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Full text of "Through deserts and oases of central Asia"




(Qatnell Unioeraitg ffitibrarg 

Mtfaca, £7«tti lark 

CHARLES WILLIAM WASON 

COLLECTION 

CHINA AND THE CHINESE 



THE GIFT OF 
CHARLES WILLIAM WASON 
* CLASS OF 1876 
1918 



Cornell University Library 
DS 793.S6S98 



Through deserts and oases of central As 




3 1924 023 243 391 




The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924023243391 



THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES 
OF CENTRAL ASIA 



strike me dead, the track has vanished. 
Well, what now ? We've lost the way. 
Demons have bewitched our horses, 
Led us in the wilds astray. 

Pushkin. 




A YA-YIEH OR YAMEN RUNNER. 



Frontispiece. 



THROUGH DESERTS AND 
OASES OF CENTRAL ASIA 



BY 

Miss ELLA SYKES 

F.R.G.S. 

AUTHOR OF 
'THROUGH PERSIA ON A SIDE-SADDLE" AND:"a HOME HELP IN CANADA" 

AND 

Brigadier-General Sir PERCY SYKES 

K.C.I.E,, C.B., C.M.G. 

GOLD MEDALLIST OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY 

AUTHOR OF 

"a history of PERSIA" AND " THE GLORY OF THE SHIA WORLD*' 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1920 






MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA . MADRAS 

MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO 
DALLAS • SAN FRANCISCO 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd. 
TORONTO 



COPYRIGHT 



PEEFACE 

Few works dealing with Chinese Turkestan and the 
Pamirs have been published of late years, although 
the Heart of Asia, where the empires of Great Britain, 
Kussiat- and China meet, can never fail to excite our 
interest. Furthermore, the great trade route which 
ran from China to the Roman Empire lay across 
Chinese Turkestan, from which remote land silk 
was introduced into Europe. 

The present book has been written ia two parts. 
The chapters composing Part I., which describe the 
nine months' journey in deserts and oases, in moun- 
tains and plains, have been written by my sister, 
while I am responsible for those dealing with the 
geography, history, customs and other subjects. 

We are indebted to Mr. Bohlin of the Swedish 
Mission ia Chinese Turkestan, and to Khan Sahib, 
Iftikhar Ahmad of the British Consulate-General, 
Kashgar, for much assistance : and also to Dr. F. W. 
Thomas, of the India Office, who has read through 
the historical sketch. 

A good deal of new material will be found in 
the various chapters, and as far as possible the 
subjects so ably and exhaustively dealt with by Sir 
Aurel Stein have been avoided. 



vi THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES 

To my sister belongs the honour of being the 
first Englishwoman to cross the dangerous passes 
leading to and from the Pamirs and, with the 
exception of Mrs. Littledale, to visit Khotan. 

We greatly enjoyed the nine months we spent in 
Chinese Turkestan and on the " Roof of the World," 
and if we succeed in arousing the interest of our 
readers in this old-world backwater of Asia, and at 
the same time convey something of its distinctive 
charm, our ambitions will be fulfilled. 

P. M. SYKES. 



CONTENTS 

PART I 
CHAPTEE I 

PAGE 

Across the Russian Empire in War Time , . 3 

CHAPTEE II 

BsrOND THE TiAN ShAN TO KASHGAR . . .18 

CHAPTEE III 

Life at Kashgar . . . . 39 

CHAPTEE IV 

Round about Kashgar . . . . .66 

CHAPTEE V 
Olla Podkida . . . . . .86 

CHAPTEE VI 

On the Way to the Russian Pamirs . . .103 

CHAPTEE VII 
The Roof of the World . . . . .129 



viii THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES 



CHAPTEE VIII 



PAGE 



The Aryans op Sarikol . . . . .148 

CHAPTEE IX 

The Ancient Cut of Yaekand . . . .175 

CHAPTEE X 

Through the Desert to Khotan . . . .191 

CHAPTEE XI 

Khotan the Kingdom op Jade .... 209 



PART II 

CHAPTEE XII 

The Geography, Government and Commerce of Chinese 

Turkestan ...... 235 



CHAPTEE XIII 

An Historical Sketch op Chinese Turkestan : The Early 

Period ....... 248 



CHAPTEE XIV 

An Historical Sketch op Chinese Turkestan : The 

Mediaeval an? Ij4yBR Periods . , , 263 



CONTENTS ix 



CHAPTER XV 

PAGE 

An Historical Sketch op Chinese Turkestan : The 

Modern Period . . . . .275 



GHAPTEE XVI 
A Kashgar Farmer ...... 300 

CHAPTER XVII 

Manners and Customs in Chinese Turkestan . . 308 

CHAPTER XVIII 

Stalking the Great Sheep op Marco Polo . .324 

INDEX . . . . . . .333 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



Note. — The illustrations, with one exception, are from reproductions of 
photographs taken by the authors. 



A Ya-Yieh or yamen Runner 

Oart used in the Osh District . 

Daoud and Sattur 

Watering Horses in the Tuman Su 

Kashgar Women and Children 

Water-Carriers at Kashgar 

Shoeing in the Kashgar Bazar 

A Kashgar Grandmother 

Priest at the Temple of Pan Chao 

Kashgar City (showing the city wall and Tuman Su) 

Women at the Shrine of Hazrat Apak 

Chinese Soldiers at the Kashgar Yamen 

Jafar Bai displaying the Visiting Card 

Study of Kashgar Women 

Ruins of the Buddhist Tim, Kashgar 

The Shrine of Bibi Anna 

Fording the Gez River 

Kirghiz Women in Gala Dress 

Loading up the Yaks 

Bringing in an Ovis PoU (Nadir with rifle) 

(a) The Game of Baigu — the MMee 

(6) The Game of Baigv, — the Pick-up . 

(c) The Game of Baigu — the Victor 



FACE PAGE 

■ece 



26 

41 

56 

58 

60 

62 

64 

67 

68 

69 

74 

77 

82 

85 

93 

109 

118 

124 

146 

150 

150 

150 



xii THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES 



Nasir Ali Khan, a Muki of Sarikol 

Sarikoli Dancers 

Muztagh Ata — The Snout of a Glacier 

A Kirghiz and his Daughter . 

Kashgar Musicians 

Our Arabas on the Yarkand Boad 

A Hunting Eagle 

Ferry on the Yarkand River . 

The Pigeon Shrine . 

Beggars at the Gate . 

A Dulani Shayhh 

Dulani Musicians 

A Dulani Woman and her Son 

The Tian Shan or Celestial Mountains 

The Tungani Commander of the Troops at Khotan 

Tamerlane .... 

A Load of Clover from Isa Maji's Farm 

The Sons of Isa Haji ploughing 

A Magician and his Disciple . 

A Kashgar School 

A Woman throwing Mud to effect a Cure 

Ovis Poll — the 51 -inch head . 

Hunting-Dogs with Kirghiz owner 



FJLCE PAGE 

156 
158 
162 
164 
170 
176 
182 
192 
206 
212 
222 
224 
226 
236 
242 
268 
302 
304 
314 
316 
320 
328 
330 



MAPS 

"Supplementary Sketch Map showing Country to the East of 

Route Map ...... 275 

Map to illustrate Authors' Routes . (In pocket at end of volume) 



ERRATUM 

Page 134, line 22, for " there was ao sign of a division " read 
" it was broken up into islands," 



PAET I 



CHAPTER I 

ACROSS THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE IN WAR TIME 

The cities are called Taskent ^ and Caskayre,^ and the people that 
wane against Taskent are called Cassaks ' of the law of Mahomet, and 
they which warre with the said oountrey of Gashayre are called Kirghiz, 
Gtentiles and idolators. — Anthony Jbnkinson. 

On Marcli 5, 1915, my brotlier and I started off on 
our long journey to Kashgar, the capital of Chinese 
Turkestan, where he was to act for Sir George 
Macartney, the well-known Consul-General, who was 
taking leave. 

Owing to the War, we were obliged, as the first 
stage of our journey, to travel to Petrograd by the 
circuitous route through Norway, Sweden and Finland. 
The small Norwegian steamer, the Iris, in which we 
embarked at Newcastle, made its way up the coast 
of Scotland to a point opposite Peterhead in order to 
avoid mines and submarines, after which it crossed 
to Bergen. We passed two choppy nights in stuffy 
cabins with the portholes tightly screwed up, and I 
was too prostrate with sea-sickness to care when the 
engines of our steamer stopped dead duriag the fijst 
afternoon. My brother rushed up on deck to see if 
we were held up by a German submarine, which might 
mean the unpleasant experience of internment for 

' Tashkent, Kashgar, Cossacks. 
3 



4 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES p^- 1 

him, but after a couple of hours we went on again, 
and no explanation of the delay was given us. 

Some three months later this same vessel was 
attacked in reality, two torpedoes being fired at her, 
and only the zigzag course skilfully pursued by the 
captain saved her from destruction. Amundsen, the 
discoverer of the South Pole, was on board, and 
wrote to the papers describing the incident, and 
strongly reprobated Germany's policy towards neutral 
shipping, which, he declared, had converted him to 
the side of the Allies. 

To return to our journey, we finally steamed in 
safety up a long fiord, and Bergen stood up pic- 
turesquely against its background of snow-covered hills. 
We thought that the pleasant-mannered Norwegians 
were decidedly Scotch in appearance, and a sturdy 
youth, quite of the type of a Highland gillie, soon 
guided us to the Hospidset Hotel, which had originally 
belonged to the Hanseatic League in Bergen. In old 
days the apprentices lived in this house, being locked 
up safely at night, and though the building has under- 
gone considerable restoration, it is still a characteristic 
piece of architecture. 

Next morning we tramped round Bergen in our 
snow-boots, finding the steep roads very slippery with 
frozen snow, even the inhabitants falling headlong 
now and again. Here and there children were merrily 
tobogganing, dashing recklessly across the main street 
through which the trams were running, and hurling 
themselves down steep inclines on the other side in a 
way that made me shudder. They were all sensibly 
clad in woollen garments, their rosy faces peering 
out from fur caps or fur-trimmed hoods, and it did 
one good to see them. A graver note was struck as a 



ACROSS THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE 5 

funeral passed by, with all the mourners on foot ; and 
the pastor, in a stiff rufi with muslin frills at his wrists, 
seemed to have returned from the sixteenth century, 
and might have posed for a portrait of Calvin. Sleighs 
were everywhere, drawn by sturdy little ponies that 
raced along at a great pace with jingling bells and 
kept their feet wonderfully. 

We left by the night train for the twenty-seven 
hours' run to Stockholm, changing at Christiania, 
and next day were speeding through a land of snow 
and pine inhabited by a ha.rdy-looking, fur-clad race. 
Fish seemed a staple article of food, and we were 
offered salted prawns, herring-salad, raw sardines and 
anchovies ; veal, ham and tongue, with pickles or 
cold fried bacon, forming the meat course. There 
were no sweets or fruit, but for compensation we had 
delicious cofiee and cream. In the restaurant car 
the bread and rolls were fastened up in grease-proof 
paper, sugar in tiny packets, and biscuits in sealed 
bags, in order to prevent unnecessary handling. 

It was night when we steamed into the " Venice 
of the North," a city which must be lovely in the 
summer, as it rises from its waters ; but at the time 
of our visit the river was covered with floating blocks 
of grey ice, and all the world was skating or ski-ing. 

The people were not unfriendly to us, but from 
more than one source we learnt that, owing to their 
hereditary fear of Russia, the Swedes were generally 
partisans of Germany, in contradistinction to the 
Norwegians, who, as a nation, were warmly in favour 
of the Allies. 

We had a five o'clock dinner (three to five o'clock 
being the usual time, reminding one of early Victorian 
customs), and then settled ourselves into the com- 



6 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- 1 

fortable sleeping coupes which we were to inhabit for 
two nights as far as Karungi, the direct route across 
the Gulf of Bothnia being inadvisable for obvious 
reasons. There were four racks for light luggage in 
each compartment, a convenient washing apparatus 
and a table, and we could open our windows, whereas 
in Russia we found the windows screwed up until the 
spring. 

But there was one thing in which the Russian 
trains, with their three bells rung for departure, com- 
pared favourably with those of Scandinavia, and that 
was that the latter gave no real warning when they 
were about to start. The engine whistled and moved 
off immediately, with the result that I was always 
nervous about walking up and down the platform, 
for the iron steps leading up 'to the carriages were 
so sHppery with frozen ice that I feared to risk a fall 
if I scaled them in a hurry. 

A Russian girl travelling in the carriage next to 
ours had given her ticket to the care of a French lady, 
a complete stranger to her, and, strolling along the 
platform with a fur collar round her neck but no fur 
coat, was unluckily left behind. The railway oflB.cials 
sent her ticket back to her and took care of her 
belongings, and I trust that some good Samaritan 
aided her, but she must have had a most unpleasant 
experience. I asked a Swede who talked to me why 
the trains gave practically no signal when they 
started, and he said that there was some reason 
which he had forgotten. 

The country lay deeper in snow the farther north 
we advanced, and on either side, as far as eye could 
reach, the undulating ground was covered with vast 
forests of fir and pine. At intervals we passed little 



OH. I ACROSS THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE 7 

towns and villages, the small wooden houses, painted 
in many colours, giving the impression of toy-dwell- 
ings. The brightly clad fur-capped little girls with 
long fair plaits of hair seemed as if they had come 
to life from the fairy books of my childhood, and one 
could almost credit the existence of gnomes and trolls 
in those limitless uninhabited tracts of pine. Soldiers 
in blue-grey or navy-blue uniforms, with white sheep- 
skin caps or picturesque three-cornered cloth hats, 
stood about on the platforms up and down which we 
tramped in our snow-boots whenever the train halted. 
As there was no restaurant car we obtained our meals 
at the station buffets, halts of about half an hour 
being made at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. In the 
absence of waiters the hungry crowd of passengers 
helped themselves, selecting from a tray laid out with 
different kinds of fish, cheese, pickles, etc., or piling 
their plates with hot pork or veal. I made invariably 
for the big cauldron of excellent soup with vegetables, 
and there was always coffee and milk, bread and cakes 
in abundance, and no pushing or hustling on the part 
of those travelling. 

At last we reached Karungi, the frontier between 
Sweden and Russia, and scores of sleighs were in 
waiting at the station to convey the passengers the 
short distance to the Russian Karungi. The fine- 
looking Russian Consul, clad in a splendid fur coat 
and cap to match, was most obliging, and cheered us 
greatly with the news — alas, quite inaccurate, as we 
found out later — ^that the Allied fleets had silenced 
all the forts in the Dardanelles ! My brother went 
off to pass our heavy luggage through the Swedish 
Customs, and I had some difficulty in collecting our 
small possessions on to one sleigh, because half a 



8 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^t. t 

dozen men and boys, clad in nondescript garments of 
fur and leather, hurled themselves upon hold-alls and 
dressing-cases and bore them off in all directions, 
utterly regardless of my remonstrances. The only 
thing I could do was to follow the most responsible- 
looking of my self-constituted porters, and when he 
deposited his burden on a sleigh I induced him to 
accompany me in a hunt among the lines of shaggy 
little ponies, finding the tea-basket in one place, a 
hat-box or a bundle of sticks and umbrellas mixed up 
with another passenger's luggage, and so on. The 
Consul told me to come and drink cofiee in the bufiet, 
exclaiming reassuringly, " You can leave everything 
safely, for in this part of the world the people do not 
know how to steal." 

At last we drove off in the keen air across a level 
waste of snow, traversing a frozen river which forms 
the actual boundary, and in half an hour, with many 
a bump and jolt, we reached a gate through which, 
after we had shown our passports, we were admitted 
into Finland. 

We had now a wait of some six hours, which we 
spent in walking on the crisp snow or sitting in the 
little station buffet, where I observed that coffee had 
given way to tea, the Russian national beverage, 
drunk in glasses with a slice of lemon and much 
sugar. From now onwards the piece de resistance of 
our chief meals was sturgeon. I liked it fairly well 
when stewed or fried, but it was usually tough when 
served cold. Some of these enormous fish are said 
to weigh two or three tons. 

When the train made a tardy appearance it could 
not accommodate all the passengers, and many were 
perforce left behind to follow the next day. The first 



ACROSS THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE 9 

halt was at Tornea, to whicli point travellers used to 
drive until the extension of the line to Karungi after 
the outbreak of the War, and, though we were in the 
Arctic Circle and it was early in March, the air seemed 
quite mild as we rushed across Finland, our wood-fed 
engine belching forth immense whorls of smoke. At 
Vyborg we entered Russia, and at midnight of the 
second day reached Petrograd. 

In the Astoria Hotel it was remarkable to see 
every one drinking hvass, a somewhat mawkish 
beverage made from bread or from cranberries, in 
lieu of wine or spirits. In Finland alcoholic refresh- 
ments were obtainable in the restaurant car, but now 
we found ourselves in a country which the will of an 
autocrat had made so strictly teetotal that we were 
unable even to purchase methylated spirit for our 
tea-basket ! 

Some of our Russian acquaintances spoke with 
enthusiasm of the beneficial effect of the Tsar's edict, 
one competent observer pointing out that the Russian 
women were just beginning to take to drink, which 
would have meant the ruin of many thousands of 
homes. On the other side, there were murmurs among 
the well-to-do, who were deprived of their favourite 
beverages unless they could obtain a doctor's cer- 
tificate of ill-health, which did not, however, seem 
difficult to arrange. I was asked more than once 
whether King George was about to follow the lead 
given by the Tsar, Russians not being very clear 
as to the limitations of a constitutional monarchy. 

Soldiers were to be seen everywhere, sometimes 
drilling near the great red Winter Palace, sometimes 
as reservists, with numbers chalked upon their backs, 
or again as small parties of wounded in charge of 



10 THROUan DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

kind-faced hospital nurses. I heard pathetic accounts 
of the extreme poverty of the men who were being 
nursed back to health in the English Hospital 
directed by Lady Georgina Buchanan, who had had 
the kindly thought of fitting them out when they were 
dismissed to their peasant homes ; the totally disabled 
being trained in basket-making. Both at Petrograd 
and at Moscow, our next halting-place, those actively 
engaged in nursing spoke highly of the courage and 
gratitude of their patients. In the latter city an 
English girl of only nineteen and a Russian lady of 
the same age, neither of whom had had any training 
in nursing, were in charge of a hospital containing 
forty-five wounded soldiers. They did all the band- 
aging themselves, assisted at every operation, and 
supervised the peasant women who performed the 
more menial share of the work. My devoted com- 
patriot told me that the men called her " Little 
Sister," and were marvellously brave when operated 
upon, saying that her presence gave them courage. 
Owing to the absence of the great majority of the 
trained nurses at the front, these capable amateurs 
were of the utmost service. We heard that the 
Russian medical faculty disapproved of inoculation 
for typhoid, giving the somewhat inadequate reason 
that " there were so many worse diseases," and 
consequently the soldiers suffered terribly from this 
scourge. 

My brother and I did the sights of Petrograd, 
with its many gold-covered domes, cupolas and spires, 
but I will refrain from describing the gorgeous interior 
of St. Isaak, the pictures of the Hermitage, or even the 
deeply interesting house in which Peter the Great lived 
while buildiag his " window openiag to the West." 



OH. I ACROSS TPIE RUSSIAN EMPIRE 11 

Moscow, with its hundreds of gilt-domed or purple 
or blue or green cupolas, that bizarre orgy of colour 
and fantastic design called the Church of Ivan the 
Terrible, and the ancient Kremlin built to resist 
Tartar inroads, gave me, as indeed it does to most 
travellers, the impression of a semi-Oriental city. 

We were in the very heart of Russia, and no one 
could fail to be struck by the intense devotion — 
I refrain from calling it superstition — of the people. 
In the dim magnificence of the small but lofty Corona- 
tion Chapel, which has its walls literally encrusted 
with jewelled icons, croWds were kissing the hands 
and feet of the sacred pictures all day long, in defiance 
of every hygienic principle. Long-haired priests in 
embroidered copes were chanting services, and as the 
body of a saint, dead centuries ago, had just been 
exhumed, it was confidently expected that many 
miracles of healing would be wrought by the remains. 
Gilded and jewelled banners to be carried in procession 
stood in the ornate chapels, which had gorgeous doors 
through which no woman might pass. On the great 
day of his coronation the Tsar passed through these 
portals, anointed and crowned himself, then issued 
forth, the Father of his people, to perform the same 
ceremony on the Tsaritsa. 

The monarch, in common with the humblest of 
his subjects, uncovers himself as he passes under one 
of the entrances to the Kremlin, above which stands 
a particularly holy icon. Indeed in every room of 
every Russian house, even in the hotels, hangs some 
pictured saint with a little lamp in front of him, 
whUe the railway stations and waiting-rooms are all 
provided with sacred guardians. 

To these people the War was then a holy one. 



12 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

The chambermaid of our hotel, who spoke German — 
a language it is forbidden to use in public — told me 
with tears that her only son had been killed at the 
front, that his father had died of grief when the news 
reached them, and that her daughter, working at a 
• hospital, had had no news of her soldier-husband for 
three months and naturally feared the worst. ' ' But we 
must not grumble," she ended bravely ; " it is terrible 
for all of us, but with God's help our Tsar will conquer 
his enemies and we shall have peace once more." 

Russians struck us as being somewhat silent in 
the streets, and we never heard any one whistle. It 
was explained that they have the same superstition 
about whistling as have the Persians, and look upon 
it as " devilish speech." In connection with this we 
were told that on one occasion an American bishop 
and his chaplain were visiting a monastery in Moscow, 
and to the horror of the monks the chaplain kept on 
bursting into snatches of whistling. But one of the 
holy men was equal to the occasion and, walking 
close behind the unconscious offender, made the sign 
of the cross repeatedly in order to avert any evil 
consequences ! 

The lack of efficiency in Russia was very noticeable. 
For example, to cash our letters of credit in a bank 
was a tedious business, the money being slowly 
counted with the aid of an abacus. The shopkeepers 
also depend greatly on these aids to arithmetic. 
It was moreover a land of tips. In every private 
house the servant who helped you on and off with 
your fur coat and galoshes expected a pourboire, and 
on leaving a hotel we were surrounded by a throng 
of waiters, porters of different grades, and a bevy 
of small boys, all intent on fees. 



CH. I ACROSS THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE 13 

During the next section of our journey to Tashkent 
the trains were by no means as comfortable as before. 
Our only light was a guttering candle in a lantern 
placed high above the carriage door, and, what was 
worse, the double windows were screwed up for the 
winter, all the air we breathed passing through most 
inadequate ventilators in the roof. After some thirty 
hours of semi -suffocation it was a relief when the 
train, stopped at Samara, and its great bridge over 
the Volga. Before we crossed, soldiers with fixed 
bayonets filed into the corridors and lined the train, 
and henceforward sentries stood with fixed bayonets 
on all the platforms. Instead of going through to 
Tashkent, our train stopped for eighteen hours, so 
we drove perforce to the best hotel in the place. 
There I was ushered into a bedroom which had 
only a mattress on the bedstead ; but a cheery 
maid soon produced sheets, pillows and towels, 
these articles from now onward being charged 
separately in the bill : she also filled up the water- 
tank which discharged itself into the basin by a kind 
of squirt, liable to drench the unwary. A hot bath 
is an expensive luxury in Russia, costing from three 
to five shillings ; but I never appreciated it at its 
proper value. The bath, filled with water too hot 
for me to plunge my hand into, was invariably taken 
in a tiny room without ventilation in which a stove 
was fiercely burning, and the attendant, armed with 
a thermometer, was always greatly astonished when 
I demanded a copious admixture of cold water. Half 
the room would be occupied by a divan covered with 
a sheet on which to repose after the bath, and once 
or twice I had some difl&culty in getting rid of the 
maid, so anxious was she to wrap me in a second 



14 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

sheet, with which Russians drape themselves before 
they step into the water. 

Samara is an important provincial town, but the 
whole place looked poor and shabby, partly because 
the coloured plaster coating of the houses was 
dropping ofi in unsightly patches. The wide streets 
radiated from a small public garden in which stood 
a statue of Alexander II., the Liberator, and, as it 
was Sunday, aU the world was promenading in 
its best clothes along the slush-covered pavements, 
the thaw having set in. The peasants looked pic- 
turesque in short sheepskin coats, worn with the wool 
inside, fur caps with lappets to protect the ears, long 
leather riding-boots, putties tied up with string and 
thick leather gloves. The shaggy hats of black or 
white sheepskin made their wearers look like brigands 
in opera, and beside them the women, in long black 
coats much kilted at the waist, with their heads tied 
up in woollen shawls, appeared decidedly tame. 

We made our way down to the Volga and walked 
on the frozen river, which was a mile wide, watching 
the drinking-water of the town being drawn from 
various holes in the ice. 

At the railway station that evening we found a 
large crowd on the platform assembled to give a 
hearty send -off to a trainload of soldiers evidently 
hailing from the neighbourhood. The men were 
travelling to the front in horse-boxes, and leant over 
the wooden barriers wUdly cheering and waving their 
caps, full of health and spirits, and one could hardly 
bear to think that many would never return, or, 
sadder still, would come home incapacitated for the 
rest of their days. 

Owing to the War there were no restaurant-cars 



OH. I ACEOSS THE EUSSIAN EMPIRE 15 

attached to the trains, and as the time-tables were 
unaltered we had halts of only ten or twelve minutes 
three or four times a day, when the passengers made 
a frenzied rush to get what they could at the inferior 
station buffets. We usually bought something in the 
way of meat, cheese and bread, and carried it back with 
us to our carriage, after we had gulped down plates 
of the excellent cabbage soups called stchee or borsch. 
The only long halt we made — one of forty minutes — 
was at a station with no buffet whatever. The farther 
east we went the less food could we procure : some- 
times packets of inferior Russian biscuits were the 
only stock-in-trade of the buffet, and if it had not 
been for our soup-packets we should have been half- 
starved. As it was, we were often unpleasantly 
hungry, hot water being the only thing that we could 
be sure of obtaining. 

In spite of this the journey was full of interest. 
We were travelling across limitless steppes, and the 
melting of the snow in patches showed that spring 
was at hand, when the sun would break forth from 
the grey, lowering skies. Near Orenburg we noticed 
many tons of hay ready to be despatched to the 
front, g,nd as we halted at Alexis I suddenly saw the 
ungainly forms of camels. Nearer and nearer they 
came, padding across the snow, drawing sleighs laden 
with hay, and with a leap of the heart I realized that 
we were once again in the East, that Europe was left 
behind, and that we had entered that vast mysterious 
continent of Asia, cradle of the human race and 
birthplace of its great religions. 

The following day we passed the Sea of Aral, with 
masted ships riding at anchor in its port ; and by 
now all traces of snow had gone, and the sandy 



16 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt.i 

steppe was scantily dotted with coarse grasses. Some- 
times we traversed stretches of salt-encrusted ground, 
and in places the rolling sand-dunes were planted 
and bound together with rushes in order to prevent 
them from encroaching upon the railway, or long 
lines of fencing answered the same purpose for the 
snowdrifts. 

We saw few signs of life, and the loneliness of the 
steppe made me realize something of those vast 
empty spaces of Asia which from lack of water will 
for ever be dreary wastes forsaken by mankind. Yet 
a picturesque crowd was usually assembled at the 
stations. Hairless-faced men with high cheek-bones 
were clad in long padded coats reaching to their 
heels, or wore sheepskias, their rope or straw-soled 
shoes being tied with leather thongs criss-cross from 
knee to ankle over thick woollen stockings. Among 
a variety of headgear the quaintest resembled early 
Victorian coal-scuttle bonnets tied under the chin. 
They were made of brightly coloured velvet, with 
broad fur-lined brims, a fur-lined flap behind and 
lappets over the ears, and looked most comical when 
worn by brawny Kirghiz, who strode up and down 
the platforms trailing long whips in their hands. 

The warm weather was now beginning, and the 
Russian women who sold tea and hot water from big 
brass samovars had discarded their winter clothes and 
appeared in flowered cotton dresses with gaily coloured 
handkerchiefs over their heads. Their children were 
running about barefoot, and I was amused at watch- 
ing an encounter between a lightly clad urchin and 
a smart little boy who was travelling in our over- 
heated train. This latter, who had a long fur-lined 
coat, a fuj cap and galoshes over his boots, held up 



CH. I ACROSS THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE 17 

Ms foot for the admiration of the platform youngster, 
who laughed good-humouredly, and stretched out his 
dusty toes in response. 

In spite of the warm sunshine, ours were the only 
windows open in the whole train, and when, after 
leaving Samara, my brother had obtained fresh air 
by freely tipping a most reluctant conductor, an 
ofl&cial higher in rank came to enquire whether it was 
not a mistake and whether after all we did not wish 
to be screwed up again ! I could not imagine why 
our fellow-passengers did not follow our example, 
because, before we reached Tashkent, the sun flamed 
down from a cloudless blue sky ; the hoopoe, harbinger 
of spring, chased its mate ; the crested larks sang, and 
the children offered big bunches of the little mauve 
iris. Ploughing was visible in places, and a faint 
green flush was spreading over the vast plain, which 
near Tashkent gave way to grassy downs on which 
cattle grazed. 

At the imposing-looking station of Turkestan we 
made enquiries respecting the flags that we noticed 
hanging out on all the platforms, and to our joy were 
told that they were in honour of the taking of 
Przemyzl. An officer of military pohce with whom 
my brother talked, said that this victory had come 
at an opportune moment, as there was considerable 
unrest among the native population. 

We were sorry not to see the tomb erected by 
Tamerlane in the old city of Turkestan to the memory 
of a Kirghiz saint, for M. RomanofE, an authority on 
Mohamedan art, who has visited a large proportion 
of the mosques and shrines of Central Asia, considers 
this splendid building to be a masterpiece. 



CHAPTER II 

BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN TO KASHGAE 

Farghana is a country of small extent, but abounding ia grain and 
fruits ; and it is surrounded with hills on all sides except on the west. 
. . . Andijan is the capital. The district abounds in birds and beasts 
of game. Its pheasants are so fat that the report goes that four persons 
may dine on the broth of one of them and not be able to finish it. — 
Memoirs of Baher. 

After three days and nights in the train it was 
pleasant to make a halt at Tashkent, the capital of 
Russian Turkestan, though the sudden change of 
climate was somewhat exhausting. It was towards 
the end of March, and the whole town, famous for its 
fruit trees, was embowered in pink and white blossom, 
and the avenues of magnificent poplars, willows and 
beautiful Turkestan elms were shaking out their fresh 
green leaves. 

The Russians, under General Kaufmann, took Tash- 
kent about fifty years ago, and have laid out the new 
town with broad roads planted with fine trees that 
are watered by irrigation. There are churches, public 
parks, tram-lines and imposing-looking shops, the 
considerable Russian population appearing to mW 
freely with the Sarts, as the inhabitants are termed 
by the dominant race. In India a white woman of 
whatever class has a position with the natives, but 
here the ordinary Russian woman is seemingly on an 
equality with them, and not infrequently marries 

18 



BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 19 

them. In the best confectioner's shop, served by 
Russian girls, natives came in and bought and ate 
cakes and sweets on the premises, side by side with 
smart officers or elegant ladies evidently belonging to 
the upper circles of Tashkent society. 

Even in this remote part of the Russian Empire 
the War was brought home to the inhabitants by the 
presence of fifteen thousand prisoners, Germans and 
Austrians. The latter, who were mostly Slavs, had 
the privilege of shopping in the town, and we heard 
that they were on excellent terms with their captors, 
whereas the Germans were permitted no such relaxa- 
tion of their captivity. 

A long narrow street led from the Russian city 
straight into the native town with its mud-built 
houses, its little stalls of food and clothing, its mosques 
and shrines, and above all its gaily clad populace. 
But for the people I could have imagined myself to 
be in a Persian city; but here, instead of men in 
dingily coloured frock-coats and tall astrakhan hats, 
and women shrouded in black from head to foot, the 
inhabitants of both sexes revelled in colour. All wore 
smart velvet or embroidered caps, round which the 
greybeards swathed snowy turbans. The men had 
striped coats of many colours, the brighter the better, 
the little girls rivalling them with bold contrasts, such 
as a short, gold-laced magenta velvet jacket worn 
above a flowered, scarlet cotton skirt, or a coat of 
emerald green with a vivid blue under-garment. For 
the most part they were pretty, rosy-cheeked, velvet- 
eyed maidens, with their hair hanging down their 
backs iii a dozen plaits, and I felt sorry to think 
that all their charm would shortly have to disappear 
behind the long cloak, beautifully embroidered though 



20 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES ^- 1 

it might be, and the hideous black horsehair veil 
affected by their mothers. 

One fascinating little figure adorned with big ear- 
rings and bracelets came dancing down an alley into 
the street, holding out the ends of a scarlet veil which 
she had thrown over her head, her cotton dress and 
trousers being in two shades of rose. She pirouetted 
up to a tall man in a rainbow-coloured silk coat who 
was carrjdng a tin can, and had paused at the steps 
of the mosque to let the children gather round him. 
To my surprise he began to dole out ice-cream in 
little glasses, and boys and girls had delicious " licks " 
in exchange for small coins. I remembered how en- 
vious I had felt in early youth when I saw English 
street urchins partaking of what seemed to me to be 
food fit for the gods, although my nurse allowed me 
no chance of sampling it, and in a moment the East 
and the West seemed to come very near, the ice- 
cream man acting as the bridge across the gulf. 

After leaving Tashkent we travelled through a 
rich alluvial country watered by the Sir Daria, the 
classical Jaxartes, and halted on our way to Andijan 
at the ancient city of Khokand. As at Tashkent, the 
Russian and native towns are separate, and we hired 
a moon-faced, beardless Sart, attired in a long red 
and blue striped coat and with an embroidered skull- 
cap perched on his shaven head, to drive us round. 

He raced his wiry little ponies at a great pace 
along a wide tree-planted avenue ending in a church 
of preternatural ugliness set in a public garden. Near 
by were Russian houses and shops, while small vic- 
torias containing grey-uniformed ofiicers or turbaned 
Sarts dashed past, and native carts laden with bales 
of cotton creaked slowly by. Many of these carts 



BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 21 

tad big tilts, the wooden framework inside being 
gaudily painted, and the horses themselves were 
decked with handsome brass trappings. 

The old town, with its high mud walls, flat-roofed 
squalid dwellings, a bazar closely resembling those 
to be found in any Asiatic city, and comparatively 
modern mosques, had little of interest, though a 
well-known traveller speaks of its thirty-five theo- 
logical colleges : its roads, as usual, were bad and 
narrow, and must be rivers of mud in wet weather. 

Many women were unveiled, others wore the ghoul- 
like horsehair face coverings, and some of their em- 
broidered coats were so charming in design and 
colouring that I longed to do a " deal " with the 
wearers. Many of the people were squatting, eating 
melons which they store during the winter, or drinking 
tea, a Russian woman being evidently a member of 
one family group. We had one or two narrow shaves 
of colliding with other carriages, as our coachman 
threaded his way far too fast for safety and exchanged 
abusive epithets with his brother Jehus, among whom 
were Russians in black, sleeveless, cassock-like gar- 
ments worn over scarlet cotton blouses. The harness 
of the little horses was adorned with many tufts of 
coloured wools, giving a pretty effect as these tassels 
nearly swept the ground or waved in the air. The 
life on the roads, the spring sunshine, the fresh green 
leaves, the white and pink of the blossom, and the 
orgy of colour furnished by the inhabitants, made 
the drive an unforgettable experience. 

A few hours later we reached Andijan, where the 
railway ended, and here we had our last clean resting- 
place until we arrived at Kashgar. I noticed that 
the native women wore long grey burnouses with 



22 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES p^- 1 

black borders ending in two tails that were always 
trailing in the dust, and all hid their faces in the 
mask-like horsehair veils. It was the day before 
Palm Sunday, and as we strolled in the evening up 
the cobbled street of the town a large congregation 
was issuing from the church, every one carrying a 
small branch and a little candle, which each had lit 
in the sanctuary. In the darkness the scores of tiny 
lights looked like fixe-flies, and I observed how care- 
fully the sacred flame was sheltered from any draught, 
as it is considered most important to convey it home 
unextinguished. Our hotel was fairly good, but I 
was not pleased on retiring to find that my door did 
not lock, and that my window, opening on to a public 
balcony, had no fastening. To supplement these casual 
arrangements I made various " booby - traps " by 
which I should be awakened if any robber entered 
my room, but luckily slept undisturbed. 

It may give some idea of the vast extent of the 
plains of Russia which we had crossed by train, when 
I mention that there was not a single tunnel on the 
hundreds of miles of rail between Petrograd and 
Andijan. 

It was the end of March when we set out to drive 
the thirty miles from Andijan to Osh. We packed 
ourselves, our suit-cases and the lunch-basket into a 
little victoria, while Achmet, the Russian Tartar cook 
we had engaged at Tashkent, accompanied our heavy 
baggage in the diligence. The sky was overcast with 
heav}' clouds, so there was no glare from the sun, and 
the rain of the previous night had laid the dust on 
the broad road full of ruts and holes. Ploughing 
was in full swing, barley some inches high in the 
fields, fruit blossom everjTvhere, and the poplars and 



CH. n BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 23 

willows planted along the countless irrigation channels 
made a delicate veil of pale green. Beyond the 
cultivation lay bare rolling hills, behind which rose 
the lofty mountain ranges which we must cross before 
we could reach our destination. 

The whole country seemed thickly populated, and 
we passed through village after village teeming with 
life, the source of which is the river, which ran at 
this time of year in a surprisingly narrow stream in 
its broad pebbled bfed, and was so shallow that men on 
foot or on donkey-back were perpetually crossing it. 
Tortoises were emerging from their mnter seclusion, 
the croak of the frog filled the land, hoopoes and 
the pretty doves which are semi-sacred and never 
molested flew about, and the ringing cry of quail 
and partridge sounded from cages in which the birds 
were kept as pets. 

The men, if not busied with agriculture, were 
usually fast asleep or drinking tea on the mud 
platforms in front of their dwellings, and the gaily 
clad women slipped furtively from house to house, 
or, if riding, gat on a pillion behind the men. In 
fine contrast to her veiled sisters was a handsome 
Kirghiz lady following her husband on horseback 
through the Osh bazar, and making a striking 
figure in a long green coat, her head and chin wrapped 
in folds of white that left her massive earrings 
exposed to view. She rode astride every whit as 
well as the man did, exchanged remarks freely with 
him, and was moreover holding her child before her 
on the saddle. Other women were carrying cradles 
which must have made riding difficult, and often a 
child stood behind, clinging to its mother's shoulders. 
On entering the native town of Osh, mentioned in 



24 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

Baber's Memoirs as being unsurpassed for healthi- 
ness and beauty of situation, we passed a mosque 
with such a badly constructed mud dome that it 
looked like a turnip, and made our way along a broad 
tree-planted Russian road to the nomera. This was 
a house with " furnished apartments to let," and 
the small rooms, by no means overclean, were 
supplied with beds, tables and chairs. We set to 
work to unpack our camp things, and sent Achmet 
out to buy bread, butter, meat, eggs, etc., for our 
two hundred and sixty mile ride to Kashgar. 

Our host made no pretensions to supply food, 
but exactly opposite our lodgings was the oflS.cers' 
mess ; with true Russian hospitality its members 
invited us to take our meals there, and next day at 
lunch we met a dozen officers, with their jovial, long- 
haired chaplaiu in black cassock with a broad silver 
chain and crucifix round his neck. Luckily for me 
there were a couple of officers who spoke German, 
though the others threatened them with heavy fines 
for daring to converse in the language of the Huns. 
In spite of the Tsar's edict, vodka and wine flowed 
freely (the doctor had evidently given medical cer- 
tificates liberally to the mess) and numerous toasts 
were drunk, every one clinking his glass with my 
brother's and mine as the health of King George, 
the Tsar, our journey, and so on were given. All 
were most kind, though I could have wished Russian 
entertainments were not so long — that luncheon 
lasted over three hours — and we left in a chorus of 
good wishes for our ride to Kashgar. 

We were roused early next morning by the arrival 
of our caravan of small ponies, and with much 
quarrelling on the part of their drivers the loads 



BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 25 

were at last adjusted. We had our saddles put on 
a couple of ill-fed animals and started ofE beside the 
rushing river on our first stage of twenty miles. The 
ponies were very inferior to the fine mules with 
which we had travelled in Persia, and our particular 
steeds would certainly have broken down long before 
we reached Kashgar if we had not dismounted and 
walked at frequent intervals throughout the whole 
journey. 

At first the road was excellent as we left pretty 
little Osh nestling under Baber's " mountain of a 
beautiful figure," and made our way up a highly 
cultivated valley towards the distant snowy peaks. 
We were escorted by a fine-looking Ming Bashi or 
" Commander of a Thousand," who had a broad 
velvet belt set with bosses and clasps of handsome 
Bokhara silver-work. He wore the characteristic 
Kirghiz headgear, a conical white felt with a turned- 
up black brim, and four black stripes, from the back 
to the front and from side to side of the brim, meeting 
at the top and finishing ofi with a black tassel. We 
were to see this headgear constantly during the next 
eight months, as it is worn throughout Chinese 
Turkestan and the Pamirs. Owing to the presence 
of these Ming Bashis we met with extreme consider- 
ation, village Begs and their servants escorting us at 
every stage and securing the right of way for us with 
caravans. This was a privilege that for my part I 
keenly appreciated, as the track, when it skirted the 
flanks of the mountains, was hardly ever wide enough 
for one animal to pass another, and I had no wish to 
be pushed out of my saddle over the precipice by the 
great bales of cotton that formed the load of most 
of the ponies we met. These officials usually secured 



26 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES p^. i 

some garden or field, a place of trees and running 
water, where we could lunch and rest at mid-day, and 
often they brought a silken cushion which they ofiered 
to my brother. They were surprised when he handed 
it on to me, for in Mohamedan countries the woman 
is considered last — if at all. 

In the Osh district horses, camels, donkeys, cows, 
goats and sheep were in abundance, the sheep having 
the dumba or big bunch of fat as a tail, which nourishes 
the animal when grass runs short during the winter 
months. They had long hair like goats and rabbit- 
like ears, were coloured black, white, brown, grey or 
buff, and looked far larger in proportion than the 
undersized cattle and ponies. On the road we saw 
many of the characteristic carts that had immensely 
high wheels with prominent hubs. The driver sat on 
a saddle on the horse's back, supporting his feet on 
the shafts, thereby depriving the animal of half its 
strength for pulling the load and proving that this 
nation of born riders has not grasped the elementary 
principles of driving. These carts had no sides, but 
carried their loads in a curious receptacle of trellis- 
work, as shown in the illustration. 

We reached our first night's lodging about four 
o'clock, and I was glad to dismount, as riding at a 
foot pace on an animal that is a slow walker is a 
tedious business. All these halting-places in Russian 
territory were much alike — a couple of small plastered 
rooms, often with bedsteads, table and stools, some- 
times looking into a courtyard where the ponies were 
tied for the night, but often with no shelter for the 
animals and their drivers. Jafar Bai, the chuprassi 
from theKashgar Consulate sent to escort us, was of the 
utmost service to us on the road. I noticed that many 










O 

U 

h 



Q 






BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 27 

of tlie men we passed saluted him by throwing their 
whips from right to left across their chests, and their 
deference made me realize the high esteem in which 
he was held. He put up our camp beds, tables and 
chairs, and found water for our folding baths. It 
was usually cold at night, and besides warm under- 
clothing I had a sleeping sack, rugs and my fur-lined 
coat. We always got up at 5.30 a.m., and I did a 
hasty toilette in the dark A\dth the aid of my torch- 
light, Achmet producing cofiee, eggs, bread, butter 
and jam for our early breakfast, while Jafar Bai 
packed our bedding. 

Once or twice we were accommodated in the house 
of a village Beg, and found the floors covered with 
felts and carpets, and a table spread with bread, 
sweets, raisins, almonds and pistachios. One of our 
hosts kept his treasures in a wonderful gilt, red and 
black chest, from which he produced a handsome 
watch given him by the Russians. This chest emitted 
a loud musical note when opened or shut, in order, I 
presume, to warn the owner if thieves attempted to 
rifle it. At night his servants removed his bedding 
of Bokhara silken quilts, but with touching confidence 
left the box in our charge ! 

Our second day's march found us approaching the 
mountains, and we rode to the top of a low pass 
where hills slashed with scarlet, crimson and yellow 
rose one behind another, to be dominated by the 
glorious snow-covered Tian Shan peaks clear cut 
against a superb blue sky. Walking down the passes 
was certainly preferable to sitting on a stumbling 
pony, but I found it rather hard work, as the track 
was usually very steep and littered with loose stones, 
on which one could easily twist an ankle or tumble 



28 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- ^ 

headlong. Every now and again it looked as if we 
had reached the bottom, when lo, after turning a 
corner, the track zigzagged down beneath our feet 
seemingly longer and steeper than ever. 

During this march we passed a party of Chinese 
bound for Kashgar, consisting of an official and a rich 
merchant with their retinues. The ladies of the party 
travelled in four mat-covered palanquins, each drawn 
by two ponies, one leading and one behind, and I 
pitied them having to descend these steep places in 
such swaying conveyances. They were attended by 
a crowd of servants ia short black coats, tight trousers 
and black caps with hanging lappets lined with fur, 
the leaders being old men clad in brocades and 
wearing velvet shoes and quaint straw hats. As 
seems usual with upper-class Chinese, they were very 
indifferent horsemen, and sat on bundles of silk quilts, 
not attempting to guide their ponies in any way, but 
letting the burly Kirghiz lead them by the halters. 
In striking contrast to them was a fine-looking man 
in a long green and purple striped coat, from the 
handsome girdle of which hung a silver - sheathed 
knife. His boldly cut aquiline features were sur- 
mounted by a black fur cap, and as he rode down the 
pass on a beautiful Badakshani horse the pair made 
a delightful picture. 

Caravans laden with bales of cotton toiled uphill 
towards us, and sometimes we met a string of camels ; 
but ponies did most of the work here, their small 
heads peering out from between their bulky loads. 
They had bells himg round their necks, enabling the 
approach of a pack-train to be heard at a considerable 
distance, and specially favoured animals wore collars 
of blue beads to avert the evil eye. 



BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 29 

Besides caravans we met gangs of Kashgaris going 
to work at Osh or Andijan during the summer, in 
order to earn the money on which they live throughout 
the winter. They were sturdy men, their white teeth 
flashing in faces tanned almost black by the sun, and 
they wore long padded cotton coats of all colours, 
the most usual being scarlet, faded to delicious tints. 
As these coats were turned back to enable them to 
walk more freely, we had the contrast of a bright 
turquoise blue, or an emerald green or a purple lining. 
Some walked barefoot, others in long leather riding- 
boots or felt leggings, and all had leather caps edged 
with fur. Each man carried a bundle of his belong- 
ings, out of which cooking -pots often peeped, and 
some one in the gang was certain to have a tar, a kind 
of mandoline, with which to amuse the party, or 
perhaps a bagpipe or a small native drum ; it was 
pleasant to come across a group of these wayfarers 
beguiling their long march by listening to the music 
that has so strong a fascination for Orientals. 

The farther we left Osh behind us the more barren 
became the country, until we marvelled how the 
flocks and herds could support life on the scanty 
vegetation. At one point the hills were a bright 
scarlet and it was strange to see a red mud-built 
village with sheep grazing in this brilHantly coloured 
setting. We crossed rivers and streams many times, 
but they were not deep, for the mountain snow had 
not yet melted, and we found the bridges formed of 
rough poplar stems, with big holes into which boulders 
were stuck, far more dangerous than the water. It 
was during this march that my pony nearly ended 
our joiat careers by backing with me to the edge of 
a precipice. We were passing a donkey laden with 



30 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

brushwood, an ordinary sight, of which my brother's 
horse on ahead had not taken the smallest notice, 
when my animal made a big shy, and if Jafar Bai 
had not seized the rein I held out to him and hauled 
at it manfully while I urged my mount with whip 
and voice, we should both have fallen into the river 
rushing far below. 

The crux of our journey was the crossing of the 
Terek Dawan or Pass, 12,000 feet high, and the night 
before we lodged in akhois, at its foot, in place of the 
usual rest-house. 

It was my first experience of the bee-hive like 
homes of the Kirghiz — " a dome of laths and o'er it 
felts were spread" — and, as we had ridden through 
heavy rain and hail the last part of the way, I was 
extremely thankful to pass behind a felt curtain and 
find myself in a snug circular room lined with felts 
and embroideries. A fire was lit on the ground in 
the centre, the smoke escaping from a large hole in 
the roof, and by squatting on the floor we could more 
or less avoid the acrid smoke that made our eyes 
water. 

In the morning we started at seven o'clock, anxious 
to reach the top of the pass before the sun, now hot 
during the day, could melt the snow. To our intense 
relief it was a superb day, a few fleecy clouds sailing 
across a deep turquoise sky. I was clad in a mix- 
ture of arctic and tropical attire, wearing a leather 
coat under my thick tweed habit, woollen putties and 
fur-lined gloves, along with a pith hat, blue glasses 
and gauze veil. We soon came to the snow and 
zigzagged upwards on a narrow track moving in 
single file, any animal trying to pass another being 
liable to fall headlong in the soft deep snow on either 



BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 31 

side, a fate that befell two of our party early in the 
day. After a while, as we advanced, the great peaks 
towered on all sides, sharply silhouetted against their 
blue background — nothing but white as far as eye 
could reach; and here and there skeletons stick- 
ing out of the snow bore eloquent witness to the 
terrible annual toll paid by the hundreds of horses 
and donkeys that have to cross this cruel pass. I 
could hardly believe that it was possible to ride over 
these mountains, so steeply did they rise above us ; 
and at the worst part of the ascent some sturdy 
Kashgaris coming down towards us had much ado to 
keep their feet, even though they carried long staves, 
one man falling headlong and rolling a considerable 
distance. The last pull to the crest is almost per- 
pendicular, and is noted for accidents — here my 
brother's pony nearly went over — but finally, caravan 
and all, we reached the summit of the pass in safety, 
and dismounted to enjoy the fine view. Before us 
lay the great Alai Range, peak towering above peak 
of boldly serrated mountains. Over us hovered a 
huge vulture, and as I looked down the track in 
front where the snow was partly melted, hideous 
heaps of bones were revealed, and I felt that the ill- 
omened bird knew that it would never lack food so 
long as Russia did nothing to improve this execrable 
road. 

In books of travel the writer frequently " swings 
down " such places, but my experience was very 
different, as we crept down the worst parts on foot. 
The snow on the farther side was rotten, and our feet 
broke through it to water running underneath and 
big boulders. It was the kind of path on which one 
could easily break a leg, and for a loaded pony was 



32 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. i 

a cruel ordeal, if not almost impossible. Even where 
the snow had entirely melted near the foot of the 
pass the way lay through a mass of boulders and 
slippery mud most trying to any baggage animal. 

For ourselves we had nothing to complain of, and 
a march of seven hours found us at the little rest- 
house enjoying some' lunch ; but our caravan fared 
very differently. The distance was only twelve miles, 
but so bad was the going that the ponies, though 
lightly laden, were about thirteen hours on the road, 
and four poor animals stayed out all night. We had 
no evening meal till nine o'clock, and our hold-alls 
when they arrived were encrusted with ice that had 
made its way inside and soaked our bedding. We 
had no means of drying it in the serai, and so were 
obliged to sleep in our clothes. We were too thankful 
to be safely over the pass to heed such minor dis- 
comforts, and were indeed most fortunate ; for the 
road was closed for some days after our journey in 
order that a fresh track might be trampled down by 
driving unloaded animals across it. 

On the morrow our caravan had a much-needed 
rest till mid-day, while we unpacked our boxes and 
dried our wet belongings in the sun. I was concerned 
about my face, as in spite of aU my precautions I 
found that my cheeks, nose and lips were terribly 
swollen, and besides being burnt a bright scarlet, all 
my skin was coming off in patches, making me most 
unsightly in appearance. On my mentioning this ex- 
perience not long ago to an eminent geographer and 
traveller, he assured me that, if I had thickly powdered 
my unlucky visage before encountering sun and snow, 
it would have got off scot-free, and I insert the hint 
for the benefit of future travellers. 



CH. n BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 33 

Our next stage was Irkeshtam, situated at the 
junction of the Osh-Kashgar and Alai routes. In the 
time of Ptolemy it was an important centre on the 
great trade route which ran from Rome across Asia 
to China, the " Stone Tower " mentioned by the Greek 
geographer being either here or in the vicinity. To- 
day it consists of a small fort garrisoned by Cossacks, 
with customs and telegraph ofl&ces all set down in 
hopelessly barren surroundings. 

We were hospitably welcomed by the customs 
oflScial's wife and sister, but were sorry to find that our 
host was ill. After the nine o'clock supper we retired, 
my brother sleeping in some outhouse, and I in a little 
room which my hostess's sister had kindly vacated 
for me, where I had a queer experience. As the 
window was hermetically sealed up for the winter, 
and the stove was lit, I had perforce to leave the 
door open in order to escape partial suffocation. A 
large carpet was suspended from the ceiling above the 
bedstead, across which it was carried, and hung down 
to the floor, and upon the bed were a sheet, a velvet 
bedspread and a couple of lace -covered pillows. 
Slipping into my rugs I put out the lamp, and as I 
was composing myself for slumber I became aware of 
a stirring under the bed, and a breathing. Thinking 
it must proceed from the dog or cat, with both of 
which I had made friends, I tapped the carpet and 
said " Ssh ! " reflecting that if I troubled to drive 
the animal out it would be sure to return again by 
the open door, and as all was quiet I thought no more 
about the matter and went to sleep. 

Some time in the middle of the night I was suddenly 
roused by feeling the bed violently jolted and to my 
horror heard loud and unmistakably human snores 

D 



34 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES pi- > 

proceeding from under it. Considerably startled, I sat 
up in the pitch darkness and listened to heavy breath- 
ing while I summed up the situation. The intruder 
could not be a burglar, as there was nothing to steal, 
and of course I was in no danger, as I could rouse the 
house in a moment, my door being open. I felt it 
would be wrong to make a disturbance as our host 
was so ill ; I could not communicate with my brother, 
for I had no idea where he was, and it would have 
been impossible to leave the house and search for him 
in the wind and darkness, with savage dogs roaming 
about. Another alternative would have been to light 
the lamp and turn out the intruder myself ; but I 
feared that my lack of Russian and Turki would 
make this difl&cult, and it would certainly rouse the 
establishment. All things considered, I decided to 
lie and watch for daylight, my matches being to my 
hand. After the unknown had turned over again I 
heard the regular breathing of deep slumber, and 
soon, contrary to my intention, I dropped off to 
sleep myself. 

When I woke- about seven o'clock it was quite 
light. Examining my bed with some trepidation, 
I found a space between it and the wall at each 
end. Behind my pillows was a heavy red felt, and 
pulling this up I came upon a makeshift bed with 
pillow and bedding underneath mine. The occupant 
had gone, and I discovered the place at the end of 
the bed where " it " must have crept out noiselessly 
through the open door ! 

I said nothing to our hostesses, who came straight 
from their beds to give us bread and coffee before we 
started. They rode with us for a couple of miles to 
speed us on our way, and I was somewhat surprised 



CH. n BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 35 

to see ttat they merely pulled long coats over their 
night attire and muffled their heads in shawls before 
they mounted their horses. It was not until we had 
bade them farewell that I was able to relate my 
adventure to my brother and discuss this curious 
example of primitive Russian customs. 

We parted from the ladies at the Kizil Su, the 
river that waters Kashgar, which we found very 
difficult to cross owing to the floes of half-melted ice 
in the middle of the stream and the broad ice shelves 
that protruded from either bank. We were now in 
Chinese Turkestan, and our haltiug-places changed 
considerably for the worse ; indeed, the animals were 
relatively better housed than the human beings. 
Usually we rode into a small yard, two sides of which 
were given up to the ponies, while only dark rooms 
lit by a hole in the roof were reserved for travellers. 
The ceilings were unplastered, the interstices of the 
poplar beams being stuffed with hay, which as the 
weather grew warmer would be a haimt of scorpions 
and tarantulas. There was no furniture of any kind 
in these " hotels " with their crumbling mud walls 
and uneven floors, and I was always thankful when 
I slept in them that the " insect season " had not 
begun. It was not easy for me to sleep in these 
places, for the servants seemed to talk all night 
long ; moreover, as my room was merely wattle-and- 
daub I could hear every movement of the animals 
on the other side of the thin walls, as they munched 
their fodder, fidgeted, and now and again screamed 
and tried to kick one another. I was also often 
roused from my slumbers by some cat that would 
leap down through the hole in the roof and would 
prowl about until my angry " Ssh ! " frightened it 



36 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

into departing, thoixgli it would probably return later 
and disturb me again. 

At the first of these unprepossessing stages we 
were greeted by a ya-yieh or " yamen runner," who 
had been deputed by the Chinese authorities to escort 
us for the remainder of the j ourney . He was a striking 
figure, with a scarlet and yellow plastron on his chest 
denoting his official position. 

Our onward route lay across many low passes, one 
I remember being crowned by a deserted fort, a 
memento of Yakub Beg, and clustered round this 
stronghold were many shrines — spiles of stones adorned 
with wild sheeps' horns and with poles on which 
fluttered countless rags, the idea being to remind the 
buried saint to intercede for the giver of the scrap of 
cloth or cotton. After this we traversed a district 
strewn with conglomerate rocks which assumed the 
most fantastic and weird shapes, and we wound 
through a long defile where the loess hills were crimped 
and frilled, looking much like rows of ballet skirts 
flung one upon another. 

The ranges decreased in height as we proceeded, 
the sandy detritus moving down on barren valleys in 
which we saw very little sign of Ufe. There were the 
pretty snow pigeons, the ubiquitous crows, and occa- 
sionally magpies standing on the backs of a few goats, 
pecking the ticks from their hair as the animals fed 
on almost invisible herbage or gnawed the bark from 
branches of willows that were cut down for the purpose. 

Ever since we had crossed the Terek Dawan the 
weather had been cold and windy, with frequent 
dust-storms, the sand driving in great red clouds 
across the treeless wastes, and enveloping us and our 
caravan in grit that made the eyes smart. 



OH. n BEYOND THE TIAN SHAN 37 

Farther and farther the hills receded until we 
emerged on to the great Kashgar plain, where at 
Miniol, our last halting-place, the irrigated fields were 
green with crops, the trees in leaf, clumps of irises 
about to burst into flower, lizards darting among the 
stones, and frogs chanting loudly from the water- 
courses. To give some idea of the size of the Tian 
Shan Range it may be mentioned that nine out of the 
twelve stages of our journey lay through mountains. 

On April 10, the thirty-sixth day after leaving 
England, we rode across the stony plain towards a 
long green line on the horizon that indicated the goal 
of our journey, passing on our way an old watch- 
tower erected in bygone days on the edge of the 
Oasis to give due warning of Kirghiz raiders. Some 
miles out of the city a fine saddle-horse and a rickety 
hooded victoria met us. My brother mounted the 
one and I got into the other, to be jolted over stones 
and in clouds of dust towards Kashgar. As we 
entered the Oasis with its avenues of willow, poplar 
and mulberry that surrounded the town for miles, 
Sir George Macartney and his children appeared to. 
welcome us, and we also had a. greeting from the 
Indians, when we entered a garden and sat down at 
a table on which a lavish meal had been spread. We 
halted farther on to exchange greetings with the 
Swedish missionaries, then drove in the red dust to 
where the Russian Consul - General and his staff 
hospitably entertained us, and afterwards to the 
Chinese reception, where more tea had to be sipped. 
This was the last stopping-place, and it was with joy 
that I heard the children who shared my carriage 
say, as we skirted the castellated city wall, that we 
were at last nearing the British Consulate. 



38 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

We drove into a large garden planted with, trees, 
where Lady Macartney came down the steps of a 
big, pleasing house and, giving us the kindest of 
greetings, led us into the dining-room. Here it 
was so delightful to be once more in an English 
atmosphere and to talk to a countrywoman that T 
could not resist partaking of afternoon tea, though 
it was for the fourth time since we had entered the 
Kashgar Oasis. 



CHAPTER III 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 



For stalking about the streets (of Leh) or seated in silent rows 
along the bazaar, were men of a different type from those around. 
Their large white turbans, their beards, their long and ample outer 
robes, reaching nearly to the ground and open in front showing a 
shorter undercoat girt at the waist, their heavy riding-boots of black 
leather, all gave them an imposing air ; while their dignified manners 
so respectful to others, yet so free from Indian cringing or Tibetan 
buffoonery, made them seem like men among monkeys compared with 
the people around them. — Visits to High Tartary, Yarkand and Kashgar 
— Robert Shaw. 

On the second day after our arrival the Macartneys 
and their children left for England, but, busy though 
my hostess was, she found time to show me everything 
in the house and offices, giving me all sorts of hints 
that proved invaluable later on. 

I was delighted with CMni Bagk (Chinese Garden), 
as the Consulate was called, the well-planned, airy 
house being set on low cliffs above the river. 
The large garden was full of fruit trees in blossom, 
its most charming feature being a terrace shaded by 
lofty poplars, from which we had a fine view of the 
river winding away to our right and could look down 
upon fields green with spring crops and watch the 
gaily clad people moving along the network of roads 
and paths. In fact we were so far above the world 
that I was sometimes reminded of the " Lady of 

39 



40 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt- ^ 

Shallot " and ter magic mirror, the busy life passing 
below seeming almost like a vision when viewed from 
this post of vantage, where we ourselves were quite 
unobserved. 

Another point that pleased me greatly about our 
new home was the fact that we could walk on the flat 
roof of the house, and every now and again, when the 
air was free of the all-pervading dust, we could enjoy 
•a wonderful mountain panorama. The snow -clad 
monarchs rose up, peak behind peak, in indescribable 
grandeur, Kungur, as the natives called it, dominating 
the whole, and I little thought that a few months 
later I should be privileged to stand at the foot of 
these superb mountains and have an unforgettable 
gHmpse of the " vision splendid." The Russians 
always insisted that the great dome of Muztagh Ata 
(Father of the Snows) could be seen from Kashgar, 
but Captain Deasy definitely settled by his survey 
work that this mighty giant was hidden by Kungur. 

However, there was far more prose than poetry in 
my life at Kashgar, particularly at first, when I was 
occupied in coping with the details of housekeeping. 
I laboured under the disadvantage of being unable 
to speak Russian to the cook, or Turki to the other 
servants, but fortunately old Jafar Bai, who was 
entrusted with the purchases of supplies in the bazar, 
spoke Persian, and as I have a working acquaintance 
with that language he could act as my interpreter. 
To counterbalance my lack of tongues I had a fair 
knowledge of cooking and a good deal of energy, a 
quality useful in dealing with the slackness of the 
Oriental, particularly in Mohamedan countries, where 
a woman is obliged to hold her own, as her sex is of 
so little account. I speedily discovered that Achmet, 




DAOUD AND SATTUR. 



Page 41. 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 41 

a Eussian engaged at Tashkent for the high sum of 
five pounds a month, was hardly a cook at all and 
could only make two or three soups and prepare the 
same number of meat dishes ; his bread, moreover, 
was uneatable, and not a single pudding or cake found 
a place in his repertory ! This was bad enough ; 
but his unwillingness to learn, his lack of respect and 
his ceaseless wrangling with Jafar Bai, whose office 
he wished to usurp, made housekeeping a tiresome 
business. Before long it dawned upon me that to 
pay the wages of a chef and to be forced to do most 
of the work myself was not good policy, and when I 
discovered that Achmet had a weakness for alcohol 
I made up my mind to dispense with his services. 

The kitchen-boy left by Lady Macartney had all 
the qualities that my late cook lacked, and I now 
entered upon a peaceful existence as far as the 
kitchen was concerned. Daoud Akhun (David, the 
Reader of the Koran, as his name implied) was a 
burly intelligent youth, and speedily grasped my 
Persian interlarded with Turki words. But he had 
no claim to his title of Akhun, as he could neither 
read nor write, and consequently I had to prepare 
every dish two or three times before he could remember 
the right quantities and be trusted to make it alone. 
My little Colonial cookery-book gave all the recipes 
in cupfuls or spoonfuls, a method that might with 
advantage be followed in England, as it is a great 
saving of time and trouble. 

Sattur, the butler of the establishment, was a 
gnome-like little man, perfectly honest, but with the 
mind of a boy of twelve. The others called him 
Mulla Sattur, his title, like that of my cook, being 
due to the fact that his father had been a mulla or 



42 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES p^- 1 

priest, though he himself was entirely devoid of 
education. 

He and his underling kept the house fairly well 
when looked after, but Orientals are incurably slack 
according to Western ideas, and it was a constant 
struggle . to maintain a very moderate standard of 
cleanliness and order. At first I tried to teach him 
to sweep the painted floors by means of a damp 
cloth tied over a broom, instead of whisking the dust 
from one place to another ; but he nearly wept, saying 
at intervals, " Not good, not good," so averse was 
he to innovations. As a waiter he had a tiresome 
habit of stretching his arm across us when serving 
food or drink, and he had a constitutional inability 
to put on the Ud of a biscuit-tin or close a door. It 
was a proud moment when, after many a reprimand, 
he knocked at my bedroom door instead of bursting 
in without notice ! Apart from these small failings 
he was very likeable, most conscientious, and some- 
what resembling a dog in his desire for praise if he 
did anything well. 

