we had come 
quite close to the salt lake of Lakkor-tso. Littledale, whose 
route ran a good way north of this lake, observed that the 

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greater number of the salt lakes of Tibet are undergoing the 
process of desiccation. Lakkor-tso was a conspicuous example 
of this ; for its former beach-lines were easily discernible up to 
a considerable height above the surface of the lake. The suc- 
cessive levels formed flat shelving tracts edged by ridges, behind 
which there were very often lagoons. The present shores of the 
lake were white with salt, which, being dry and powdery, was 
whirled up by the wind, until it looked like clouds of steam or 
drifting flour. On our way to the river Sommeh-sangpo, which 
flowed westwards into the lake, we crossed several creeks, then 
dry, but inclosed between high banks, and not seldom filled with 

Camp no. CIII., at an altitude of 15,946 feet. 

cones and pyramids of salt, the remnants of former thick deposits, 
upon which the wind had long exercised its erosive power. We 
encamped by the river-side. 

On the south we still had the same vast and rugged mountain- 
chain, forming apparently for several days to come an insuper- 
able barrier to the advance of our camels. Here we were 
obliged to shoot the dog Hamra ; he would not let us sleep 
o' nights. If there were no Tibetans to bark at, he used to bark 
at our own night-watchmen and our own caravan animals. 
Here, also, two horses died, and, strange to say, two she-camels 
gave birth prematurely. Turdu Bai attributed that to the ex- 
treme degree of cold (- 15^.4 C, or 4°.3 Fahr.), and to the fact 

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of their having drunk cold water at an unseasonable moment. 
Here, again, we were met by a fresh convoy of yaks, with their 
drivers. As early as 9 p.m. the thermometer was down to 
— lo^.o C, or 14*^.0 Fahr., and the river froze so sharply that we 
heard the ice cracking during the night and the pieces grinding 
one against the other. 

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On the 30th of October the " trade-wind " began at 9.30 a.m. 
The reason I call it this is that it set in every day with 
appalling regularity. After midday it increased in violence, 
until it Blew a perfect hurricane, and like a desert hurricane 
swept such vast volumes of sand and dust before it that at 
times the landscape was completely obscured. It was quite a 
picture — the chalky white clouds driving in over the Lakkor- 
tsp from its western extremity and streaming off again at its 
eastern end, while the waters of the lake beat tumultuously against 
the beach underneath. So strong was the wind alongside the 
lake that the camels actually staggered, and moimted men 
reeled in the saddle» Our journey resulted, at any rate, in the 
discovery of two important climatic laws for that part of the 
world — (i) the rainy season coincided with the latter part of 
the summer and the early part of the autumn ; and (2) the latter 
part of the autumn and winter were characterized by wind, 
the west wind predominating. 

Every now and again away went a felt, a sack, or other loose 
object, and had to be recovered and lashed on again. My map 
was nearly wrested out of my hand, and torn to shreds and 
tatters. We lost another of our horses, one of the Lassa lot. 
At this time we were travelling down the Sommeh-sangpo, 
having an imposing mountain-range on both our right and our 
left. Eventually, however, the river turned northwards, and 
doubling the end of the range on that side, entered the Lakkor- 
tso, close beside a deposit of salt, with big white hills which 
gleamed like flour. An hour later and we were on the edge of 
the steep shore ; this we skirted along a high terrace,, until we 
reached another river, which came from the south-south-east, 
and likewise entered the lake. We spent the night on the left 
bank of the new stream. ~ All the mountain slopes in the vicinity 

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were scarred with horizontal lines, which, in certain lights, 
stood out like black rulings. 

During the next day's march an extraordinary incident 
happened. The old man Mohammed Tokta was somehow left 
behind, without anybody noticing it, until Hamra Kul, who 
was lagging a long way in the rear with two or three tired horses, 
came across him in a hollow. He explained quite genially that, 
feehng tired, he had simply rolled off his horse, whicii had 
thereupon quietly continued as if nothing were the matter. 
Hamra Kul, of course, brought the old man on along with him, 
and when he got him into camp wrapped him up comfortably 

Laying out Mohammed Tokta. 

in felts and sheepskins. In the evening I went as usual to see 
how he was getting on, and make sure that he wanted nothing 
that we had it in our power to supply him with. Sometimes 
I used to give him a small dose of sulphonal, to make him sleep. 
This time, however, he was to sleep both long and heavily without 
any artificial aid. To all the questions that I put to him he 
returned perfectly rational answers ; and when he said that 
he liked milk best, I ordered one of the men to give him all we 
had, and he drank a large bowlful. Then I asked him how he 
felt, and he smiled in quite a friendly way. But before the 
sun rose next morning he was stiff and cold. Nobody knew 
exactly when he passed away. Mollah Shah, who had the last 
watch, had gone off to collect fuel. Death visited the old camel- 

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riufcf N rmij\'t>- T 

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leader in his sleep ; his eyes were closed, and he had not moved 
a muscle since the evening before. 

This poor old man's death was a relief to all the survivors ; 
for since his body had swelled up and assumed such a disagree- 
able black colour, we had ceased to entertain the slightest hope 
of his recovery. He had been ill for four months, and his own 
life had become a burden to him ; so that his decease was really 
a release. Mohammed Tokta was a thoroughly honest man. 
Although he was the cause of a good deal of trouble to his com- 
rades, I never heard any of them say a single imkind word to 
him. They were all fond of the poor old man, because he himself 
was always so friendly and cheerful, and made no fuss about 
his illness. During the last few evenings of his life, in spite of 
my express command to the contrary, he tried to sit up and 
salute when I went to visit him. 

The other Mussulmans at once set about making prepara- 
tions for the fimeral ; in fact, the grave was already dug before 
I was awakened with the intelligence that the old man was gone. 
After the corpse was washed, it was dressed in the clothes the 
old man wore, and then wrapped in a sheepskin and carried 
on a pack-saddle to the grave, where it was deposited with the 
same ceremonies as at the burial of Kalpet. This made the 
fourth death amongst my attendants since I began this series 
of journeys through Central Asia and Tibet. This incident did 
not, of course, tend to make our two remaining invalids, Almaz 
and Ahmed, feel any the better. 

This m5^terious illness, which carried off all three of the men 
I lost in Tibet, was not occasioned by any fault in our commis- 
sariat. We always had plenty to eat, and the food was nourish- 
ing. So long as we were in Tibet we never suffered for lack of 
fresh meat, especially after we entered inhabited regions, for 
we were always kept well suppUed with sheep and lard by the 
inhabitants of the country ; and I have surely said sufficient to 
show that we never neglected an opportunity when there were 
yaks, kulans, and antelopes to be had for the shooting.- Add 
to this that latterly we had a very pleasant variety in fresh and 
sour milk, butter, and fish ; while of the stores of rice, flour, 
and talkan, which we brought with us from Charkhhk, we still 
had an abundance left. We started, it will be remembered, with 
supplies for ten months, and we had not yet been on the march 
more than five and a half ; in fact, we had quite sufficient of such 
things to last till we got to Ladak, although, as a matter of fact. 

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they did not quite do so. But that was because, when the 
camels began to break down, we tried to rally them by giving 
them bread and rice. Indeed, before we received such splendid 
help from the successive convoys of yaks, we had occasionally 
been obliged actually to squander our provisions, so as to diminish 
the loads a Uttle, or else throw some of our stores away. 

The real cause of the disease was the rarefaction of the 
atmosphere, which at those altitudes is only half as dense as 
it is down at sea-level, and the consequence is the blood does 
not imbibe sufficient oxygen to maintain vitality. The fact 
is, we were Uving under altogether abnormal conditions — con- 
ditions for which our respiratory and circulatory systems were 
neither constructed nor adapted. Irregularities occurred in 
their functions, and those who were not sufficiently sound and 
strong ran, of course, a great risk. The heart laboured under 
great pressure, and if its muscles and tissues were not naturally 
strong, it was unable to force the blood to the extremities of 
the body. A distinguished Swedish physician has explained to 
me that that was the reason why the feet and legs of my men 
perished first ; he thought that if it had been possible to keep 
the patient in a perfectly horizontal position, he might perhaps 
have been saved. But during a caravan journey it is, of course, 
extremely difficult to nurse sick folk in a perfectly satisfactory 
manner. You ought, of course, to halt and wait until they 
are restored to health. But in a country like Tibet such a 
course would often obviously put the entire caravan in jeopardy. 
The traveller has no alternative except to carry his invalids 
with him, and that naturally taxes their strength very severely. 

The yak caravan got under weigh early in the morning, 
with one of the Cossacks as its escort. Next followed the ailing 
camels and horses, all without loads. And as $oon as poor old 
Mohammed Tokta was buried, the rest of us left that melancholy 
spot, carrying with us my instrument cases on two or three of 
the camels that were still fit for work. We were only about 
480 miles from Ladak, but at the slow pace we crawled along, 
the road seemed interminable. The last to leave were m5rself, 
Shagdur, and Sirkin, and we rode up the slope of the mountain 
which rose west of our late camp, our object being to measure 
the height of the ancient beach-hnes above the existing level of 
the lake. The levelling mirror was fixed at five feet above the 
ground, and the distance between the points observed was 
reduced constantly, so that the line, which I eventually obtained 

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formed a parabola. The ancient beach-lines, eight in number, 
on the slope of a hill on the opposite side of the valley, 
were incomparably the most sharply and distinctly marked. 
But both on this and on several other occasions I satisfied myself 
that the beach-Unes were, as a rule, much more strongly 
developed on the western than on the eastern slopes, indeed on 
the latter they were frequently absent altogether ; while on 
the northern and southern faces they were only moderately 
marked. What, then, was the cause of this uniformity ? 
There could only be one, namely, the " trade-wind," which 
drove the waves with considerable violence against the eastern 

Lamas blowing Trumpets. 

shore, effectually obliterating the beach-line ; whereas the 
western shore was sheltered from the breakers. 

The result of my measurement went to show, that the highest 
of the ancient beach-lines was no less than 436J feet above the 
existing level of the lake. And as the area of the lake would 
naturally diminish in proportion as its level dropped, we must 
have travelled several days across the bottoms of former lakes. 
The mountain we measured consisted of fine-grained crystalUne 
schist of a dark colour, though higher up it was composed of 
compact quartzite. 

After crossing yet another httle pass, we approached yet 
another salt lake, exactly hke Lakkor-tso — the same white 
shores and green waters — except that it was considerably 
smaller. The whole of its western half was exposed,' and 

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covered by very extensive deposits of salt as white as snow. 
We quitted its basin by a pass similar to that by which we 
approached it. Immediately below the pass we found Hamra 
Kul, with two d3dng horses. One of these, a dappled grey 
from Korla, I ordered him to kill at once ; the other managed 
to struggle into camp. That journey through Tibet was an 
endless series of sufferings for both animals and men. Distress 
and pain dogged our every footstep. It was enough to make 
one weep tears of blood to witness so much misery, especially 
as we could do nothing to prevent it. Of the 45 horses and 
mules with which we started, we had now only 11 left. 

The evenings were beginning to be cold. Kutchuk, who 
lived in my " kitchen,** became very popular by keeping up a 
huge argol fire, and supplying the other men with a few embers 
to start their own fires with. 

It was no doubt wise to make short joumej^ ; still it was 
making a mockery of wisdom to restrict ourselves to such short 
marches as we did on the 22nd October. After about three 
miles the Tibetans halted, and urged us to follow their example, 
alleging it would be three daj^ before we should reach grazing 
again ; besides, that day or the next night they expected a fresh 
convoy of yaks to arrive, as well as some sheep. The cumula- 
tive force of these arguments being too strong, we stopped ; but 
I gave the Tibetans to understand that when we came to 
reckon up, I should not count that as a complete day's work. 
To this they replied submissively, that I might arrange that 
as I pleased. 

When we resumed our march we crossed the salt-pans, with 
their p3a-amids and " tables *' of salt, three or four feet high, 
which glittered so intensely white that we were obliged to put 
on darkened spectacles because of the reflection. Intermingled 
with these was an occasional fresh-water pool, now coated with 
ice. Behind a mountain to the south-west, called Marmi- 
gotsong, lay the monastery of Marmi-gombo. Every now 
and again long-drawn trumpet blasts echoed from it and rever- 
berated grandly amongst the moimtains and across the lakes. 
A storm raged both that day and the day following. Even 
when it was dying away in the afternoon, the wind blew with 
a velocity of over 33^ miles an hour. Although we were still 
marching south-west, we were well to the south of Littledale*s 
route. At Camp no. CXII., beside the river of Shaggueh-chu, 
we again heard trumpet-blasts to the south, blaring out like 

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I .. .\ ^ 

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fog-horn. I was strongly tempted to visit the temple ; but the 
Tibetans positively refused to accompany us. 

On the 24th October we were again marching between wild, 
craggy mountain-ranges, amid scenery that was both fantastic 
and sublime. We encamped beside a little pool called Oman- 
tso, immediately below a flat-topped pass (15,814 feet), in the 
province of Sagghet-sang, inhabited by the Senkor tribe, a name 
mentioned by Littledale. Three camels lagged behind that day, 
and only one of the three was able to reach camp. That 
night the thermometer feU to -i8°.8 C, or -i°.8 Fahr. Next 
morning, even before we got started, we found it necessary to 
kill another of the horses. Six of the camels were not up to the 
mark, and were left to follow on with the yaks, and Almaz, 
who was still unwell, was allowed to ride the best of them. Just 
as we overtook them one of the six gave up ; the two men, who 
were left with him, being unable to get him up again, finally 
cut his throat. Very soon a second lagged behind, with one of 
the men in charge of it, and yet a third followed suit. Still 
further on the dromedary was left at a patch of grass, to be 
picked up by the party in the rear. Thus Almaz only brought 
in one camel with him, the mother of the foal bom at Charkhlik ; 
the foal was the best of all, but then we fed it on bread. We 
had only 18 camels left out of 39 ; all the others lay dead 
beside the road we had travelled. All four Cossacks were now 
riding on mules. The only men who rode horses were myself, 
Turdu Bai, MoUah Shah, Li Loyeh, and Turdu Ahun, Hamra 
Kul's sixteen-year old son, who acted as servant to the Mussul- 
mans. The rest of the men sometimes rode on camels, but 
generally walked. 

Thus decimated, we pursued our way between the immense 
cliffs, which overhimg our route like mediaeval castles suddenly 
converted by wizardry into stone. All the ranges wheeled 
towards the north-west, just as the Himalayas and the Kwen- 
lun do in the same meridian. That evening we again encamped 
beside a little frozen lake underneath a pass called Bonjin-tso. 
Our' yak leader was one Davo Tsering, a funny, good-natured 
little man, who could not understand what advantage it would 
be to him to cheat us. 

Death still continued to play havoc in the caravan. We 

killed one camel in the morning, and three others lagged behind 

during the course of the day, Turdu Bai staying with them 

until ten o'clock at night. He was to see after them again in 

VOL. II. 34* 

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the morning, and if they were then unable to continue, he had 
orders to put them out of their misery. He and Sirkin, who 
rode back to fetch them, returned [without them. One of the 
three was our only dromedary. 

The weather still continued fine on the 27th October, and 
the " trade-wind " was still blowing, although not quite so 
violently. The route was quite level and good, and all our 
camels managed to do the day's march, though it was quite as 
much as some of the horses were able to accomplish. Some of 
the camels, however, were suffering from their feet, and wore 
stockings of kulan skin. The country soon began to open out 
again, and at intervals we saw nomads. Davo Tsering rode beside 
my bridle-rein, and, with admirable freedom from prejudice, 
gave me all the information I asked him for. He used to say, 
with all the dignity of a full-blown dominie, " Now write down 
that that mountain is called so-and-so." He afterwards asked 
the Lama on the quiet what I thought of him. 

At this point our route and Littledale's separated, after 
having coincided for a short distance only. Beyond this the 
EngUsh traveller pursued a more southerly route than we did 
to Rudok, and then followed the southern shore of the Pang- 
gong-tso to Ladak. To the north-west we saw the lake of 
Doddap-tso ; and in the locality of Na-ngamba an obo, consisting 
of a stone cist, 13 feet long, filled with maneh slabs and yaks' 
and sheep's horns, and bearing a little red 'flag on the top. 
Camp no. CXVI. was pitched on the western shore of the ice-clad 
freshwater lake of Oman-tso. 

On the 28th October, we rode up and down, up and down 
the undulations of the surface until we reached the end of the 
latitudinal valley we had been traversing so long. From the 
pass at the end an entirely new world was opened out before us, 
and the old world we had known so long, and had had such 
bitter experiences in, closed behind us like a book. The pre- 
dominant feature of the landscape before us was the circular lake 
of Perutseh-tso or Yim-tso. Our camp beside the Perutseh-tso 
was the best we had had since we left the Charkhlik-su, nearly 
six months before. The grass was high, thick, and tender ; and 
there was an abundance of balgun bushes, so that we had no 
lack of good fuel ; nor was there any deficiency of water. The 
camp soon assumed a cheerful aspect under the ring of big 
blazing fires the men built up, and it was not only cheerful, it 
was warm ; and sadly we needed them, for the thermometer 

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;rn!-...., • ■■ ssv 

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dropped to — 20°.i C, or — 4°.2 Fahr. Only one camel failed 
to come up with the rest, and that was the mother of the foal ; 
but when the men went back to the lake in the evening to fetch 
her, she was already stiff and cold. Thus there were only 14 
camels left. Upon reaching camp, another of the horses died. 
Here Davo Tsering took his leave of us, declaring that he had 
no warrant to receive the present I offered him. 

This made the ninth day we had travelled without giving 
ourselves a single day's rest. The grazing had never been good 
enough to tempt us ; to make up for it we stayed at this camp 
four whole days, and all the animals picked up wonderfully. 
The men of the next relay of yaks sold us three small sacks of 
com, brought from Ladak, for the sum of 4 Hang ( = 13s.), which 
was, of course, too much ; but although it was all gone in an 
hour, it did our poor beasts good. The new yak-leader told us 
that he was a Tajinur Mongol, and was bom a few days' journey 
south of Kuku-nor, but his parents, whilst on their way to 
Lassa on a pilgrimage, sold him, when about five years of age, 
to a Tangut couple who were childless. How much they got 
for him he did not know ; but our Lama said that the regula- 
tion price was 20 Hang ( = £3 6s. 8d.), and that transactions of 
this kind were not at all uncommon. Sometimes; the Tanguts 
sold their children to the Mongols. Our man had, of course, 
been brought up as a genuine Tibetan, and did not know 
a single word of Mongolian. 

The first day after our long rest we managed to do 16 miles, 
the going being level and good ; in spite of that, however, one 
of the horses gave up soon after we started and had to be killed. 

The weather was bitterly cold ; to ride was hke freezing us 
to death, the wind was so icy and so penetrating. Although 
the stream of the Ombo-sangpo was completely frozen over, 
the ice was not strong enough to bear us. The Tibetans tried 
it first ; but when we saw how their horses and yaks slipped 
and slithered about, and even went through, we set to work 
and cut a channel through the ice for the camels. The night 
at Camp no. CXVIII. was gloriously bright and still ; the 
thermometer registered ~I5°.4 C, or 4^.3 Fahr. Stars of even 
the fifth magnitude were distinctly visible on the horizon ; 
while stars of the first magnitude glittered with the brilUancy 
and sparkle of diamonds. Occasionally we heard the howling 
of the wolves, and it. was both a cold and a hungry howl. 