With all his virtues, he, on one occasion, nearly 
caused a disaster, as the following anecdote will show. 
Some years before our arrival, a British officer was 
in temporary charge of the Consulate, and as he was 
a bachelor the servants soon took advantage of the 
fact that there was no mistress. One day he found 
them going off to their respective homes laden with 
provisions from his store-room, and in righteous 
wrath he dismissed every one save Sattur, who had 
not joined in the depredations. The little fellow 
then united in his person the offices of cook, butler 
and housemaid, and apparently did so well that his 
master was emboldened to give a tea-party. The 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 43 

guests arrived, but the piece de resistance in the shape 
of rock - cakes was so long in appearing that the 
amateur cook was summoned. Sattur then explained 
with some perturbation that he was sure something 
was wrong with the baking-powder, because, although 
he had mixed in a double quantity with the flour, 
the buns utterly refused to rise. The captain de- 
manded to see this curious baking-powder, and he 
and his guests had a shock when he discovered that 
it was the arsenic which he kept to cure the skins 
of the animals and birds that he shot ! 

One of the great drawbacks of the Turki is that 
they never wash. There are no public baths, as in 
Persia, nor does the rule of a weekly bath on Friday 
before going to the mosque hold good here. The 
only thing I could do was to insist firmly on clean 
garments and well washed hands and faces. All the 
servants wore very long sleeves in which they hid 
their hands to show respect to superiors. They were 
in the habit of using these sleeves as dusters, but had 
to roll them up when tKey did any work. 

Jafar Bai, the head cJiuprassi, willing and trust- 
worthy, was my marketer, but variety in diet was 
difficult to obtain when we had only the toughest 
of mutton and the stringiest of fowls on which to 
depend. We were warned that the beef was usually 
diseased, and as many cases of illness had occurred 
from eating the fish caught in the river — some 
beiag diseased and others apparently having a 
poison -gland — we never ventured upon that form 
of food, and no game was to be had until the 
autumn. 

Fortunately eggs were abundant, and we obtained 
some butter and milk from our two cows, attended 



44 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES m. i 

by their calves, wluch took about half what their 
mothers yielded. As the small quantity of butter 
produced was barely sufficient for the table, I tried 
to supplement it by procuring cream from the bazar, 
but unluckily the Kashgaris do not practise cleanli- 
ness in any form. The cream was always distressingly 
dirty and had to be passed through muslin and then 
brought to boiling-point before it could be made into 
butter, and even then had an unpleasant smell and 
a dingy appearance. After various trials I resorted 
to suet for my cooking, and bought dumba, the big 
bunch of fat that forms the tail of the Central 
Asian sheep. On our arrival we found that owing 
to the War no white flour could be purchased in 
Kashgar, and we were obliged to have recourse to 
the native article, with its large admixture of grit 
and dust, before we could procure Russian flour from 
Osh. 

The Swedes told me that when their mission was 
started in Kashgar some twenty years ago the prices 
of food were very low, thete being practically no 
money in the country. In those days trading was 
done " in kind," but prices had trebled or even 
quadrupled in the last few years. Even so, I did not 
consider them exorbitant when I could piirchase a 
small leg of mutton for Is. lOd., soup-meat at 2jd. a 
lb., a fair-sized fowl for 8d., and eggs at about four 
a penny. Sugar, Russian bacon, cheese and suchlike 
imported things were naturally expensive owing to 
the difficulties of transport. The weights were a jing 
{ll lbs.), 16 jings making a charak (21 lbs.), while the 
Russian poud was 36 lbs. 

The prices were usually computed in tangas, 
a coin worth about 2d., which, to my great surprise. 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 45 

did not exist. This mytliical tanga equalled 25 
darchin, while 16 tanga and 10 darchin made a seer 
— a coin worth, about 2s. 8d. This sounds easy enough, 
but was complicated with the Chinese tael, the Indian 
rupee and the Russian rouble, all these coins being 
current in Kashgar. 

The important question of the laundry was 
settled satisfactorily by a woman who arrived on Mon- 
days and installed herself under a shelter in the yard 
where were basins and a fireplace. On Tuesdays the 
ironer made her appearance, the same woman being 
unable to see the clothes through both processes ; 
and she was accommodated in a room with a long 
table, shelves on which to deposit the garments, and 
a supply of irons. Lady Macartney had warned me 
that this woman had a fondness for doing her work 
on a dirty cloth, and I soon found that she Uved up 
to her reputation and would lay aside the clean sheet 
that I provided unless I looked in upon her at frequent 
intervals. Though she was a fair ironer she had no 
knowledge of starching, but we discovered a male artist 
who imdertook to get up my brother's shirt fronts 
and collars, though he utterly declined to wash them. 
I paid both women some tangas extra on condition 
that they washed and ironed all the servants' cloths 
and dusters, my rule being to give out clean ones 
every Monday and Wednesday in exchange for their 
dirty ones ; a plan that ensured as much cleanliness 
as I could reasonably expect. 

Shortly before we left Kashgar for England our 
lady ironer departed without warning to another 
town, but the male artist kindly came to the rescue 
and took over her job. He used to make the 
most extraordinary noises, but I thought nothing 



46 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. « 

of them until I came into the ironing-room one day, 
carrying a dress that was creased. He laid it out 
on the ironing-board and to my horror began to 
eject a fine spray of water from his mouth upon 
it, making at the same time the noise that had 
puzzled me ! 

There was not much social dissipation at Kashgar, 
though there was a colony of fifty Russians, together 
with a body of sixty-five Cossacks and their ofiicer. 
Out of these only a dozen made up " Society," and 
we met twice a week at the " Club," providing tea 
and cakes in turn. Here four of the men and my 
brother played tennis on a mud court, an adjoiniug 
court being laid out for croquet, where the rest of us 
played a game with wide hoops, a " cage " in the 
centre and small-headed maUets that took me back 
to the days of my early youth. Every one 
" spooned " and pushed the balls into position in 
a way contrary to every rule of up-to-date croquet 
and got quite excited over the games. It was curious 
to see the thoroughly inefficient way in. which the 
servants swept these courts. Their method was to 
kneel down and brush up the sand with little twig 
brooms that they held in one hand, while with the 
other they collected the dust into heaps before 
piling it on one of the skirts of their long coats and 
so carrying it off. 

Prince Mestchersky, the Consul -General, and his 
wife and stafE were most friendly, and we were invited 
to a round of dinners and lunches, Achmet's in- 
competence giving me many an anxious moment 
when we returned the hospitalities lavished upon 
us. Unluckily for me, only four or five of the 
Russians could speak French or German, and as I 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 47 

have no gift of tongues my attempts to learn 
Russian were far from successful. 

This was rather trying, as the Russian entertain- 
ments ran to length. I always remember the first 
lunch party to which we were invited. It was given 
in a garden at some distance from the Consulate, 
and I drove there well swathed in cloak and veils, 
to avoid arriving with the complexion of a mulatto 
from the clouds of suffocating dust that rose up from 
the road. Driving was also a penance, owing to the 
rough roads along which one was bumped and jolted 
until one ached all over. Our goal was an enclosure 
full of fruit trees in blossom and planted with flowers, 
in which two long tables, placed on mud platforms 
covered with carpets, were spread with different kinds 
of wine, fruit, sweetmeats and so on. The Russian 
colony, including the three ladies in their smartest 
dresses, was assembled on a third platform hung 
round with Chinese embroideries. Scarlet awnings 
were stretched above the tables to keep off the sun, 
and when all the guests had arrived we sat at the first 
table for an hour and a half, while many zahousTcus 
and course after course of meat were handed round 
and interminable toasts were drunk. 

I am a water-drinker, but soon found that I should 
give offence if I refused to return the toasts in wine ; 
so I did at Rome as Rome does, held my glass up, 
clinked it with other glasses, and sipped as occasion 
required. The Tsar's Prohibition Act had not found 
its way into Chinese Turkestan, and never have I 
seen such a bewildering array of bottles. The first 
toasts led off in vodka, after which different wines 
and liqueurs were served in unending succession. 
Among the guests was a savant who had spent some 



48 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. r 

years in the«Gobi Desert copjdng ancient inscriptions, 
and had halted at Kashgar on his return to civiliza- 
tion. His exploits with the bottle were so remarkable 
that my table-companion said he must be slaking 
his two years' thirst at one go ! 

When we had sat till three o'clock at one table 
we were requested to adjourn to the second, where 
ices, sweetmeats, champagne and cofiee, and of 
course cigarettes, were served. After an hour of this 
our host proposed that we should take a little 
promenade de digestion ; so ofi we all went along dusty 
paths bounded by high mud walls and round freshly 
irrigated fields. To compass these latter we had to 
walk carefully on the top of the irrigation banks, the 
ladies finding this somewhat difficult owing to their 
heels of abnormal height. At one place we came to 
a ditch where the gentlemen insisted on helping us 
across, though it was a very small jump, but my 
companions had such extremely narrow skirts that 
they could not have done it unaided. On our return 
to the garden the Princess wished to wash her hands ; 
so soap and towels were provided and in turn we 
held out our hands for a servant to poux water over 
them, our gallant host waving a bottle of eau-de- 
Cologne, with which he besprinkled the ladies. 

My heart failed me when I saw tea in readiness, 
with cakes, biscuits and sweets galore, and I had to 
wrestle for some time longer with linguistic diffi- 
culties, thankful that three of those assembled could 
talk French fluently. When a surreptitious peep 
at my watch told me that it was half-past six, we 
took our leave amid many exclamations as to the 
extreme earliness of our departure from the lunch 
party ! 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 49 

Nice and friendly as the Russians all were, my 
brother and I led lives of such a different kind that 
we could not well coalesce. If we dined with them 
we could never leave before midnight, and they them- 
selves said that they liked to stay on till five o'clock 
in the morning, the domestics serving up a supper, 
or rather an early breakfast, from the remnants of 
the dinner, and possibly they would stroll out to see 
the sun rise before they repaired to their homes. 
Owing to their love of late hours they did not rise till 
mid-day, and as they could not enjoy the cool of the 
mornings as we did, they used to " take the air " 
by moonlight. 

They did- not play bridge, and we could not learn 
their difficult card-game, nor was it possible to play 
a kind of loto with them, owing to ignorance of the 
language. 

Those forming " society " lived apparently in one 
another's houses all day long, never liking to be alone, 
and the little colony reminded us of the Florentines 
rendered immortal by Boccaccio, who, when the 
plague was raging, left their city and went to a 
lovely garden outside its walls, caring nothing for 
the misery and death they had so skilfully avoided. 
In this case it was not a plague, but the World War, 
that our neighbours appeared to ignore, except now 
and again when the Germans approached some place 
where they had relatives or friends. 

I caimot refrain from giving the menu of one of 
the dinners we gave the Russians, in order to show 
what Daoud and I could accomplish when working 
together : 



50 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

MENU. 

Hors-d^oBumes. 
Caviarg on toast. Salmon mayonnaise. Fried sausages. 

Tomato Soup. 

Meat Courses. 
Chicken aspic. Steaks a la tournados. Indian curry. Vegetables. 

Sweets. 
Trifle. Jam tarts. Ices. 

Savoury — Cheese straws. 

Dessert. 

A dinner such as tlis required my presence in the 
kitchen the greater part of two mornings, and the 
food had to be arranged with an eye to Daoud's 
capacities ; for I fought stoutly against the Oriental 
habit of long waits between the courses. On these 
occasions I hired an assistant who did all that my 
cook would permit, and Sattur was supported by 
Jafar Bai and another chuprassi resplendent in 
scarlet and gold uniforms and snowy turbans. The 
clerk of the oflGice, who spoke English and Turki, 
always read over the menu more than once to 
Daoud, and I insisted that the latter should repeat it 
in his turn, in order to be sure that he had memorized 
it correctly. When we were seated at table my 
anxieties were by no means over ; for, in spite of 
my coaching beforehand, the waiters were fond of 
getting into one another's way, and occasionally 
there were unseemly wrangles between Sattur, who 
considered that he was the head, and masterful 
Jafar Bai, who would sometimes wrench the bottles 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 51 

of wine from him as he was endeavouring to fill up 
the glasses of our guests. But on the whole our 
dinners were not inferior to those given by the 
Russians with their larger and more experienced 
stafis, and our guests enjoyed coming to us, as some 
of our dishes, such as curry, were more or less a 
novelty to them. 

I have always liked entertaining, but in this case 
the language difliculty used to leave me quite ex- 
hausted at the close of the evening, and with the 
depressed feeUng that I could not make things go 
briskly. Both my brother and I took lessons from a 
young girl, the companion of the Priiicess, but as 
she was uneducated and knew no language save her 
own, I confess I did not get much benefit from her 
instruction, although I tried to make her teach me 
by the Berlitz method. She was, however, a help to 
my brother, who had stiidied the language at Meshed, 
where he had had a good deal of social iutercourse 
with the Russian Consulate, and who only needed 
practice to talk easily. 

The other Europeans consisted of a small body 
of Swedish missionaries, men and women, headed by 
Dr. Raquette, who, besides his medical work, has 
published a Turki grammar and dictionary. All 
the Swedes talked English and gave us much informa- 
tion about Kashgar and its inhabitants, in particular 
Mr. Bohlin, who accompanied us on many of our 
rides. They had a hospital and dispensary, doiug 
most useful medical work, and had the only printing- 
press in Chinese Turkestan, from which they issued 
books printed in Turki for use in their schools through- 
out the province. 

A medical missionary in the East may be of 



52 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

incalculable benefit to thousands, and Dr. Raquette's 
successful operations for cataract, in particular, 
brought him patients from far Khotan. Unfor- 
tunately the Kashgaris were much under the influence 
of their mullas and of the native doctors, who, not 
unnaturally, objected to foreign methods, the result 
being that they often came to the Swedes only when 
they were at the point of death. Moreover, though 
they looked robust they seemed to have little strength 
to resist the inroads of disease, and any serious illness 
carried them off very speedily. 

The mission was started a quarter of a century 
ago. Dr. and Mrs. Hoegberg, whom we met later at 
Yarkand, being its oldest members. At first it met 
with persecution, the Chinese stirring up the Kash- 
garis to besiege the little community in their house, 
but fortunately Mr. Macartney, as he then was, rode 
to the rescue with his chuprassis, and some Russian 
Cossacks aided him in the work of driving off the 
mob. 

The Kashgari roughs then wreaked their vengeance 
on the new hospital that was being bmlt on the site 
which it now occupies, and every kind of threat was 
used to induce the missionaries to leave Kashgar ; 
but they stood firm, and finally the Chinese official 
who was their enemy was recalled, and forced to 
rebuild the hospital at his own cost. His successor 
announced the change of policy by inviting the 
members of the mission to a great banquet, at which 
the much-esteemed swallows'-nest soup was served, 
and so the hatchet was buried for good. 

I always thought that the apple-pie order of the 
mission buildings and the excellent fruit and vege- 
tables grown in the garden were a good object-lesson 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 53 

to tlie Kashgaris, and indeed they were not insensible 
of tMs, as the following anecdote shows. When one 
of the missionaries had engaged a servant he heard 
an old retainer remark to the new recruit : " You must 
be sure not to be dirty, because these people are so 
clean that if they are forced to say an unclean word 
they go immediately and wash out their mouths ! " 
My informant also told me that a servant of one of 
the lady missionaries, being short of cash, took all 
her plates to the bazar and sold them. When she 
turned upon him in righteous wrath, he remarked : 
" Oh, mistress, you are not blaming me properly," 
and he actually poured out a string of most abusive 
epithets, inviting, nay imploring her to use them 
upon him ! 

Our days soon fell into a routine broken by the 
English post with its month-old newspapers, which 
we devoured eagerly. The Renter sent across the 
passes from Gilgit gave us somewhat later information 
about the War, and the Russians received occasional 
telegrams ; but their knowledge of geography was 
so limited that my brother had much difficulty in 
eliciting any clear statement as to what was going on. 

Riding was our chief amusement, and we pur- 
chased two fine Badakshani horses of the breed 
described by Marco Polo, and were usually in the 
saddle by half-past seven. The morning air was 
delightfully cool, and the rides were wonderfully 
varied, a fresh one for each day of the month we used 
to say. There was also the sound of running water 
in the numberless irrigation channels as we rode 
under the trees along sandy tracks free from stones 
and ideal for cantering. An added charm was the 
fact that the walls enclosing gardens and fields were 



54 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

quite low, and as a rule tlie crops were not fenced 
in at all, save by low banks of eartb. 

At first we used to be accompanied on our walks 
and rides by Bielka and Brownie, the dogs that the 
Macartneys bad left in our care. Bielka was 
a powerful white animal rather like a wolf, and 
unluckily had such an unconquerable dislike to 
Europeans that he had to be chained up whenever 
visitors came to the house. On our arrival Lady 
Macartney " introduced " us to him by providing 
us with bits of meat to give him as a peace-ofEering, 
and we became excellent friends. 

It was amusing on our walks to watch him and 
Brownie, the fat, easygoing spaniel ; for the latter, an 
arrant coward, would pick quarrels with the pariah 
dogs and then call his comrade to his aid, the enemy 
fleeing in confusion as soon as Bielka appeared. 
But when we found that, if a Cossack rode past, the 
great dog would rush at him like a fury and try to 
tear him from his horse, and when on the same walk 
we had to race to the rescue of a young Russian 
couple, the edict went forth that our would-be 
guardian must be left at home. It went to my heart 
to refuse him when he implored me to let him escort 
us ; for he was most charming to his friends and kept 
the Consulate free of thieves, as he roamed about the 
place all night. 

Though the Consulate was close to the city wall, 
we could turn almost at once into shady lanes, 
bordered with irrigation channels, along which 
willows, poplars and mulberries grew luxuriantly ; 
while on either side stretched fields green with lucerne 
and springing wheat, barley and maize. But all 
the growth and prosperity of the Oasis was entirely 



CH. in LIFE AT KASHGAR 55 

dependent upon the water, and should this source of 
life fail great would be the devastation. One day 
we came upon a district where a big network of 
irrigation channels had run dry owing to the bursting 
of a dam, and hundreds of men were labouring 
against time to repair it and thereby save the trees 
and crops. The corvee system is in force in Chinese 
Turkestan, and although tyrannical according to 
Western ideas, it is certainly for the public benefit 
in such a case as this. The villagers are forced to 
repair all roads and water channels in their own 
districts, but the hardship comes in when their 
Chinese rulers undertake to reclaim land from the 
desert and commandeer men from considerable dis- 
tances. They are supposed in such cases to be paid 
threepence a day for their food, but it is rumoured 
that this money usually goes into the pockets of 
the headmen. 

The Kashgar Oasis is watered by the Kizil Su (Red 
River, so called from its colour) and its branch the 
Tuman Su, which make the city and its environs an 
island. In April there was little water ia either 
stream, so we could ford them easily on horseback ; 
but during the summer it was a different matter. 
We were warned to be on our guard for quick- 
sands in these rivers. Mr. Bohlia was once nearly 
caught in one, but feeling his horse sinking beneath 
him he threw himself off in haste and wading waist- 
deep he pulled the animal ashore. On another 
occasion he observed several men trying to extricate 
a horse that had sunk so deeply that it took the whole 
day to free it. These quicksands are less to be 
feared in deep water which buoys the animals up. 
The Kashgaris always hurry their horses over any 



56 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

suspicious place, but as th.e dangerous areas are 
constantly changing, it is impossible to be sure of 
their whereabouts. 

Charming as spring is in Chinese Turkestan, it 
has a serious drawback in the violent sandstorms 
that are particularly frequent during March and 
Aprilj in fact it has been computed that there are 
only a hundred really clear days during the year. 
For several days after our arrival the air was thick 
with dust that veiled the sun and accounted for the 
strictures passed by travellers on the " grey atmo- 
sphere " and depressing climate of Kashgar. Either 
by day or by night a furious wind would arise, 
bringing clouds of sand from the desert and coating 
everything in our rooms with a layer of reddish grit 
that hurt our eyes if we chanced to be caught in the 
open. I was told, however, that the inhabitants 
liked this haze that enshrouded their city as being a 
welcome change from the brilliant sunshine, and also 
as tempering the heat that was beguining to be con- 
siderable during the middle of the day. We noticed 
great changes in the temperature, sometimes experi- 
encing a drop of as nmn'h^gj.wp.pty rlp grepa irnvn qtt a 
day to another. This I found out to my cost when I 
haTaTtiresome attack of rheumatism caused by riding 
on a cold morning in the thin Unen coat that had 
been just the thing on the previous day. 

These sandstorms raging through the centuries 
are supposed to have made the loess formation which 
is so characteristic of Chinese Turkestan, and so 
amenable tathe^spadejofihe cnltiv-atar when irrigated. 
The countl^ssjayera. of iiom p Eeasfid-sanStJgggagBide 
of_ Inducing jplendid,_cxQpV-and^h£u apparently 
lifeless desert of Central Asia is able„to support large 




■fl 



■f) 



o 

O 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 57 

populations if the beneficent ageacjqf_ water be 
provided. ~~ ' " "~ 

The loess is also most useful in another way ; 
for, when mixed with chaff and water, it forms the 
staple building material of Chinese Turkestan, and 
edifices of sun-dried loess bricks will endure through 
the centuries, if repaired at intervals. I have often 
seen a peasant mending a wall in most primitive 
fashion by filling the breach with wet mud, which he 
slapped into position with his hands. Naturally 
this style of building is suitable only in a dry climate, 
and a prolonged period of heavy rain, such as some- 
times occurs in winter, works havoc with it, the 
flat roofs of houses staving in and walls frequently 
collapsing. To the traveller, the loess, though 
picturesque when broken up into crevasses and 
castellated forms, has its drawbacks. Unless culti- 
vated it is inexpressibly dreary, in dry weather 
the traffic stirs it up into clouds of suffocating dust, 
and in wet it turns into a sea of slippery mud, in 
which the surest-footed horse may come down. If 
the rain be of long duration the soil is apt to turn 
into a veritable morass, which engulfs many a poor 
little donkey and chokes it to death. 

I was fond of riding through the bazar on a 
Thursday, the day of the weekly fair, when crowds 
of people poured in from the many hamlets in the 
Oasis, making a feast of colour. Among the men 
there was a great mixture of types, the upper-class 
Kashgaris usually having handsome features and full 
beards and moustaches ; a group of Afghans with 
hawk -like profiles and proud bearing would catch 
the eye, remiading me of birds of prey when contrasted 
with the flat-faced, ruddy-cheeked, hairless Kirghiz ; 



58 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^t. i 

and the lower classes with the high cheek-bones of 
the Mongol seemed a link between the Iranian and 
the Chinese. 

The men wore long coats, purple, red, green, or 
striped in many colours, with gay handkerchiefs 
serving as waistbands. Snowy turbans denoted 
mullas and merchants, but the others in fur-edged 
velvet hats or prettily embroidered skull-caps made 
gay splashes of colour as they rode by on spirited 
stallions or donkeys. The women were, if possible, 
more brightly clad than the men ; their under shirts 
and trousers contrasting with their coats and hats. 
One belle, for example, had an emerald green coat 
lined with a flowered pink cotton ; her under- 
garment was a vivid orange, and her hat purple, 
with a spray of blossom coquettishly stuck under 
the brim. It seems almost incredible, but she fitted 
in well with her surroundings in the brilliant sunshine 
and the spring green of foliage and crops. 

The only visible differences between the dress of 
the men and of the women were the long white 
cotton shawls of the latter which they wore over their 
heads, and the small face -veils usually made of 
hand-embroidery, sometimes with a handsome border 
and fringe. These coverings were fastened to the 
brim of the hat, and were usually flung back over it, 
only to be hastily pulled down by some very orthodox 
dame at sight of my brother ; but if I happened to 
be riding behind him it would usually be pushed 
aside to enable its wearer to have a good look at the 
English khatun. Girls of good family veil and are 
kept secluded ; but there were few " gentry " in 
Kashgar, for when the Chinese retook the province 
on the death of Yakub Beg nearly all the upper- 




KASHGAR WOMEN AND CHILDREN. 



Page s8. 



CH. m LIFE AT KASHGAE 59 

class Kashgaris fled to Andijan. Both men and 
women wore abnormally long sleeves, answering the 
purpose of gloves in cold weather, and long leather 
riding - boots, The latter were often made of scarlet 
leather and were more like stockings than boots, and 
over them was worn a shoe with stout sole and heel. 
Indeed these long boots were seen everywhere and 
constituted a special feature of the country, being 
worn by men, women and children alike. 

On one occasion I was invited to the house of a 
Turki lady who was kind enough to display her 
wardrobe for my benefit. All her dresses were 
beautifully folded and kept tied up in large cloths. 
A woman of fashion wears five garments visible to 
the eye, the first two being the long gown and the 
trousers under it. The gown is made of Bokhara or 
Chinese silk, brocade, Russian chintz and so on, 
and over it is worn a waistcoat, often of cloth of gold 
or silver, edged at the neck with the handsome gold 
thread embroidery made at Kucha. Then comes a 
short coat with long sleeves, usually of velvet woven 
in Germany and decorated with a broad band of gold 
embroidery. One black brocade coat that I saw 
was embroidered round the neck with big tinsel 
butterflies set with artificial stones. The fifth 
garment is a long velvet or brocade coat covering 
its wearer to the heels ; I noticed a handsome one 
of magenta velvet, the buttons being big bosses of 
scarlet coral set in gold filigree and small pearls, a 
product of the Yarkand bazar. Draped on the head 
is a big white shawl, often of pretty gauzy material, 
that falls to the heels, and upon this are set the 
dainty skull-cap and the big velvet fur-edged cap. 
To this latter is attached the face- veil of fine-drawn 



60 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

thread edged all round with gold embroidery, the 
very handsome broad band of needlework at the top 
being concealed by the brim of the hat. This seemed 
a waste to my practical EngUsh mind, but the lady 
to whom I pointed this out explained that such was 
the fashion. 

Many of the young Kashgari women were most 
attractive in appearance, and some of the little 
girls quite lovely, their plaits of long hair falling 
from under a jaunty little embroidered cap, their 
big dark eyes, flashing teeth and piquant olive faces 
reminding me of Italian or Spanish children. One 
most beautiful boy stands out in my memory. He 
was clad in a new shirt and trousers of flowered pink, 
his crimson velvet cap embroidered with gold, and 
as he smiled and salaamed to us I thought he looked 
like a fairy prince. The women wear their hair in 
two or five plaits much thickened and lengthened by 
the addition of yak's hair, but the children in several 
tiny plaits. 

The peasants are fairly well off, as the soil is rich, 
the abundant water-supply free, and the taxation 
comparatively light. It was always interesting to 
meet them taking their live stock into market. 
Flocks of sheep with tiny lambs, black and white, 
pattered along the dusty road ; here a goat followed 
its master like a dog, trotting behind the diminutive 
ass which the farmer bestrode ; or boys, clad in the 
whity- brown native cloth, shouted incessantly at 
donkeys almost invisible under enormous loads of 
forage, or carried fowls and ducks in bunches head 
downwards, a sight that always made me long to 
come to the rescue of the luckless birds. 

It was pleasant to see the women riding alone on 




WATER-CARRIERS AT KASHGAR. 



Page to. 



CH. in LIFE AT KASHGAR 61 

horseback, managing their mounts to perfection. 
They formed a sharp contrast to their Persian sisters, 
who either sit behind their husbands or have their 
steeds led by the bridle ; and instead of keeping 
silence in public, as is the rule for the shrouded 
women of Iran, these farmers' wives chaffered and 
haggled with the men in the bazar outside the city, 
transacting business with their veils thrown back. 

Certaialy the mullas do their best to keep the fair 
sex in their place, and are in the habit of beating 
those who show their faces in the Great Bazar. But 
I was told that poetic justice had lately been meted 
out to one of these upholders of the law of Islam, 
for by mistake he chastised a Kashgari woman 
married to a Chinaman, whereupon the irate husband 
set upon him with a big stick and castigated him 
soundly. 

Market day at Kashgar presented an ever-chang- 
ing kaleidoscope. Here a turbaned grandfather 
bestriding a tiny donkey, his grandson clinging on 
behind him and holding tight to his waistcloth, 
would cross the imposing-looking bridge, a favourite 
haunt of the numerous beggars. On the river bank 
the dyers would be beating long pieces of cloth in the 
shallows ; horses would be drinking standing knee- 
deep in the water, and at the ford loaded asses could 
be seen staggering across, and men and women with 
their garments kilted high wading to the opposite 
bank. Donkeys carrying covered tubs were ridden 
by children wh6 scooped up the water in gourds and 
filled the receptacles that were to supply their house- 
holds fon the day. Small mites hardly able to do 
more than toddle, were fearless riders, sometimes 
two or even three children being perched on the 



62 THEOUaH DESERTS AND OASES pt. j 

same animal. The excellence of the river brand 
accounts for the fact that cholera is unknown in 
Kashgar, and the inhabitants do not sufier from the 
goitre that is so prevalent in other cities of Chinese 
Turkestan. 

The little stalls in the bazar exposed all sorts of 
commodities for sale. Melons that had been stored 
all through the winter ; horseshoes or murderous- 
looking knives laid out on benches ; here were small 
piles of almonds, walnuts and pistachios, there 
macaroni of native make and rice ; and at one corner 
of the road the dyers hung up their blue and scarlet 
cloths to dry. As far as I could see the vendors made 
no efiort to press their wares, and there seemed to 
be no fixed hours of work, men apparently sleeping, 
gossiping or drinking tea at any time of day. In the 
bakers' shops the ovens were big holes flush with the 
floor of the shop, and the baker stuck the flat cakes 
of dough against their sides and pulled them off 
when ready, with the aid of a long-handled iron 
instrument. The bread, the little be-glazed rolls in 
the form of rings, and the heaps of flour were all 
plentifully besprinkled by the dust of the trafiS.c ; 
and during the cold weather the children would squat 
all day close to these ovens and frequently tumble in 
and get terribly burnt, poor little things. There was 
always business doing at the forge, where the horses 
being shod were lashed so tightly to an ingenious 
wooden framework that they could not move. Un- 
luckily the Turki farrier is more inclined to make 
the hoof fit the shoe than vice versa, and as a result 
often cuts away the wall in most unscientific fashion, 
as we sometimes found to our cost. 

Partridges and the pretty little desert larks kept 




SHOEING IN THE KASHGAR BAZAR. 



Page 62. 



LIFE AT KASHGAR 63 

in small round cages called and twittered, but their 
notes would be drowned by the performance of a 
group of professional singers who had drawn a crowd 
round them. The leader in turban and silk attire, 
with a huge silver buckle on his belt, sang, or rather 
shouted, a solo with many a trill and tremulo, making 
excruciating facial contortions, the monotonous 
chorus being taken up by the rest of the troupe. 
Some of these were greybeards, others mere boys, 
but all had the appearance of undergoing acute 
torture as they yelled at the top of their voices, and 
brought to mind my old maestro who was in the habit 
of suddenly holding a mirror in front of me if I wore 
a pained expression as I sang. 

Yet the Kashgaris have the reputation of being 
very musical, and even to my western ears there was 
considerable charm in many of their songs ; but try 
as I might, I could never pick up any of their airs, 
probably owing to the fact that their notation is quite 
different from ours. They do not understand part- 
singing, but play several instruments, such as sitars, 
drums, pipes and tambourines. In the spring and 
summer men and boys would sing up to a late hour 
at night, and with the first glint of dawn I was often 
roused by cheerful peasants chanting on their way 
to work in the fields. 

The people say that travelling dervishes bring 
fresh tunes to the towns, and that when the spring 
repertoire, for example, has been learnt by the 
inhabitants it will be succeeded by new tunes for the 
autumn and winter. There are sometimes no words 
to these refrains, each singer supplying his own, in 
the fashion of the Italian improvisatori. No woman 
of good repute may sing in public, and only once did 



64 THROUGPI DESERTS AND OASES pt. t 

I hear a little girl of some eight or nine years old 
singing away to herself and evidently much enjoying 
the exercise. Whistling is not allowed even to 
children, but I could not find out whether the Kash- 
garis believed, as do the Persians, that it summons 
the demons. 

As the Kashgari woman is spoken of as hhatun, 
mistress, and sometimes as khan, or master, of the 
house, I thought that she had a far better position 
than her Persian sister ; yet the law of Islam presses 
heavily upon her in many ways. Owing to the 
emigration of men from the Oasis there is a large 
surplus of women, and marriage is consequently 
cheap for a suitor. Parents often sell their daughter 
to the highest bidder in the matrimonial market 
without allowing her any freedom of choice. True, 
divorce may be had for a couple of tungas (about 
fourpence), but as the woman may not re-marry until 
a hundred days have elapsed, she often has difficulty 
in keeping herself meantime, although the man is 
supposed to return the dowry that he received with 
her at her marriage. If she has children she must 
take charge of any under seven years of age, but if 
they are above that age the husband looks after the 
sons and the wife has the daughters, the husband 
paying a maintenance allowance. 

There is a law that, if the husband divorces his 
wife, the latter may take all the movables in the 
house, and as in the case of a merchant much of his 
wealth consists of carpets and brass utensUs, he often 
finds it cheaper to take a second wife rather than 
divorce the first, who would make a clean sweep of 
the household plenishing. I confess that this law 
rejoiced me, as I always resented the state of 




ai 
w 

X 
E- 

g 

Q 

O 

QJ 
•< 
O 



OH. in LIFE AT KASHGAK 65 

inferiority to wMch. Islam subjects my sex, and was 
glad ttat it gave ttem the advantage for once. 

Kashgar is a great resort of traders, and tlie de- 
grading custom of temporary marriages is in full 
force, a man often marrying a woman for a week or 
even a couple of days, the mulla who performs the 
ceremony arranging for the divorce at the same time. 
The missionaries told me that most of the women in 
Kashgar had been married several times, and this 
constant divorce leads to the wives taking whatever 
they can from their husbands and secreting it against 
a rainy day. And one cannot blame them ; for, if a 
man wants to get rid of his helpmate, especially if 
she be old, he often Ol-treats her in order to force her 
to divorce him and thus free him from the necessity 
of restoring her dowry. If she does this she may 
find herself in evil case without means of subsistence, 
and possibly unable to remarry. 

How the children fare in all these matrimonial 
complications must be left to the imagination. 
Fortunately marriage is a far more stable institution 
in the villages, where monogamy is the practice 
and divorce uncommon. Here the women are more 
on an equality with their husbands, though on one 
occasion Mr. Bohlin saw a man guiding a plough 
to which he had harnessed his wife and a donkey ! 

The Chinese also practise polygamy; but they 
never divorce a wife if she be the mother of a son, 
and I understand that they do not approve of the 
practice at all, regarding it as the ruin of family life 
and as full of evil consequences to the children. 



CHAPTER IV 

ROUND ABOUT KASHGAR 

Arabic is soienoe, Persian is sugar, 
Hindustani is salt, but Turki is Art. 

Turki Proverb. 

As soon as we had settled down at Kashgar we were 
anxious to explore the city and its environs, and Mr. 
BoHin proved an invaluable guide in our various 
expeditions. 

From its position the capital of Chinese Turkestan 
was a commercial centre from very early times. The 
town as we knew it is built on high ground above 
the Tuman Su and surrounded by a mud wall and 
a dry moat, but there are ruins of old Kashgar close 
by, and the Oasis has changed hands many times. 
The small traders and peasant proprietors, who . 
form the bulk of the population, are by no means 
a warlike race, and have apparently accepted with 
equanimity the rule of whatever master fate might 
send them. Throughout the centuries it never seems 
to have occurred to the cities of what is now Chinese 
Turkestan that they might with advantage have 
combined against a common foe, instead of letting 
themselves be subjugated piecemeal. 

Perhaps the earliest mention of Kie-sha, as it 
was then called, was when the famous Chinese 

66 




PRIEST AT THE TEMPLE OF PAN CHAO. 



Page 67. 



OH. rv ROUND ABOUT KASHGAE 67 

general Pan Chao in the first century of our 
era conquered the Oasis and marched his armies 
almost as far as the Caspian. Accordingly we 
made our first expedition to the picturesque 
temple erected by the Chinese to this hero, who, 
we were told, defended the city most valiantly 
against fierce attacks from the Kirghiz tribes. This 
monument is quite modem, the Mohamedan con- 
queror Yakub Beg having destroyed the original 
temple during the 'sixties, and the legend that places 
the remaius of the great soldier in the high mound 
on which the temple stands is open to doubt. 

The dirty, black-clad priest in charge of the 
building pointed out to us the gods in their O- 
kept shriues, Ufe-size plaster figures clad in gorgeous 
silken robes with finger-nails of monstrous length. 
The god of war was a jet-black deity of peculiarly 
repulsive appearance, and all had stands before 
them in which worshippers coidd burn joss-sticks. 
There was an upper story to the temple, which 
we reached by means of a rickety wooden staircase 
not fastened to the wall in any way, and giving me 
the impression of being a most inseciire mode of 
communication, and here I remember the quaint 
figure of the god of schoolboys, appropriately armed 
with a formidable cane. But the view was what 
held us enchaiaed. From our post of vantage we 
could see over the entire town, with its shrines and 
mosques standing out from the thousands of mean, 
flat-roofed, mud dwellings, and as the sky was clear 
that mormng the serrated peaks rose up grandly, 
ramparts, as it were, of the Roof of the World, that 
we were to visit later on. 

We looked down upon the castellated city wall, 



68 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

which, is some eighteen feet wide between, its high 
parapets, and I was told the legend according to 
which it was built by haK-starved slaves who were 
urged to their task by overseers armed with whips. 
If one of the labourers died, as frequently happened, 
his fellows were not allowed to remove the body, 
but were forced to build it into the wet mud in order 
that it might form part of the fabric, and the narrative 
haunted me when I stood upon the wall itself. 

Though modern artillery would bring down this 
defence of the city, and the outer moat is always 
dry, as water would undermine the ramparts, the 
wall with its square, bastions has nevertheless an 
imposing appearance : so also have the four great 
bronze-covered gates giving entrance to the town, 
which are shut at sunset to the accompaniment of 
Chinese crackers. 

The centre of Moslem veneration is Hazrat Apak, 
the shrine where the Priest-King of Kashgar, who 
died at the end of the seventeenth century, is buried, 
together with many of his descendants. Apak not 
only ruled over Chinese Turkestan, but had disciples 
in China and India. He was credited with powers of 
healing, and even of bringing the dead to hfe, and the 
Kashgaris regard him as second only to Mohamed 
and count him equal to Hazrat Isa (Jesus Christ) : 
he is said to have converted many thousands from 
Buddhism to Islam. The road leading to the shrine 
is a vast cemetery, about two miles in length and 
stretching some distance inland on either side, and 
along this Via Appia, as Sir Aurel Stein has named 
it, burial is a costly afiair and can be afforded only 
by the well-to-do. The domed mud tombs have an 
underground chamber in which are four niches, and 






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WOMEN AT THE SHRINE OF HAZRAT APAK. 



Page 6g. 



ROUND ABOUT KASHGAE . 69 

here the principal members of a family are buried, 
each body being laid in turn in the receptacle that 
faces Mecca. As we passed along the road we heard 
women weeping loudly at some of the graves, in 
reality performing a kind of ancestor worship in imita- 
tion of their Chinese masters and not in accordance 
with Moslem practice. The idea is that deceased 
relatives will take more interest in the welfare of the 
survivors than do the saints, and accordingly the 
graves of the former are visited on holidays, and in 
this particular city of the dead also on Fridays and 
Saturdays. If any special blessing has been vouch- 
safed to a family, such as recovery from illness or a 
safe return from a journey, its members go in a body 
to express their gratitude at the tomb of parent or 
ancestor. 

A number of beggars ran after our horses along 
this road ; some of them dwell in small houses in the 
cemetery and are paid to keep certain graves in order. 
It is hinted that when the tombs crumble away these 
men are in the habit of turning them into dwellings, 
in order to sell the land again for burial plots after a 
decent interval has elapsed. 

We dismounted at the imposing-looking gateway 
leading to the shrine, and were received by the 
mutawali bashi, or chief custodian, who takes a 
third of the large revenues, and a couple of turbaned, 
green-robed shaykhs. These escorted us up a poplar 
avenue past a big tank of water to a large building 
with a fa9ade covered with blue and white tiles bear- 
ing Arabic inscriptions, the dome and the borders of 
the fagade being in green, which contrasted curiously 
with the main colour scheme. 

This was the famous shrine, and we were invited 



70 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

to step inside, where we saw a crowded mass of blue- 
tiled tombs, that of the Saint-King being draped with 
red and white cloths. There were numbers of flags 
and banners before the tombs, and on one side was 
a palanquin in which a great-grandson of Apak had 
travelled to and from Peking. While there he had 
married his daughter to a Chinaman, and at the date 
of our visit a Celestial had arrived iu Kashgar accom- 
panied by a band of relatives, to demand his share 
of the great wealth of the shriue. His credentials 
were unexceptionable, and during a century and a 
half his ancestors had been given pensions by the 
Chinese Government ; but owing to the revolution 
these subsidies had been stopped. Hence his appear- 
ance, which was causing much perturbation among 
the managers of the shrine funds. 

We were shown the pool where the saint was 
wont to make his ablutions before praying, and close 
by was a great trophy of the horns of ovis poli and 
other wild sheep, the ofierings of many huntsmen. 
There were two wooden mosques in the enclosure, 
the roofs and pillars of the verandahs being carved 
and brilliantly coloured in the characteristic native 
fashion. Between them once lay the grave of 
Yakub Beg, but when the Chinese recovered Turkestan 
they destroyed the tomb and flung away the ashes 
of that masterful ruler. 

On another occasion we visited the Chinese ceme- 
tery, which was very small when compared with the 
acres roimd Hazrat Apak that are covered by Moslem 
tombs. But the rulers of Chinese Turkestan are 
conspicuous by their absence in Old Kashgar and, 
moreover, they are always anxious, if possible, to 
have their remains interred in their native land. 



OH. IV EOUND ABOUT KASHGAR 71 

The enclosure, surrounded by a high, wall, had 
usually a custodian of most hideous appearance 
standing at the open gateway, and the place had a 
tragic story attached to it. It was called Gul Bagh 
(Flower Garden), and was formerly the canton- 
ment of Chinese troops ia Kashgar. But when 
Yakub Beg wrested Turkestan from China he Mlled 
many soldiers of the Celestial Empire, and their 
remains were left unburied within this enclosure 
until the Chinese regained the Province in 1877. 
Then all the scattered bones were collected and placed 
under three big mud domes, the site of the former 
barracks being turned into a graveyard for Celestials. 

Just inside the entrance was a temple with a wall 
on which was an inscription to keep off evil spirits, 
and at the end of each long, low, mud tomb was a 
tiny door facing south, through which the spirit of 
the dead man was supposed to emerge. In the 
mortuary chambers near the gate were placed the 
corpses of rich men who wished to be buried in 
China and whose coffins were awaiting fitting escort 
for the long journey. 

I was told that when a Chinaman of importance 
dies, or, as it is put poetically, " drives the fairy 
chariot on a long journey," the body is kept in 
the house for several days, during which a priest 
ofEers up prayers before it, music being played and 
crackers let ofE. At the funeral a cock is brought to 
the cemetery on the coffin and kUled at the moment 
of burial, iu order that the spirit of chanticleer may 
be ready to waken the spirit of the dead man in the 
next world. Paper houses, attendants, soldiers, 
horses, carriages, beds, boxes, money — ^in fact every 
kind of thing pertaining to the daily life and use of 



72 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

the deceased — are burnt before the coflfin, in order 
that the spirit may have all these in the next world 
and may thus be enabled to take its proper position 
there. In the case of a wealthy man this ceremony 
is repeated on the three anniversaries following his 
death, and in front of a temple outside Kashgar a 
small pagoda-hke tower was pointed out to me in 
which masses of paper prayers were burnt for the 
benefit of the deceased founder. 

The Chinese are not considered particularly brave, 
but, though a man wiU avoid death by any possible 
means, yet he wiU meet it calmly when inevitable, 
and suicide is looked upon as rather a meritorious 
act than otherwise. If a man is condemned to death 
he is strangled ; but for serious crimes short of 
murder the culprits are beaten severely on the legs, 
and men who have expiated their misdeeds in this 
way have frequently been brought into the Swedish 
hospital with their leg-bones broken in two or three 
places, and in some cases so badly iajured that death 
ensues. 

" There is something of a baby and something of 
an old man in every Chinaman," quoted Mr. Bohlin 
on one occasion, and I was naturally interested when 
we were entertained at a limch given by the Taoyin, 
or Governor, of Kashgar. The invitation, written 
on a strip of scarlet paper, described my brother as 
Sa Ta-jen (the Big Man), while my title Gu Ta-tai 
(Sister of the Big Man) appeared below. 

I had hoped that we were bidden to a real Chinese 
ditmer where sharks' fins, swallows' nests and such 
like delicacies would figure ia the menu, though I 
was somewhat staggered at being told that a fijst-class 
dinner would comprise no fewer than a hundred and 



OH. rv ROUND ABOUT KASHGAE 73 

twenty courses, second and third class banquets 
having sixty and tliiity courses respectively. No 
wonder that after such orgies the yamen is wont 
to remain closed for three days. But in this case, 
though the dinner lasted with an interlude from 
one o'clock to four, it was, as far as the food went, 
an inferior Russian repast. It began with many 
zakusJcas, consisting principally of dubious-looking 
tinned fish, followed by soup, several meat courses, 
jelly, ices, tea and champagne. The Russian Consul- 
General and his stafi were present, and all the Eiiro- 
peans were placed on one side of a long table under 
an awning, while their Chinese hosts sat opposite. 
These latter amused me by getting up at intervals. 
Some would take the Governor's children on their 
knees — ^he was the proud father of four sons — and 
give them tit-bits from the table ; others smoked 
opium in curious pipes and had choking fits, during 
which they retired into the garden to cough in peace ; 
while others would leave the table to give instructions 
to the servants in charge of two gramophones that 
discoursed popular European airs aU the time. 

The commander-in-chief, a quaint-looking figure 
with grey locks, a putty-coloured complexion and 
claw-hke naUs that made me shudder, strolled up and 
down in a khaki uniform and made amiable remarks 
to the guests ; other oflQ.cials rose to ply aU and sundry 
with vodka and wine, and the only one that kept his 
seat was a small boy clad charmingly in blue and 
purple silk and wearing a sailor hat woven in blue 
and mauve straw. He ate manfully of every course, 
and even demanded a second helping of some of , 
the more indigestible of the dehcacies, but looked 
so strong and rosy that I suspected he was not 



74 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. r 

accustomed to indulge his appetite in tliis way very 
often. 

There is a great mortality among Chinese babies 
if their mothers are unable to feed them ; for Celestials 
have the strongest repulsion to cows' milk. " We do 
not wish to become calves," they say, and if a mother 
dies her offspring is nourished on rice and sugar. 

There was a crowd of soldiers at this party, some 
quite aged men, clad m black cotton uniforms, their 
heads bound up in handkerchiefs and holding curious 
weapons, such as steel prongs at the end of long 
sticks, and aU having a highly unmilitary appearance. 
The army is looked down upon iu Chiua, it being a 
common saying, " We do not make nails from good 
iron or soldiers from good men," and ia consequence 
of this strong pacifist f eehng no man of decent standing 
would enter the profession of arms, except in the 
higher ranks where successful generals have temples 
bmlt in their honour. 

Our host gave the European ladies fans and silk 
handkerchiefs as souvenirs, showing us how to vmfurl 
a fan to its fuU extent with a movement of the wrist, 
and then escorted us to the house to visit his wife, 
who met us at the entrance. She was a pleasant- 
faced lady, with well-oiled hair brushed back from 
her forehead, and was dressed iu a black sUk coat and 
tightly-fitting trousers. As she clambered with diffi- 
culty over the extremely high door-step, and tottered 
towards us on the tiniest of feet, I was unMnd 
enough to reflect that my Russian friends with their 
narrow skirts and heels of abnormal height did not 
progress much better. 

We were invited to drink tea in a room adorned 
with a couple of charming Chinese pictures, together 




CHINESE SOLDIERS AT THE KASHGAR YAMEN. 



Page 74. 



ROUND ABOUT KASHGAR 75 

with a mass of European photographs and knick- 
knacks in bad taste, and afterwards passed into two 
large bedrooms, where we were received by the 
daughter-in-law, and inspected huge bedsteads hung 
round with curtains and furnished with long silk- 
covered bolsters and neatly-folded piles of silken 
quilts. My entire ignorance of the language pre- 
vented me from enjoying this glimpse of a Chinese 
home in the way I might otherwise have done, and 
my thoughts centred on the neat little " hoofs " shod 
in black satin that served our hostesses for feet. I 
had heard Mrs. Archibald Little lecture on this 
fashion, and her accoimt of the to^^ures inflicted on 
so many thousands of tiny girls to bring about the 
repulsive mutilation which the Chinese euphemisti- 
cally call " golden lilies " had filled me with an 
abiding indignation. And yet a recent traveller in 
China says that these crippled feet possess for him a 
" quite extraordinary exotic charm," and he exhausts 
himself in conjecture as to which mistress of an 
Emperor's heart introduced a custom that " entailed 
a new charm on her sex." I have no theory to 
ofier as to the origin of the custom, but from the 
position of women in China it seemed to me that 
some man must have been responsible for a plan 
that would firmly tether his womankind to their 
homes, just as the veiling of Mohamedan women was 
a masculine device. 

During our visit to his house the Governor, who 
could talk Russian, kept the ball rolling with Princess 
Mestchersky while we sipped our tea. He had met 
her some years before in China and afterwards she 
quoted to me one of his remarks, of which she had 
not entirely approved. He had said, " When we 



76 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- 1 

were in China we were young, but now in Kashgar 
we are old ! " I thought the Governor distinctly 
lacking in tact, but how easily can one jump to wrong 
conclusions through ignorance. Later on I heard 
that there is such reverence for age in the Celestial 
Empire that it is a high compliment to impute 
many years ; an aged man, even if poor and blind, 
being regarded as a fortimate being. To this 
veneration for age is united an intense respect for 
parents, especially for the head of a house. No son 
would retire to rest before his father, nor would he 
sleep upon the roof if his parent occupied a room 
below. 

The death of a father is one of the greatest calami- 
ties that can befall a man, and Sir Aurel Stein 
illustrated this by an incident that occurred when 
he was returning to Kashgar from one of his long 
desert expeditions. It became known that his 
Chinese interpreter's father had passed away, and 
all along the road there was a friendly conspiracy 
to keep all letters from Jongsi until his journey was 
at an end and he could indulge his grief at home. 

Wh.en we said good-bye to our host we drove ofi, 
as we had arrived, to the accompaniment of three 
loud detonations, and this time the crackers were 
exploded so close to us that I marvelled that our 
horse did not smash the carriage and its occupants in 
its terror. 

Later on my brother attended real Chinese feasts, 
where the procedure was quite different from that I 
have just described. He would drive into the outer 
courtyard of the yamen, where musicians would be 
discoursing weird music from a latticed gallery, and 
the great doors of the inner courtyard would be 




JAFAR BAI DISPLAYING THE VISITING CARD. 



Page 77. 



OH. IV EOUND ABOUT KASHGAR 77 

flung wide to the deafening sound of crackers. The 
etiquette was to leave the carriage and proceed 
across a stage with an altar on one side, Jafar Bai 
walldng ahead waving his master's red visiting-card, 
and calling out his name and title, while the Amban 
met his guest half-way and escorted him to the repast. 
My brother's name, as rendered in Chinese, was 
Si-Ki-Su, and we were told that it is considered 
chic to have a name of two or three syllables, whereas 
a name running into four is not good and a five- 
syllable name would expose its bearer to derision, as 
the slip of paper on which it was written would be 
so long. The custom of visiting-cards is supposed 
to have originated in the Celestial Empire centuries 
before the coming of Christ. 

As is the habit in Persia, the Chinese spend about 
half-an-hour before the meal in discussing fruit, nuts, 
tea, wine and native spirit, this last being served 
hot and poured from a kettle. The host takes the 
lowest seat at table, helps his guests to tea, putting in 
the sugar with his fingers. Later on he serves them 
to the various dishes and is full of attentions towards 
them. The dinner proper is placed on the table in 
bowls, from which every one supplies himself by 
means of chopsticks, fishing out what he fancies and 
transferring it to the small saucer placed before him. 

Sharks' fins, turtle fat, a plat prepared from the 
stomach of a fish, fried fowls' livers, year old eggs, 
edible seaweed and preserved duck were some of the 
numerous dishes. My brother always carefully 
avoided this last, as the Consulate interpreter had had 
an illness which resulted in deafness from partaking 
on one occasion too freely of the delicacy, and perhaps 
it was this comestible that caused Captain Deasy to 



78 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

write so feelingly of the ill-effects that he experi- 
enced from Chiriese banquets. Swallows' -nest soup is 
almost unprocurable nowadays and prohibitive in 
price ; bread is seldom served, and if it appears it is 
rather like dough. 

When the meat courses are concluded the servants 
bring ia a basin of water in which they wash aU the 
chopsticks and spoons, and then the sweets appear, 
beans in syrup and a kind of plum-pudding being 
among them. The last course is a bowl of rice, the 
national dish ; when it makes its appearance it is a 
sign that the feast has reached its close, and after 
partaking of it the guests depart. 

Sir George Macartney told me that the Chinese 
are very fond of playing games with their fingers at 
their dinner-parties. One game is for a man to put 
forward a certain number of his fingers, his opponent 
doing the same, and he who first guesses the total 
correctly is the winner, the whole being done at 
lightning speed. The guests do not call out five, 
six or seven as the case may be, but there are elegant 
titles for each number, such as Mandarin of the First 
Empire, and so on. Another curious game is as 
follows : The hand, when clenched, is supposed to 
represent a stone, two fingers protruded stand for 
scissors and two hanging down for a sack. The 
point of the game is that a stone cannot be cut by 
scissors but can be put into a sack, but on the other 
hand, a sack can be cut by scissors. If, therefore, 
a player responds with scissors to his adversary who 
has clenched his hand for stone he loses ; but if he 
replies with sack he wins. It sounds a childish 
amusement, but the Chinese will play the game for 
hours at a time with tremendous zest. 



OH. IV EOUND ABOUT KASHGAR 79 

I have omitted to mention that there is usually 
a length of wall placed in front of the gateway leading 
to any yamen, temple, rest-house, or graveyard, its 
purpose being to prevent evil spirits from entering. 
Most fortunately these can only go straight forward 
and cannot turn comers, so the wall brings them 
to a full stop and foils them in any malignant 
design. 

The " name day " of the Tsaritsa fell early ia May 
— ^Russians keep the baptismal day, and not the 
birthday, as we do — and the Cossacks attached to 
the Russian Consulate gave in her honour a display 
of horsemanship known as jigitofka. It was held on 
their sandy parade-ground close to the river, where 
the Russian colony assembled in full force. The 
men went through quite a military tournament pro- 
gramme, springing off and leaping on to gaUopiug 
steeds, riding at breakneck pace facing the tails of 
their mounts, and leaping across kneeling camels. 
The " ships of the desert " strongly objected to this 
particular feat, and with loud roarings struggled to 
rise, until the men who held them bound cloths over 
their eyes. There were the usual V.C. races, and 
we had a glimpse of the war in watching the exciting 
rescue of a Cossack attired as a woman from the 
hands of a troop masquerading as Huns. The most 
sensational item was when the soldiers galloped their 
horses through a big barrier of flaming bundles of 
reeds, firing off blank cartridges, the sight of the 
flames and the noise of the rifles driving the animals 
almost mad. 

The Princess gave away the prizes, chiefly money, 
daggers, and huge silver watches, and the simple- 
looking, fresh-faced youths rode past in a body when 



80 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

all was over, singing beautifully. They had a natural 
gift for song, taking parts as if by instinct, and on 
quiet evenings I used to listen for their hymn. 

The Kashgaris had assembled in hundreds to see 
the spectacle, and opposite to where we sat the high 
loess chfEs were crowded with brilliantly clad spec- 
tators, who climbed with the agility of monkeys to 
apparently inaccessible points of vantage. Horse- 
manship naturally appeals strongly to a nation of 
riders ; but the Kashgaris, though as it were bom 
in the saddle, never appeared to use their horses 
otherwise than as a means for getting about, in 
contrast to the young Persian or Arab, who is for 
ever racing his steed. Later on we saw much of the 
" goat game " as practised by the Kirghiz, but the 
only horses which were galloped in Kashgar were 
ridden by Cossacks, who occasionally ran riot in the 
narrow public roads, to the imminent danger of 
passers-by. 

Our Russian friends drove instead of riding, and, 
as my brother and I much preferred our saddles to 
being jolted in a carriage, we never organised any 
joint-picnics. To be perfectly frank, a dinner or a 
garden-party always left me quite exhausted in my 
efforts to play the hostess, talking French to this 
one, helping out the inadequate German of that one, 
and cudgelling my brains for some Russian sentence 
of welcome to those guests, alas, in the majority, 
who knew no language save their own. The Russians 
enjoyed coming to our garden, especially when the 
strawberries were in season, and I always took them 
over the house, winding up with the roof for the sake 
of the view. The ladies were specially interested in the 
kitchen arrangements, and the Princess declared that 



OH. IV EOUND ABOUT KASHGAR 81 

the Consulate was far more convenient in every way 
than the grandiose building that was in course of erec- 
tion for her future residence. When my brother and 
I went over it later I was struck with the difference 
between British and Russian ideals. We love com- 
fort and privacy in our homes, but our Slavonic 
friends appeared to need constant social iatercourse. 
They had crowded many buildings on to a small 
piece of ground, each house raked by the windows of 
the others, and at the end of a long avenue stood the 
imposing-looking Consulate. I was surprised at its 
internal plan ; for there were four very large recep- 
tion rooms, but only three fair-sized bedrooms and a 
couple of small servants' rooms. There was appar- 
ently no pantry, scuUery, larder or storeroom ; and, 
as there was no central passage in the house, aU 
the rooms opened one into another, an intolerable 
arrangement according to English ideas. 

We were also shown over the Cossack barracks 
close by, big rooms with rows of grey blanketed 
beds, the long tables and benches for meals being in 
the same apartments, and the icons in a prominent 
position. The Cossacks aU looked healthy and hardy, 
replying to their o£&cer's salutations with a formula 
of greeting that they chanted with precision, but I 
fancy that Kashgar must be a place of exile to men 
who have left their farms on the Don at the bidding 
of the Tsar, and they must look forward to settling 
down upon them for good when their term of service 
is ended. 

Shortly after our arrival we had an interesting 
guest in the person of M. RomanofE, a yoimg Russian 
archaeologist whom my brother had met both in 
London and Bokhara. He was studying the Moslem 

G 



82 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

art of Central Asia, and showed us carvings, 
pottery, carpets and embroideries that he had bought 
at Kashgar and Yarkand, and was consequently able 
to help us with our own purchases. 

The old Khotan carpets, their colours made from 
vegetable dyes, were attractive, and the silk carpets 
are highly prized and very diflScult to obtain. One 
belonging to our guest had a pale yellow colouring, 
but was terribly damaged. The best woollen Khotan 
carpet that I inspected had a pattern in a series of 
panels ; indigo, a faded-looking madder and yellow 
being the chief tints. There were Chinese vases in 
the design, and also the conventionalized swastika, 
that symbol of good luck which originally came from 
India, and which later on I saw copied ad nauseam 
in glaring aniUne dyes. Certainly none of the old 
carpets that I came across, whether woven of wool or 
of silk, could compare in design, colouring or texture 
with the beautiful Persian works of the loom with 
which I was familiar. The modern Khotan carpet, 
with its aniline dyes, is rarely pleasing to the eye. 
A favourite subject is a row of magenta, purple and 
orange pots, with flowers stiffly protruding from them, 
the whole design being thrown upon a scarlet back- 
ground and making one wonder how the artistic 
Chinese can descend to such depths. 

The pottery brought to us for sale and sold in the 
bazars was rough and not particularly good as to 
pattern, while the tiles on the fa§ades of mosques 
and those that covered a few of the tombs were 
practically all white and blue, comparing unfavour- 
ably with the fine work of much of Central Asia. 
What specimens of jewellery I saw were heavy and 
clumsy and to me devoid of charm. The native art 




STUDY OF KASHGAR WOMEN. 
(One woman is shown with face veiled. ) 



Pai;e 82. 



OH- IV ROUND ABOUT KASHGAR 83 

seemed to find its chief expression in the columned 
verandahs of mosques and dwelling-houses, the 
pillars and roofs of these being often profusely 
carved with charming patterns in the style known 
as chip-carving; and also in the fretwork of doors 
and windows, frequently carried out with a wealth of 
intricate design that reminded us strongly of the art 
of Kashmir, and may possibly have been influenced 
by that coimtry. 

The old brass and copper utensils are often very 
beautiful, with open metal work showing Persian 
influence ; in fact my brother and I sometimes 
thought that they must have been brought from 
Iran, so much did they resemble those we had picked 
up at Kashan. 

It seemed to me that the embroideries produced 
by the women were more typical of the race than 
anything else. Shaw mentions that in the 'sixties 
the women wore wide trousers, the borders of which 
were embroidered, and though the trousers are now 
narrower and worn without adornment, we were 
able to collect many specimens of the old work. 
Moreover, the long gowns worn by the women were 
formerly profusely embroidered, conventional flowers 
appearing with charming effect on the red, green 
or ^ yellow silk of which the costume was made. 
Now, alas, this beautiful handicraft seems almost 
to have died out, and is reserved for the pretty 
skull-caps which are worn by both sexes, and over 
which both alike place the " little pork-pie hat " with 
fur border mentioned by Shaw. 

In spite of the Turki proverb that heads this 
chapter, it appeared to me that Chinese Turkestan 
had evolved no art of its own, everything of the kind 



84 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- ^ 

being influenced by its neighbours, China, India or 
Persia. 

The province is a back-water of the Chinese 
Empire, and the race of petty farmers who inhabit 
it cultivate the soil as if by instinct. The so-called 
cities are comparatively small towns, where the trade 
is not on a large scale. They are separated one from 
another by the Takla Makan desert, and have been 
conquered and re-conquered during their whole 
history at bewilderingly short intervals, an experience 
which does not make for progress in art. 

We rode all over Kashgar and its environs, and 
also visited every building of any pretensions in 
Yarkand and Khotan, but found nothing of real 
architectural merit ; nor coidd any mosque or shrine 
compare with the magnificent monuments of India 
or Persia. As to Chinese architecture, it must be 
borne in mind that the conquerors would scarcely 
raise fine temples in a country which they looked upon 
as a land of temporary exile ; moreover, buildings 
constructed of mud crumble away in the course of 
centuries, and it has been the custom of some of the 
many rulers of Turkestan to destroy the places of 
worship erected by those of another religion. For 
example, Yakub Beg, when he made himself ruler of 
Turkestan, set to work to raze all Chinese monuments 
to the ground, and perhaps the two ruined Buddhist 
stupas to the north and south of the Consulate owe 
their dilapidated condition partly to the fury of 
the early Mohamedan conquerors. At present these 
Tims, as the Kashgaris call them, are shapeless 
mounds giving no idea of their original form. Sir 
Aurel Stein, who has carefully examined them, believes 
that they date from between 600 and 800 a.d. ; but 



ROUND ABOUT KASHGAE 85 

too little was left for him to have any opinion as to 
what they looked like when erected. It seems curious 
that, although Kashgar is supposed to be on the site 
of Kie-sha, visited by Hiuen-Tsiang, yet these two 
stupas are apparently all that remains of the hundreds 
of Buddhist monasteries that he mentions. 



CHAPTEE V 

OLLA PODRIDA 

It is doubtful if these Central Asian towns tver change. Their 
dull mud walls, mud houses, mud mosques look as if they would remain 
the same for ever. In most climates they would be washed away, 
but in Central Asia there is hardly any rain and so they stay on for 



" As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be," would be a 
particularly appropriate motto to place over the gateway of a Central 
Asian town. — The, Heart of a Continent, Sir F. Yottnghusband. 

We arrived at the capital of Chinese Turkestan in the 
spring, with the best of the year before us. The trees 
that bordered the countless irrigation channels were 
all in leaf, the jigdah, or Babylonian willow, was 
bursting into flower with gusts of perfume, one 
species bearing later on a yellow fruit something like 
a date in appearance and called nan, or bread, by 
the Kashgaris; the sickly-sweet white, and the big 
purple mulberries were ripening ; the fields brilliantly 
green with lucerne and young corn, and the many 
gardens enclosed by low mud walls pink with fruit 
blossom. The picturesque loess clifEs — such a char- 
acteristic feature of Chinese Turkestan — broke up 
. the country in every direction and the two branches 
of the river added great charm to the landscape, the 
frequent haze of dust giving a curious glamour to the 
scene. 

86 



OH. V OLLA PODEIDA 87 

During our rides outside the city we often came 
across some little mosque with, carved wooden 
columns and roof, the building overlooking a large 
hauz or tank of water planted round with tall silver- 
stemmed poplars, or a vacant space in some village 
lane would be occupied by a huge spreading poplar, 
or the beautiful elm of the country, or the rather rare 
weeping-willow. There were few flowers to be seen, 
save the small mauve irises that were always found 
in the graveyards, where they spread themselves in 
sheets of blue among the tombs ; but along the sandy 
tracks big bushes of wild roses with their faint scent 
reminded us of home. 

There were plenty of birds, hoopoes and doves 
being the commonest, if one excepts the ubiquitous 
crows and sparrows ; the cuckoo was heard occasion- 
ally and the swallows skimmed after flies. I was 
interested in a pair of hawks that had made a rough 
nest in a tall poplar in the garden, their wild " keen- 
ing " sounding all day long as they came backwards 
and forwards with food for their offspring. On one 
occasion they attacked M. Romanoff as he was 
standing on the terrace below their nest and looking 
through a pair of field-glasses. He said that they 
swooped down upon him again and again, brushing 
his head with their wings and uttering piercing cries, 
and they even pursued him to the roof of the Con- 
sulate whither he retreated to continue his survey of 
the country. His idea was that the hawks must 
have imagined the glasses to be a weapon directed at 
the nest. Mr. Bohhn once observed one of these 
birds swoop down in the midst of the crowded bazar 
and snatch a piece of meat from a boy, and he had 
often seen men washing the carcasses of sheep in 



88 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES p^- 1 

the river and calling to tlie hawks that caught bits 
of offal flung into the air. 

There were only harmless snakes in the Oasis, and 
not many of them. The boys were fond of winding 
them round their heads under their skull-caps, and 
they keep them in their shirts. On the other hand, 
the big six-inch-long lizards were feared, as their bite 
was said to be very poisonous. We sometimes saw 
the pretty jerboa, and there is a kind of small rat 
indigenous to the country, called " bag-mouth " by 
the natives, from its habit of filling the pouches in 
its cheeks with grain that it stores away. On one 
occasion Mr. Bohlin discovered that a large box of 
garden-seeds was nearly empty, and setting a watch 
he caught the ingenious little thief busily filling its 
pouches. On killing it he recovered a surprising 
quantity of the stolen goods ! 

The newly built Consulate was agreeably free from 
scorpions, which usually come out at night and can 
move at a great rate with a curious rustling noise ; 
but we had plenty of spiders. The very large ones 
that could run at lightning speed I was assured were 
harmless ; but one of the missionaries told me that 
the pain she had suffered from this spider's bite was 
intense, and that her finger had had a lump on it for 
many a long day after. An entomologist endorsed 
her experience, saying that these were hunting spiders, 
and killed their prey with a bite that was poisonous. 
Their size may be judged from the fact that Mr. 
Bohlin once saw a sparrow try to attack one, but the 
spider defended itself by waving its legs, and by this 
manoeuvre apparently so much alarmed the bird that 
it flew off ! I used to call Sattur to the rescue when 
my rooms were inyaded by one of these creatures, 



OH. V OLLA PODEIDA 89 

and he often had an exciting chase with the broom 
before he could dislodge his agile prey from its niche, 
its long leaps filling me with fear lest it might alight 
upon my head and then wreak vengeance upon me. 
Finally, it would be caught in a cloth and flung out- 
side the house, my henchman refusing to destroy it, 
as the world-wide superstition that it is imlucky to 
kill a spider holds good in Kashgar. A comparatively 
small, but very hairy spider, I was told, was extremely 
poisonous. Great black bees and dragon-flies flew 
about the garden, big horse-flies often attacked our 
mounts as we rode, and, when the first cold of 
autumn set in, we suffered from a regular invasion of 
wasps crawling about on windows and floors, all in a 
half-torpid condition. 

During the summer it was almost impossible to 
read in the evenings, because a light attracted swarms 
of midges, little beetles and other insects ; but we 
could sit or walk on the terrace in the darkness 
unmolested, nor were we troubled by mosquitoes. 

Until I became accustomed to it, the noise of 
Kashgar disturbed me a good deal. At dawn the 
whole world was up and about, men and boys singing 
lustily, or yelling at their donkeys, which from their 
continual braying are nicknamed the " nightingales 
of Kashgar," the bird of the poets not being a visitor 
to these regions. A jingling of bells would denote 
the passing of the blue-tilted Chinese mapas drawn 
by sturdy ponies, or a deeper booming would indicate 
that a caravan of camels was on its way across the 
desert, perhaps to far Khotan, or even to Peking. 
The city gun, really a Chinese cracker, went off with 
a bang at sunrise to announce that the city gates 
were open, and it seemed to let loose a perfect pande- 



90 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

monium of sound. Women shrieked to one another, 
children cried and quarrelled, dogs barked, horses 
neighed and cocks crew ; the flocks of small birds 
twittered unceasingly, there was an all-pervading 
hum of insects, in which one could distinguish the 
shrill chirp of the tree-cricket, and multitudes of 
frogs croaked from the watercourses. 

At intervals throughout the day would be heard 
the blowing of an ibex horn, resembling the hoot of 
a motor. This was a signal from one of the many 
mills, to inform customers that the miller was ready 
to grind their grain, or perhaps that the flour was 
waiting to be carried away. These mills are ram- 
shackle mud buildings on the river or on a water 
channel, everything being open to the air and no 
provision made to keep out wind and rain and dust. 
The wheat is poured into boxes which feed the 
millstones, and these cast the flour, when ground, on 
to flat tables, upon one of which I noticed a dirty old 
cap being used to sweep it up. The Kashgar millers 
had by no means a good reputation for honesty. A 
customer's grain is weighed before grinding, yet when 
it is returned to him as flour it will probably be mixed 
with some inferior cereal or even with sand, of which 
there is enough and to spare. 

With the noonday heat there always came a wel- 
come lull in the concert of noise, this being the hour 
of siesta for most living things. But when the sun 
descended towards the west all the world awoke, 
and a crescendo of sound would be reached by 
sunset, all the sounds of the early morning recurring, 
the legions of cocks seeming to salute the parting 
day as vociferously as they greeted its appearance. 
The Kashgaris, by the way, have a very inferior 



OH. V OLLA PODEIDA 91 

breed of poultry, and their rendering of our saying : 
" To count your cMckens before they are hatched " 
is "To count your chickens in the autumn." They 
speak of a coward as being " chicken-livered," just 
as we do. 

There must be added to the noises I have already 
enumerated the thudding of drums, the drone of 
bagpipes, the twanging of sitars and the siaging of 
choruses, often most agreeable to western ears. 
Nor must I omit to mention the muezzins calling 
men to prayer from the minarets of the mosques, 
their powerful voices ringing out over the city with 
a solemn beauty as they testify that there is but one 
Grod and that Mohamed is His Prophet. 

The sunsets of Kashgar were most lovely, with a 
delicacy and charm all their own. They were not 
spectacular displays of scarlet, purple and gold as in 
many parts of the world, but the sky was softly 
flushed with pale piaks, mauves and yellows, while a 
wonderful golden haze, due I imagine to the dust 
particles in the air, shimmered over the whole land- 
scape. The broken loess cliffs, on which stood shabby 
mud hovels and tombs with no pretensions to archi- 
tecture, seemed now to be crowned with castles and 
domes worthy of some city of high romance, the 
ruined garden-house with its columned verandah 
standing high above the river was turned into a 
Greek temple, and the tall poplars silhouetted darkly 
against the glow resembled cypresses, transporting 
me in spirit to many an Italian garden in Eome or in 
the City of Flowers. The chocolate-coloured river 
flowing below us was now iridescent as the breast of 
a dove, and across the sands of its wide bed there 
gleamed the enchanted light that cast a spell over the 



92 THKOUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. i 

whole landscape. And then the sun would set, and 
in an instant a grey, deathlike pallor would creep 
over everything, making me shiver and turn away 
with a curious sense of depression. 

During the spring the Kashgaris make pleasure 
expeditions to the difierent shrines round the city, 
going rather to eat and gamble than to say their 
prayers. Bands of friends are in the habit of feasting 
one another in turn in some garden, meeting four 
afternoons a week for the purpose, and sometimes 
on our evening walks we came across these revellers 
returning home. The Begs and the Sayyids, who 
claim to be descendants of the Prophet, rode showy 
stallions or well-fed asses and looked imposing 
figures in their snowy turbans and long silk coats. 
They were usually handsome men with well-cut 
noses, fresh complexions and full beards. The 
young men had moustaches and invariably stuck a 
rose or a sprig of blossom under the brim of their 
embroidered caps, and all aUke presented a strong 
contrast to the flat-faced, yellow-skinned Chinese. 

The women, who, as in all Moslem countries, have 
no social intercourse with the men, took their outings 
by visiting the shrines, one of which they had all to 
themselves, the Mazzar of Bibi Anna. The grave of 
this female saint was situated on a bluff opposite the 
Consulate, the mud tomb, on which a white flag 
fluttered, being enclosed with a mud wall. Here 
widows and divorced women who desired remarriage 
and girls anxious for a husband were wont to resort : 
putting their hands into holes built in the tomb, 
they would implore the holy woman to aid them. 

Try as I would,- 1 was unable to gain any informa- 
tion about the Bibi Khcmum, as she was called. The 




THE SHRINE OF BIBI ANNA. 



Page 93. 



OH. V OLLA PODEIDA 93 

white flag brought her often to my mind, as I could 
not stand upon the garden-terrace without seeing it, 
and now and again at night I observed a lighted 
lamp hanging above her last resting-place. In a 
Mohamedan country where woman in theory is little 
regarded, what had the Lady Anna done that a 
shrine at which miracles were reputed to be per- 
formed should be erected to her memory ? When 
did she live ? Was she perhaps kin to Hazrat Apak 
the Priest-King of Kashgar ? I can answer none 
of these questions, and merely know that she was 
regarded with much veneration. 

On one occasion, when many women were 
assembled at her grave, I asked some of them to put 
their hands into the holes of the tomb and allow me 
to photograph them in that position, but realized at 
once how tactless I had been. With shocked faces 
the women explained that such a thing would practi- 
cally amount to sacrilege ; but they had no objection 
to being photographed seated beside the mazzar. 

I^Perhaps the most popular shrine is that of Ali 
Arslan, a couple of miles to the north of the city, 
the road leading up "to it being bordered on either 
side by gardens, the property of the mazzar and a 
great holiday resort. The lofty brick gateway is 
barred to horses and vehicles by a tree-tr\mk, over 
which we clambered, to find ourselves in a large 
enclosure with a great tank of water planted round 
with stately poplars, a usual and pleasing character- 
istic of holy places in Chinese Turkestan. Behind it 
lay the shrine, an insignificant buildiQg entered by 
an old carved and fretted doorway, one of the best 
specimens of this form of native art that we came 
across in the country. An old akhun — ^his office is 



94 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES w- 1 

to read the Koran at the graves for the benefit of the 
departed — was kneeling and reciting prayers before 
it, and inside the small space was filled by a large 
tomb covered with blue and white tiles, trophies of 
flags, and horns of the wild sheep. 

Sultan Arslan Boghra, the hero-saint, surnamed 
the Tiger for his bravery, who is honoured here, 
fought with great valour against the Buddhist 
inhabitants of Khotan, who did not wish to change 
their religion for the tenets of Islam. He was one 
of the earliest Mohamedan conquerors of Kashgar, 
and it is recorded by Bellew that the pagan ruler of 
Khotan, who led his force against the Moslems, 
offered a large reward to the man who could compass 
the Sultan's death. At this time the Nestorian 
Church had its adherents throughout Asia, and the 
story runs that one of its priests counselled the 
Buddhists to fall upon their opponents at dawn, as 
they would then be engaged with their devotions 
and so would be taken xmawares. The advice was 
followed, and in a great battle on the desert plain of 
Ordam-Padshah, some fifty miles south-east of Kash- 
gar, the adherents of the Prophet were utterly routed 
and their gallant leader slain. 

Ali Arslan's head was carried in triumph roimd 
the walls of Kashgar, into which the Moslems had 
retreated for the time, and it is supposed to be 
buried in the shrine that we visited. His body, 
however, rests at Ordam-Padshah, and Sir Aurel 
Stein writes that a mound covered with poplars from 
which flutter rags is all that marks the grave of the 
saint, although it is a peculiarly holy spot and is 
annually visited by himdreds of pilgrims. 

There are various shrines outside the city that 



OH. V OLLA PODRIDA 95 

claim to cure particular diseases. A relative of Ali 
Arslan is interred in one of these, and before the 
fretted windows of Ms mazzar is an ancient willow 
that leans over nearly to the ground. If a patient 
afflicted with rheumatism will go roimd the tree 
seven times in a beUeving spirit, bending nearly 
double in order to rub his back against the bark, it 
is said that he will be freed from his complaint. Old 
Jafar Bai tried the treatment one day when we were 
there, but I never ventured to question him as to the 
result. The so-called Tombs of the Mongols outside 
the city seemed to me to be somewhat of a fraud, as 
the mud-domed graves were quite modern. But they 
are visited annually by thousands of the Faithful, 
who gamble, feast and have a day's outing m. the 
neglected cemetery, many, I was told, omitting to 
say their prayers. 

To turn to another subject, although Kashgar is 
the seat of Government, the entrance of the yamen 
being marked by the masts, some seventy feet high, 
and the grotesque stone lions that signify authority, 
yet the Chinese troops are in barracks at Yangi 
Shahr (New City) some six or seven miles distant. 
This town is surroimded by high parapeted mud 
walls in good repair ; two sally-ports have to be 
passed before the big bazar can be entered, and, as is 
customary, these entrances are crooked in order to 
foil the evil spirits. Just inside the Pai-fang, or 
roofed gateway, there is a Chinese temple, and over 
the gate a building in which paper prayers are burnt 
on fete days and the ashes flung to the heavens. 

The stalls in the bazar, with their wooden shutters 
and mattiQg awnings, seemed much the same as those 
in the Old City, but in Yangi Shahr the Celestial was 



96 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES px. i 

at home instead of looking like an intruder, and 
soldiers in khaki uniforms and forage caps of German 
appearance were everywhere to be seen. Black, the 
royal colour of the Manchus, was still affected by the 
inhabitants, and most unsuitable wear it was for such 
a dusty place, but the flag of the Republic, with its 
five colours, flew over every yamen. It interested 
me to hear that the yellow stripe stood for China, 
the black for the Manchus, the red for the Mongols, 
the blue for Tibet, and the white for the Moslem 
subjects. 

The Chinese seem to hold the province more by 
blufi than by force, the troops being few, of all ages, 
and not troubled by overmuch drill. Certainly the 
Governor and the Commander-in-Chief always go forth 
in considerable state with detonations of crackers in 
order to impress the populace, but as, owing to 
Chinese arrogance, the officials decline to learn any 
foreign language, they never get into touch with the 
people they are supposed to govern. Being intensely 
proud of their old civilization, they utterly decline 
to move with the times or absorb new ideas, and so 
are, as it were, petrified. 

The upper classes are brought up to despise 
manual labour and are admirers of the pen, holding 
the sword in contempt, and as a result are often 
incapable of defending themselves if attacked. Social 
distinction goes by learning, a literatus being the 
equal of any one and invariably accorded a seat of 
honour at the yamen. Probably their imhealthy 
lives — for they take no exercise, love darkened rooms 
and are addicted to drink and opium-smoking — ^have 
brought them to this ignominious pass; and one 
Governor said that the long nails he affected were 



OH. V OLLA PODEIDA 97 

an excellent aid to self-control, for he could never 
clench his hand to strike any one in anger ! They 
rule the province easily, because the inhabitants are 
a mild unwarlike race, accustomed for centuries to 
be under the heel of a conqueror and preferring the 
tolerant domination of China to that of Eussia. 

Liu-Kin-tang, the general who reconquered the 
province after the death of Yakub Beg, has a big 
temple erected to his honour outside the New City, 
and one afternoon we made an expedition to see it. 
It is just off the broad tree-planted road, always full 
of traffic, which is spanned by imposing -looking 
painted bridges that cross the Kizil Su. On our 
arrival we rode into a large courtyard, where we 
dismounted to pass through a fantastically decor- 
ated gateway into a second courtyard, and were met 
by the Governor of the City, whose robes of black 
and blue were crowned by a panama hat. One of 
his attendants wore a black felt "billy-cock" that 
looked oddly out of keeping with the rest of his 
costume, as did the caricatures of English straw hats 
that were afiected by the others. The Governor 
escorted us to the temple, the fagade of which was a 
blaze of gold, blue and scarlet mingled with Chinese 
inscriptions. The tomb of the famous general was 
under a carved canopy, over which gilded dragons 
careered, and before it was the hero's portrait, an 
enlarged coloured photograph. An old bronze tripod 
for burning joss-sticks, and a great bronze bell that 
the Governor struck in order that we might hear its 
wonderful tone, stood in front of the photograph, 
and on one side of the tomb was a fresco of a black 
and white tiger. Formerly there were large paintings 
on the walls depicting the general's career, but 

H 



98 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^t. i 

unluckily all these had. been destroyed by a recent 
earthquake, and the temple had practically been 
rebuilt and was shorn of much of its original 
decoration. 

I wondered whether Liu-Kin-tang at all resembled 
the general of an amusing story told us by Sir Aurel 
Stein. This Chinaman set out with an army of 
twelve thousand men to conquer an enemy that 
inhabited a very hilly country, and he was obliged to 
negotiate an extremely difficiilt pass in order to get 
into touch with the foe. His soldiers clambered to 
the crest of the ascent and, as he had foreseen, were 
seized with fear and refused to go farther, but took 
heart of grace when a body of the recalcitrant tribes- 
men came forward and tendered their submission. 
In reality these were devoted followers of the general, 
who had commanded them to disguise themselves, 
and on their appearance the army, with its moral 
restored, streamed gaily down the pass into what 
they imagined to be a conquered country. And so 
in efEect it was ; for the tribesmen, terrified at the 
great host, hastened to surrender, and thus fully 
justified the astute plan of the general. 

The priest in charge of the temple, clad, ia black 
and wearing a curious cap, was a weird, object, with 
long greasy hair standing out from his face, and I did 
my best to reproduce his Cheshire-cat grin with my 
kodak. When we had seen everything we were 
invited to partake of tea, and seated ourselves at a 
small table covered with a cloth badly in need of 
the wash. Our host put huge chunks of dingy- 
looking sugar into our glasses with his fingers, and 
with the same useful members helped us to little 
sponge cakes and thin biscuits made of toffee and 



OH. V OLLA PODRIDA 99 

meal. He himself had the usual little china bowl 
in which the tea is seethed ; a small inverted bowl 
is placed on the top to prevent the escape of the 
leaves, and the tea is drunk through the crack between 
the two. 

In common with most upper-class Chinese, the 
Governor looked ill and had bad teeth, and certainly 
the fondness of Celestials for turning night into day 
and carefully avoiding fresh air makes them look 
very different from the robust Kashgaris, who are 
at their best on horseback and are essentially an out- 
door race. A Celestial is proud of his half-inch-long 
finger-nails, which show that he has never con- 
descended to manual labour, and if he lives abroad 
he will send his parents a packet of nail-parings in 
order to assure them that he is one of the literati, 
who are treated with such consideration throughout 
the Empire. When forced to travel a Chinaman will 
not ride, but will go in a mapa. This is a painted 
cart having a blue and black awning and a tasteful 
dash of scarlet at the back, on which a charm is 
inscribed, and there are jingling bells on the horses 
to ward ofE evil spirits. But the lower classes are 
very different ; strong, hardy and uncomplainiag, and 
seeming to bear out the saying — " A Chinaman is ill 
only once in his life, and that is when he is dying." 

There were not many Chinese women at Kashgar, 
and I was told that the conquering race does not 
look upon any marriage as legal unless it is contracted 
with a girl of their own country, whom they practi- 
cally buy. The amount that a would-be husband 
must pay for a wife is fixed by go-betweens according 
to her looks and her position in the world. When 
this is settled, the couple, clad in their best clothes, 



100 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

enter a room where their friends are assembled, 
bow low to each other, and then carry round a tray 
of bowls of tea, which they ofier to their guests. 
This ceremony completes the marriage, and when 
the bridegroom has lived several days in the house 
of his parents-in-law he takes his bride to his own 
home, where she is henceforth under the rule of her 
mother-in-law. 

Although according to English ideas the China- 
man makes but an indifferent husband, he is very 
proud of his sons. The Celestials carry the Oriental 
regard for the male sex to extremes. For example, 
an Englishwoman who had lived in China told me 
that when she bade her Chinese nurse chastise her 
little boy if naughty, the woman looked at her in 
horror, saying in shocked tones, " Him piecee man — 
I no touch piecee man ! " I was told that parents 
Uke a boy to be headstrong and uncontrolled, 
because they think that he is likely to make his 
way in the world ; and they are pleased if he steals 
cunningly, saying to one another, " Our son is 
beginning to help the house early." Lying is a fine 
art among both Chinese and Kashgaris, and there is 
little shame at being found out. 

There is no need for a " Society for the Prevention 
of Cruelty to Animals " among the Chinese, for they 
are trained to be considerate to the " brute creation," 
— a very pleasant trait in their characters. They 
certainly live up to their own saying, " Be kind to 
the horse that carries you, to the cow that feeds you 
and to the dog that guards your possessions," and 
they are an example to the Kashgaris, who are 
callous if not actually cruel in their treatment of 
animals. 



OH. V OLLA PODRIDA 101 

The frequently over -fat horses, mules and dogs 
belonging to Celestials presented a strong contrast 
to the usually overworked and underfed Kashgari 
donlieys, that were beaten by their owners on the 
slightest provocation. And yet these little creatures, 
sometimes almost hidden under piles of brushwood 
or staggering along under loads of sun-dried bricks, 
or perhaps a plough, the handles of which scraped 
the ground at every step, keep their independence 
strangely. They do not obey the voice of their 
masters, as do the horses ; each donkey in a drove 
picks his own path and does not, like the caravan 
ponies, foUow a leader slavishly. Surely an animal 
so strong and intelligent deserves a better fate than 
blows and semi-starvation. 

Every one who has travelled in Mohamedan 
countries knows that the dog is looked upon as an 
imclean animal, and the starved and mangy pariahs 
of Kashgar merely filled the position of town- 
scavengers, though others that were kept to guard the 
houses were somewhat better treated. These watch- 
dogs used to rush out and leap at our horses in most 
unpleasant fashion, until my brother taught them 
better manners with the lash of his hunting-crop. 
Fortunately for the cat, the Prophet made a pet of 
this animal, and it is therefore held ui high favour. 

At the end of May we had a most interesting 
visitor in the person of Sir Aurel Stein, on his return 
from two years in the desert, where he had made 
fresh discoveries of great importance and extent, 
his finds fiUing a hundred and fifty packiug-cases. 
Owing to the wonderful preservative power of 
sand he had found some specimens of very 
ancient paper, in connection with which Sir George 



102 THROUGH DBSEETS AND OASES ft. i 

Macartney drew my attention to the following passage 
in Chavannes. The French scholar wrote of two 
particular documents found by Sir Aurel Stein, 
" qu'ils paraissent bien remonter au deuxieme siecle 
de notre ere, et sont ainsi les plus vieux specimens 
de papier qu'il y ait au monde." 

Although Sir Aurel liked the Chinese so well, he 
said that he was glad to return to Turkestan, where 
the inhabitants are most hospitable and always 
ready to place houses and gardens at the disposal 
of strangers. In fact they are so open-handed that 
they ofEer food to any one who comes to the house 
at any hour ; the well-to-do apparently eating at 
short intervals all day long. But in China, with its 
old civilization, the custom is very different, the 
people allowing no one to enter their doors unless he 
be armed with introductions. Fortunately, the gods 
are always ready to receive guests, and Sir Aurel 
has spent many a night in temples full of hideous 
idols. Such quarters, however, though pleasantly 
cool in summer, are icy cold in winter. 

Another thing that makes travelling in China 
disagreeable to Europeans is that the inhabitants 
crowd round any stranger to observe him. They 
consider that in so doing they are showing attention, 
and the luckless man renders himself unpopular if 
he resents it. This behaviour is in strong contrast 
to that of the Turki, who are most polite, in the 
English manner, to travellers, and though my brother 
and I rode and walked through the whole Oasis we 
never once had a disagreeable look or word ; in fact, 
the only curiosity about us was shown by the women, 
and that in most unobtrusive fashion. 



CHAPTER VI 

ON THE WAY TO THE RUSSIAN PAMIRS 

This Central Asian scenery has a type of its own, quite different 
from the Swiss or Caucasian mountain scenes. . . . 

Here, though the mountains are higher, the glaciers, owing to the 
small snowfall, are much more puny, while below there is a picture of 
utter desolation that would be hard to match in any other part of the 
world. — St. George Littledale. 

At the end of May we found it unpleasantly hot at 
Kashgar, witli a temperature close on 100 degrees ; 
so, early in June, we decided to start off on our tour 
to the Russian Pamirs, that hitherto jealously guarded 
district. It was a journey needing a considerable 
amount of forethought and preparation, because, once 
away from the Kashgar oasis, we should have to 
depend on what we had brought with us, save in the 
case of meat and milk. My brother inspected the 
tents, saw that a good supply of tent-pegs and horse- 
shoes was laid in, and arranged for some eighteen 
ponies to carry the loads, which included large amounts 
of flour and barley. I had to calculate what quantities 
of tea, sugar, rice, tinned foods, compressed vege- 
tables, dried fruits, jam, biscuits, candles, et cetera, 
would be required for seven weeks, had to make stout 
calico bags in which to put them, and had, moreover, 
to pack my store-boxes with judgement. For one 
thing, they must not be too heavy for the baggage 

103 



104 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

animals, and for another, each box must contain a 
complete assortment of stores, in order that only one 
should need to be opened when we halted. The 
question of supplies haunted me for weeks, so afraid 
was I of forgetting some indispensable article ; but 
my method of marking the boxes A, B, and so on, 
and then entering their contents in my note-book, 
proved my salvation later on, and made me realize 
that the more trouble one takes beforehand, the more 
successful a journey is likely to be. The fruit season 
had just begun with the apricots, and I had baskets 
of these stoned and laid out to dry in the sun on the 
roof, while Daoud made jam, salted and potted down 
butter, and baked bread and cakes to last for the first 
ten days. As we should camp at heights of ten to 
fourteen thousand feet, I took my warmest winter 
clothing, a thick astride habit, leather jacket and fur- 
lined coat, and ordered an addition to my bedding in 
the shape of a thick cotton - padded sleeping sack. 
To complete my equipment, Sir Aurel Stein insisted 
on giving me a pair of double-lined native boots, a 
gift that proved invaluable in camp at night, and 
my pith helmet and blue gauze veils were equally 
necessary to ward off sunstroke and to keep my face 
from being skinned when we rode during the heat of 
the day. 

To be perfectly frank, I was by no means easy 
about this expedition, to which my brother looked 
forward with the eagerness of the sportsman. I have 
never had a good head for heights or for walking along 
the edge of precipices, and from the various books 
of travel that I had read it seemed that one ought 
to be possessed of unusual nerve and agility to 
negotiate the passes by which the Roof of the World 



THE RUSSIAN PAMIRS 105 

must be readied. But I try to raake it a rule to see 
only one lion in my path, at a time and not to waste 
strength and courage in picturing wliat may after 
all turn out to be imaginary dangers, and naturally 
my blood was stirred at the thought that I was aboxit 
to start upon an adventure vouchsafed to very few 
women. The Pamirs had always been a name to 
conjure with, and evoked visions of high uplands, 
galloping Kirghiz, wild sheep with great curled horns 
and an almost complete isolation from the world, and 
made me ashamed of my twinges of faint-heartedness, 
which, indeed, vanished for good and all when once 
we were on the road. 

At last the day of our start arrived. The Russians, 
who interested themselves considerably in what they 
thought was a mad enterprise, were shocked that we 
had fixed on a -Monday to begin our journey, and 
prophesied disaster. I made enquiries as to why this 
day should be regarded as a jour nefaste, and was 
told that, as it was the custom, among the lower 
classes at all events, to have a drinking-bout on Sun- 
day, there were usually accidents in plenty on the first 
day of the working week. As our servants were aU 
Mohamedans, bound by the tenets of their religion 
to touch no alcohol, we were not in danger from this 
cause, and the prognostications of our friends did 
not depress us in the slightest. 

Besides ourselves and the servants, the party 
included Khan Sahib Iftikhar Ahmad the Head of 
the ofl&ce, who was an Indian gentleman possessed of 
much varied information, and the sport-loving Indian 
Doctor. 

Sir Aurel Stein, Mr. Bohlin and a group of 
Aksahals, or British Agents, whom my brother had 



106 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

just been entertaining on the occasion of the King's 
birthday, rode out with us for two or three miles, 
their fine stallions squealing and trying to attack 
one another at intervals. When these men, who were 
clad in brilliantly coloured silk coats and snowy 
turbans, left us, we stopped on the bank of the Kizil 
Su to have a last cup of tea with our guest, who was 
staying behind in the Consulate in order to re-pack 
his priceless treasures and dispatch them to India. 
With the fording of the river I felt that we were reaUy 
ofE, and all my housekeeping anxieties dropped from 
me like a garment ; for, whatever might be my faults 
of omission or commission, it was useless to trouble 
about them, as I could now do nothing to repair 
them. 

Our way led due south, and there was cultivation 
during the whole march, the barley turning yeUow, 
the wheat in ear, and ploughing going on busily for 
the autumn crop of Indian corn. I rode astride on 
a native saddle. " Tommy," as I called the sturdy 
white pony which was to be my second mount, had an 
unpleasant trick of stumbling that detracted from his 
merits as a steed; yet, to do him justice, he came 
down only once, and that was on the last march 
of the journey, and on a sandy road without a 
pebble. 

A couple of days of riding and camping brought 
us to the oasis of Tashmalik, where we were separated 
from the cultivated area of Kashgar by a strip of 
stony desert varied by sand-dunes. In spite of the 
planting of tamarisks and reeds the sand was en- 
croaching on the oasis, and a house and garden had 
been lately overwhelmed by this insidious foe, which 
the prevailing winds piled up in lofty mounds. Seeing 



THE EUSSIAN PAMIKS 107 

this we could better understand Sir Aurel Stein's 
explorations of cities that had been buried for 
centuries in the sand, which had also choked up the 
rivers by which their inhabitants had supported life. 

The Beg of Tashmalik offered us tea, roast fowl, 
bread and hard-boiled eggs. The eggs had been 
coloured red, because white is the emblem of mourning 
in China, and the inhabitants of Turkestan copied 
this as well as many other customs from the dominant 
race. Our old host partook of tea with us, and I 
noticed that, when his bowl required refilling, his 
servant obligingly drank up what was left and then 
poured in fresh liquid and handed it to him. 

That night we camped on an open space sur- 
rounded by trees and irrigation channels, and as it 
was hot we slept a la belle etoile outside our tents. It 
was delicious to feel the cool night breeze as I dropped 
ofi to sleep, but not so pleasant to wake suddenly in 
the dark with the horrible sensation that something 
large was creeping over my face. By the dim starlight 
I saw crawling forms on my bed, and my torchlight 
revealed the largest beetles that I have ever seen — 
and I have a considerable experience of the cock- 
roach — some reposing on my pillow and others flying 
round with a booming noise. How I regretted my 
mosquito net ! But luckily I had a head-net in my 
hold-all, and after shaking off the unwelcome in- 
truders I composed myself to sleep again as best 
I could, knowing that I had none too long a night, 
as I must rise at four o'clock. 

On the third day we rode towards low con- 
glomerate hills with a background of snowy peaks, 
and were soon painfully stumbling among the smooth 
boulders of the wide bed of the Gez River, which was 



108 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- ^ 

the crux of the first part of our journey. In this 
district no one comments upon the weather — ^it is 
almost monotonously fine during the summer — but 
travellers ask one another how high or rather how low 
the water is. In our case the answer was important 
because, if we had arrived too late, the dangerous 
Gez River could not have been crossed and we 
should have had to make our way over a series of 
steep passes in the hills. 

Fortune favoured us ; for the " great water," 
which is due about the middle of June and continues 
throughout July, had not yet commenced. But two 
or three days later the fast melting snows would have 
swollen the stream and rendered any crossing impos- 
sible : as it was, it was touch and go once or twice. 
The next three days were spent in the long Gez 
defile, the frowning mountains rising up in many 
places sheer from the river-bed and hemming the 
water within narrower and narrower limits as we 
proceeded. I was reminded now and again of the 
gloomy canyons of the Eraser River in British 
Columbia, and all the time the roar of the water 
crashing over rocks and boulders rang in our ears. 
During each stage we had to ford the river some five 
or six times, and at first I had the queer sensation 
of being carried down -stream, the land opposite 
appearing to swim away from me. But, having 
traversed rivers in Persia, I knew the danger of be- 
coming giddy and falling helplessly into the torrent ; 
therefore I kept my eyes on some fitted object and not 
on the swirling water, and as I was well looked after 
and had no responsibility, I enjoyed the excitement 
of the crossings. Old Jafar Bai took one of my reins 
and my brother's huntsman. Nadir, rode at my side 




> 






o 
z 

S 

O 



THE EUSSIAN PAMIRS 109 

to rescue me in case my horse fell, leaving me nothing 
to do but to sit in my saddle and urge my steed 
with voice and whip. The animal, unaccustomed to 
deep water, wotdd plunge and stumble as it tried to 
make good its footing on the slippery boulders, and 
now and again would become nervous, lose its head 
and attempt to swim. All around us were struggling 
horses, whose excited riders without ceasing yelled 
at the top of their voices as they drove the baggage 
animals before them, and shouted countless directions 
that could not be heard above the tumult and hurly- 
burly of the water as it poured over its stony bed. 
I was advised to keep my horse up-stream at first, 
and when half-way across to let it go down-stream, 
and was told that I must on no account cUng to it 
if it lost its footing and fell, for it would probably 
trample upon me in its struggles. Apparently the 
best thing in case of an accident was to let myself 
go with the current and trust to being rescued. The 
natives are said to cross rapid rivers in safety, even 
when the water reaches to their armpits, by jumping 
all the time — a very exhausting method, I should 
imagine. 

Though our baggage ponies were lightly laden they 
seemed at times almost overwhelmed, but the Beg 
of Tashmalik and his men who escorted us, knew the 
dreaded Gez River in all its moods, and shepherded 
the terrified animals most cleverly. At the deepest 
fords camels were called into requisition and with 
much querulous complaining were forced into the 
stream with our loads, and on these occasions the 
Beg insisted that I should mount his own horse, 
saying that it was an expert at negotiating tor- 
rents. The lord of this district was a big, ruddy- 



no THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ft. i 

faced man, and could hardly take his eyes ofE 
the first Englishwoman he had ever seen, being 
particularly interested in my side-saddle, which he 
thought was a most insecure perch. He looked upon 
me as being more or less in his charge, and I heard 
afterwards that he had deputed three of his men who 
were strong swimmers to keep an eye upon me in 
case my horse foundered. As a rule the early morning 
is the best time to cross these rivers, because no snow 
melts in the mountains during the night, when every- 
thing is frozen, nor does it do so until the sun has 
been up for some hours. Once or twice our baggage 
animals were greatly delayed by the water, and on 
one occasion only our bedding reached the camping 
ground, a pasturage dotted with tamarisk scrub. 
That night I was roused more than once by some 
grazing pony lurching against my bed in the darkness. 
The dreary Gez gorge became wilder as we 
penetrated its recesses. Here and there rocks and 
stones were piled one upon another in a chaotic 
confusion that gave one a glimpse of the tremendous 
power of ice and water, the scenery being so savage 
as to seem more like a nightmare than reality. It 
inspired me with a kind of awe, and I am not ashamed 
to own that I should have been terrified to find 
myself alone in these solitudes, shut in by the lofty 
conglomerate hills, above which one gained occasional 
glimpses of snowy peaks. The river, beneficent and 
life-giving in its lower reaches, is here an agent of 
destruction, with not a tree and hardly a plant on 
its banks ; and yet at one of the gloomiest reaches, 
when I was filled with a sense of impending disaster, 
my mood was changed in a second by the sight of 
two small birds pursuing one another in a love flight. 



THE EUSSIAN PAMIRS 111 

We had to cross several native bridges made on 
the cantilever system, and always dismounted, for 
they swayed from side to side, and our horses were 
nervoiis at first, even when led over them. As the 
raging torrent at these points was penned into narrow 
limits it swirled and eddied and foamed among the 
huge boulders below us, and I was thankful that these 
bridges had been improved since Lord Dunmore 
visited the Pamirs in 1892 and wrote that they 
consisted of a couple of beams on which brushwood 
and large round stones were laid. 

When there were no bridges and the water was 
too deep for our horses we were obliged to negotiate 
various passes. In these the narrow track, with only 
room for one animal abreast, was often formed of 
loose shale, which here and there poured down the 
mountain side in big fans, the shingle rustling as it 
fell on to our path and descended the precipitous 
cliffs to the torrent surging far below. I did not 
appreciate my pony's fondness for treading on the 
extreme edge of the track and sending showers of 
tiny pebbles hurtling down ; but as it would have 
been a physical impossibility for me to have walked 
up all these passes — I always descended them on 
foot — I used to console myself with the reflection 
that our horses were by no means anxious to commit 
suicide. 

At the end of the gorge, dome-shaped Muztagh 
Ata, with its covering of snow, stood up magnificently, 
seeming to block up the end of the narrow valley, 
and from that moment it entered into my life, so 
familiar did it become to me and so greatly did I 
admire it. Sandy tracks now led us to the shallow 
Bulunkul Lake, more than half -filled with sand blown 



112 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

from the hills that encircle it, and we halted on a 
stretch of pasturage on which yaks were grazing, and 
were glad to think that a critical part of our journey 
was safely accomplished. 

It may be of interest if I give some account of 
how we travelled during this tour. The rule was to 
rise at 5 a.m., if not earlier, and I would hastily dress 
and then emerge from my tent to lay my pith-hat, 
putties, gloves and stick beside the breakfast table 
spread in the open. Diving back into my tent I 
would put the last touches to the packing of hold- 
all and dressing-case, Jafar Bai and his colleague 
Humayun being busy meanwhile in tying up my 
bedstead and bedding in felts. While the tents were 
being struck we ate our breakfast in the sharp 
morning air, adjusted our putties, applied face-cream 
to keep our skins from cracking in the intense dryness 
of the atmosphere, and then would watch our ponies, 
yaks or camels as the case might be, being loaded up. 
These last -mentioned ungainly creatures used to 
cry and protest all the time, giving theix owners as 
much trouble as possible before they could be induced 
to lie down, and occasionally throwing ofi their 
burdens. A baby-camel being of the party during 
part of our journey, its mother greatly resented being 
made to work, and all the animals were shedding 
their winter coats, the fur hanging on their bodies 
in loose, untidy patches. My chief objection to the 
camel is its disagreeable odour, and I have often 
wondered why an animal that is such a clean feeder 
should smell so horribly. 

When the loads were at last adjusted and the 
caravan was ready to start, we would mount our 
horses, or one of our men would lead them behind us 



THE EUSSIAN PAMIRS 113 

while we walked for an hour before we began to ride. 
As we had three horses between us, I usually rode half 
the stage on my side-saddle if the going were good, 
and the other half on Tommy with a native saddle 
which had a cushion strapped on to it, and I found 
that the change of seat kept me from getting over- 
tired, while my astride habit did for either mode. 

We usually marched for five hours and then halted 
for lunch, waiting until our caravan had overtaken 
and passed us. Sattur, who accompanied us on his 
pony, would unpack his tiflSn basket, and we would lie 
by the water, in the shade of a tree if possible,^as the 
sun by noon was very powerful. When the worst of 
the heat was over, and our baggage animals had been 
given an hour's start, we would ride another three or 
four hours into camp, to revel in afternoon tea and 
warm baths, I having an extra treat in the brushing 
out of my hair, so hastily done up in the morning. 
Then woidd come a consultation with Daoud as to 
our evening meal, and one of the store boxes would 
be opened to give out everything needed for it and 
for the morrow's breakfast and lunch. After dinner 
we usually strolled up and down for an hour, warmly 
wrapped up — ^for it became very cold when the sun 
went down — and then turned in to dreamless slimibers. 

From Lake Bulunkul and onwards we saw a great 
deal of the Kirghiz, and, though travellers differ as 
to their opinion of these peaceful pastoral people, we 
ourselves liked them and found them most friendly 
and hospitable. Their broad hairless faces and high 
cheek-bones show their Mongol descent, but though 
akin to the yellow-skinned, oblique-eyed Chinese, they 
look very different, and both men and women have 
fresh ruddy complexions. 

I 



114 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

We first camped with tliem at a spot called " Stone 
Sheep-folds," from the presence of a roughly walled 
enclosure into which the flocks were driven at night 
to be guarded from the wolves by the savage Kirghiz 
dogs. As we rode across a wide grassy plain towards 
a group of akhois, the native dwellings that look 
like huge bee-hives, it was the hour of the afternoon 
milking, and Kirghiz women in gaily coloured coats, 
long leather boots and the characteristic lofty white 
headgear, we're busily at work. They had tied the 
sheep and the goats and the black, brown or parti- 
coloured yaks to long ropes and let the animals go 
free one by one when they had been milked, a loud 
chorus of bleating and grunting going on all the time. 
Troops of mares, accompanied by their foals, were 
feeding all round the camp, and our Badakshani 
horses were excited to such an extent that the chestnut 
had to be blindfolded in order to quiet him ; and 
■throughout the tour I had often from this cause 
an unpleasantly lively time with my grey, which had 
been imperturbable when at Kashgar. 

It was mid-June, but a high wind was blowing and 
drove the sand in clouds from the hills, invading the 
little tent, in which I could not stand upright save in 
the centre, and whisking up its flaps. As I could not 
perform my toilet unless I fastened up the entrance, 
I had to grope for everything in almost total dark- 
ness, and though the space was extremely limited, it 
was surprising how easily things got mislaid. My 
tent was still less desirable as a residence when it 
rained, as after a while tiny streams would begin to 
trickle down inside at the points where my camp 
furniture touched the walls, and my belongings — 
most of them perforce on the ground — got damp and 



THE EUSSIAN PAMIES 115 

clammy. Of course a large tent with talc windows is 
very comfortable — witli certain exceptions ; but we 
had heard so much about the storms that sweep 
over the Pamirs that we had taken only small ones 
on this expedition. 

At our next halt, Kuntigmas, meaning " the place 
that the sun cannot reach," I was provided with an 
akJioi all to myself. Indeed, I always dwelt in these 
roomy " white houses " whenever possible. They are 
usually eighteen feet in diameter, the same size as the 
Turkoman kibitkas in the north of Persia, and the 
framework of wUlow-wood is a trelhs about four feet 
high, which pulls out and is placed on the ground in 
a circle. To the upper edge of this a series of curved 
laths are tied about a foot apart, the other end of 
these laths being inserted into the holes of a thick 
wooden hoop that forms the top of the dome-like 
erection. Large felts are now fastened with ropes 
over the akhoi, leaving free the opening at the top to 
admit light and air — also rain and snow on occasion 
— and to let out the smoke of the fires. In case of 
really bad weather a felt can be drawn over the 
circular opening, and again withdrawn, on the same 
principle as the ventilation arrangements in some of 
the London theatres. A wooden framework, often 
prettily carved, is placed between the two ends of 
the trelhs-work to serve as a doorway, and is hung 
with a piece of matting and a felt or carpet. Inside, 
the framework is completely covered with felts, and 
along the top of the trellis I noticed throughout our 
tour an effective finish in the shape of a band of red 
felt with a blue floriated pattern that passed half- 
way round the akhoi, the other half being decorated 
with the same design, but with the colours reversed. 



116 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

These dwellings can be purchased for £7 (a Chinese 
yambu), but those of superior quality often go up to 
£35 in price. The earthen floor is beaten hard and 
covered with carpets, a depression being left in the 
centre for the fire. Some of the old carpets were 
very pleasing, with their soft madders and indigoes 
and greens, a favourite design being conventionalized 
flowers ; but alas, most of them were badly burnt by 
the sparks that had leapt on to them from the 
brushwood used to start the fires. The Kirghiz of 
to-day does not appreciate their velvety sheen, but 
loves the modem Khotan productions, with their 
crude scarlets, purples, yellows and magentas aU 
introduced into the same pattern in a series of violent 
colour discords. 

All tjravellers speak of the ahhoi with esteem, and 
I was always grateful for its space, and, in fine weather, 
for its comfort, although during snow and rain I found 
that it had some drawbacks. For example, the hole 
at the top let in much wet, but if the felt were drawn 
across it I was deprived of light, and if I rolled up my 
entrance carpet I had no privacy and was exposed to 
violent draughts, as the walls were by no means air- 
proof. The felts that covered them were so full of 
holes that on a rainy day one had to use much dis- 
crimination as to where to put one's belongings in 
order to keep them comparatively dry, and on more 
than one occasion I have slept with my mackintosh 
drawn up over my head in order to prevent the rain 
from splashing on my face during the night. 

There is little in the way of " furniture " in these 
dwellings save picturesquely shaped copper jugs in 
which water is boiled, a few copper pots and basins 
used for cooking and as receptacles for mUk, and 



THE RUSSIAN PAMIRS 117 

some rough, wooden buckets. On one occasion we 
were ushered into an akhoi to eat our luncli out of 
the glare of the sun, and had ensconced ourselves on 
a rug, at one end of which was a bundle of cotton- 
padded quilts. Jafar Bai warned us that a small boy- 
was sleeping under them, and it was just as well that 
he did so, as we might easily have sat upon him. 
The child moaned and coughed, and then, hearing 
strange voices, began to cry with terror and made 
violent efforts to get free of his coverings, under which 
he could hardly have breathed. We sent for his 
mother, but she was too shy to make her appearance, 
so her eldest son, attired in a long green coat, ven- 
tured in and carried off his frightened little brother. 

We were now and onwards camping at a height of 
eleven to fourteen thousand feet, and when there was 
no sunshine it was disagreeably cold and raw, despite 
the season of the year. We were held up for a couple 
of days by snow soon after we left Kuntigmas, and 
as a Kirghiz woman had washed oiu: underclothing 
just before th.e weather broke, I had a fire lit in my 
akhoi both to keep myself warm and to dry the 
wet garments. Nadir was an expert in lighting these 
fires, and brought in an armful of wild lavender and 
a basket of cakes of argon, the dried dung of the 
yak, the only fuel obtainable iu this part of the 
world, where trees are conspicuous by their absence. 
He squatted on the ground, set light to the brush- 
wood, and piled the fuel in a bank round it, manipu- 
lating it with a pair of tongs and coaxing the fire 
to burn with the aid of an ingenious pair of bellows 
made from a whole goatskin. At first the result was 
a cloud of acrid smoke that made my eyes smart and 
shed floods of involuntary tears ; the only way to 



118 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pi. i 

avoid this ordeal being to sit on the ground a la 
nomade. After a while the smoke ceased and left 
a clear red fire that gave out considerable heat, but 
turned to ashes so soon that I wondered whether it 
was worth all the trouble it took to make. Certainly 
it was of practically no use in drying our extensive 
wash, which had to be carried along in its wet con- 
dition untU the sun appeared again. 

Whenever we stopped at these Kirghiz encamp- 
ments, the principal women would come to visit me, 
bringing usually an ofiering of a kind of pufE pastry 
the size of a plate, made with cream, very crisp and 
rich, layer above layer, and about three inches thick : 
my gifts in return were gaily coloured handkerchiefs 
and strings of coral beads, both of which gave great 
satisfaction. As my guests entered the akhoi they 
would kick ofi the low shoes that men and women 
alike wear over their long leather boots, and would 
seat themselves on the floor, looking picturesque in 
their flowered chintz coats padded with cotton and 
their curious turban-like headgear that is formed by 
winding muslin on a wooden frame and is laid aside 
in the privacy of their own homes. All wore roughly 
made, but efiective-looking, necklaces of coral and 
silver with long pendants, and had silver clasps and 
buttons on their coats. Some of them had beauti- 
fully embroidered caps bordered with silver buttons 
and ending in bossed chains which hung over their 
ears, this headgear being worn under the turbans. 

The elder women were hard-featured and weather- 
beaten, a natural consequence of their exposure to 
aU sorts of climatic conditions, but some of the young 
girls were rosy -cheeked and attractive-looking, despite 
their flat faces and rather snub noses. Old Jafar Bai 




KIRGHIZ WOMEN IN GALA DRESS. 



Page ii8. 



THE EUSSIAN PAMIRS 119 

and Nadir were very useful in helping to entertain 
my guests, translating my Persian remarks into Turki, 
and tlie ladies enjoyed drinking tea sweetened with 
many lumps of sugar instead of the customary salt, 
and eating European biscuits and sweetmeats. Before 
leaving they would gather up any sugar and eatables 
that were left, packing them away in the cloth wound 
round their waists or in a breast-pocket of their thick 
outer coats. They struck me as being very pleasant 
and easy -tempered with one another, and when they 
took their leave with profuse salaams they would 
thank me most politely for the entertainment. 

I believe that the Kirghiz women have a better 
position than their Mohamedan sisters in other parts 
of the world ; yet their lives are strenuous and filled 
with unceasing work. As women are in a decided 
minority in the Pamirs they are valuable, and a man 
possessed of several daughters counts himself rich 
indeed. A suitor for the hand of one of them induces 
three of the chief men of the tribe to bargain with 
the fortunate father, and I was told that a hundred 
sheep or five Chinese yambus (£35) is a moderate price 
to pay for a bride. At one of our camps, for example, 
the headman was pointed out to me as having pro- 
duced money and stock to the value of £500 for his 
unprepossessing-looking wife. On the other hand, the 
girl brings with her a dowry of camels, horses, yaks, 
clothes and jewellery that is supposed to equal in value 
what her father has received from the bridegroom. 

A wedding entails but slight expense as compared 
with a funeral, the father merely giving a big feast 
to the whole tribe, and this does not seriously em- 
barrass him as it is customary for the guests to 
present gifts in kind to the bridegroom, who is 



120 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

expected to hand them over to his future father-in- 
law. 

Miss Czaplicka writes that as a rule a man pays for 
his bride by instalments and does not visit the resi- 
dence of her parents until the first lot of live-stock 
has been delivered to her father. On this occasion 
the future husband is not allowed to see his inamorata, 
and neither bridegroom nor bride makes an appear- 
ance at the wedding-feast. Late at night the jinai, or 
female matchmakers, conduct the young couple sepa- 
rately to the akhoi of the bride's parents, the girl 
making a feint of resisting and the jinai pretending 
to hinder the husband by barking like dogs. The 
bridegroom goes off early the next morning and avoids 
his parents-in-law for the whole day, and when he 
has paid the full price for his wife he carries her off 
with a show of force, which she plays up to by 
pretending to resist the attempt to take her to a 
new home. 

It happens sometimes that a man does not possess 
enough live-stock to purchase a wife, in which case 
he will enter into an agreement with his would-be 
father-in-law to serve him and look after his flocks 
for a term of years, just as did Jacob many centuries 
ago in order to gain the hand of Rachel. He is 
allowed to marry the girl of his choice and lives with 
her family during his service, at the end of which her 
father wiU give him an aHhoi, yaks, mares, sheep and 
goats, and the couple will go off and live independently 
of the old people. My brother's best Kirghiz shikari, 
Shamshir by name, confided to him that he was most 
anxious to marry, but so far he had only gathered 
together thirty sheep towards the realization of his 
heart's desire. However, his hard case so touched 



OH. VI THE EUSSIAN PAMIRS 121 

Ms employer's heart that, when we left the district, 
Shamshir received a parting gift that would appreci- 
ably hasten the wedding-day. 

There is practically no divorce among the Kirghiz, 
marriage being looked upon as permanent. A wife is 
considered to belong to her husband's family and 
lives with them if she becomes a widow, and in the 
event of her remarriage she is obliged to forgo the 
dowry that she brought to her first husband. 
Mohamedans are permitted to have four wives, but, 
owing to the scarcity of women, few Kirghiz can avail 
themselves of this privilege, though a man occasion- 
ally takes a second wife at the urgent request of his 
first one. 

Certainly a good wife must be " above rubies " to 
a Kirghiz. She looks after the flocks and herds more 
or less, does all the milking, makes cream, curds, 
cheese and koumiss, cooks the food, fashions clothes 
for herself and her family, and of course has to rear 
her children. Besides all this, she is skilled in weaving 
felts with which to cover the akhois, and the effective 
embroideries that adorn them are the work of her 
hands, as are also the coarse but pleasing carpets. I 
have seen her staggering along imder the big bundle 
of laths that form the framework of the " white 
house," and she lends a hand to its erection and ties 
on its felt coverings. Her lord and master has often 
filled me with indignation by standing idly by and 
looking on at his wife's labours. 

Though the women are almost as good riders as 
the men, they ride only for the practical purposes of 
travelling from camp to camp or herding the mares 
and cattle. Recreation, as we understand it, does not 
come much into their lives, and when guests have to 



122 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

be entertained, or feasts are given, they have to work 
harder than usual at the cooking. In fact I was not 
surprised to hear that when he recounts his possessions 
a Kirghiz will mention his camels, yaks, horses, sheep 
and goats first, relegating wife and children to the 
end of the list. 

The man's part in life struck me as being by far 
the easier one. He rides about on his wiry ponies, 
attends all the wedding and funeral feasts in the dis- 
trict, loves to play the " goat game," and will drive 
his yaks and sheep into Kashgar to sell, if he is in 
need of flour, clothing or boots. He is too wise to 
wed the pretty Kashgari girls, who would be utterly 
useless and out of their element in an akhoi, nor do 
the active, weather-beaten maidens of his tribe hanker 
after the life of the city. 

In the different encampments that we visited 
children were often conspicuous by their absence, and 
I was told that most of those born during the long 
winter succumb to the rigours of the climate, a large 
proportion of infants being stillborn from the same 
cause. Smallpox also carries ofi many, and although 
the health of the Kirghiz is, as a rule, excellent, they 
die very easily if they fall iU, there being no doctor 
on the Pamirs, or any knowledge of the rudiments 
of nursing. It seems a case of the survival of the 
fittest ; for I have never come across sturdier, hardier- 
looking men and women' than those I encountered 
during our tour. They live almost entirely on milk, 
curds and cheese, killing their flocks for food only 
when milk is scarce or guests arrive, or for wedding 
and funeral feasts. Their favourite drink is koumiss, 
the fermented milk of mares. One sip of this was 
enough for me, as I found it so acid and smoky that 



THE KUSSIAN PAMIRS 123 

I had no desire to repeat the experiment. Bread, 
sugar and tea are luxuries, and, as they grow nothing 
save a little barley in places, they never taste either 
fruit or vegetables ; but they certainly thrive on 
their milk diet. The best milk comes from the yaks. 
These sturdy animals looked very dishevelled at this 
season, as their shaggy hair was coming ofi in patches. 
They are far hardier than cows, and, though their 
yield is less, the milk is much richer and is yielded 
over a longer period. 

Neither my brother nor I derived much benefit 
from the limitless quantities of milk and cream that 
we saw at the encampments. The Kirghiz boil the 
milk in open vessels, with the result that it always 
tasted so strongly of the pungent smoke that we found 
junkets and Toilk puddings quite uneatable. More- 
over, they are iu the habit of manipulating the cream 
with their hands, both these and the bowls being 
very far from clean. Only twice were we ofEered 
cream that was smokeless and white, and this we 
found delicious. 

The yaks — black, brown, grey or black and white — 
are of two species, those carrying big branching horns 
and those without any. They are strong and remark- 
ably sure-footed, though slow, and we used them often 
for pack work. The curious single grunt which they 
emit at frequent intervals earns them their scientific 
name of Bos grunniens. It was frequently my fate 
when camping to have a yak ensconced somewhere 
outside my akhoi, separated from me only by a 
felt, so that it seemed as if it were literally grunting 
into my ear during the night. They appeared to 
be very docile to their owners, but sometimes took 
a violent dislike to Europeans, as my brother once 



124 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

experienced to Ms cost in Ladak, when he was chased 
by a black bull and escaped with considerable diffi- 
culty. The Kirghiz are on the most familiar terms 
with their animals. I often found a crowd of Iambs 
and kids behind a screen in an ahhoi, or struggling 
to emerge from some hole underground, and if I 
rolled up my hanging door I was frequently visited 
by the most engaging kids, only too ready to 
make friends with the intruder. I was told that the 
Kirghiz keep cocks in order that the birds may rouse 
their owners at daybreak, but we ourselves came 
across no poultry during our travels among these 
nomads. 

Washing is not a Kirghiz characteristic, and, 
indeed, in a country where the rivers are partly ice- 
bound in July one could hardly expect the inhabitants 
to be fond of bathing. They must find the long 
winter with its bitter winds very trying, even in their 
lowest grazing-grounds. The flocks scrape away the 
snow with their hoofs in order to find the grass under- 
neath, but are in extremely poor condition before 
the approach of spring, and have to be carefuUy 
guarded from the depredations of snow-leopards, 
wild dogs and wolves. These last come round in 
packs and lie in wait, watching their opportunity ; 
on one occasion Nadir lost eighty of his sheep in the 
full daylight of a winter morning. His brother, who 
was in charge of the flock, went to his ahhoi for a 
short time, leaving a small boy and his savage dogs 
in charge. As soon as he was out of sight the wolves 
set upon the sheep, killing them one after the other in a 
kind of orgy of bloodshed, and paying no heed what- 
ever to the dogs, which were powerless to prevent 
the slaughter. Many of the sheep fled into the hills 




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THE EUSSIAN PAMIES 125 

in their terror, and Nadir recovered very few of 
them. 

Iftikhar Ahmad related to me how once a large 
and exceptionally savage dog that he possessed was 
killed by a couple of wolves. They stalked the dog, 
one getting in front of it and one behind, and, while 
it stood undecided which foe to attack first, one of 
the wolves rushed at it with tremendous force and 
threw it down. In less time than it takes to relate, 
the victim was torn asunder, and the conquerors made 
off, each carrying half of the spoils of victory. 

The tribesmen keep their aJchois warm in winter by 
banking snow round them, closing up all inlferstices 
and crowding together ; for fires cannot be used 
indiscriminately, the supply of argon being by no 
means unlimited. 

Though the Kirghiz nominally follow the religion 
of the Prophet and are Sunnis, they pay little 
heed to its observances beyond keeping the fast of 
Eamazan ; but this is not to be wondered at, since 
they have few mullas to show them the right path. 
When they die they are buried in a little cemetery 
belonging to the tribe, and usually situated on the side 
of a MQ. Low mud domes, looking much like akhois 
in the distance, are placed over the remains of men of 
importance ; and when these latter die, their relatives 
invite the tribe to great feasts and also organize horse- 
races, in which the winners are awarded* handsome 
prizes. The idea is that the dead men are giving 
these lavish entertainments in order to disperse the 
wealth which they need no longer, the Kirghiz not 
being concerned to " lay up riches for those that 
shall come after." 

Here and there we came across the tomb of a 



126 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES rr. i 

sayyid, the mud dome enclosed by a rough, stone wall, 
on which were set poles hung with fluttering rags. 
One such dome was erected over a mighty himter, 
and the shikaris had hung it round with horns of the 
wild sheep and were in the habit of depositing 
pinches of gunpowder on the grave, in order that the 
departed Nimrod might give them success in the chase. 
These primitive monuments are the only buildings 
that we came across during our tour. 

The headman of a tribe or district is called a Beg, 
and in Chinese Turkestan, in the uplands of which we 
travelled at first, he is put in authority by the Amhan, 
to whom he gives a gift for the honour, recouping 
himself afterwards by taking a fortieth part of the 
flocks and herds of the families in his charge. These 
officials were most helpful to us, arranging for trans- 
port — usually the great stumbling-block of travellers 
in Central Asia — sending men on ahead to prepare 
akhois for us, accompanying my brother and treating 
us as honoured guests when we passed through their 
districts. One of these hosts was an oflicer in Chinese 
employ, and said that he had a force of thirty- 
two men under his orders. The truth was that the 
Amhan drew pay for thirty-two soldiers and gave our 
friend the money for eight. He in his turn economized 
by paying three soldiers, his wife and children figuring 
as the remaining j^ve. 

A choga or " robe of honour " was usually pre- 
sented to the Beg when we left his district, and the 
man would kneel to receive the brilliantly coloured 
coat, and make the gesture of passing his hands across 
his face, which was meant to signify his humility in 
the presence of my brother. Then, calling out, 
''Allah Ho Akhar," he would spring to his feet and 



OH. VI THE RUSSIAN PAMIRS 127 

rush, ofi in liigli glee to show his " decoration " — for 
so he regarded it — to the men of his tribe. 

During the first days of our arrival on these 
uplands we had disagreeable weather, although it 
was mid-June. Sometimes there was driving rain 
and snow of exceptionally melting quality, and when 
it was dry the high winds blew up the sand in great 
clouds. Once or twice, after starting off on a fine 
morning, we were forced at the end of the march 
to make a hurried rush to the encampment at which 
we were to halt, in order to avoid an imminent dust- 
storm, the excited horses racing across ground so 
boggy that on ordinary occasions we should have 
negotiated it with care. At intervals we could hear 
what I imagined to be peals of thunder, but was 
in reality the roar of avalanches as they slid down 
the sides of the snow-clad mountains that were almost 
hidden by the dust haze. We were delayed in one 
place for a couple of days, as the local Beg said that 
the heavy rain had made the going too bad for our 
baggage-camels, and a very damp and chilly wait 
it was. If we ventured outside our akhois we were 
drenched to the skin, with no means of drying our- 
selves save by the inadequate fires that I have 
described. I was delighted when the sun reappeared, 
and, as we started off, the Beg's wife came to bid me 
a most kindly farewell and to wish me good luck on 
the road; and throughout the journey the, chief 
woman of every camp always took a particular 
interest in my welfare. 

We left the grazing ground beside the river and 
ascended a broad, barren valley leading into a range of 
low bare hills which we crossed by easy passes, and for 
a couple of days travelled through a stony desolation 



128 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

among brown hills crested with snow. There was 
barely a sign of Ufe to be seen save once, when a 
butterfly fluttered feebly among the boulders and 
debris through which the track lay, and I wondered 
how the poor insect could survive, as we were some 
miles from vegetation of any kind. There were often 
little flowers in abundance on the grassy banks of the 
streams, and I noted two or three varieties of primulas, 
some tiny and of palest mauve, while others, big 
and lusty, were of a dark tint. The buttercups and 
a small cistus spread themselves in golden patches, 
crimson lousewort flushed the ground, and I was sorry 
to have no acquaintance with scores of low-growing 
plants that were bursting into minute cream, yellow 
or purple blossoms. The whole flora was Alpine, and 
reminded me of the beautiful display that I had often 
enjoyed in Switzerland ; but here the gentians were 
either white or a pale blue. 

At times we enjoyed superb views of the great 
snow-clad peaks towards which we were travelling, 
and these visions of remote and unearthly beauty 
compensated for the weary miles of stumbling over 
rounded boulders and pebbles. We were only able 
to go at a foot's pace. The horses disliked the 
journey more than we did, because they got foot- 
sore ; and Jafar Bai had to keep a vigilant eye upon 
their shoes, as the nails had a habit of dropping 
out. 

On June 18 we camped, at a height of 13,000 feet, 
below the Katta Dawan, or Great Pass, by crossing 
which we should leave Chinese Turkestan and reach 
the Russian Pamirs, the goal of our journey. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE ROOF OF THE WORLD 

I scaled precipitous moxintaiii crags clad with snow : found my 
way through the scarped passes of the Iron Gates ; — ^I have traversed 
the valley of Pamir. — Life of Hiuen Tsiang, Beal. 

The Pamirs are both fertile and barren, both habitable and desolate, 
both smiling and repellent according to the point of view from which 
they are regarded. They are among the deliberate paradoxes of 
nature. — The Pamirs and ths Source of the Oxus, Hon. Geoege N. 

CUBZON. 

It was a thrilling thought that I was about to tread 
in the footsteps of some of the intrepid travellers in 
High Asia, such as the Buddhist monk, Hiuen Tsiang, 
Marco Polo, Wood, the first Englishman to enter the 
Pamirs, and many another whom the Red Gods called 
to feats of daring and endurance. But my lot was 
an extremely easy one compared with theirs ; for, 
being the only woman of the party, I was guarded 
and protected in every possible way. Perhaps some 
of my readers may be a little vague as to the exact 
meaning of the word Pamirs. They are described by 
Sir Thomas Holdich, the eminent geographer, as 
" valleys reaching up in long slopes to the foot of 
mountain peaks," and they are known by the Persian 
term of Bam-i-Dunia or Roof of the World. 

On that June morning we were up at 5 a.m. and, 
although snow had fallen during the night, the day 

129 K 



130 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

was fine and gave good hopes of a successful crossing 
of the pass. It was bitterly cold, but my leather 
coat was impervious to wind, a Shetland shawl swathed 
my pith-hat and neck, and I had besmeared both face 
and feet plentifully with vaseline and therefore felt 
prepared to meet whatever might befall. 

When we had seen our baggage yaks loaded we 
walked up the narrow valley, down which ran a little 
stream with scanty grazing on its banks ; but before 
long the stiff pull up the mountain side began, and we 
were obliged to mount. Our Kirghiz guide halted 
every few yards to let the panting horses take breath 
— in fact, the rarefied air on these heights seemed to 
try them almost as much as it would have exhausted 
us had we been forced to walk. We soon reached 
the snow-line, and our animals plunged and stumbled 
through freshly fallen snow on the narrow track 
where we moved along in single file. It seemed a 
long time, but in reality we reached the crest of the 
Katta Dawan in a couple of hours and found ourselves 
on a little plateau some 16,000 feet high. Clouds 
had been gathering during our climb and fine snow 
now began to fall fast, making us fear that we might 
be caught in a storm and possibly miss the track, 
which it needed the practised eye of the Kirghiz to 
discover. Fortunately the wind came to our rescue, 
sweeping the air clear at intervals, and I saw that we 
were in the midst of great white giants shouldering 
one another, a glacier lying to our left, shining in the 
fitful gleams of the sun. Ahead of us low green hills 
scantily flecked with snow opened out to give a 
glimpse of the intense blue of the Great Karakul 
Lake, a soft mist half revealing the landscape, and 
the whole making a picture of exquisite beauty that 



CH. yn THE KOOF OP THE WOELD 131 

somewhat reminded us of the Highlands of Scotland. 
But it was no time to linger and enjoy the view, and 
we began the descent, soon dismounting as our horses 
floundered badly in the snow and I had no wish to be 
shot over Tommy's head. Then followed an hour of 
struggling downwards during which I was sometimes 
up to the knee in the snow, and once or twice fell 
headlong, my thick clothing impeding me a good deal 
but saving me from hurt in my tumbles. Somehow 
we scrambled down at last into a long defile, and the 
falling snow turned into a chilly sleet that cut our 
faces. But nothing of that sort mattered, and as we 
drank hot tea from our thermos bottles I felt a glow 
of pride that not only was I the first Englishwoman 
to negotiate the Katta Dawan Pass, but that I was 
actually on that Roof of the World, which in my 
wildest day-dreams I had never imagined that I 
should visit. 