When we got up on the morning of the 3rd November, 

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we found that all our camels except two had taken themselves 
off back to the rich pasture of Perutseh-tso, and we lost a good 
deal of time in fetching them back. When we were at last ready 
for starting, we continued west, crossing first the plainly-marked 
and beautifully formed ancient beaches of the lake of Luma- 
ring-tso, and finally the extensive salt deposits which immediatelj'^ 
surrounded the httle lake itself, which was of course salt. We 
encamped on the shore of the next lake, TsoUa-ring-tso, separated 
from Luma-ring-tso by a narrow neck of land. In spite of the 
intense cold, the shores of these two lakes were for the most 
part fenny and treacherous, owing to the presence of fresh 
springs. Luma-ring-tso is quite erroneously marked on Nain 
Singh's map. He makes it some 33 miles long, instead of which 
it is only about 3^ miles ; but then he never saw the lake himself, 
for his route lay a long way to the north of it. It was not likely 
that it had shrunk so much since 1873, the year in which the 
celebrated pundit made his memorable and important journey. 

As the shores were so dangerous, we thought it wiser to tether 
the camels at night. Two of the horses, however, walked in, 
and when, after a world of trouble, we succeeded in getting them 
out again, they looked as if they had been modelled in mire. 
In spite of the long rest they had recently had, several of the 
horses were again in a queer way. The white horse, which I 
rode during the latter part of the journey towards Lassa, and 
which seemed to be dead beaten on 19th August, but had never- 
theless recovered, gave up again next day, and I was just on 
the point of issuing orders to kill him, when the leader of the 
Tibetan caravan hurried up, and begged me to give him the 
horse, which I, of course, readily did. 

That day we should, we knew, strike the border of Rudok. 
In fact, at the western end of the lake there were already seven 
tents standing, with a number of people about them. An 
impudent old man came forward and said, we could not advance 
any farther ; there was good pasture in an adjacent glen, we 
might go there and share it with their horses and yaks. We 
were encamped close to the Tibetans, and our Lama at once 
went off to find out what was the matter. He returned in a 
state of great excitement. The chief of the Rudokis was, he 
declared, a perfect bully : he had demanded a pass from the 
Dalai Lama and swore that if he did not produce one, he would 
not allow us to march through his territory. This Bombo, or 
governor, of the province was reported to be on very good terms 

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with the Devashung or Supreme Council at Lassa, and was a 
sort of superintendent of the gold mines of Chokk-jalung,* 
where he resided during the summer, though in the winter he 
dwelt in the town of Rudok. 

I sent for the man to come and see me. He arrived with a 
large suite, dressed in full imiform, and his manner was ex- 
tremely arrogant. I invited him to take a seat on a felt carpet 
which I had had spread on the ground just outside my tent, 
though I myself remained inside, sitting near the brazier. For 
a little the man hesitated whether he should accept such an 
ambiguous compliment or not, but finally sat down, and 

The North Shore of the Lake of Tsolla-ring-tsa 

demanded to see our pass from the Dalai Lama. I answered, 
that we had never seen that magnate, and consequently could 
not very well bear any pass from him. 

" I have not heard a word about you," he went on, " nor 
do I know who you are. I have had no report about you from 
Lassa, and I have no orders to furnish you with yaks. But I 
do know this, that Europeans are under no circumstances 
allowed to travel through Rudok." 

* This was a place situated two or three days' journey south-west of the locality 
where we just then were. In the winter the mines are said to be almost deserted, though 
in summer 300 men are wont to gather there from all quarters, some of them coming 
all the way from Lassa. Chokk-jalung is considered to be the highest place in the world 
that is inhabited all the year round. 

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" If you are a high ofi&cial, you ought to know it is your 
bounden duty to help us on our way to Ladak." 

" I owe no obligation to suspicious personages, who carry 
no pass ; but, if you Uke, I will write to Lassa, and you can 
wait here ten weeks until the answer comes back." 

" Capital," I answered ; " that will suit us splendidly ; our 
animals are thoroughly exhausted and want rest. Write to 
Lassa by all means ; we have plenty of time to spare." 

" Very good. You understand that if I let you go throtigh 
my province I shall lose my head ? " 

The man's manner was calm, dignified, and decided ; but, 
as compared with our friends near Lassa, he was at the same 
time nothing short of impudent. The Cossacks were simply 
boiling with rage ; they were longing to get home, or rather 
were dying to get away from that cold, windy, mountainous 
region. However, I calmed them down, for I realised that I 
had no right whatever to wage war upon Rudok. Besides, our 
opponents were too strong for us ; even now they mustered 
more than loo well-armed men. On the other hand, I did not 
want to be driven farther north, for I should there come into 
contact with one or other of the routes of Nain Singh, Capt. 
Bower, Capt. Deasy, or Capt. Wellby and Lieut. Malcohn. 
Still less did I wish to be forced to do as Capt. Deasy once did, 
burn the greater part of my baggage, tents, stores, and boat. 

On the contrary, I rather welcomed the prospect of a 2^ 
months' delay. I was utterly worn out, and greatly in need 
of rest. So I took counsel with the Cossacks, and we soon 
arranged a plan for the winter. In two or three daj^' time 
we would go back to the rich pastures of the Perutseh-tso, and 
there construct a fortified camp. The locality was so interesting 
that I should never be at a loss for occupation, and the men 
would find plenty to do at first in building a high turf wall all 
round the encampment, and in digging a moat all round outside 
it. Then they might erect an outlook tower of the same 
materials. Then we would have a rest, we would hunt, make 
excursions, and nurse up our animals again, and when spring 
came would push out due south. I almost blessed the over- 
zealous Bombo for forcing me to enter into fresh plans with 
regard to Tibet, although in point of fact I had already had 
more than enough of that inaccessible country. 

Next morning I announced to the chief our intention to 
return to the east, and he offered no objection. On the other 

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* \ M 


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'•ll.: Kt- f - 'IN 

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hand, the Taj mur yak-caravan man declared that his orders 
were to convey us to the boundary of Rudok, not eastwards ; 
but I saw a way by which that difficulty might be overcome. 
Meanwhile, however, the Bombo changed his mind, and informed 
us that he would procure us both yaks and provisions, if we 
would promise not to go near the town of Rudok. To this I 
readily agreed, for I had no intention of going to Rudok ; that 
town lay on the route which Littledale had followed. After 
that we of course dropped the plan of the fortified camp, and 
prepared to resume our journey. 

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Here we put aside everything we could possibly do without 
and gave them to the Tibetans, and on the 6th November 
climbed over a pass (15,940 feet high), and found springs ajid 
grass on its north face. On the 7th the weather was splendid, 
and we were mercifully spared the annoyance of the incessant 
wind. But by way of a diversion the Tibetans began to squabble 
with our Lama, calling him a ** dog of a heathen " for trailing 
about with " those Russian fellows." Our Lama grew so angry 
that he laid about him with his whip, and I bade him teU them 
that if they kicked up a row again, we would tie them fast on 
the camels' backs until they were " sea-sick " — and polite. We 
never saw a soul all day, nothing except a few old camp-fires. 
At night we encamped beside the spring of Tsebu. Silent — silent 
as the grave it was that night ; I almost fancied I could hear 
the prickling of the intense cold as the frost fastened itself into 
the ground. Except for the long-drawn, " melancholy howls of 
two or three wolves, the eerie stillness of the night was unbroken, 
for you could scarcely count the monotonous echo of our night- 
watchman's footsteps as he made his cold, weary roimds. 

During the two following days we rode alongside a lake, 
which swarmed with wild geese and wild duck, then over a low 
pass into the deeply-eroded bed of the Ravur-sangpo, which had 
its origin in natural springs, and disappeared in the large valley 
that lay at our feet. The leader of the yak-caravan told us 
that the vicinity of Aru-tso, a lake situated four days' journey 
to the north, and mentioned by Captain Bower, was haunted 
by robbers from Amdo, Nakkchu, and Nakktsong. The year 
before a band of five had been seized at Ravur-sangpo, and put 
to death by command of the chief of Rudok. Except for 
those men the district was uninhabited. Our informant was a 
jocular old man : he used to ride beside me singing, and would 
often delight my men by imitating the gurgling of the camels. 

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On the loth of November the thermometer registered 
— 26*^.5 C, or — 15°.7 Fahr. We lay rolled up like mummies 
in our sheep-skins and furs, but even then we were unable to 
keep warm. We did twenty miles — quite a feat for us ; we had 
not done anything like it for weeks. Our satellites wanted of 
course to stop and rest after we had gone six miles ; but as we 
were just then met by a fresh relay of men and yaks we let 
the first lot go. We could not very well blame them for wanting 
to get home and inside their warm tents as soon as they could, 
the poor beggars were not blessed with inexpressibles ! Leaving 
Cherdon and three of the Mussulmans, and all the Tibetans 

Our Lama: Quarrelling with the Leaders of the Yak-Caravan. 

except four, to look after the yak-caravan, the rest of us rode 
on. We traversed a level valley. The day passed, it grew 
twilight ; it was dark — not a drop of water all day ! At length 
we met Shagdur, who had ridden on ahead to reconnoitre, re- 
turning with a little sack of ice. We con^tinued as far as the 
frozen brook from which he obtained it. Li Loyeh, who had 
also been out in another direction, shot a wolf. 

On the I2th the Tibetans put up their tents at the western 
end of a small lake which was covered with a thick coating 
of ice, alleging " there would be no water again for two days." 
We filled four sacks with good ice, and disregarding their energetic 
protests, calmly pursued our way. Whilst engaged at the lake 
we had observed two or three horses and men on a hillside a 
VOL. II. 35 

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few miles to the north ; but when we reached the spot they 
had disappeared. Our Tibetans asserted that they were robbers 
and had hidden themselves in some ravine, and they urged us 
to rout them out and shoot them. Shortly after that we j>er- 
ceived two more sitting round a fire, roasting a joint frona an 
orongo antelope. They were simply peaceful, inoffensive hunters, 
nothing more. About an hour later we halted, and up came 
the yak-caravan, with its whistling, singing escort, and Shagdur 
carrying on a lively and playful conversation with them. The 
clever fellow had in a surprisingly short time picked up sufficient 
Tibetan to be able to talk fluently with the men of our succes- 

View South-east from Camp no. CXXIX. 

sive convoys. The yak-men were quite right. It was two days 
before we found water again, in a garrulous little stream. Had 
it not been for the information which the Tibetans gave us 
we should very often have been hard put to it for water. During 
the night of the I3th-i4th November it froze sharp at the sides 
of the stream. It was become a rare thing for us to hear the 
sound of running water. What a contrast there was between 
this region and the country towards Lassa. There it poured with 
rain almost every day, and we ploughed our way through what 
was little better than a morass ; here we actually had to hunt 
for water. 

Next day we rode some distance up beside the Raga-sangpo, 
and then turned away from it to the right. Soon after that the 

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Tibetans wanted to stop as usual, although we had only done a 
very short march. They were to be relieved there, they said, 
by another convoy, and it would be as much as their lives were 
worth to go farther than they were ordered to go. I simply put 
the yaks in the hands of my Cossacks, with instructions to drive 
them on to our next encampment. The Tibetans meekly 
followed, and came and encamped beside us. There we rested 
two days, and bought sheep and milk from the nomads. 

On the 17th November we travelled north-west up a valley, 
which eventually contracted into a narrow and picturesque 
gorge ; this was littered with gravel, and terminated in a pass. 

Vicinity of our Camp of 2ist and 22nd November. 

with a frozen pool. There the dun horse which Chernoff had 
brought from Keriya died. At nine a.m. the thermometer stood 
at — i8°.6 C, or — 1°.5 Fahr. ; while at midnight it was - 24^.4 C, 
or — ii^.gFahr. Stinging cold, as well as inhospitable, amongst 
these dreary, desolate Tibetan mountains ! 

The last of the little camel foals was unable to reach Camp 
no. CXXX. (altitude, 16,602 feet). He fell, and we had to 
kill him. The little beast never throve after his mother died, 
even though we took the utmost care of him, feeding him upon 
bread and paste and milk, and keeping him well wrapped up 
at night, close beside the camp-fire. The hardiest and most 
enduring of our animals were the two sheep — Vanka, the ram, 
VOL. II. 35* 

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which had accompanied us for over two years, and a white one 
from Abdall. None of the men had the heart to touch them ; 
they looked upon them as comrades, and would, I verily believe, 
have perished of hunger sooner than kill them. 

At our next camp, Yam-garavo, there was an abundance of 
excellent, dry yappkak, which proved extremely welcome for 
fuel, especially as during the night the thermometer dropped to 
— 26°.5 C, or — I5°.7 Fahr. It was positive cruelty to the men 
who were out watching our animals ; their sheep-skins were 
nothing like sufficient to keep out the cold. However, at this 
place at all events, they were able to indulge in the luxury of a 

Terraces of Gravel-and-Shingle. 

fire all night. All day we had to fight against a murderous 
wind, which penetrated to our very marrow, for the thermometer 
never rose above — 4°.o C, or 24°.8 Fahr. We were absolutely- 
forced to walk sometimes to keep from freezing, although it 
was terrible work for the heart and lungs, except when going 
down the declivities. At this camp another horse died. Poor 
becLsts ! their lives were simply a burden to them, and they 
themselves nothing but a source of trouble to us ; but so long 
as there existed any hope we did not like to kill them, or even 
abandon them. 

Still amidst a chaos of mountains ! On our left, that is, to 
the south, we still had the imposing range which had accom- 
panied us all the way from Nakktsong-tso, and hid from our sight 

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the " Forbidden Land of the Holy Books." Yet although we 
were thus surrounded on all sides by gigantic mountains, snow- 
fields were a comparative rarity, and not a flake fell. We 
were simply panting for a good fall of snow ; we were tired to 
death of the everlasting wind and the bright sky. We were still 
240 miles from Leh. Everybody was longing to get there, espe- 
cially myself, for I wanted, if it was at all possible, to despatch 
a telegram to my people in Stockholm before Christmas Eve. 

During the night of the 2oth-2ist November the thermometer 
dropped to -28°.2 C, or —iS^.S Fahr. Next day we did 17^ 
miles, but in the evening had to fetch ice some distance with the 

Open Country at Tsangar-shar. 

yaks, and then melt it over the fire before we could obtain water. 
That night we were kept awake by a dozen wolves which howled 
dismally all round our encampment, and were answered by our 

On the 23rd November we lost another camel, so that we 
had only thirteen left, or exactly one-third of the number with 
which we started from Charkhlik. The last to succumb was one 
of the veterans from Kashgar, which had accompatnied us across 
the Desert of Cherchen, and both times to Altimish-bulak. Our 
route now lay intermediate between the route of Captain Bower 
and the route of Nain Singh. Upon reaching Tsangar-shar the 
valley which we had been following opened out, and tents and 

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flocks appeared in several directions. Here we picked up a 
fresh convoy of yaks, the leader of which was a fine old fellow. 
He undertook to guide us to Panggong-tso and along its northern 
shore ; and I promised to give him a revolver if he did not lie 
more than he possibly could help. ** I am too old to lie ! " 
was his simple rejoinder. 

For some days we travelled beside the river Tsangar-shar, 
which abounded in fish. Shagdur and ChemofI especially dis- 
tinguished themselves as anglers, and time after time brought 
me a bunch of beautiful fish, frozen as hard as a stone. Although 
at first tolerably open, the valley soon contracted, and began 
to pick its way between picturesque crags and immense terraces 
of gravel-and-shingle. The river was sometimes open, but more 
frequently covered with a thick sheet of ice, which only needed 
sanding to convert it into a very serviceable bridge for our 
camels. In one place the stream widened out into a lake, which 
filled the valley from side to side, except for a narrow strip 
of firm ground on the north, only just wide enough to allow the 
camels to pass. Almost immediately below this lake the river 
emerged into daylight from underneath its icy coverlet, and there 
we pitched our tents. I am very fond of hearing the sweet, 
refreshing tinkle of running water. 

That evening we had the privilege of witnessing a beautiful 
scene. The moon rode high and poured down a flood of vivid 
light, bringing out with great distinctness every detail of the 
spur of the mountains; owing to the dazzling sunshine and 
intense shadows we had been unable to distinguish them clearly 
during the day. Now, however, every triangular snowfield 
and every feature of the bold rock sculptoring stood out in the 
sharpest and vividest relief. 

Here one of Kamba Bombo's horses went and blundered into 
the river, and we had great difficulty in getting him out again. 
I had him dried beside a big fire, and then swathed in felts, but 
he died within a couple of hours. Next morning Li Loyeh's 
horse was discovered to have died during the night. They found 
him lying between the tents, blown out and frozen hard. We had 
believed that if any horse survived the journey it would be Li 
Loyeh's, because of the care which its owner bestowed upon it, 
though he now confided to us the fact that he had never paid 
for it. Not far from our next camping-ground Turdu Bai's 
old black horse died ; and during the day's march the last also 
of our Tibetan horses. Four all at one swoop ! Thus of the 

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horses with which we started from Charkhlik, as well as of those 
we acquired on the road, we had left only one, namely, the big 
white animal that I was riding. 

It is, indeed, a most serious imdertaking to keep together a 
big caravan in Tibet. Travelling in that country is nothing 
like so easy a business as people think ; nor is there any pleasure 
associated with it. You travel so many miles at the cost of so 
many lives, men, horses and camels ; and it is not without 
reason that we mark travellers' routes red on our maps — 
their journeys have been made at the price of blood. Were I 
to put a red cross on my map at every spot where a life was 

The Cossacks Angling on the March. 

lost, it would be easy to trace the route of my caravans across 
the centre of Asia. 

Those who, from the advantage of a comfortable easy-chair 
and a warm lire, sit in judgment upon a journey of this descrip- 
tion, and weigh up its results, may readily acquire some concep- 
tion, though only a very faint one, of what a journey through 
Tibet is like without going all the way to Tibet. They have only 
to travel in the depth of winter a few score miles away from 
their own doorstep, along a country where there are no roads 
or paths, with a temperature of twenty degrees below zero Fahr., 
and ride a horse that stumbles at every step, and when they 
stop at night, sleep in a cold, fireless tent, with the wolves howling 

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all round them in the sheer, unconquerable wilderness. Yet 
even that would be infinitely short of what Tibet is like ; but it 
would, perhaps, be suflftcient to make such people a little more 
charitable in the opinions they pronounce. For my part, I 
would rather cross the Desert of Gobi a dozen times than travel 
through Tibet once again in winter. It is impossible to form any 
conception of what it is like : it is a veritable via dolorosa ! 

Compared with these formidable difficulties of the road, the 
country and the climate, the disputes and differences which are 
inevitable in a caravan composed of men of different races and 
different creeds, are positively mere trifles. To expect Mussul- 
mans, Tibetans, Mongols, Buriats, and Christians to work har- 
moniously together under all the vicissitudes of such a journey 
would be to expect the impossible. One night it happened that 
Li Loyeh and Ördek, when keeping watch together, visited the 
Tibetans in their tent to smoke opium. Next morning the 
Tibetans came to our Lama and complained that after the two 
men had gone they missed a stick of opium worth ten liang 
(^ about 3 IS.), and accused them of stealing it. The Lama 
hesitated to trouble me with such a small matter, but as they 
were very insistent, he at length did report it. I at once sent 
Chemoff and Shagdur to examine and overhaul the baggage of 
the two suspected men, and to search their clothes from top 
to toe ; but no opium was found upon them, and we drove 
the Tibetans away, saying they lied. Li Loyeh and Ördek were, 
of course, hotly incensed with the Lama for having reported the 
matter, and determined to be revenged upon him, and this is 
the way they set about it. They went and persuaded Sirkin 
that the Lama had bribed them to make me believe that Kal- 
pet's death was due to Sirkin's ill-treatment. Sirkin, as may 
readily be imagined, was perfectly astounded at this unwarranted 
and unjust accusation, and at once came and complained to 
me. Now, it was neither an easy nor an agreeable thing to disen- 
tangle a petty intrigue like this with calmness and sound judg- 
ment, especially when my teeth were chattering with cold in the 
eariy hours of the morning. vSomebody was, of course, bound to 
be dissatisfied. When I look back upon all the difficulties 
which beset my path, I am amazed at my success in bringing 
even the shattered remnants of my caravan out of that land of 
woe to the comparatively sunny tracts from which the waters 
stream amain to the warmer climes of the Indian Ocean. 

Still proceeding down beside the Tsangar-shar, we soon had 

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'. 'v f " 

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actual proof that we were descending to lower altitudes, for on 
27th November we encamped at only 14,368 feet above the sea. 
We still lived to a great extent upon fish. Chemoff and Shagdur 
vied with one another in their efforts at catching them : they 
harpooned the fish with their sabres and with Tibetan lances 
as they marched along. On one occasion Shagdur contrived 
to give himself a thorough ducking in the icy-cold water ; ven- 
turing too far out upon the ice, his mule went through with 
him. Fortunately, I happened to be not far away, and built 
up a big, roaring fire, and made him warm himself and dry his 

Our First Encampment beside the Tso-ngombo. 

clothes. Otherwise, he was so reckless and hardened, he would 
have continued as if nothing had happened. 

At length the craggy barrier which we had hitherto had 
on our left hand came to an end, and the river took a sharp turn 
to the south, just at the spot where the temple-village of Noh, 
called also Ojang, stood on the left bank. The buildings included 
a very picturesque little temple in red and white, adorned with 
bulbed cupolas, flags, gilded pinnacles, and other ornamental 
appendages. The houses were built four-square, with flat roofs, 
and were as a rule surrounded by white-washed walls, with 
red edgings at the top. They also were decorated with flag-poles 
and streamers. The floor was covered with felt carpets; the 
smoke escaped by a hole in the roof ; and outside were big piles 

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of wood stacked up for the winter. Our Tibetans told us before 
we reached the temple that nobody was permitted to touch 
this wood ; it was the lamas' property. Bathed as it was in 
bright sunshine, Noh presented quite a pretty picture, with the 
bifurcation of the stupendous mountains for its background. 

The gravel-and-shingle terraces approached quite close to 
the left bank, and it was not easy to guide the camels over them 
without immersing them in the deep, cold water. We were 
travelling west, but still along the foot of the cliffs, where the 
springs yielded water with a temperature of I5°.9 C, or 6o°.6 
Fahr. A low pass, marked by a cairn with flags stuck on the 

View S. across the Second Lake of Tso-ngombo. 

top of it, brought us out above the eastern end of the lake of 
Tso-ngombo. Beyond it on the south were several pyramidal 
peaks capped with snow, while westwards stretched the lake 
with its capricious outlines — creeks, bays, capes, islands, and 
steep, craggy shores. It was, however, only a few miles wide. We 
encamped close down beside the lake on a level shelf, where there 
was a little grass. A caravan of sheep from Ladak was already 
resting there, but at our approach they moved on. About half 
a mile from our camp was a little islet with plenty of good fuel. 
Our Tibetans spent the night there, for it afforded them shelter 
as well as an abundance of firing — as indeed it did us — and in 
the evening their immense fires flung a fiery-red glare across 

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the glittering ice. All night the ice cracked and groaned from 
the tension it was labouring under, until it sounded Uke a fog- 
horn blown now from one quarter, now from another. A well- 
spring kept open several holes in the ice close to the island, 
and there we caught a number of fish. 

Next day we gave ourselves a rest, and measured the depth 
of the lake between the shore and the island ; the maximum 
was 20f feet. The leader of our yak-caravan announced that 
he was ordered to despatch a courier to Leh, so that when we 
reached the frontier of Tibet and Kashgar we might find every- 
thing we needed ready waiting for us. I seized the opportunity 

The Middle Basin of Tso-ngombo. 

to send a letter to the British Joint Commissioner for Ladak, 
with the request that he would forward succours of yaks, horses, 
and provisions. When the messenger disappeared in the dark- 
ness on his little, long-haired steed, I confess I did not envy him 
his ride, and particularly so when next day we saw the path 
he had ridden along. 

On the 30th November, whilst the men who travelled on 
foot struck diagonally across the ice, the rest of us had an inte- 
resting march along the north shore of the lake. This last con- 
sisted of four distinct basins, connected by short rivers. The 
stream which connected the second basin — itself icebound, like 
the first — with the third basin, was as level and regular as an 

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artificial canal, about forty feet broad and not deeper than ten 
feet. Its water, which flowed extremely slowly, was of an 
emerald-green colour and as bright as crystal. The bottom 
was covered with aquatic vegetation, and shoals of black-backed 
fish, with their noses pointing indolently and carelessly up- 
stream, hung in the deeper pools. The fourth basin, which was 
the biggest, extended a long way towards the west and north- 
west, and was entirely free from ice, a fact probably due to its 
great depth. It was shut in by high, rugged mountains, amongst 
which the camels' bells echoed melodiously, frightening the 
flocks of wild-duck which rocked on the curling waves. The 

A View of the Western Tso-ngombo. 

shore was strewn with fragments of rock and beset with steep, 
gravelly screes, making it very difficult for the camels to advance. 
We encamped the first night at a spot called Bal ; and from Noh 
to Bal our route coincided with that of Nain Singh, though at 
the latter place we left it again. During the march we met 
a caravan of 200 sheep, laden with com from Ladak. It was 
quite a pleasure to see how orderly they msirched and how easy 
they were to manage ; and no slope was too steep for them, 
although they bore quite heavy loads. The Tibetans carry on 
a considerable trade across the frontier of Kashmir, bartering 
100 sheep, laden with salt, for 80 sheeploads of com. At Bal 
the thermometer went down to - 20°.9 C, or - 5°.6Fahr., during 

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the night ; and before morning a terrific storm swept over us 
from the north. 

On the 1st December we were obliged to kill another of our 
camels, though it was hard to put an end to our veterans now we 
were so near to the end of the journey. We kept close to the 
lake shore, following faithfully all its windings, although that 
frequently took us over very difficult gravel terraces. This 
last division of the lake was long and narrow, and resembled a 
Norwegian fjord. As we advanced between the precipitous and 
broken cliffs which shut it in on both sides, one magnificent moun- 
tain scene after another unrolled itself before our eyes, over- 

A Difficult Bit beside the Tso-iigoml>o. 

topped at intervals by some dominating snowy peak. The 
waters literally swarmed with wild-duck, and became churned 
into white foam when the birds, startled by our advance, 
skimmed along and settled farther out in the lake. The surface 
was quite free from ice, except for a few thin, ragged patches in 
the sheltered creeks and comers. We counted five distinct 
beach-lines ; the lowest, which was very deeply incised, formed 
a shelf along the side of the precipice. Finally, however, the 
mountains receded and left room for a beach of level j but soft 

An hour later we reached the first of certain specially difficult 
places of which we had been forewarned — namely, a rocky 
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headland, which plunged sheer down into the lake. That 
evening the men carried over all the baggage on their shoulders, 
and next morning the animals were piloted past the headland 
one by one without their loads, first the mules and horses, and 
then the camels. The yaks, however, preferred to climb over 
the dangerous acclivities. 

Next morning just before sunrise a curious phenomenon 
appeared on the opposite, or south-east, shore. The lake 
" smoked " ; that is to say, dense clouds of chalky white steam 
rose up off the water and spread themselves out over its surface. 
Whether these were caused by warm springs, or were simply due 
to the fact that the surface of the lake was warmer than the 
atmosphere, I do not know. The thermometer dropped to 
-i8°.3 C, or -o°.9 Fahr., and the temperature of the water 
was two or three degrees above freezing-point. But shortly 
after the sun rose the mist dispersed. 

The breadth of Tso-ngombo varied, of course, according to 
the configuration of the inclosing mountains. Although some 
of the men went on first to level the road by filling up holes and 
toppling loose blocks of rock into the lake, we nevertheless 
experienced a good deal of trouble in clearing the worst places. 
One of the most difficult was a steep scree littered with big frag- 
ments of rock, where the instrument cases kept catching against 
the stones, until we at last unloaded them and carried them 

Camp no. CXLI. was pitched beside the encampment of a 
sheep-caravan, consisting of two black tents, surrounded by 
the animals' loads and stacks of wood. Here I measured the 
height of the former beach-lines : the highest was 64 feet, the 
lowest I4f feet, above the existing level of the lake. 

On the 3rd of December I sent Chemoff across the lake in 
the skiff to sound the depth along a line which I had previously 
marked out for him : the soundings gave 98^ feet. Mean- 
while I and Cherdon rode along the shore until we came to a 
sound or strait, some 550 yards across, and frozen over. There 
we waited for the boat. We had been told that before the day 
was over we should come to a perpendicular diff which it 
would be absolutely impossible for the camels to get over. 
Finding this httle soimd frozen, it occurred to me that we might 
take the whole caravan across to the south side of the lake, and 
so avoid the difficulty. Chernoff examined the ice to see if it 
would bear ; but to make quite sure, we chopped holes in it — 

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it was 5i- to 6 inches thick. (At the same time we sounded a 
maximmn depth of 96^ feet.) We continued our investigations 
a considerable distance along the south side of the lake without 
discovering any obstacle. Meanwhile the caravan had come to 
a standstill and was waiting. Still, not satisfied, I put Ördek 
ashore, bidding him light a fire if he should come to a place it 
would be impossible for the camels to get past. On our way 
back to the caravan, we perceived no less than three fires blazing 
along the shore we had just left. There was no help for it then ; 
we must proceed as best we could by the northern shore. When 
ChemofI rowed across to fetch back Ördek, he again sounded 

The Dangerous Path Along the Mountain Side ; some of the Yaks on 
the Path, Others Above it. 

the lake, and obtained a maximum depth of 97J feet. From 
this I inferred that it was traversed throughout its entire length 
by a trough or trench about 100 feet deep. 

Turdu Bai now went to examine the difficult place which 
prevented our advance, and reported that he did not see how 
the camels could any way be got past it in safety. Now seeing 
that the region was so well stocked with plenty of strong dry 
timber and brushwood, I determined to make a ferry-boat, and, 
binding it together with our camels' pack-saddles and ropes, see 
if we could not in that way carry the entire caravan past the 
obstacle. I hoped we could make a ferry-boat big enough to bear 
at least one camel. At any rate, it must do, for I did not intend 
VOL. II. 36* 

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to go back to Bal, and from there travel in Nain Singh's foot- 
steps to Niagsu. If only the ice had borne just round that 
tiresome promontory ! But no, it was open water, said Turdu 

However, that night we had some 36*^ of frost (Fahr.), and 
next morning large areas, which the night before had been open 
water, were coated over with ice. I at once sent off every man 
who could be spared to gather wood to make the ferry-boat, 
and when we reached the spot we found a big stack ready 
waiting for us. There was ice even round the dangerous impe- 
diment, though it was barely i^^ inches thick. As soon as the 
tents were pitched, Sirkin and two or three other men climbed up 
to have a look at the promontory from the top. Their opinions 
were divided : Sirkin thought that the passage could be 
managed, if we cautiously steered the camels over one by one. 
Then I went and examined it m3rself ; it was nothing short of 
suicide to attempt it. The smooth black slates sloped down into 
the lake at an angle of 43°. It is true there was a sort of path, 
consisting of flat slates laid along a kind of shelf, and held up 
on the outer side by poles and logs as much as six or seven feet 
long, but none of them looked to me strong enough to bear the 
weight of a camel. Sometimes, too, the path zigzagged up and 
down the break-neck declivities ; most of our tired camels would 
assuredly have lost their heads, and turned giddy, and rolled 
down into the lake. 

No ; either we must build the ferry-boat and break the thin 
ice, or we must wait until the ice was thick enough to bear us. 
As the thermometer at one p.m. was already down to -4°.5 C, 
or 23^.9 Fahr., I hoped that the last eventuality would come 
to pass. At six p.m. the ice was no less than two inches thick. 
The Cossacks set to work to construct a make-shift sledge of 
pack-saddles, tent-poles, timber, and ropes, and covered it all 
over with felts. This was Shagdur's idea ; if the ice should not 
prove strong enough for the camels to walk round, we cotild 
perhaps haul them past the cliff on the sledge. 

The wind whistled through the bushes and crevices, roaring 
for all the world like a gale sweeping through one of our Swedish 
forests. The ice was growing stronger every hour. It now 
bore three men, whereas in the morning it would barely support 
one. We resolved to try our ferry-boat, by packing into it as 
many men as would together be equal to the weight of a camel. 
Then two other men started to drag it sledgewise round the pro- 

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, - %♦• 

T-i> nr,v ^»viNT' Til- »'$. 

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montory. As soon as the ice began to crack, out jumped the 
Lama, then I followed him, then Tokta Ahun, and so on, accord- 
ing as the ice grew thinner and thinner. As each deserter 
hopped off, he was greeted with salvoes of laughter from the 
heroes who remained. The ice was bright and glassy, and 
without a bleb ; we could distinctly see the fish darting in and 
out amongst the aquatic plants at the bottom. Every now 
and then there was a rumbling along it as if somebody were 
firing cannon, and the sound died away slowly, slowly, a long 
way down the lake. We saw we should have to wait another 
day, to give the ice time to form. 

During the next 36 hours we studied the thermometer with 

Converting the Skiff into a Sledge. 

the^ keenest interest. That night it recorded -i9°.3 C, or 

— 2°.4 Fahr. ; at seven o'clock the next morning -ii°.i C, or 
I2°.i Fahr. ; at one p.m. — 5°.i C, or 22°.8 Fahr. ; at nine p.m. 

- 8°.9 C, or lo^'.o Fahr. ; and during the night of the 5th-6th 
December, — 20^.9 C, or — 5°.6 Fahr. I got up an hour before 
daybreak to take an astronomical observation. As soon as that 
was concluded, the men carried all our baggage except my own 
tent and the cooking-tent round the promontory on the sledge. 
The ice was now three-quarters of an inch thicker. Meanwhile, 
the yaks climbed over the top of it ; but then they are mar- 
vellously sure-footed creatures. They may slip, but they never 
lose their foothold. Still their owners were obUged to exercise 

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the utmost vigilance to prevent them from homing one another 
over the precipice. 

Chemoff once more sounded the depth of the lake, being 
drawn across it by Ördek and Khodai Kullu in one-half of the 
skiff, converted for the nonce into a hand sledge. The former 
dropped through and only just managed to save himself by 
cHnging to the edge of the boat. The maximum depth was 70I 
feet ; and the excursion showed that relatively warm springs 
must gush up near the southern shore. 

Before we got round that troublesome promontory we lost 
yet another camel, thus leaving us with only ten. The ice was 
now 3| inches thick, and first thing in the morning 
we strewed 28 sackfuls of sand on the surface to prevent the 
camels from slipping, and then made haste to lead them round 
before the sun got up. The passage was accomplished without 
mishap. i\fter that we fetched round the remainder of the 
baggage ; and, having loaded up, once more pursued our way 
west. The track led round dangerous headlands, across small 
expanses of drift sand, and alongside regularly rounded bays. 
I myself walked all day long, for my horse was, Uke all the 
rest, in not very good trim. This part of the lake was quite 
open ; evidently the formation of the ice advanced from the 
east towards the west. 

Once more the Tso-ngombo narrowed, and at length it ter- 
minated, except that its fresh water was carried on further into 
the salt lake of Panggong-tso by the river Aji-tsonyak. On 
the northern bank of this stream, shortly after it quitted the 
former lake, we encamped for the night. I shall not readily 
forget the sublime beauty of that wild Tibetan lake, with its 
imposing dimensions and steep crags, peeping over one another*s 
shoulders to mirror themselves in its silvery water, or the pure, 
glassy brightness of its ice. 

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Camp no. CXLIV., which was exactly one hundred days from 
our main camp in the mountains, was not altogether without 
importance. We had been told, that we were to be met there 
by a fresh relay of yaks from Ladak. But we saw nothing of 
them ; and as the Tibetans wanted to go home, we had to keep 
an eye upon them to prevent them. 

On the 7th December we encountered an ugly storm, which 
smothered us with sand. Chemoff went out in the skiff, and 
sounded the western end of the lake along four lines, the maxi- 
mum depth he obtained being I04|- feet. There was an abund- 
ance of vegetation in the lake. It discharged a volume of not 
more than 133^ cubic feet in the second. We had intended 
starting again on the 9th ; but found that all the yaks had run 
away, and their trail was obliterated by a fresh storm, so that 
we did not find them again until towards the close of the day. 
Their leader, Loppsen, by name, agreed, however, to accompany 
us along the northern shore of the Panggong-tso, until we met 
the relief column from Ladak. It was high time we had succour ; 
our supply of rice, flour and talkan had come to an end several 
days before, and we were living exclusively upon meat, having 
bought seven sheep at a neighbouring encampment. It was 
there Yolldash made some especial friends, so that we had to tie 
him up to prevent him from running away. The highest beach- 
line that we measured near the camp was 177 feet above the 
level of the river. It was evident, that the two lakes had for- 
merly been connected, and, like all the other lakes in Tibet, 
were undergoing desiccation. 

We started again on the loth December ; and whilst the 
caravan travelled along the north shore of the Panggong-tso, 
I and Ördek rowed down the river. The stream moved almost 
imperceptibly, keeping close to the foot of the mountains on the 
south. The temperature had dropped to — 25^.7 C, or — 14^.3 

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Fahr., yet the river was not frozen ; whence I inferred there 
must have been some warm springs somewhere thereabouts. 
According to the high water marks, this branch of the river 
must have carried some 370 cubic feet of water in the sirnimer, 
or three times as much as it measured at the date of our 
visit. Lower down the lake was completely covered with' ice, 
except for one narrow strip of green-blue water. The river 
must have spread itself out over the top of the salt water. 

After that we crossed over to the mountains on the north 
side of the valley. They consisted of green and black schists, 
and several springs trickled out at their foot. There we were 

The Skiff on Lake Panggong-tso 

able to command an uninterrupted view of the lake. The con- 
figuration of its shore-line was the same as that of the Tso- 
ngombo. There were the same spurs jutting out into the same 
capes, and enclosing between them the same small triangular or 
crescentic patches of level ground, with sparse scrub. The 
stones at the foot of the screes along the margin of the water 
were coated with a layer of white ice, full of bubbles. This was 
due to the impact of the waves upon the shore, for the spraj'- 
froze immediately it touched the ice-cold rock. We found the 
caravan comfortably established on a flat peninsula called Siriap? 
where bushes were very plentiful. 

Next day, the nth of December, it was so still and fine that 

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Gulang Hiraman and his Ladakis. 

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' ..SK I 

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I sent my two best boatmen, Chernoff and Ördek, to row south- 
west across the Panggong-tso and sound its depth. In case they 
should not be able to reach the next camp before dark, they took 
provisions with them to last for a day. The sky was covered 
with heavy black clouds, so that there was a sort of twilight 
all day ; and the mountains all round were shrouded in fresh 
fallen snow. Our route was almost doubled in length by the 
peculiar " festooning " of the lake shore. Every spur or offshoot 
of the main range ended in a peninsula or headland, jutting out 
across the lake ; and in some places the passages round the 
promontories were so difficult that we had to level them, 
down with spades and pickaxes before the camels would face 
them. In one place the strip of shore only just afforded room 
for one sheep to pass, though fortunately the lake at that spot 
was not deep, so that the camels were able to get round it in 
the water. Although snail-shells had been numerous further 
east, where the fresh water issued from the Tso-ttgombo, here 
they existed in far less quantity. 

At our next camping-ground, where the drinking water was 
very little better than that of the lake, we were reduced to 
gathering the ice off the stones on the shore. At dusk we dis- 
covered that the camels had gone back, but we found them at 
the narrow passage I have just mentioned, for they had forgotten 
that just there they had gone through the water. They were 
trying to get back to the rich pasture beside the Tso-ngombo. 
After that we kept them tied up, and gave them a good feed of 

Next day, although the thermometer did not drop below 
"• 7°-5 C., or 18^.5 Fahr., the entire neighbourhood was enve- 
loped in a blinding snowstorm, so that we were unable to obtain 
even a glimpse of the southern shore. The lake ran exceedingly 
high, for the wind, being forced through the long narrow valley, 
swept across it unhindered with redoubled vehemence. We only 
did a short stage, but it was more difficult than any we had yet 
made beside this series of lakes. The difficulty was caused by a 
huge offset from the range, which shot down into the lake almost 
vertically. There was, it is true, a path over the top of it, a path 
which was usually followed by the yak caravans ; but it was 
not practicable for camels. We pulled up for a while at the foot 
of the cliff, and whilst Sirkin examined the shore close down by 
the water's edge, Shagdur rode up to the top of the promontory. 
The former reported, that there was no possibility of getting 

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round down below ; but Shagdur said, that although the path 
over the top had a very ugly look, we might perhaps be able to 
manage it. Meanwhile the yaks clambered up with wonderftil 
agility and sureness of foot. When they reached the top, 
fifteen of them were unloaded, and brought back to fetch my 
boxes, tents and other baggage ; which they took right over to 
the next camp on the other side. Then they returned and 
fetched down their own loads. 