It seemed an auspicious omen that almost as soon 
as we reached the Pamirs, Nadir discovered a small 
herd of ovis poli on the side of one of the mountains 
between which we were passing. Although there was 
not a head among them, they held out a promise 
of better things to come, and I was greatly interested 
in watching them through my glasses. 

From now onwards we saw much more of Nadir, 
who came from the Sarikol district, and showed his 
Aryan descent in his boldly cut aquiline features, his 
big dark eyes, black beard and moustache. He was 
strikingly handsome, and would have passed very well 
for a Spaniard, except that, when he took ofE his white 
felt Kirghiz hat, his shaven head looked oddly out 
of keeping wtth the rest of the picture. He was 
most intelligent on any matter connected with sport 



132 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

or the country, and was accustomed to the use of 
field-glasses, through which his keen eyes swept the 
hills unceasingly. Yet he did not understand a 
watch, and our method of computing time conveyed 
nothing to him ; in fact, when my brother spoke to 
him of " hours " he said reproachfully that he hailed 
from Sarikol, where such things were unknown. I 
admired his gift of making every one work ; for, 
although he was merely my brother's huntsman, 
he arrogated much authority to himself and ordered 
about the guides, and even our servants, in the most 
masterful way. He could turn his hand to anything, 
was accounted an excellent singer and was quite 
aware of his fine appearance, being fond of decorating 
his hat with a bunch of primulas that set off his 
handsome face to advantage. He had of course the 
defects of his qualities, one of his failings being that 
he was so determined to pose as onmiscient that he 
occasionally gave us wrong information ; moreover, 
his deep-rooted contempt for the peaceful Kirghiz 
also led him astray, as he sometimes refused to pay 
attention to their advice as to tracks and camping 
grounds. 

To return to the march, long boulder-strewn defiles 
led us eventually into a gravelly waste where we 
saw ahead of us the Great Karakul Lake, and a 
group of akhois gleaming white in the distance held 
out hopes of rest and food. But suddenly a violent 
sandstorm, one of those " mountain devils " that 
blotted out the landscape, came on so completely, 
that it was quite a surprise when I found that we had 
reached a stream, on the further side of which stood 
the beehive-like dwellings. I was half-blinded as I 
staggered into a du-ty akhoi, smelling strongly of the 



OH. yn THE ROOF OF THE WORLD 133 

kids and lambs that had lately been herded behind 
a prettily coloured matting ; and, with my face 
swollen from the snow and sleet on the Katta Dawan, 
my eyes sore from the sand and my whole person 
grimy with dust, I did not feel at my best when f our 
gaily attired Kirghiz women with towering white 
headgear came to call upon me. One was a good- 
looking, rosy-cheeked girl, who said she did not know 
her age, but thought it might be twenty. She had a 
beautifully embroidered headgear bordered with silver 
buttons and ending in bossed silver chains which 
hung over her ears. 

I felt too tired to play the hostess weU, and found 
the ladies rather inquisitive, as they fingered my pith- 
hat, slipped their hands into my fur-Uned gloves and 
examined my habit ; in fact the manners of this 
tribe were the worst I encountered, and so constantly 
was I peeped at through the many holes in the felt 
covering of my akhoi that I had to shorten all my 
toilet operations considerably. 

Although our baggage yaks had started from camp 
at 7 o'clock that morning they did not arrive until 
8 P.M., and of course we got nothing to eat until an 
hour later, and before I went to bed I had to open 
the store boxes in order to provide my brother and 
Nadir with three days' supplies for a shooting ex- 
pedition in the mountains bordering the lake, on 
which they were to start ofi at dawn on the morrow. 

We were now in Russian territory, and at nightfall 
four Cossacks rode up to the akhois with orders to 
escort us, and next day they accompanied me and the 
servants to the Russian post where we were to stop. 
This consisted of a series of rooms opening on to a 
courtyard, the whole built of brick and surrounded 



134 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

by a high wall. It had evidently been cleaned up 
in our honour, and the corporal who was in authority 
here ushered me into a white-washed room with a 
table and a couple of stools, and was astoimded at 
my request that he should open the double window. 
As soon as my belongings had been brought in I 
mounted Tommy and went off, accompanied by Jafar 
Bai and my camera, to see the lake. It is exquisitely 
situated, with a background of snowy peaks pictur- 
esquely serrated, the water and the great gravelly 
plain being ringed about with mountains partly 
covered with freshly fallen snow, the Trans -Alai 
range with the magnificent Kaufmann peak rising 
up into the sky. The water of the lake was an 
intense sapphire blue, with broad streaks of purple 
and emerald and a wide band of salt efflorescence 
round its shores, the whole reminding me of pictures 
of the Dead Sea. 

Captain Cobbold, who visited the lake in 1896, 
mentioned the sandy ridge running north and south 
that divided it : but the water has , risen , since 
then^ and, at ythe time of my visit^ taere- was no 
sTgn of a divieion. He also spoke of its fish, and it 
was disappointing to hear on all sides that there was 
no life in its bitter waters : it is stagnant, no animal 
drinks from it, and the only birds I noted during my 
three days' visit were a pair of Brahminy ducks and 
an occasional vulture and raven. The salt efflores- 
cence made the ground rotten in places, and once 
the horses, which Jafar Bai was holding while I photo- 
graphed the group, sank into a kind of quicksand, 
from which we had some difficulty in extricating them. 
This district is called the Khargush Pamir (Pamir of 
the Hare), and I felt that the name must have been 



OH. ^ THE ROOF OF THE WORLD 135 

given in irony, as it is really a desert, boulder-strewn 
in some parts, sand-strewn in others. The grazing is 
so poor as to be almost negligible (which probably 
accounted for the high charges that were levied upon 
us by our late Kirghiz hosts), and the Russian post- 
house overlooked a dreary waste of solidified ridges 
of sand, in appearance much like the low mud mounds 
raised over the dead. I thought it a most depressing 
view, but fortunately it did not appear to affect the 
spirits of the Cossacks ; for, on the arrival of half a 
dozen soldiers who had driven from Osh with supplies, 
the whole party started dancing in the little courtyard. 
One man played the concertina, and another, small 
and well-made, clad in buff coat, blue trousers, long 
riding-boots and a grey sheepskin cap, would have 
been a worthy member of the Russian ballet corps so 
popular in London. He and his partner danced with 
tremendous zest and agility, though their faces never 
for an instant relaxed their serious expression as they 
rehearsed the old themes of attraction and repulsion, 
masculine boldness seeking to conquer maidenly 
coyness. Then on a sudden the tender melody would 
change to something wild and barbaric, and the 
dancers became warlike, were enemies, exchanged 
threats, feigned to attack one another and stamped 
theic feet menacingly, somewhat in the manner of 
the blood-stirring ballet of Prince Igor. 

There was much excitement at the post when my 
brother's first trophy arrived; but the head was 
small, and as he and Nadir had heard that larger 
rams might be found elsewhere, he decided that we 
had better move on. 

My readers will see that we had had some trouble 
in reaching the Pamirs, but when once we had arrived 



136 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

I was astonished at the ease with which we travelled 
from place to place. For the greater part of our tour 
we were on a high plateau which in reality consisted of 
valleys so filled up with the moraines of the glaciers 
of centuries ago that, as Sir Francis Younghusband 
puts it, " the bottoms of these Pamir valleys are level 
with the higher summits of the Alps. ' ' Owing to this, 
the mountain ranges were often shorn of much of 
their grandeur as we surveyed them from a height 
of thirteen or fourteen thousand feet, though some 
of the panoramas we were privileged to see were 
unforgettable in their superb majesty. 

I have travelled among the Swiss Alps, and know 
something of the Canadian Rockies, the Elburz Range 
and the Caucasus, but the mountains of the Pamirs 
are far wilder and more savage in appearance than 
these, because of the entire lack of life at their feet.^ 
In Switzerland, Canada and the Caucasus the foothills 
of the great ranges are clad with pine and fir ; long 
grassy slopes gemmed with tiny flowers give a 
charm to the scenery, and there is usually bird life. 
Even the barren Elburz has juniper and other 
scrub on its lower slopes and there are grass and 
flowers in its valleys ; but here we could travel for 
days in a desolation that was almost terrifying. 

Often we did not see a human being during the 
whole day's march, the only signs of life being an 
occasional vulture and sometimes a few snow pigeons, 
crows, choughs and the ubiquitous marmot. It was 
a red-letter day if I came across swallows, finches, 
desert larks or the handsome but uneatable Brahminy 
duck ; indeed my horse would actually sometimes 
shy if we met a Kirghiz on the lonely track. 

The climate during our visit in Jime and July was 



CH. vn THE ROOF OF THE WOELD 137 

one of the most changeable in the world. It was 
always cold when we left camp between six and seven 
o'clock, the sky often grey and cloudy and the moun- 
tains veiled in mist. After a while the sun would 
come out and I would throw off my overcoat, but 
probably would soon put it on again, as icy blasts 
were in the habit of descending suddenly from the 
hills. At noon it was often extremely hot, and I 
found the mid-day halt, even in such favourable spots 
as on the banks of a stream, very trjdng, owing to 
the scorching heat from which there was no escape. 
There are no trees on the Pamirs, and I have vivid 
memories of halts on bare hillsides where there was 
not even a boulder large enough to give shade, and 
where, in spite of my pith-hat, sun vtmbrella and thick 
clothes, I felt as if I were being slowly roasted as we 
lay exposed to the fierce sunshine. It was difficult 
to read or write, almost impossible to sleep, and I 
could appreciate the Jewish prophet's word-picture 
of " the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." 
Our chief alleviation was hot tea from the thermos 
bottles, our throats and hps being always parched 
with the dry air, and every now and again we had an 
unexpected shower-bath. Peals of thunder would re- 
verberate from the hills, over which dark-purple storm- 
clouds had gathered, and suddenly a deluge would 
descend upon us. But the sky would be as blue as 
ever after a few moments, though the whole atmo- 
sphere felt sensibly refreshed ; and later in the day 
these smart showers would descend in the form of 
snow. It was always very cold when the sun went 
down, and in camp I wore all the clothing I could 
muster and pulled a fur coat over all ; my feet were 
sUpped into my big felt boots lined with lamb's- wool; 



138 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES tt. x 

and a woollen cap on my head completed tte costume 
in which I sat at our dinner-table. At night my 
sleeping-bag lay on a thick mattress and a rug, as it 
is important to have as much below as above, and 
when my fur coat was thrown over me I was by no 
means too warm. 

We were hving at a height of twelve to fourteen 
thousand feet, and although the air was deliciously 
keen, like that of some Alpine winter resort, per- 
sonally I never felt braced up, but was always 
languid and disinclined for exertion owing to the 
rarefied atmosphere. Riding did not fatigue me and 
I could walk for a considerable distance on the level, 
but I panted at the least effort and had a curious 
sensation as if a hand were on my throat. Certainly 
I slept profoundly and felt a continual wish to slumber, 
both in season and out ; but in spite of all the exercise 
I was taking I had no appetite, and ate only as a 
matter of duty. Directly we descended to the level 
of 10,000 feet I felt a different being, and life, 
appetite and energy returned in a rush, as if by 
magic. 

I had imagined that there would be an abundance 
of rich grass to support the flocks and herds of the 
wandering Kirghiz tribes, and was disappointed to 
•find the Pamirs, as far as our tour extended, a dreary 
waste, often covered with boulders and gravel from 
the moraines of the mountains, with only small strips 
of pasturage at intervals. In general the grazing was 
scanty, and the inhabitants, who number but a few 
thousands, must often have a struggle to support life 
during the winter. Even during the summer they 
move their flocks frequently to fresh pastures, for 
the grass is soon eaten up, and a large popula- 



OH. vn THE ROOF OF THE WORLD 139 

tion would starve. In narratives of travel in the 
Pamirs the provision of food for the baggage animals 
is always mentioned as one of the difl&culties to be 
encountered, and it was fortunate for us that my 
brother's official position saved us from anxiety on 
this score. We had been obUged to carry several 
loads of barley from Kashgar, but the local Begs were 
able to arrange for fresh supplies of forage at some 
points of our journey, and led us usually to camping 
groimds where the grazing was fair. 

When we bade farewell to the Great Karakul Lake 
we spent three days on the Russian cart road, riding 
the ninety miles to Pamirsky Post on the Murghab 
River. On the morning of our start snow was fall- 
ing fast, and as I dragged myself out of my warm 
sleeping-bag at 3.30 a.m. I felt thankful that my lot 
was not cast permanently in the Pamirs. But, when 
once we were on horseback and muffled up, the 
going left nothing to complain of. We rode along 
a broad unmetalled track made for the most part 
by the simple expedient of removing the boulders 
which thickly strewed these sterile valleys, having 
been brought down from the ranges bounding us 
on either side. This road was marked at intervals 
by piles of stones measuring it into versts and half- 
versts — ^five versts being equal to three English 
miles. The distances were painted on a stone on 
every other heap, though often the figures were 
placed upside down, and now and again were omitted 
altogether. All our servants were provided with 
smoked glasses, but would not use them at first, 
Sattur, for example, wearing his across his Hps or 
hanging under his chin, until after a while he came 
to understand that they were of real benefit. 



140 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. ^ 

Our Cosaack escort, consisting of a corporal and 
three soldiers, were cheery sturdy youths, clad in bufi 
uniforms with blue facings and long bufE greatcoats. 
Their forage-caps were set rakishly on one side, and 
the corporal brushed his thick yellow hair into a 
big well-greased roll which almost hid his forehead, 
and was evidently proud of his personal appearance. 
They wore blue glasses, a necessary precaution against 
the glare of the sun on the snow, and rode handy 
little ponies as born horsemen. I felt that they 
must have but a dull time in these outposts of the 
Russian Empire with so few of the amenities of life, 
especially as their pay was at the low rate of one and 
fourpence a month, supplemented by rations of meat 
and flour, forage for their horses, and the provision 
of a uniform and three shirts annually. Their service 
lasts for three years, after which they are free to 
return to their farms for the rest of their lives. Each 
man has a rifle and a Umited amount of ammunition, 
and the corporal was for ever on the look-out for 
something to shoot at. 

At one part of our second day's march the road 
woimd over a pass in the hills, and my brother and 
Nadir, who had espied game in a valley beneath us, 
went ofE to stalk while the rest of the party rode 
forward. On a cliff to our right the corporal pointed 
out a large group of vultures feeding on a dead 
sheep and emitted shrill whistles that made the great 
birds hop about in a most \mgainly fashion. I 
watched them with interest, which changed to anger 
when the Cossack let ofi his rifle at them, making our 
horses shy violently. The birds, though unharmed, 
were so gorged that they could hardly rise from the 
ground, but my brother's quarry, startled at the shot, 



OH. TO THE ROOF OF THE WORLD 141 

made off and escaped, and Nadir became livid witli 
rage as lie endeavoured to explain to the Russian 
how iU-timed Ms love of sport had been on that 
occasion. During these three days the country was 
monotonous in the extreme, the stone-strewn plateaux 
having Jiardly a sign of Ufe. At one spot, where the 
hills were formed of hardened mud, Nadir told us 
that Mr. Haydon, the well-known geologist, whom he 
had accompanied on a tour in the Pamirs, had found 
fossUs. We were anxious to see some for ourselves, 
and he led us to a curiously shaped hill where, after 
some groping, he disinterred two or three sea-sheUs, 
a sight that filled me with wonder as I realized that 
this mighty Roof of the World, with its valleys twelve 
to fourteen thousand feet high, had long ages ago 
been under the sea, and iadeed sea-sand composed 
much of the mountain whose side we were probing. 
That afternoon, between the intermittent showers of 
snow, we had the curious spectacle of a violent 
thunderstorm in the range to our right, another 
raging at the same time in the mountains to our left, 
while overhead were brilliant sunshine and a bright 
blue sky. 

On the afternoon of the third day, as we neared 
Pamirsky Post, we were met by a couple of Mingbashis 
or Headmen, gorgeous in purple robes, broad silver- 
embossed belts and snowy turbans. These officials 
led us down the vaUey to the Murghab, one of the 
head waters of the classic Oxus, and here we were 
warmly welcomed by the Russian commandant with 
his Cossack escort. He had most kindly ordered out 
his carriage for me, and though I should have much 
preferred to stick to my horse, politeness made me 
dismount and do my best to scramble into what 



142 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

was really a box on wheels. As the ponies were too 
fidgety for me to mount by the wheel, and there was 
no step, I fear that I got in with a sad lack of dignity, 
and then I was hurled from side to side of the con- 
veyance as the coachman whipped up his horses to a 
breakneck speed. We tore along at a great pace to 
a stone fort built on a spur of the mountains above 
the river, and galloped through a gateway of the 
high wall that surrounded it into a large courtyard. 
The Cossack captain insisted on putting us up, turn- 
ing out of his own carpet-hung room for my benefit, 
and, as his quarters faced the barracks of the soldiers, 
I had from the windows a good view of lounging 
Cossacks, who spent much of their time playing with 
a crowd of thick-coated, quarrelsome dogs or shout- 
ing at their ponies, which were driven in at sunset 
from the grazing grounds along the banks of the 
river. 

We met here a colonel of engineers who was 
engaged in putting up signalling posts on the hUls 
in the vicinity, in order that communication might 
be established with the headquarters at Kharuk ; for 
there was no telegraph wire connecting Pamirsky Post 
with the outer world. As he and our host spoke only 
their own language I could take no part in the con- 
versation at supper, and, moreover, I felt very sleepy, 
since the meal began at nine o'clock, an hour when 
I, who had risen at half-past three, wanted to be in 
bed ! A diversion was provided in the shape of a 
wolf-cub, a quaint and engaging little creature, but 
not the sort of animal that I should care to bring up 
as a household pet. 

Next morning I grasped the difference between 
English and Russian meal-tjmes, and when at half- 



OH. vn THE EOOF OF THE WOELD 143 

past nine there was no sign of breakfast, my brother 

and I went down to our camp, pitched by the river, 

where we had a meal and I gave out stores and made 

arrangements for our clothes to be washed. We were 

now at a comparatively low level, and it was warm as 

an English summer's day, with just a " nip " in the 

air ; but the long narrow valley must be a dreary 

abode in winter, as it is shut in by lofty mountains 

from which the wild sheep descend to graze and then 

fall an easy prey to the hunters. As we stood by 

the river we spoke of Lieutenant Wood, the first 

Englishman to travel in the Pamirs, who wrote of 

the yak as an unknown animal. But Lord Dunmore 

and Major Koche were the first to visit Pamirsky 

Post after the occupation of this desolate region by 

the Russians, and the former gives a description of 

how in 1893 the officers and Cossacks were living in 

akhois furnished with brick stoves. 

Just below the fort there was a squaUd Uttle village 
of mud and stone shanties inhabited by Kirghiz, 
and here were collected great bundles of wild sheep 
horns ready to be sent to Tashkent, where they are 
used to decorate native saddles or to make knife- 
handles or combs, the hunter receiving only a rouble 
and a half — ^less than three shilHngs — for the horns 
and skin. 

My brother and the commandant discussed where 
we had best go in search of sport on the way to 
Sarikol, and they eventually decided on a valley three 
marches ofi, two of which lay along the Russian road 
to Kharuk, and with many compliments on both sides 
we left Pamirsky Post. Most of the country along 
our route was absolutely sterile, except when, after 
crossing low passes, we descended now and again to 



144 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

the river, on the banks of wMch was scanty grazing 
and tamarisk scrub, just enough to support life for a 
few camels, yaks and ponies. As a rule the marmots 
were the only creatures that broke the lifeless mono- 
tony of the marches, and whenever it was sunny the 
little animals sat upon their hind legs in front of 
their burrows, uttering excited cries as they saw us 
pass. They were larger than those with which I was 
famiUar in Persia, and were orange-coloured instead 
of buff, their noses, paws and taUs being black. They 
hibernate during the long winter, and the Kirghiz 
affirm that when they emerge from their seclusion 
they have no hair on their bodies. They also sleep 
during the middle of the day. My brother com- 
puted that they must pass about 80 per cent of 
their time in slumber, and had a contempt for these 
sadly idle creatures. But they appealed to me be- 
cause of their cheery squeakings and lively scuttling 
to earth. They live on the roots of grasses, and are 
apparently independent of water, for large colonies 
are often situated miles from any stream. We had 
to ride carefully in places in order to avoid the 
entrances to their burrows, which were sometimes 
in the middle of the track. 

At the end of our second day's march we met 
Colonel Yagello, Commissioner of the Pamirs, on his 
way to Pamirsky Post, and as he spoke French I 
enjoyed the conversation of a cultivated man, keenly 
interested in the geology of the coimtry, and anxious 
to exploit the mineral wealth, which he said was 
considerable. 

At the time of our visit to Pamirsky Post there was 
great excitement, because the local Mingbashi had 
been dismissed from office, and in order to mark his 



OH. vn THE EOOF OF THE WOELD 145 

resentment had collected four hundred families of his 
tribe and fled with them across the Afghan border 
into Wakhan. The Cossack officer informed my 
brother that immediately after our departure he 
intended to pursue and bring back the fugitives. As 
such an action would have been looked upon at 
Kabul as constituting an invasion of Afghanistan, 
and would have strengthened the anti-AUy party in 
that state, my brother strongly urged our host to 
await the arrival of Colonel YageUo before taking 
action, and finally persuaded him to adopt this course. 
When we met the Commissioner my brother discussed 
the Wakhan question with him, but at fijst the latter 
said that he was determined to pvirsue the recalcitrant 
MingbasJii, exclaiming that the honour of Russia 
was at stake. However, after long arguments he 
promised not to cross the Afghan frontier, but to 
send representations to the Governor of Badakshan, 
who was also the ruler of Wakhan, and thus settle 
the matter without using force. 

Our camp at the shooting ground was at the 
bottom of a long valley running into the mountains, 
with grazing on the banks of a stream for our animals 
and a clump of dkhois for ourselves and the servants. 
Here we halted for some days, and, while my brother 
left long before dawn for the hills, I amused myself 
by riding about, photographing, entertaining Kirghiz 
ladies, repacking the boxes of stores and doing the 
hundred and one odd jobs that accumulate when one 
is travelling. I was fond of collecting the tiny, short- 
stalked Alpine flora, and found edelweiss, gentians, 
white and pale blue, little mauve vetches, cream and 
yeUow flowers of the hawkweed order, pjrcethrums 
and camoiKules, while minute cream, mauve and pink 

L 



146 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES «. i 

blossoms' exuded from the edges of unpromising- 
looking dull-green patches. Were it not for the 
buttercup and the yellow or white cistus the flora 
would be hardly noticeable ; but at a lower level I 
found yellow poppies, large yellow labiatae, candy- 
tuft that scented the air with honey, and many plants 
that I could not identify. 

When my brother had secured his fourth head 
we left the valley, our way leading us along a river 
that was ice-bound in long stretches although it was 
now July, reminding me of Mr. Douglas Freshfield's 
remark that the climate of the Roof of the World is 
nine months of winter and three of cold weather. 

Now and again we came across fine ovis poli skulls 
lying on the ground, and I chose a fine head to keep 
as a memento of my visit. One day a young poli 
stood in our path, allowing us to get quite close to it 
before it took alarm, and even then it only trotted 
along in front until a dog that belonged to the caravan 
behind rushed after it, and the pretty creature made 
off at once into the hills. 

I had been told that the rich Kirghiz hung their 
dkhois with embroidered silks and covered the ground 
with beautiful carpets, but we never came across 
such luxury. I was always on the look-out for 
carpets, but saw few that I hked, the old ones being 
either torn or covered with tiny burns made by sparks 
from the fires. One woven with a modification of the 
well-known pine-cone pattern in indigo on a beautiful 
rose ground took my fancy greatly, but alas, it had a 
huge hole in the centre. The design of one carpet 
was a series of square crosses in diagonal rows ; half 
of them framed a conventionalized swastika, an 
emblepi of good fortune, and the other half enclosed 




'-I 
o 



Q ."5 



g 

3 
g 

2 



OH. vn THE ROOF OF THE WORLD 147 

representations of various implements. It does not 
sound alluring, yet it was an attractive product of 
the loom and had fine reds, blues, browns and greens 
in its colouring. Elsewhere I met a commonplace 
pattern of conventionalized flowers in small blocks 
linked together by lines, but the beautiful vegetable 
dyes of the old carpets are imf ortunately being ousted 
by the crude aniline tints so much in vogue at Khotan. 
My brother often had some difficulty in arranging 
the marches, for the Kirghiz have no notion of either 
time or distance as we understand it, and could never 
tell us how long a stage would be unless they could 
compare it with that of the previous day. As a 
result we seldom knew when we should arrive at our 
camping ground, the distance being sometimes con- 
siderably greater than we had imagined and at othex 
times much less. But such slight drawbacks matter 
little to the true traveller who has succumbed to the 
lure of the Open Road, and to the glamour of the 
Back of Beyond. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE ARYANS OF SARIKOL 

A SARIKOLI LOVE SONG 

1 

Alas, my unfaithful Love ! 
Alas, my inconstant Heaven ! 
I am become thin as a blade of grass from craving for thee. 

2 
Oh, thou heavenly Beauty 
Whose ears are adorned with gold, 
Would that I might become thy closest companion. 

3 

Thy breasts are as a newly plucked apple. 
Oh, mount thy swift steed and ride with me. 
When its shoes are worn, I will replace them with silver. 

We left the Eussian Pamirs by a pass that seemed, 
when we reached its summit, to have an almost 
interminable descent, as we saw miles of a stony track 
stretching out below our feet. Half-way down we 
were met by a contingent of tribesmen clad in long 
red, blue, yellow, or crimson coats, with the white 
felt Kirghiz hats or leather and sheepskin caps, their 
bedding of vividly coloured felts being strapped on 
to their saddles ; and when we finally emerged from 
the long winding valley, great Muztagh Ata was so 
close that it seemed as if we could easily ride up to its 
snow-line. We were now back again in the delightful 

148 



OH. vm THE ARYANS OF SAEIKOL 149 

uplands of Chiaese Turkestan, and for the first 
time for many days we saw what might by courtesy 
be called a house. It consisted of two dark and dirty 
rooms opening into a squalid courtyard surrounded 
by a mud wall, and I felt that the Kirghiz akhoi was 
a far preferable dwelling to this, as it can be moved 
from place to place and its surroundings are thus 
kept clean. In the few instances where the Kirghiz 
had built a walled enclosure for their flocks, and 
in consequence occupied the same camping ground 
permanently, the place was quite uninhabitable for 
Europeans. 

We made one of ovir longest halts on the fine 
grazing grounds of Tagharma, a broad plain with 
encampments at intervals. A group of aJchois had 
been prepared for us, and a big crowd welcomed my 
brother as we rode into camp, many Sarikolis having 
ridden over from Tashkurghan, their capital, some 
sixteen miles off, to greet him. We were now at an 
altitude of some nine thousand feet, and the lassitude 
and the " hand -at -my -throat " feeling that I had 
experienced on the Roof of the World left me entirely, 
and I revelled in the delicious weather, which was 
neither too hot nor too cold. It was delightful to 
stroll about the vaUey in the evenings, my heavy 
fur coat and wool-lined boots being no longer needed, 
and I was charmed with the sheets of mauve primulas, 
the big white cistus, white and mauve anemones, 
pretty blue daisies with yellow centres, millions of 
little cream flowers with a most deceptive resemblance 
to a daisy, the familiar dandelion, and others. In 
the hiUs I came across a curious plant, dark brownish- 
red, the size and shape of a sheep's tongue, which 
had no leaves, but pushed its way out of the sandy 



150 THEOUGH DESEKTS AND OASES m. i 

soil. It was rough to the touch when pulled up, but 
white and fleshy under the outer skin, and was heavy, 
with no distinctive smeU. 

One day the Kirghiz gave a display of the haigu, or 
"goat game," which is the national form of sport. 
A goat was killed, and after its head and entrails 
had been removed and all its bones broken, the skin 
was stitched up and it was then thrown into the 
middle of a throng of men mounted on their wiry 
little ponies who constituted the melee. The first 
man that succeeded in picking it up tucked it under 
his thigh, holding it with one hand while he rode 
ofi, pursued by the others eager to wrest it from 
him. If he managed to keep his booty while he 
galloped round a flag and returned to the goal, he 
won the round and the game began afresh. The 
riders often held their short-handled whips in their 
mouths in order to have the right hand free when 
they bent down from their saddles to seize the 
goat, but owing to the shortness of their stirrups 
they had not particularly good seats and seemed 
to come ofi easily. I noticed that there was no 
excitement on the part of the ponies, and their masters 
could keep them at a canter only by tugging at their 
mouths, using the whip and belabouring their sides 
with their long boots. We watched the game from 
the far side of a stream that surrounded the playing- 
ground, but every now and again were obliged to 
retreat hurriedly ; for some of the performers would 
plunge into the rivulet with a great splashing, or even 
leap it, and ride amuck among the spectators. Our 
servants and the large crowd of onlookers did their 
best with shouts and crackings of whips to keep the 
players to their own side of the water; but the 







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X 
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w 
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w 
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D 

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w 
o 



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THE GAME OF BA/GC/— THE VICTOR. 



Pa^e 150 (c). 



CH. vm THE AKYANS OF SARIKOL 151 

Kirghiz were half mad with excitement, yelling, 
shrieking, pulling at one another, and never ceasing 
to urge their unfortunate ponies. 

My brother gave a coloured silk handkerchief 
to the victor of each round, a gift much appreciated, 
and when these were used up, lengths of fine white 
mull muslin were awarded, which would be used by 
the women, who had been left in the akhois, to 
wind on the framework of their headgear. After 
about an hour, seeing that the grass-fed ponies were 
becoming exhausted, he offered one big prize for a 
round that was to be the last, and so the game closed. 
The lofty mountains that ringed us made a glorious 
background to an animated scene that was fuU of 
colour, the riders fastening back the skirts of their 
gay coats to get them out of the way and thus dis- 
playing the brilliant linings. 

Baigu did not commend itself to me when I learnt 
that the ponies were often forced to play for four 
hours on end, and were then tightly tied up and left 
without food and water until the next morning, when 
they were turned loose to graz^. In fact, the inhabit- 
ants of Chiaese Turkestan struck us as very bad horse- 
masters, and one might almost say that their ideal was 
for their imlucky animals to have no food, no drink, 
and no rest. For example : the practice was to tie 
up the heads of the baggage animals when they reached 
the halting-place, the poor things being left without 
food and water for a period in proportion to the 
length of the march. If possible their masters 
never allowed them to lie down, stirring them up 
if they did so during grazing, and tying them up 
tightly at night, the idea being that the legs of 
a horse swell if he is allowed to repose himself. 



152 THEOUGH DESERTS AKD OASES ^- 1 

Again and again I have seen horses tethered to 
trees growing on high banks, the poor animals being 
left in discomfort for hours owing to the uncertaia 
foothold. 

My brother had a constant struggle to induce our 
grooms to water our horses during our long mid-day 
halts, old Jafar Bai asserting that they would go 
lame if allowed to drink. On one occasion when 
my particular mount took to limping he was very 
triumphant, and told every one that it was owing to 
our way of flying in the face of custom with regard 
to the water question. But his triumph was short- 
lived, for when the grey's shoe was removed it was 
found that the farrier had cut the hoof ruthlessly in 
order to make it fit the shoe — a common practice. 
My brother's plan of picketing our animals with 
long ropes while grazing also came in for much 
censure, and was said to be the cause of any malady 
that the water theory did not cover. 

As we had not tasted fresh fish since leaving 
Europe, we enjoyed a large but somewhat tasteless 
variety that was caught in the river which meandered 
through the Tagharma Valley, and thought it would 
be interesting to do some angling ourselves. We had 
brought fishing-rods with us, having been told that 
the rivers simply swarmed with a species of trout, 
and one afternoon, when the heat of the day was over, 
we sallied forth attended by a horde of bare-legged 
Kirghiz who carried our landing-net, and who so 
scared the few fish we saw that not a single 
nibble rewarded our efforts. On enquiry I found 
that the natives, who evidently scorned our orthodox 
methods, were accustomed to dam up the shallow 
river in suitable places with clods of earth, making a 



OH. vm THE ARYANS OF SAEIKOL 153 

cul de sac into wliicli they drove the fisli, which then 
fell an easy prey. 

It was a proud day for Nadir when we left Tagharma 
to go to Tashkurghan, his native place. I was sorry 
to leave the pleasant grassy valley dotted with groups 
of akhois, from which shaggy dogs in charge of the 
flocks of sheep and goats rushed out to bark at us. 
Nearer and nearer we approached the mountains, 
until we reached a gorge through which ran the 
Sarikol River. This defile led us into the wide 
Sarikol Valley, where we were met by a big group 
of its inhabitants headed by the Aksakal, or British 
Agent, a native of Lahore. They had as usual erected 
a tent, and pressed pillaus, tea, sweetmeats, and little 
squares of tough native bread upon us. Nadir, who 
was a kind of imderstudy to the Aksakal, with the 
title of Watchman, proudly brought his little son 
to show me. He had been met by three generations 
of strikingly handsome relatives, and all round us 
were Persian-speaking Aryans with no resemblance 
whatever to the surrounding Kirghiz tribes. They 
were handsome, well-built men and youths, with 
aquiline noses, clear-cut features, fine dark eyes and 
thick black beards and moustaches ; and one and all 
looked intelligent and alert. 

As we rode past the cemetery on our way to 
camp, I noticed that the tombs were more ornate 
than those of the Kirghiz, and was struck by curious 
clay erections at one end of them which reminded 
me of rabbits sitting up. These, I was told, were 
intended to hold Kghts, a custom which had nothing 
to do with Mohamedan practice, but probably was 
borrowed from Buddhism. 

Our akhois were pitched on a stretch of grazing 



154 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

near a branch of the river which cuts up the valley 
with its numerous tributaries and is so deep, and runs 
so swiftly in summer, that every year without fail it 
takes a toll of human and animal life. High above 
us towered the long ridge on which Tashkurghan is 
built. As the town is printed in large type on all 
the maps I was surprised to find it but a small 
collection of dilapidated mud houses, many of which 
were in ruins. It is, however, the spot alluded to by 
the Chinese traveller Hiuen-Tsiang, who visited it in 
the seventh century. On the highest point stood a 
large castellated Chinese fort, and not far ofE, in an 
equally dominating position, was the small Russian 
fort, where an officer, his wife, and a troop of Cossacks 
were quartered. The young captain called upon us, 
saying that his wife had not seen a European woman 
for two years, and asked us to dine with them that 
evening, while in our turn we entertained them in 
camp. They must have led a very dreary life as they 
were cut off almost completely from the outer world, 
and there are but few resovirces in the Sarikol Valley, 
especially during the long winter. The Russian lady 
was delighted to meet me, though, as she could speak 
no language save her own, conversation was very 
difficult. She took me into her tiny garden, a 
walled -in plot which the Cossacks had cleared of 
boulders and in which a few poplar saplings and some 
minute cabbages and lettuces were struggling to gain a 
livelihood from the barren ground. It almost brought 
the tears to my eyes when she pointed out with intense 
pride a solitary bloom of mignonette, the only flower 
in this mockery of a garden, though it was mid-July. 
To amuse me she told the Cossacks to release a couple 
of wolf-cubs kept in a den in the courtyard, and when 



OH. ym THE ARYANS OF SARIKOL 155 

the poor little beasts made a dash for liberty I secretly- 
hoped that they would escape, in spite of the Persian 
proverb which says, "To be kind to the wolf is to 
be cruel to the lamb." 

Though the Chinese Governor met my brother 
when he entered Tashkurghan, providing tea for him 
on the road and calUng upon him, he was evidently 
unwilling to admit Europeans into the fort, and gave 
what I imagine must be the stock excuse, that 
he had not the wherewithal to entertain an English 
guest. When I read Sir Thomas Gordon's account 
of his visit to Sarikol in The Roof of the World, I 
was struck by the fact that the Chinese Governor 
of that day — ^it was 1874 — put ofi Sir Thomas and 
his party with the same excuse when they wished to 
return his call. 

The Sarikolis are Mohamedans of the IsmaiU sect, 
and acknowledge the Agha Khan as their spiritual 
head. They talk Persian with a somewhat uncouth 
accent, and the very warm welcome they gave my 
brother was partly due to their delight at hearing 
him speak the Persian of Persia. 

One day we crossed the many branches of the river 
and clambered up a steep neck in the hills in order 
to have a view of the long valley leading up to the 
stony Taghdumbash Pamir. At our feet small 
hamlets were dotted about, surrotmded by badly- 
grown crops of wheat, barley, peas, lucerne and 
mustard. The plant last mentioned is grown for its 
oU, which is used in the little native lamps, and I 
was told that the Sarikolis show traces of their fire- 
worshipping ancestry by never blowing out a flame, 
thus copying the practice of the Zoroastrians. I was 
much interested to find in this backwater of the world 



156 THEOUGH DESEETS AND OASES ^. i 

a close cormection with the bygone legends of Persia, 
Nadir informing us that Mount Afrasiab was the 
name of the hill behind us, and pointing out a hiU of 
remarkable shape just opposite across the valley, 
saying that it was Besitun, the scene of Ferhad's 
almost impossible engineering feat. Let me teU this 
famous legend of old Persia as far as possible in his 
own words: 

Now Bang Afrasiab ^ greatly loved the fair Shiria Ms wife 
and cared for no other woman, and Ms wrath was kindled 
when he perceived that her beauty had cast a spell over 
Ferhad the architect, who became as a man distraught. 
Near the palace of the monarch lay Mount Besitun and 
behind it was a stream that ran down from the hill s above 
and gave the mighty king an idea by wMch to cure the vain 
passion of his servant. Therefore he summoned Ferhad to 
Ms presence and swore to him that if he could bore a tuimel 
in the mountain through wMch the stream could run he should 
have the lovely Queen as Ms reward. 

Afrasiab knew that the task was not in the power of man 
to perform, but love increased the strength of Ferhad an 
hundredfold, and at the end of a year the tunnel was nigh 
completion and the king was greatly alarmed. At last he 
thought of a plan by wMch he hoped to keep Ms beloved wife 
and yet not break Ms royal oath. Therefore, one day when 
Ferhad was ia a perilous position on the face of the rock, a 
royal servant suddenly announced to Mm that beautiful 
Shirin was dead ; and her lover, losing Ms foothold from the 
shock, fell headlong from the mountain and was killed on the 
spot. 

There was also a further proof of the work of 
Ferhad in the shape of a long furrow on a rock, which 
all the inhabitants believed was made by the Persian's 
chisd. 

While we enjoyed the wide view from our eyrie 

^ The monarch in question was actually Khusrn Parviz. 




NASIR ALI KHAN, A MUKl OF SARIKOL. 



Page 156. 



OH. vm THE AKYANS OF SARIKOL 167 

and listened to Nadir we became aware that an old 
man in a flowered coat, snowy turban and slippers, 
was struggling up the steep track, helped along 
bjjtwo servants. It was the muhi, the priest of the 
SarikoUs, and a man of great importance ia the valley, 
as I grasped when our shikari hastened to meet him 
and kissed his hands and those of his servants. The 
old gentleman, panting with his exertions, had come 
to ofier us hospitality and insisted that we should 
descend and drink tea in his house. We were soon 
ushered into a little plastered room with an elabo- 
rately carved wooden ceiling and seated ourselves at 
a table covered with a red silk cloth, on which were 
biscuits, raisins, almonds, and loaf sugar, three or 
four lumps of which the servants tried to put into 
the little Russian glasses of tea which they handed 
us. The principal men of the district squatted on 
the floor and listened as the muhi told my brother 
how he travelled every two years to India bearing 
the offerings of the Faithful to the Agha Khan. 
Oiir host was very anxious for us to wait while 
his invisible womenkind prepared a feast in our 
honour. Though we declined this invitation our 
visit did good ; for two brothers, rich landowners who 
had long been at enmity with one another, became 
reconciled that morning when they met to pay their 
respects to the Consul. 

On our return to camp I received the AksakaVs 
wife, a Kashgar woman who came gorgeously attired 
in an embroidered blue silk coat and brought her 
three children with her. One was a most attractive 
little girl of five, dressed in a striped silk coat with 
gold embroidered green velvet cap, under which hung 
her four black plaits of hair. She enjoyed looking 



158 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

at our illustrated papers, and where children were 
depicted she pointed them out as being herself or her 
brothers, according to size. When Sattur gave her 
tea she was imperative about the quantity of milk 
and the number of lumps of sugar that she wanted, 
and I was thankful that she condescended to approve 
of the strings of coral that I gave her and allowed 
me to fill her pockets and those of her brothers with 
fancy biscuits. 

The Sarikolis are very fond of music and dancing, 
and a troupe of youths led by a man who banged the 
drum in masterly fashion performed for our amuse- 
ment. A couple played on pipes and the others sang 
many songs interspersed with dances, one small boy 
doing most complicated steps and waving his arms 
gracefully. AH had their hands hidden by the sleeves 
of their thick blue, red, buff, or striped coats, and 
wore white felt Kirghiz hats with black brims, and 
either leather or clumsy felt riding boots. They sang 
with great entrain and some of the tunes were very 
pleasing, though monotonous, while others had a 
curious accompaniment of howls — I can describe it 
in no other way. The performance lasted for hours, 
and every now and then the troupe divided into two 
groups which sang alternately to one another some- 
thing in this style : 

First Group : " Your cheeks are like tulips." 

Second Group : " Your eyes are dark as spring-water." 

Only the old people remember the songs of war and 
fighting ; for now the young are not interested in 
these and only care to listen to themes of love. 
Iftikhar Ahmad kindly took down for me the words 
of two of these songs, one of which forms the heading 
of this chapter. This is the other : 




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THE ARYANS OF SARIKOL 169 

The Song 

Oh, my faithless Beloved whose garments are of gold 

The whole world is praising you, 

You are indeed the daughter of your mother. 

Your silver head-dress gleams ; 

Your teeth are white as pearls, 

And your lips red as coral. 

Oh, beautiful one with the dancing eyes ! 



I praise you, but the world blames you. 

You enter the feast with pomp. 

Your cloak is of silk and your turban is wound twice round 

your head. 
My love is fairer than aU other women. 
A good mother has given birth to a most beautiful daughter. 
On her bosom she wears pearls. 
These pearls are gifts from me. 
Her boots are scarlet of the softest leather. 
And she is attired in a cloak from India. 

Nowadays the Sarikol Valley is at peace. The 
walled town on the ridge is half in ruins, while the 
defences of the villages below are full of breaches and 
most of its former inhabitants live outside it. 

The Sarikolis make but a scanty HveUhood in their 
beloved valley. It is covered with snow duriag 
several months of the year, and their meagre crops 
of wheat, barley and peas were plentifully mixed 
with weeds. Their women enjoy a good position 
and are not veiled ; monogamy is the custom of the 
country and divorce is rare. They are a hospitable 
race, and when a man gives a feast he never appears 
at it, and comes into the room only when it is over, 
at the urgent appeal of his guests. When these 
thank him he says that the collation he has set before 
them is merely " a refuge beneath a rock," and when 
the guests depart he speeds them on their way with 
the wish that their " road may be white." 



160 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES ^. i 

They have a curious custom of placing a newly- 
born cMld ia a skin fuU of powdered cow-dung, its 
head only being left outside. The contents of the 
bag are changed every day, and during the winter a 
hot stone is placed at the feet of the infant. 

When the time came for us to leave, my chief 
regret was that I must bid farewell to the particular 
view of Muztagh Ata seen from our camp, its snowy 
dome seeming to block up one end of the valley and 
lookirig its grandest and most majestic, especially 
in the moonlight. 

Our servants were now very eflQ.cient. Jafar Bai 
was an invaluable packer, and so ready to turn his 
hand to any job that I always fancied he was put 
upon by the other servants. He looked after our 
interests in every way, and was so trustworthy that 
I often handed him the keys of the store-boxes to 
give out supplies if I were busy. I would not have 
granted the same privilege to lusty Daoud, who 
purloined aU he could and always said that he had 
hich, or nothing, in his particular store-box. Indeed 
my old factotum once neatly summed up the con- 
trast between my cook and my butler by remarking, 
"Daoud always tells you that he has nothing, but 
Sattur always has everything." 

Daoud, however, could rise to an occasion, and he 
invariably surpassed himself if we had guests ; but 
honest Sattur took a pride in making our tea, sugar, 
and so on, last as long as possible. He was more like 
a child than a grown-up man with wife and family 
dependent upon him, and at first he used to bring 
one cup or plate at a time from his boxes, when lay- 
ing the table or producing tiffin in the open. We 
remonstrated about his slow method, and one day 



THE AEYANS OF SAEIKOL 161 

he arrived carrying everything in a coloured table- 
cloth and laughing softly to himself as he pictured 
our surprise at his cleverness. 

On the return journey to Kashgar our first camp 
was at Issak Boulak, a secluded little valley high up 
in the hills. The name means Hot Springs, and we 
reached it by crossing a series of steep nuUahs, up 
and down the crumbling banks of which our horses 
had to scramble, as our guide could find no track. 
At last we arrived at a fold of the mountains, 
within which was an orange-coloured stream fed by 
hot sulphur springs that gushed out of the hillside at 
a temperature of 150° Fahrenheit. My brother and 
I clambered up to the source of the water, and I 
dipped a finger cautiously into one of the two springs 
that were bursting out of the barren rock and pouring 
into a big pool below, which is visited by sufferers 
from rheumatism, who sit all day in the hot water. 
Sattur brought a can of almost boiling water for 
my bath, bursting into giggles as he poured it in, 
so mirth -inspiring did he find this labour-saving 
phenomenon. 

Issak Boulak was an isolated spot at the back of 
beyond, and behind our camp a long twisting defile 
led into the very heart of the mountains, making me 
hope to come across some wild creature as we turned 
corner after corner ; but the only sign of life was a 
hawk that swooped so low as to brush my hat. All 
the birds we saw during our tour were wonderfully 
tame. Hoopoes and choughs flew close as if to 
observe us, the pretty' yellow wagtails merely hopped 
aside as we passed, the cheery desert-larks almost 
let us tread upon them, while pigeons and partridges 
had little fear of the gun. 

M 



162 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

At our halt at Subashi I had my first experience 
of riding a yak, or hutass. Though I had watched 
these creatures with their formidable horns moving 
with ungainly gait over their pastures and had laughed 
at the uncouth gambols of their calves at play, I had 
no wish for a more intimate acquaintance with them. 
But one morning, as we looked at the tremendous 
mass of Muztagh Ata, my brother proposed that we 
should try to reach one of the glaciers that hang on 
its mighty slopes, and accordingly we set off mounted 
on yaks. Instead of a bridle, the animal has a rope 
passed through the cartilage of the nose, and, though 
this is sufficient for the experienced, in the case of 
novices it is necessary to have the mount led. I sat 
astride on the peaked Chinese saddle, and found the 
movement of the hutass comfortable though slow, and 
we were soon, working our way up the flank of the 
mountain without track of any kind. The ugly, 
good-tempered Kirghiz who led my yak wore a padded 
cotton coat striped with scarlet, blue, black and 
yellow ; his long riding-boots were of red leather, and 
his velvet cap both lined and bordered with fur, while 
a cloth tied round his waist held his knife and various 
odds and ends, among which was a hunch of native 
bread. " I don't know Persian," he remarked to me 
in that tongue, and " I do not speak Turki " was my 
reply ; but in spite of the language difficulty we 
understood one another quite well, and I did my part 
in urging my mount when it himg back and piiled 
at the nose-rope. It was a long stiff climb to reach 
the glacier, and all the yaks were panting, grunting 
and gnashing their teeth before we dismounted and 
stumbled over the mass of big boulders that were 
hurled in confusion one upon another just below the 




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THE AEYANS OF SARIKOL 163 

immensely thick curtain of ice. The altitude took 
my breath away, even the hardy Kirghiz complained 
of splitting headaches, and a big yellow dog, guardian 
doubtless of some flocks feeding on the scanty grazing 
below, made a sudden appearance and gave vent 
to the most lugubrious howls. The Kirghiz never 
venture into the fastnesses of Muztagh Ata, believ- 
ing the " Father of the Snows " to be havmted by 
fairies, by camels of supernatural whiteness, and by 
the sound of drums, this last being possibly the 
thunder of avalanches. It was thrilling to be on 
the slopes of this great mountain, its crest as yet 
unsealed by any human being, in spite of the efforts 
of Sir Aurel Stein, and we were entranced with the 
magnificent mountain panorama from our point of 
vantage. As the descent was very steep we re- 
moimted our yaks, and my brother led ofi along the 
mountain side. But my guide was of an enterprising 
nature, and to my horror we started down what 
appeared to me to be a sheer precipice. Expostula- 
tions were of no avail ; he turned a deaf ear to them ; 
so I rammed my feet into the stirrups, leant back as 
far as I could, and clung to the pommel of my saddle, 
feeling that I might at any moment be flung over the 
head of my steed. I confess that my heart was in 
my mouth as my hutass accomplished the descent in 
a series of long slides, always recovering itself when I 
imagined that it was just about to fall headlong and 
bring us both to disaster. My opinion of it as a 
mount was unbounded, and it crowned its perfections 
by picking its way unerringly among the boulders 
that were piled up on either side of the glacier stream 
along which our route lay. Wild rhubarb was grow- 
ing in profusion, and I made my boy gather it, 



164 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES ^. i 

as we had not tasted fresh fruit or vegetables for 
some weeks, and the Russian jam I had bought 
at Kashgar had fermented and gone off like bombs 
when the bottles were opened, though Daoud's apricot 
conserve had borne the long journey perfectly. 

We had had a superb view from the flank of 
Muztagh Ata, but nothing to compare with that 
which we enjoyed from the shore of Little Lake 
Karakul that lies at the foot of this giant of the 
Pamirs. Here to the north stood up in all its 
grandeur the great mountain barrier separating us 
from Kashgar, which we had looked upon as some 
enchanting vision when seen at rare intervals from 
the roof of the Consulate. The " Father of the 
Snows " and its rival — the natives call it Kvmgur — 
rose sheer from the lake, in company with peak 
behind peak, all nobly serrated and wrapped in eternal 
snow. Guardians of the Roof of the World, their 
proud virginal crests, as yet untrodden by the foot 
of the explorer, ofier an indescribable attraction to 
him who has felt the lure of the Inaccessible. 

Our tour was now drawing to a close. I felt a 
keen regret at leaving our free life in these uplands 
and exchanging an aJcJioi for a house, and I had also 
become fond of the friendly Kirghiz. These people 
are most devoted to their children. In one camp 
the Beg brought his little daughter to see me, and my 
guest played tune after tune on her rough home-made 
sitar, her fingers working with wonderful agility. 
In fact, her repertoire was so extensive that I feared 
the performance would never end ; so I showed her 
a string of coral, which made her stop short in a glow 
of rapturous excitement. It was pretty to see her 
holding out the ornament to her proud father and 




A KIRGHIZ AND HIS DAUGHTER. 



Page 164. 



THE AEYANS OF SARIKOL 165 

then whispering in his ear to ask him to express her 
thanks, and finally putting on the necklace with shy- 
smiles for the donor. A sturdy boy, some twelve 
years old, also rises in my memory, son of a Beg's 
wife. This lady, who, I was told, practically ruled 
the tribe, was most pleasant and voluble and called 
upon me with her boy, bringing offerings of dirty 
lumps of cheese, a skin of rancid fat, and a strip of 
woven carpet. It was the fifth day of Ramazan 
and she expressed much regret that the fast forbade 
her to sample my tea and biscuits ; but Kuli did full 
justice to everything, drinking with loud noises and 
waving his teaspoon excitedly, as he had never seen 
such an object and could not understand its use. 
Next day I noticed that he was taking an active part 
in the " goat game," a green silk handkerchief that 
I had given his mother being tied round his waist. 
His father was giving the performance in my brother's 
honour, and the players accompanied us as we left 
their encampment for a new halting-place. 

The game began with a series of wild yells, and so 
recklessly did the players dash about that we were 
really in danger of being ridden down, in spite of 
shouts of warning from Jafar Bai and our Kirghiz 
guide. To our amusement Daoud joined in, forcing 
his pony into a reluctant canter ; but, as he could 
not bend low enough from the saddle to pick up the 
goat when it lay on the ground, he was jeered at by 
Sattur and our less ambitious followers. The game 
finally ended on the shore of Lake Bulunkul, which 
is so choked up with sand from the hiUs rising 
close to it that, when we crossed, we found it practi- 
cally dry ground with shallow streams meandering 
over its bed. It was towards the end of July and 



166 THEOUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. i 

our horses were tormented by torse-flies, which we 
avoided as best we could by cantering whenever the 
rough ground allowed. In camp the grass was full 
of mosquitoes, which as we walked rose up in swarms 
and fastened upon us greedily. Luckily their bite 
was mild, and as this was our only experience of 
these pests we could not complain. Since we had left 
Lake Bulunkul we had made, as it were, a loop and 
returned again to Kuntigmas, where we halted for 
two days in order to meet Sir Aurel Stein, who was 
bound for the Eussian Pamirs and Persia. 

We could not return to Kashgar by way of the 
Gez defile, as it would have been impossible to cross 
the river, which was now in full flood ; therefore we 
traversed the di£6.cult Ulughat Pass, which is open 
only during the summer, and is dangerous for animals 
at the best of times. A long stony valley led us past 
great glaciers hoUowed into caves, the entrances to 
which were fringed with stalactites of ice, and the 
mountains seemed to close in more and more for- 
biddingly. I confess that my heart almost failed 
me when we reached the foot of the pass and I saw 
a series of zigzag tracks faintly marked on what 
seemed to me to be the face of a precipice. It would 
have been impossible to negotiate such a place on 
horseback; but yaks were in readiness, and I 
mounted mine thankfully, with a grateful remem- 
brance of the shaggy bull that had carried me up 
the flank of Muztagh Ata. 

But I was now to learn that there are yaks and 
yaks. The animals assigned to my brother and me 
strongly objected to the job, and, looking at the path 
ahead, I did not wonder. They jibbed constantly, 
refused to proceed, and, what was most unpleasant. 



CH. vm THE AEYANS OF SARIKOL 167 

took to backing off tlie patli and sliding ia perilous 
fashion on to the long slopes of shifting rubble. They 
seemed quite callous to the pulling of their nose-ropes, 
and, though I clung to the peak of my saddle and 
"vigorously belaboured the shaggy sides of my mount, 
it returned to the track only when it pleased. I be- 
came nervous on my brother's account, because the 
fastenings of his saddle broke twice, and ii he had not 
realized in time that he was sitting on the yak's tail 
instead of in the middle of its back, he would have 
fallen right over the precipice. He had fastened the 
thong of his hunting-crop round the branching horns 
of his kutass, thereby saving himself from disaster. 
To help matters both of us imitated the cry with 
which the Kirghiz encouraged their animals : " Halbin ! 
Halbin ! Halbin ! Ha ! " These men felt the height 
considerably and rested at intervals, holding their 
heads ia their hands as they were suffering from 
mountain-sickness — ^the pass was over 16,000 feet — 
and one poor boy lay down early in the ascent, weep- 
ing loudly and entirely refusing to proceed. At 
intervals they halted and ate yellow squares of tough 
bread and dried plums, the yaks throughout panting 
and gnashing their teeth instead of emitting their 
usual single grunt of content. Near the crest of the 
pass the track lay among rocks and crags, and I 
took my feet out of the stirrups and pressed them 
into my mount's neck ; for yaks have an unpleasant 
habit of brushing close to any obstacle on the path, 
and, owing to this, our baggage always suffered 
considerably. I was riding behind a Kirghiz pony 
that had been led in front of our party all the way, 
when suddenly this animal lost its footing and 
tumbled back right on to my mount, dragging its 



168 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

master along with it. If I had been on horseback 
we could not have avoided an accident, but luckily 
yaks appear to have no nerves, and mine stood firm 
and bore the shock right nobly. 

Certainly it was a relief to reach the level groimd 
at the top of the pass, and to dismount while the 
Kirghiz knelt in prayer before a big cairn of stones 
crowned with rag-laden sticks. I looked back to 
enjoy the view of the immense glacier that filled the 
valley and the peaks towering far above us ; but 
suddenly I had a splitting headache combiued with 
nausea and faintness, which made me realize that I 
must be experiencing a touch of the mountaiu- 
sickness of which I had often read. I felt that I 
should soon recover if I could only leave the height 
on which we were standing, and a sturdy native 
assisted me down the steep track of shifting shale 
until my brother called to him to halt, thinking I 
might faint outright. Hot tea was produced from 
our thermos bottles, and after lying flat for a short 
time I revived, and enquired of Iftikhar Ahmad, 
who was also supported by a servant down the 
mountain- side, whether he, too, were suffering from 
mat de montagne ? He explained that he was merely 
recovering from the effects of an opiate that he had 
taken to avoid the malady ; but it seemed to me 
that the remedy was almost worse than the illness. 

Although we were over the pass proper, our troubles 
were not yet at an end, for we had now to ride for a 
couple of hours along very steep and narrow tracks, 
where a false step of our ponies on the shifting shingle 
would have hurled us into the yellow water of the river 
roaring below, and so into the next world. At last 
a breakneck descent brought us to the bank of this 



cH.vm THE ARYANS OF SARIKOL 169 

river. We forded it and reached a group of akhois, 
where we halted for the night and enquired into 
casualties. Daoud and one of our grooms were quite 
lame ; the chestnut had fallen and strained itself, 
and all the animals were badly in need of a rest after 
their exhausting experiences. 

Consequently, next day's march was a short one, 
but disagreeable ; for the track lay along the stony 
bed of one of the dried-up watercourses that are so 
common throughout Chinese Turkestan. The valley 
widened out and the air became milder and milder 
as we descended, until we reached the first trees that 
we had seen for weeks. Willows, firs and poplars 
clung to the hUlsides, rising from patches of abundant 
scrub, tamarisk with pink flower spikes, berberis with 
scarlet and orange berries and aromatic juniper ; 
wild roses were in bloom, and the swallow and a 
brown bird with crimson under -wings flew and 
twittered. 

Our baggage yaks were now discarded for camels, 
and when our caravan reached camp I was distressed 
by the lugubrious cries of a she-camel that resounded 
through the night. I found that her young one had 
been unable to keep up on the march and had 
accordingly been left on the road in the care of some 
Kirghiz, but would be rejoined by its disconsolate 
mother on her return. Female camels are greatly 
attached to their young, and I was told that, if 
deprived of them, they mourn and lament for at least 
three months, so that the general idea of the camel 
as an impassive and callous animal is quite wrong. 

At the end of July we finally left the hills and rode 
some thirty miles into the plain to Opal, our last 
halt before we reached Kashgar. The march began 



170 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES «• i 

down stony river-beds, valleys that widened out, and 
Mils that became lower and lower xmtR on our left 
they vanished altogether, while to our right they 
terminated in a bold clifE that rose sheer from a 
great plain shimmering with Light. Silver streaks 
meandering across this plain indicated rivers, and 
beyond it we saw again the snowy crests of the 
Celestial mountains, and the picturesquely serrated 
peaks behind Miniol, while low hUls, beautiful in. 
pink and amber, ochre and mauve, ma da_a fairy 
vision inthe early morning Ught. 

Luckily for us, the weather was cloudy and 
inclined to rain, as otherwise our sudden descent 
into the summer heat would have been somewhat 
trying. At^_Q.gaL we were in the midst of trees 
and irrigation, and it was delightful to se e golden 
w heat and ba rley ripe for the sickle, waving crops 
of maize and millet^" iields~ of "TinseedT in bloom, 
cotton in flower, and one of the six annual crops of 
lucerne in sheets of vivid green. 

Next day we were at,Kashgarj_and, much though 
I had enjoyed my late experiences, the comfort 
and cleanliness of the Consulate appealed strongly 
to us both, as did also the abundance of tomatoes, 
cauliflowers, cabbages, egg-plants, cucumbers, pump- 
kins and carrots in its well-stocked garden. We 
had returned to a season of plenty ; for, although the 
apricots and the first crop of figs were over, the 
melons were at their prime, white, yellow, green and 
pink-fleshed, while the small peaches and nectarines 
were ripe, to be followed by a larger variety later, 
and the splendid grapes of many kinds and flavours 
I were almost ready. To the servants it could not 
* have been so pleasant, since we arrived in the middle 




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THE ARYANS OF SARIKOL 171 

of the great fast of Ramazan, half of which they 
had escaped owing to being on a journey. During 
the following fortnight they were very slack and 
tired, and, though we spared them as much as we 
could, I felt ashamed to eat three good meals a day 
while they might touch nothing, Daoud having to 
prepare our food, and Sattur having to see us eat it. 
Certainly it is more trying in the hot weather than 
in the cold of winter, but at any time of year it is 
not a light matter to let no food pass the lips 
between dawn and sunset for a whole limar month. 
On the stretch of melon beds that lay below our 
terraced garden the owners had built shelters of 
leafy boughs and sang and played the whole night 
through, the noise of drums, pipes and bagpipes 
not being particularly conducive to our slumbers. 
The flies had become a nuisance, though I did 
my best to cope with them by making the doors 
and windows of the kitchen and larder practically 
fly-proof, and I found that carbolic sprinkled on a 
hot shovel stupefied the insects with its pungent 
smoke, so that they coiild be swept up. But, as 
might have been foreseen, nothing I could do was 
really e£6.cacious, owing to the vis inertiae of the 
Oriental, and to his inherent incapacity to shut doors 
properly. 

We found a temperature of 98 degrees somewhat 
trjTing at first after the uplands we had left, but we en- 
joyed some pleasant rides to gardens outside the city, 
where we drank tea and ate fruit, and were offered 
trays of pistachios. The shell of these nuts is usually 
split at one end, and Mr. BohUn quoted a Turld saying 
to the effect that " a smiling man is like an open pista- 
chio." In every garden there was a mud platform 



172 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

covered with felts or carpets, on which the natives 
lie, and sometimes, instead of this, a large oblong 
wooden table with very short legs. On these expe- 
ditions, Sattur followed in the carriage carrying 
our tea, and we heard that the townsfolk thought 
we must esteem him very highly to allow him to 
drive ia state while we merely rode. 

The crops of Indian corn were usually of the 
variety with big heads and no " cobs," our informant 
sapng that both children and dogs steal and eat the 
milky cobs to such an extent that it was hardly worth 
while to grow them. This is the last crop to be 
reaped, and there is an anecdote describing how one 
year the devil entered into a compact with a farmer 
who was to give His Satanic Majesty everything ahov.e 
ground. The wily cultivator then sowed carrots, and 
the disappointed devil accordingly stipulated that 
his share during the second year should be every- 
thing below ground ; whereupon wheat was sown. 
Upon this, Satan demanded at the beginning of the 
third year that the top and root of the crops sown 
should be his. But the farmer again outwitted him 
by raising Indian corn and taking all the cobs, which 
grow partway down the plants. 

All along the roads, mixing with the lofty durra 
plants, were the fan-like hemp leaves which emitted 
a strong odour. The Chinese forbid the cultivation of 
this plant, for hashish has worse effects upon its 
victims than opium; but the Kashgaris appear to 
pay little heed to the prohibition and prepare the 
deadly drug from the pollen which falls from the 
flowers upon the leaves. Much flax is grown, but 
only for the oil which is obtained from the seeds, 
and the natives were amazed, and even disbelieving, 



CH. vm THE AEYANS OF SAEIKOL 173 

wh.eri Mr. Bohlin showed them linen made from its 

fibre. The oil is squeezed out by means of a wheel 

turned by a horse in a very narrow space, and 

when the poor animal gets dizzy, going round and 

round, it is blindfolded, and in the end it often 

goes blind in reality. On one oocasion an intel- 

ligent Armenian brought a machine to Kashgar 

to^xteaeEIIffiaIIl52r"bufc — fche~mwffeT'~saidr it" was"~ 

unclean, and as no one dared to buy the oil the 

man was ruined. The mullas act more or less as 

guardians of order. We were told that during the 

summer there had been a fight about irrigation water 

— a most fruitful cause of dissension in the East — 

with the result that several of the townsfolk had 

been wounded. The priests, anxious to prevent the 

recurrence of such a scandal, had visited every house 

in the city and broken the points of all the knives, 

a somewhat original way of checking quarrels. 

After being among the lusty, ruddy Kirghiz, the 
Kashgaris seemed to us pale and underfed, and I 
was not surprised to hear that any illness carries 
them off very quickly. Of course they were all 
suffering from the effects of Kamazan, but their 
usual food, a thin broth mixed with flour and piles of 
boiled macaroni, cannot be very sustaining. It was 
a great relief to me when August 12 arrived, and the 
fast was over and all our staff attended a service in 
the little mosque attached to the Consulate. Poor 
Jafar Bai looked very old and worn out, and told me 
that the torture of being imable to quench his thirst 
had been terrible. He and the other servants came 
to salaam us clad in new, or at all events clean, 
clothes, and to show their joy they beat a little 
hand-drum during the entire day. The townsfolk in 



174 THEOUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. i 

their new dresses were a feast of colour for the eyes, 

and I remember one pretty little girl in yellow silk 

with a crimson skull-cap worked in gold, while 

another in a long magenta and green-patterned 

cotton held a big melon in each hand and gazed at 

us under a jaunty green cap. Many were fond of 

combining magenta and scarlet, which looked quite 

in place among the green trees and crops, and their 

love of colour greatly added to the charm of our 

daily rides. 