Meanwhile the axes and iron bars were at work preparing 
a zig-zag pathway for the camels. Although the relative alti- 
tude was not much above 650 feet, it took us a good many hours 
to get the beasts over, for we had to take them one by one and 
proceed with the utmost caution. The pass, which was crowned 
by a cairn of stones with little flags stuck in it, afforded a magni- 
ficent view of the whole of the Panggong-tso, backed on the 
south by the world of snow-clad mountains which acted as the 
containing wall of the basin of the Indus. But we did not linger 
there a moment longer than needful, for the pass was swept by 
a keen and murderous wind from the west. It was only possible 
to stand by planting our feet wide apart. Whilst jotting down 
my notes, I turned my back to it, and made the utmost haste, 
lest my fingers should turn stiff, and then hurried down in the 
hope of getting shelter behind some projecting rock. But in 
this I was disappointed : the slope faced the west and was con- 
sequently fully exposed to the tempest. It was an awful descent ! 
Sometimes I was forced to creep on my hands and knees, and at 
others cling tight to the rocks to prevent mj'^self from being blown 
over the precipices. Turdu Bai had gone on first, leading two 
of the camels ; but 1 met him returning, he was perfectly be- 
wildered. After a long search, we discovered a place where it 
would be possible to make a path, although it would take a con- 
siderable time to do it. As, however, it was already twilight, 
Turdu Bai and some of the other men prepared to spend the 
night on the mountain-side with the camels. Next morning, 
however, we piloted them all down successfully. 

Owing to the gale, our boatmen on the other side of the lake 
had been unable to rejoin us ; but as we saw them from time to 
time through our glasses, and the flare of their camp-fire was 
readily visible at night, we were not uneasy about them. 

At Serdseh, on the border-line between Tibet and Kashmir, 
a great and welcome surprise awaited us in the relief caravan, 
which had been sent to meet us by order of the Vezir Vezarat, 

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riLf.tN r*<."- - .' .r.n. 

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the governor of the Maharajah of Kashmir in Ladak. It had 
gone first to Mann, a village on the south side of the lake imme- 
diately opposite Serdseh ; but hearing nothing of us there, it 
had turned back and tried the north side. As if by magic, our 
position was completely altered. There stood twelve horses and 
thirty yaks, entirely at our disposal, and there were sheep, flour, 
rice, dried fruits, milk, sugar, even com for our animals. What 
more could we want ? My caravan was on its very last legs, 
and this opportune help just saved it. Our long spell of 
privation and hardship was at an end. It was like a breath from 


— -- 



IMfc^ *t nlMg^'M^T ^ 

*t:-5-^*;» — w.^^^ 




^ ^ 

The Camp of i6th December, 1901. 

the warm plains of India, a greeting from hospitable friends, a 
reminder, as it were, of home ! 

The leaders of the caravan were two Ladakis — Anmarju, who 
spoke Persian fluently, so that I was able to talk to him, and 
Gulang Hiraman, a comical, good-natured old man, whose face 
beamed like the rising sun with benevolence. All the other men 
were also Ladakis, except one, who was a Hindu. Here I dis- 
missed the last of the Tibetans, paying them well, and giving 
them all the old saucepans, cups, jugs and clothes that we no 
longer had any use for, as well as a revolver. It was not 
without a touch of melancholy that I saw them turn their 
backs upon us ; in spite of all the toil and trouble we had 
caused them, they had rendered us most excellent service, and 
VOL. II. 11 

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been both friendly and honest. Thus snapped the tie which 
had so long bound me to Tibet. That night, when the sun set 
and the shades of night crept up in the east, they seemed to 
swallow up the land of the Dalai Lama, with aU its secrets 
and mysteries and imsolved riddles. But in my portfolios 
and] note-books I possessed that which softened the bitter- 
ness of the parting, namely, information calculated to shed 
light upon parts of Tibet which had hitherto been completely 

The leaders of the relief caravan surprised me by offering 
me each a silver rupee. Notwithstanding the comicality of the 
proceeding, I understood the friendly sentiment by which the 
givers were animated and dropped the coins into my pocket, 
intending of course to pay them back with interest. We en- 
camped side by side, dose to the spring which bubbled up on 
the very edge of the lake, its temperature being i6®.2 C, or 
6i°.2 Fahr., although the temperature of the air was - 6^.0 C, or 
2i°.2 Fahr. The water it 5delded was quite warm, steamed in 
fact. I had a thousand questions to ask about Ladak, Kashmir 
and India, and it was late when we went to bed. We made a 
huge fire on a prominent headland as a signal to Chemoff to 
return ; and next day he arrived safe and sound, after having 
measured two bathymetrical lines across the lake, and obtained 
a maximum depth of 155J feet. From this place I sent off a 
special courier to Leh, a journey they toH us of eight days. 

Before proceeding further, I must relate what happened to 
YoUdash, the dog which had so faithfully shared my tent and 
travels all the way from Osh. He spent the night as usual on 
the felts at my feet, and at sunrise got up, shook himself, and went 
out. He generally used to lie and sun himself outside the yurt 
imtil the caravan started ; but that morning he ran up over the 
mountain on the east and — never came back. Khodai KuUu 
saw him tearing back along our trail as hard as he could put foot 
to ground. He had, as I have already mentioned, formed a 
close intimacy with some canine friends at a taited village 
amongst the lakes, and for the past two days we had kept him 
tied up to prevent him from running away. But he had after 
all given us the slip. He would have a long trot of a good thirty 
miles beside the Panggong-tso before he reached his inamorata. 
Poor YoUdash ! I wonder whether he has forgotten me, and all 
the care and kindness I bestowed upon him during the two and 
a half years he was with me. I know that I, at any rate, missed 

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! T»l>'-N'^*''*^'"^'" 

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him terribly ; and so did the men, though they upbraided him 
with ingratitude. 

Whilst the caravan took another road further to the north, 
I, with Anmarju, Chemoff, and the Lama, proceeded beside the 
lake, following a giddy path over several difficult passes. When 
the rest of the caravan rejoined us, they had only nine camels 
with them. I felt sorry for the poor beast that dropped when 
almost within sight, as it were, of straw and com. That night 

-.^^s^^ ^ 

Musicians and Dancers at Drugub ; beside a Chorten. 

it snowed in real earnest, and next day, the i6th December, the 
landscape wore a perfectly wintry aspect. From the pass above 
the camp we obtained a bird's-eye view of the lake ; it was like 
a deep trench, cradled amid snowy cliffs. Although there were 
18° of frost (Fahr.), and the camera was stinging cold to the 
touch, I nevertheless took some negatives. Turning our backs 
upon the grand lake of Panggong-tso, we rode across the sandy 
steppe which, with its sand-dunes, stretched away from its western 
extremity ; then proceeded south-westwards up a gentle valley, 
until we came to a low pass or sill, marked by two stone coffers, 

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with large Maneh slabs and streamers. On the other side we went 
down by a deeply-scarped glen, Uttered with gravel and stones, 
and encamped on the border of a httle ice-bound lake about 200 
feet below the level of the Panggong-tso. We were now within the 
basin of the Indus ; the water which trickled down that glen 
would eventually, after countless vicissitudes, issue in the Indian 
Ocean. For two-and-a-half years we had been travelling through 
the self-contained drainage areas of Central Asia. It was quite 
cheering, therefore, to know that we had at length reached a 
region which drained into the ocean. The little sill which I have 
mentioned lay 2 mm. difference of atmospheric pressure above 
the Panggong-tso, and had a most interesting lesson to convey 
when compared with the ancient beach-Unes which lay 177 feet 
above the Panggong-tso. There was a time when this lake dis- 
charged its waters into the Indus, though now, owing to climatic 
changes, it is cut off from it. Hence it has turned salt, and its 
fresh-water moUusks have died out. 

On the 17th I said good-bye to the caravan and pushed on 
in advance to Leh, taking with me Anmarju, ChemofE and 
Cherdon, and three horses to carry the baggage, and men on foot 
to look after them. It was pitch dark when we rose in the 
morning, but the active httle Ladak horses were ready waiting 
for us with their saddles on, and off we went at a sharp trot. I 
wanted to reach Leh in four days, so that I might get a telegram 
home before Christmas Eve ; but to do that, we should have to 
ride twenty-four miles each of the four days. As we advanced 
down the valley, farms and cultivated fields began to make their 
appearance. At Tanksi, where we changed horses, I was struck 
by the temple and monastery of J ova, situated very picturesquely 
on a detached crag. Having photographed it from below, we 
proceeded on to Drugub (12,858 feet), where we spent our first 
night. There a troop of musicians, with drums and flutes, and 
wearing masks, came and played and danced in the courtyard in 
our honour. It was most strange to be sleeping again under a 

Next day the road led up and up back again towards the 
clouds, that is to say, to the difficult pass of Chang-la. At that 
season of the year it was, as a rule, blocked with snow, though in 
the winter of 1901-2 it happened to be open, the snow l3mig thinly 
and in patches. The ascent was difficult, nothing but blank walls 
of bare, grey rock. It took us several hours to reach the top 
(17,671 feet). The descent was even more precipitous, Mdnding 

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\ Tll.»t«*f^ 

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as it did zig-zag down amongst a perfect chaos of scattered 
granite fragments. By the time we got down to the stone huts 
of Taggar it was pitch dark. 

How strange it was to meet fresh faces, to see villages and 
arable fields fenced round with stone walls, temples crowning the 
jutting crags, and to hear the wind whispering through the 
poplars and willows ! All these, as we advanced, became more 
and more numerous. My Cossacks began to look upon me with 
a certain degree of wonder ; they were palpably impressed by 
the fact of my having found my way to these strange people, 
of whom they had never heard before, and not less so by the 

View*from the Temple of Tikkseh. 

friendly reception which they gave me. Down, down we went 
to lower regions, the air growing denser and the temperature 
milder. As we advanced, those wonderful Buddhist tributes 
to the gods, the stone kists — compared with which the obos of 
the Mongols are mere child's play — increased both in number 
and in size. One of them, which crowned a low ridge, was five 
feet high, ten feet across, and no less than 850 feet long, and 
every inch of it on both sides was covered with stone slabs, 
bearing in endless reiteration the sentence, " On maneh padmeh 
hum." What a time it must take to raise such a monument to 
the deities ! I suppose the lamas who, with a patience sur- 
passing Job's, sit and perpetuate this eternal apothegm in stone, 

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console themselves with the thought that when they are no 
more the very stones themselves will speak. 

The temple and monastery of Junreh occupy a marvellous 
situation on an outstanding crag, near a large and rich village 
situated below it. At length, after passing another chain of 
villages, we struck the Indus, winding like a serpent, with green, 
transparent, though broken, water at the bottom of a narrow 
trench, 150 to 160 feet deep. Here, at an angle above the river 
was a Maneh kist 10 feet high, 30 feet across, and no less than 
1,365 feet, or more than a quarter of a mile, long. Deluded 
mortals ! What a stupendous waste of labour ! If these 
gigantic monuments of human folly were ranged end to end 
they would make a small Chinese wall. 

Here, at this same spot, I was met by Mirza Mohammed, the 
naib, or secretary, of the Tesildar of Leh. He was a very amiable 
and genial man, and spoke Persian fluently, and many were the 
marks of kindness I was to receive from him in the immediate 
future. From this point we travelled at first along the right 
bank of the Indus, down its broad and spacious valley, until 
we came to the caravanserai of Tikkseh. High above the 
village, far from the noise of the world, lay the monastery of 
Tikkseh-gompa. The monks who numbered forty to fifty, 
kindly sent and invited me to become their guest ; but I pre- 
ferred to stay where I was — ^there was a fireplace (!) in one of the 
rooms of the inn. However, I paid them a visit on the follow- 
ing morning. Their terraces and balconies, which would have 
excited a painter's envy, commanded a view of the broad and 
spacious valley of the Indus that was overpowering in its 

Whilst on our way to Tikkseh we had been met by three 
messengers, one of them a woman. They carried their messages 
wrapped about the ends of little sticks — a sort of fiery cross. 
One of these people brought a telegram from the Resident of 
Kashmir, at that moment staying in Sialkot, running thus : 
" Warmest congratulations on safe arrival. Message sent to 
His Excellency Viceroy ; trust arrangements made satisfactory." 

From the moment I set foot on British territory the proofe 
of kindness and hospitality which were showered upon me in- 
creased from day to day. We reached Leh, the capital (4,000 
inhabitants), tired and covered with dust on the 20th December. 
Here I was met by the Tesildar, Yettumal, a Hindu of an excep- 
tionally distinguished presence, dressed, except for his tall white 

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turban, in European garb. Speaking fluent English, he bade 
me welcome to the territory of the Maharajah, his master, and 
handed to me a polite telegram from the Vezir Vezarat. We 

One of the Courtyards of the Temple of Tikkseh. 

Lamas of Tikkseh. The Man on the Right is the Prior of the Temple. 

rode first to the day bungalow, or hotel, where Enghshmen 
visiting Leh generally put up. Although it was a neat, comfort- 
able house, I preferred to accept Mirza Mohammed's, which was 

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formerly the church of the missionary Weber, and possessed 
separate rooms, where my Cossacks could bestpw themselves 
comfortably, besides a large courtyard and abundance of room 
for both men and animals when my caravan should arrive. A 
room was soon got ready for me, with a fireplace in it, besides a 
carpet, bed, table and chairs ; and here Yettumal handed over 
to me my bulging mail-bags. It was eleven months since I had 
heard a word from Europe, so that the feelings of eagerness and 
anxiety with which I looked forward to news from home may well 
be imagined. I broke the newest letter open first, and having 
satisfied myself that all were alive and well at home, I was able 
to go quietly through the budget in chronological order. I 
read on and on ; I read all night, and the sim was high in the 
heavens before I turned in next day. I was deeply grieved to 
learn of Nordenskiold's death. Yettumal, in welcoming me, 
had used the words " King Edward." I did not know what he 
meant ; it was a name I had never heard. I was ignorant that 
Queen Victoria had been dead nearly a whole year. 

The first thing I did after reaching port in Leh was to send 
telegrams to King Oscar of Sweden, to Lord Curzon, and to my 
parents, and the reply of the first-named reached me on Christ- 
mas Eve. It was couched in friendly and encouraging language : 
" Many thanks for telegram, and for the interesting letters sent 
before. I heartily rejoice in happy arrival on British territory, 
and hope you will soon come home. I and mine are well. Hearty 
greetings. — King Oscar." I had already written to Lord Curzon 
from Charkhhk, vid Kashgar, asking that I might, on arriving 
at Leh, lift a loan of 3,000 rupees. This sum I found waiting 
for me. I had also said something about the possibility of a 
short visit to India, and I now received a long and pleasant letter 
from the Viceroy, concluding with these words : " I have only one 
thing to suggest, and that is that you come down to Calcutta, 
where I shall be staying from January till the end of March, and 
give me the pleasure of seeing you as my guest at Government 
House, and hearing from your own lips aU that you have seen 
and done." After I had answered this kind invitation with an 
acceptance, Lord Curzon telegraphed back : " Congratulate you 
upon your safe arrival after most arduous journey and great 
discoveries. Am dehghted that we shall see you here. — 

Thus I was to pay a short visit in India, and see again Lord 
Curzon, whom I had met a few years before. He was present 

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I A?.-rr-)\,. -- -''^ 

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at the meeting of the Royal Geographical Society in December, 
1897, when I gave the lecture on my former journey. But seeing 
that I had before me a ride of 240 miles to Srinagar, the capital 
of Kashmir, I thought I might very well allow myself ten days' 
rest before starting, and they passed all too quickly. I was 
overwhelmed by the many and great kindnesses shown me by 
the missionaries at Leh, Messrs. Ribbach and Hettasch, and their 
wives. Miss Bass, and the Mission Doctor, Dr. E. Shawe, who was 
unremitting in his attentions to the sick men of my caravan. I 
visited the missionaries every day, and have seldom known a 
station conducted in so exceptional a manner and with such 
promise of success. We spent Christmas Eve together in the 
cosy little room attached to the church. The apartment was 
one blaze of light, and the Christmas tree, hung all over with 
little wax candles, reminded me of many a happy day of my 
childhood. The Uttle church was full to overflowing, and Mr. 
Ribbach preached in Ladaki, and the audience, dressed in their 
best, listened reverently and joined in the Psalms. Although 
I did not understand a word of what the preacher said, I have 
seldom been present at a more solemn and affecting service. My 
senses were hypnotised by the cheerful glitter of the lights, and 
my heart deeply stirred by the sweet and soothing tones of the 
organ. I had such an immense deal to be thankful for, now that 
my labours were at an end, and I was once more amongst 
Europeans. . ,.> 

The caravan arrived on Christmas Day. The last nine camels 
which had successfully climbed over the pass of Chang-la were 
now at liberty to rest. The noise in the streets made them rather 
shy, but they were soon at home in the peaceful courtyard, and 
I had the pleasure of seeing their eyes light up when they 
caught the scent of the luscious clover, which I had had brought 
in for them. The inhabitants of the little town, who had 
scarcely ever seen camels before, climbed to the top of the walls 
that surrounded the courtyard, and gazed with the utmost 
amazement at the strange, long-necked, hump-backed animals. 

My plans for the imimediate future were soon formed. Whilst 
I ran down into India, the caravan would stay at Leh and rest. 
I did not, however, require more than three of the Mussulmans, 
so that it just fitted, when the rest of them came and asked that 
they might return home via Kara-korum and Yarkand. I paid 
them their wages, with substantial additions, as well as a pre- 
sent of clothes, provisions, and horses to ride on ; and hired a 
VOL. II. 38 

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karakesh, or horse-owner, a native of Yarkand, who undertook for 
a certain sum to guide them to his native town. Then Sirkin, 
who was longing to get home to his wife and children, came and 
asked whether he might accompany them. This also suited me 
very well, because it gave me an opportimity to send letters to 
Consul-General Petrovsky at Kashgar. Accordingly, the follow- 
ing men here left me— Mollah Shah, Hamra Kul, Turdu Ahun, 
Rosi Mollah, Li Loyeh, Almaz, Islam, Ahmed, and Ördek, the 
last named being told off to act as servant to Sirkin. With 
their train of baggage horses, their guide, and his two servants, 
they made quite an imposing caravan, as, on the 29th December, 
1901, they rode out of Leh. In spite of his longing to get home, 
Sirkin shed tears when I gave him my hand in farewell, and 
thanked him for the very great services he had rendered me. 

I left Chemoff behind in charge of my caravan at Leh, 
Cherdon remaining with him as meteorologist, while Turdu 
Bai, Kutchuk and Khodai KuUu, the best of the Mussulmans, 
were retained to look after the camels, the mules, and my old 
riding-horse respectively. I gave them plenty of money to 
" keep house with," and Yettumal promised to see that they 
wanted for nothing. Dr. Shawe and the other missionaries also 
promised to look after them during my absence. Mr. Ribbach 
took the greatest interest in our Lama, who also stayed behind, 
and the two were very soon on a confidential footing. Shagdur I 
took with me to India having first obtained the Viceroy's consent 
to do so. 

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To India, Kashgar and Home. 

VOL. II. 38 

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Here I ought perhaps to conclude my narrative, seeing that 
I have reached parts which are well known, and have been 
described, and well described, by travellers of worid-wide reputa- 
tion. Still, for reasons which I need not specially emphasise, 
I cannot conclude without giving some account of what was 
one of the pleasantest episodes, if not indeed the very pleasantest 
episode, of the whole journey. 

On the morning of the ist January, 1902, four active Uttle 
Ladaki horses stood impatiently pawing the ground outside my 
quarters. I and Shagdur rode two of them ; the other two 
carried our luggage, and were driven by men on foot. Yettumal 
ordered his secretary, Mirza Mohammed, to accompany me. 
How uncertain is Ufe ! and yet how much more inscrutable is 
death ! It was destined that I should not have an opportunity 
to thank the Tesildar, Yettumal, for the many kind services 
which he rendered me, for when I returned to Leh, he was dead 
and cremated, and his ashes scattered on the sacred waters of 
the Ganges. 

To Srinagar, the capital and summer residence of the 
Maharajah of Kashmir, was a journey of over 240 miles. Horses 
were changed at every station or bungalow (pangla), sometimes 
oftener, so that we could travel as fast as ever we liked. But I 
was too tired to rush it, and seldom did more than one stage 
in the day ; hence it took us 11 days to reach Srinagar. The 
first stage was to Niemo, where we found a very comfortable 
caravanserai, with an airy bala-khaneh, or upper storey, which 
reminded me of my travels in Persia. After that we descended 
among the cultivated fields and orchards of Saspul, the latter full 
of apple and apricot trees. Beyond that point the road ran along 
the right bank of the Indus, which was walled in by tremendous 
precipices, 1,500 feet high at least. The views which successively 
unfolded themselves were sublime. The masterly way in which 

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the river had carved a path through the mountains appealed 
especially to my artistic instincts. The water was clear, and of a 
dark green colour ; and as we rode for the most part some 150 
feet above it, the river was spread out before us like a map. 
Sometimes it flowed in tranquil silence ; it was then deep and 
broad. Sometimes its channel was contracted ; then it boiled 
headlong down the cataracts, and hurried with a thundering 
roar amongst the stones which littered its bed. Sometimes it 
was frozen over, the ice being used as a bridge by the natives. 
The left side of the valley was continually in the shade, owing to 
the lofty precipices by which it was shut in. But at the entrance 
of the valley of Hippti there was a gap, through which the sun 
poured like a cascade, causing the light green water of the Indus 
to glisten like an emerald. The effects due to the brilliant 
sunshine followed one another with amazing rapidity. Up 
and down the path woimd capriciously along the mountain- 
side, mostly at a giddy height ; and sometimes it was so narrow 
that two people could not pass each other without great peril. 
Whenever we approached a sharp angle, our coolies ran forward 
and uttered a loud, shrill cry of warning, to keep the road clear. 

Upon reaching Kalachi we turned up a little side-glen, leaving 
the valley of the Indus on our left hand. The path was often 
dangerous. Sometimes it clung to one side of the glen, some- 
times to the other, crossing the river at the bottmo on little 
tottering wooden bridges. One of these looked so unsafe that 
we preferred to cross on the ice beside it. Just beyond the 
bridge of Sampa-nezrak a spring gushed out of the rock, and 
its water, freezing as it emerged, had covered the path with a 
little mound of ice. Here one of the baggage horses slipped and 
fell, and would have rolled down the precipice had I not caught 
hold of his tail just as he was hovering, and held him fast until 
the men ran to my assistance. A little further on we came to 
the Lamaist monastery of Lamajmruz, built in a peculiar and 
picturesque position on the summit of a razor-backed clifif of 
gravel-and-shingle, cleft by deep ravines. It is merely a question 
of time ; but some day it will plunge into the depths below. At 
the bottom of the gorge there were an immense number of 
chortens ("stone pyramids" ; see ill., p. 581), as is generally the 
case near the temples in this part of India. 

On the 4th of January we crossed over the two passes of 
Fotu-la (13,450 feet) and Namika-la (13,010 feet), and when we 
reached the village and bungalow of Mulbekh it was pitch dark. 

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There we had an extraordinary reception, being met by a train 
of torch-bearers, whose torches shot up showers of sparks 
through the apricot trees, tingeing their branches a fiery red. 
At Kargil, where we were met by another nice, pleasant Tesildar, 
I was greatly astonished at being received by forty young girls 
dressed in holiday attire. Each of them carried a dish with 
something to eat upon it, it being the custom of the country 
for the guest to touch each dish, and, if so disposed, to slip a few 
annas under the food. 

I had been told before leaving Leh that the pass of Zoji-la 
is nearly always closed in winter, and that I might there be 

An Old Ladaki. 

turned back ; but this winter the snowfall happened toVbe a good 
deal less than usual, and upon inquiry by telegram we learnt that 
the pass was not at all dangerous. At Kargil we picked up a 
first-rate pass-climber and headman of coolies in Abdullah, a native 
of Ladak, who spoke Turki, or Yarkandi, as they called it there ; 
and in the village of Draz we hired 50 coolies, with their spades 
ajid pickaxes, to go on first and mend the path where it was 
rendered slippery by the ice. There was a station at Matchui, 
quite close to the pass — a perfect God-send it must be for travel- 
lers who have the ill-luck to get snowed up, as happened a few 
years ago, and before the house was built, to the former Vezir 

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Vezarat of Ladak. He had made himself hated by his ex- 
tortions, and the people on both sides of the pass were only 
too deUghted at the opportunity to keep him shut up out 
of harm's way for two whole months, during which time he 
nearly perished of hunger, for he had a large retinue of coolies 
with him. 

On the 9th of January we crossed over the Zoji-la, the worst 
pass I have ever seen, although its altitude did not exceed 11,500 
feet, that is, more than 6,000 feet lower than the Tibetan passes 
we had lately had to deal with. Upon reaching Matchui, we left 
our horses and crossed the snow on foot, which crunched loudly 

On the Way up the Zoji-la. 

under our feet, for the thermometer was down to — 22^.0 C, or 
- 7°.6 Fahr. The Ladakis tied soft snow-shoes under our feet 
to prevent us from shpping, and we scrambled after them to the 
summit of the pass, which was so flat as to be scarcely peT- 
ceptible. Shortly after that, however, we went down by a 
breakneck descent to the station-house of Baltal; the path 
zigzagged backwards and forwards down the face of an almost 
perfect precipice. We had to keep a very sharp look-out, and 
he careful not to lose our heads — a. shp would have been fatal. 
The snow had melted where the sun touched it, making the ice- 
clad pathway exceedingly dangerous, even after the cooUes hewed 
out steps with their ice-axes. Zoji-la is an important line of 
division, both orographically and cUmatically, between Tibet 

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My Coolies Resting During a Snowstorm on the Pass of Zoji-la. 

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and Kashmir. When you stand on the summit of the pass 
you have the glen of Baltal at your feet, and to me it was an 
especial pleasure to hear again the mysterious murmur of the 
dark pine-woods — it put me so much in mind of my Northern 

I shall not attempt to describe the beautiful country we rode 
through during the last two days — the dark green woods, the 
quaint towns, foaming rivers with their picturesque bridges, 

A Dancing-Girl of Kargil. 

in the background the gUttering snowy mountains — the whole 
canopied by a turquoise-blue sky. The glowing descriptions 
which I have read of the lovely valleys of Kashmir really paled 
beside the reaUty. 

At Srinagar I was received with genuine English hospitality 
by Captain E. Le Mesurier and his amiable wife, and in their 
society I spent two or three days I shall not soon forget. On the 
14th of January we started again. Srinagar Ues 5,250 feet above 
the level of the sea, and thence we were to descend, by a couple 
of secondary passes, to lower altitudes, until we finally reached 

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the hot plains of India. The road ran first through the valley 
of the Jehlam, across the pass of Murree (Murri), and so on down 
to Rawal pindi. The road is a masterpiece of engineering, and 
in point of natural beauty far surpasses the Gruzinian (Georgian) 
military road across the Caucasus. To race down its thousand 
zigzags was a refinement of travel — indeed, I am almost tempted 
to call it a forbidden delight. The tongay or travelling-cart, 
rested upon two moderate-sized wheels, and was provided with 
a roof and awnings at the side. It had two seats, with a back 
common to both. I and the driver sat on the front seat, and 
Shagdur on the back seat with the luggage. At the end of the 
strong, slightly tumed-up pole there was a cross-bar, which was 
fastened by straps to the horses' saddle-pads, an arrangement 
which allows you to change horses in two or three minutes. 
It seldom took us more than half-an-hour from station to station. 
A few minutes before we reached the station, our driver used to 
blow a short, but tuneful, fanfare on his horn, and when we pulled 
up there stood a fresh pair of horses ready waiting for us. The 
pole was lifted from the panting, steaming pair we had just 
driven behind, the new ones were backed into their places, 
the straps were buckled, and away we went again at a gallop. 
As a rule the driver had far harder work to hold in his horses 
than to urge them on, so that I was not always quite sure 
whether they had bolted or not. So long as we were in the 
open country between Srinagar and Baramula there was no 
danger, but when we entered the gorge by which the road 
wound down the slopes of the Jehlam valley, there were plenty 
of places to make a man feel giddy, if that way inclined. The 
road went down steeply, and the horses literally tore along. 
On the right was a precipice, dropping sheer into the river, 
which churned and foamed at its foot, the only protection being 
a barrier two feet high. On ahead the road seemed all at once 
to come to an abrupt end ; but no, it swung sharply to the left. 
Yet on went our driver, without tightening rein. I thought 
the man was mad. We should go headlong over the precipice. 
Even though the horses managed to clear the comer, the cart 
must, it seemed, certainly pitch over and fling us out Uke a trio 
of loose apples. Just as I thought we were going to take a 
headlong spin through empty space, the horses slackened speed. 
But the corner was taken so finely that I was amazed we got 
round it alive. At this and similar comers the clear notes 
of the hunting-horn always rang out musically and distinctly 

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as a warning to any other tonga that might be racing towards 
the same comer from any other direction. 

Upon approaching Murree, the glory of the drive was increased 
tenfold, for we passed into the thick shade of a magnificent 
forest of Conifer<e. We now began to get down to lower levels ; 
the air grew heavier, the breezes, which played amongst the hills 
at sunset, were softer and more balmy. But never for one 
moment did we slacken in our headlong race. It was already dark 
when our tonga began to rattle through the long straight streets 
of Rawalpindi. We drove direct to the railway station, for 
it was only an hour before our train started. After being so 
long accustomed to the silence of the desert and the stillness of 
the mountain wastes, it was to us a very strange thing to hear 
the shrill whistle of the railway engine. 

At Lahore I stopped three days, incognito, of course, for I 
did not possess a single stitch of clothing that I could wear in 
good society. I rigged myself out afresh from top to toe, and, 
although somewhat weather-worn and sunburnt, was in a trice 
converted into a faultlessly-groomed gentleman. After that 
there was no longer any need of an incognito. The last evening 
I dined with Sir W. Macworth Yoimg, the Lieutenant-Governor 
of the Punjab, and felt as if I had never been anything else but 
a society lion all my life. 

What shall I say about Lahore — about Delhi, Agra, Luck- 
now, Benares ? I will say nothing. All that I must leave to 
people who have time to study those marvellous and mystic 
cities ; volumes might be written about each of them. I was 
merely a bird of passage, and only stopped one or two days at 
each. Although flying like a wild goose past the Taj Mahal, I 
could not, even in passing, withhold my admiration of the burial- 
mosque of Shah Jahan. It Wcis unquestionably the loveliest 
work of art I have ever seen. The boasted glories of Constanti- 
nople, of Isfahan, Mashhad, Samarkand — all pale beside it. 
It is a summer dream in white marble, a piece of purest sky con- 
verted into stone. And Benares ? Never shall I forget the 
boating-trips I made alongside its quays and stairways, those 
broad steps where every morning at sunrise thousands of pil- 
grims go to bathe in the hope of recovering health and strength. 
And then the Brahmins who worship the river, and recite over it 
their complicated prayers, and the aged people of the land who 
journey thither to die beside the sacred Ganges ! In the midst 
of these bathing pilgrims and happy, playing children, I 

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saw them washing a corpse in the river, ready for burning on 
the funeral pyre, to the strains of their own peculiar music. 
There is nothing to equal a row on the Ganges by moonlight. 
As I lay back dreaming in the stillness of the night, my imagina- 
tion was excited by the holy city and by the thousand and 
one stories of its hoary, legendary past. 

At Lucknow I was awakened one morning by Lieutenant 
Didrik Bildt, the only Swede I met in the course of my visit to 
India. And a thorough Swede he was, too ; I was proud to call 
him my countryman. In his charming company I spent one 
never-to-be-forgotten day in Lucknow, visiting with him all the 
sights and objects of interest. 

Shagdur's growing amazement at all he saw and heard was to 
me a source of great enjoyment. It was, of course, only natural 
that a simple Buriat Cossack from Siberia should be impressed 
by all he saw and heard amongst these ancient cities of the Great 
Mogul, with their palm-trees, and pagodas, and bazaars crowded 
with noisy multitudes, showing in their dress every shade 
of colour under heaven. He asked me all sorts of questions 
about everything he saw, repeated to me his observations and 
speculations, and was unable to find words to express the fulness 
of his amazement. When we met a train of elephants in Luck- 
now, he could scarce believe his own eyes, and asked whether 
these colossal things really were living animals, and not some sort 
of machine, constructed in a different way from railway engines. 
To convince him that they really were ahve, I asked the keeper 
to stop one of his animals, and then, stepping into an adjacent 
bazaar, bought a bunch of sugar-cane, and went and fed the 
elephant. The way the beast examined thoroughly every piece 
tendered to him, and cleverly rejected what was not good to eat, 
soon convinced Shagdur that the elephant was a real live animal. 

Upon reaching Calcutta early on the morning of the 25th of 
January, I was met at the station by a Viceregal carriage, with 
four servants, wearing scarlet and gold liveries and lofty white 
turbans. Another vehicle took charge of Shagdur and the 
luggage. We drove direct to Government House, where I was 
conducted to a room on the second floor. I have never lived 
amid such grand surroundings as in the Viceregal Palace of 
India. The reception-rooms were adorned with costly works 
of art, the floors covered with soft Indian carpets, the walls 
hidden behind large oil portraits of the kings and queens of 
Great Britain, of Indian Maharajahs and Persian Shahs, all 

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bathed in the brilliancy of the electric light. My bedroom, a vast 
apartment, had a private balcony, kept cool by an immense 
awning, from which I was able to drink in the fragrance of 
the palm-trees in the park. It also commanded a magnifi- 
cent view of Calcutta, and beyond, right away to the jungles 
in the delta of the Hugli. The heat was distinctly perceptible 
in Bengal. End of January though it was, to a " Tibetan " 
like me it was even oppressive, so that I was beyond measure 
delighted to have a bath-room all to myself, and I made good use 
of it several times a day. 

I arrived on a Sunday, and an adjutant at once came to tell me 
that his Excellency the Viceroy was expecting me at the Palace of 
Barrakpur, two hours by steamboat up the river. Accordingly, 
after breakfast I was taken there, in bright summer weather, with 

Huts Below Baltal. 

a crisp breeze, on the steam launch Maude, with the pleasantest 
company that could be wished — Colonel Fenn, body physician 
to His Excellency the Viceroy, and Mrs. Fenn ; Colonel Robert- 
son, British Resident in Mysore ; and Mr. C. S. Bayley, Resident 
in Indore, Central India. 

Barrakpur, which was furnished with that elegance and 
distinction of taste which are so characteristic of the English, 
stood in the midst of a tropical park. We were received by Lord 
and Lady Curzon and their two fascinating little daughters, 
in a large, cool, shady arbour. Lord Curzon welcomed me with 
the cordiality of an old friend, and presented me to the charming 
lady who shares his dignities. At lunch he proposed my health, 
and congratulated me upon the success of my journey. After 
I and my host had spent two or three hours discussing geographi- 
cal questions, I was taken for a drive in the neighbourhood by 

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Lady Curzon, who handled the ribbons with as much skill as 

The ten days that I had the honour to be Lord and Lady 
Curzon's guest will always count amongst the brightest and 
happiest of my life. Not only did I receive every day fresh and 
embarrassing proofs of kindness and hospitaUty, but Lord Curzon, 
one of the most distinguished students of the geography of Asia, 
entered with the liveUest and most appreciative interest into the 
various incidents of my journey, the scope and significance of 
which he fully realised. 

We in Europe have very Uttle conception of what it means 
to be Governor-General of India, with almost absolute power 
over 300,000,000 subjects, or very nearly as many as are ruled 
by all the Sovereigns of Europe together. It is an august — ^an 
incomparable position, and compels admiration of a kingdom 
which is able to offer such a unique honour to one of its sons. 
Lord Curzon reaHses fully the responsibility which rests upon him, 
and takes an earnest view of his duties, sacrificing all his time 
and all his strength to the functions of his office. The whole of 
his time, except an hour or so for meals, was spent at his study- 
table. He had not a moment to spare for sport or social pleasures. 
Once when he accompanied us to the theatre he slipped away 
before the close of the first act, and hurried back to resimie the 
cares of office. Lord Curzon's study was a large and tastefully 
furnished room, full of books and despatches, arranged on dif- 
ferent tables and bookshelves. Here he did me the great honour 
of inspecting the scores of map-sheets which I had brought with 
me from Ladak, and I am not likely to forget the exceedingly 
kind, and even flattering, observations that he made upon them. 

During my stay at Government House, two or three state 
dinners and state balls were given, with a splendour and magni- 
ficence which would not suffer by.comparison with similar events 
at any of the great Courts of Europe. One day a German and 
an Austrian warship came steaming up the Hugli. This led to 
a breakfast to the officers at Government House, and was followed 
by several hospitable gatherings on board both ships and at the 
German Club. Mr. Voigt, Swedish-Norwegian Consul-General 
at Calcutta, gave a successful and enjoyable dinner in my 

During my nine years' wanderings in many parts of Asia my 
experiences have been many and of divers characters and com- 
plexions, but I do not ever remember such a great contrast 

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between those I was now experiencing and the months that 
immediately preceded them. For two and a haM years I had 
been cut off from the worid, isolated amid the deserts and moun- 
tains of Central Asia, enduring exposure and fatigue, hardships 
and privations of every kind, and here I was, lapped in the 
luxury and refinement of a consummate civilization. For years 
I had led a solitary existence ; now I made new acquaintances 
at every step. A little while before I was working and travelling 
in 50^^-60° (Fahr.) of frost, and climbing mountain-ranges 
16,000 — 17,000 feet above the level of the sea, the only denizens 
of which were the arkhari and the wild yak ; now . I was 
strolling under the palm trees on the shores of the Indian Ocean, 
amid the fabled splendours of the tropics. Only a little while ago, 
and I was living in the filthy smoky tents amongst the Tibetans ; 
now I was enjoying all the refinements and delicate graces of 
English home life, intoxicated by the scent of roses, entrancing 
music, and the conversation of beautiful ladies. The Tibetans 
had treated me as a suspicious and dangerous individual ; 
here in India I was literally overwhelmed with hospitality 
and kindness. When a new engagement beckoned me, I 
literally had to drag myself away from the kind friends with 
whom I happened at the moment to be sta5dng. In fact, I was 
ever3nvhere made perfectly and thoroughly at home. These 
successive departures and leave-takings imparted the only tinge 
of sadness to what was otherwise in every respect a most 
delightfxil and memorable trip. 

During the last few days of my stay at Government House 
there were two distinguished visitors, namely. Sir Ernest Cassel 
and Professor Oscar Browning, of Cambridge, with whom I had 
several bright and happy talks. 