Here are the words of one of the songs sung by 

children during the month of Eamazan, which was 

translated for me, its charming tune having haunted 

me. The chorus, however, struck me as somewhat 

ironical, for the yearly fast presses with great 

severity on the poor, who are forced to work for 

their livelihood, and cannot sleep aU day and eat all 

night as do the rich. 

1 
Tiese thirty fasts are our guests. 
Those who do not keep the fast are animals. 

Chorus. 
Bamazan, the good month of Eamazan ! 
Holy and welcome Bamazan is the King of Months ! 

2 
I come to yovir door singing praises of Bamazan, 
May God in His mercy grant you a son to adorn your cradle. 
Ghorus, etc. 

3 
I shall not weary of singing the praises of Bamazan, 
Nor will I leave imtil you have given me seven cakes of bread. 
Ghorus, etc. 

4 
On the tenth night of Bamazan Fate casts the lot of all men, 
Therefore omit not to give alms to the poor on the eve of 
Destiny. 

Chorus, etc. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE ANCIENT CITY OF YARKAND 

The Turki have long-shaped faces, well-formed noses and full 
beards. . . . 

These facts show that the modem Yarkandees are not pure 
Tartars like the Kirghiz . . . but rather Tartarized Aryans, if I may 
so express myself. — Robert Shaw, Visits to High Tartary, Yarlcand 
and Kashgar. 

It was the beginning of September when we set off on 
the tour which had Khotan as its goal and which was 
in reality a passing from oasis to oasis along the edge 
of the Takla Makan Desert. This sahara may be re- 
garded as the western extension of the immense waste 
of the Gobi that stretches for more than a thousand 
miles to the east, a very abomination of desolation. 

Golden autumn was on the land as we rode out of 
Kashgar along the broad tree-shaded road that leads 
to the New City, and turned off after a couple of 
miles to cross the imposing-looking Kalmuck bridge. 
Along the river bank the rice was being cut and then 
threshed by means of a stone roller, which bullocks 
and donkeys were pulling round and round over 
the heaped-up ears, the handsome millet crop was 
turning yellow, the big leaves of melons, pumpkins 
and gourds were withering, and only the lucerne 
kept its vivid green. 

Jafar Bai and Humayun rode behind us, Iftikhar 

175 



176 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. , 

Ahmad and the Doctor were escorted by their own 
attendants, and Sattur, with the lunch and tea-box, 
kept up with us fairly well in a blue-tilted mapa. 
Our tents and baggage were packed into covered 
carts termed arabas, drawn by three, and later on 
by five, ponies apiece, Daoud finding a seat in one 
of them. These waggons have very high wheels, 
with only one horse between the shafts, the others 
being harnessed in front, pulling at the side. The 
drivers shouted " Oo— ah ! Oo — ah ! " to their horses 
all the time, but I noticed that riders called out 
" Choo ! Choo ! " to stimulate their mounts, and 
without that magic exclamation I should never have 
got my pony along, as the whip made no impression 
upon him. The donkeys in this part of the world 
were urged by a peculiar sound reminding me of one 
of the symptoms of mal de mer, while a series of 
sharp whistles answered the same purpose with the 
sheep and goats. 

In the East, travellers like to attach themselves 
to the caravan of any one of position, partly for the 
sake of protection and partly for the prestige which it 
gives them among the natives. As highway robbery 
is practically unknown in Chinese Turkestan the 
men that joined us did so for the latter reason, and 
among them the Master of the Horse of the Rajah 
of Punyal and his groom were picturesque figures, 
always riding as if they were showing off the points 
of their wiry ponies to would-be purchasers. They 
were in search of a couple of Badakshani stallions 
for their chief, and throughout the entire journey 
their eyes were riveted on the handsome grey and 
the chestnut that my brother and I rode. At each 
town where we halted they searched for horses, 



OH. IX THE ANCIENT CITY OF YAEKAND 177 

even making a purchase once or twice, which they 
sent back as unsuitable before the expiration of 
the three days during which either side has the 
right to break a bargain. They were unsuccessful 
in their quest, so that when we returned to Kashgar 
they purchased our Badakshanis, and we felt glad 
to know that the animals that had carried us so 
well and had given us so much pleasure were in the 
hands of horse-lovers, whose methods were far more 
enlightened than those of the Kashgaris. 

Another interesting personality was the Chief 
Falconer of the Mehtar of Chitral, who was engaged 
in a search for a pair of white hawks. These birds, 
which are extremely rare, if indeed they exist as a 
species, are said to be found in the district of Hi ; but 
our fellow-traveller, having heard that one had been 
offered for sale at Kashgar and another at Khotan, 
determined to throw in his lot with us, as we were 
bound for the latter city. Truth to say, he was a 
timid man, entirely devoid of the love of adventure 
that is part of the equipment of the true traveller, 
and moreover he had no knowledge of the Turki 
language. He found no white hawk in Kashgar and 
probably expected none in Khotan, but I fancy he 
joined our caravan to pick up the language and so fit 
himself more or less for the still longer journey to Hi. 

^\nien we were at Tashkurghan during our visit 
to the Pamirs, we heard that a pair of white falcons 
had been procured in the valley for presentation to 
the Agha Khan. Unluckily one of the birds died, 
but the Sarikolis, not to be foiled, stuffed it and 
offered it to the Head of their faith together with 
its Uve mate. 

This admiration for white falcons is old, and in 



178 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES p^. i 

the annals of tte crusades it is mentioned that 
Philip of France owned a white falcon to which he 
was greatly attached. According to the chronicle, 
"Le roi aimait beaucoup cet oiseau, et I'oiseau 
aitnait le roi de meme." But one day it made a 
long flight and came down among the Saracens, 
who refused to give it up until Philip had paid a 
huge ransom for its recovery. 

Another addition to our party was a Hindu trader 
with a wooden leg, who had a few words of English 
at his command, saluted us in military fashion, and 
excited my admiration at the agility with which he 
mounted and dismoxmted from his horse. If Chaucer 
could have come to life again, he would have de- 
lighted in our caravan, composed of such diverse 
elements, and I never tired of observing the many 
gradations it contained between the Aryan and 
Mongol races. For example, one youth from Gilgit 
had the features and limbs of the immortal riders of 
the Elgin marbles and bestrode a big grey vdth the 
same effortless mastery, carrying my mind back to 
Alexander and his Greek colonies in Asia. 

Our first real halt was the town of Yangi Hissar, 
which is practically a continuation of the Kashgar 
Oasis, the cultivation being merely broken at intervals 
by bands of salt desert and narrow stretches of sand- 
dunes. The inhabitants worked the land up to the 
edge of the sand, and in many cases had placed their 
mud-buUt hamlets so close to the dunes that they 
were in danger of being overwhelmed, should a violent 
sandstorm occur. The whole of our route was 
marked by potais, these Chinese equivalents of mile- 
stones being erected two and a quarter miles apart. 
They are built of mud bricks, in form not unlike 



CH. IX THE ANCIENT CITY OF YARKAND 179 

the castles used in chess and some fifteen feet 
in height. Whenever the potai stood near a rest- 
house or at the entrance of a town it was attended 
by five miniature potais, reminding me of a hen and 
its chickens, a device employed to show the traveller 
that rest and refreshment were close at hand. It 
impressed me to know that these " milestones " not 
only marked the road to Khotan, but the entire 
distance to Peking, a journey that would take six 
months to accomplish. The Forsyth Mission speak 
of tall wooden nule-posts as marking this road, placed 
about five miles apart, i.e. a farsang or one hour's 
journey, the same word being used as in Persia. 

The autunmal weather was very pleasant, as the 
nights and early mornings were refreshingly cool, and 
we made, wherever possible, a long mid-day halt. 
As we rose at 6 a.m. I was quite ready to rest from 
twelve to three, and had a head-net wherewith to 
circumvent the flies during the lazy hours spent 
beside irrigation chaimels bordered by willows, where 
the peasants made us gifts of melons, peaches, nec- 
tarines and grapes, the last sometimes an inch and 
a half long and deliciously flavoured. Lemons were 
unobtainable, but we found that grape-juice mixed 
with water made a refreshing drink. The cultivators 
were always most polite, and when paid for their 
offerings smiled and said, " Allah is gracious." 

Throughout the tour I practically lived on fruit, 
and I suppose there is nothing more refreshing in 
hot weather than slices of the splendid melons that 
I considered superior in taste to those I had so often 
enjoyed in Persia. Perhaps the taus or " peacock" 
— as the natives call the great dark-green water melon 
with black and white seeds set in its scarlet flesh — 



180 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

quenches tMrst the best, but it has not the " bouquet " 
of the karbuzeh proper, and wherever we went the 
peasants were devouring huge chunks of this fruit, 
which they prefer to all others. Thousands of 
melons were being prepared for winter storage, the 
method adopted being to lay them in the sun for a 
month, turning them over frequently, and then to 
place them on sand in cold rooms. The natives eat 
them throughout the winter and imtil the fresh fruit 
comes round again, though we did not appreciate 
them much when we sampled a last year's specimen 
on our arrival at Kashgar in April. 

Yangi Hissar is a small town surrounded by a 
high wall and is a centre of gardens and cultivation, 
the river on which it stands flowing through a deep 
gorge in the loess, which is broken up into picturesque 
cliffs. From the city we enjoyed superb views of 
the snowy Muztagh Ata range. We camped in a so- 
called garden that was really an orchard of fruit 
trees planted along irrigation channels, in the middle 
of which, on a large concrete platform, was a shefang, 
or Chinese garden-house. It was square and had a 
prettily painted wooden roof, the open sides being 
partly curtained in. Throughout the tour in all our 
halts we usually left the house proper to the servants 
and lived in the shefang all day, sleeping in our tents 
at night. One drawback to these gardens was the 
myriads of mosquitoes brought by the water ; but 
as we slept under our nets we avoided the malaria that 
had attacked the Swedish missionaries, who have a 
neat compound at Yangi Hissar: I was also always 
on the look-out for scorpions after I had found one 
in my tent nestling on the collar of my tweed coat. 

We halted at Yangi Hissar only for a day to rest 



OH. IX THE ANCIENT CITY OF YAEKAND 181 

our caravan, but my brother borrowed fresh horses 
in order to visit the shrine of Agri Su, some eight 
miles to the south-west. A gloomy group of old 
poplars, that reminded him of the sacred groves 
outside Greek temples, lay at the foot of a steep clifE, 
in which steps were cut to enable pilgrims to ascend 
to the small domed shrine in honour of Shaykh Ata-ul 
Vali and his son Kasim. The object of my brother's 
visit was to see a certain inscribed stone some three 
and a half feet in diameter which the inhabitants 
greatly venerated ; but he could not decipher the 
inscription, and after photographing the stone and 
visiting the site of an ancient city which the inhabit- 
ants called by the lengthy name of Jam-i-Taghai- 
Agri-Su he returned to camp. 

Next day we traversed a vast marshy plain covered 
with dried-up reeds, on which, to my surprise, herds 
of lean cattle were browsing. The glorious mountains 
were hidden by a veil of dust, and when we reached 
our camp on the edge of the Yarkand Oasis thunder 
rolled, lightning flashed, and the sand whirled up in 
clouds, half-blinding us until our servants managed 
to pitch our tents. Then the rain came down in 
sheets, practically the first that we had experienced 
since we reached Kashgar in April ; for on the Pamirs 
we had had only snow or heavy passing showers. It 
cleared the air and revealed the mountains, which 
looked magnificent as we rode across the gravelly 
desert, now and again coming upon a rest-house built 
by Yakub Beg. At one of these a party of Hindus, 
British subjects from Yarkand, entertained us with 
tea, eggs, sweetmeats and fruit ; but we did not 
dare to halt long, as they said that another storm 
was imminent. 



182 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. i 

Our camp that night was pitched among trees, 
and some men brought a big horned owl to show us, 
a beautiful creature, bufi with dark markings, and 
held by a string tied to its leg. My brother gave its 
captors money to release it, and I rejoiced to see it 
flap its great wings and sail ofE to the shelter of a tall 
Turkestan elm, where I trusted that it would rest in 
security. 

We often saw the great golden eagles which are 
trained to hunting in this part of the world. They 
kill gazelles, hares and foxes, and I always wondered 
how their masters could ride at breakneck pace 
and mount and dismount while carrying such a 
weight on their arms. The great birds seemed 
wonderfully docile, and apparently indifEerent as to 
whether their hoods were on or off. The himting 
eagle is captured by means of a live fox tied to a 
rope ; the bird, busily employed in tearing its prey, 
does not observe that the quarry is being drawn 
by the rope gradually nearer and nearer to a hole, 
in which the hunter lies concealed with a net to 
throw over the eagle. When captured the unfor- 
timate bird is confined in a dark room, its eyelids are 
sewn up, and its spirit is broken by the incessant 
beating of drums which allows it no sleep. It 
remains morose for a time, refusing all food, but 
gradually becomes tame and attaches itself to the man 
who feeds it and takes it out hunting. 

The British Consul - General is always welcomed 
throughout Chinese Turkestan, and I will give a 
description of our entry into Yarkand, which will 
serve as an example of what occurred at every town 
during our tour. Some miles from the city we were 
met at intervals by groups of British subjects, mostly 




A HUNTING EAGLE. 



CH. IX THE ANCIENT CITY OP YAEKAND 183 

Hindus, wlio dismounted to greet my brother and 
then rode behind us, our escort thus becoming bigger 
and bigger as we proceeded. Some of its members 
were but indifierent horsemen. Now and again a 
rider would be thrown and his steed gallop off, or a 
horse tethered by the roadside would break loose, 
agitating the procession and making my chestnut 
scream with excitement until the runaways were 
captured, usually by the men from Punyal. 

Old Jafar Bai had a reception all to himself. 
Though he lived at Kashgar and owned shops there, 
he told me that the chief part of his property 
was at Yarkand, acquired in the old days when he 
owned a caravan and carried goods between the two 
towns. I was interested to note the number of 
acquaintances who clasped his hands warmly, and, 
when we stopped to partake of the usual spread of 
fowls, eggs and tea laid out in a marquee, the old 
man had the joy of seeing his small grandson brought 
to him by his son-in-law. He kissed the child 
passionately, and then, full of pride, brought it to 
me and smiled as I gave the little fellow sweets and 
biscuits. 

After this the whole company remounted and 
swept on again, to be stopped nearer to the city by 
the Russian Agent accompanied by the Russian 
subjects, who were standing in a large group beside 
tables laden with food, to which our servants always 
did full justice, surprised that their employers did 
not appreciate these incessant meals. Just outside 
Yarkand the beating of drums, the squealing of pipes 
and the scraping of tars, producing music most 
excruciating to European ears, announced the Chinese 
reception. As I always avoided this ceremony, I 



184 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

was glad to be met by Dr. Hoegberg, head of the 
Swedish ]VIissions and incidentally the architect of 
the Kashgar Consulate, who drove me along the broad 
tree - bordered road to the new Chinese town and 
through interminable bazars to the pleasant garden- 
house of the British Agent. 

" The people of Yarkand display an entire lack 
of energy and enterprise, or indeed of any interest in 
life," was the dictum of Lieutenant Etherton, who 
visited the city in 1909. Though I thought the state- 
ment somewhat sweeping at first, I soon noticed 
how apathetic the Yarkandis were when contrasted 
with the lively, laughing Kashgaris, and the reason 
was not far to seek. The inhabitants of this district 
are afiiicted with goitre in its most distressing forms ; 
and the Swedish doctor told us he believed that 
about fifty per cent of the population were victims of 
the complaint, which in his opinion was not the same 
as the European goitre, and for which he knew of no 
remedy save iodine. One theory is that it is due to 
the habit of drinking stagnant water stored in tanks, 
the river unfortunately being at some distance from 
the city ; but the peasantry living right out in the 
country are by no means exempt from the scourge. 
Many thus affected become idiots, and the children 
of goitrous parents inherit the disease, which Marco 
Polo commented on in the following words : "A large 
proportion of them have swollen legs and great crops 
at the throat, which arises from some quality in their 
drinking-water." The old Chinese travellers also make 
mention of the complaint, but I heard that the 
Celestials, who boil all their water, whether used for 
drinking or for washing, never fall victims to it, nor 
apparently do the Hindu traders or travellers, although 



CH. IX THE ANCIENT CITY OP YAEKAND 185 

if they marry Yarkandi women their children may 
develop it. Some say that all who drink from a certain 
canal are sure to contract the disease, while others 
affirm that it is caused by the grey water of the 
Yarkand River. Be that as it may, the health of 
half the population is undermined, and the aged 
and children alike are sufierers, some unfortunates 
having their heads permanently tilted backwards by 
the horrible swelling in their throats. This has 
given rise to the popular anecdote of the man who 
rode his horse to the water but had to ask a neighbour 
if the animal were drinking, as he could not himself 
look down to see. 

Besides goitre and skin-diseases induced by lack 
of washing, opium and hashish-smoking, and the 
squalor in which they live, contribute to the sickly 
look of the people, and I decided that dirty, dusty 
ruinous old Yarkand was a good place to live out 
of. The mosques and shrines were in a state of 
dilapidation, and in spite of a large body of Hindus, 
who trade with India by one of the highest routes 
in the world, the whole place looked much poorer 
than Kashgar. 

Masses of snowy-white cotton were to be seen 
everywhere in the bazars, ready for the stuffing of 
cushions and quilts or to be spun into yam, while 
at odd comers we came across groups of children 
busily removing the pods or beating out the seeds with 
sticks. Here, as at Kashgar, there is no grazing for 
the sheep ; hence the poor quality and the toughness 
of the mutton. The animals were trying to get 
some nourishment from the withered cotton bents, 
and I sometimes saw a Woman holding out bunches 
of lucerne to her half -starved charges or letting them 



186 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

muncli dried maize leaves from a basket. One 
must ride in single file through the narrow alleys of 
the bazar, which are covered in with awnings of 
maize leaves to keep ofi the heat. Children and 
chickens get in the way ; here a goat is tied up or a 
camel is Ijdng down in the midst of the trafiic : there 
a horse, tethered by a rope to a stall, lashes out with 
its heels at passing riders, and now and again one 
gets glimpses of extremely unsavoury courtyards. 
But in fairness to the inhabitants of Chinese Turkestan 
I defy any one to keep clean who has to live in a 
house of unbaked mud where there are no washing 
arrangements, and where, in the absence of chairs, 
every one must sit on the mud floor : fortunately 
the brilliantly coloured flowered prints do not show 
the prevailing dirt as much as might be expected. 

The best shops in the bazar were near the 
Hindu serai, that was hung with silks in honour 
of my brother's visit, and I was told that the Chinese 
are so considerate to the traders from India that 
they forbid the opening of any butchers' shops near 
their quarters, and orders to this effect, inscribed 
on boards and stuck up on walls, were pointed out 
to me. Sometimes the Yarkandis tear down these 
notices and the butchers reopen their stalls, but 
whenever this occurs a complaint from the Hindus 
to the authorities is ultimately successful. This 
praiseworthy tolerance of the religious views of other 
races partly accounts for the easy Chinese mastery 
over a Mohamedan population. 

Quantities of beautiful fruit, such as peaches and 
grapes, were on sale in the bazars, the vendors keeping 
off the swarms of flies by means of horse-hair flappers, 
and naked children were munching enormous chxmis 



CH. IX THE ANCIENT CITY OF YARKAND 187 

of melon. Horses were being stod, horse-shoes 
hammered out on the anvils, and near by picturesque 
copper pots were being worked into shape, a noisy 
operation. At intervals we came across a mosque 
with the columned verandah so characteristic of the 
province, its beams and pediments covered with 
incised carving something in the style of Jacobean 
work. The principal mosque had lost about half 
the blue and white tiles that had once adorned its 
fagade, and the city wall was out of repair to such 
an extent that people could enter the town by many 
a breach after the crazy-looking wooden doors had 
been closed at sunset. 

Among the callers on my brother was the son of 
the Thum of Hunza, whose defeat by the British in 
1891 is so graphically described in Knight's book 
Where Three Empires Meet. The young chief, who 
was a child at that time, now ekes out a penurious 
existence on a small estate given to his ancestors 
by the Chinese, and has a pension of a couple of taels 
a month, a sum equivalent to 4s. 8d. Safdar Ali 
lOian, the old Thum, after his defeat fled to Kucha, 
where he still lives with an ancient retainer or two, 
and earns a humble liveUhood as a market-gardener. 
Sic transit ! 

During our stay I had the pleasure of entertaining 
a Yarkandi lady. She arrived accompanied by 
her mother and three sons, and was clad in a 
purple satin coat, while across her forehead was a 
richly embroidered head -band, over which feU in 
graceful folds her long white muslin shawl. When 
she had removed her lace-work veil her pretty 
face was set ofi by big gold earrings and her long 
black plaits reached half-way down her back. I 



188 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

photographed both ladies, together with the small 
boys, who were attired in velvet. Going next day 
to return their visit, I found myself in a garden 
that had formerly belonged to Yakub Beg, where 
the mud platform on which he was wont to per- 
form his devotions was pointed out to me. On 
this occasion I gained a little insight into native 
etiquette ; for my hostess, after graciously accepting 
a small gift which I presented, put it aside and did 
not open the parcel until I had retired, it being 
considered bad manners to look at and admire a 
present in. the way that Europeans are accustomed 
to do. Our conversation happening to turn on 
scorpions, my hostess said that she had suffered 
agonies for three days after having been stimg by 
one, and her husband related that the followers of a 
certain Indian saint have the power of taking away 
the pain of a scorpion sting by breathing on the 
afilicted part. Though he had not had personal 
experience of this, he had met many who swore that 
they had been cured instantly by this means, which 
was perhaps akin to hjrpnotism. On our return to 
Yarkand some three weeks later I was invited to 
attend the feast of the " shaving of the head " of 
my host's youngest son, but having no interpreter, 
as men were tabooed, I declined, though I much 
regretted missing the sight of some forty or fifty 
ladies attired in their best and adorned with much 
jewellery. 

While at Yarkand we visited the little colony of 
boys and girls who were being trained by the Swedish 
missionaries in their large compound. These children 
were taught to read and write in Turki, to weave and 
to sew. The girls cooked all the food, made the bread 



CH. IX THE ANCIENT CITY OF YAEKAND 189 

and did tlie housework, wearing aprons over their 
gowns of pretty Russian print. The boys were 
dressed in clothes of their own weaving, and Mrs. 
Hoegberg hoped that the girls might later on marry 
the boys, who were being trained to be self-supporting. 
In any case she trusted that they might lead happier 
lives than usually befall the maidens of Chinese 
Turkestan, who are practically sold by their parents 
and are often handed over to old men. It is true 
that the husband engages to pay a certain sum for the 
maintenance of his wife should he divorce her, and 
this he does in the presence of witnesses. But the 
onus of finding these witnesses and bringing them 
up before the Imam lies on the woman, and the man 
can often persuade them to swear that he promised 
to pay his wife much less than he really did. The 
parents of a wealthy woman can help her to obtain 
her rights, but a poor woman may have a hard fight 
for bare existence before she can find a new husband 
to support her. 

Village life is better for the women than life in 
the town, for they have fewer matrimonial adventures, 
and there are none of the temporary marriages that 
are common in all the centres of population. I 
noticed that they veiled far less in Yarkand than in 
Kashgar, the result of stronger Chinese influence ; 
but here and throughout the province they were 
not permitted to enter the little village mosques that 
are such a characteristic feature of the coimtry. These 
places of worship are usually buUt by some pious 
benefactor, who gives a piece of land for an endow- 
ment fund. This is called a wakfov " trust," and the 
trustees appoint a mulla, who is often a villager with a 
good voice who merely calls the Faithful to prayer. 



190 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. x 

Dr. and Mrs. Hoegberg had done missionary work 
in Persia, and said that they found the Turki very 
slow-witted and disinclined to discuss religion, a 
strong contrast in this respect to the keen-brained, 
argumentative Persians, who enjoy nothing more 
than metaphysics, and, being Shias, are less orthodox 
and priest-ridden than the primitive Sunnis of 
Chiaese Turkestan. 

Whether Christianity is gaining a hold in Chiaese 
Turkestan or not, the high standard which it sets up 
is not without its influence, as the following anecdote 
told me by Dr. Hoegberg shows. A Yarkandi 
merchant went with some traders to buy figs, and on 
the way his friends jeered at him on account of his 
leanings towards Christianity. When they reached 
the market they were offered the fruit packed in 
baskets said to contain a hundred, but the buyers 
never dreamt of trusting the word of the vendor, 
and counted the contents of the baskets, finding 
several figs short in each. The merchant then 
enquired of his colleagues whether, when they bought 
calico or print that had come from Europe, they 
found any deficiency in the number of yards that 
were stamped upon each piece. " Never," they 
answered in chorus, and he then pointed out that 
this honesty was due to Christian principles of fair- 
dealing. 



CHAPTEE X 

THROUGH THE DESERT TO KHOTAN 

. . . The view was boundless, there were no traces either of man 
or horse, and in the night the demons and gobUns raised fire-Ughts as 
many as the stars ; in the day time the driving wind blew the sand 
before it. . . . — Travels of Hiuen Tsiang. 

Yarkand is the ricliest oasis in Chinese Turkestan, 
but we did not appreciate this fact until we had left 
the city and saw the open country covered with 
wide stretches of rice, maize, wheat and millet ; and 
I confess that I had to revise my opinion as to the 
lethargy of the Yarkandis, or at all events of the 
peasantry, when I realized the ceaseless labour 
required to produce such abundance. 

The Yarkand River, the source of which had 
recently been fixed by the Filippi expedition, was 
about six miles from the town, and we crossed it in 
broad ferry-boats like punts, which were some forty 
feet long. We clambered over a barrier at one end 
of the boat, and our jaine horses, stepping in nimbly 
behind us, one after the other, without any fuss, 
were packed in tightly, close up to the plank 
that separated us from them. Sattur's mapa was 
fixed into a second boat with some difficulty as it 
was too broad, but finally all our belongings were 
settled, and two muscular men — one handling a long 

191 



192 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES p^. i 

pole and the other a paddle — took us across the 
river, which is dangerous on account of its shifting 
quicksands. Our horses seemed to enjoy the novel 
experience, some of them craning over to drink as 
we slowly approached the opposite bank. There 
I anticipated some trouble, as the animals had 
to turn round and step out at the end by which 
they entered. However, they grasped the situa- 
tion at once, and very soon we were mounted, 
fording a couple of shallow branches of the main 
stream and stumbling over a dreary waste of roimded 
boulders which formed an old river bed. Beyond this 
lay trees and villages and a band of British subjects 
ready to welcome us with the inevitable tea, fruit 
and sweetmeats ; an attention that I did not appre- 
ciate, as several of our hosts were afflicted with goitre 
in its most distressing forms. 

At Posgam, where we halted for the night, quarters 
were assigned to us in a garden that boasted a 
magnificent walnut-tree, and we had our beds placed 
on platforms outside the attractive garden-house, 
where my room, carpeted with crudely coloured 
products of the loom, had fretted woodwork windows. 

Next day our twenty -four mile march led us 
entirely through cultivation, along a broad highway 
bordered with willows, the rice fields stretching for 
many acres on either side. The River Tiznaf flowed 
clear over a stony bed, in pleasing contrast to the 
muddy streams we had encountered hitherto, and we 
were told that those drinking from it never suffered 
from goitre. 

In this part of the world it is customary for the 
villages to open their bazars on different days and 
to name them accordingly. At the Panjshamba, or 




Q 

2; 






O 
> 

Cd 



OH. X THROUGH THE DESERT TO KHOTAN 193 

Thursday market, every kind of article is offered for 
sale, because tte bazars are all closed on Juma 
(Friday), the day on which the Faithful visit the 
mosques, and I was told that at Khotan the Ghahar- 
shamba (Wednesday) bazar is held only for the sale 
of milk products. 

We met crowds of people coming to the Posgam 
market. There were beggars galore, whole families 
of them, sometimes accompanied by big dogs ; and 
tramping along to gain their livelihood were the 
religious mendicants, who were striking figures clad 
in rags of many colours, wearing sugar-loaf hats and 
carrying bowls and stout sticks, or sometimes gourds 
and rattles. They evidently aimed at the picturesque 
in their appearance, and their outward dirt was a 
sign of inward holiuess and conferred on them the 
power to drive away demons and heal diseases. 
Farther on we came across musicians carrying tars, 
some having instruments resembling zithers and 
others drums and pipes, while parties of Chinese laden 
with gambling tables struck a sinister note. The 
crowd was largely composed of women of the peasant 
class mounted on ponies or donkeys and driving their 
cattle and sheep to market, some clasping fowls in 
their arms. Two or three wore a curious globular 
hat of cloth of silver, the hke of which I saw only 
once at Kashgar, when I was told that it was the 
headgear of a bride. All the world seemed bound 
for Posgam, and as we passed through village after 
village on our way to Kargalik hardly any one was 
to be seen, and the little stalls under the vine-covered 
trellises that roofed in the bazars were shuttered up 
or bare, with the exception of the bread stalls. The 
boxes of flowers on the roofs gave touches of light 





194 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. i 

and colour in the form of asters, balsams and mari- 
golds, while here and there masses of golden maize 
were drying in the sun. 

On this occasion the Hindus had provided for 
us a refection of chops and poached eggs, evidently 
considering this food more suitable for a Sahib than 
the usual fowls, and when we had coped with this 
I left my brother to enjoy the reception given by the 
Russian subjects, and, attended by Jafar Bai, rode 
on to our quarters, passing the Chinese Amhan on 
his way to greet the British Consul-General. This 
dignitary, with a most impassive face, drove in an 
elaborately painted mapa, preceded by a youth 
carrjdng a huge magenta silk umbrella with a deep 
fringe, while his escort of soldiers, in quaint black 
uniforms, were carrying mediaeval-looking spears and 
halberds. 

The house prepared for us stood in a little garden 
crammed with vegetables and with enormous speci- 
mens of the misshapen and velvety crimson coxcomb. 
An outside staircase led to a balcony that ran roimd 
a large upper room with heavily barred wooden 
windows, which was the ladies' abode — a very de- 
pressing one to my mind, as it remained in perpetual 
twilight, and from it no glimpse could be obtained 
of the outside world, though its smells and noises 
were extremely obvious. But, as I slept on the 
balcony, it served me for a convenient dressing-room, 
as well as for a retreat when my brother held the 
usual receptions of British subjects and Chinese 
officials in the house below. 

About this time all the horses seemed to become 
lame at once. The Badakshani chestnut and the 
grey both took to limping, and the nice little pony 



OH. X THKOUGH THE DESEET TO KHOTAN 195 

on wHch I rode astride cut its fetlock badly. 
Kalmuck, our last purchase, though sound, was an 
exasperatingly sluggish horse and consequently very 
fatiguing to ride. Jafar Bai, as usual, persisted that 
the lameness was due to my brother's order to water 
the horses after they had been about an hour in 
camp, and was in no way convinced when it was 
proved that bad shoeing had lamed one animal, and 
when the others gradually recovered in spite of 
adherence to the Enghsh rules as to forage and 
watering. 

We were now to have our first sight of the real 
desert, which lay between us and the Khotan Oasis. 
On the night before our march across it we rested 
in a tiny village on its very edge, some of the 
mud-built houses being half-buried by the sand and 
others having trenches dug round them to keep it 
off. An irrigation channel ran between willows, 
with patches of cultivation on either side. We 
put up as best we could in the courtyard of a 
serai, the building itself being too crowded with 
peasants to accommodate us. Owing to the reluct- 
ance which all Orientals feel to leaving a town, the 
drivers of the arahas, in spite of their being drawn 
by five horses apiece, arrived so late that our supper, 
eaten by the light of the moon, was extremely scanty. 

When we rose in the morning the desert stretched 
before us vast and undulating. In Canada in the 
early spring the prairie, reaching to the far horizon 
on either side of the train, had reminded me of a 
desert, so limitless, so barren and devoid of life did 
the largest wheat field in the world appear. But 
oh, the difference ! The Takla Makan kills all life 
unless there is water to correct its baleful influence, 



196 THROUan DBSEETS AND OASES pt. i 

while the prairie holds in its bosom food for 
millions. 

As we rode on our way at six o'clock the early 
morning wind was swirling up the sand, obscuring 
the sky and magnifying everything strangely. At 
intervals the potais, most of which were in a ruinous 
condition, loomed monstrous through the haze, a 
caravan that I imagined to be composed of camels 
resolved itself into a group of diminutive donkeys, 
while a gigantic figure draped in fluttering robes 
turned into a harmless peasant carrying a stafi and 
water-gourd. We followed the broad track made by 
arabas and the hoofs of countless animals ; but I 
thought how easy it would be to lose the way, were 
a strong wind to blow the sand across our route and 
cover the skulls and other traces of bygone caravans. 
In the days of Hiuen Tsiang and Marco Polo there 
were no potais, and travellers must often have been 
lost ; indeed the Chinese pilgrim tells us that when 
he crossed this desert the heaps of bones were his 
only means of knowing whether he was following 
the right track or not. I was interested to hear that 
this particular stage had the reputation of being 
haunted and that no peasant would traverse it 
alone at night. In fact, a Hindu trader told Iftikhar 
Ahmad that he and his servants had been greatly 
terrified a few days before our arrival. They were 
travelling after dark and, though there was no moon, 
a sudden light in the sky revealed a broad road 
bordered by irrigation channels and trees, along 
which marched an army. The onlookers imagined 
from their uniforms that the soldiers were Turks, 
but they could not see their faces, and suddenly 
they vanished, only to give place to droves of cattle 



CH. X THROUGH THE DESERT TO KHOTAN 197 

and sheep, wMcL. seemed to pour in an unending 
stream past th.e frightened travellers. In the life 
of Hiuen Tsiang mention is made more than once of 
the hallucinations to which he was subject in the 
desert, and the following passage occurs : "He saw 
a body of troops amounting to several hundreds 
covering the sandy plain — the soldiers were clad in 
fur and felt. And now the appearance of camels 
and horses and the fluttering of standards and lances 
met his view. ..." I quote this passage because 
the Chinaman's vision in the seventh century seems 
strangely akin to that of the Hindu and his servants. 
As we neared the large oasis of G-uma the inevitable 
receptions began several miles out in the desert, and 
I was struck with the appearance of our host, the 
AksaJcal. He was a tall, handsome man, remarkably 
like a high-class Persian, and wore a long mauve 
coat with a magenta waistband, and a purple felt 
hat with broad gold band, a purchase from India. 
He installed us in his newly built house, which, 
being in the middle of the bazar, was the haunt of 
legions of flies. It consisted of several small rooms 
opening on to a Httle courtyard planted with shrubs 
and flowers, over which lovely humming-bird moths 
were hovering ; but, as there was no exit at the back 
and we were at very close quarters with our servants, 
I did not altogether appreciate what was evidently 
the ne plus ultra of Guma taste, Our rooms and the 
verandah were painted in pink and mauve, the window 
frames bright green with their shutters picked out in 
blue and brown, while above the window of the 
principal room was a richly coloured and gilded floral 
design. The entrance door, draped with green plush, 
cloth of gold and silver and a piece of purple and 



198 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. i 

green embroidery, and the chairs, upholstered in 
orange and sky-blue velvet, made up a gorgeous 
whole, in which I felt rather like a prisoner, as I 
had to retreat constantly to my apartment, pull 
the shutters to, and sit in a dim twilight when the 
Chinese Amhan and other callers arrived in state. 

Guma is noted for its manufacture of paper, and 
we went to see the process. The pale green liaing of 
the bark of the mulberry is boiled in great iron pots 
and ladled out upon broad stones, to be pulped by 
wooden hammers. The mixture is then spread over 
canvas-filled frames which are held under water 
during the operation, and afterwards set upright in 
the open air to dry, when sheets of a coarse whitish 
paper about the size of foolscap can be pulled ofi the 
canvas. This paper is mainly used for packing ; if 
needed for writing, it is rubbed with glass to glaze it. 

As the oasis is rich in mulberry trees it produces 
a considerable amount of silk ; but Khotan is the 
chief centre of this profitable industry. The women 
tend the silkworms. 

The soil of Guma is so sandy that the inhabitants 
cannot build the usual mud-houses, but are obliged 
to have recourse to wattle-and-daub structiires, com- 
posed of a framework of sticks plastered inside and 
out with a mixture that is for ever dropping ofE in 
flakes, thereby giving to these dwellings a most 
unsubstantial air. I noticed that in the cemeteries 
the graves were marked by tall withered saphngs, to 
denote the sites when they are covered up by the 
all-pervading sand. 

The time of our visit coincided with the Mizan 
or Equinox, which is supposed to mark the close 
of the hot weather, and the " kindly fruits of the 



OH. X THROUGH THE DESERT TO KHOTAN 199 

earth. " were nearly ready for the harvest. The 
cotton crop was being gathered, its bursting podsi 
lying on the ground ; the handsome man-high maizeJ 
and millet were yellowing, and we revelled in delicious 
corn cobs, boiled and then smeared with butter and 
sprinkled with salt, as I had learned to eat them in 
Canada. We were also given another vegetable, the 
roots of the lotus, which the Chinese look upon as a 
delicacy ; but it did not appeal to my taste. The 
pomegranates were a glorious scarlet and the many 
varieties of grapes were in their prime ; the melons, 
peaches and nectarines had passed their zenith. 

On the evening before we left Guma our servants, 
together with the various travellers who had attached 
themselves to our party, organized an entertainment. 
There was much singing, the performers yelling at the 
top of their voices, accompanied by a thrumming of 
sitars, a thudding of drums and a squealing of pipes. 
Three of the men executed a pantomime dance, one 
being disguised as a woman, another as an old man, 
and the third, a handsome young fellow, having no 
make-up at all. All three went round in a circle one 
after the other with curious steps and much waving 
of arms, the play being based on the weU-known 
theme of the girl-wife snatched from an old husband 
by her youthful lover. I felt rather like an Oriental 
woman as I watched the show from behind a curtain, 
and was amused to hear later that I was considered 
to be a model of discreet behaviour because I had not 
attended any of the Chinese banquets. 

It was rather disturbing at night to hear the 
Chinese watchman going his rounds, beating two sticks 
together as an assurance to the citizens that he was 
guarding them faithfully, but I fancy that he and his 



200 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- 1 

colleagues were of the Dogberry type and would 
probably pretend not to notice were any devilry afoot. 

Although, we saw very little veiling after we had 
left Yarkand, this Mohamedan custom prevailing 
less and less the nearer we approached China, the 
women were extremely nervous at our approach, 
having seldom or never seen Europeans. They 
would rush in all directions, hiding their faces iu 
the long cotton shawls which they wore over their 
heads, and would vanish like rabbits into their 
mud hovels, giving me the queer sense of being 
watched by legions of eyes as we rode through the 
mean bazars. There were many public eating-houses 
in this part of the world, with Chinese painted screens 
to hide the customers seated behind them, and with 
gaily coloured pictures on the walls. The food was 
cooked in big cauldrons in full view of the public, and 
I was told that the restaurant-keepers, who are 
Tunganis (Chinese Moslems) usually become rich, 
especially in one district, where both men and women 
take all their meals in public. As a rule no payment 
is demanded until six months have elapsed, and then 
mine host goes round to collect his debts, with the 
not uncommon result that greedy folk who have 
partaken too lavishly of the seven dishes provided are 
obliged to sell their property in order to pay up. 
Fuel is certainly a heavy item for the poor, who use 
it only for cooking and not to heat their houses ; 
therefore these restaurants, if used with discretion, 
ought to make for economy. 

During this journey the weather as a rule was 
perfect — fresh in the morning and evening, quite cold 
at night, and only during the middle of the day 
uncomfortably hot. I felt as if I were on a riding- 



OH. X THROUGH THE DESERT TO KHOTAN 201 

tour and picnic combined, so little of the discomforts 
of travel did we experience, the supply question being 
easy and our servants doing their work with scarcely 
a hitch. At night we generally slept in the open air 
under our mosquito nets, and when the full moon 
rode across the heavens I was often obliged to bandage 
my eyes to shut out the brilliant light. 

It was on our march between Sang-uya and 
Pialma that the desert, for once, showed itself in an 
imamiable mood. The morning was fine when we left 
our comfortable quarters in a Chinese country house, 
and we soon entered the region of sand-dunes, our 
horses racing up and down them with much spirit, 
though the loose sand made the going very heavy. 
We stopped a picturesque party of wayfarers with 
their donkeys in order to photograph them, and gave 
them money for their trouble. They posed themselves 
and their animals as my brother directed, but when we 
had finished they remarked that they had expected to 
be shot, as they imagined the camera to be some kind 
of firearm ! Not unnaturally I thought that this was 
a joke on their part, but later on we passed a company 
of beggars, and my brother took a group consisting 
of a wild-looking woman leading an ox and a man 
wearing a red leather sugar-loaf hat. I noticed that 
the latter clasped his hands in an attitude of entreaty 
as he stood perfectly motionless beside the animal, 
and when he received his douceur he burst into speech, 
sapng with many exclamations that he had verily 
believed that his last hour had come. These incidents 
gave me a glimpse of the docile spirit of the race, 
and partly explained why the inhabitants of Chinese 
Turkestan have nearly always been ruled by a 
succession of foreign masters. They are small 



202 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- 1 

cultivators and petty shopkeepers, taking little interest 
in anything outside their immediate circle, and their 
life seems to destroy initiative and independence, 
thus rendering the task of their Chinese rulers easy. 

The morning breeze that blew in our faces was 
pleasant enough at first, but gradually turned into 
a gale, which raised the sand in such great clouds 
that the sun and sky were obscured with a yellow 
haze. In spite of my veil and blue goggles the grit 
whipped my face and eyes as we galloped our fastest 
in order to reach our destination before matters grew 
worse. The horses were much excited, being as 
anxious as we were to escape from the whirling sand, 
and it was annojong when the grey broke loose from 
the rider who was leading him and cantered ofE until 
we nearly lost sight of him in the thick haze. A 
couple of men did their best to head him back, while 
the rest of us waited, my chestnut screaming loudly 
and plunging violently in his eagerness to join in the 
chase. The grey behaved in the usual provoking 
manner of horses on the loose, circling round and 
round us, almost letting himself be caught, and then 
galloping ofE a short distance before he returned to 
coquet with the other horses. Finally my brother 
made a lucky snatch at the trailing halter, and off 
we went faster than ever, noting with thankfulness 
potai after potai as they loomed up out of the blinding 
dust. Suddenly a change occurred that seemed 
almost like magic. We plunged into a tree-bordered 
lane with fields of maize stretching on either side, 
while overhead the clear blue sky seemed free from 
every particle of dust. I looked back at the whirling 
yellow inferno from which we had escaped, and in a 
few minutes thankfully dismounted in a large garden 



CH. X THROUGH THE DESERT TO KHOTAN 203 

with irrigation channels through which the water 
flowed with a faiat dehcious splashing. Here our 
tents were in readiness, pitched under shady trees, 
and hot tea was brought that served a double purpose ; 
for we found it a soothing lotion for our sore eyes 
as well as grateful to our parched throats. 

The waggons, which had done this last stage during 
the night, left again at five o'clock in the aJEternoon, 
as the horses would be forced to do a double stage 
of some thirty miles, with no water obtainable on 
the road. But the animals had had thirteen hours' 
rest and the going was good for the first part of the 
way, so we hoped they would be able to manage it. 
We ourselves were to break the stage at Ak Langar, 
some fourteen miles away, and rest there for four 
hours before undertaking the remainder of the 
march, which, we were told, was a continuous series 
of lofty sand-dunes. Accordingly, after our evening 
meal we mounted at seven o'clock, and leaving the 
little oasis, rode off under the full moon across an 
absolutely barren gravelly desert. We were told 
that some years before our visit a governor of Khotan 
had placed posts at intervals along this stage, upon 
which lamps were hung and lighted on dark nights. 
Unluckily this benefactor, a rara avis among oflS.cials, 
failing to keep his finances in order, was dismissed 
from his post and was now dragging out a precarious 
existence in the Chinatown of Kashgar. 

We of course stood in no need of lanterns, but in 
spite of the moonlight the desert seemed rather eerie, 
and our horses, unaccustomed to night marches, were 
curiously nervous and suddenly shied at some dark 
moving shapes that turned out to be camels grazing 
on the scanty tamarisk scrub. A little farther on 



204 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

they were startled by a large dog, wMch. we dis- 
turbed at its meal on a dead ass, and bere and tbere 
the moon gleamed on the white bones of deceased 
pack-animals that lay beside the track. I am not 
ashamed to confess that I should not have cared to 
ride this stage alone, and I did not wonder that the 
peasants whom we passed driving laden donkeys were 
always in large parties. 

After a while we came to a ruined potai, against 
which a rough post was leaning, and learnt that this 
was the boundary between the districts of Kargalik 
and Khotan. We were therefore in the Kingdom of 
Jade, and our horses, having become used to their 
novel experience, trotted along briskly in the keen 
night air, pricking their ears and hastening whenever 
they espied the remains of a deserted serai sharply 
silhouetted in the moonlight ; for they were as anxious 
for their night's rest as I was. 

With the exception I have mentioned there were 
no potais to mark this particular route, so I had not 
the pleasing sensation of knowing that two and a 
quarter miles were accomplished whenever we passed 
one, and was feeling extremely sleepy, when a black 
mass of building seemed to rear up suddenly ahead 
of us. It was just upon midnight, and I was most 
thankful to dismount and pass into a serai built of 
hewn stone, the welcome cleanliness of its rooms being 
due to the fact that practically no one halted there, 
owing to the lack of water. Yet the first sight that 
met my eyes was a man drawing up a bucket from a 
well by means of a windlass ; but Jafar Bai explained 
that the water was bitter and harmful to horses. 

The natives had given us such alarming accounts 
of the difl&culties of the latter part of the stage that, 



OH. X THROUGH THE DESERT TO KHOTAN 205 

tired as we all were, we were allowed to sleep for only 
four hours, and it seemed to me as if I had hardly 
closed my eyes when Sattur roused me. He brought 
a lighted candle by which I dressed; for my room 
had no window and opened on to the public court- 
yard, and a fat pigeon, disturbed by the Ught, flopped 
down from the rafters and fluttered feebly round and 
round until I let it out. 

When we rode ofE in the crisp air of the early 
morning we were surprised to find that for some 
miles ahead of us the road lay across a gravelly plain 
that made excellent going for horses and baggage 
waggons. Close to the serai four huge vultures were 
feeding on the remains of a dead camel, and the 
loathsome birds were so gorged that on the approach 
of our party they could only with difficulty flap or 
hobble away for a few feet ; they watched us until we 
had passed and then returned to their interrupted 
meal. How horrible it must be for a dying animal 
to be ringed about \Fith these birds biding their time, 
or even fastening on their prey before life is extinct ! 
Owing to the recent storm the atmosphere was un- 
usually clear, and we enjoyed the somewhat rare 
experience of seeing the lower slopes of the Kuen-lun 
range, the existence of which was not even mentioned 
by Marco Polo, presumably on account of its invisi- 
bility, which is notorious. 

After a while we rode among low sand-dunes 
curved and ribbed by the wind, and then crossed a 
high ridge that was more like a low hiU than a dune 
and must have meant a stiff pull f(?r even our five- 
horse arahas. Below its crest stood a couple of 
wooden posts, signifying that we had reached the 
boundary of the famous Kaptar Mazzar or Pigeon 



206 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

Shrine, where all good Moslems must dismount to 
approach the sacred spot on foot. There in the midst 
of the sand lay a graveyard marked by poles on which 
hung fluttering rags and bits of sheepskin, and near 
by was a tiny mosque with fretted wooden door and 
window and some low buildings, the roofs of which 
were crowded with grey pigeons. Legend has it that 
Imam Shakir Padshah, trying to convert the Buddhist 
inhabitants of the coimtry to Islam by the drastic 
agency of the sword, fell here in battle against the 
army of Khotan and was buried in the little cemetery. 
It is a:2&rmed that two doves flew forth from the 
heart of the dead saint and became the ancestors 
of the swarms of sacred pigeons that we saw. Our 
arrival caused a stir among them and a great cloud 
rose up, with a tremendous whirring of wings, and 
some settled upon the maize that our party flung 
upon the groimd as an offering. 

The guardian of the shrine, in long blue coat and 
white turban, left his study of the Koran and, accom- 
panied by his Uttle scarlet-clad daughter, hurried to 
meet us. My brother asked them to attract their 
charges to the graveyard, where he wished to photo- 
graph them ; but unluckily the holy birds entirely 
declined to be enticed in that direction, paying no 
attention to the grain flung lavishly or to the voice 
of the mulla. They merely wheeled round and round 
in lessening circles untU they descended on to the 
roofs of the pigeon-houses ; for they were sated with 
the offerings of the Faithful and extremely fat. It 
might be thought that these birds, which are sup- 
posed to eat their own weight daily, would be a 
menace to the crops of the neighbouring Zawa oasis, 
but fortunately food is so abundant at home that 




a 

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5 
a: 

CO 

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on. X THROUGH THE DESERT TO KHOTAN 207 

th.ey hardly leave tlie vicinity of the shrine. They 
are certainly highly favoured ; for we were told that 
if a hawk were to venture to attack them it would 
faU down dead in the act ! 

We visited the sheds fitted with flat nests of basket 
work, on many of which were flufiy yellow fledglings, 
and beams were laid from wall to wall on which the 
birds could perch. As may be imagined, the smell 
and dirt deterred me from taking more than a glance 
at this pigeon sanctuary; but our servants had no such 
qualms, and probably felt that the longer they stayed 
the more merit would accrue to them. Sir Aurel 
Stein shows that the legend about these pigeons is 
merely a variant of Hiuen Tsiang's story of the sacred 
golden-haired rats, to whose burrowings the pilgrim 
attributed the conical sand-dunes that lie round this 
spot. The province, so the narrative runs, was in- 
vaded by a barbarian host that encamped close to 
the mounds thrown up by the creatures, whose aid 
the King of Kliotan invoked in his despair. During 
the night a huge rat came to him in a vision, promising 
him success, and on the morrow, when the men of 
Khotan fell upon the enemy, they gained an easy 
victory, because the rats had gnawed the harness of 
the horses, the fastenings of the armour and the 
bowstrings of the invaders. From that day the 
miraculous rodents were accorded high honour: a 
temple was erected ia the midst of the dunes, in which 
sacrifices were offered to them and where all who 
passed by worshipped and brought gifts, misfortunes 
fa lling upon those who neglected to do so. The 
pigeon has now taken the place of the rat of Buddhist 
legend ia the minds of these primitive people, with 
whom tradition dies hard. 



208 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

When we left the skrine we were prepared to cope 
with the gigantic dunes that we had been warned to 
expect ; but, not for the first time, we grasped the 
inaccuracy of most of the statements made by the 
natives, there being only two or three somewhat 
difficult places for waggons. At the foot of the sandy 
waste in which the Mazzar stood was a stretch of 
reed-covered marshy ground, watered by a wide 
stream alive with water-fowl, beyond wMch flocks 
were grazing. We soon saw ahead of us the remark- 
.ably lofty weeping-willows of Zawa, and fetched up 
finally at a small garden beyond the village, where we 
found our tents ready pitched under the trees and were 
all thankful for a good rest and a general tidying up, 
in anticipation of our entry into Khotan on the 
morrow. 



CHAPTBK XI 

KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 

There is no article of traffic more valuable than lumps of a certain 
transparent kind of marble, which we, from poverty of language, 
usually call jasper. These marbles are called by the Chinese lusce.^ 
— Benedict Goes, 1603 a.d. 

To Mrs. St. George Littledale belongs the distinction 
of being the first EngUsh, if not European, woman to 
enter the town of Khotan, and I felt proud at being 
the next to follow in her footsteps. We had travelled 
over three hundred miles from Kashgar to this 
farthest city in the East of Chinese Turkestan, and 
hundreds of miles of desert lay between it and any 
place of importance in the Celestial Empire. A 
broad sandy road shaded by trees led to the capital, 
broken only by the wide stony bed of the Karakash 
Eiver, the three branches of which we forded with 
ease, since much of the water had been drawn off 
for irrigation purposes into a broad canal. 

Khan Sahib Badrudin, the British Agent, a fine- 
looking old man in a long coat of rich brocade and 
a snowy turban, met us and, dismounting from his 
showy horse, conducted us to the usual dasturkhwan. 
We were told that he wielded great power in the 
city. He was so frank: and hearty that I took to 

' lusce is Yu-shih or Jade stone, 

209 p 



210 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^t. i 

him on the spot, and after running the gauntlet of 
the other receptions, we were conducted by him to 
his newly built and elaborately ornamented garden- 
house. During our tour we had the good fortime 
to be quartered in three entirely new residences, 
which any traveller who knows the dirt and squalor 
of the East will recognise as no small boon. 

Badrudin's " garden," in common with all that I 
saw, was intersected with irrigation channels, had no 
paths, and was planted with a confused, ill-grown 
mass of fruit trees, so crowded together that his 
orchard produced a very indifferent crop. Flowers 
are usually conspicuous by their absence in these 
pleasaunces, although one sometimes comes across 
zinnias, asters and marigolds, but to me their redeem- 
ing feature was the shefang, and at Khotan the 
open-air parlour was a particularly large and hand- 
some one, curtained round with muslin that ensured 
some privacy without excluding the air. 

The trees surrounding it were the roosting-place of 
hundreds of small birds, and about five o'clock every 
evening they would appear in a large flock and a 
fearful squabbling would ensue, caused, I imagined, 
by their desire to take possession of one another's pet 
twigs. After half an hour they settled down, and only 
a few drowsy murmurs would be heard as one bird 
or another made a sleepy remark. 

At Khotan I was anxious to replenish our butter- 
jars, but fear that no one will believe me when I say 
that the united efiorts of five cows during two days 
only resulted in a single pound of butter ! There 
is no grazing in these oases, and the animals are 
allowed on the fields only when the crops have been 
gathered, their usual feed being a bundle of lucerne, 



CH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 211 

fresh or dried according to tlie season, a meagre 
dietary not conducive to a plentiful supply of milk. 

My brother, as in all towns, was busy in receiving 
and returning oflS.cial visits and in settling cases, some 
of wbicb had been in abeyance for years. One of 
these interested me particularly, as I was brought 
into touch with it in a way. It was concerned with 
righting a widow whose relatives were trying to de- 
fraud her of property that justly belonged to her, and 
the poor soul waylaid me as I was returning from a 
ride and, seizing my hand, kissed it repeatedly, with 
loud lamentations that went to my heart. When 
justice had been done, and she was reinstated, the old 
lady came to my brother to express her gratitude, 
which she evinced by kissing the hem of his riding- 
coat, to his great embarrassment. 

I had visitors of my own, as Badrudin's three 
wives, accompanied by his eldest son, wearing a suit 
of would-be British cut, called upon me. The chief 
wife was a handsome Afghan lady, her eyebrows 
painted with antimony in order to make them meet 
across her forehead, and as she spoke Persian we got 
on well together. She had plenty of character, and 
it was evident that she kept the other wives in. due 
subjection. Despite the heat the ladies wore rich 
velvet jackets and had gold or silver braid on the 
brims of their velvet hats, and long white shawls 
shrouding them from head to foot. They enjoyed 
sampUng the cakes and biscuits that I provided for 
tea, and liked seeing the curios that we had bought 
in the town, some quaint jade monkeys throwing 
them aU into convulsions of laughter and most effect- 
ually breaking the ice between my visitors and myself. 
As a result I felt quite at home with them when I 



212 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

went next day to return their call, merely passing 
througli a door in the wall of our garden into theirs, 
where I found them installed in a shabby old house 
very difierent from the gorgeous edifice in which we 
had our quarters, and which I suspected would be 
entirely reserved for the men of the household when 
we departed. Owing to the emigration of the men, 
the women, as at Kashgar and Yarkand, are in great 
preponderance, and here, as throughout Chinese 
Turkestan, the cheapness of marriage encourages fre- 
quent divorce and so lowers the status of the wives. 

But, on the other hand, the women mix freely 
with the men, sell their wares in the bazars and 
practically dispense with the face-veil. It may be 
that the superior freedom enjoyed by the women of 
KJiotan centuries ago has been handed down to their 
descendants. According to Remusat, the Chinese 
writers remark again and again that the women 
mixed with the men even when strangers were 
present, and rode like the men on horses and camels. 
It is curious to note that over a thousand years ago 
the women wore the long coats and trousers and 
plaited their hair just as they do at the present day, 
the hair of yaks' tails being used then as now to 
thicken and lengthen these tresses, which are adorned 
with gold or silver tassels. 

Badrudin rode out with us one morning to see 
Ilchi, as the inhabitants call their city, and I thought 
that the people looked as sickly as those of Yarkand. 
Goitre was very prevalent, and there were, alas, many 
idiots to be seen, both the bodily and the mental 
afflictions being probably caused by the limited 
supply of water, which is kept in tanks, a sure 
method in the East of propagating disease. 




BEGGARS AT THE GATE. 



Page 212. 



OH- XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 213 

Ttree years before our visit a large part of the 
principal bazar had been destroyed by fire, and our 
host had lost many shops on this occasion ; but the 
visitation was a blessing in disguise, for neat wooden 
stalls with well-made shutters had been built in place 
of the former dirty, untidy booths. We were taken to 
see the principal mosques and shrines, architecturally 
beneath notice and all very shabby in appearance, 
and beyond the bazar was the dismantled mud brick 
fort erected by Yakub Beg. Separated from the old 
native town was the modern China-town, walled in 
and dominated by a fort, and on all sides stretched 
the well-watered oasis. Maize, barley, millet, buck- 
wheat, rice, cotton, hemp, grapes, peaches, melons 
and mulberries were grown in. abundance, while the 
numberless irrigation channels were planted with 
poplars and willows which serve as fuel. 

Khotan is famous for its silks and felts, its cotton 
cloth, carpets, paper and jade, but the modern silk 
carpets with their aniline dyes are not artistic, and 
the few old ones to be found command an exorbitant 
price. In Rockhill's Life of the Buddha there is a 
curious legend relating to the introduction of the silk 
industry into the province. A king of Khotan 
married a Chinese princess, who wished to benefit 
the country of her adoption by teaching its inhabitants 
how to make silk. She had, brought the eggs of the\ 
silkworm with her, concealed in her hat, as one version 
has it; but the Chinese ministers, who were determined 
that Cathay should retain the monopoly of a lucrative 
trade, told the credulous king that the harmless worms 
would turn into venomous serpents and ravage the 
land. The monarch in a panic commanded the 
rearing-house to be burnt down ; but his wife managed 



214 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

to save some of the caterpillars, and later on appeared 
in beautiful garments woven from their silk. Her 
husband, realizing that he had been duped by the 
Chinese, repented of his foolish act and thence- 
forth warmly fostered an industry that greatly con- 
tributed to the prosperity of his kingdom. 

Silk is said to have been made in China from remote 
ages, for it is recorded that to the wife of an emperor 
who reigned about 21,640 B.C. (sic) belongs the credit 
of inventing the loom ; but the secret was guarded so 
jealously that centuries passed before the industry 
took root in Khotan and Central Asia. At the com- 
mencement of the Christian era raw silk was literally 
worth its weight in gold, and we read that the Emperor 
Justinian had a monopoly of the costly stufE and set 
up weaving-looms in his palace. The story goes that 
he persuaded two Persian monks to bring him the 
precious eggs from Cathay at the risk of their lives, 
for death would have been the penalty had the 
Chinese discovered the contents of the hoUow bamboo 

^tafE which they carried to Byzantium about a.d. 550. 
Khotan is believed to be the district from which those 
eggs and the great silk industry of Europe actually 
came, and only at the present day has it been necessary 
to procure a fresh supply of the former from the East 

I to renew the original stock brought across the desert 

\ so many centuries ago. 

\ It was interesting to visit the chief silk factory of 
fehotan, where thousands of pale yellow cocoons were 
being boiled in big cauldrons, in defiance of the 
command of the Chinese princess, who said that such 
a proceeding was a sin against the light, and would be 
followed by a silkworm famine during the following 
year. Beside these vats women were squatting who 



OH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 215 

deftly picked a thread from each cocoon, unwinding 
it until it was ready to be handed on to other women 
sitting beside primitive spinning-wheels, who wound 
the threads ofi upon a spool. From small reels the 
shining silk was wound on to large ones, and finally 
it was hung up in thick hanks of delicious creamy 
colour, ready for export. The native-woven silk is 
coarse in texture and dull when compared with that 
produced from European looms, but when dyed with 
deep vegetable colourings it has an indescribably rich 
appearance, and much of it is exported to India. 

Yu is the Chinese name for jade or nephrite, and 
Yu-tien or Khotan signifies Kingdom of Jade ; there- 
fore I was naturally anxious to obtain all the informa- 
tion I could about this stone, which is valued above all 
others in China and is even spoken of as " the quint- 
essence of Heaven and Earth." The jade of Khotan 
has been known to the Chinese for over two thousand 
years. Eemusat points out that there are references 
to it as far back as 140 B.C., and it was often sent as 
tribute from the rulers of the province to the Emperor 
of China. 

One Chinese author compares a wise man to jade, 
affirming that both have five of the same good qualities, 
and another talks of the different colours of the stone, 
saying it is red as the comb of a cock, yellow as a 
cooked chestnut, and so on. Again, a third writer 
af&rms that it gives forth light and a perfume, and 
others speak of its weight and of the way in which it 
can be imitated and how easily it can be dyed. 

In popular belief the Jade River was separated 
into three branches that carried down the white, 
black and green varieties respectively from the mines 
situated at its source ; and in bygone days the King 



216 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

of Khotan used to inaugurate the " Jade Harvest," 
or season of tbe year when his subjects began to fish 
in the streams for the precious stone. This beautiful 
mineral is found in veins running through rocks of 
schist or gneiss, and is of almost every shade of white, 
grey, green, yeUow, or black. Until the recent 
revolution it was worn profusely by the royalties 
and their courtiers, and was buried with the. dead 
in the form of bracelets and amulets, a carved bowl, 
screen or goblet being a choice gift for the Emperor 
to send to a ruling sovereign, in which connection a 
jade screen presented to Queen Victoria was valued 
at £300,000 by English experts. 

Badrudin took us into the town to see the jade 
workers turning cups on lathes and polishing them 
by means of sand. On the ground lay some small dull 
green boulders, the stone in its raw state, and I was 
told that, had they been white flecked with green, 
they would have fetched between two and three 
hundred pounds apiece. After the white, the yellow 
is the most highly prized, and then comes the green and 
lastly the black, for which the famous cenotaph of 
Tamerlane at Samarkand is renowned. But alas, 
since the revolution the royal stone is no longer 
popular in China, and the export to Peking has 
practically ceased. To counterbalance this there is 
a small demand for it in India, where it is bought by 
the British ; but so low has the industry fallen that 
my brother and I could not procure nearly as many 
cups as we wished. The best that we found were a 
transparent black speckled with moss green, most 
beautiful when held up to the light ; but only f our 
of these goblets could be bought, and the rest of our 
purchases were in an attractive dull reseda green 



CH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 217 

that reminded me of sea-water in its translucent 
delicacy. 

One day we rode out to inspect the old jade pits 
several miles to the east of the city, Badrudin 
supplying us with horses, as our own always enjoyed 
a well-earned rest whenever we halted. He and his 
son escorted us through the Oasis to the broad stone- 
strewn bed of the Yurungkash or White Jade Eiver, 
which we easily forded. We then trotted and cantered 
along sandy paths between the high mud walls of 
countless gardens. Our goal was a wide tract, 
formerly a river-bed, now a series of pits ringed with 
boulders, the result of digging for jade during the 
centuries. The sand-dunes of the great desert had 
crept to the edge of the masses of rubble, among 
which our horses painfully stumbled as we examined 
the so-called mines, holes about a dozen feet iu depth. 
It is at that distance from the surface that the blocks 
of jade washed down in bygone days are to be found, 
the jade obtained from the mines being soft and 
inferior in quality. Few finds of value are made 
nowadays, and all good pieces are sent direct to 
Peking, the Khotan craftsmen being unable to 
execute the carving for which the Chinese are famous. 
The glory of Khotan was its jade, and it was owing 
to the high esteem in which the Chinese held this 
stone that we hear so much about the province 
from the early pilgrims and travellers. 

When the Chinese travellers Fa-hien and Hiuen 
Tsiang visited the province, in the fifth and seventh 
centuries respectively, there were many towns in the 
kingdom which are now buried beneath the desert 
sand, and according to the accounts of both pilgrims 
there were a hundred Buddhist monasteries in the 



218 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^t. i 

Oasis. It appears that the Khotanis were not whole- 
hearted followers of the Master, for we hear that the 
adherents to Buddhism were violently persecuted 
towards the end of the ninth century, by those that 
worshipped spirits ; but the religion lingered on until 
it was finally extinguished by Islam, which swept like 
a great wave through Chinese Turkestan. 