The Indian press had welcomed me with such flattering marks 
of attention that I was inundated with invitations — to DarjiUng, 
Ceylon, Mysore, Peshawar, from Major Younghusband, my old 
friend of Kashgar (1890), the Swedish missionaries, and many 
others. But I did not forget my caravan and my Cossacks, 
waiting patiently in Leh. Still there were some invitations 
which I could not resist, although by this means my stay in 
India was somewhat prolonged. Unfortunately, my faithful 
Cossack, Shagdur, contracted a fever, and was very weak the 
whole of our stay in Calcutta. He was very comfortably in- 
stalled in a tent with a boarden floor, bathroom, and electric 
light, in the park, and was attended by Colonel Fenn and his 
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assistant, Emir Baksh, who had accompanied Mr. Forsyth on 
his mission to Yakub Beg, of Kashgar, in 1873. I left Shagdur 
in their care, whikt I made a trip further south, arranging to 
meet him at Rawalpindi on my return. 

After saying good-bye to Lord and Lady Curzon, I left 
Calcutta on the 5th of February, and travelled to Secundarabad, 
near Hyderabad (Haidarabad), to see my chivalrous friend of the 
Pamir Boundary Commission of 1895, Colonel McSwiney. He was 
stationed at the military camp of Bolarum in the Nizam's territory, 
where there was an English force of over 8,000 men. I spent 
three right happy days with Colonel McSwiney, who entertained 
me with military parades and picturesque displa)^ of cavalry, 
amongst which tent-pegging by torchlight and in the glare of 
huge fires particularly interested me. 

At Bombay I w£is the guest of the governor, Lord Northcote, 
and his charming wife. With them also I spent four days which 
I shall not readily forget. My apartment, which was again pro- 
vided with a balcony, was at the very extremity of Malabar 
Point, and thus I had the ocean all round me, except on the 
north, where a narrow tongue of land led to the Parsees* " Tower 
of Silence." It was Uke living on board ship, a marvellous change 
for one who had been so many months in the interior of Asia. 
I never grew tired of listening to the cadence of the waves, as 
they beat against the foot of. the cliff. Oh, how I longed to 
return home on their buoyant swell ! It would have been 
infinitely preferable to climbing back up to the dreary, in- 
hospitable mountains of western Tibet, and travelling all that 
long way across the two continents. I confess it cost me an 
effort to put the temptation from me ; but I could not desert 
my caravan, and abandon wantonly the results of my journey . 
So, after a visit to the caves of Elephanta, with our Swedish- 
Norwegian Consul, Mr. Bickel, and a dinner at the house of the 
German Consul, Count Pfeil, and another with the French Consul, 
M. Vossion, I took leave of Lord and Lady Northcote, and re- 
turned to Delhi. I was exceedingly sorry to miss the learned 
Russian Consul, M. V. Klemm, who, eleven years before, had 
shown me such great kindness at Bokhara. He had just gone away 
on a short leave of absence, and although he was to be back in 
two or three days, I was unable to await his return. I was the 
more sorry because I owe him especial thanks for the generous 
offer he made me with regard to Shagdur. He proposed that if 
my young Cossack, who evidently could not stand the climate 

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of India, W£is not strong enough to go back with me to Leh, 
he would send him on the first opportunity, and at the expense 
of the Consulate, to Colombo, and thence to Vladivostok, from 
which port he could easily reach his own home. 

On my way to Rawalpindi I only stopped once or twice. 
At Jaipur I was met by the Maharajah's carriage, and had a 
splendid trip on one of his magnificently caparisoned elephants to 
the ruins of Amber. At Jaipur all the houses were rose-coloured, 
and all the inhabitants dressed in pinks and reds. It was like 
the blush of the morning in a garden of roses. There I was 
shown the greatest hospitahty by Mr. Cobb, the British Resident. 

The Maharajah of Kapurtala invited me by telegraph to 
visit him at his palace at Kartarpur, and there I spent two 
extremely pleasurable days in making exciirsions by carriage, 
by boat, and by elephant, accompanied in each case by His 
Highness himself. One of the days happened to be my birth- 
day, and in honour of the occasion His Highness had a band of 
music, champagne, and other nice things at the dinner. My 
stay in Kartarpur was Uke actually living a piece of the 
Thousand and One Nights. 

At Rawalpindi I picked up poor Shagdur, who, in consequence 
of his illness, did not derive half the pleasure from his visit in 
India that I had intended him to have. Colonel Fenn had sent 
him on from Calcutta in charge of a native assistant, and at 
Rawalpindi he had been again kindly taken in hand by Captain 
Waller and Major Medley, the well-known Asiatic traveller. 
The latter spent a good many hours talking Russian with Shagdur, 
so that Shagdur was perfectly deUghted with him. Major 
Marshall, of the Army Medical Corps, who attended him, advised 
me to get him up into the mountains as soon as possible. But 
he was still so weak he coxild not sit up in the tonga, so that I 
could do nothing but wait patiently. As for myself, I was in 
clover. All the officers, from General Sir Bindon Blood, who had 
just returned from South Africa, downwards vied with one 
another in showing me attentions. Unfortunately I missed Dr. 
M. A. Stein, whose headquarters were at Rawalpindi. He had 
recently returned from his important and successful journey 
in East Turkestan. But happily I was able to make his ac- 
quaintance by correspondence, and before the year 1902 came to 
an end I had the pleasure of meeting him in London. . 

At length Shagdur was sufficiently well for us to make a 
start. We drove up to Srinagar by the same road and in the 
VOL. 11. 39* 

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same way that we had driven down two months before. At 
the station-house of Ghari I met Sir Robert and Lady Harvey, 
and spent a most delightfxil afternoon in their company. 

Thanks to the exceeding kindness of Captain and Mrs. Le 
Mesurier, Shagdur had another rest of five days at Srinagar, 
during which he picked up immensely in the fresh cool air of 
Kashmir. This gentleman and his wife were the first and the 
last English people I met during my long trip into India, so that 
the first impression which I received of the ruling race in that 
great dependency was both cordial and sympathetic, and it 
was with real and deep regret that I said good-bye to them — 
they were so imspeakably kind and nice, both to me and to my 
Cossack. The Captain, who was Joint Commissioner for Ladak, 
sent a telegram to Leh, ordering everything to be in readiness 
against our arrival, and especially that measures of precaution 
should be taken at Zoji-la. Mrs. Le Mesurier was in every respect 
an accomplished lady, and she had besides made a thorough study 
of thefeeography of Kashmir, and of the manners and customs 
of its inhabitants. 

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On the 6th of March we started again for Leh. I engaged two 
palankins called " dandies," each with eight bearers, and used 
mine as far as I possibly could ; but Shagdur had such a decided 
objection to that method of travel that, weak as he was, he 
preferred to ride. 

At Sonamarg I received telegrams from Capt. Le Mesurier, 
the Vezir Vezarat, as well as from Kargil and Leh, warning me 
on no account to attempt the pass of Zoji-la. The first-named 
very kindly invited me to return to Srinagar. But be the risk 
what it might, go on I must. The pass is more difi&cult from 
the Indian side, for you have to climb on foot up the ugly prec- 
ipices. This time, too, we were unable to use the summer road, 
as we did when we came down, but were obliged to take the deep 
ravine into which the avalanches crash down every winter from 
the overhanging cliffs, and kill so many people. The utmost 
caution is at aU times necessary. It is best to travel early in 
the morning, whilst the snow is still frozen ; it is in the afternoon 
that the avalanches fall, after the snow gets softened by the 
sun. Nobody ever attempts to force the pass in snowy weather, 
for it is then that the peril is greatest. 

On the loth of March we were up at daybreak ; it was still 
pitch dark, raw, and bitterly cold, and the stars still glittered 
brightly in the frigid steel-blue sky. The mountedns and the 
snows were only just faintly perceptible. We were soon ready. 
First went 63 coolies and men to help smooth the road, walking 
in Indian file (see illustration, p. 600) ; after them followed 
several horses, carrying the men's provisions, and, last of all, we 
ourselves on horseback, escorted by the Naib-i-tesildar of 
Ganderbal and his suite. As it grew slowly lighter, the white 
snow-fields became more and more distinctly perceptible, and 
the spruces stood out blacker and blacker against them. Every 
now and again somebody would tumble head over heels in the 

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snow, which gradually grew deeper. On we went, climbing up 
and up, step by step. The crust of the snow was still firm enough 
to bear men on foot ; but it soon turned soft and let us through. 
When the horses no longer felt firm ground under their feet, but 
floundered about like porpoises, we all got off and walked. At 
Baltal we were met by Abdullah and twenty-three experienced 
and trusty mountaineers. 

The next day we traversed the dangerous gorge. It was no 
longer recognisable, the masses of rock with which it was choked 

A Young Woman of Ladak. 

being buried under fallen avalanches to a depth, it was said, 
of 500 feet. In winter, therefore, the road runs over the top 
of this stupendous accumulation of snow, while in summer the 
gorge is absolutely impracticable. I and Shagdur were hauled 
and pushed to the top of the pass, down which swept a keen, 
cutting wind, like a waterfall, whirling up the snow in bUnding 
clouds. But once happily past the most dangerous spots, all peril 
was over. Although the snow still lay deep, it was no longer 
drifted as it was in the pass. After every fresh fall the people 
trample a path, until eventually the track consists of a mere 
succession of deep holes. If you can manage it without losing 

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your balance, it is best to walk on the little ridges between the 
holes, but as a rule people keep to the holes themselves. 

In this way we struggled for four days across the pass and 
its approaches, until we were able to use yaks, and subsequently 
horses. For three days and three nights we were snowed up 
at Kargil, and the people endeavoured to amuse us with dancing 
girls and boisterous music. We reached Leh on the 25th March, 
and found all well. All the men whom I had dismissed had 
returned, except Sirkin and Ördek, saying that the pass was 
blocked with snow. Sirkin and Ördek had, however, succeeded 



t^S-K II 

40<. 1 I' 



The Entrance Door of the Temple of the Doggtsang Raspa. 

in forcing their way through, and they eventually reached 
Kashgar in safety. 

It was my intention to rest at Leh for two or three days only, 
and then hasten northwards over the pass of Kara-korum ; 
but the fates were against me. Shagdur had a violent and 
serious relapse, and Doctor Shawe diagnosed it as typhoid fever. 
There would be no possibility of his being able to travel under 
any circumstances for two or three months. He was fearfully 
weak and emaciated, and for two nights was delirious. Thus we 
were detained day after day. I fully realized that I should have 
to leave him, but I would not do it till the poor fellow was pro- 

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nounced out of danger ; and there were two days during which 
we had almost given up hope. But about the middle of April 
he got the turn, the crisis was passed, and he only needed a 
couple of months' rest and nursing in the mission hospital, where 
Doctor Shawe would have him under his own eye. I did all I 
possibly could for the invalid's comfort. I gave orders to Li 
Loyeh to stay with him, and be his servant, promising that if 
he did his duty well, he should have an extra reward when he 
reached Kashgar. They were to stay at Leh till the sunmier, 
and accompany a merchant's caravan to Yarkand, and thence 

The Prior of Himis. 

continue to Kashgar. I gave Shagdur two hundred rupees for 
his support, and if he should need more. Consul Klemm imder- 
took to advance it. 

It was hard to part from him. When I went into his room 
for the last time, on the 5th of April, it was full of warm and 
pleasant sunshine. Shagdur was of course sorry he was not 
able to accompany us to the end of the journey ; but he saw 
that he must rest quiet until he was thoroughly well. I tried 
to look at things from the bright side, and comforted him with 
the promise that, as far as it depended upon me, I would take 
him with me on my next journey. This cheered him up ; he 
said it would be the greatest happiness and honour that life 

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could give him. At length I wrung his hand and tore myself 
away, committing him to God's care. Then the dam burst ; 
he turned his head away to hide the tears. I hurried out, so 
as not to let him see the moisture that was glittering in my 
own eyes. And, of a truth, I did feel it intensely — the long 
uncertain separation. I was also really very sorry to leave the 
Ribbachs, the Hettaschs, and Doctor Shawe. They had shown 
me such exceptional kindness and rendered me such ungrudging 
help. The memory I carried away with me of their mission- 

J. ■■*._,. ^wf *c^_- ^f,^ .J 


•A -A 


The Temple Court -yard at Himis. 

station was that of an ideal establishment of its kind. Nor was 
it an easy thing to say farewell to our old and faithful veterans, 
the nine camels which survived, the only ones which had got 
through to Leh. During the three months they had already 
rested from their hardships they had grown fat and plump, and 
now ate their food with the utmost relish. But "it was im- 
possible to take them over the Kara-korum in winter. I sold 
them, therefore, for a mere song to a merchant from Yarkand, 
who was returning home in the following simuner. 

Great-though the contrast was to go down from the Tibetan 
plateau, with its 16,000-17,000 feet of altitude and its rigorous 

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winter, to the hot summer of India at the sea-level, the transi- 
tion which now took place in the opposite direction was not less 
abrupt. It was really surprising, that I kept free from every 
trace of fever ; but to counterbalance the inununity on that 
score, I was exceedingly tired, and was longing intensely to get 
back to my peaceful study in Stockholm. I decided, therefore, 
to travel as far as I possibly could in a palankin, that is to say, 
as far as the foot of the pass of Chang-la. Borne by four stout 

A Lama Attired tor a Religious Festival. 

fellows I swung away out of Leh, and, dipping below the hills, 
we soon left behind us the picturesque Uttle town, with the 
palace of its former kings crowning the crag that overhangs it. 
As the men sped down towards the Indus at a swift pace, they 
sang a characteristic antiphonic measure ; that is to say, the 
leader sang a short strophe, whereupon the others joined in 
with a monotonous sleepy refrain. But the song stimulated 
them and helped them to march in time. On the 6th April 
we advanced down the left bank of the Indus ; that is to say, I 
and my two attendants, the Lama and Kutchuk. The caravan. 

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The Idol of the Doggtsang Raspa. 

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v •: 


Ur,: X->-' 


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with the hired horses, kept to the main road^over the Chang-la, 
and then followed the right bank of the stream. At length we 
turned away from the Indus, and travelled south and south- 
west up the graveUy scree of the southern mountain-range, 
and then entered the valley of Himis, passing on the way a 
number of picturesque choriens (p. 581), as well as several rows 
of round or oblong stone kists. As we advanced, the vaUey 
grew narrower, and turned almost due west ; the grey rocks 


A Lama Wearing a Mask. 

being dotted with solitary groups of poplars and the mountains 
wreathed with snow. Soon the famous temple of Himis came 
into sight. It resembled a cluster of houses arranged Uke an 
amphitheatre, or, rather, plastered hke swallows' nests against 
the face of the precipice. After scrambling up winding paths, 
and threading various gangwa)rs and courtyards, protected by 
breastworks, we at length reached a httle door in the wall, and 
met with a friendly reception from the prior. He was a Uttle 
old man, with a thin grey beard and a big ugly nose, but his 
smile was the perfection of kindliness and good nature. His 
name was Ngavang Chö Tsang, and his title, Himi Chaggtsot. 

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I never in all my life saw such a labyrinth of rooms and 
cells, courtyards and passages, and steep narrow stone stair- 
ways, as there was in this temple complex. It would be difficult 
to give anything like an intelligible description of its plan. 
In fact, there was no intelligible plan ; each little wing 
seemed to have been built just where there happened to 
be the most room to spare at the moment. We were taken 
through a gateway, up a steep acchvity paved with flat stones 
and shut in between high wadls. We turned sharply round a 
comer, and were swallowed up in a dark passage which led to a 
series of small courtyards. We climbed up a staircase, and 
obtained a glimpse of the interior of a temple, the gilded 
idols being only just perceptible in the dim religious light. We 
stepped out upon a terrace, and were amazed at the glorious 
view which burst upon our sight ; and when we glanced behind 
us we were once more amazed that the temple-town had not 
been long ago crushed flat by a fall of the cliff, which overhimg 
it so threateningly at the back. Then we were led up another 
staircase, along other passages, through other pokey cupboard- 
like apartments, until we got perfectly bewildered. It was like 
wandering through a maze or an enchanted cave. I could find 
my way about in Government House, Calcutta, much more 
easily than here, although there I was some little time learning 
the " geography " of the place ; though when I came to the 
big oil-portrait of Feth Ali Shah I knew I was on the right way 
to my own room. But here in Himis I would defy anybody 
to find the way except the monks and friars who belonged to it. 

The first apartment into which I was taken had a ceiling sup- 
ported by picturesque wooden columns, and contained the idol 
Dollma, with big glowering eyes. In front of the image, which 
was said to be three hundred years old, were ranged row upon 
row of little brass bowls containing water, rice, com, flour, lard 
and butter. I made a hurried sketch of it from the other side 
of the apartment (see p. 6ig). This was said to be the most 
revered idol in the monastery. Two lamas lay prostrate be- 
fore the image of the Doggtsang Raspa, which was gilded 
and draped with a cloak. On the right of it was Lama 
Yalsras, and on the left Sanjas Shaggja Toba. The temples 
themselves, of which there were seven, were called dengkang 
(in Mongolian doggung), and the rooms where the monks read 
their noms (sacred books) were called tsokkang (in Mongolian 

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Til K v ■/■ 

11L' f-N .-•iU\rt r 0N5. 

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The monks keep a little lamp hurtling perpetually in a huge 
goblet-shaped brass bowl filled with yellow fat, which they call 
lochott. The walls were hung with rehgious paintings in the 
shape of standards, often several, one above another ; while 
from the roof were suspended a number of draperies called 
chuchepp. Long triple-pointed pennons called pann wreathed 
the columns, and baldachins, shaped like gigantic parasols, were 
fixed above the images of the gods. Drums, bells, cymbals, and 
long wooden trumpets also formed part of the equipment of the 
temple. It was like walking through a museum, one that I 
would gladly have carried away with me. The book-shelves 

In the Valley of Sheyok. 

groaned under the volumes of noms, or Buddhist scriptures. 
All the other temples were furnished in a similar way with 
images of the gods and chortens of silver, set with rubies, tur- 
quoises and gold. Through a trap-door in the floor I was 
shown the hakkang ; that is to say, the ** armoury" of the 
temple, where the monks kept their vestments, masks, hats, 
spears, drums, trumpets, sackbuts, and a thousand other things, 
which they use at the great rehgious dances that take place 
every year in July. Two or three of the lamas good-naturedly 
put on their festal attire, and sat, or rather stood, as models to 
me whilst I sketched them. The kitchen, or tabUsang, which 
they used on the occasion of their great summer festival, con- 
VOL. II. 40 . 

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tained five gigantic cooking-pots, or " coppers," and several 
smaller ones, set in brick-work over a huge fireplace. The 
prior showed me everything himself, and did it with impressive 
dignity ; and wound up by conducting me to a guest-room in 
a small and comfortable pavilion just below the monastery. 
When I visited him in the evening in his own apartment, the 

A Flute-player at Sheyok. 

narrow passages and corridors, seen in the yellow-red flare of 
the torches, were wonderfully like grottoes and caverns in a 
lime-stone mountain. 

• The old man told me that Himi-gompa, the name he gave 
to his monastery, was built three hundred years ago by Dogg- 
tsang Raspa, a lama who lives perpetually like the Dalai Lama. 
The present Doggtsang Raspa was, he said, nineteen years old, 
and for three years he had been Uving the life of a hermit, abso- 
lutely and entirely alone, in a very small gompa or cave in the 
mountain-side in the district called Gotsang. He had still 
three years to spend there. Thus for six whole years he would 

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never see the face of a human being and never take a step out- 
side of his prison. A serving lama, who lived close by, would 
keep him supplied with food, pushing it in to him every day 
through a small aperture, while a spring of water in his cell 
furnished him with water. But the two men were not allowed 
to look at one another, nor were they ever allowed to speak. 
Should it be necessary to make any communication of import- 
ance to the Doggtsang Raspa, it would be written on a strip of 
paper and left in the aperture. 