On the day that we left Ilchi we made a detour 
in order to visit the site of Yotkan, which was the 
capital of the province a thousand years ago. Old 
Badrudin led us a zigzag course round low-walled 
fields, and after four or five miles announced that 
we had reached our goal. We then dismounted and 
scrambled down a muddy slope on to a stretch of 
cultivated ground at the foot of a low cliff. This 
latter had been cut through by a yar, or ravine 
created by the action of the water which had escaped 
from an irrigation canal, and this yar revealed bits 
of gold and debris of all kinds on its banlcs. Sir Aurel 
Stein, who began his famous excavations with the 
investigation of this site, points out that without this 
fortunate accident the city so often mentioned in 
the Chinese annals might never have been discovered. 
The inhabitants of the village close by immediately 
began to dig for treasure, washing the earth for gold, 
and by their efforts the fields had been lowered several 
feet, because the strata containing the finds were 
some thirteen feet beneath the surface. Sir Aurel 
Stein discovered no remains of buildings, but was 
not surprised at this, for mud bricks crumble away 
in the course of centuries ; and it also occurred to 
me that perhaps the peasants may follow the custom 
of the Persian cultivator, who uses the debris of ruins 
as a dressing for his crops. Moreover, as the fields 



CH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 219 

lying on the site of Yotkan were irrigated, the action 
of the water would soon disintegrate any buildings 
constructed of sun-dried bricks. The fact that the 
soil lies to-day some nine to twenty feet above the 
old capital is due to the system of irrigation ; for 
the water let in over the fields carries much silt 
with it. The roads throughout all the oases in 
Turkestan are from this cause much lower than the 
fields, while the cemeteries, not being cultivated, are 
at about the same level as the roads. 

Badrudin told us the current legend that Yotkan 
had been destroyed by a great flood which over- 
whelmed both the city and its inhabitants, but 
Sir Aurel Stein shows this theory to be untenable, 
although he apparently ofiers no other to account 
for the desertion of what was an important city 
ten centuries ago. 

Our host showed us various interesting objects 
found on the spot, a beautiful terra-cotta vase with 
a Buddha on either side being the chief, together 
with tiny terra-cotta figurines and a white jade ring. 
I was told that the Chinese archers wear these rings 
on their little fingers to keep them from being cut 
when they twang their bows. Sir Aurel Stein bought 
a tiny monkey made of gold, and says that there is 
stUl a small but profitable yield of the precious metal 
in the form of gold-leaf, which was used extensively 
to decorate the Buddhist temples and statues. 
Fa-hien mentions the splendour of these shrines and 
their attendant monasteries in the fifth century, and 
Eemusat gives details of the gorgeous ceremonial 
worship. 

When we left Yotkan we rode to Zawa, where we 
rested, in anticipation of the night march across 



220 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- 1 

the desert to the serai of Ak Langar. In spite of 
our protests, genial old Badrudin insisted on accom- 
panying us thus far on our homeward way, and it was 
not till half -past eight that night that with sincere 
regret we said good-bye to him. The moon, now 
in its third quarter, had not risen, and our late host 
did us a final good office by sending his body-servant 
ahead of our party, carrying a little native lamp of 
classic design with two wicks hanging from its spout. 
He proved a most useful torch-bearer, for the dark- 
ness under the trees of the oasis seemed impenetrable 
at first, and he pointed out the many small bridges 
and irrigation channels over which our horses might 
have come to grief in the all-pervading gloom. Time 
and again the feeble light seemed about to be ex- 
tinguished by the breeze, but it held out until we 
were free of the village, and we were then put in 
charge of a Chinese runner who was to be our guide 
across the sand-dunes. The British Agent's trusty 
henchman now dismounted, kissed my brother's 
knee in token of farewell and, to my astonishment, 
actually wept, though I cynically reflected that this 
emotion must be due rather to the amount of 
his pourboire than to affection for the British Consul. 
Half an hour later the moon cast a faint gleam 
across the desert, and we walked our horses in the 
track of the tall, wiry guide who kept ahead of 
us all the time, now and then breaking into a run 
when he reached the crest of a dune or descending it 
with great leaps. Our horses certainly walked at the 
rate of four miles an hour on an average, but the 
ya-yieh did the ten miles to the serai without turning 
a hair and arrived in better condition than I did. I 
had had a fatiguing day ; for there is always much 



OH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 221 

to do when setting ofi again after a longish halt, and, 
counting the distance to and from Yotkan, I had 
ridden nearly forty miles. This in itself was nothing, 
as I loved being in the saddle ; but it was trying to 
set ofi on a second march at the hour when I was 
usually making ready for bed, and I felt grateful to 
the pure tonic air of the desert that made me feel 
as fit as ever on the morrow. 

Having retraced our steps to Yarkand, we made a 
detour by way of Merket, my brother being anxious 
to see that part of the country and to shoot some of 
the pheasants named after Shaw. We and our horses 
were again punted across the main stream of the 
river, and then had to ride warily, following defined 
tracks in order to escape the dangerous quicksands, 
and when we forded branches of the stream we avoided 
places where stakes protruding from the water warned 
us of holes or treacherous sands. It was rather a 
relief to clamber out upon the loess banks of the 
river, from which we had picturesque glimpses of 
sandy islets on which duck and water-birds were 
feeding, and I remember the delicious perfume of 
the melons that were laid out to dry in a field close 
to our encampment for the night. 

It was mid-October when we reached Merket, and 
my brother, who h&,d had many disappointments as 
to the duck-shooting he had been promised, felt his 
hopes revive as the natives spoke of a lake some 
four miles ofi which simply teemed with water-fowl. 
I suppose it is inbred in Orientals to say what they 
think will please a superior ; the peasants at all events 
were seemingly unconcerned as to whether their 
statements were accurate or not. On this occasion, 
for example, the so-called lake turned out to be a 



222 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

small marsh dried up by the summer heats and with 
never a sign of bird-life among its withered rushes. 
This was rather a blow ; but, on making enquiry 
about game at a prosperous-looking village that lay 
outside one of the wide belts of stunted trees through 
which the sandy road led, we heard that the jungle 
was swarming with pheasants. A party of beaters 
was improvised on the spot, and my brother went ofi 
full of hope, while I rode slowly on with old Jafar 
Bai and the one-legged Hindu trader, having agreed 
to halt for our mid-day meal a couple of miles farther 
on. And now the Hindu began to play the well- 
known game of dangling a lure before the European, 
the bait in my case being water. He professed that 
he knew every inch of the road and that a refreshing 
stream was close at hand ; but, when we had ridden 
considerably farther than the stipulated distance, I 
revolted, and stopping in the shade of the trees 
ordered lunch to be served as soon as Sattur and his 
mapa arrived. Hardly had I finished when the sport- 
ing party cantered up with the disheartening news 
that they had not seen a single pheasant. It was a 
day of disappointments ; for, as we were riding into 
camp, a servant rushed up with the news that wUd- 
duck were in abundance on a lake near which we had 
passed. Hope again revived, and'ofE my brother went, 
but, as usual, after a fata Morgana. This day is a 
sample of many. During our halt at Merket my 
brother shot only two or three of the Shaw pheasants, 
and he had no luck when he rode ofi at five o'clock 
in the morning to watch the great hunting eagles 
bring down gazelle, although they made successful 
flights at hares. Probably the scarcity of game is 
owing to the fact that the country is comparatively 




A DULANI SHAYKH. 



Page 222. 



CH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 223 

thickly populated and well-cultivated, and tliat many 
of the peasants are sportsmen and have no scruples 
as to close seasons. 

Just outside the village my brother was met by 
an old greybeard who saluted in military style, and 
it turned out that he had been formerly in a 
Panjabi regiment, and had been sent into Turkestan 
with letters for Dalgleish, whose murder resounded 
through Central Asia a generation ago. 

Merket is interesting as beiag the home of the 
Dulanis, supposed to be Kirghiz who settled on the 
land a couple of centuries ago when the Kalmucks 
ruled the province. These people are remarkable as 
being Moslems who mix freely with their women, the 
latter going about unveiled, and eating, dancing and 
singing with the men at entertainments which often 
last the whole night long. They have a great re- 
putation as singers, and one morning we were favoured 
with a performance, the songster being a tall grey- 
beard clad in a long red robe and a sheepskin cap. 
He beat on a tambourine-hke instrument, throwing 
his head into the air and emitting tremendously long- 
drawn notes and then taking breath in deep gasps, 
much as the Germans sing their Lieder in Lutheran 
churches. His songs seemed full of repetition, he 
made fearful grimaces, and as he yelled at the top 
of his voice, I was not surprised that after a while 
he became hoarse. His companion played a rubab, a 
stringed instrument much like a mandoline, the 
plectrum being a bit of wood, and crowds of 
villagers gathered to hear the performance, to which 
they listened in enraptured silence ; for we were 
told that the singer was renowned throughout the 
district. 



224 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES p^. i 

Iftikhar Ahmad kindly translated for me two of 
his songs, which run as follows : 

If I say that I am a Mohamedan and do not keep th.e commands 

of AUah 
How shall I escape punishment when I am laid in the dark grave ? 
No young girls will dance at my bidding. 
They have blackened their eyebrows with hohl and refuse to bow 

down before the youths. 

The second is the lament of a love-sick maiden : 

1 

Oh, my beloved, fresh coloured as an apple, 

I entrust thee to the keeping of Allah until we meet again. 



Oh, that I could ride to Aksu on my white horse newly-shod, 
Or could see thee, my love, walking beside the river. 



I am feeble as a rush, I am in the power of a giant ; 

I cannot sleep at night and am forced to think of thee all day long. 



Alas, my love has gone from me in anger and how shall I persuade 

him to forgive me ? 
I will place tea ^ before him and by dancing and s mili ng I will 

make my peace with him. 

The Merket bazar was one of the poorest and 
most squalid I had seen in the course of my travels, 
and was in curious contrast to the apparent pros- 
perity of the large oasis. The inhabitants, who 
hovered about our camp all day long, were certaijily 
of a lower type than the ordinary villagers of Chinese 
Turkestan, but as far as I could judge they did not 
merit the scathing condemnation of one writer, who 
says : " These people are in the most backward state 
of human intelligence that it is possible to imagine 

* To offer tea is a symbol of apology. 







DULANI MUSICIANS. 



Page 224. 



OH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 225 

human beings to be capable of. In physical strength 
and stature they are perhaps the most miserable 
objects on the face of the earth, but their social 
position is still more deplorable . . ." 

When we left Merket we plunged into sand covered 
with low tamarisk scrub and the toghrah tree, populus 
heterophyllus, peculiar, I understand, to Chinese 
Turkestan, which looks like a cross between the 
willow and the poplar. When this tree is quite 
young all the leaves are pinnated, like those of the 
willow ; at an older stage the upper part has the 
poplar leaf, and when it is full-grown there is no 
trace of the narrow willow-like leaf, which has 
dropped off. It was now mid-October and the 
foliage was a brilliant gold, bright as the trees in a 
Canadian fall, but without the flaming scarlets of the 
maple and oak of the Dominion. 

We and our belongings had to cross the Yarkand 
Kiver again in one of the clumsy ferry-boats, and the 
vigorous-looking boatman was obliged to make such 
Herculean efiorts to pole his unwieldy craft round 
that I was not surprised to learn that men of his 
calling contract heart complaint from the strain. 

The ferryman's wife, a handsome young woman, 
charmingly clad in a rainbow-striped coat and a green 
velvet gold-embroidered cap, watched her husband's 
progress, and I was told that she was a Dulani. 
Certainly she looked a credit to her tribe, as she strolled 
about unconcernedly among the men, with many of 
whom she exchanged greetings. Her bare feet were 
thrust into the overshoes that all wear over the long 
riding-boots, and her big silver earrings added to the 
picturesqueness of her appearance. I was seated on 
a felt beside a table heaped with grapes and melons, 

Q 



226 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

and smiled at lier as she gradually edged up to me 
on pretence of flicking tlie flies ofi tlie fruit. She held 
her pretty little boy by the hand, the child all too 
warmly clad in a padded red coat and fur cap, and 
a small gift unsealed her lips, putting us on such 
friendly terms that she was delighted to be photo- 
graphed by the first European woman she had ever 
seen. 

And now we turned our backs on the Yarkand 
River and were piloted across sandy tracks and rode 
through barren spaces dotted with tamarisk, towards 
the dimes of a strip of desert, the loose sand of 
which made the going heavy for oiir horses. The 
sun sank at half -past five and, as is usual in 
the East, there was hardly any twilight, but by the 
waning moonlight we could see the track as we 
plodded along, our horses snorting suspiciously and 
starting at isolated tamarisk bushes or stunted toghrah 
trees. At last we surmounted a dime and saw below 
us a deserted mud building and the gleam of a pool 
of water, indicating the goal of our march. To me 
there was something curiously eerie in the scene ; for 
the moonlight cast strange shadows, and the dfesert 
seemed as if it were listening for I knew not what, 
reminding me of Meredith's lines : 

I neighbour the invisible 

So close that my consent 
Is only asked for spirits masked 

To leap from trees and flowers. 

The servants and horses had disappeared round the 
ruined rest-house, and I had a queer sense that things 
seldom seen by mortal eyes would have revealed 
themselves had I been quite alone. I remember 
strolling up to a largish toghrah tree, under which 







<•:>' V •■ 




A DULANI WOMAN AND HER SON. 



Page 226. 



OH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 227 

a little tent was to be pitched for me, and what 
was perhaps a big rat ran down the bark with in- 
credible speed and seemed to vanish, and later on, as 
my brother and I walked back along the road to 
listen for the mapa which was to bring Sattur and 
our evening meal, some creature, probably a fox, 
noiselessly rushed past us like a flash, giving the 
impression of being a shadow rather than anything 
material. 

The water here was brown and bitter and smelt 
so disagreeably that neither we nor our animals could 
quench our thirst. When the waggons came up they 
made only a short halt and went on at 2 a.m., and 
we ourselves followed soon after, as we were anxious 
to water our horses, not to mention our own thirst. 

The usual early morning breeze changed to a wind 
that blew up clouds of sand ; therefore we pushed 
forward as fast as we could, in case a real sandstorm 
should overtake us. This particular tract of desert is 
called Karakum or Black Sand, and I imagined that the 
name must be some kind of native joke, as the sand 
was particularly white. We rode on hour after hour 
and were thankful finally to reach a serai, before which 
stood a trough full of water. My chestnut was so 
impatient to quench his thirst that he kicked my ankle 
as I dismounted, presumably to hasten my move- 
ments. He was always a bad-tempered animal — 
Shaitan (Satan) the grooms called him — snapping with 
his ears laid back at any human being or animal within 
reach ; but in spite of this he was my favourite on the 
march, as none of our other horses could rival his 
elastic walk and easy canter. I was thankful that he 
had not started kicking earlier in our acquaintance ; 
for on every subsequent occasion that I rode him he 



228 THEOUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. i 

lashed out at me as I slipped from th.e saddle, and in 
order to save me from a broken ankle my brother 
was obliged to hold up his fore-leg; so perforce I 
changed to another mount. 

There are many advantages in travelling officially, 
transport and supply being thus made easy, but never 
before had roads and bridges been mended in honour 
of our arrival, as was the case in the Merket district. 
The highway was dotted at intervals with parties of 
peasants who were piling earth over the many holes 
in the bridges, and driving rows of stakes into the 
groimd along the irrigation channels where the road 
had broken away. These stakes would then be 
padded with maize-bents, reeds or tamarisk scrub, 
and plastered over with thick lumps of wet mud. 
This method of road-making, which prevails through- 
out Chinese Turkestan, is by no means an ideal one, 
for when the earth and padding fall away the points 
of the props stick out in a manner most dangerous 
to horses if going at any pace. 

The glorious weather we had had on the whole 
was now changing, and, after a gale so violent that 
our tents that night seemed to be in danger every 
moment, we became aware of the approach of winter. 
The sun had vanished, a grey veil lay over the land- 
scape, and there was black frost in the air. The villagers 
had donned their padded red, black or blue long 
winter coats, those of the women being often striped 
in many colours, and all wore their pork-pie hats of 
velvet or cloth edged with fur or sheepskin and looked 
cold and miserable. Jafar Bai amused us by pointing 
out a shady spot where we could eat our mid-day 
lunch, with his usual formula, "Here you will find 
shelter from the sun," although he himself had told 



CH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 229 

us that it was now the season of the storms that 
herald in the winter. 

October 20 was the id, or festival to commemor- 
ate the sacrifice of Ishmael by Abraham (so the 
Koran has it, quite ignoring the Isaac of the Bible), 
and our servants were naturally eager to arrive at 
Kashgar on the previous evening, the id being an 
occasion of feasting as well as of prayer in the mosques. 

As usual we suffered from the vague ideas of the 
natives concerning distances, and the so-caUed twenty- 
mile ride, that was to bring us within easy reach 
of Kashgar, dragged out to a thirty-mile march, 
which, to me at all events, was peculiarly dreary. 
It lay along sandy tracks crossing great stretches 
of crumbling salt-encrusted soil, with here and there 
a reed-covered lake or swamp that alternated with 
strips of cultivation. The grey mist hung round 
us, hiding villages and trees untU we arrived quite 
close to them, and seeming to enclose us in a ghostly 
world with a curiously depressing atmosphere of its 
own. I felt as if we were in one of Maeterlinck's 
plays, so heavily did a sense of impending disaster 
weigh upon me, in spite of vigorous struggles on the 
part of my common-sense. No misfortune overtook 
us save that the servants were deprived of the eve 
of their festival ; for my brother decreed that, id or 
no id, we should halt for the night by a broad canal 
running parallel with the Kizil Su. It was well that 
he did so ; for aU our horses were tired out, and 
next day, even with the stimulus of their homes 
ahead of them, they could scarcely manage the twenty 
miles that lay between our last camp and Kashgar. 
Delightful as our tour had been, it was very pleasant 
to be in a clean, well-built house once more, and to 



230 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. i 

be welcomed efEusively by Bielka and Brownie. I was 
thankful to see them botk in good condition, as well 
as the sweet little desert lark in its round cage. 

Khotan, with its silk and jade, the desert, and the 
Yarkand Eiver, receded into the backgroimd ; for in 
about six weeks' time we should be leaving Kashgar 
for good, and setting our faces towards Europe and 
home. 

Indeed, I was not altogether sorry, for at first 
after our return Kashgar, enveloped in a frosty grey 
mist, was sunless and cold, and the revel of colour 
that the Kashgaris had displayed ia their garments 
during the summer had gone. Fortunately in this 
part of the world the winter is short ; for the 
houses are not designed to keep out the cold, and 
the people are too poor to heat them. Fuel is so 
dear that it is used only for cooking, and during 
the day the natives usually sit huddled up in 
sheltered spots and bask in the sunshine, which 
luckily does not fail them for long at a time. From 
December 22 to the beginning' of February is called 
the " Forty Days of the Great Cold," and it is 
followed by the " Little Cold," which lasts about 
twenty days. It has sometimes happened, when a 
wind blew during the " Great Cold," that peasants 
coming in to market on their donkeys have been 
frozen to death. In consequence of this the Chinese 
have passed a law that, if any one demands shelter 
at a house during this period and dies because the 
door is shut against him, the inhospitable owner of 
that house is to be tried for murder. 

We had enjoyed the very best of the year, and 
were fortunate to leave without seeing Kashgar at 
its worst, graphically described by Lord Dunmore, 



OH. XI KHOTAN THE KINGDOM OF JADE 231 

tkus : "It is as desolate, dirty and uninteresting 
looking a city as can possibly be imagined ... a 
series of yawning abysses ; roads full of gaping 
cbasms . . . tumbledown mud houses, obsolete mud 
cemeteries. . . . [The town is] always either swim- 
ming in mud or smothered in dust, and what offends 
the eye still more is the one uniform melancholy tint 
of dirty drab that pervades the whole picture. . . ." 
To me it wUl always remain a most picturesque 
and interesting place, embowered in foliage, sur- 
rounded by water and gilded by sunshine, while 
its brilliantly clad, pleasant - mannered inhabitants 
greatly contributed to its charm. 

Sir George Macartney arrived in November and 
we again started off through Central Asia and 
Northern Europe, reaching home about a month 
later, when the War, with its urgent claims upon every 
man and woman, took possession of our thoughts and 
energies. But I shall never forget the wonderful 
sunsets of Kashgar seen through a haze of gold, or 
the glorious dome of Muztagh Ata, the immense 
sweep of the desert over which the moon and stars 
hung Hke lamps in a sky of sapphire velvet, and the 
friendly races, Turki or Kirghiz, who added so greatly 
to the pleasure of my last experience of the Open 
Road. 



PART II 



CHAPTER XII 

THE GEOGRAPHY, GOVERNMENT AND COMMERCE OP 
CHINESE TtJRKESTAN 

Le Turkestan est pour les Chinois une position strat6gique et un 
excellent d6bouch6 pour I'aristooratie mandarine qxii ne trouve plus 
assez de places disponibles dans la vieiEe Chine. C'est tout simplement 
une bonne terra de p&ture pour engraisser une portion notable du 
troupeatt administrateur — Gbenabd, La Haute Asie, ii. 273. 

Hsin-Chiang, or " the New Province," as tlie Chinese 
term it, includes the province now generally known 
as Chinese Turkestan, together with Urumchi and 
other districts situated to the north of the Tian Shan 
which lie outside the scope of this work. The 
province we are dealing with has had many names, 
such as Lesser Bokhara, Moghulistan, Tartary, High 
Tartary, Eastern Turkestan, the Six Cities and 
Kashgaria, the last ioai names having been in use 
until quite recently. 

The country is a vast plaia, measuriag about 1000 
mUes from east to west and about half that distance 
from north to south. Its altitude is some 4000 feet 
in the west, and decreases steadily as it stretches 
eastwards, until at Turfan an area lying below sea- 
level is found. The physical boundaries are definite, 
being formed by some of the loftiest moimtains in 
the world. To the north runs the Tian Shan ; to 

235 



236 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES ^t. u 

the west lies the Kizil Art, holding up the Pamirs, 
those elevated valleys of High Asia ; on the south 
are the lofty Kara Koram and Kuen Lun ranges, 
the latter being the Kasia Mountains of Ptolemy, 
bounding Serindia, as he termed the province. The 
eastern boundary is the vast Gobi or " Desert," 
where Sir Francis Younghusband travelled for nearly 
one thousand miles without seeing a house. 

The Takla Makan desert, distinct from the Gobi, 
occupies the centre of the country. From east to 
west this paralysing waste stretches for 500 mQes, 
whUe its greatest breadth from north to south is 
half that distance. It is indeed a Land of Death, 
covered with monstrous sandhills, which overlie the 
ruins of great cities and dense forests and represent 
the triumph of the wind, combined with desiccation, 
over the patient industry of man. There are also 
smaller deserts, such as that lying between Merket 
and Kashgar, which we crossed on our journey. 
\ Chinese Turkestan may be described as a desert, 
or series of deserts, fringed by oases forming a horse- 
shoe, with the toe pointing west. In Persia, except 
in the heart of the Lut, there are villages at intervals 
aU over the country, depending mainly on the 
\ underground irrigation channels termed Jcanats, 
\ whereas in Chinese Turkestan, outside a few large 
loases, more fertile than any areas in Persia, 
jthe desert is of a more intense type, and rarely 
(supports even a scanty covering of bushes such as 
are usually found in Persia. Indeed the desert, 
with its waves of sand advancing in regular lines 
and rising to the height of perhaps one hundred 
feet, is the most noticeable feature of the country, 
which is -full of legends of the destruction through 




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cH.xn CHINESE TURKESTAN 237 

this agency of many famous cities. Th.e description 
of Hiuen Tsiang, the great Chinese tra-veller, is worth 
quoting : " These sands extend like a drifting flood 
for a great distance, piled up or scattered before the 
wind. There is no trace left behind by travellers, 
and often-times the way is lost, and so they wander 
hither and thither, quite bewildered, without any 
guide or direction. There is neither water nor herb- 
age to be found, and hot winds frequently blow. 
When these winds rise, both man and beast become 
confused and forgetful, and there they remain 
perfectly disabled. At times, sad and plaintive notes 
are heard and piteous cries, so that between the 
sights an(^ sounds of this desert men get confused 
and know not whither they go. Hence there are 
so many who perish on the journey. But it is all 
the work of demons and evil spirits." ^ 

It has been calculated that the area of the oases 
is rathgr_lessjth^5_li per^entjDf the whole, so that 
if the deserts were taken away we should have to 
deal with a very small stretch of habitable country. 
As it is, we see oases, generally separated by miles 
of desert, all producing wheat, barley and other 
essentials within their own limits, and therefore 
needing but little communication with their neigh- 
bours, from whom they want nothing and to whom 
they sell nothing. The result is a state of general 
well-being, unprogressive in character and tending 
to stagnation. The more one travels the more one 
realizes how the progress and prosperity of a country 
depend upon good commimications and an abundant 
rainfall. 

There is another point of view from which the 

1 Si-Tu-Ki, by S. Beal, ii. pp. 324, 325. 



238 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

detached oases have affected the history of the region. 
They have never possessed enough resources to 
support a powerful army; but, owing to their isola- 
tion and proximity to the mountains, they were 
doomed to become the prey of every powerful force 
which swept down from the undefended frontier and 
took the cultivated areas iu detail. The inhabitants 
have at no time displayed military virtues, and are 
to-day singularly unwarlike. 

^ Of the rivers of the province, the Yarkand, known 
in its upper reaches as the Zarafshan, and lower 
down as the Tarim, is the most important. It 
frequently changes its course, and is perhaps respon- 
sible for the proverb, " A river, like a king, obeys no 
law." Its chief tributaries are the Ak Su from the 
north and the Khotan River from the south. The 
Kizil Su or "Red River," which flows through 
Kashgar, was also in past times a tributary of the 
Yarkand River, but it now fails to reach the main 
stream, for its water falls into the Labnoi marsh 
below Maralbashi. Other rivers do not even 
approach the Zarafshan, but lose their waters in 
the sands. 

It is a far cry from Egypt to Chinese Turkestan, 
but they are aUke in this, that both countries 
depend absolutely and entirely on rivers for their 
life. .As in Egypt, so in the basin of Chinese 
Turkestan, there is no rainfall which counts ; every- 
thing therefore depends on a full river. The snow- 
fall on the ranges affects the volume of water, which 
on the whole is decreasing. " The Land of Withering 
Rivers " is the appropriate title of a chapter dealing 
with this question in Huntington's The Pulse of Asia. 
Apart from this, ^ pold summer in the Paniirs,|"such 



oH.xn CHINESE TUEKESTAN 239 

as occurred in 1915, may hinder the melting of the 
snows to such an extent that very little water 
reaches Maralbashi, below Kashgar, during the entire 
summer ; and even in the Kashgar Oasis there was in 
that year a distinct deficiency of irrigation water. . 

The climate of Chinese Turkestan is intensely 
continental. The province is surrounded, as we have 
seen, by some of the highest ranges in the world!; 
we therefore find extremes of heat and cold. KasH- 
gar, where alone meteorological observations aie 
taken, lies at an altitude of 4277 feet, and it miglt 
be thought that in consequence of this altitude, 
together with a latitude which is that of Central 
Spain, and the proximity of snow -covered ranges, 
the summer would be short and cool. Yet, mainly 
owing to the almost total absence of rainfall, the 
three summer months have a mean maximum of 
90° with a mean minimum of 62°. On the other 
hand, the three winter months have a mean maximum 
of 38° with a mean minimum of 17°, but it is to be 
noted that, owing to the dryness, the cold is not 
severely felt. The scanty rainfall of only 3*34 inches 
is distributed over the whole year and is irregular. 
During the spring and summer of 1915 no rain fell 
in Kashgar beyond a few showers which were too 
light to record, but in the mountains the falls of 
snow and rain were frequent, especially in June. 

The Kashgar Oasis certainly merits the epithet 
of " windy " during the spring. The storms blowing 
mainly from the west, or from the Takla Makan, are 
generally accompanied by clouds of dust which 
envelop the Oasis in a haze, and so prevalent is this 
condition that there are, as already mentioned, 
only one hundred clear days in the year. This 



240 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt.h 

disagreeable phenomenon was noted by Mirza Haidar, 
who, in the early part of the sixteenth century, 
wrote: "But Kashgar has also many defects. For 
example, although the climate is very healthy, there 
are continual storms of dust and sand, and violent 
winds charged with black dust." ^ 

The population of Chinese Turkestan is estimated 
at about one million and a half. It is almost entirely 
confined to the oases, chief of which are Kashgar 
with 300,000, Yangi Shahr with 200,000, Yarkand 
with 200,000, and Aksu and Khotan each wi^h 190,000 
inhabitants. The population may also be grouped 
into two main classes as " settled " and " nomadic," 
with a small semi -nomadic division. The nomads, 
together with the semi -nomads, do not aggregate 
more than 125,000 in all. They inhabit the cold 
highlands, moving about in summer and winter 
alike as their flocks exhaust the grazing, which is 
rich in summer and scanty at other seasons. The 
Kirghiz, who are the leading nomads, estimated to 
number 50,000, implicitly believe that their ancestor 
was a Kazak Prince, Saghyon Khan by name. 
According to the legend, his forty daughters were 
walking by a river one day when they remarked foam 
covering its surface. From curiosity they all dipped 
their fingers into the water, and thereby became 
pregnant, and the Kirghiz claim to be the descendants 
of these "Forty Maidens" or Kirh Kiz. This 
tradition evidently rests on a poor pun, but it proves 
that the Kirghiz regard themselves as a branch of 
the Kazaks, or " Cossacks," as we write the word. 
They furthermore believe that the same Prince had 
thirty sons, TJtuz Vghul, whose descendants inhabit 

' Tarikh-i-Rashidi, p. 303. 



OH.XII CHINESE TUEKESTAN 241 

the Alai and the country between it and the Hi 
province. In Chinese Turkestan the principal Kir- 
ghiz tribes inhabiting the uplands between Kashgar 
and the Taghdumbash Pamir are the Naiman, the 
Kapchak and the Tait. The Kirghiz are all Moslems 
of the Sunni sect. 

The Dulanis, whom we met in the Merket Oasis 
below Yarkand, are another tribe of importance in 
the province. Their origin is called in question, but 
they are akin to the Kirghiz, although they differ in 
appearance owing to their sedentary life in a forest- 
covered country. Their name is said to have been 
given them by a Khoja monarch, who termed them 
his dulan or " two shoulders." They live in miser- 
able shanties made of wood and are poor cultivators, 
relying more on their flocks than on the produce of 
their land. 

The semi-nomads include the Taghliks or " High- 
landers," who herd the flocks belonging to the 
sedentary population. They spend the summer in 
the mountains, but occupy huts or caves in the 
foot-hills during the winter ; these " Highlanders " 
are all Sunni Moslems. On the other hand, the 
Mongols of Karashahr, who in numbers are about 
equal to the Kirghiz, are all Buddhists. 

In addition to the tribes already mentioned, there 
is a strong colony of five thousand families of Tun- 
ganis, mainly immigrants from Central China, Kansu 
and Shensi. As Sunni Mohamedans converted in 
the early days of Islam they were hostile to the 
Chinese, and have rebelled more than once ; but 
during the recent Revolution they changed their 
policy and supported the local authorities. In 
consequence they are now being given posts in the 

B 



242 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt.u 

government, and at the time of my visit the com- 
mander of the troops at Khotan was a Tungani. 

To conclude this enumeration, the Tajiks, who are 
Aryans from Farghana, numbering 13,000, the Chinese 
6000, the Indians 5000 and the Abdalis 1000, make 
up the population of Chinese Turkestan. The 
Abdalis claim kinship with the Abdalis of Khorasan 
or Herat, now the Durranis. They are locally 
believed to be the descendants of Yezid, the slayer 
of the Imam Husayn at Kerbela, and until the time 
of Yakub Beg's rule are said to have acted a play in 
which the Shias are reviled. Grenard,^ who studied 
this mysterious people, came to the conclusion that 
they were the descendants of a Persian Shia colony, 
but Stein, whose authority is superior, believes that 
they are Gipsies. 

The province of Hsin-Chiang is ruled by a Chiang 
Chun 2 or Provincial Governor, who resides at 
Urumchi. Under him are Taoyin, or Governors , of 
Urumohi, Tarbagtai, IH, Aksu and Kashgar. The 
situation is complicated by the fact that the com- 
mander of the troops in the districts south of the 
Tian Shan is independent of the Governor of Urumchi, 
taking orders direct from Peking. Under the Taoyin 
of Kashgar, with which we are especially concerned, 
are Hsien Yin, or Sub-Governors, of Khotan, Yar- 
kand and other districts ; there are also ofl&cials 
appointed to deal with foreign affairs. The term 
Amhan is applicable to all Chinese oflicials, and 
is used especially as a mark of respect. The 
above-mentioned oflScials, constituting the superior 
civil service, are all Chinese, but their subordinates, 

^ La Haute Asie, ii. 308. 

' Most of these terms are new, the old titles having been abolished 
after the Bevolution. 




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0H.xn CHINESE TURKESTAN 243 

known as Begs, Ming Bashis and Yuz Bashis, are 
usually Moslems. The Begs are the local landowners 
and are generally men of considerable influence, and 
to them is entrusted the collection of the taxes, the 
administration of justice so far as minor cases are 
concerned, and the arrangements for forced labour. 
The irrigation system is also in the hands of the Begs, 
whose subordinates are elected by the cultivators of 
the district. 

The nomads are administered quite independently 
of the provincial governors, by an official generally 
known as the Hi Tartar General, who is the acknow- 
ledged head of the various tribal organisations. 
Their taxes are one-fifteenth of the crop in the case 
of those who are engaged in agriculture, and about 
the equivalent of three shillings per 100 sheep, or 
10 horses, or 5 camels ; cattle are not taxed. 

The system sketched above, by which there are 
three independent authorities in the province, is bad 
enough ; but it is made infinitely worse by the cor- 
ruption which prevails, especially in the collection 
of the revenue. On the other hand, the taxes are 
generally Ught, and the condition of the people is 
one of acquiescence in Chinese domination. 

The chief tax levied from the " settled " popu- 
lation is on land, which for this purpose is divided 
into " well - irrigated " and "white" land. The, 
survey on which the revenue is raised was that/ 
fixed after the final expulsion of the Khokandis ana 
Andijanis, when less than one-half of the land no# 
cultivated was occupied. The tax is light, amounting 
to one-tenth for the good land and one-fortieth far 
the bad land. It is payable in grain ; but, as tHe 
Chinese officials demand money, the Begs fix the raie 



244 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. u 

higli and share the difierence with their superiors. 
By this and other means the land tax is now increased 
to about one-fifth of the crop ; but prices have risen 
considerably of late years, and when prices rule high 
the farmer makes money. Apart from the land tax 
revenue is raised from registration of sales of land, 
from likin or internal customs, and from taxes on 
wine, salt, mills, etc. Labour has also to be pro- 
vided for public works and transport for the use of 
troops. For the assessment of this impost the unit 
of fifteen houses termed a choJca is taken, and each 
choka provides a labourer and a cart ; building 
material, if required, is partly paid for. Artisans, 
who are organized into guilds, are obliged, if required, 
to work for Government on five days in each month, 
and receive the equivalent of fourpence a day. In 
1913 the revenue levied by the Taoyin of Kashgar 
was as follows : 

Taels. 

Land Tax 570,000 

Tax on registration of land sales . . . 200,000 

Tax on sale of live stock 250,000 

Likin 180,000 

Miscellaneous taxes on wine, salt, flour mills 100,000 

Taels . . 1,400,000 

This sum, with the tael reckoned at 2s. 8d., is eqmva- 
lent to £186,666. The revenue is all ear-marked for 
local expenditure, 800,000 taels, or rather more than 
one-half of the entire amount, being absorbed by the 
inefficient army, which exists mainly on paper. 

The administration of justice is fairly good, 
although bribery is not uncommon. As a rule, civil 
cases are tried by the Kazis and criminal cases by 
the Begs. The Chinese authorities merely supervise, 



cH.xn CHINESE TURKESTAN 245 

and prefer ttat all cases, whether criminal or civil, 
should be settled out of court. By Chinese law no 
punishment can be inflicted without confession of 
guilt, and torture is freely administered to secure 
this confession. Punishments include beating on 
the back of the thighs above the knees, and the 
cangue, a board two feet square and weighing thirty 
pounds, which is worn round the neck ; and also 
imprisonment. Death sentences (which have to be 
confirmed at Urumchi) are carried out by hanging, 
strangling or beheading. 

In this system as a whole, as in the administration 
of justice, the Chinese work as far as possible through 
the leading inhabitants, while retaining a general 
supervision. They are very greedy for money, but 
are acute enough to avoid causing too much discon- 
tent, and they remove any official who becomes 
unpopular. In short, although their system may be 
inefficient and aims at no improvements in adminis- 
tration or communications, it is believed that the 
natives, with their memory of Yakub Beg's tyranny, 
would not care to exchange their Chinese rulers for 
Moslems. 

We come now to the trade of the province, con- 
cerning which my remarks refer mainly to the three 
cities of Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan. Kashgar, 
the residence of the Governor, is not only the chief 
town, but the centre of Eussian trade. Owing to 
its favoured position with regard to the railway at 
Andijan and the wealth of its rich oasis, the city is 
increasing in population, which is now estimated at 
80,000. Land is rising in price and there is hardly 
a vacant house. Yarkand, with 70,000 inhabitants, 
is also rich and prosperous, but in a less marked 



246 THROUGH DESERTS AM) OASES pt. n 

degree, and is the chief centre of the trade with 
India. Khotan, with a population of 50,000, is the 
centre of the manufacturing activity of the province, 
being celebrated for its jade, silk and carpets. 

The mainstay of the export trade with India is 
the drug known as charas in India, prepared from 
the hemp which is planted round the fields of maize ; 
raw silk is the next most valuable export. The chief 
articles of import from India are muslins, longcloths, 
and red cotton prints ; while spices from Southern 
India are in great and increasing demand, and 
penetrate even to the western provinces of China. 
Surat brocades are imported for covering caps and 
for women's cloaks, and I have seen some good 
specimens of the beautiful cloth of gold. 

In no part of Asia are communications more diffi- 
cult. The route to India, via Leh, perhaps the highest 
and roughest trade route in the world, runs across 
range after range of stupendous mountains, culmi- 
nating in the Kara Koram, which is crossed by a pass 
at the immense height of 18,560 feet. This track is 
open for not more than six months in the year, and 
the difficulties from storms, avalanches and flooded 
rivers are increased by the scantiness of the grazing, 
and for some six stages by the entire absence of 
villages. This trade 'v^ith India via Leh is of small 
amount, showing a total value of about £200,000 for 
1913. 

By treaty Russo-Chinese trade via Irkeshtam or 
Narin is free of customs dues. Its value in 1913 
was two and a half million roubles, or rather more 
than the British total at the pre-war rate of ex- 
change, cotton tissues being the most important 
article. The Russian flowered prints with which the 



0H.xn CHINESE TUEKESTAN 247 

natives are chiefly clothed — only the poorer classes 
wearing the dingy white native calico — are artistic, 
and make the crowds in the bazar delightfully 
picturesque. As may be supposed, the chief articles 
of export are raw materials, such as cotton, sheep- 
skins, silk and wool ; but there is also a considerable 
trade in the local white cloth, which is worn on both 
sides of the frontier, and in carpets. 

The trade with Afghanistan is local and is mainly 
with the province of Badakshan, the imports being 
almonds, pistachio and gall-nuts, and the horses which 
were famous even in Marco Polo's day. Opium, too, 
is smuggled in considerable quantities ; the lapis 
lazuli mines are not worked regularly, but occasional 
blocks are brought for sale. The Badakshani traders 
carry back Russian piece goods, carpets and the local 
white cloth. The route, which runs across the 
Wakhijir pass, is open during the summer only, and 
the pedlars — for those who use it are little more — 
must be a hardy race to withstand its rigours. 



CHAPTEE XIII 

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OP CHINESE TURKESTAN: 
THE EARLY PERIOD 

L'histoire des Turcs oooidentaux est oomme la clef de voute oti 
convergent et se rencontrent pendant quelopes ann6es les histoires 
particulilres de grandes nations qu'on regarde trop souvent comme 
isol6es les imes des autres ; elle nous rappelle que la continuity est la 
loi de Tunivers et qu'il n'est pas d'anneau qu'on puisse ignorer dans la 
ohaine infinie dont toutes les parties sont solidaires. — Chavaunes, 
Documents sur les Turcs Occidentaux. 

The history of Chinese Turkestan presents the 
difficulty that until mediaeval times it filled but a 
small part on the stage of Asia. On the other hand, 
it lay on the highway of the nations, and migrations 
from the Far East to the West, which have so deeply 
influenced the history of mankind, generally traversed 
the Tarim basin, the country to the south beiug 
almost impracticable, and the country to the north 
presenting a longer and a more difficult line of 
advance. Holding firmly to the belief that history 
should be studied as a whole rather than in water- 
tight compartments, I have attempted in this sketch 
to give some account, not only of events afiecting 
Chinese Turkestan but also of their connection with, 
and reaction upon, neighbouring states of Asia. 

The earliest recorded connection of China with 
what is now the province of Chinese Turkestan is the 

248 



cH.xin CHINESE TURKESTAN 249 

progress of Mon Wang, one of the emperors of the 
Chow Dynasty, to a province in the vicinity of the 
Kuen Lun mountains which may be identified with 
Khotan. This tour is alleged to have taken place 
about 1000 B.C., but is possibly legendary, and we 
reach firmer ground at the beginning of the third 
century B.C., when China, under the Han dynasty, 
became a world power. At this period the chief 
concern of the ruler was the powerful tribe of the 
Hiong-Nu or Huns, which occupied Mongolia. These 
ambitious nomads attacked the Yue-chi (known later 
as the Indo-Scythians) then inhabiting the north-west 
parts of Kansu, Kokonor and the southern half of 
the Gobi, and not only defeated but expelled their 
enemy, thereby setting in motion a series of human 
avalanches, with far-reaching consequences. The 
dispossessed Yue-chi crossed the desert to Kucha 
and, advancing to the Hi river, subsequently broke 
up into two divisions, the Little Yue-chi who moved 
into Tibet, and the Great Yue-chi who occupied the 
lU valley and drove the Sakas from Kashgar in 
163 B.C. But the Huns, some fifteen or twenty years 
later, followed up and again defeated the Yue-chi, 
and the latter, fleeing westwards and driving the 
Sakas before them, invaded Bactria and, in 120 B.C., 
destroyed its Greek dynasty. They then crossed the 
Hindu Kush and carved out an empire in India with 
Peshawar as their capital. 

The wide outlook of the Han dynasty is demon- 
strated by the fact that, between 120 B.C. and 88 B.C., 
missions were despatched across Chinese Turkestan 
to distant Parthia, known in China as An-Sih, from 
the Chinese form of the name of the royal house of 
Arsaces. It is worthy of mention that Mithradates II. 



250 THEOUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. n 

of Parthia, who received the earliest of ttese missions, 
and thereby initiated an intercourse with China 
which was invariably peaceful, was also the first 
Parthian monarch to receive an embassy from Eome. 

Wars with the Huns were a constant preoccupation 
of the Chinese until, in the first century B.C., they 
began to take most vigorous action in Chinese Tur- 
kestan. By 59 B.C. the entire province was conquered 
and a strong government was established. In 51 B.C. 
the nomads of Central Asia, exhausted by internecine 
strife, appealed to China, whose supremacy — so 
Chinese historians declare — ^was acknowledged in 
some form, however slight, from the province of 
Shensi to the Caspian Sea. Owing to the wide range 
of nomadic- tribes the statement is not as fantastic 
as at first sight it would seem to be. 

This vague authority was consolidated in the fiirst 
century of our era by the famous warrior Pan Chao, 
who in the course of his earlier campaigns steadily 
annexed provinces and districts lying to the west of 
China. In a.d. 70 he defeated the ruler of Khotan, 
and six years later he conquered the entire province 
with which we are dealing. According to a local 
legend, on one occasion Pan Chao was besieged in 
Kashgar and access to the river was cut off, but the 
great general rose to the occasion and stamped on 
the groimd, whereupon springs, still known as " the 
Springs of Pan Chao," gushed out and the army 
was saved. 

In 88 the Yue-chi, who had assisted Pan Chao 
in a campaign against Turf an, sent a tribute of jewels 
and lions to China, and demanded a princess of the 
Han dynasty as a consort for their ruler ; but this 
proceeding was viewed with disfavour by Pan Chao, 



CHINESE TUEKESTAN 251 

and lie arrested tlie ambassador. Tlie Yue-cM, to 
avenge the insult, despatched an army estimated 
at 70,000 men across the Pamirs. Broken down hy 
hardships, it was defeated with ease, and as the 
outcome of further negotiations the Yue-chi con- 
tinued to pay tribute to China. 

In 91 Pan Chao was appointed General-Protector, 
and according to the Chinese historian not only 
crossed the Pamirs, but conquered fifteen kingdoms 
lying between Kashgar and the Caspian Sea. 
Probably what occurred was that he received envoys 
from the various nomadic tribes, who agreed to 
recognize Chinese suzerainty ; for it is unlikely that a 
Chinese army actually marched to the Caspian Sea. 

In 97 Pan Chao despatched a certain Kan Ying 
on an embassy to visit Parthia and Eome ; but 
the envoy, after safely reaching Ctesiphon, was 
deterred from the long voyage down the Persian 
Gidf, across the Indian Ocean, and up the Ked Sea 
and the Gulf of Akaba to Aelana, by exaggerated 
reports that on the return journey, if the winds were 
adverse, the ocean might take two years to cross ! 
According to the local beUef, Pan Chao is buried 
inside the present city of Kashgar, on a high mound 
which is surmounted by an artistic temple and over- 
looks the springs already mentioned. 

In time the power of the Celestials waned in 
Chinese Turkestan, and we learn from the annals of 
the later Hans that at the beginning of the second 
century a.d. the ruler of Su-le (as Kashgar was then 
termed) was forced to send as a hostage to the king 
of the Yue-chi at Peshawar one of his relatives, who 
was subsequently placed on the throne of Kashgar. 
This piece of history is corroborated by Hiuen Tsiang. 



252 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pT.n 

Under Kanishka, tlie most celebrated ruler of the 
Yue-clii, tlie tribe regained Kashgar about a.d. 125,^ 
more than two centuries after their first seizure of 
the province — ^truly a remarkable cycle of conquest. 

The Huns had recovered their strength at this 
period, and in 138, the Chinese Emperor sent a 
certain Chang Kien, with a suite numbering one 
hundred persons, to open up relations with the 
Yue-chi, whom he wished to enlist as allies. Chang 
Kien was unfortunately captured by the Hims and 
kept prisoner for ten years, after which he escaped 
with some of his followers and reached Farghana, 
where he was well treated. The Yue-chi had 
recently conquered Tokharistan, situated in the 
great bend of the Oxus, where the undaunted Chang 
Kien at last gained touch with them. As was to 
be expected, he found them unwilling to quit their 
new conquest in order to undertake a campaign in 
the interests of China. Chang Kien finally returned 
home with the two surviving members of his mission 
and drew up a valuable geographical and ethno- 
graphical memoir ; he also introduced the vine into 
China. He will ever be famous in the annals of his 
country as the first Chinaman who " pierced the 
void." 

The Yue-chi introduced Buddhism into China 
after the conversion of Kanishka to that faith ; they 
also undoubtedly brought to India a knowledge of 
Chinese civilization, together with the peach and the 
pear tree. Moreover, they had intercourse with 
Rome both from India and from Central Asia, and 
in various ways played a distinguished r6le until 

^ There is considerable uncertainty about this date, which good 
authorities give as some decades earlier. 



OH. xm CHINESE TURKESTAN 253 

they finally succumbed before the onslaught of the 
White Huns. 

About the same time that the Prince of Kashgar 
recognized the paramountcy of the Yue-chi the 
Uighur tribes in the Turfan and Hami districts re- 
volted from China, and for five centuries Chinese 
control over the entire province was lost. 

Buddhism reached Khotan and Kashgar froin 
India and thence spread to Chiua. In 399 the 
Chinese monk Fa-hien, " deploring the mutilated 
and imperfect state of the collection of the Books of 
Discipline," set off on a long and successful journey 
to India, and to him we owe the first detailed 
account of the province of Khotan, which was at 
this period an important centre of Buddhism. 

In the middle of the fifth century, not long after 
the journey of Ea-hien, the reigning member of the 
Toba Wei dynasty of Chiua despatched an envoy to 
Po-sz, as Persia was then termed. The Persian 
monarch sent a return mission with a gift of trained 
elephants, which the independent Priuce of Khotan 
detained, but in the end released. In all, ten missions 
are recorded as passing between Northern China and 
Persia between 455 and 513 ; and reading between 
the lines we find clear indications that at this period 
there was considerable intercourse between China 
and Persia via Khotan. 

In 509, envoys from Khotan presented them- 
selves at the Chinese Court bearing tribute. In the 
annals they are described as foUows : " The people 
are Buddhists, and their women are in society as 
amongst other nations. They braid the hair into 
long plaits, and wear pelisses and loose trousers. 
The people are very ceremonious and polite, and 



254 THROUGH DESERTS AM) OASES PT.n 

curtsey on meeting, by bending one knee' to the 
ground." Except that Buddhism has given place to 
Islam, this description, generally speaking, stands 
good at the present time. 

The next great wave of invasion was that of the 
Juan Juan, a tribe newly appearing on the stage of 
Manchuria. Gathering Turks and Mongols to their 
banners, the Juan Juan destroyed the Hiong-Nu, who 
were probably weakened by emigrations westward, 
and about 460 swept across Chinese Turkestan 
like a devastating tornado, without making any 
attempt at permanent conquest. The Hoa or White 
Huns, a vassal tribe, subsequently threw off their 
allegiance to the Juan Juan and founded an em- 
pire on the ruins of that of the Yue-Chi, embracing 
most of Chinese Turkestan to the east, but having 
its centre in the middle Oxus, whence for many 
generations it seriously threatened the existence of 
the Persian Empire. 

In the middle of the sixth century the empire of 
the " White Huns " in its turn succumbed to the 
attack of the Western Turks, the Tu-chueh of the 
Chinese, who were organized in a confederacy of 
ten tribes. From the centre of this new power, 
which lay in the rich valleys to the north of the 
Tian Shan, the Paramount Chiefs ruled over a vast 
empire, leaving the states subject to their sway to be 
governed by their hereditary rulers, under the control 
of Turkish collectors of tribute. 

Such was the state of the province we are deahng 
with when the great traveller Hiuen Tsiang passed 
through the empire of the Western Turks in 630. 
His meeting with the Paramount Chief is described 
by his biographer. In that very year this chief was 



OH. xm CHINESE TUEKESTAN 255 

assassinated. His death was a signal for the break- 
up of the confederacy of the ten tribes, and for 
Chinese Turkestan it was the end of a well-defined 
period. 

A new epoch opened with the establishment of 
the Tang dynasty in China early in the seventh 
century, and during the reign of its founder the 
invasions of the Northern Turks made him in the 
first instance seek the help of the Western Turks. 
The Chinese dynasty, however, rapidly became 
strong, and the year 630 not only marked the 
downfall of the Western but also the subjugation 
of the Northern Turks, and China once again 
found herself in a position to recover her lost 
western provinces. With this end in view a Chinese 
army crossed the great desert in 640 and occupied 
Turfan, and later on Karashahr and Kucha. The 
King of Khotan, presumably alarmed by these 
successes, returned to his allegiance, the tradition of 
which had probably not been forgotten, and the 
annexation of the entire province to China was 
secured in 658 by a victory won on the banks 
of the Ili over the revolted Paramount Chief. By 
this final triumph the existence of the Western Turks 
as a power came to an end, and China succeeded to 
their vast empire, which extended southwards across 
the Hindu Kush to Kabul and westwards to the 
borders of Persia. 

At this period Chinese Turkestan was known as 
the " Four Garrisons," the reference being to the 
forces stationed at Kucha, Khotan, Karashahr and 
Kashgar, because Chinese power was based on this 
quadrilateral. Not that it remained unchallenged; 
for the Tibetans seized the province in 670 and 



256 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

retained possession of it until 692, wten the Chinese 
reoccupied it in force. 

The consolidation of Chinese dominion in the west 
opened the way fot the almost simultaneous intro- 
duction of Christianity and Zoroastrianism into 
China and Chinese Turkestan. The first Nestorian 
missionary reached China with sacred books and 
images in 635 ; and Yule ^ shows how the Nestorian 
sees of China formed part of a wide -spreading 
ecclesiastical system controlled by the Patriarchal 
see in Persia. The recent discovery of Nestorian 
cemeteries west of the Issik Kul, with dates ranging 
from 858 to 1339, throws interesting light on the 
fact that Kashgar is shown as a Nestorian see in the 
middle of the thirteenth century. In 621, a few 
years before the introduction of Christianity, the 
first Fire Temple was erected in China, and we learn 
from Chavannes that the Zoroastrian cult existed at 
Kashgar, Khotan and Samarcand. 

A new and bewildering factor had now to be 
reckoned with in the rise of Islam ; for its conquering 
spirit, which so profoundly affected the Near and 
Middle East and Northern Africa, even approached 
the confines of the distant Chinese empire. Yezdi- 
gird III., the last Persian monarch of the Sasanian 
dynasty, implored China for aid against the invading 
AJrabs, but received the reply that Persia was too 
distant for help to be sent. Subsequently a son of 
the hapless Sasanian took refuge with the Chinese, 
but his attempt to win back the throne of his ances- 
tors failed utterly. In 665, three years after the 
murder of Yezdigird at Merv, the Arabs despatched 
an embassy to China and thus opened up direct 

^ Cathay and the Way Thither, vol. i. p. 101 (Cordier edition). 



OH. xm CHINESE TUKKESTAN 257 

communication with the Celestial Empire, whose 
frontier officials must have watched their advance 
with apprehension. 

The great Arab conqueror of Central Asia was 
Kutayba ibn Muslim, who made his headquarters at 
Merv, and, in a series of campaigns waged for a 
decade, subdued Bokhara, Samarcand and Farghana. 
About 715 he actually raided as far as Kashgar, 
described by the Arab historian as " a city near the 
Chinese frontier." A curious legend of this campaign 
has been preserved, according to which Kutayba 
swore to take possession of the soil of China, and the 
ruler enabled him to fulfil his oath by the gift of a 
load of soil to trample on, a bag of Chinese money to 
symbolize tribute, and four youths to be stamped 
with his seal. Two years later the Arabs and 
Tibetans, taking advantage of the rebellion of the 
Western Turks, again penetrated into the " Four 
Garrisons." This was the farthest east reached by 
the Arab armies, and the exploit is a signal proof of 
their marvellous initiative and warlike prowess. 

Based on their garrison in Chinese Turkestan, the 
Chinese mainly devoted their energies to preventing 
the Tibetans from stretching out their hands to the 
Arabs through Gilgit and Yasin, in which districts 
the Celestials built forts ; and we read of more than 
one campaign successfully conducted in these ice- 
bound highlands in pursuance of this policy. But 
the power of China in this distant province was 
short-lived. One of her generals, who had success- 
fully conducted two campaigns to the south of the 
Hindu Kush, treacherously seized and put to death 
the tributary King of Tashkent. Under this kiug's 
son the country rose, the Arabs were called in, and the 

s 



258 THKOUGH DESERTS AND OASES m. n 

Chinese, owing to the defection of their native allies, 
were annihilated. A few years later internal troubles 
broke out in China, and the Tibetans, taking full 
advantage of them, overran the province of Kansu 
and interrupted communications with the heart of 
the Empire. About this time, too, in 751, a Chinese 
army 30,000 strong was annihilated in the Oohi. 

The deserted officials with consummate skill main- 
tained Chinese authority for a whole generation after 
being thus cut off from China, as the Chinese 
traveller Wu Kung testifies. Returning home by 
way of the " Four Garrisons " after a long residence 
in India, he reached Kashgar in 786 ; and, remaining 
in the province for a considerable period, noted that 
everywhere he found Chinese governors. By 791, 
however, the Tibetans had destroyed this paper 
government, and their own, which took its place, 
and at one time even threatened their old allies the 
Arabs, lasted until, in turn, it was broken by the 
Uighurs. The complete disappearance of China from 
the scene marks the end of another period in the 
history of the province. 

The Uighurs, whose ancestors claimed descent from 
the Huns, originally lived in north-west Mongolia 
and, when they were expelled by the Hakas from 
their homeland, two of their sections foimded states 
in the eastern Tian Shan. A third section, with 
which we are more especially concerned, broke the 
power of the Tibetans about 860 and became the 
masters of Kashgar, although Khotan remained 
independent for some years. The rulers of this 
section of the Uighurs — known also as the Karluks 
or Karakhani — were termed the Ilak Khans, and 
the part they played on the stage of Central Asia 



CHINESE TUEKESTAN 259 

was important. The career of these Uighurs was 
chequered, as in 840 Karakoram, their capital, was 
captured by the Kirghiz and their Paramount 
Chief was killed. This led to the dispersal of the 
tribe but not to its downfall, as Bishbaligh, the 
modern Urumchi, was occupied about this period 
and remained one of their chief centres for many 
centuries. They held sway under the designation of 
the Arslan or " Lion " Khans for many generations, 
and in the notices of the various embassies exchanged 
with China there is evidence that a comparatively 
high stage of civilization was reached in the country. 
Indeed their culture influenced Central Asia more 
than that of any other race, the script of the Mongols 
being adopted from the Uighurs, who in their turn 
had learnt it from the Manichaeans, or perhaps from 
the Nestorians. 

The remarkable growth of the Persian creed of 
Manichaeism in Central Asia is closely connected 
with the Uighurs, whose chief became a convert to 
this faith in the eighth century. Among the manu- 
scripts discovered by Sir Aurel Stein in the course 
of his excavations is a book of their omens, which 
makes curious reading : "A gambler staked his son 
and his servants. He went away after having won 
the hazardous game. Without losing his son and his 
servants, he won again ninety stray sheep. His son 
and his attendants all rejoice. Know ye this. This 
is good." And again : " An old ox was being eaten 
by ants, by their gnawing around its body. It stands 
without being able to move. Know ye this. This is 
bad." Manichaeans took part in the Uighur embassy 
sent to China in 806 and their religion existed in 
Chinese Turkestan until the thirteenth century. 



260 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- n 

The movement in favour of conversion to Islam 
began in Chinese Turkestan in the middle of the 
tenth century of our era, Boghra ^ Khan, a scion of 
the Karluk stock, being the first convert. The legend, 
as given in the fantastic hagiology knovm as the 
Tazkirat or " Chronicles of Boghra," runs that the 
young Satok Boghra Khan, at the age of twelve, 
was secretly converted by a certain Abu Nasr, 
Samani. His stepfather, who was the reigning 
monarch, suspected this, and, in order to test his 
fidelity to the old religion, invited him to help in 
laying the foundation-stone of a new idol-temple. 
In despair the young prince sought the advice of 
Abu Nasr, who replied that, if he worked with the 
intention of building a mosque, he would obtain 
merit in the presence of Allah and be delivered from 
the evil designs of the infidels. Having escaped this 
danger, the young convert decided to make an end 
of his stepfather, and breaking into his apartment by 
night, he awoke him, being unwilling to kill a sleeping 
man. The monarch refused to accept Islam at the 
point of his nephew's sword, but upon the prayer of 
Satok the earth opened and swallowed up the infidel, 
whose fate resembled that of Korah. As the chronicle 
runs : " The earth devoured Harun Boghra Khan, 
and he was not." 

Satok Boghra Khan enjoyed considerable power 
and captured Bokhara. His last campaign was 
undertaken against Turfan, where in 993 he fell ill and 
whence he was carried back, a dying man, to Kashgar. 
His son and successor, Hasan, is known to history 

* Boghra signifies a male camel — ^names of animals being used by 
Turks as tribal names. It is an interesting form of totemism ; vide "La 
L^gende de Satok Boghra et I'histoire," Journ. Asiat., Jan.-Pev. 1900, 
pp. 24 et aeq. 



CH. xni CHINESE TUEKBSTAN 261 

as having ended the Samanid dynasty by the capture 
of Abdul Malik. In Chinese Turkestan he is still 
better known for having waged a desperate campaign 
with the " infidel " Prince of Khotan, whom he 
defeated ; not, however, without first suffering a 
disaster, in which Ali Arslan, his nephew and the 
Kashgar champion, was killed. The body of the 
latter is buried on the field of battle at Ordam 
Padshah, to the east of Yangi Hissar, but his head 
is preserved at a shrine in the Dolat Bagh, near 
Kashgar. A few years later both Hasan and his 
brother were killed by the Princes of Khotan, but 
this province, after a series of campaigns lasting 
twenty-four years, was ultimately annexed to Kash- 
gar. From this period what we now call Chinese 
Turkestan was definitely occupied by the Turks. 
Turki became the universal language ; and Grenard 
aptly draws attention to the fact that the oldest 
Kashgar book which has reached us, and which dates 
from 1068, is written in a pure Turki dialect. 

In 1125 a new dynasty made its appearance 
in the Tarim basin. Yelui Tashi, a near relation of 
the head of the Kara Khitai or Leao dynasty of 
China, realizing that his position in the homeland 
was hopeless in view of the military superiority of 
the Nuchens, who subsequently founded the Kin 
dynasty, decided in that year to seek his fortune 
elsewhere. Collecting a force in Shensi, he marched 
into the valley of the Tarim and annexed it, thereby 
ending the dynasty of the Ilak Khans. He next 
invaded Western Turkestan, upon which he imposed 
an annual tribute of 20,000 pieces of gold, and later 
he assumed the title of Gur Khan or " Universal 
Lord." He died in 1136. His successor, in alliance 



262 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^- n 

with. Atsiz of Khwarazm or KMva, inflicted a crushing 
defeat on the great Seljuk, Sultan Sanjar, in 1141. 
The Seljuk losses were estimated at one hundred 
thousand, and the Kara Khitai temporarily occupied 
Merv and Mshapur. 

It is of special interest, as illustrating the wide 
range of Sadi's travels, to note that the great Persian 
poet visited Kashgar at this period. He commences 
one of his stories as follows : " In a certain year 
Mohamed Khwarazm Shah, for some good reason, 
chose to make peace with Cathay. I entered the 
chief mosque of Kashgar and saw a boy with beauty 
of the most perfect symmetry," etc. 

In 1200 the tables were turned on the Gur Khan by 
Mohamed of Khwarazm, who was joined by Gruchluk 
son of the Naiman chief whose defeat by Chengiz 
is recounted in the next chapter. Escaping from the 
field, he arrived, after great privations, at the coiirt 
of the Gur Khan, where he was treated kindly, 
received a daughter of the monarch in marriage, 
and was converted to Buddhism. But, with base 
ingratitude, he gradually collected a force of his 
tribesmen, and with Mohamed of Khwarazm and 
the Prince of Samarcand formed a plot against his 
benefactor. The nefarious scheme was successful, 
and by 1212 the Gur Khan was a prisoner, and 
the usurper ruled over the Tarim basin. During 
the few years of his power he persecuted the 
followers of Islam and massacred the mullas at 
Khotan, hanging their leader head downwards from 
a tree in front of the chief mosque. But the reign 
of this detestable traitor was short, and the avenger 
of the Gur Khan was at hand. 



CHAPTER XIV 

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF CHINESE TURKESTAN : 
THE MEDIAEVAL AND LATER PERIOD 

Casoar constituted a Kingdom in former days, but now is subject 
to the Great Kaan. The people worship Mohamed. There are a 
good number of towns and -villages, but the greatest and finest is Cascar 
itself. The inhabitants Kve by trade and handicrafts ; they have 
beautiful gardens and vineyards, and fine estates, and grow a great 
deal of cotton. . . . There are in this country many Nestorian Chris- 
tians, who have churches of their own. — ^Maeoo Polo. 

The rise of tlie Mongols from the position of despised 
tributaries of the Kin dynasty to that of lords of 
Asia and Eastern Europe is among the greatest 
events in history. Chengiz Khan, the organiziag 
genius who welded tribes, with their constant feuds, 
raids and petty wars, into a single vast, obedient 
army, was born in 1162. When a boy of thirteen 
he succeeded to the confederacy built up by his 
father Yissugay, and for many years he suffered the 
vicissitudes of fortune that were usual in those times 
and circumstances ; among them being capture by 
his enemies. After these early difficulties, we hear 
of the youthful chieftain serving the Kin Emperor 
and attacking with success the Buyr Nur Tartars 
who had killed his father. 

Among his allies were the Keraits, a Nestorian 
Christian tribe whose chief, Toghril, better known as 

263 



264 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

the Wang Khan, was probably the original subject 
of the stories associated with Prester John, the 
fabulous monarch renowned in mediaeval Europe. 
In 1199 the two chiefs attacked the powerful Naiman 
tribe of Christians which occupied the country to 
the north of the Tian Shan, but the campaign 
was unsuccessful owing to the treachery of the 
Kerait leader, who drew off his troops at a critical 
moment. Three years later Wang Khan actually 
attacked and worsted the Mongols, but this defeat 
was avenged by Chengiz, who surprised him by a 
night attack. Wang Khan fled to the Naiman, by 
whom he was put to death. The results of this 
encoimter were important, since it gave Chengiz 
control of the southern part of the present province 
of Mongolia. 

His next campaign was directed against the 
Naiman. The two forces met to the north of the 
Tian Shan, and the result was a decisive victory 
for Chengiz, who thereby subjugated the Naimans 
and their allies. The Naiman king was carried out 
of the battle mortally wounded, but his son Guchluk 
escaped to Chinese Turkestan and took refuge with 
the Gur Khan, whose hospitality he abused as men- 
tioned in the previous chapter. 