The enforced recluse spent his time in meditation and in 
studying the holy scriptures of his faith. I asked what would 

The Pass of Kitchik-kumdan near Kara-korum. 

happen to him if he fell ill, and was told, by way of answer, 
that he was so holy he never did fall ill ; and if he had done so, 
he possessed a remedy that was effectual against all the sick- 
nesses in the world. Every Doggtsang Raspa before him had 
gone through the same process of purification. At the end of 
the six years he would come down to Himis, and when he died, 
his spirit would pass into a new Doggtsang Raspa. 

There were about three hundred lamas attached to the 
monastery, and most of them spent the wdnter at other gompas 
or monasteries, and at Leh. They were, however, all supported 
by the monastery of Himis, which is rich and possesses a large 
extent of cultivated ground. A few years ago a Russian traveller 
VOL. II. 40* 

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astonished the world by the pretended "discovery at Himis 
of a manuscript describing the life of Jesus." But as he has 
already been sufficiently exposed, I need not say anything fur- 
ther about him. The following afternoon, when I left the temple, 
the prior made me a present of various stores, and a sheep, for 
which he would not allow me to pay him. He himself accom- 
panied us on horseback as far as the bridge across the Indus ; 
and at Taggar we picked up the caravan. 

The return journey through Asia and Euroj)e would supply 
sufficient material for another long chapter of travel ; but I 
must here break off my narrative, though there are just a few 
things which I ought to mention. Having ascended the valley 
of Sheyok, or Sheok, with yaks, we came to the pass of Kara- 
korum (18,564 feet) ; thence we crossed the passes of Sughett- 
davan and Sanju with horses, rested a couple of days at Kargalik 
and Yarkand, and at length reached Kashgar on the 14th May, 
1902.' Spring was dight in all her beauties when I again sat 
with my old friend Consul-General Petrovsky in his well-remem- 
bered garden, and talked over my experiences in Central Asia, 
and thanked him for the incalculable services he had rendered 
me on so many occasions during the past years. Mr. Macartney 
and Father Hendricks were also both intensely interested in 
my story. At the same time I made the acquaintance of two 
newly-arrived Swedish missionaries, Messrs. Andersson and 
Bäcklund, who had thrown themselves zealously into the work 
of the mission, and had every reason to be satisfied with the 
fruits of their laborious and self-denying efforts. 

But I had no time to linger. A clasp of the hand, and I 
must hasten westwards over the mountains. Kutchuk and 
Khodai Kullu returned to their huts in the Lop country, carry- 
ing with them a handsome recompense for their faithful service. 
At Osh I parted from honest old Turdu Bai, warmly recommend- 
ing him to Colonel Saitseff , in whose hospitable house I was once 
more received with open arms. It was hard to part from Malenki 
and Malchik. I went into the yard to say good-bye to them 
before driving down to the railway station in Andijan, and 
their wondering, questioning eyes followed me as if they under- 
stood that we should never see one another again. At Chemya- 
yeva I* took heartfelt farewell of that fine fellow Chemoff, who 
was to travel via Tashkend to Vernoye. Cherdon and the Lama 
accompanied me across the Caspian Sea. The good-natured 
Shereb Lama was taken terribly aback when he saw the paddle- 

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wheels of the big steamboat begin to carry us out towards the 
open sea. These two accompanied me as far as Petfovsk, whence 
they were to continue to Astrakhan. In that city the Lama 
intended to settle down in a Kalmuck monastery, Consul 
Petrovsky having joined with me in recommending him to the 
governor. Shereb Lama durst not show himself again in Kara- 
shahr, and Kamba Bombo had forbidden him once and for all 
ever to enter Lassa again. Cherdon was to take the Siberian 
railway to his home in Transbaikalia. 

I found it very hard to part from them all. We had been 
together such a long time. The tears they shed bore witness 

A Portion of the Glacier of Kitchik-kumdan. 

also to the feelings with which they parted from me. I have 
heard from some of them since, and was especially glad to know 
that Shagdur had got at least as far as Osh, within the boun- 
daries of the Russian Empire. General Sakharoff, of St. Peters- 
burg, has several times very kindly given me information about 
my faithful Cossacks, and quite recently I received a letter from 
Colonel Saitseff, which I was unable to read without emotion. 
It contained a description of Shagdur's account of his impres- 
sions of the journey, especially of the dash for Lassa and the trip 
to India. I was very pleased to learn that he retained an affec- 
tionate recollection of me. 

King Oscar honoured all four Cossacks with a gold medal 

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each, which he had specially struck for the purpose, and which 
they received the Czar's permission to wear. Their own Sove- 
reign, the Czar, bestowed upon them the distinction of the Order 
of St. Anna, together with a present of 250 roubles (£26) each. 
The King of Sweden also sent gold medals to Turdu Bai and 
Khalmet Aksakal, and a silver medal to Faisullah. At an 
audience which His Majesty the Czar Nicholas II. graciously- 
accorded me at Peterhof, he expressed the great satisfaction it 
had been to him to hear how pleased I was with his Cossacks, 
and that their conduct from the first day to the last had been 
so irreproachable. I sent an official report about them to 
General Kuropatkin, the Imperial Minister of War. 

I will not attempt to describe the feelings which swept over 
me when, on the 27th June, 1902, the Von Döbdn steered in 
amongst the islands of the Swedish skärgård. How often and 
often I had wondered whether I should ever again see those 
dear old grey rocks, associated as they were with so many happy 
memories of my childhood ! It was three years and three days, 
and far more than 1,001 nights, since I said good-bye to my 
father and mother and other members of the family. There 
they were, waiting for me on the same quay from which they 
had waved to me their farewells. Summer was come again in 
all its beauty, and the lilacs were once more in bloom as they 
were when I started. The long years which had passed in the 
interval seemed like a dream ; it was as if I had only been away 
for a few short days. Everything was exactly as it used to be. 

The very next day I was received in audience by King Oscar, 
who has always supported my plans with such munificent gene- 
rosity, and I may even say with fatherly kindness. To him 
I related the story of my travels, adding yet another stone 
to the building which I hope is still far from being finished. 


Digitized by LjOOQIC 


Abdall, or Abdal i. 397, 438, 
439 ; altitude of, i. 460 ; gad- 
flies at, i. 439, 440 ; natives 
of, i. 449. 

Abdu Rehim, a mighty camel 
slayer, i. 321, 353 ; portrait 
of, i. 381 ; hired as guide, i, 322; 
starts for Kurruktagh, i. 335 ; 
on wild camels, i. 356 ; hunts 
wild camel, i. 358, 360, 366 ; 
truthfulness of, i. 359 ; accom- 
panies author into desert, i. 
374 ; geographical knowledg:e 
o^» i- 375 ■» returns home, i. 
379; springs of, i. 375; ii. 


Abdullah, mountaineer, ii. 599, 

Abdurrahman, the jighit, i. 175- 

Abdurrahman Khoja, i. 573. 
Acha, " the channel,'' i. 418. 
Achik-köll, lake, i. 590, 591. 
Achik-kuduk, ''salt well,'^ii. 85. 
Achik-yardang-bulak, spring, 

i- 353- 
Addan-tso, ii. 491, 496. 
Aerometers, i. 4. 
Agacha Khan, i. 447. 
Aghil, " sheep-fold," i. 26. 
Ahmed, ii. 37, 74, 523, 594. 
Ahmed Pavan of Singher, i. 357, 

Aji-tsonyak, ii. 568. 
Akato-tagh, ii. 27, 49 ; approaches 

to,' i. 468, 469 ; composition of, 

ii. 41 ; defiles of, ii. 41-48 ; 

gravel-and-shingle terrace, ii. 

53 ; passes of, ii. 48, 49, 469 ; 

spring in, ii. 49, 53. 
Ak-bai, well, i. 299. 
Ak-baital, i. 19. 
Akbura, i. 14. 

Ak-chokka-aytuseh, i. 486. 
Akhin, " stream," i. 320. 
Ak-ilek, i. 311. 

Akin, or chukker-su, " trench in 
river bottom," i. 94. 

Ak Kasha, boatman, i. 416. 

Ak-köU, or Ak-köl, i. 434 ; ii. 175. 

Ak-kum, " white sand," i. 60. 

Ak-kumning-yugan-köU, i. 190. 

Aksakal, " consular agent," i. 77. 

Aksakal, of Korla, i. 222 ; of 
Yanghi-köU, i. 246, 248, 416, 
427, 436. See also Khalmet 

Aksak-maral, beg of, i. 102, 105, 
107, 108. 

Ak-sattma, i, 136. 

Aksu, i. 332. 

Aksu-daria, i. 152, 153. 

Aktarma, huts at, i. 251. 

Alabaster, ii. 143. 

Ala-ayghir, on-bashi of, i. 100, lOi. 

Alai Mts. i. 12, 24 ; valley of, 
i. 25-29. 

Ala Kunglei Buzrugvar, i. 165, 

Aldat, the Afghan, i. 470, 473 ; 
portrait of, i. 515 ; character of, 
i. 562 ; as guide, i. 481 ; re- 
connoitres, i. 505 ; shoots an 
antelope, i. 509 ; topographical 
knowledge, i. 513 ; breaks his 
musket, i. 526 ; shoots wild 
yaks, i. 526, 547, 565 ; hauls 
author's boat ashore, i. 539 ; 
accompanies author, i. 564 ; 
last illness of, i. 564-582 ; his 
mind wanders, i. 568 ; sick- 
bed of, i. 569 ; death-place, i. 
579 ; burial, i. 583 ; his father, 
i. 584 ; ii. 182. 

Algae, i. 128, 406. 

Ali Ahun, tailor, i. 328, 478, 607 ; 
ii. 36 ; portrait of, ii. 31. 

Alim Ahun, i. 92, 151, 200 ; at 
sport, i. 161 ; in a canoe, i. 173. 

Al-kattik-chekkeh, i. 205, 207. 

Alla-sangpo, river, ii. 441, 472. 

Almaz, ii. 264, 476 ; illness of, 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 



ii. 504, 523, 531 ; returns home, 

ii- 594. 

Altimish-bulak, i. 321, 366 ; ii. 
97, 102 ; author testing level- 
ling instruments at, ii. 99 ; 
temperature at, ii. 107 

Altitudes of AbdaD, i. 460 ; in 
Central Tibet, ii. 266, 267, 282, . 
284, 419, 475 ; in Northern 
Tibet, i. 509, 522, 552, 564- 

570» 578» 581, 589 ; ii- 43» 218, 
23?, 247, 254, 258, 261, 262 ; 
in Western Tibet, ii. 503, 517, 

531, 544» 547» 557» 582. 
Amban, Chinese governor," i. 

119, 420. See also Jan Daloi. 
Amber beads, ii. 143. 
Amdo, Tibetan province, ii. 351, 

Amdo-mochu, ii. 345. 
Amgon Lama, ii. 364. 
Amrik-va, ii. 511. 
Amu-daria, i. 10 ; bridge over, 

i. 10. 
Anambaruin-gol, ii. 61, 62, 77 ; 

camp at, ii. 54 ; cooking and 

washing at, ii. 51 ; journey to, 

ii. 37-61. 
Anambaruin-ula or Anambar-ula, 

ii. 38, 61, 69, 73. 
Ancient Ruins. See Andereh- 


Andereh, i. 304. 

Andereh-terem, i. 296, 303 ; snow- 
storm on way to, i. 303. 
Andersson, Mr., ii. 628. 
Andijan, or Andishan, i. 12 ; ii. 

628 ; merchants of, i. 149, 328, 

Andijanlik, ** West Turkestan 

merchant,*' i. 149, 32"^, 332. 
Andishan. See Andijan. 
Andrée, balloon trip of, i . 266. 
Anemometer, i. 4, 8 . 
Anmarju, ii. 577, 581, 582. 
Anna Tsering, ii. 388-389, 397, 399. 
Ansash-kum, i. 211. 
An-si, ii. 144. 
Antelopes in Desert o. Gobi, ii. 

82, 97 ; in Kurruk-tagh, i. 339 ; 

in Tibet, ii. 495 ; orongo, i. 556 ; 

ii. 222, 240, 255, 271, 441; 

yureh, ii. 416. 

Ants, i. 465. 

Apricots, i. 75. 

Araba, *' Turkestan cart," i. 13 ; 

ii. 186. 
Arabachi, '* coachman," i. 25. 
Aral, or aralchi, ** island," i. 92. 
Aralchi, shepherd's hut at, i. 313, 


Aralchi, or aral, '* island," i. 92. 

Ara-tagh, or Middle Chain, i. 485, 
488. See also Tibet, North- 
ern Border Ranges of. 

Archa, " juniper," i. 20. 

ArchcBological Exploration in 
Chinese Turkestan^ Dr. Stein's, 
i. 304». 

AreHsh, i. 230, 320 ; beg of, i. 202. 

Arghan, or Ayrilghan, i. 319, 437- 

Argol, " dung as fuel," ii. 30, 235, 
328, 340, 351 ; author collects, 
ii. 314 ; flame of, ii. 465. 

Argussun, or argol, " dung as 
fuel," ii. 30. 

Arik, " irrigation channel," i. 51, 

53» 54 ; ii- 136. 

Arka-köU, i. 404. 

Arka-tagh, i. 498, 507, 588; ii. 
243 ; altitude of, i. 509, 589 ; 
parallel ranges of, i. 502, 505 ; 
passes of, i. 503 ; ii. 247 ; snow- 
storm on, i. 589 ; spurs of, i. 
506 ; summit of, i. 511 ; travel- 
ling across, i. 496-511 ; ii. 246- 

Arkharis, ** mountain sheep," i. 
339» 569 ; ii- 62, 210, 218, 247. 

Arrows, ii. 143. 

Artan, *' castrated male camel," 
ii. 229. 

Aru-tso, lake, ii. 544. 

Asclepias, " rush," i. 320. 

Ash, " Turkestan rice-pudding," 
i. 17, 181, 263. 

Ash tayyar, " Dinner is ready," 
i. 181. 

Ashur Beg, i. 428, 

Asia, travel in, i., vi. See also 
Gobi, Desert of ; Takla- 
MAKAN ; Tarim ; and Tibet. 

Askabad, i. 9. 

Asman, ** fish," i. 123. See also 

Ass, wild. See Kulan. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 



Asses, tame, ii. 230 : caravan of, 
ii. 236, 238, 239 ; cost of, ii. 112. 

Asta akkadi, *' current flowing 
slowly," i. 94. 

Astin-yoll, " lower road, " i. 297, 
298, 301 ; ii. 85. 

Astun-tagh. See Astyn-tagh. 

Astyn-tagh, or Astun-tagh, i. 464 ; 
ii- 33 y journey across, i. 457- 
467 ; parallel chains of, ii. 54. 

Atchal, i. 189. 

Atmosphere, curious effect of, i. 
215 ; ii. 33 ; on Tibetan high- 
lands, i. 535, 547. See also 
Sunrise and Sunset. 

Atta Kellghen, i. 416. 

Att-attgan, *' the Shot Horse," 
ii. 8. 

Att-bashi, *' leader of horses," ii. 

Atti Kush Padishah, i. 243. 

Att-pangats, i. 99. 

Aul, " tent-village," i. 18, 24 ; ii. 

Author, portraits of, 1. 47 ; 11. 17 ; 
in Mongolian dress, ii. 297, 
311 ; expresses his thanks, i., 
V. ; apology for his book, i., 
vi. ; and Dr. M. A. Stein, i., 
vii., 144». ; leaves Stockholm, 
i. 3 ; his equipment, i. ZSn. ; 
journeys through Russia, i. 4-7 ; 
across the Caspian, i. 8 ; through 
West Turkestan, i. 9-12 ; met 
by Islam Bai, i. 13 ; leaves 
Oteh, i. 14; his caravan to 
Kashgar, i. 17-18, 21, 31 ; 
travels from Osh to Kashgar, 
i. 17-3Q ; makes preparations 
at Kasngar, i. 40-46 ; starts 
from Kashgar, i. 47-50 ; travels 
to the Yarkand-daria, i. 50-60 ; 
boat-building at Lailik, i. 63- 
77 ; drifts down the Tarim, i. 
77-233» 410-438; habits of 
work, i. 82-83, 91, 138, 212, 
288, 426 ; sails on the river, 
i. 63-65, 97, 158-159; method 
of measuring river, i. 99 ; de- 
scribes the poplar woods, i. 
110-112 ; maps of Tarim, i. 
114, 434 ; describes Kasim's 
fishing, i. 120-123 ; explores 
the Sorun-köll, i. 126-129 5 

walks across the Chokka-tagh^ 
i. 129-133 ; his favourite dog 
dies, i. 135 ; visits the Masar 
Khojam, i. 146-147 ; met by 
begs at Avvat, i. 149-150 ; 
met by beg of Shahyar, i. 176- 
177 ; describes the ice-disks, 
i. 210-216 ; travelling on 
Tarim by night, i. 211-216, 
430-433; met by Parpi Bai, 
i. 222 ; describes the marginal 
lagoons of Tarim, i. 226-230, 
246-250, 263-264 ; arrives at 
Yanghi-köll, i. 233 ; in winter- 
quarters, i. 234-243, 250-255, 
320-332, 410-414 ; dismisses 
Niaz Hadji, i. 234-235; re- 
connoitres the desert, i 243- 
250 ; meets M. Bonin, i. 252- 
255 ; crosses the Takla-makan 
desert, i. 255-295 ; describes 
the bayirs. i. 264-285, 318 ; 
spends Christmas Eve in the 
Desert, i. 270-271 ; finds vege- 
tation in middle of desert, i. 
277 ; snowed up in desert, i. 
286-289 ; strikes the Cherchen- 
daria, i. 292 ; rides to Andereh- 
terem and back, i. 296-305 ; 
searches for old bed of Cher- 
chen-daria, i. 305-308 ; de- 
scribes a Raskolnila (?) burial- 
place, i. 309-310 ; travels down 
the Ettek-tarim, i. 315-319 ; 
back at Ysuighi-köll, i. 320- 
332 ; engages Abdu Rehim, 
i. 322 ; joined by two Buriat 
Cossacks, i. 322-325 ; dismisses 
Kurban, i. 325 ; travels to Kur- 
ruk-daria, i. 335-352 ; comes 
upon ruins of Ying-pen, i. 
342-345 ; gets lost in a sand- 
storm, i. 346-347 ; proceeds 
towards .the Kiuruk-tagh, i. 
352-373 ; account of wild 
camel, i. 356-373 ; describes 
wild camel hunts, i. 360-361, 
366-373 ; ii. 54> 101-102 ; de- 
scribes yardangs, i. 365; account 
of ancient lake of Lop-nor, i. 
374-385 ; discovers ruins in 
desert, i. 377-384, ; meets wan- 
dering lake, i. 385-388 ; crosses 
the new lake on raft, i. 390- 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 