In 1218 Chengiz invaded Chinese Turkestan and 
detached a force of 20,000 men from the main body 
to attack Guchluk. The latter fled without attempt- 
ing to fight for his throne, but was overtaken in the 
wilds of Badakshan and put to death. The Mongol 
general proclaimed freedom of worship, which was 
one of the few benefits conferred by these nomad 
rulers. Through their influence, too, the position of 
Moslem women was considerably raised in Central 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 265 

Asia, where it is still relatively Mgli. Later on 
commerce prospered, owing to the removal of the 
boundaries of states, and during the second half 
of the thirteenth century the illustrious Venetian, 
Marco Polo, traversed the province from the Pamirs 
to Kashgar, from that city to Yarkand and Khotan, 
and thence to China. 

Chengiz Khan divided his domiaions among his 
four sons. To Chagatai, his second son, was assigned 
Transoxiana as a centre, with appanages in every 
direction ; Eastern Turkestan, Hi, Tibet, Ladak, 
Badakshan, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Bokhara 
being all included in his wide-spreading kingdom. 
Chagatai was a follower of Buddha, and his rule was 
both vigorous and tolerant. His capital was at 
Almaligh, near the modern Kulja, where he led a 
nomad's life remote from the great cities of Samar- 
cand and Bokhara. He bestowed Eastern Turkestan 
on the Dughlat family, and its chiefs became heredi- 
tary rulers of the province. Early in the fourteenth 
century a permanent division was made, Moghulistan ^ 
being separated from Transoxiana. For the former 
kingdom a Mongol prince, Isan Bugha, was elected 
and set on the throne, which he occupied until his 
death in 1330. His successor, after an interval of 
anarchy, was his son Tughluk Timur, whose mother, 
while pregnant with him, had, on account of the 
jealousy of the head wife, been married to a noble- 
man and sent away from the Court. Owiag to 
this it was not even known whether a son or a 
daughter had been born to the Khan until the 
head of the Dughlat tribe despatched a confidential 

1 This province generally aignifies the country lying to the north of 
the Tian Shan, but, as used in the text, the term includes the whole of 
the eastern division of the Khanate. 



266 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

servant, who ascertained the facts and brought back 
the youth, then sixteen years of age. 

The Tarikh-i-Rashidi, the sole important literary- 
work produced in Eastern Turkestan,^ opens with 
the following sentence, which merits quotation : 
" One day, when Tughluk Timur Khan was feeding 
his dogs with swine's flesh, Shaykh Jamal-u-Din was 
brought into his presence. The Khan said to the 
Shaykh, ' Are you better than this dog or is the dog 
better than you ? ' The Shaykh replied, ' If I have 
faith I am the better of the two, but if I have no faith, 
this dog is better than I am.' The Khan was much 
impressed by these words, and a great love for Islam 
took possession of his heart." His conversion did 
not take place during the Shaykh's lifetime, but was 
accomplished by a Maulana or " Master," a small, 
weak man in appearance, who, when challenged, 
smote the Champion of the Infidels senseless. This 
seemingly miraculous blow resulted in 160,000 persons 
becoming Moslems, and by the end of the fourteenth 
century Islam had supplanted Buddhism generally 
throughout Eastern Turkestan. 

Tughluk Timur's first capital was Aksu, but later 
he selected Kashgar, and his chief claim to distinction 
is his connection with the great Tamerlane. At this 
period the western division of Chagatai's kingdom, 
which was ruled by puppet Khans, had fallen into 
a state of anarchy. Tughluk Timur accordingly 
determined to annex it, and in 1360 crossed the 
frontier at the head of an army. The chief of the 
Barlas tribe was defeated and fled to Khorasan, but 
his nephew Timur, destined to become famous as 

1 The writer was Mirza Haider, Gurkhan, who wrote a history of his 
ancestors, and also graphically described the events in which he some- 
times played a leading part. 



OH. XIV CHINESE TURKESTAN 267 

Tamerlane, saved the situation by timely submis- 
sion, and was received into favour. 

On the death of Tughluk Timur in 1363 Tamerlane 
drove out his son, who died shortly afterwards, and 
the throne of Kashgar was usurped by Amir Kamar- 
u-Din, of the Dughlat tribe. 

In 1375, hearing that Moghulistan was weakened 
by disorders, Tamerlane decided to invade it. In 
the chronicle known as the Zafar Nama an inter- 
esting account is given of this campaign. At the 
outset the weather was terribly severe : "No one 
ever yet saw so much snow ; the world looked like 
a morsel in the snow's mouth." But Jahangir, the 
invader's eldest son, defeated the enemy, who had 
taken refuge in deep ravines. Kamar-u-Diu escaped, 
but his wife and daughter were captured, and Tamer- 
lane married the latter and ended the campaign with 
festivities. He invaded Moghulistan altogether five 
times, the valley of the Yulduz being the meeting- 
place of his armies, and Eastern Turkestan sufiered 
terribly from these raids, in the course of which the 
country was laid waste. 

In 1392 Kamar-u-Din died, and a son of Tughluk 
Timur, who had been leading a wandering life, 
hidden by his attendants, at first in the Pamirs, 
then in the Kuen Lun, and finally in the wild Lob 
Nor region, was set on the throne, and concluded a 
peace with Tamerlane. 

Tamerlane's last projected campaign against China 
would have led across Moghulistan, and the Khan 
was much perturbed by orders to sow large tracts of 
land with corn and to collect thousands of head of 
cattle for the use of the army. But one day " they 
saw advancing rapidly a man mounted on a black 



268 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES ^- n 

horse and clothed in white robes. The chamberlains 
ran up from every side to try to stop him in his 
course, but he did not slacken his speed till he came 
up to where the Khan was standing. Then he called 
out in a loud voice, ' Amir Timur is no more ; he 
has died at Otrar ! ' Many horsemen were sent 
after him, but none could overtake him." The news 
announced in this dramatic fashion was confirmed 
forty-five days later. The ' ' Scourge of God ' ' had died 
on February 4, 1405, and the country was thereby 
saved from being eaten up by the vast armies which 
he would have led on this distant campaign. 

It is interesting to note that in 1420 Amir 
Khudadad, the then ruler, entertained the embassy 
despatched by Shah Rukh, the celebrated successor 
of Tamerlane, to the Emperor of China. The outward 
route of the ambassadors ran by Samarcand and 
Tashkent and thence to the north of the Tian Shan by 
Yulduz to Turfan, the return route passing through 
Khotan and Kashgar. The autograph letters of 
Shah Rukh are still extant, and the description of 
the journey given by one of the envoys is delight- 
fully vivid. 

We learn a good deal about Eastern Turkestan 
during the early part of the sixteenth century 
through Mirza Haidar's description of the career 
of Sultan Said, whose service he entered. This 
ruler, unable to face the Uzbegs, whose power 
had become formidable, decided in 1514 to forsake 
Andijan and to attack Aba Bakr, of the Dughlat 
tribe, who ruled at Kashgar and Yarkand. The 
expedition was a complete success and re-established 
the Moghul dynasty, Aba Bakr being murdered 
while fleeing to Ladak. Sultan Said invaded Badak- 




TAMERLANE. 



Page 268. 



CH. xxv CHINESE TURKESTAN 269 

shan, Ladak and Kashmir during the next two 
decades, and died from the effects of the rarefication 
of the atmosphere on his way back from Ladak, 
near the celebrated Karakoram Pass. Rashid Khan, 
who gave his name to the history, succeeded to the 
throne and ruled for some years with much cruelty. 
After his death his sons divided their heritage, and 
the country relapsed into anarchy. 

Under the later Chagatai Khans, Islam recovered 
from the set-back it had received from the invasions 
of Chengiz Khan and his immediate successors, 
thanks mainly to the influence of Bokhara and 
Samarcand, which had become important centres of 
Moslem learning. During the reign of Rashid Khan, 
the celebrated saint Sayyid Khoja Hasan, more 
generally known as MahMum-i-Azam or " The 
Great Master," visited Kashgar from Samarcand 
and was received with extraordinary honours. The 
saint's sons settled at Kashgar, where their father 
had married a wife and had received rich estates, 
and gradually established a theocracy, laying upon 
the necks of the submissive, apathetic people a heavy 
yoke which they still bear. In course of time two 
parties were formed whose influence on the subse- 
quent history of the country has been profound. 
The supporters of the elder son were termed Ak 
Taulin or " White Mountaineers," from the name 
of the range behind Artush, their headquarters, 
whereas the supporters of the younger were known 
as Kara Taulin or " Black Mountaineers," from 
the hills near Khan Arik. Both parties of Khojas. 
as they were termed, aimed at political supremacy 
and intrigued with any external power that appeared 
likely to favour their ambitions. 



270 THEOUGH DESEETS AND OASES tt. n 

In 1603 the famous Portuguese monk Benedict 
Groez reached Yarkand and was honourably received 
by its ruler, to whose mother he had lent money at 
Kabul. The Prince repaid the debt in jade, which 
the traveller sold to great advantage during his 
onward journey. 

We now come to the rise of the Zungars or Kalmuks, 
a Mongol race which then dwelt in Hi and the sur- 
rounding districts. Under Khan Haldan Bokosha, 
one of the outstanding figures of the period, their , 
power stretched northwards to Siberia and south- 
wards to Kucha, Karashahr and Kunya-Turfan ; 
but Haldan rebelled against the Chinese and was 
decisively beaten. 

His nephew and successor, Tse Wang Rabdan, 
ruled from Hami on the east to Khokand on the 
west, and, until his murder in 1727, was the most 
powerful of Zungarian rulers. The Torgut Mongols 
from fear of him fled to the banks of the Volga. Sir 
Henry Howorth gives an interesting account of the 
relations between Tse Wang and the Russians, from 
which it appears that Peter the Great, attracted by 
rumours of gold in Eastern Turkestan, despatched a 
body of 3000 men up the Irtish with Yarkand as 
their objective ; but the Zungars assailed the column 
and forced it to retire. 

To return to the Khoja family, its most celebrated 
member was Hidayat Ulla, known as Hazrat Apak 
or " His Highness the Presence," head of the AJc 
TauUns, who was regarded as a Prophet second 
only tp Mohamed. Expelled from Kashgar he took 
refuge at Lhassa, where the Dalai Lama befriended 
him and advised him to seek the aid of the Zungars, 
In 1678 thp Jattp.r seized Kashgar, which remained 



OH. XIV CHINESE TURKESTAN 271 

in their power for many years, and Hazrat Afah 
ruled as tlie deputy of the Khan, paying tribute 
equivalent to £62,000 per annum. In his old age 
the saint retired from the world to end his days 
among his disciples. 

Some years later internal disorders enabled Amur- 
sana, one of the Zungar chiefs, to declare himself 
and his tribe Chinese subjects, and to persuade other 
tribes to follow his example ; he also induced Kashgar 
to tender allegiance to the Chinese. It was the 
poUcy of the Emperor Keen Lung to reconquer Hi 
and Eastern Turkestan for the Celestial Empire ; 
and in 1755 he despatched an army 150,000 strong, 
which met with little resistance and enabled him to 
consolidate the allegiance tendered through Amur- 
sana, who was appointed Paramount Chief. The 
Zungar soon tired of Chinese rule and massacred a 
detachment of the Celestial forces ; but the Chinese 
reoccupied Zungaria in 1757, and in the following 
year crushed the tribe. Kulja was founded on the 
site of the Zungarian capital, and the modern name of 
Hsin-Chiang or the " New Province " was formally 
bestowed on the reconquered countries. 

The Chinese, realizing their numerical weakness, 
settled soldiers and landless men in the fertile districts 
of the " New Province," to which they also deported 
criminals and political prisoners, among the latter 
being Tunganis deported from Kansu and Shensi. 
Chinese rule was evidently less harsh than Eussian ; 
for in 1771 the Torgut Mongols to the number of 
100,000 families fled back to the Hi valley from 
the banks of the Volga, as narrated in dramatic 
fashion by De Quincey. 

The prestige of China after her splendid successes 



272 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. n 

was naturally very high and led to further acquisi- 
tions. First the Middle and then the Little Horde 
of Kirghiz, in spite of their connection with Eussia, 
offered their submission ; it was accepted, and the 
rulers of Khokand, Baltistan, and Badakshan fol- 
lowed suit. 

The Khans of Central Asia were alarmed by this 
display of Chinese power, and formed a confederacy, 
headed by Ahmad Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, 
who despatched an embassy to Peking to demand the 
surrender of Chinese Turkestan on the ground that 
it was inhabited by Moslems. Eeceiving an imsatis- 
factory reply, the Afghan Amir was careful not to 
attack the Chinese, but contented himself with 
holding Badakshan in force ; and soon afterwards 
the confederacy broke up. 

Chinese exactions both in taxation and in forced 
labour for the erection of cantonments now became 
very heavy, and many of the oppressed peasants 
fled to Andijan, where they formed a party of mal- 
contents, who awaited their opportunity. 

The first attempt to expel the Chinese was made 
in 1822 by Jahangir, the Khoja, who, supported by 
the Kirghiz, raided Kashgar, but was repulsed, and 
retreated to the country south of Issik Kul, where he 
defeated a Chinese expedition. In 1826 he again 
tried to win Kashgar, and this time with success. 
Enormous forces were organized for its recovery, and 
after a trial by champions, in which a Kalmuk archer 
defeated a Khokandian armed with a musket, the 
Chinese won the day, and Jahangir was captured and 
put to death. Confiscations and executions followed, 
and 12,000 Moslem families were deported to Hi 
and settled as serfs under the name of Tarantchis. 

\ 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 273 

Forts, too, were built at all important centres and 
Chinese authority seemed to be stronger than ever. 
As a further precaution a blockade was declared 
against Khokand. The Khan, resenting this policy 
and using Yusuf, the brother of Jahangir, as a 
puppet, invaded the province in 1830, but was 
forced to return to defend his own country against 
an invasion from Bokhara. 

In the following year the Chinese made peace 
with Khokand, bestowing valuable privileges on the 
Khan, including a yearly subsidy of £3600, in return 
for which he was pledged to prevent hostile expedi- 
tions ; he was also granted entire control of his sub- 
jects in Chinese Turkestan, to be exercised through 
Aksakals or " Elders " of their own nationality. 
The term AUi Shahr, or "Six Cities," now began 
to be appUed to the western part of the province, 
which was specially afEected by the treaty. 

In 1846, the result of the British operations against 
China and the weakness of that empire becoming 
known, the sons of Jahangir attempted another 
expedition, headed by Ishan Khan Khoja, known as 
Katta Tura, or " Great Lord," who was the moving 
spirit among the brothers. Kashgar was captured 
by treachery ; but the tyranny of the victors aUenated 
the province, and the Chinese garrison at Yarkand 
was strong enough to expel the motley gathering of 
Kirghiz and Khokandi adventurers, in whose wake 
some 20,000 families left their homes and crossed 
the Terek Dawan in mid-winter. 

A decade later another attempt was made by Wali 
Khan Khoja, who occupied Kashgar in 1857 and 
massacred the Chinese. Surrounding himself with 
fanatical Khokandis, he ill-treated and oppressed the 

T 



274 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

population, enforcing five daily attendances at the 
mosques, by means of cruel punishments, and forbid- 
ding the time-honoured custom of plaiting the hair ; 
he also barbarously murdered the German traveller 
Adolph Schlagintweit. Thanks to his unpopularity 
the Chinese army which attacked the usurper met 
with no resistance, and the Khoja fled back to 
Andijan, followed, it is said, by some fifteen thou- 
sand families. But probably all these numbers are 
exaggerated. 

A new figure was now about to appear on the stage, 
through whose action Chinese Turkestan was opened 
up to Great Britain and Russia. We may therefore 
fitly end the second section of this historical sketch 
before describing the kingdom founded by Yakub 
Beg. 




s 



VS 



CHAPTEK XV 

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF CHINESE TURKESTAN : 
THE MODERN PERIOD 

The soldiers of the Atalik in the Sis Cities were many ; gold- 
embroidered turbans and silk cloaks were the instruments of death 
for these dainty warriors. — From a Kashgar Ballad. 

By way of introduction to this chapter some refer- 
ence to the Khanates of Central Asia is called for. 
Half a century ago little or no accurate information 
on the subject was obtainable in England; for, 
although a brilliant band of British officers had 
penetrated to remote Bokhara and Khiva before the 
middle of the nineteenth century, the Khanates of 
the Sir Daria were beyond their ken. 

With Russia it was otherwise. She was drawn 
forward mainly, perhaps, by the ambitions of her 
frontier officers but also by the desirability of 
controlling the raiders of the steppe. The Russian 
columns met with little serious opposition, being 
materially aided in their advance southwards by the 
Sir Daria, which not only provided drinking water, 
but to a certain extent helped to solve the difficult 
problems of supply and transport. 

Russia reached the Sea of Aral and the mouth of 
the Sir Daria in 1847 and erected two forts, one in 
a harbour of that sea and the other at the mouth 

275 



276 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES y^- n 

of the river. This forward step brought her into 
hostile contact with the state of Khokand, whose 
rulers bitterly resented the appearance of the North- 
em Power in an area where they had hitherto been 
unchallenged. But Russia was not to be denied. 
In 1849 the advance up the great river was begun, 
the first outpost of Khokand being captured in that 
year ; and four years later Ak Masjid, situated 220 
miles up the Sir Daria, was taken. The Crimean 
War paralysed Russian activity for some years, but 
in 1865 Tashkent was captured and the territory 
lying between the Sea of Aral and the Issik Kul 
was formed into the frontier province of Turkestan. 

Having very briefly traced the advance of Russia 
to this point, we turn to Khokand, where a move- 
ment originated which profoundly iofluenced Chinese 
Turkestan and the adjacent countries. At this 
point some account must be given of Yakub Beg, an 
adventurer destined to play a leading part on the 
stage of Chinese Turkestan. The futvire Amir was 
born near Tashkent in 1820, his father, who claimed 
to be descended from Tamerlane, being a Jcazi or 
judge. At the age of twenty-five we find Yakub 
Beg a chamberlain in the service of the youthful 
Khudayar Khan, who was placed on the throne of 
Khokand by the Kapchak chief, Mussalman KuH. 
Yakub's sister married the Kapchak governor of 
Tashkent, and Yakub, mainly through his influence, 
was appointed Governor of Ak Masjid, which fort he 
stubbornly but unsuccessfully defended against the 
Russians. In 1858 Mussalman Kuli was barbarously 
executed by his ungrateful master, and the Kapchak 
and Kirghiz united to expel Khudayar in favour of 
his eldest brother, whom they set on the throne. 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 277 

Yakub tendered Ms services to the new Khan, who 
was assassinated two years later, whereupon Khu- 
dayar returned to the throne and took Yakub into 
favour once again. But that treacherous official soon 
deserted Khudayar in favour of Shah Murad Khan, 
another claimant to the throne. He was ordered by 
his new master to hold Khojand, but being threatened 
by a Bokharan force he surrendered his charge and 
joined the invaders. Later, Yakub Beg fought the 
Russians before Tashkent in 1864, when General 
ChernaiefE, after the fall of Chimkent, failed in his 
attempt to capture the city by a coup de main. 

At this juncture the envoys of Sadik Beg, a 
Kirghiz chief, brought news of an anti- Chinese 
revolt in Kashgar and asked for a scion of the Khoja 
family to lead it. Buzurg Khan, last surviving son 
of Jahangir, who lived in Khokand, was accordingly 
approached. He readily embraced the opportunity 
and appointed Yakub Beg to command the tiny 
body of sixty followers which constituted his entire 
military force, the Khan of Khokand being naturally 
averse from parting with his soldiers in face of the 
imminent Russian menace. 

The little party of adventurers crossed the Tian 
Shan in mid-winter without encountering any opposi- 
tion, and in January 1865 reached the neighbourhood 
of Kashgar. Meanwhile Sadik Beg had repented of 
the invitation given to the Khoja prince, and pointed 
out that the Chinese were sure to reconquer Kash- 
gar, where they would exact stem retribution. But 
Yakub Beg, moulded in the school of adversity, 
disregarded the warning and insisted on entering 
Kashgar, where Buzurg Khan was received with 
enthusiasm and proclaimed Khan. The new ruler. 



278 THEOUGH DESEETS AND OASES PT.n 

who was cowardly, idle and dissolute, immediately 
became immersed in sensual pleasures, and Yakub 
Beg was left to deal with the difficulties of the 
situation, which were almost overwhelming. 

In the first place Sadik Beg soon changed his 
attitude and, from being an aUy, became an open 
enemy. Hostilities therefore commenced, which, 
mainly through the personal exertions of Yakub 
Beg, ended in the defeat of the Kirghiz chief, who 
fled to Tashkent. 

Kashgar having been made fairly safe by this 
action, albeit the Chinese held the cantonment with 
a force 7000 strong, Yakub Beg decided to attack 
Yangi Hissar and Yarkand. He reached the latter 
city with a small force, leaving troops to invest 
Yangi Hissar ; but the dominant Khojas were 
hostile to his pretensions and were strong enough to 
drive him back to Yangi Hissar. Nothing daunted, 
the indomitable adventurer, with the aid of reinforce- 
ments from Kashgar, pressed the siege of the Chinese 
cantonment at Yangi Hissar and finally captured 
and put to death its garrison of 2000 men. He 
followed up this success by enlisting the services of 
Sadik Beg, who had again appeared on the scene, 
and also of a force from Badakshan. 

But his new allies were only half-hearted, and 
when he was attacked by a large force of Tunganis 
from Maralbashi he could only rely on his own 
followers. The action, which was fought outside 
Yangi Hissar, was nearly lost owing to the defection 
of the Kirghiz and Badakshanis, but Yakub Beg 
stood his ground firmly and won a well-earned 
victory, the immediate fruits of which included the 
submission of Yarkand. 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 279 

The scene now shifts back to Kashgar, where the 
Chinese garrison surrendered and was enrolled in the 
army of Yakub Beg as " New Mussulman " ; but the 
Amban, imitating the fine example of his colleague 
at Yarkand, blew up himself and his followers in 
the fort. Yakub Beg married the beautiful daughter 
of the Chinese general, and was much influenced by 
this wife, who bore him many children. 

For a short time it seemed as if all would go well, 
but the Tunganis who had surrendered decided on 
a final bid for power at Yarkand and treacherously 
attacked Yakub Beg. Buzurg Khan, too, at this 
juncture deserted his general, whose position ap- 
peared desperate ; but again Yakub Beg's remarkable 
courage saved the situation. He imposed his will on 
the Tunganis by attacking and capturing Yarkand ; 
then, marching on Kashgar, he defeated Buzurg 
Khan, who had declared him a rebel. As a sequel to 
this victory Buzurg Khan was deposed and finally 
expelled, and Yakub Beg assumed the powers of his 
master. His position was recognized by the Amir 
of Bokhara, who in 1866 conferred upon him the 
title of Atalik Ghazi or the " Champion Father " ; 
but, on the other hand, he had to reckon with 
the constant jealousy and hostility of neighbouring 
Khokand, which was continually inflamed by Russia. 
The capture of Khotan, which followed in 1867, 
ended his first successful period of action, during 
which, in spite of inadequate means, he had accom- 
plished much. 

While Yakub Beg was establishing his power in 
Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan, his chances of success 
were being increased by events in the districts to the 
north of the range. The Taiping rebellion, which 



280 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

raged from 1850 to 1864, had laid waste the richest 
provinces of China. In 1855, apart from this con- 
vulsion, a fierce Moslem insurrection broke out in 
Yuiman ; and in 1862 there was a rebellion among 
the Moslems of Shensi and Kansu, which gradually 
spread across the desert to the Hi province, where 
the Tarantchis combined with the Tunganis against 
the Chinese authorities. This rebellion was success- 
ful, and Hi was seized in January 1866, when a 
Tungani-Tarantchi Government was formed, which 
remained in power until the occupation of the 
province by Russia in 1871. 

We now turn to Yakub Beg's campaigns to the 
east of Kashgar. The Tunganis and Khojas of Aksu 
were not supported to any material extent from Ili, 
and he therefore had mainly to deal with an already 
defeated force when he commenced operations in 1867. 
Aksu, although naturally a strong position, offered 
but slight resistance, and the Atalik marched on to 
Kucha, which he also captured. After receiving the 
submission of Karashahr, Turfan, Hami, and Unimchi 
he returned in triumph to Kashgar. He subsequently 
annexed the upland district of Sarikol, carrying off 
its inhabitants and filling their place with Yarkandis 
and Kirghiz. 

It is probable that Yakub Beg was induced to 
resume operations against the Tunganis as much by 
the difficulty of feeding and paying his army as by 
ambition. In the autumn of 1869 he passed farther 
east to Korla, which fell, and the series of campaigns 
was continued, generally with success, until 1873, the 
Kashgar troops penetrating as far east as Chightam, 
a small town to the east of Turfan. Little regard 
was paid to the wretched inhabitants, who were 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 281 

plundered witliout mercy and sometimes massacred, 
in accordance with, the usual practice in Central 
Asia. The Atalik thus achieved military success, 
but he failed to organize his conquests against 
the day when the slow-moving Chinese Government 
should attempt to regain its lost provinces. On the 
other hand, he probably could not control his troops, 
who would have deserted had looting been forbidden. 
In any case his constant military successes produced 
a great impression in. the neighbouring states and 
spread his fame far and wide. 

Yakub Beg's power was based on a mercenary 
force which was remarkable for its heterogeneous 
composition. Just as his palace, which was built and 
organized on the lines of barracks, was full of cannon 
of every description, ranging from ancient Chinese 
pieces to modem artillery, so his army included men 
from every neighbouring province. The most trust- 
worthy and efficient soldiers were Khokandis, who, 
being strangers in the land, would naturally be 
loyal to their chief and fellow-countryman, whereas 
the local peasantry made indifierent fighters. An 
element numerically important, but for the most 
part of untrustworthy quality, was the Tunganis, 
who served mainly from fear. There were also a 
number of Indian and Afghan adventurers, some of 
the former being deserters from the Indian army. 
The Chinese troops were never used for distant 
campaigns. 

The men above mentioned, who constituted the 
regular troops, were divided into mounted infantry, 
artillery and infantry, the force being increased 
by levies of Kirghiz, Dulanis and other irregulars 
of doubtful military value. It is now believed that 



282 THKOUGH DESERTS AND OASES m. u 

Yakub Beg had never more than 20,000 trustworthy 
men in his service, although exaggerated accounts of 
his strength were generally credited. His troops, 
owing to his somewhat remarkable personality and 
many victories, were of better fighting value than 
those of Khokand and Bokhara ; but, as the event 
proved, they were unable to cope with Chinese troops 
trained on European lines, nor would they have 
withstood equal numbers of Russian troops. 

His government was based on the Moslem law, and 
was very onerous. It must be recollected that he 
maintained a court and a large army, mainly at the 
expense of perhaps a million poverty-stricken peasants, 
who, in addition to paying the heavy taxes of nomi- 
nally one-tenth of all produce, were ground down by 
the unjust tax-collectors until their condition was 
pitiable. Moreover, he kept a huge body of town 
poUce and also a large force of secret police, whose 
united activities must have added considerably to 
the general misery. The fact that he was a strong 
ruler implied the imposition of heavier burdens on 
his unhappy subjects. Moreover, during the period 
of his rule, trade with China entirely ceased, to the 
great loss of the merchants, who had but little com- 
mercial intercourse with Russia or India. 

The relations of Yakub Beg with Russia were of 
primary importance to him until the Celestial army 
re-entered Chinese Turkestan, and it is consequently 
desirable to summarize them briefly. The Atalik's 
defence of Ak Mas j id and his action before Tashkent 
have already been mentioned and were not forgotten 
by the Russians, who in 1866 dismembered Khokand 
and defeated Bokhara. The establishment of his 
power at Kashgar caused the Russians much anxiety, 



CHINESE TUEKESTAN 283 

and their frontier ofl&cials were at first instructed not 
to recognize Yakub Beg, but, at the same time, to be 
conciliatory, in the illusive bope tbat tbis line of action 
would induce tbe Atalih iG make overtures. 

In pursuance of tbis fatuous poUcy tbe Russians 
requested sanction to bridge tbe river Narin and to 
construct a road to Kasbgar; but, needless to say, 
tbese concessions were categorically refused. By way 
of marking tbeir displeasure tbe Muscovites began to 
construct a strong fort at Narin ; but tbeir bands were 
tied by attempts on tbe part of tbe Central Asian 
Khanates to tbrow ofE tbeir bated domination. Yakub 
Beg, openly at any rate, preserved neutrality, and for 
five years tbe struggle continued, witb tbe result tbat 
tbe Russian yoke was riveted more firmly tban 
before on Kbokand and Bokbara. To tbese pre- 
occupations tbe Atalik probably owed bis safety for 
tbe time being, as tbe construction of Fort Narin was 
avowedly intended as a preliminary to an attack on 
Kasbgar, and it appears tbat an expedition destined 
for tbat task in 1870 was at tbe last bour diverted 
against Kbokand, wbicb unexpectedly revolted. 

Later on tbe Russian autborities exchanged tbeir 
somewhat menacing policy for one of peaceful pene- 
tration and attempted to gain an entry into Chinese 
Turkestan through their merchants. They also sent 
a young officer to discuss various questions with 
Yakub Beg, who in turn despatched one of his 
nephews to Russia. As, however, his envoy was ac- 
corded no official recognition, little progress was made 
in developing relations, and the Atalik maintained 
towards his formidable rival an uncompromising 
attitude, which convinced the Russians that his 
power was much greater than was actually the case. 



284 THKOUGH DESEETS AND OASES ™. n 

Accordingly, in 1872, although military preparations 
were continued, an accredited envoy, Baron Kaulbars, 
was entrusted with the difficult task of opening up 
official relations with the Atalik. He, was received 
by the gratified ruler with the extravagant expression 
of Oriental hyperbole : "Sit on my knees, on my 
bosom, or where you like, for you are guests sent 
to me from heaven." For the first time complete 
freedom was accorded to the envoy, and two Russian 
merchants who accompanied the mission were granted 
every facility for visitiag Yarkand and Khotan. 
Baron Kaulbars was so fully impressed with a sense 
of the power of his host that he regarded him as a 
potentate ranking with the Amir of Afghanistan ; 
and, owing to these impressions, a treaty of conmierce, 
satisfactory to both parties, was drawn up, Russian 
goods being subjected to a maximum charge of 2\ 
per cent ad valorem. The envoy, who had learnt a 
good deal about the country and had certainly scored 
a great personal success, returned to Tashkent with 
glowing accounts of the Atalik and his dominions. 

Another nephew of Yakub Beg's, Haji Tora by 
name, who had travelled widely, was next des- 
patched to Russia, where he was received with much 
honour and entertained by the Tsar. From the 
court of the Northern Power he went on to visit 
Constantinople, where he conducted negotiations by 
which Yakub Beg, in return for an acknowledgment 
of his independence, accepted the suzerainty of the 
Sultan and issued coins bearing his effigy. Further- 
more, as a mark of high favour, the Atalik was 
gazetted an Amir, with the title of Amin-ul-Muminin 
or " The Trusted One of the Believers." 

The Russian authorities in Central Asia naturally 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 285 

took umbrage at an alliance wluch united a leading 
Moslem power with their hereditary foe. Moreover, 
relations with Yakub Beg were not developing 
smoothly; for, realizing that his state would be 
overrun by Eussian merchants, the Amir decided to 
go back on the spirit of the treaty of commerce and to 
discourage all Russian intruders. In the case of the 
first important caravan to reach Kashgar, he kept 
the owners under surveillance although he purchased 
their goods at a fair rate through one of his agents. 
But, as the payment was made in debased coinage the 
merchant stood to lose, and finally did lose, in spite 
of strenuous official Russian support. A year later 
Yakub again changed his mind and invited another 
Russian merchant to visit Kashgar. He received 
better treatment, with the result that trade gradu- 
ally increased. The chief aim of Russia was to be 
permitted to appoint an Agent at Kashgar, whereas 
Yakub Beg would only allow a Caravanbashi or 
Superintendent of caravans (a man of little standing 
or education) to reside at the capital. In 1874 a 
Russian official was sent to arrange this question, 
but Yakub Beg, relying on the support of Great 
Britain, was entirely unyielding on the subject ; 
indeed, his attitude towards Russia became almost 
menacing. So much was this the case that in the 
autumn of the same year the Russian authorities de- 
cided to break his power. They had massed twenty 
thousand troops on the frontiers, when a revolt in 
KJiokand forced General Kaufmann to divert his 
forces. Had Yakub Beg been a great man he would 
have seized the opportunity to aid Khokand, and 
would thereby, in all probability, have given a 
serious set-back to the Power which had resolved on 



286 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. n 

his destruction. His inaction on this occasion stamps 
him as an Oriental adventurer who kept the kingdom 
he had won rather by good fortune than by signal 
capacity. 

The relations of Yakub Beg with the Indian 
Empire were of little permanent importance from the 
political point of view, but are of considerable interest 
to the geographer and to the student of politics and 
commerce. In the middle of the nineteenth century 
the British representative in Ladak heard vague 
accoimts of affairs in Chinese Tartary, as it was then 
termed, from merchants, but gained little or no 
accurate information, although the veil was lifted 
somewhat in 1857 by Adolph Schlagintweit, the first 
European to travel from India to Yarkand and 
Kashgar. Unfortunately for him, Wall Khan was 
besieging the Chinese cantonment of Kashgar at that 
time, and by his orders the German explorer was 
murdered. Eight years later, in 1865, Johnson,^ an 
English surveyor, crossed the Kuen Lun to Khotan, 
where he was received with much hospitality by its 
chief ; but to Robert Shaw belongs the credit of being 
the first Englishman to explore this unknown land 
and open up relations with its ruler and people. 

While he was Uving at Ladak an agent of Yakub 
Beg passed through, bound for the Punjab, under 
orders from his master to report on the neighbouring 
land. Shaw mentioned to this agent his intense desire 
to visit Yarkand and Kashgar for the purpose of 
paying his respects to its celebrated ruler. This 
proposal was almost immediately agreed to, and late 
in 1868 Shaw crossed the Kara Koram and reached 
Yarkand safely. His courage and resolution were 

1 "Journey to IlcM Khotan (1866)," J.B.O.S. vol. 37 (1867). 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 287 

evidently combined with considerable tact, as through- 
out his journey he created an excellent impression 
both on Yakub Beg and on his ofl&cials. The in- 
opportune arrival of another Englishman, Hayward, 
who was an explorer and also a trader, aroused sus- 
picions in the mind of the Oriental, and both men were 
treated for a while as honoured state prisoners ; but 
in the end they were sent back to Ladak, thoroughly 
pleased with their reception. 

Shaw's reports excited intense interest, and created 
exaggerated ideas both as to the power of Yakub Beg 
and as to the richness of the prospective market. 
He had suggested to the Atalik the appointment of 
an agent for Chinese Turkestan at Lahore. This 
suggestion was accepted, and the agent was the 
bearer of a cordial invitation to the Government of 
India to despatch an ofl&cial for the purpose of 
establishitig friendly relations and opening up trade. 

Forsyth, a capable Indian civilian, was appointed 
to carry out this mission, and, accompanied by Shaw, 
he reached Yarkand in 1870 ; but unfortunately the 
Atalik had just started ofi to his distant eastern 
frontier, and Forsyth returned to India without 
accomplishing his object. 

Yakub Beg was as much disappoiated as the 
British envoy at this fiasco, and through the in- 
sistence of his agent Forsyth was agaia appointed m 
1873 to head a mission, which was of greater size 
than its predecessor. Under him were Lieut. -Colonel 
Gordon, Captain Chapman and Captain Trotter, 
who have all had distinguished careers. The cara- 
van, consisting of 400 animals, required elaborate 
supply preparations, and great difficulty was experi- 
enced in crossing one of the passes, the last hundred 



288 THKOUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. n 

feet of which was a wall of ice. But in due course 
Kargalik was reached, and thenceforward the mission 
was treated with friendliness and sumptuous hospi- 
tality. In December 1873 the party reached Kashgar, 
and Forsyth describes his reception as follows : 

" According to etiquette we dismounted at about 
forty paces from the gateway, and walked slowly along 
with the Head Chamberlain going ahead. In the 
outer gateway soldiers were seated on a dais with 
their firearms laid on the ground before them, their 
arms folded and their eyes on the ground. We 
then passed through a second gateway filled with 
soldiers, and crossed another court, on aU sides of 
which soldiers in gay costumes were ranged seated. 
From this court we passed into the penetraUa, a small 
court in which not a soul was visible, and everywhere 
a deathlike silence prevailed. At the further end of 
this court was a long hall, with several window-doors. 
The Chamberlain then led us in single file, with meas- 
ured tread, to some steps at the side of the hall, and 
entering almost on tiptoe looked in, and returning, 
beckoned with his hand to me to advance alone. As 
I approached the door he made a sign for me to enter, 
and immediately withdrew. I found myself standing 
at the threshold of a very common - looking room ; 
looking about I saw enter at a doorway on the opposite 
side a tall stout man, plainly dressed. He beckoned 
with his hand, and I advanced, thinking it must be 
a chamberlain who was to conduct me to ' The 
Presence.' Instinctively, however, I made a bow as 
I advanced, and soon found myself taken by both 
hands and saluted with the usual form of politeness, 
and I knew that I was standing before the far-famed 
ruler of Eastern Turkestan." 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 289 

This interesting description shows that Forsyth 
took Yakub Beg very much at his own valuation, 
and the fact that the British envoy agreed to dis- 
mount at a distance from the gateway must, at 
any rate, have raised the Atalik in the eyes of his 
subjects. 

At the formal interview a few days later the 
gifts, consisting mainly of munitions, were presented, 
but Yakub Beg was chiefly pleased with the autograph 
letter from Her Majesty, which was enclosed in a 
magnificent casket. After exclaiming " Praise to 
Allah ! " several times he proceeded to declare his 
friendship for the British, referring to the Queen 
as the sun " in whose genial rays such poor people 
as I flourish." 

The mission remained four months at Kashgar, its 
labours culminating in a treaty of commerce which 
was concluded in February 1874. By its terms 
a 2J per cent ad valorem tax was to be levied on 
goods imported from India, British trade thus being 
placed on the same favourable footing as Russian.^ 

In addition to important surveys made along the 
main road, Gordon led a party to the Pamirs, which 
were explored to some extent. Indeed the Forsyth 
mission was a distinct success, if only because these 
surveys proved beyond doubt that India could not 
be seriously invaded from the Pamirs or from Chinese 
Turkestan. Moreover, it enlarged the horizon of the 
authorities in India, and by the establishment of 
friendly relations with Chinese Turkestan inaugurated 
a small but profitable trade, 

Yakub Beg, however, regarded the mission far 

' The text of the treaty is given in The Life of Yalcub Beg, by 
D. C. Boulger. 

U 



290 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

otherwise, as to him it signified an alliance, granting 
British protection against Russian hostility, and, had 
he retaiaed his power, constant appeals for aid would 
have been received at Calcutta. As matters turned 
out, both Yakub Beg and his family were destined 
to disappear from the stage of Central Asia, and that 
speedily. 

While the Atalik was entertaining the Forsyth 
mission the Chinese Government, having restored 
order at home, was preparing a formidable force for 
the reconquest of its lost possessions beyond the Gobi. 
The task was very difl5.cult, owing to the width of the 
desert, estimated at about 1200 miles, but the Chinese 
army was well disciplined, well equipped, and well 
led, the difficulty as to supplies being successfully 
overcome in a very simple manner. The advanced 
guard sowed crops in one of the rare oases, and an 
abundant harvest was thus provided in the following 
autumn. 

As soon as this was gathered in, an army 
50,000 strong advanced without encoimtering any 
serious opposition, until in the spring of 1876 it 
reached the neighbourhood of Urumchi. The capture 
of this town in August, followed by that of Manas, 
fully re-established Chinese authority to the north 
of the Tian Shan. 

The Celestials were now free to deal with Yakub 
Beg, whose position had become unenviable. His 
refusal to aid Khokand in her last desperate struggle 
with Russia must have lowered his prestige, while his 
hostility to that power must have weakened his 
position ; it was clear, too, that Great Britain had 
no intention of supporting him with troops or money. 
Apart from this, his heterogeneous force was no match 



CH.XV CHINESE TUEKESTAN 291 

for the veteran Chinese army, to wkicli, moreover, it 
was far inferior in numbers and equipment. 

In the spring of 1877 the Chinese main force 
marched on Turfan, crossing the Tian Shan by the 
Devanchi Pass ; while a second force, 10,000 strong, 
moved west from Hami in co-operation. Yakub Beg 
had placed his main body for the defence of the 
Devanchi Pass, but while it was holding this posi- 
tion news was received of the capture of Turfan by 
the Hami column. A panic ensued, and, although 
the Atalilc fought a rearguard action to the west of 
Turfan, he was obliged to retreat to Karashahr, and 
later to Korla. Before this defeat Yakub Beg had 
sought aid from Kussia, but in vain, partly because 
KuropatkiQ (then a captain) had visited his camp 
and reported most vmfavourably on his position. 

For some unexplained reason, probably from lack 
of supplies, the Chinese army remained immobile 
for several months, while events were moving fast 
in the enemy camp, where the star of Yakub Beg 
was setting in gloom. After losing the eastern 
part of his territory the Atalik became morose and a 
danger to his courtiers. According to trustworthy 
information gained by me in Kashgar, the actual 
cause that led up to his death was a savage flogging, 
inflicted without any adequate reason, on one of his 
officials. This alarmed Niaz Hakim Beg, one of his 
principal followers, who poisoned him. 

Thus died Yakub Beg, who for a period of twelve 
years had played a leading role on the stage of Central 
Asia. He was fortunate, as one of his titles of Bedolat 
signified, inasmuch as he quitted Khokand just before 
its fall and successfully founded a state only a few 
marches off. He was fortunate in his dealings with 



292 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

Russia, which would have crushed him, but for more 
serious tasks which stayed her hand, and finally he 
was fortunate in being killed just as his kingdom was 
falling from his grasp. Among the chiefs of Central 
Asia he was a man of capacity, and he was undoubtedly 
brave and resolute ; but his outlook was narrow, as 
was inevitable from his environment. He remained 
alert and virile to the end, and was not addicted to 
the vice or self-indulgence that ruins many members 
of the upper classes in Central Asia. Although the 
stage he trod was circumscribed, Yakub Beg is the 
only Moslem of the nineteenth century in Central 
Asia whose name will live. 

The death of the Atalik was followed by a period 
of confusion. One of his sons escorted his father's 
corpse to Kashgar. There he was murdered by his 
elder brother Beg Kuli Beg, who succeeded to the 
throne, but not unchallenged, as a certain Hakim 
Khan Torah was able to seize karashahr and Korla, 
and there were also outbreaks at Khotan. The new 
ruler in the end overcame his rivals, but in the efiort 
exhausted his resources to a dangerous extent and 
made the way still easier for the Chinese. 

The final operations for the recovery of Kashgar 
and Yarkand were conducted on somewhat the 
same lines as the first. The main force assembled 
to the north of the Tian Shan and, using a little- 
known pass, descended in overwhelming strength on 
Aksu, while a second column drove the Moslems 
before it to Karashahr and on to Kucha, where a 
hard-fought battle was won by the Chinese ; and 
in December 1877 the campaign was brought to a 
successful conclusion by the capture of Kashgar. 

The Celestials showed moderation in the hour of 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 293 

victory. They deprived the population of their 
horses, to prevent a fresh rising, but they appointed 
Moslem headmen and also recognized the religious 
law of Islam. Their strong position was acknow- 
ledged by Russia in 1881, when, by the Treaty of 
St. Petersburg, that Power restored Kulja to the 
Chinese, receiving in return the post of Irkeshtam, two 
stages on the eastern side of the Tian Shan. By 
the same treaty freedom of trade was secured, and 
this agreement is still in force. 

In the last two decades of the nineteenth century 
great forward strides were made in the direction of 
Chinese Turkestan both by Great Britain and by 
Russia. The former Power, thanks to the energy 
and activity of Younghusband (a nephew of Robert 
Shaw) and other travellers, realized the importance 
of exploring the passes through which India could be 
threatened, if not invaded, from Russian Turkestan. 
A second aim was the control of the No Man's Land 
which lay between the fertile valley of Kashmir and 
the plain of Chinese Turkestan. To this end British 
Political officers were stationed at Gilgit and Chitral, 
supported by the Imperial Service troops of the 
Maharaja of Kashmir. 

During this period Russia also displayed consider- 
able activity in the exploration and occupation of the 
No Man's Land bordering on Russian Turkestan. 
One of her most active agents, Captain Gromb- 
chevsky, visited the hill state of Hunza in 1888, 
meeting Younghusband in the following year on the 
upper reaches of the Yarkand River. In 1891 
Younghusband travelled in Wakhan, and at the 
stage of Bozai Gumbaz met Colonel Yonoff, who 
had issued a proclamation that the Pamirs (with the 



294 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

sole exception of the TagMumbash Pamir) were 
Russian territory. That officer subsequently received 
instructions to escort Younghusband back to Chinese 
territory. He showed good feeling about his dis- 
agreeable task, and as Younghusband agreed, under 
protest, to proceed to Chinese Turkestan, he waived 
the instructions relating to escort. Upon this incident 
being reported, the Russian Government apologized 
for Yonoff's act, and the two Powers finally decided 
to despatch a commission to settle their respective 
claims in a country visited hitherto merely by a 
few travellers. In 1895 the commission met, and by 
its findings the narrow strip of Wakhan was awarded 
to the Amir of Afghanistan, with the result that the 
boundary of the British Empire was drawn in this 
section some thirty miles to the north of the crest 
line of the Hindu Kush. 

The great revolution which had broken out in 
China in 1911 began to make itself felt in its remote 
western provinces in the following spring. The first 
outbreak occurred in the district of Hi, where a 
young officer entered into a conspiracy against the 
Tartar general, with whom he had a private quarrel. 
The conspiracy was entirely successful, and resulted 
not only in the murder of the general, but in the 
capture of the machinery of government. As the 
revolution progressed in China, the republic was 
proclaimed in lU, and after the defeat of a force 
despatched from Urumchi the Hi rebels became 
undisputed rulers of the surrounding country. 

The unrest soon afEected Urumchi itself, where 
Chinese rowdies, members of a secret society which 
existed for the sake of loot and blackmail, began 
to demonstrate in favour of the republican cause 



CHINESE TUEKESTAN 295 

and to show their sympathy by acts of robbery 
and incendiarism. The governor, however, was no 
weakling, and realizing that the loyalty of the regular 
troops was very doubtful, he enlisted Tunganis in 
considerable numbers, through whose instrumentality 
he was able to control the situation for a time. 
Subsequently he dealt so mercilessly with every one 
suspected of being a member of the secret society, 
slowly slicing to death innocent and guilty alike, 
that the Chinese population rose and drove him out 
of Urumchi. 

In April of this year the outward calm hitherto 
maintained in Kashgar was rudely disturbed by the 
murder of the Taotai and the Prefect of Aksu. Upon 
the arrival of the telegram announcing this deed, the 
Kashgar Taotai immediately cut ofi his queue and 
issued a proclamation advising the Chinese to follow 
his example. Moreover, he had a scroll prepared with 
the inscription, " Long live the Chinese Eepublic ! " 
which he hung up in his yamen. After some hesi- 
tation the leading Chinese oflB.cials followed the 
example of the governor, the commander-in-chief 
of the province not only cutting ofE his queue and 
flying the flag of the Eepublic, but donning a non- 
descript European cap. The imited officials then 
solemnly changed their chronological system from 
the fourth year of Hsuang-tang, the boy-emperor, 
to the first year of the Chinese Eepublic, an act which 
possessed tremendous significance in their eyes. The 
soldiers were by no means ready to follow the lead of 
their superior officers, but maintained a sullen and 
resentful attitude, which boded ill for the safety of 
the higher officials, military and civil alike. 

Meanwhile Yuan- Shih-Kai had been informed by 



296 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

telegram of the adherence of the New Dominion 
to the Republic and had appointed the governor of 
Kashgar to Urumchi, hoping by this means to end 
the state of hostility which still existed between Hi 
and Urumchi. The governor of Kashgar at first 
refused the appointment, pleading his age and weak 
health, but in the end accepted it. The actual 
position, therefore, was that the Republic had been 
acknowledged throughout the province, and that the 
Chinese officials were all obeying the iostructions of 
Yuan-Shih-Kai. It might have been supposed that 
the crisis had passed without bloodshed, but this was 
not so. At night a band of fifty Chinese, members 
of a secret society, forced their way into the yamens 
of the governor and of the city magistrate. The 
governor, who was awake, was greeted with the 
ironical exclamation, " Greetings to Your Excellency," 
and both he and his wife were cut to pieces. The 
magistrate was also killed and the republican flags in 
the two yamens were cut down and destroyed. 

In the morning the gamblers, as they were termed, 
were harangued by the commander of the garrison at 
the head of a few soldiers. They insisted on being 
armed and formed into a new regiment under the com- 
mand of a ruffian, a pork -butcher by trade ; and 
when this was done they appointed new officials to 
succeed the murdered men. The soldiers in the New 
City killed two of their officers and a panic ensued in 
Kashgar, but the disturbances and looting were con- 
fined to the New City. The administration was 
now controlled by the gang of gamblers, who 
appointed all officials and took advantage of their 
power to levy blackmail, mainly on Chinese officials. 
In the other centres there were murders. The gover- 



OH. XV CHINESE TURKESTAN 297 

nor of Yarkand, among others, was singled out for 
assassination ; but an exceptionally violent storm, 
wMch. turned day into night, suggested to the Chinese 
gamblers that heaven forbade the deed — and the 
official still lives to tell the tale. 

In consequence of the unrest and lack of security 
caused by these deeds of violence, the Russian 
Government despatched a force 800 strong to protect 
Russian subjects. For some weeks after its arrival 
there was no friction or cause of alarm, but the 
celebration of a Chinese rite nearly gave rise to most 
serious consequences. On the day of the Festival of 
the Departed Spirits it is the custom of the Chinese 
to burn paper-money before the temples in order to 
ensure financial ease for their deceased relatives. 
One of the temples in Kashgar was the scene of this 
ceremonial, and a rumour reached the Russian con- 
sulate that the bazar was on fire. Help was im- 
mediately despatched in the shape of fifteen Cossacks, 
who, misunderstanding the situation, forcibly put 
out the fires in which the paper-money was being 
burnt. While this was being done some of the 
Cossack horses broke loose and galloped back to the 
consulate, where considerable anxietv was felt. The 
city gate was shut at the usual hour of 8 p.m., and, 
upon its arrival, the Russian maiu body, under the 
impression that their detachment had been cut off, 
blew it up with dynamite, and marching through the 
opening found the Cossacks perfectly safe. 

Not long after this the " Gambler "' regiment was 
ordered to Urumchi, and the officer commanding 
the Cossacks, who was disappointed at the entirely 
peaceful attitude of the Chinese, decided to attack 
it, his plan being to carry out night manoeuvres to 



298 THROUGH DESBETS AND OASES pt. n 

the east of the city across the line of march— and 
to create a " regrettable incident." But he reckoned 
without Sir George Macartney, who, getting wind of 
this typically Russian scheme, which received con- 
firmation from the sudden departure of the Cossacks, 
induced the Chinese authorities at the very last 
minute to change the line of march from due east 
to north - west, with a wide detour afterwards to 
the north. Thanks to this action by our able 
representative the trap was set in vain. The 
regiment, which had obeyed its orders with deep 
reluctance, finally reached Urumchi with its numbers 
much diminished by desertion, and the ruffianly 
pork-butcher was subsequently put to death. The 
Russian troops were shortly afterwards withdrawn 
from Kashgar, and that city once again settled down 
to its habitual drowsiness. 

In conclusion, the old-world policy of China was 
to surround her fertile empire with buffer states. 
At the end of the eighteenth century these included 
Annam, Siam, Burma, Assam, Bhutan, Sikkim, 
Nepal, Ladak, Kashmir and Khokand, together with 
the maritime provinces of Siberia. But the nine- 
teenth century, which saw the advance of Russia, 
the rise of Japan, and also powerful strangers from 
the west thundering at the watergates of the Middle 
Kingdom, brought heavy territorial losses to China, 
and to-day her system of bufEer states has been swept 
away by the new powers. Great Britain has shown 
considerable activity and has occupied or gained 
political ascendency over many of these states, and 
at the present time marches with the Chinese Empire 
not only on the confines of Burma to the south, 
but also on the borders of Ladak and Kashmir. 



CHINESE TURKESTAN 299 

Russia, on her side, has made a great advance, and 
now occupies Khokand, Andijan and the Khanates 
generally, together with the Pamirs to the west of 
Chinese Turkestan ; to the north the Russian province 
of Semirechia, through which is being constructed 
a railway that will attract much of its commerce, 
overshadows the province of Chinese Turkestan. 

Thus the old order of isolation, on which China 
relied, is passing, and the new order, which includes 
modern methods of commimication, is coming into 
force, hastened by the desire for progress which is 
afiecting large sections of mankind in Asia. 

The future of Chinese Turkestan is not finally 
settled, but the World War which has temporarily 
broken up the Russian Empire wiU imdoubtedly 
stimulate China to move along the path of progress. 
If so, there is hope that the condition of this outlying 
province of her empire may benefit, more especially 
by improved communications. At the same time 
there are many parts of Asia which have reason to 
envy the peace and plenty enjoyed by the inhabitants 
of Chinese Turkestan. 



CHAPTEE XVI 

A KASHGAR FARMER 

La latitude assez basse du Txirkestan chiaois oombinte aveo son 
altitude considerable, la s6cheresse de son atmosphere et ses saisons 
nettement tranch^es rendent le pays propre a des cultures tres diverses, 
&. celles qui se contentent d'un olimat tenip6r6 comme a celles qui 
exigent des chaleurs fortes et prolongtes ; mais excluent les plantes 
qui craignent les froids hivemaux ou r6clament une grande humidity. — 
Gbenabd, La Haute Asie, ii. 173. 

The cultivator, wlio is the backbone of Chinese 
Turkestan, depends entirely on irrigated crops, as 
there is no regular rainfall in the country. Eain, 
termed the " mercy of Allah " in Persia, is considered 
to be the opposite in Kashgar, partly because of the 
utter irregularity of its incidence. If there be a 
heavy fall in the spring, the soil cakes and the young 
plants cannot force their way through, and this 
necessitates a fresh sowing. Rain at harvest time, 
or when the melons ripen, is equally unwelcome, and 
when there is a heavy rainfall the farmer exclaims, 
" What great crime has been committed that we 
suffer such a calamity ? " Snow is regarded with less 
disfavour. As a rule there is plenty of water for 
every one in the Kashgar oasis, and fights for it occur 
only in the spring, when each cultivator wishes to 
water his land first, in order to secure an early crop 
for the market. 

300 



A KASHGAR FARMER 301 

Owing to the abundance of water and the absence \ 
of hail-storms or other serious climatic drawbacks, 
agriculture, except for rust and blight, which are 
seldom experienced, is a certainty, in complete contrast 
to the reputation it bears in countries that depend on \ 
the rainfall for their crops. The life of the oasis, 
where every acre is cultivated and where the agri- 
cultural population is comparatively dense, is quite 
unlike that of Persia, where each village is surrounded 
by square miles of uncultivated land, which furnishes 
gra2;ing, fodder and fuel. There are a few isolated 
villages, or groups of villages, in Chinese Turkestan, 
but the country generally consists of extensive oases 
set in a lifeless desert. 

The chief crops are miUet, rice, maize, wheat, 
barley, cotton, lucerne clover, hemp, linseed, turnips, 
carrots and tobacco. Millet and rice are regarded 
as the best-paying crops, the former occupying one- 
half of the total area cultivated. 

Of fruits and vegetables, apricots, grapes, peaches, 
nectarines, quinces, cherries, figs, apples, pears, 
mulberries, pomegranates and melons grow in great 
profusion, and pumpkins, which are the staple vege- 
table, are supplemented by carrots, turnips, onions, 
cucumbers, garlic and fennel. 

The upper classes are less civilized than in Persia, 
partly because they do not mix socially with the 
European colonies ; good fruit trees and seeds have 
therefore not been introduced. This state of affairs 
reflects little credit on the merchants from Andijan, 
who could easily introduce the magnificent fruit 
trees which are now grown at Tashkent. 

The Chinese of the New City farm much better 
than the native Moslems, and have introduced the 



302 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^.u 

curious plum-cherry, with its blue, white and red 
varieties of fruit, beans of various kinds, beetroot, 
cabbages, including kohl rabi, lettuces, potatoes, 
tomatoes and spinach ; but there is little contact 
between the Chinese and Moslem farmers, so that 
the latter do not learn much from the eflB.cient 
Celestials. 

The trees in the Kashgar Oasis, other than fruit 
trees, include the Lombardy and the spreading 
poplar, the latter growing to a great size, and the 
Turkestan elm, of which a grafted species grows 
in a pyramidal shape. The common willow and 
the Babylonian willow of two species — one with an 
edible fruit resembling the Bohemian olive — are 
planted along every irrigation channel and serve 
as fuel. 

Next to agriculture the most important industry 
is the raising of live-stock — horses, donkeys, camels, 
cattle, sheep and goats. The horses bred by the Kal- 
mucks around Karashahr are the best, being stronger 
than the Kirghiz ponies, because the Kalmucks do 
not drink mare's milk. They are usually geldings, 
standing about fourteen hands, and are ideal for 
transport purposes. The Kirghiz pony is hardy and 
enduring, but not strong or up to much weight. The 
Yarkandi, especially a roan, was a favourite mount 
in India in the last century, and is mentioned in 
Anglo-Indian novels of the period ; it is still exported 
in small numbers. 

Donkeys are found in thousands and take the 
place of the wheelbarrow and the cart in England, 
besides carrying the bulk of the internal trade. 
Camels, of the two-humped or Bactrian species, are 
iighly esteemed, especially by the Kirghiz, as they 




A LOAD OF CLOVER FROM ISA HAJI'S FARM. 



Page 302. 



CH. XVI A KASHGAR FARMEE 303 

are not afiected by cold or deep snow, and can cross 
rivers that ponies have to swim. Cattle-breeding 
is carried on mainly in the mountains and in the 
wooded tracts along the courses of the rivers. The 
animals are small, and are bred for milk and for 
ploughing. Sheep are usually of the fat -tailed 
species, but in the southern districts there is also 
a short-haired breed. All animals, as a rule, are 
miserably thin owing to the almost entire absence 
of grazing. 

I think it may be useful to select a typical farmer 
and study his life closely ; for by this means we 
shall get down to the bed-rock of definite fact, which 
is preferable to vague generalizations about agricul- 
ture. Isa Haji, the subject of this sketch, was a 
farmer, aged 75, who lived not far from the city wall. 
Helped by two of his five sons, aged 18 and 16 re- 
spectively, he farmed 40 mows, or about six acres of 
land, which is the average size of a farm close to 
Kashgar. Here the manure obtained from the city 
enables the whole of the land to be cultivated at 
once, whereas farther ofi, where little manure is avail- 
able, the farms are larger because a part of the land 
must always be allowed to lie fallow. One half of 
the Haji's land was devoted to lucerne clover, the 
remainder being sown with millet, wheat, rice, cotton, 
melons and linseed. As a rule only one crop a year 
was t a ken ofi the lan d ; but rQiIlet7'ciirro^""anJtuimaps' 
were sown after the wheat crop ; in this case the 
millet did not ripen, but was valuable as green forage ; 
the clover was cut four times in the year. In one 
corner of the farm were wiUow trees, which were pol- 
larded every four years to serve as fuel for the owners. 
Isa Haji, being an old man, merely assisted in watering 



304 THKOUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

the fields, while his sons did all the ploughing, harvest- 
ing and threshing. His two eldest sons kept a grain- 
shop in Eussian Turkestan, the third was a bricklayer, 
and the others, when not at work on the farm, earned 
sixpence a day as labourers. The Haji owned a yoke 
of plough-oxen and four donkeys, the former being 
fed on cotton-seed and the latter on millet. His 
agricultural implements included a primitive plough, 
a harrow, mattocks of two sizes, sickles, zambils or 
hurdles for carrying earth, a stone roller for threshing 
rice and a shovel for winnowing. Manure, consistiug 
of horse and cow droppings, night soil and ashes, was 
bought in the city at the rate of threepence per 
donkey load, and used freely on the land, which was 
a rich alluvial loam ; the frequent storms also de- 
posited layers of dust which were regarded as good 
for the crops. 

The house, which Isa Haji owned and had built 
room by room as he could afEord it, at a total cost 
(including the land) of £50, covered a square of sixty 
feet. The guest-room, in which he lived during the 
summer and in which the meals were cooked and 
served, was about twenty feet square and was lighted 
by a hole in the roof. A mud jjatform covered with 
felts, on which the family slept, occupied a prominent 
position, and the chief piece of furniture was a carved 
box, which held clothes and served as a bedstead. 
Above it was a shelf full of Russian teapots. OfE 
this room opened the store-room, in which grain was 
kept for winter consumption and which served as 
the living-room in winter. There was also a court- 
yard partly roofed in with matting during the summer, 
in which grew a shady tree, and this was the chief 
working room of the wife and daughters-in-law at 



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CH.XVI A KASHGAE FARMER 305 

that season. Here we noticed a cradle, a spinning- 
wlieel and various pans. Two small rooms belonged 
to two unmarried sons, and the rest of the square 
contained stabling, an oven and a store for dry 
fodder. 

The home was managed by the wife and her three 
daughters-in-law, who cooked the food, looked after 
the children and made the clothes. They did not 
work in the fields, but spun the cotton into yarn, 
which they wove into the rough white calico of 
which most of the clothing of the poorer classes is 
fashioned. 

The staple food of the family was bread made from 
millet, a grain that is held to be more sustaining 
than wheat or rice. Isa Haji's large family consumed 
all his share of the crops, except the lucerne and some 
of the melons, turnips, carrots and linseed, which 
were sold. The oil of the linseed was used for cooking 
and lighting. 

The chief meal of these peasant-farmers was eaten 
at sunset and consisted of suyukash, a soup prepared 
from pieces of paste-like macaroni and vegetables 
boiled in water. In the morning they took tea with 
cream and salt, and fruit and bread were eaten at 
odd hours. Meat, generally beef, appeared on their 
table only once a week. There was plenty of this 
rude fare, supplemented by slices of pumpkin eaten ' 
hot and by other delicacies ; and Isa Haji's sons 
appeared healthy, their teeth being noticeably fine 
and sound. They said that they suffered a good deal 
from lack of warmth in the winter, as charcoal was 
dear and had to be used sparingly. They placed a 
bowl of lighted charcoal under a wooden frame, over 
which a quilt was thrown, and the family sat by day 

X 



306 THEOUGH DESEETS AND OASES pt. n 

and slept by night under this covering, with their feet 
towards the centre. 

Isa Haji had been the tenant of the farm for 
more than ten years. It included three small pro- 
perties belonging to three Kashgar merchants. Two- 
thirds of the lucerne, amounting in value to about 
five pounds, and one half of the other crops, were 
paid over as rent. He had no security of tenure, 
and could be turned out at will, but the prospect of 
this appeared to him unlikely, and he expressed satis- 
faction with his lot. 

The farm paid revenue to the extent of 105 lbs. of 
wheat, a similar quantity of millet and 2100 lbs. of 
chopped straw, Isa Haji and his landlords each paying 
one half of the whole. There had also to be met the 
demand of the Chinese authorities for forced labour 
on public works and transport, but this was com- 
pounded for in money and might come to the equiva- 
lent of two shillings per annum. Nothing was paid 
for the use of irrigation water, and the taxation repre- 
sented less than 5 per cent of the two main crops. 
In the case of villages situated at some distance from 
the city double this amount may be taken by the tax 
collectors, who are more exacting in proportion to their 
distance from headquarters. 

To sum up, we have an oasis in which agriculture 
is not affected by the rainfall, but depends entirely 
on the rivers. The peasants have enough to eat, 
a good climate and neighbours in abundance. 
There are few parts of the world where the people 
are so contented, and, although discontent might 
perhaps bring an improvement of their lot, it is 
pleasant to see such cheerful, friendly tillers of 
the soil leading a healthy agricultural life, and 



A KASHGAR FARMER 307 

to meet them returning home at night singing their 
tuneful songs : 

How tappy te wto crowns in shades like these 
A youth of labour with an age of ease ; 
Who quits a world where strong temptations try, 
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly. 



CHAPTER XVII 

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS IN CHINESE TURKESTAN 

Straight and slender-waisted are the maids of Kashgar, 
Short, with sack-like figures, are the maids of Yangi Hissar. 
A goitre above and fat below are the maids of Yarkand. 
Arranging apples on saucers are the maids of Khotan-Ilchi. 
Wearing felt caps, with foreheads high, are the maids of Sarikol. 

The Maids of Turkestan. (Prom an old ballad.) 

The inhabitants of Chinese Turkestan are divided by 
the anthropologist into four distinct groups. The first 
consists of the Sarikoli and Pakhpo mountaineers, who 
are pure Aryans. The second is a desert group in- 
cluding the mass of the inhabitants of the country, 
the basis of this population being Aryan with some 
Uighur admixture, more especially at Aksu in the 
north. The third group is formed of the Kirghiz, 
the Dulanis and the inhabitants of Aksu ; the 
fourth consists of the Chinese and Mongols, whose 
differentiation from the Kirghiz is to be noted. The 
Aryan type has been best preserved in the southern 
and south-western parts of the province, with their 
rugged mountain areas which are difficult of access. 
In the western districts Turkish influence is evident, 
in the northern the Mongol zone begins, and this, 
as our survey moves eastwards, gives place to the 
Chinese. 