391 ; makes excursions on 
Kara-koshun lakes, i. 395-409 ; 
sails a canoe on the Tarim, i. 
413-414 ; explores Lower Tarim 
lakes, i. 414-425 ; and natives 
of Lop country, i. 420 ; de- 
scribes storm on Beglik-köll, i. 
422-425 ; resumes drift down 
Tarim, i. 426-438 ; tormented 
by gad-flies, i. 440-441. 457» 
492 ; takes down poetry of the 
Lopliks, i. 442-452 ; and their 
letters, i. 452-454 ; travels 
through the Kara-koshun lakes, 
i. 457-459 ; crosses desert to 
Astyn-tagh, i. 459-467 ; crosses 
Akato-tagh, i. 468-478 ; ac- 
count of Aldat the Afghan, i. 
470-473 ; travels into Tibet, 
i. 481^4508 ; crosses Chimen- 
tagh, i. 483-489 ; overtaken 
by darkness, i. 487-488 ; over 
the Kalta-alagan, i. 488-493 ; on 
marmots, i. 489, 578 ; on kulans, 
i. 490-492, 581» 599 ; on wild 
yaks, i. 493, 577 ; crosses the 
Lower Kum-köll, i. 494-495 ; 
crosses the Arka-tagh, i. 496- 
510; on Tibetan highlands, i. 
513-582 ; describes Tibetan 
quagmires, i. 518-519, 521, 574 ; 
ii. 236-237, 286, 404, 413 ; ad- 
ventures on a salt lake, i. 531- 
539 ; tows camels across river, 
i. 540-544 ; on Tibetan lakes, 
i« 553-561 ; penetrates farther 
south, i. 564-568 ; describes 
Aldat's illness, i. 566-582 ; and 
burial, i. 583-584 ; recrosses 
northern ranges of Tibet, i. 
584-605 ; describes gold-mines 
of Togri-sai, i. 593-594; <ie- 
scribes rock drawings of Togri- 
sai, i. 595-596 ; meets two 
hunters, i. 596-599 ; misled 
by signal-fire, i. 600-602 ; met 
by Islam Bai, i. 602-606 ; re- 
turns to Mandarhk, i. 607- 
608 ; manner of life, ii. 3 ; 
makes trip to Ayag-kum-köU, 
ii. 4-36 ; explores Ayag-kum- 
köU, ii. 12-23 ; in skiff, ii. 
17 ; crosses Chimen-tagh by 
night, ii. 27 ; crosses Akato- 

tagh, ii. 27-28 ; on Mongol pil- 
grims, ii. 30-35 ; back at Temir- 
lik, ii. 33-36 ; starts for Anam- 
baruin-gol, ii. 37-38 ; sledges 
across Lake Ghaz, ii. 40 ; 
adventures in Akato-tagh, ii. 
41-50; tells Shagdur of trip 
to Lassa, ii. 54 ; story of 
the Dungans, ii. 57-58 ; New 
Year's Eve in desert, ii. 58 ; 
in highland basin of Sär- 
täng, ii. 65-69 ; sends back 
Tokta Ahun, ii. 74-77 ; crosses 
Desert of Gobi, ii. 77-108 ; 
leads the caravan, ii. 93-97 ; 
tests levelling instruments, ii. 
^ ; returns to Altimish-bulak, 
li. 102-103 ; story of Khodai 
KuUu, ii. 103-107 ; searches for 
Ordek's ruins, ii. 111-124 ; ex- 
cavations in Desert of Lop, ii. 
1 13-138 ; discovers torn MSS., 
ii. 132-134 ; quotes Herr Himly 
on the discoveries, ii. 134-316 ; 
history of Lou-Ian, ii. 139-150 ; 
sends back FaisuUah, ii. 153 ; 
surveys Lop Desert, ii. 154-161; 
anxious about Khodai Värdi, 
ii. 154 ; sends of! Khodai KiiUu, 
ii. 161 ; entangled amongst the 
lakes, ii. 162-166 ; met by Cher- 
noff and Tokta Ahun, ii. 166 ; 
Faisullah's story, ii. 169-170 ; 
on the Tarim basin, ii. 170- 
174; threads the Tarim lakes, 
ii. 175 ; reaches Charkhlik, ii. 
176 ; quarters at Charkhlik, 
ii. 177-186 ; sends Shagdur to 
Kara-shahr, ii. 178-181 ; pre- 
pares for Tibet, ii. 182-186 ; 
allows Islam Bai to return 
home, ii. 186-189 ; sends ofiE 
caravans for Tibet, ii. 190- 
194 ; account of Shereb Lama, 
ii. 194-196, 213-217, 347 ; Khal- 
met Aksakal accuses Islam 
Bai, ii. 197 ; investigates charges 
against Islam Bai, ii. 198 ; 
steals away from Charkhlik, 
ii. 205 ; ascends glen of Charkh- 
lik-su, ii. 206-211 ; takes lessons 
in Mongolian, ii. 213 ; crosses 
the border-ranges, ii. 218-262 ; 
again at the Ayag-kmn-köll, 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 



ii. 222-228 ; arrangement of 
camp, ii. 231-235 ; difficulties 
with quagmires, ii. 236-237, 
286, 404-406, 413 ; describes 
a bear-hunt, ii. 240-243 ; loses 
camels, ii. 248, 264 ; his men ill, 
ii. 250, 254 ; sets up landmark, 
ii. 252 ; his Mongolian disguise, 
ii. 261, 297, 311 ; divides cara- 
van, ii. 264 ; pushes on faster, 
ii. 265 ; first contact with 
Tibetans, ii. 275-279 ; gets 
into a cul'de-saCy ii. 284-286 ; 
makes arrangements at fixed 
camp, ii. 289-292 ; starts for 
Lassa, ii. 296 ; his head 
shaved and painted, ii. 303, 
346 ; attacked by robbers, ii. 
305-309 ; sends back Ördek, ii. 
310-313 ; collects fuel, ii. 314 ; 
encampment of, ii. 315 ; keeps 
watch, ii. 317 ; an alarm, ii. 
319 ; desire for adventure, ii. 
321 ; rides through the rain, 
ii. 322-325 ; recovers mule, ii. 
325 ; visited by Sampo Singhi, 
ii. 328-335 ; ordered to fetch in 
horses, ii. 332 ; describes killing 
of sheep, ii. 334 ; fords the 
Sachu-sangpo, ii. 337-338 ; and 
the tea caravan, ii. 342-346 ; 
stopped by Tibetans, ii. 352- 
383 ; colour of his eyes, ii. 356 ; 
his tent surrounded by Tibe- 
tans , ii. 358-362 ; visited by 
Tibetan spies, ii. 362-367 ; by 
Mongolian interpreter, ii. 368- 
374 ; visited by Kamba Bombo, 
ii. 376-383 ; visits Kamba Bom- 
bo, ii. 384 ; taken for an En- 
glishman, ii. 385; rejects Kamba 
Bombo's horses, ii. 385-386 ; 
starts back for camp, ii. 387- 
388 ; escorted by Tibetans, ii. 
388 - 399 ; retimis to head- 
quarters camp, ii. 400-407 ; 
met by Sirkin and Turdu Bai, 
ii. 406 ; back at headquarters 
camp, ii. 407-410 ; has a bath, 
ii. 408 ; again travels south, ii. 
411, &c. ; questions shepherds of 
Jansung, ii. 417-423 ; again sur- 
rounded by soldiers, ii. 423- 
.429, 432-441; drifts down 

Sachu - sangpo, ii. 424 - 428 ; 
again stopped by Tibetans, ii. 
430, 452 ; amongst Tibetsui 
Jakes, ii. 430-582 ; fishes in 
Yaggyu-rapga, ii. 438; des- 
cribes illness and death of Kal- 
pet, ii. 442-451 ; Turki name of, 
ii. 451 ; met by emissaries from 
Lassa, ii. 452-462, 469, 475- 
479» 493-494 ; letter from Dalai 
Lama, ii. 454-456 ; account of 
Tibetan emissaries, ii. 457-462; 
trip on Nakktsong-tso, ii. 463- 
475 ; causes of Tibetan jealousy, 
ii. 470-471 ; photographs Tibe- 
tans, ii. 479 ; trip on Chargut- 
tso, ii. 480-401 ; on Addan-tso, 
ii. 491 ; travels down Boggtsang- 
sangpo, ii. 495 - 503 ; visits 
Erenak-chimmo, ii. 500-503 ; 
asks for yaks, ii. 507 ; camels 
and horses break down, ii. 507, 
528-532 ; dealings with Yamdu 
Tsering, ii. 508-513 ; travels 
beside Lakkor-tso, ii. 516-519 ; 
down Sommeh-sangpo, ii. 519- 
520 ; death of Mohammed 
Tokta, ii. 520-523 ; on mountain 
sickness, ii. 523-524 ; measures 
ancient beach lines, ii. 524- 
527 ; travels beside Perutseh- 
tso, &c., ii. 532-548 ; interview 
with chief of Rudok, ii. 539- 
540 ; fighting the wind and 
bitter cold, ii. 545-576; travels 
beside Tsangar-shar, ii. 549- 
557 ; on travelling in Tibet, ii. 
553-554 ; on and beside Tso- 
ngombo, ii. 559-568 ; beside 
Panggong-tso, ii. 569-577; niet 
by relief caravan, ii. 575, 577 ; 
the last of YoUdash, ii. 578 ; 
pushes on to Leh, ii. 582-590 ; 
telegram from King Oscar, ii. 
590 ; from Lord Curzon, ii. 590 ; 
Christmas Eve at Leh, ii. 593 ; 
travels from Leh to Srinagar, ii. 
597-603 ; across the Zoji-la, ii. 
599-603 ; from Srinagar to 
Rawalpindi, ii. 603-605 ; refits 
at Lahore, ii. 605 ; arrives at 
Calcutta, ii. 606-607 » received 
by Lord Curzon, ii. 607-608 ; 
at Bombay, ii. 610 ; at Jaipur, 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 



ii. 6ii ; at Kartarpur, ii. 6ii ; 

recrosses Zoji-la, ii. 613-615 ; 

says good-bye to Rhagdur, ii. 

616-617 ; leaves Leh, ii. 618 ; 

visits temple of Himis, ii. 621- 

628 ; return via Kashgar, Osh, 

and Caspian, ii. 628 - 630 ; 

reaches home, ii. 630 ; received 

by King Oscar, ii. 630. 
Avras, pass of, i. 488, 497. 
Avulu-köU, i. 362. 
Awat, i. 149 ; beg of, i. 150. 
Ayag-arghan, i. 429. 
Ayag-kum-köU, i. 495, 496 ; ii. 

11-23 ; author sails across, ii. 

12-20 ; depth of, ii. 12-19 5 ^^^ 

on, ii. 24 ; shore of, ii. 25, 223 ; 

temperature of, ii. 15-19. 
Aylämä, i. 29. 
Ayrilghan, or Arghan, i. 319 
Ayvan, " verandah," i. 147. 

Baba-köll, i. 304. 

Baba Tarim, or Old Father Tarim, 

i. 429. 
Bäcklund, Mr., ii. 628. 
Baggage, weight of, i. 3 ; at 

Charkhlik, ii. 183, 186; at 

Kum-köll, ii, 223. 
Bagh-tokai,'* the Orchard Wood/' 

i. 606. 
Bagrash-köU, i. 245, 340. 
Bais, " rich men,'' i. 136, 160, 

Bakkang, ** armoury," ii. 625. 
Baksh, Emir, ii. 610. 
Bal, ii. 560. 
Bala-khaneh, ** upper story of a 

house," ii. 597. 
Balalaika, stringed musical in- 
strument, ii. 410. 
Balik, "fish," i. 123. 
Balik-ölldi, " Dead Fish," i. 164. 
Balkan Gulf, of Caspian, i. 9. 
Baltal, ii. 600, 603. 
Banching Bondo, ii. 420. 
Banks, seed corn, ii. 136. 
Baramula, ii. 604. 
Barometer, self-registering, i. 4. 
Barrakpur, Palace of, ii. 607. 
Barter, objects for, i. 41 ; ii. 334, 

Bash-köll, lake, etc., i. 243, 246- 

Bash-kurgan, " the Fortress at 

the Head of the Glen," i. 466. 
Bashlik, '* hood," i. 255 ; ii. 213, 

Bash-tograk, i. 336, 338. 

Bash-yoll, i. 467. 

Bass, Miss, ii. 593. 

Batir, "the hero" (i.e,, Khodai 

Kullu), ii. 170. 
Bayir, " depression," i. 243. 
Bayirs, of Takla-makan, i. 247, 

249, 263-285 ; near Ettek- 

terim, i. 317-318. 
Bayley, Mr. C. S., ii. 607. 
Beach-lines, ancient, of Jaggtseh- 

tso, ii. 496 ; of Lakkor-tso, ii, 

517, 524, 527 ; of Luma-ring- 

tso, ii. 536 ; of Panggong-tso, 

ii. 582 ; of Selling-tso, ii. 432, 

434, 472 ; of Tso-ngombo, ii. 

561, 562. 
Bears, in captivity, i. 30 ; Tibetan, 

i. 477, 574, 578-579 ; ii- 218, 

240-243, 275, 404. 
Beetles, i. 465. 
Beglik-KöU, i. 421, 425 ; storm 

on, i. 422-424. 
Bel, " saddle," i. 29. 
Bellows, used by Tibetans, ii. 363, 

304, 396. 
Bells, found in ruins, n. 143. 
Bema, " clotted cream," ii. 333. 
Benares, ii. 605. 
Bendersky, M., i. 11. 
Ben Nursu, Tibetan spy, ii. 362- 

Besh-köll, " the Five Lakes," i. 


Beslan, i. 6. 

Bickel, Mr., ii. 610. 

Bikar-daria, " cul-de-sac," i. 94- 

Bildt, Lieut. Didrik, ii. 606. 

BiUauli, glen, i. 20. 

Blood, General Sir Bindon, ii. 611. 

Blue Lake, or Tso-ngombo, ii. 558- 

Boar, wild, i. 136, 328, 391, 414, 
418, 419. 

Boat, canvas, i. 63, 64 ; on the 
Panggong-tso, ii. 570 ; con- 
verted into sledge, ii. 40, 567 ; 
on Tarim, i. 158, 200 ; hole torn 
in, i. 202-203 ; used as a tent, 
i. 537-538 ; Tibetans aston- 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 



ished at, ii. 424 ; Turki name 
for, i. 209. 
Boat (and canoa) excursions, on 
Addan-tso, ii. 491 ; on Ayag- 
kum-köU, i. 494-495 ; ii. 12- 
23 ; on Beglik-köll, 421-425 ; 
on Chargut-tso, ii. 480-491 ; on 
Kara-koshun lakes, i. 395-409, 
457-459 ; ii- ^75 ; on Nakktsong 
tso, ii. 463-475 ; on the Sachu- 
sangpo, ii. 426-428 ; on Sorun- 
köU, i. 127-129 ; on Tarim, i. 

63-65, 97» 158-159» 413-414- 

See also Ferry-boat. 
Boat, commissariat, i. 91, 94, 104, 

176, 200, 202 ; given to people 

of Yanghi-köll, i. 416. 
Boat, ferry. See Ferry-boat. 
Boating terms, Turki, i. 94. 
Boatmen of Lailik, i. 63, 92, 161, 

200-201, 206, 225, 236. See 
' also Alim Ahun, Kasim Ahun, 

Naser Ahun, and Palta ; and 


Boggtsang-sangpo, ii.495-501. 

Boghana, bushes, i. 477. 

Bokalik, mines of, i. 470 ; ii. 197. 

Bolarum, ii. 610. 

Boljemal, ** backwater," i. 143. 

Bolta, " strait," i. 418. 

Bomba, Tibetan province, ii. 512. 

Bombay, ii. 610. 

Bonin, M., i. 245, 252, 255, 257 ; 

ii. 85. 
Bonjin-tso, pass, ii. 531. 
Bontsa, ii. 363. 

Bonvalot, M., i. 85, 252 ; ii. 337. 
Books, i. 5, 457, 513 ; ii. 23, 178, 217. 
Border Ranges of Tibet. See . 

Tibet, Northern Border 

Ranges of. 
Bordoba, or Bor-teppeh, i. 19, 26. 
Bostan, i. 173. 
Bostan-tograk, i. 303, 304. 
Bosuga, valley, i. 24. 
Bower, Captain, route of, ii. 414, 

496, 549- 

Boxer movement, i. 454 ; ii. 170. 

Brahmins, ii. 605. 

Briars, wild, ii. 209. 

Bridge above Gulcha, i. lo ; 
across Ilek, i. 403 ; of tne 
Kirghiz, i. 19 ; over the Kizil- 
su, i. 46 ; at Tikkenlik, i. 407. 

Brögger, Professor, i. 3. 

Browning, Prof. Oscar, ii. 609. 

Buddha, ancient image of, ii. 125- 
126 ; as burkhan, ii. 460. 

Bughra, *' male camel," i. 360 ; 
ii. 229. 

Bujentu-bulak, i. 342, 343. 

Buka-shirik, '* yak grass,*' ii. 271. 

Buluk, or biilak, ** spring of 
water," ii. 38. 

Bulung,*' back-stream," i. 98, 113. 

Bulunghir-nor, ii. 65, 66. 

Bulut, ** cloud of dust," i. 245. 

Buran, kara. See Kara-buran, 
Sarik - BURAN, and Sand- 

Burial-place, at Chegghelik-uy, i. 
435 ; beside Cherchen-daria, i. 
308 ; of Habdan Buzrugvar, 
i. 54 ; in Lop Desert, i. 342 ; of 
Masar Khojam, i. 146 ; of 
Masar-tagh, i. 119 ; at Sai- 
tagh, i. 134, 139 ; 

Buriat Cossacks, i. 322-325 ; ii. 
276, 347. See also Cherdon 
and Shagdur. 

Burkhan, " image of Buddha," ii. 
380, 394, 460. 

Burkhans, Land of the, i.e., Tibet. 

Buya-köll, i. 195. 

Cabin, black, of ferry-boat, i. 71, 

73. 77- 

Cairns of stones, as land-marks, 
i. 461; ii. 50, 78, 252, 415. 
And see Obo. 

Calcutta, ii. 606. 

Camel, that hated passes, i. 518, 
522 ; ii. 244-245 ; a runaway, 
i. 324 ; a veteran, ii. 259. 

Camels, tame, i. 371 ; arriving at 
Leh, ii. 591 ; attacked by gad- 
flies, i. 457 ; bought in Charkh- 
lik, ii. 181 ; breakdown of, ii. 
245, 262-264, 507, 528-532; 
breeding, i. 314, 358 ; caravans, 
i. 26, 35, 47, 273, 414, 499, 540, 

. 546 ; ii. 148, 155, 229, 230, 271 ; 
death of in Takla-makan, i. 
279 ; fighting propensities, i, 
314 ; fondness for wild garlic, 
ii. 266 ; fording rivers, i, 540, 
546 ; ii. 271 ; glissade down 
sand-dunes, i.'_273 ; loaded, i. 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 



273 ; "• 39 ; ^^ quagmire, 11. 
405 ; run away, i. 440 ; ii. 536 ; 
shed their coats, i. 518 ; on 
shore of Kum-köll, ii. 225 ; in 
snow, i. 289 ; starting for Tibet, 
ii. 229. 

foals, ii. 181, 193, 224, 

229, 247, 250, 504, 531, 547. 

the wild, i. 353, 356-373 ; 

ii. 93 ; breeding season, i. 357 ; 
dead, ii. 102 ; in Desert of 
Gobi, ii. 82 ; flesh of eaten, i. 
374 ; habitat of, i. 357 ; head 
of, i. 370 ; lassoed by 
Khodai Kullu, ii. 54 ; myste- 
rious traces of, ii. 414 ; range of, 
i- 358 ; sense of smell, i. 356 ; 
shyness of, i. 357 ; skeleton, ii. 
102-103 ; wounded, ii. loi. 

Camera, Watson's, i. 4; vera- 
scope, i. 5, 295. 

Camps, at Anambaruin-gol, ii. 55 ; 
at Charkhlik-su, ii. 207 ; in 
Desert of Gobi, ii. 83, 85 ; at 
Jong-duntsa, ii. 63 ; in Lop 
Desert, ii. 104, 167 ; at Lu- 
chuentsa, ii. 75 ; at Mandarlik, 
i. 471, 477 ; beside Panggong- 
tso, ii. 575 ; beside the Tarim, 
i. 89, 121, 165 ; at Temirlik, 
i. 603 ; ii. 5 ; in Central Tibet, 
ii. 267, 315, 403 ; in Northern 
Tibet, i. 515, 585, 593; ii. 
9, 13, 40, 289 ; in Western 
Tibet, ii. 509, 517, 521, 525, 529, 

533, 537, 546, 547, 577; at 
Unkurluk, ii. 215 ; at Yaggyu- 
rapga, ii. 439; at Yanghi- 
köll, i. 239. 

Canoes, i. 173, 179, 192, 197; 
on Beglik-köll, i. 425 ; double, i. 
227 ; dragging overland, i. 329 ; 
on Ilek, i. 404, 407 ; at a 
night-camp, i. 407 ; amongst