308 



CH. xvn MANNERS AND CUSTOMS 309 

Throughout this work reference is constantly made 
to the people of Chinese Turkestan, and here an 
attempt will be made to summarize their character. 
They are distinctly to be classified as " tame," in the 
frontier officer's sense of the word, being submissive, 
lacking in spirit and ready to serve any master, 
provided that they can enjoy life in their own way, 
with feasting, women and music. In their ballads 
they complain of forced labour, with its separation 
from wife and family, and they sing the praises 
of the home. But they are not faithful to their 
wives : " Let every one follow his inclination and 
enjoy himself with the woman he prefers. If the 
kings were just, every one would have his beloved 
mistress at his side." Lack of physical and moral 
energy and dislike of hard, continuous work and, 
above all, of discipline, are notable characteristics of 
these apathetic oasis-dwellers ; but against these im- 
perfections, which they share, more or less, with the 
neighbouring peoples of Russian Turkestan, must be 
set many good qualities. Hospitality is found every- 
where, strangers are welcomed and the people are 
pleasant to deal with, their politeness being especially 
marked. The Chinese rule, though supported by few 
troops, is a living force, and this proves that the 
people are law-abiding. Moreover, there is very little 
fanaticism, and the inhabitants of Chinese Turkestan, 
although obedient to their spiritual leaders, are not 
easily excited to rebellion. One inconsistent trait in 
this home-loving race is the readiness they show to 
undertake a journey, though travelling is generally 
hard and wearisome ; but perhaps the chief cause of 
this is curiosity, and, after all, relatively few travellers 
leave their beloved province. " We love our festivals " 



310 THEOUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

is the general refrain of this happy, but nonchalant, 
race of lotos-eaters. 

During the months we spent in this little-known 
country, I employed my spare time in collecting in- 
formation regarding its manners and customs, which, 
as is natural, bore strong traces of Chinese origin. 
They were also influenced by the fact that the people 
were Buddhists for many hundreds of years before 
their forcible conversion to Islam in the tenth 
century, when they became Sunnis, looking up 
to the Khan of Bokhara and, above him, to the 
Sultan of Turkey. Their holy places remained un- 
changed so far as the sites were concerned, and 
on them shrines in honour of Moslem saints have 
been erected. Ancestor -worship, too, is inherited 
from the Chinese, with the result that the tombs 
are visited with a frequency unknown elsewhere in 
Central Asia. 

Girls, when they reach a marriageable age, visit 
one of the shrines and pray as follows : " O Allah, 
Lord of the Shrine, grant me a house with a 
kettle ready placed on the stove, and a spoon in 
the kettle. May it be a house with its four sides 
decorated with cloth, with carpets and druggets ready 
spread, and with towels hanging from the pegs. Grant 
me a husband whose father and mother are dead ; 
and may he have no other wife ! " When the saint 
vouchsafes to hear this delightfully naive petition and 
a suitor appears on the scene, there is no formal 
betrothal, although in the case of the wealthy large 
sums are paid by the bridegroom and the bride is 
richly dowered. Costly gifts, too, are given to the 
bride by the bridegroom and by relatives and friends. 
In the case of a poor man, a payment of merely one 



cH.xvn MANNEES AND CUSTOMS 311 

or two pounds sterling is made to the parents, who 
defray the bride's outfit from the money. The next 
step taken is to obtain a certificate from the Imam 
of the quarter, that the woman is free to marry, and 
after the payment of a small fee a written permission 
for the marriage is given by the local Beg. 

Nowadays there is no special wedding-dress, and 
even the globular wedding-cap of cloth of gold or 
silver has ceased to be worn. The marriage ceremony 
is generally celebrated at the termination of a feast 
which lasts until the evening. A mulla reads the fatiha 
or opening chapter of the Koran, after which the 
agent of the bride goes to the women's apartment 
and asks her thrice whether she accepts the bride- 
groom, and upon receiving her bashfully given con- 
sent, he returns to the men to annoimce the success 
of his mission, thereby completing the nikah or legal 
ceremony. Two pieces of bread soaked in salt water 
are then given to the bridegroom and bride respect- 
ively, and this, in popular opinion, is the most im- 
portant act of the marriage. Indeed many marriages 
are contracted by the observance of this custom alone, 
bread and salt probably symboUzdng the inauguration 
of a new household, although the meaning has now 
been forgotten. 

As the bride leaves her old home, the mother 
laments : " my black-eyed darling ! Alas, my chUd, 
my child! My sweet -voiced, soft -eyed darling! 
My daughter leaves me, and I remain in an empty 
house. Alas, my child, my child ! " 

When conducted to her new home, the people of 
the quarter bar her path by means of a fire, and 
demand gifts in the shape of handkerchiefs. The 
groom, too, will not allow her to dismount from 



312 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

her horse until he is handsomely fee'd, and finally, 
when the bride enters her husband's house, flour and 
cotton are set before her and given away to the poor. 
This ceremony is termed Ak-Yul-luk or " White 
Road," and symbolizes a happy journey through life. 
During the lifetime of the older generation the bride- 
groom is called kiau ogJili or " son-in-law " by the 
parents, and the bride kelin or " daughter-in-law," 
but she is spoken of as a chaukan or married woman 
by her neighbours. 

There is an immense difference between the villagers 
and the townspeople in Kashgar, both in the position 
of women and in their morality. The villagers as a rule 
marry only one wife and rarely practise divorce, and 
their wives take a high position inherited from pre- 
Islamic days. For example, it is customary to agree, 
before the reading of the nikah, that the wife shall be 
taken to the shrine of Hazrat Apak for tawwuf or 
" circling " of the tomb when the apricots are ripe, 
other stipulations being that the woman cannot be 
taken to another town without her consent, and some- 
times that the husband shall not take another wife. 
The women may frequently be seen riding to market 
on good horses and attending to business almost on 
an equality with the men. In the city wives are 
constantly divorced, so much so that the majority of 
them remarry many times. Temporary marriages, 
resembling in efiect sigJieh marriages in Persia, are 
also very common, and some women systematically 
indulge in divorces in order to gain money. They 
cannot remarry until after the expiration of the iddat 
of three months and ten days, but upon receiving 
two letters of divorce — ^generally obtained in dif- 
ferent towns — they can remarry at once by using the 



cH.xvn MANNERS AND CUSTOMS 313 

older letter. It is an indication of the low position 
held by women in the towns that a merchant, on 
starting ofi to business, will sometimes return home 
if he first meets one of the fair sex, this being looked 
upon as a bad omen. 

Constant intermarriage, as in most Moslem coun- 
tries, produces sad results in the form of idiocy, 
deafness and dumbness in the offspring, such visita- 
tions being especially noticeable among the rich, 
landed classes, who intermarry generation after genera- 
tion, in order to keep the family property intact. ' So 
far is this policy pursued that in the richest family 
of Kashgar many of the girls have perforce remained 
single because there were not enough cousins to go 
round. It is interesting to note that in this matter 
the Chinese go to the opposite extreme, the whole 
nation being divided up into about one hundred 
divisions, and no man being permitted to marry a 
woman of his own division, although she be in no 
way related to him. 

In Kashgar, marriage is not the chief event in a 
woman's life, the ceremony of chachbagh or " braiding 
of the hair " being far more important, although held 
at no fixed time after marriage, and not depending on 
the birth of a child. It is celebrated by a great feast, 
with dancing, which sometimes lasts for three days. 
Gifts, far richer than those given at marriage, are 
bestowed on the wife, the parents in many cases 
handing over landed property. The culminating 
point is the appearance of the woman, who, attired 
in her richest clothes, takes the seat of honour in 
the room ; and then, in the presence of all, her hair, 
hitherto worn in four or five plaits, is formally and 
for the first time braided in two plaits, and she becomes 



314 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

thereby a jawan. She is now entitled to wear five 
red semicircular strips of embroidery on the right 
side of the neck of her gown, one below the other, and 
increasing successively in length. In the case of the 
rich, Indian cloth of gold is generally used. 

One day a woman was seen weeping at a shrine, 
and her prayer was as follows : "0 Holy One ! 
What shall I do ? How shall I live ? I have been 
left an orphan. I am become a stranger. What 
shall I do ? Am I to sufEer the hardships of an 
orphan ? Am I to remain lonely ? I have no father, 
no mother. Every one is oppressing me. Allah, 
I am lost among friends and foes. Alas, my stranger's 
fate ! Alas, my orphan's fate ! Holy One, 
put love into the heart of my husband and make his 
mind just towards me. Allah, grant me the wish 
of my heart, give me a son, a son with a long life. 
I have become a stranger. Thou hast left me an 
orphan. Allah, help me and make my enemies 
like dust." 

After this fervent prayer the suppliant, with her 
eyes shut, put her hand into a hole in the tomb and 
drew forth a morsel of earth, which she swallowed. 
Her faith was justified, and in due course of time she 
began to make arrangements for an easy delivery, to 
enstire which a visit was paid to a hakhshi or magician. 
He played upon a drum and chanted some incoherent 
gibberish, the woman meanwhile holding a rope that 
hung from the roof, and dancing round it until giddiness 
ensued. After this ceremony she paid a fee, gave 
alms to the poor, and returned home with her heart 
at ease. Later on she visited the tombs of her 
ancestors, taking with her an offering of food, and 
begged them to intercede for an easy delivery and, 




A MAGICIAN AND HIS DISCIPLE. 



Page 314. 



OH. xvn MANNERS AND CUSTOMS 315 

above all, for the birth of a son. She laid the offering 
near the grave, praised her ancestors, lamented 
her own failings, walked round the tomb seven times 
and finally distributed the food to the beggars. 
About a month before the event, she went on foot to 
a place where there were seven water mills, and after 
slowly crossing the seven ducts that fed them, 
returned home with happy confidence in the special 
efficacy of the ceremony. 

When her hour was come, no one was allowed to 
leave the house unless upon business that was urgent, 
in which case no harm was anticipated, provided that 
some article of dress was left behind. The women of 
the neighbourhood assembled to help, and during the 
delivery cried out with the idea of keeping the birth 
a secret, a custom adopted from the Chinese. The 
newly born infant, too, was carefully concealed from 
visitors. 

If former children belonging to the parents have 
all died, which is, alas, a frequent occurrence, the 
father, dressed as a beggar, takes the baby to the 
bazar and begs from the shopkeepers small pieces 
of calico, which are made into a shirt, the idea 
being to avoid misfortune by thus humbhng him- 
self. Special names signifpng " solid " or " stay " 
or " may he stay ! " are in such cases given to the 
child when he is named, between the third and 
seventh day, by a mulla, who first whispers the azan 
or call to prayer into his ear. On the fortieth day 
the head of the infant is shaved and the hair buried. 
A sheep is sacrificed and eaten on this occasion, 
while its bones, which must not be broken, are 
buried. 

The rite of circumcision, one of the most important 



316 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

of the " five foundations " of Islam, is performed 
between the third and eighth years. The barber 
operates, and in the case of the rich the event is 
celebrated by a feast lasting two or three days, at 
which the boy receives presents including hard-boiled 
eggs, with which he plays a game by knocking them 
together. 

Children of both sexes are sent to school very 
young, the idea being that they wiU gradually pick 
up their letters. Education in Kashgar merely 
consists of learning by heart a chapter of the Koran 
and its Turki equivalent. The letters are taught, 
penmanship is encouraged, and lessons are given in 
the forms of prayer and of ablution. Geography, 
history (as distinct from legend), mathematics and 
foreign languages are utterly neglected, and the girls 
leave school at about ten and most of the boys a 
year or two later. The teachers are narrow-minded 
bigots, and the parents are content to have it so, 
with the result that there is not much progress in 
Kashgar. 

We visited the chief boys' school in Kashgar, 
where the master bade his favourite pupils recite 
passages from the Koran. This they did in a 
lugubrious sing-song, swaying backwards and for- 
wards as if in pain. The pedagogue and his scholars 
were then photographed, holding imposing leather- 
bound and silver-embossed books, which on enquiry 
proved to be commentaries on the Koran. 

The death ceremonies are in general those 
common to Islam throughout Asia, but there are also 
some customs peculiar to Kashgar. The body, after 
being washed and shrouded, is laid out with the 
thumbs of the hands and the big toes tied together, 




o 
o 
X 
u 
en 

ai 
< 

a 

X 



CH. xvn MANNERS AND CUSTOMS 317 

while the chin is also tied up. It is then carried out 
of the house and, at seven paces from the door, a 
spoonful of rice water is poured on the ground. At 
every seven steps this is repeated, and the following 
verse recited : 

Zir ^ has come, Zabar has come, 

From the centre of the earth news has come. 

swift dogs of the door of heaven, 

Come, open the gates of paradise for this man. 

This mention of dogs is due to Chinese influence ; 
in Islam they occupy a degraded position and are 
considered unclean. Contrary to the general usage 
of Islam, white is the mourning colour, as in China. 
The funeral procession to the grave is headed by pro- 
fessional mourners, and accompanied by a mulla, 
who reads sentences from the Koran on the way, 
and conducts the service at the grave. 

Women do not attend at the graveside, but mourn 
at a neighbouring mosque : " my father ! My 
brave father ! My good father ! " or "0 my 
mother ! My beautiful mother with black eyebrows ! 
Thou lea vest us and we are alone." One curious 
custom is that of driving a stick into the grave near 
the head of the corpse, which Grenard considers to 
be a survival of the ancient practice of offering food 
to the dead. On the third day a solemn feast is held 
in the house of the deceased. The mournirig lasts 
for forty days, and upon the termination of this 
period a second feast is given, and the normal life 
is then resumed by the mourners. 

The system of medicine at Kashgar is based on 
the ancient Greek theory as taught by Hippocrates 

^ Zir is the mark for the sound " i," and zabar for the sound " a " ; 
their inclusion is apparently unmeaning. 



318 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

Galen and Plato, whose works were translated into 
Arabic and Persian, especially by Abu Ali bin Sina, 
known in Europe as Avicenna. Diseases are divided 
into the categories of " hot " and " cold," to be cured 
by medicines and food of the opposite category. 
For instance, in the case of fever, cock's flesh, which 
is " cold," is eaten, or fish. Hen's flesh is considered 
" hot " in Persia, but in Kashgar there is some 
difierence of opinion among the faculty. 

The Kashgar doctors believe implicitly in giving 
pigeon's or duck's blood in cases of poisoning, and, 
moreover, prescribe the flesh of a nestling sparrow 
torn in two to ease swellings in the groin ; they stop 
bleeding by means of a pad composed of burnt felt, 
or a bit of leather covered with mud or filth. 
Rheumatism and dropsy are treated by burying the 
patient in hot sand or by wrapping him in the skin 
of a recently Idlled sheep, and abdominal complaints 
by sticking several lighted candles into a loaf and 
placing it on the patient's stomach. 

So much for the doctors of Kashgar ; but, as their 
reputation is very low, recourse is had to other means 
of curing sickness. Among the most common is the 
female diviner, who, when called in, kneads flour into 
a ball, recites some gibberish in which the names of 
the archangels and of Solomon are mentioned, and 
solemnly buries the ball under the fire, reciting the 
names of all the holy men who are buried in the 
neighbourhood. Whichever of these saints is being 
mentioned when the ball bursts has to be propitiated. 
Oil is taken to his shrine, where it is boiled and the 
steam is inhaled by the patient, after which it is 
mixed with food, part of which is distributed to the 
poor and part eaten for seven days by the sufferer. 



OH. xvn MANNEES AND CUSTOMS 319 

This ceremony is termed chachralku or " bursting of 
a ball of kneaded flour " and is regarded as most 
eiflcacious. 

Tlie power of tbe evil eye is firmly believed in by' 
all classes, and cMldren usually wear round their necks 
a little leather case containing a verse of the Koran 
as a protection against it. If a child is believed to 
be possessed, an old woman recites the following : 

" Allah is sublime. Praise be to Allah ! There 
is no god but Allah. If thou art an evil eye depart^ 
as this place is not for thee. Go to a deserted water- 
mill ; go to a deserted house ; go to a grave ; go to 
the house of the Kazi. These are the commands of 
Allah, of Solomon and of the Saint." The evil eye 
cannot withstand this invocation and leaves the 
sufferer forthwith. 

In cases of possession by the devil, a magician is 
called in, and chants as follows : " Another head 
has come to the head ; another body has come to 
the body. Your master has come ; a jade lamp and 
blood sherbet are here. You will soon be like ashes, 
for I have an iron knife to cut you with and coal 
bullets to shoot you with." The devil, hearing these 
threats from the magician, quits the patient without 
more ado. 

Among general remedies are the following : The 
eyes of sheep sacrificed at the Id-i-Gurban at Mecca 
are dried and kept as powerful charms for sickness. 
When used they are moistened and applied to the 
forehead. Another remedy consists of bread and 
meat, collected from seven bakers and butchers. 
The food, when prepared, is taken, together with a 
doll, to the grave of a saint, after which some of it 
is eaten and the remainder distributed to the poor. 



320 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

This effects the cure. Yet another curious treatment 
is to cover up the patient's head while a man walks 
round him with lighted straw, uttering certain special 
prayers during the fumigation. 

As to children's ailments : if a child cries too 
much, straw is swept up from three roads, dust 
is taken from the footprints of passers-by and 
Syrian rue is collected from the desert ; the mixture 
is then lighted and the child is cured by being held 
over the smoke. If a child suffers from deafness, 
one method is to call in the services of a trumpeter, 
who spits into the ear, while another plan is to cut 
seven small twigs, wrap them up in cotton and, on 
market day, to tie the little bundle to the ear of a 
donkey loaded with salt. For other ailments, seven 
coral beads are thrown into a spring ; or, again, 
copper pieces are begged from seven men named 
Mohamed, others are added by the parents, and a 
charm is made to hang round the child's neck. 

Finally, there are certain shrines famous for the 
cure of specific diseases. For sldn disease a shrine 
known as the Sigm is much frequented. There mud 
is taken from a well outside and thrown at the wall 
with a prayer to the saint, after which the suppliant 
walks away without looking back. 

I conclude this brief account of the treatment of 
diseases in Kashgar by a story entitled " The Clever 
Physician " : ^ 

" Once upon a time there was a physician. When 
this physician entered the room where the sick person 
was, he looked all about it, and whatever met his 
eyes in the shape of an eatable, he looked at the 
patient and said, ' You have eaten such and such a 

1 Vide The Eastern Turkestan Dialect, by G. Raquette. 




A WOMAN THROWING MUD TO EFFECT A CURE. 



Pag-e 32c. 



OH. xvn MANNERS AND CUSTOMS 321 

thing and that is what has done you harm.' The 
physician had a pupil, and wherever the physician 
went, there went his pupil with him. A rich man had 
become paralysed, that is to say, unable to walk. 
Many physicians had treated him, but his disease did 
not abate. At last, having heard that the aforesaid 
physician's pupil was a wonderful medical adept, he 
summoned him to his house. 

" When the physician's pupil had entered the house 
and had carefully looked round, he perceived that 
there was nothing at all in the shape of an eatable 
in it, but in one corner of the room an old donkey- 
saddle had been thrown down. When he saw this 
he exclaimed, ' Oh, rich man ! you have eaten an old 
donkey - saddle, through which your disease has in- 
creased and you have become paralysed.' When he 
said this, the rich man was very angry, and exclaim- 
ing, ' Does one who is called a human being eat 
donkey-saddles ? ' sprang up in his rage in order to 
beat him and— walked ! 

" The physician, poor fellow, was terrified and 
had fled away. The rich man was struck with 
wonder and exclaimed, ' This is a great man ; for 
my leg, which grew no better for any physician's 
medicine, has now become quite well through this 
person.' He caused the physician's pupil to be 
summoned, apologized to him, and sent him away 
with many valuable gifts." 

At the first fall of snow a man frequently calls on 
a friend with some snow wrapped in an envelope, 
while in another are enclosed verses : 

My dear friend with this document I throw you snow ; 

From joy of heart this game arose ; 

Cups and jugs we have collected and wooden trays ; 

y 



322 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

And we have prepared sweetmeats. 

The mandoline, violin, zither and tambourine we have made ready. 
When snow has fallen in winter, do not people give entertainments ? 
If there are friends living around do not people invite them ? 
If you are clever enough to seize the man who has brought the 

snow. 
Powder his face, paint him like a girl, and beat him severely. 

Th.e visitor places his verses secretly in the house 
and then decamps. If the owner of the house catches 
him he beats him, paints his face like a girl and leads 
him through the streets calling out, " This is the 
punishment for the man who throws snow " ; and 
the visitor is then bound to give an entertainment. 
But if the owner of the house does not catch the 
visitor, he himself must prepare a banquet. If he 
fails to do so within a week, bulrushes are tied on 
the top of his door, and if this hint is not suf&cient, 
the bier from the cemetery is placed outside his house. 

Owing to Chinese influence, there is no Moslem 
country where respect for parents and for superiors 
is so strong as in Kashgar. During the lives of the 
parents they are never referred to by name by their 
children, but are always addressed as " My Lord." A 
son will never sit in the presence of his father without 
special permission, but will stand with the head 
bowed and hands folded in token of humility. He 
would never dream of retiring to sleep before his 
father, nor of smoking in his presence. To superiors 
deference is shown by dismounting from horseback, 
and by always prefacing an answer with tahsir or 
" fault," which has come to be the equivalent of 
our " Sir." Upon receipt of a robe of honour, the 
recipient bows low, sweeping the arms in a circle to 
stroke the beard. Women courtesy by bowing low 
with folded hands. 



OH. xyn MANNERS AND CUSTOMS 323 

The Kasligaris have few games, but kite-flying, an 
elementary form of rotmders, pitch-and-toss into a 
hole with walnuts or coins, and a kind of tip-cat are 
favourite amusements. Grown-up men indulge in 
ram-fighting and partridge-fighting, heavy bets being 
made on the contests. 

Music is extremely popular, the Kashgar peasants 
being distinctly musical, and their refrains, sung in 
unison on returning from work, are pleasing to 
the European ear. The usual instruments are the 
tambourine, the mandoline and the four-stringed 
rubab. In Kashgar dancing is regarded as improper, 
and is indulged in only by professional women or 
boys ; but in the Khotan oasis, among the Dulanis 
of Merket, the Sarikolis and the Kirghiz, men and 
women dance together at weddings. At entertain- 
ments the men and women sit on opposite sides and, 
when the music commences, a woman rises and places 
a handkerchief in front of a man, who thereupon 
rises also, sings a song and returns the handkerchief. 
This is done by all present, and men and women then 
dance together. 

During my stay in Chinese Turkestan I sought for 
any custom which might be a survival from the days 
of the Nestorian Christians. One such is that horse- 
dealers, when a bargain is not concluded, make the 
sign of the cross on the horse to avert the evil eye. 
It is interesting to note that, owing to Chinese influ- 
ence, black and dark grey are the favourite colours 
for horses, whereas few people care to buy a roan, 
whose colour is deemed unlucky. 



y2 



CHAPTER XVIII 

STALKING THE GKEAT SHEEP OF MARCO POLO 

Do you know the world's white roof -tree — do you know that windy 
rift 

Where the baffling mountain-eddies chop and change ? 
Do you know the long day's patience, beUy-down on frozen drift, 

While the head of heads is feeding out of range ? 
It is there that I am going, where' the boulders and the snow lie. 

With a trusty, nimble tracker that I know, 
I have sworn an oath, to keep it on the Horns of Ovis poll, 

And the Red Gods call me out and I must go ! 

Kipling, The Feet of the Young Men. 

Life in the East, more especially away from important 
centres, lacks most of the amenities which are taken 
as a matter of course in the civilized West. Family 
life is broken up, society is restricted, communications 
are bad, involving few and irregular posts, and health 
frequently sufEers from the climate and from indif- 
ferent food. So much for the debit side. But 
fortimately there is a credit side, and for the English- 
man sport is a large item on this side and does much 
to brighten the otherwise trying monotony of life 
in Asia. It also helps him to maintain his energy 
and health, and with it that sane outlook which is one 
of the main secrets of our success as a world-power. 

When appointed to Kashgar I had hopes of ful- 
filling the ambition of a life-time by stalking one of 
Marco Polo's great sheep, the Ovis poli. As a youth 

324 



CH. xvm THE GEEAT SHEEP OF MAECO POLO 325 

I liad been fascinated by the record of the celebrated 
Venetian traveller, and after joining the army had 
made considerable efforts to travel in the Pamirs in 
1891 and 1892. But the arrest of Younghusband, 
mentioned in Chapter XV., closed the " Eoof of the 
World " to the private traveller, and it seemed as if 
I were not destined to tread these mysterious upland 
valleys. But the fates were kind. On the way to 
Kashgar I stopped at Petrograd, where a high Eussian 
official, whose colleague I had been at Meshed, said 
that he felt sure I should wish to shoot an Ovis poli in 
the Pamirs. I replied emphatically in the affirmative, 
and it was speedily arranged that I should receive 
an invitation to travel in the regions which for so 
many years I had longed to visit. 

Before describing the Ovis poU, which confers the 
blue riband upon the hunter of big game, both from 
the magnificence of the trophy and the inaccessibility 
of its habitat,.! will quote Marco Polo, who wrote : 
" There are great numbers of all kinds of wild beasts 
[in the Pamirs] ; among others, wild sheep of great 
size, whose horns are good six palms in length. From 
these horns the shepherds make great bowls to eat 
from, and they use the horns also to enclose folds 
for their cattle at night." 

The credit of Marco suffered through the ignorance 
of mankind, and it was not until the nineteenth 
century that his character for accuracy was vindi- 
cated by Lieutenant Wood, who, when he reached 
England in 1838 after his famous journey to a chief 
source of the Oxus, exhibited some skulls with horns 
4 feet 8 inches long, and on the strength of these 
specimens the species was appropriately named 
Ovis poli or " The sheep of (Marco) Polo." 



326 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES ^. n 

It is the most splendid member of a splendid group, 
to which belong also the Ovis ammon of Tibet, with 
more massive but shorter horns, and the Ovis harelini 
of the Tian Shan, which is a smaller sub-species of 
the foli, the " record " head, shot by E. W. Dixon, 
measuring only 58| inches. In the Ovis poli, the 
enormous horns are longer and relatively narrower 
than in any of the other wild sheep, forming a more 
open spiral and much more than one complete circle, 
with the flat surface markedly angulated.^ The 
summer coat is lightly speckled and the legs are 
white, but in the winter the rufE becomes pure white. 
The height at the shoulders exceeds 12 hands, 
and the weight may be about 22 stone. The length 
of horns is enormous, one specimen, believed to be 
the longest on record, measuring 6 feet 3 inches ! 
Marco's " six palms " may perhaps be the equivalent 
of 5 feet ; so that his estimate was in no way exag- 
gerated. 

The great distinction of being the first European to 
shoot an Ovis poli was won by Captain (the late Sir 
Henry) Trotter, who describes the event as follows : 
" It was during a very tedious and long march of 
thirty-seven miles, mostly through snow, that my 
attention was suddenly called to the presence of some 
wild sheep about two hundred yards up the hillside. 
My rifle was handy, and in a few seconds one of them 
came rolling down. It was the first Ovis poli ever 
shot by a European sportsman, but it was unfor- 
tunately a very poor specimen." ^ Since that date 

1 Vide The Sheep and its Cousins, by the late R. Lydekker, who 
termed the poli, Ovis ammon poli, and the harelini, Ovis ammon littledalei. 

" « The Amir Yakub Khan and Eastern Turkestan in Mid-Nineteenth 
Century," by Colonel Sir Henry Trotter, K.C.M.G., C.B. {Journal of the 
Centred Asian Society, vol. iv., 1917, Part IV.). 



OH. xvni THE GREAT SHEEP OF MARCO POLO 327 

British big-game shots, including the most famous of 
their generation, have visited these remote upland 
valleys in pursuit of this king of sheep. 

When I actually visited the Pamirs I found that 
some of the descriptions I had read did not convey 
a clear impression on all points. Perhaps my chief 
disappointment was the aridity of the country, for, 
travelling in June and July, I had expected to find 
rich meadows decked with Alprae flowers. On the 
contrary, nowhere did I see anything but the scantiest 
pasturage, and it remains a subject of wonder that 
the huge Ovis poli can find nourishment in such a 
barren land. A second point which struck me was 
that the Pamirs were for the most part open and 
easy to traverse, and the mountains, although actually 
rising very high above sea -level, appeared almost 
insignificant when viewed from the high altitude at 
which we were travelling. The one point on which 
there was no mistake was the severity of the weather. 

Starting from Kashgar in considerable heat on 
June 7, we crossed the Katta Dawan twelve days 
later in equally considerable cold, and from its crest, 
at an elevation of 15,250 feet, the Pamirs lay before 
us. To the north the Trans-Alai range rose up in 
snow-covered peaks, while almost at our feet a corner 
of the Great Karakul, the largest lake of the Pamirs, 
was visible. Descending into the valley from the 
storm-swept pass, I felt very happy that I had at 
last reached the haunt of the Ovis poli, and my 
elation was increased by seeing three small herds of 
females grazing on the moimtain side as we passed 
down the valley to our camp near the lake. 

The following morning I started ofE to try for 
game, feeling as keen and excited as I had done 



328 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. u 

during my first shooting expedition more than 
twenty-five years ago, when everything was "fair 
and new." I had fortunately secured the services 
of a good shikari, by name Nadir, who has abeady 
been mentioned. He had travelled with other 
Englishmen and quite grasped our methods of stalk- 
ing, which utterly puzzle an untutored Kirghiz. He 
was indeed a treasure ; for, besides being a good 
stalker, he understood how to manage the Kirghiz, 
who worked willingly under him. 

Followed by some ponies carrying bedding and 
food, we rode across the level steppe to the foot-hills. 
By good luck we sighted a herd of six or eight four- 
year old rams, which were grazing about a mile off 
to our right, and before very long we saw their horns 
moving over a low ridge about 400 yards away. 
I jumped off and, running up to the ridge, had an 
easy shot and bagged my first Ovis poli. Though 
the head was a small one, such a start was of good 
omen for the future. 

We afterwards examined the ground for miles, 
but saw no tracks of big rams ; so we bivouacked in 
the hills and returned to camp the following day, 
satisfied that the local shikari was speaking the truth 
when he explained that the veterans visited the range 
only in winter. There was, indeed, no chance of a 
big head anywhere near the Karakul, and as sport 
was merely a pleasant incident of the journey, not 
its object, we marched on to Pamirsky Post. 

From this centre we were making for Sarikol, 
and, owing to it being midsummer, when the Kirghiz 
were grazing their flocks all over the country, the 
prospects of bagging a good head appeared to be 
small. Nadir, however, knew of a nullah to the south, 




Q 
< 

a 

u 



o 

a. 



CH. xvin THE GEEAT SHEEP OF MAECO POLO 329 

and we determined to give it a trial, and therefore 
made for the Uchak Valley, where we camped at an 
elevation of 13,500 feet, some miles from the stalking 
ground, for the sake of obtaining suppHes and water. 

It was bitterly cold at night, but we started ofE 
for our day's stalking by 4 a.m., warmly wrapped 
up and riding the invaluable yak. Walking at these 
high altitudes is trying to the heart, especially to the 
middle-aged, and I decided, wisely I think, to save 
myself as far as possible. We gradually made our 
way up the open but stony valley towards the skirt 
of the main range, riding up the side of the mountain 
almost to the snow line, where we dismounted to spy. 
The bare, open hillside was littered with large and 
small boulders ; there was little grass and no cover 
to speak of ; so I did not feel hopeful. 

Fortune, however, was kind, and before very long 
a herd headed by a really fine ram was sighted, 
slowly grazing its way uphill. For a long while we 
watched our quarry, as at one time it bore away from 
us and then again turned in our direction, until we 
finally saw that its fine lay about a mile from where 
we were in hiding. The stalk consisted maialy in 
crawling round boulders ; but although the wind 
was favourable we were seen before we approached 
within the usual range for a shot, as was indeed 
inevitable owing to lack of cover. 

The only course left was to rely on my telescopic 
sight and risk a long shot. But I could not see the 
quarry either from a lying or from a sitting position, 
owing to the boulders, and at the distance a stand- 
ing shot would have been folly. Accordingly I told 
Nadir to bend down and, using his shoulder as a rest, 
was able to aim steadily at the big ram, which, after 



330 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES pt. n 

stopping for a moment to gaze at us, was moving ofE 
at a slow pace. My shikari was as steady as a rock, 
and, thanks to tliis, I was able to liit the ram through 
the heart. It was a most fortunate shot ; for the 
distance was paced out at 300 yards. 

Nadir and the Kirghiz, wild with excitement, raced 
ofi to the fallen ram, while I, equally elated but far 
less active, slowly followed them, panting for breath 
when I attempted to run. It was indeed a lucky 
day, as the ram was a fine six-year-old specimen, 
standing as high as a small mule, and with a perfect 
pair of horns measuring 51 inches. 

On the following day I woimded a second ram in 
the shoulder by another long shot, and tracked it 
until nightfall, leaving it when we were about five 
miles from camp. Early the next morning we sighted 
it again near the foot of a precipitous hill on a wide 
open plain where it had joined some ewes. Stalking 
was out of the question, as concealment was imposs- 
ible, and we felt depressed until the Kirghiz told us 
that a few miles ofi there was a man, the owner of 
two hunting dogs who would run down the wounded 
quarry. In time he appeared on the scene and 
handed over his dogs to the Kirghiz shikari, while I 
sat down to watch. The Kirghiz showed great skill 
in separating the ram from the ewes, and when the 
dogs were let loose he ran at their heels at a remark- 
able pace. The ram went very fast at fiarst, but then 
circled and doubled, threatening the dogs at times. 
But its efiorts to escape were vain, and after a five 
minutes' run the noble quarry was pulled down and 
the shikari cut its throat. The scramble down to the 
valley was very steep and long, but my yak was 
equal to it, and I was interested in watching some 




HUNTING-DOGS WITH KIRGHIZ OWNER. 



Page 330. 



OH. xvm THE GEEAT SHEEP OF MARCO POLO 331 

snowcock, wMcli kept flying past us in alarm, dis- 
playing their striking plumage to great advantage. 
When we reached the bottom of the hill we found 
the ram to be a fine head, but smaller than the one 
shot on the first day, which, according to our in- 
formation, was the biggest in that area, although not 
a first-class head. 

The dogs were not fed until they were rested, and 
to my surprise they refused a piece of bread ; but it 
was explained to me that bread was such a delicacy 
among the Kirghiz that a dog never had a chance of 
tasting it and so did not know what it was ! 

Their owner, like all the Kirghiz I met, was 
friendly and gave me his views on life. He laid down 
emphatically that no man of substance could be 
comfortable without four wives, and on my challeng- 
ing this statement he was quite contemptuous and 
said -that the Prophet, on Him be Peace, gave his 
commandments wisely when he permitted Moslems 
to marry four helpmates, as two were needed to milk 
the yaks and the sheep, a third to do the cooking and a 
fourth to sew and weave carpets. He ended up by say- 
ing, " Praise be to Allah ! I have four obedient wives, 
who spend all their days in trying to please me ! " 

On the way home we passed a number of fine skulls 
lying about below a bluff which the Kirghiz referred 
to as a " cemetery." They said that the Ovis poli 
are hunted in the snow by packs of wolves and take 
refuge on such steep places, where they are surrounded. 
In spite of their huge horns the rams apparently 
never attempt to defend themselves, and as their 
joints, heated by the pursuit, stifien from the cold, 
they fall an easy prey to their enemies. 



332 THEOUGH DESBETS AND OASES m. u 

As I sit at home surrounded by trophies gained 
in the plaias of India, in Kashmir, in Ladak, in 
Persia and finally in the Pamirs, each head evokes 
pleasing memories of the stalk and recalls some of 
the happiest days of my life. On no expedition does 
the golden haze lie deeper than on the successful 
stalking of the great sheep of Marco Polo, in the 
remote upland valleys of the " Eoof of the World." 



INDEX 



Aba Bakr, 268 

Abdalia, 242 

AbuAUbin Sina (Avioenna), 318 

Abu Nasr, 260 

Aohmet, 22, 24, 27, 40-41, 46 

Afghanistan, Amir of : China and, 

272 ; Wakhan awarded to, 294 
Afghanistan, trade with, 247 
Afghans in Kashgar, S7 
Afrasiab, Mt., 156 
Agha Khan, the, 155, 167, 177 
Agriculture in Chinese Turkestan, 

300-307 
Agri Su, shrine, 181 
Ahmad Khan, Amir, 272 
Akhois, 114-17, 125, 146, 149 
Ak Langar, 203, 220 
Ak Masjid taken, 276, 282 
AksahaU, 105, 273 ; of Guma, 197-8 ; 

of Sarikol, 153, 157 
Aksu, 240, 266, 280, 292, 295 
Ak Taulin, 269, 270 
Ak-Yul-luk ceremony, 312 
Alai range, 31 
AH Arslan, 93-5, 261 
Almaligh, 265 
Alti Shahr, 273 
Ambans, Chinese, 126, 194, 198, 242, 

279 
Amin-ul-Muminin, 284 
Amundsen, Captain, 4 
Amursana, 271 

Andijan, 21, 245, 272, 274, 299, 301 
Apak, HazrcU, 68-70, 270-71, 312 
Arabs, conquests by, 256-8 
Architecture of Chinese Turkestan, 

84-5 
Argon, 117, 125 
Aralan Khans, 259 
Aryans of Sarikol, 131, 153, 155, 

157-60, 308 



Atalik Ghazi, 279 
Ata-ul-VaU, Shaykh, 181 
Austrian prisoners, 19 
Avicenna, 318 

Badakshan, 145, 247, 272, 278 
Badakshani horses, 28, 53, 114, 176- 

177, 194, 227-8, 247 
Badrudin, Khan Sahib, 209-10, 212, 

216-20 
Bag-mouth rat, 88 
Baiffu, game of, 150-51, 165 
Baths, Russian, 13-14 
Beg KuU Beg, 292 
Begs, 25, 27, 92, 126-7, 139, 164-5 ; 

of Tashmahk, 107, 109 ; official 

powers of, 243-5 
Bergen, 4-5 
Besitun, Mt., 156 
Bibi Anna, shrine of, 92-3 
Bielka, 54, 230 
Birds of Chinese Turkestan, 87-8, 

161, 182, 221 
Bishbaligh, 259 
Black Mountaineers, 269 
BohUn, Mr., 51, 55, 65, 66, 72, 87, 

88, 105, 171, 173 
Bokhara, 269, 274, 279, 282-3 
" Braiding of the hair " ceremony, 

274, 313-14 
Bridge of Gez River, 110-11 
Britain and Chinese Turkestan, 293-4, 

298 ; Yakub Beg and, 285-290 
Brownie, 54, 230 
Buchanan, Lady Georgina, 10 
Buddhism, 94, 153, 217-19, 241, 

310 ; in China, 252-3 
Buddhist ruins, 84-5, 217-19 
Buffer states, Chinese, 298 
Bnlunkul, Lake, 111, 165 
Buzurg Khan, 277, 279 



333 



334 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES 



Cameb, 15, 28, 79, 109, 112, 169, 
302-3 

Caravans, 25, 28, 89, 176 

Carpets, 82, 116, 146-7, 213 

Carts, native, 26, 176 

Ckachbagh ceremony, 313-14 

Chagatai, 265, 266 

Chang Kien, 252 

Chapman, Captain, 287 

Chengiz Khan, 263-5 

Chemaieff, General, 277 

Chightam, 280-81 

Childbirth ceremonies, 314-15 

Children, 315-16 

China : buffer states of, 298 ; travel 
in, 102 
Chinese Turkestan and, 55, 97, 
186, 242-5 ; during Revolution, 
294-9 ; struggle for suzerainty, 
67, 249-53, 255-6, 257-8, 271-4; 
Yakub Beg and, 70-71, 277-81, 
290-93 

Chinese : administration, 55, 97, 
186, 242-5; authorities, 37, 
186, 242-5; banquets, 72-3, 
76-8, 199 ; burial customs, 71- 
72 ; cemetery, 70-72 ; farmers, 
301-2 ; finger-nails, 73, 96-7, 99 ; 
foot-mutilation, 74-5 ; forced 
labour, 55, 306 ; games, 78 ; 
habits unhealthy, 96-7, 99; 
hashish prohibited by, 172 ; 
jade, 216-17 ; kindness to 
animals, 100-101; lying, 100; 
marriage, 65, 99-100 ; mission- 
aries persecuted by, 52 ; 
soldiers, 74, 95-6; travellers, 
28 ; veneration for age, 76 

Chinese Turkestan : administration, 
55, 97, 186, 242-5 ; agriculture, 
300-307 ; art, 82-4 ; boundaries, 
235-6; climate, 56, 239-40; 
deserts, 236-8; flora, 87, 128, 
149-60, 169, 210; halting- 
places, 35 ; hospitality, 102 ; 
justice, 245 ; loess formation, 
36, 56-7, 86, 91 ; marriage, 189 ; 
population, 240-42, 308-10 ; re- 
ligions, 94, 163, 217-19, 241-2, 
310; rivers, 258-9; road- 
making, 228; taxes, 243-4, 
366 ; trade, 245-7, 289 
history of : Chinese rule, 67, 70- 
71, 249-53, 255-6, 257-8, 271-4, 



277-81, 290-93, 294-9; Huns 
and Yue-chi, 249, 252-3 ; Juan 
Juan, 254; Western Turks, 
254-5; Arabs and Tibetans, 
255-6, 257-8 ; Uighurs, 258-9 ; 
Turks, 260-62 ; Chengiz Khan, 
Timur, Tamerlane, 263-8 ; Cha- 
gatai Khans, 267-9 ; Zungars, 
270-71 ; Khojas, 269, 270, 272- 
274, 278; Yakub Beg, 70-71, 
276-81, 290-4; Britain and 
Russia, 275-6, 282-6, 293-4, 299 

CUni Bagh, 39-40, 81 

Chitral occupied, 293 

Christian tribes, 263-4 

Christianity in Chinese Turkestan, 
190 ; Nestorian, 94, 256, 323 

Circumcision, 315-16 

Cobbold, Captain, 134 

Consulate premises, 39-40, 81, 170-71 

Coronation Chapel, Moscow, 11 

Corvee system, 55, 306 

Cossacks in Kashgar, 46, 52, 79-80, 
81, 297-8 ; in Pamirs, 133, 135, 
140, 141-3 ; Kirghiz descended 
from, 240 

Croquet, 46 

Czaplicka, Miss, 120 

Dalai Lama, 270 

Dalgleish, 223 

Dancing, 323 

Daoud Akhun, 41, 50, 160, 165, 168, 

171, 176 
Deasy, Captain, 40, 77 
Death ceremonies, 316-17 
Deserts, 175, 236-8 
Devanchi Pass, 291 
Divorce in Chinese Turkestan, 65, 

212 
Dixon, E. W., 326 
Dogs, pariah, 101 
Donkeys, Kashgari, 89, 101, 176, 

302 
Dughlat tribe, 265, 267-8 
Dulanis, 223, 225, 241, 281, 323 
Dumba, 26, 44 
Dunmore, Lord, 111, 143, 230 

Eagles, hunting with, 182, 222 
Education in Kashgar, 316 
Elburz Range, 136 
Embroidery, 83 
English Hospital in Petrograd, 10 



INDEX 



335 



Etherton, Lieutenant, 184 
Evil eye, charms against, 319 

Fa-hien, 217, 219, 253 

Falconer of the Mehtar of Chitral, 

177 
Falconry, 177-8 
Ferhad, 156 

Finger-nails, Chinese, 73, 96-7, 99 
Finland, 8-9 
Fish, poisonous, 43 ; Kirghiz fishing, 

152-3 
Flax cultivation, 172-3 
Flora: of Chinese Turkestan, 87, 128, 

149-50, 169, 210; of Pamirs, 

145-6 
Forsyth mission, 287-9 
" Four Garrisons," 255-6 
Freshfield, Mr. Douglas, 146 

Games : Chinese, 78 ; ICashgari, 

323 ; Kirghiz, 122, 150-51, 165 
German prisoners, 19 
Gez River, 107-11, 166 
Gilgit occupied, 293 
Goat game, 122, 150-51, 165 
Gobi, the, 175, 236, 258, 290 
Goez, Benedict, 270 
Goitre : in Khotan, 212 ; in Yar- 

kand, 184-5, 192 
Gordon, Sir Thomas, 155, 287, 289 
Governor of Kashgar, lunch given 

by, 72-6 ; of Tashkurghan, 155 ; 

of Yangi Shahr, 97, 99 
Great Karakul Lake, 130, 132, 134, 

327-8 
Grenard, 242, 261, 317 
Grombchevsky, Captain, 293 
Guchluk, 262, 264 
Qui Bagh, 71 
Guma, 197-9 
Our Khan, 261, 262 

Haidar, Mirza, 240, 266 {note), 268 

Hakim Khan Torah, 292 

Haldan Bokosha, Khan, 270 

Han dynasty, 249-50 

Hasan Boghra Khan, 260-61 

Hasan, Sayyid Khoja, 269 

Hashish, 172, 185 

Hawks, 87-8 ; white, 177-8 

Haydon, Mr., 141 

Hayward, 287 

Hazrat Apak, 68-70, 93, 270-71, 312 



Hemp, 246 

Hindus : in KargaUk, 194 ; in Yar- 
kand, 183, 185, 186 

Hiong-Nu tribe, 249, 254 

Hiuen Tsiang, 129, 196, 197, 207, 217, 
237, 251, 254 

Hoa tribe, 254 

Hoegberg, Dr., 52, 184, 190 ; Mrs., 
189, 190 

Holdioh, Sir Thomas, 129 

Horsemanship : Cossack, 79-80 ; 
Kashgari, 80, 99 

Horses : Badakshani, 28, 53, 114, 
176-7, 194, 227-8, 247; Kal- 
muck, 302 ; treatment of, 151-2 

Hospidset Hotel, 4 

Howorth, Sir Henry, 270 

Haien Yin or Sub-Governor, 242 

Hsin-Chiang, Chinese name for 
Chinese Turkestan, 235, 271 

Humayun, 112, 175 

Huns, 249-50, 252, 254; White, 
253-4 

Id festival, 229 

Ktikhar Ahmad, KlMn Sahib, 105, 

158, 168, 175, 196, 224 
Ilak Khans, 258, 261 
Ilohi, native name for Khotan, 212 
Hi, 265, 270, 271, 272, 280, 294 
Ili Tartar General, 243 
India : trade with, 246 ; Yue-ohi 

invade, 249, 252 
Indian Empire and Yakub Beg, 286- 

290 
Indians in Chinese Turkestan, 183, 

185, 186, 194 
Insects of Turkestan, 88-9, 107, 171 
Intermarriage, results of, 313 
Irkeshtam, 33, 293 
Isa Haji, 303-7 
Isan Bugha, 265 
Ishan Khan Khoja, 273 
Islam: rise of, 256, 260-61, 262; 

supplants Buddffsm, 266, 269, 

293, 310 
Issak Boulak, 161 

Jade of Khotan, 216-17, 270 
Jafar Bai, 26-7, 30, 40-41, 43, 50, 
fei|77, 96, 108, 112, 117-18, 162, 
jtgl 160, 166, 173, 175, 183, 195, 

204, 222, 228 
Jahangir, 267, 272 



336 THROUGH DESEETS AND OASES 



Jam-i-Taghai-Agri-Su, 181 

Johnson, Mr., 286 

Juan Juan, 254 

Justice in Chinese Turkestan, 246 

Justinian, Emperor, 214 

Kalmuck tribe, 270 ; horses of, 302 

Kamar-u-Din, 267 

Kanishka, 252 

Kan Ying, 251 

Kaptar Mazzar, 205-7 

Karakash Biver, 209 

Kara Khitai dynasty, 261, 262 

Kara Koram, 236, 246 

Karakoram, capital of Uighurs, 259 

Karakul Lake, Great, 130, 132, 134, 
327-8 ; Little, 164 

Karashahr, 241, 255, 280, 292; 
horses, 302 

Kara Taulin, 269 

Kargalik, 193-4, 288 

Karungi, 7-9 

Kashgar : a^jeuUaire, 170, 172, 
301-2, "SOST^ bazar, 57-63; 
birds, 87-8 ; British mission 
at, 288-9 ; Buddhist ruios, 84- 
85 ; cemetery, 68-9 ; child- 
birth, 314-15 ; Chinese Repub- 
lic disturbances in, 295-8 ; 
chmate, 56, 230-31, 239-40; 
crops, 170, 172, 301-2; death 
ceremonies, 316-17 ; donkeys, 
89, 101, 302; education, 316; 
farmers, 303-7 ; food available 
in, 43-4; ^t, 170, 179-80, 
301 ; handicrafts, 82-4 ; in- 
sects, 88-9, 107, 171 ; laundry 
difficulties in, 45-6 ; marriage 
and divorce, 64-5, 310-13; 
medical science in, 317-21 ; 
millers, 90; Oasis, 37, 54-5, 
240, 300-302 ; population, 245- 
246; prices, 44-5; revenue, 244 ; 
Russian colony in, 46-51, 79-84, 
105; sanifetorms, 56, 239-40; 
shrines, 92-5, 320 ; sunsets, 91-2, 
231 ; Swedish missionaries, 37, 
44, 51-3; trade, 245; trees, 
86-7; wall, 67-8; winter in, 
280-81 
history of: Huns drive Yue-chi 
from, 249 ; Pan Chao conquers, 
66-7, 250-51 ; Yue-chi regain, 
252,' 253 ; Buddhism reaches. 



253 ; China recovers, 265 ; one 
of " Four Garrisons," 255, 257 ; 
Christianity and Zoroastrian- 
ism in, 256 ; Arab raids reach, 
257 ; Ali Arslan defeated, 94, 
261 ; Turkish rule, 261 ; Sadi 
visits, 262 ; Marco Polo in, 265 ; 
Timur's capital, 266 ; under 
Dughlat Amirs, 267-8 ; Khojas 
established in, 269 ; Hazrat 
Apak rules, 68, 270-71 ; Chinese 
masters of, 271-3 ; attempts of 
Khojas to regain, 272, 273-4, 
277 ; Yakub Beg rules, 277-8, 
279-91 ; Russian designs on, 
283, 285; British mission ia, 
287-90 ; Chinese overthrow 
Yakub Beg, 97, 290-92 ; Revolu- 
tionary disturbances in, 295-8 

costumes, 29, 58-9, 83, 
193; orueltytoauimals,100-101; 
dirtiness, 44 ; farmers, 303-7 ; 
games, 323; health, 99, 173; 
horsemanship, 80, 99 ; lying, 
100 ; medical mission and, 52- 
53; music, 63-4, 323; pea- 
sants, 60 ; pleasure expedi- 
tions, 92, 95 ; religious ob- 
servances, 68-9, 92, 95, 314- 
315; superstitions, 69, 318-21 ; 
women, 58-61, 64-5, 83, 92-3, 
122, 310-15 ; workmen, 29, 31, 
58 

Kashmir, 269 ; Maharaja of, 293 

Kasia Mountains, 236 

Katta Dawan, 128-31, 133, 327 

KaUa Turn, 273 

Kaufmann, General, 18, 285 

Kanfmann, Mt., 134 

Kaulbars, Baron, 284 

Kazis, 243, 245 

Keen Lung, Emperor, 271 

Keraits, 263 

Khanates of the Sir Darya, 276, 283, 
299 

Khargush Pamir, 134-9 

Khiva, 275 

Khojas, 269, 270-71, 272-3, 274, 
277-8, 280 

Khokand, 20-21 ; submits to China, 
272, 273 ; Russian advance on, 
276, 277, 279; Russian rule 
established, 282, 283, 299; 
revolt, 283, 286 



INDEX 



337 



Khotan : ancient cities of, 217-19 ; 
carpets, 82, 116, 146-7, 213; 
history, 94, 253, 255, 261, 279, 
286, 292 ; jade, 215-17 ; oasis, 
323; population, 240, 246; 
products, 213-17, 246 ; women, 
211-12 
journey to : the caravan, 175-8 ; 
Yangi Hissar, 178, 180; Yar- 
kand, 182-90 ; Posgam, 192-3 ; 
crossing the desert, 195-7, 201- 
208; arrival, 209-11; Merket, 
221-5 ; return to Kashgar, 
225-9 

Khudadad, Amir, 268 

Khudayar Khan, 276, 277 

Kirghiz, 240-41, 308; akhois, 30, 
114-17, 125, 146, 149; char- 
acter and customs, 113-14, 118, 
123-5, 164-5, 331 ; features, 57, 
113; fishing, 152-3 ; goat game, 
122, 150-51, 165; headgear, 
25, 118, 133, 148; hunter, 
330-31 ; Karakoram captured 
by, 269; marriages, 119-22, 
323 ; ponies, 302 ; reUgion and 
superstition, 125, 163 ; submit 
to China, 272 ; women, 23, 114, 
118-22, 133 

Kizil Art, 236 

KizU Su River, 35, 55, 238 

Korla, 292 

Koumiss, 122 

Kucha, 280, 292 

Kuen-lun range, 205, 236 

KuU, 165 

Kulja, 271, 293 

Kungur, Mt., 40, 164 

Kuntigmas, 166 

Kuropatkin, 291 

Kwlass riding, 162-4, 166-8 

Kutayba ibn Muslim, 257 

Kvass, 9 

Labour, forced, 55, 306 

Ladak, 268, 269, 286 

Lalmoi marsh, 238 

Lapis lazuli, 247 

Leh route to India, 246 

Little, Mrs. Archibald, 75 

Littledale, Mrs. St. George, 209 

Little Lake Karakul, 164 

Liu-Kin-tang, 97-8 

Loess formations, 36, 66-7, 86* 91 



Macartney, Lady, 38-39, 45, 54 
Macartney, Sir George, 3, 37, 52, 78, 

102, 231, 298 
Makhd/am-i-Azam, 269 
Manichaeism, 269 
Maralbashi, 238, 239 
Marmots, 136, 144 
Marriage: Chinese, 65, 189; Kashgar, 

64-5, 310-13 ; Khotan, 212 ; 

Kirghiz, 119-22, 323 
Master of the Horse, 176-7 
Mazmrs, 92-5, 205-7 
Medical missionaries attacked, 61-2 
Medicine in Kashgar, system of, 

317-21 
Melons, 179-80 
Merket, 221-6, 241 
Meshed, 61, 325 

Mestchersky, Prince, 46, 48 ; Prin- 
cess, 46, 48, 76, 79, 80 
Metal-work, 83 
Millers, 90 

Ming Bashis, 25, 141, 144-6, 243 
Miniol, 37, 170 
Mithradates IL, 249-50 
Moghulistan, 235, 265, 267 
Mohamed of Khwarazm (Khiva), 262 
Mongols : of Karashahr, 241 ; races 

of, in Chinese Turkestan, 308 ; 

rise of, 263-5 ; Tombs of the, 95 
Mon Wang, 249 
Moscow, 11 
Moslems deported, 271, 272, 273 ; 

rebellions of, 280 
Mountain sickness, 138, 149, 168 
Muezzins, 91 
Mullas, 52, 58, 61, 173 
Murghab River, 139, 141 
Mussalman Kuli, 276, 277 
Mnztagh Ata, 40, 111, 148, 160, 163, 

164, 166, 180, 231 

Nadir, the huntsman, 108, 117, 119, 
131-2 ; his sheep taken by 
wolves, 124-5 ; stalking ovia 
poli, 133, 135, 140-41, 328-30 ; 
at home in Tashknrghan, 153, 
156-7 

Naimau tribe, 264 

Narin, Fort, 283 

Nestorian Christianity, 94, 266, 323 

Niaz Hakim Beg, 291 

Nomad tribes, 240-41, 243 

Norwegians, 4-5 



338 THROUGH DESERTS AND OASES 



Oaeee, 240, 301-2, 306 
Opal, 169-70 
Opium, 247 

Ordam-Padshah, 94, 261 
Oriental slackness, 40, 42 
Osh, 23-6 
Ovis ammon, 326 

Ovis poli : horns, 143, 326 ; stalk- 
ing, 131, 135, 146, 324-32 

Pamirs : British mission in, 289 ; 
Russian authority in, 293-4, 
299, 325 
travel in : preparations, 103-5 ; 
journey begun, 105-7 ; Gez 
River crossing, 107-11, 166; 
daily routine, 112-13 ; among 
the Kirghiz, 113-27; Katta 
Dawan crossed, 129-31, 133, 327; 
Karakul Lake, 130, 132, 134, 
327; ovis poli stalking, 133, 135, 
327-8 ; Khargush Pamir, 134-9 ; 
fossils found, 141 ; Pamirsky 
Post, 141-3, 328 ; Uchak VaUey, 
stalking in, 144, 329-31 ; with 
the SarikoU, 148-60: X^ughat 
Pass, 166-8 

Pamirsky Post, 139, 141-3, 328 

Pan Chao, General, 67, 250-51 

Paper manufacture, 198 

Parthia, Chiaese missions to, 249, 
251 

Persia : agriculture, 301 ; character 
of people, 190 ; China and, 253, 
256 ; deserts, 236 

Peter the Great, 270 

Petrograd, 3, 9-10 

Philip of France, 178 

Pigeon Shrine, 205-7 

Polo, Marco, 129, 196, 205, 265, 324-5 

Posgam, 192-3 

Potaia, 178-9, 196, 204 

Pottery, 82 

Prester John, 264 

Przemyzl, capture of, 17 

Ptolemy, 236 

Races of Chinese Turkestan, 308 

Rainfall, 239, 300 

Ramazan, fast of, 126, 165, 171, 

173-4 
Raquette, Dr., 51-2 
Rashid Khan, 269 
R^musat, 212, 215, 219 



Revenue system, 243-4, 306 

Revolution, Chinese, 294-9 

Roads in Turkestan, 25, 27, 30-32, 
228 

Roche, Major, 143 

Romanoff, M., 17, 81-2, 87 

Russia, journey through, 9-15 ; 
peasants, 14 ; soldiers, 9, 10, 
14; the steppes, 15, 16, 22; 
trains, 6, 13, 15, 17 
policy of : Sir Daria entered, 
275-6 ; hostilities with Kho- 
kand, 276, 277, 282, 283 ; Tur- 
kestan province formed, 276 ; 
Ili province occupied, 280 ; 
Yakub Beg and, 282-6, 290, 
291, 292 ; treaty with Chinese, 
293; Pamir delimitation, 293-4; 
troops in Kashgar, 297-8 ; ter- 
ritories acquired, 299 ; trade 
with, 245, 246, 247, 284 

Russians: colony in Kashgar, 46-51, 
79-81, 105; devotion, 11-12; 
hospitality, 24, 47-9; outposts 
in Pamirs, 133-5, 140, 141-3, 
154 ; primitive customs, 33-5 ; 
Sarts and, 18, 19, 21 

Russian Turkestan, journey through, 
17-35 

Sadi, 262 

Sadik Beg, 277, 278 

Safdar AU Khan, 187 

Said, Sultan, 268 

Sakas, 249 

Samara, 13-14 

Samarkand, 216, 269 

Sandstorms, 56, 239-40 

Sanjar, Sultan, 262 

Sarikol annexed, 280 

Sarikolis, 131, 149, 153, 155, 157- 

160, 177, 308, 323 
Sarts, 18-21 

Satok Boghra Khan, 260 
Sattur, 41-3, 50, 88, 113, 139, 158, 

160-61, 165, 171, 172, 176 
Sayyids, 92 

Sohlagintweit, Adolph, 274, 286 
Semirechia, 299 
Shah Murad Khan, 277 
Shah Rukh, 268 
Shakir Padshah, Imam, 206 
Shamshir, 120-21 
Shaw, Robert, 286-7 



INDEX 



339 



Sheep : fat-tailed, 26, 44, 303 ; Osh 

diatrict, 26, 44; Yarkand, 185-6; 

wolves and, 114, 124-5, 331; 

wild, of Marco Polo, 131, 143, 

146, 324-32 
Shirin, 156 

Shrines, 68-72, 92-5,' 205-7, 310, 320 
Sigm shrine, 320 
Silk industry of Khotan, 213-15 
Sir Daria, the, 20, 275-6 
Snakes, 88 

Snow-throwiag custom, 321-2 
Spiders, 88-9 
Stein, Sir Aurel : researches of, 76, 

84, 94, 98, 107, 218-19, 242, 

259; returns from desert, 101-2; 

helps in Pamir preparations, 

105, 106 ; bound for Persia, 166 
Steppes, 15-16, 22 
Stockholm, 5 
" Stone Sheep-folds," 114 
Sturgeon, 8 
Subashi, 162 
Superstitions of Kashgari, 69, 318- 

320 
Swedes, 5, 7-8 
Swedish missionaries, 37, 44, 51, 52- 

53, 180, 184, 188-9, 190 

Tagharma, 149, 152, 153 

Taghdumbash Pamir, 155 

Taghliks, 241 

Taiping rebellion, 279-80 

Tajiks, 242 

Takla Makan desert, 84, 175, 195-7, 

201-8, 236 
Tamerlane, 216, 266-8 
Tang dynasty, 255 
Taotai of Kashgar, 295-6 
Taoyin, or Governor, 242, 244 
Tarantchis, 272, 280 
Tarikh-i-Rashidi, 266 
Tashkent, 18-20, 276, 277, 282; 

fruit, 301 
Tashkurghan, 149, 153-5, 177 
TashmaUk oasis, 106-7 
Taxes in Chinese Turkestan, 243-4, 

306 
Temple of Liu-Kin-tang, 97-8 ; 

of Pan Chao, 67 
Terek Dawan, 30-32, 36, 273 
Thum of Hunza, the, 187 
Tian Shan, the, 25-37, 291 
Tibetan invasion, 255, 257-8 



Tims, 84 

Tiznaf River, 192 

Toghrak tree, 225 

Toghril, 263-4 

Tokharistan, 252 

Tombs of the Mongols, 95 

Tora, Haji, 284 

Torgut Mongols, 270-71 

Tornea, 9 

Trade of Chinese Turkestan, 245-7, 

289 
Trains, Scandinavian and Russian, 6, 

13, 15, 17 
Trans-Alai range, 134, 327 
Treaty of St. Petersburg, 293 
Trotter, Capt., 287, 326 
Tsar's prohibition edict, 9, 24, 47 
Tse Wang Rabdan, 270 
Tughluk Timur, 265-6 
Tuman Su River, 55, 66 
Tunganis, 200, 241-2, 271, 278-9, 

280-81, 295 
Turfan, 235, 250, 253, 255, 260, 280, 

291 
Turkestan, city of, 17 
Turkey and Yakub Beg, 284-5 
Turki : farriers, 62 ; language, 261 ; 

unoleanliness, 43 
Turks : Chinese Turkestan under, 

261 ; Northern, 255 ; Western, 

empire of, 254, 255 

Uchak Valley : ovis poli stalking in, 

144, 329-31 
Uighurs, 253, 258-9, 308 
Ulughat Pass, 166-8 
Urumchi, 242, 245, 259, 280, 290; 

Chinese Revolution in, 294-5, 

297-8 
XJzbegs, 268 

Victoria, Queen, 289 
Vyborg, 9 

Wakhan incident, 145, 293-4 

Wakhijir pass, 247 

WaU Khan Khoja, 273-4, 286 

Wang Khan, the, 264 

WhistUng, 12,564 

White Huns, 253-4 

White Mountaineers, 269 

Wolves, 114, 124-5, 331 

Wood, Lieutenant, 129, 143, 325 



340 THKOUGH DESERTS AND OASES 



Women: Chinese, 74, 75, 99-100 
Dulani,223, 225-6; Kashgari.SS 
61, 64-65, 83, 92-3, 122, 310-15 
Khotan, 211-12, 253; Kirghiz. 
23, 114, 118-22, 133; Moslem 
26, 40, 64-5, 92-3, 264-5 ; Per 
sian, 61 ; Kussian peasant, 14 
SarikoU, 159 ; Takia Makan, 
200; Tashkent, 20, 22; Yar- 
kandi, 187-9 

Wu Kimg, 258 

YageUo, Colonel, 144, 145 

Yaks, 123-4, 143; riding, 162-4, 
166-8 

Yakub Beg : army of, 281-2 ; Bri- 
tain and, 286-90; Buddhist 
monuments destroyed by, 67, 
84 ; conquests of, 67, 71, 278- 
281 ; fort of, 213 ; garden be- 
longing to, 188 ; overthrown 
by Chinese, 58, 70, 290-92; 
rest - houses built by, 181 ; 
Russia's relations with, 282-6 ; 
tomb destroyed, 70 

Yangi Hissar, 178, 180, 278 

Yangi Shahr, 95-9, 240 



Yarkand : arrival at, 182-4 ; 

185-7; Goez in, 270; goitre, 
184-5, 192 ; horses, 302 ; Khojas 
beaten at, 273 ; mission colony, 
188-9 ; oasis, 181, 191 ; popu- 
lation, 240, 246; Shaw at, 
286-7 ; women, 187-9 ; Yakub 
Beg captures, 278-9 

Yarkand River, 225, 226, 238, 
239 

Yelui Tashi, 261 

Yezdigird III., 256 

Yezid, 242 

YonofE, Colonel, 293-4 

Yotkan, 218-19 

Younghusband, Sir Francis, 136, 236, 
293-4, 325 

Yuan-Shih-Kai, 295-6 

Yue-chi, or Indo-Soythians, 249, 
250-53 

Yurungkash River, 217 

Yuz Bashia, 243 

Zarafshan or Yarkand River, 238 
Zawa oasis, 206, 208, 219-20 
Zoroastrianism, 155, 256 
Zungars, 270-71 



THE END 



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