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NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN 



OR 



LETTEES EEOM THE 

AFGHAN BOUNDAKY COMMISSION 



BY 



MAJOE C. E. YATE, C.S.I., C.M.G. 

BOMBAY STAFF CORPS, F.R.G.S. 



WITH ROUTE MAPS 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 
EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MHCCCLXXXVIII 



All Rights reserved 



PS 

Y3 



Y- JVKm^c. 



PEEFACE. 



THESE letters, written at different times from the 
Afghan Boundary Commission, are now published in 
a connected form as a sequel to my brother Cap- 
tain A. C. Yate's book, entitled ' England and Eussia 
Face to Face in Asia.' 

Commencing at the time when the question of 
peace or war between England and Eussia hung in 
the balance, the letters describe the sojourn of the 
British Commission around Herat during the summer 
of 1885; the subsequent meeting of the joint British 
and Russian Commissions in November of that year, 
and the progress of the demarcation of the frontier 
up to the time of their separation in September 1886 ; 
the return of the British Commission through Kabul 
to India in October 1886 ; the negotiations at St 
Petersburg during the summer of 1887; the final 
settlement and demarcation of the frontier during 
the winter of 1887, and return through Eussian 
Trans-Caspian territory in February 1888 ; with a 
general description of the various points of interest 

"15195 



VI PREFACE. 

connected with the frontier, as well as of the people 
and the country traversed, and a few notes on the 
difference between British and Russian military sys- 
tems in the East. 

The sketch-map of Afghanistan, for which I am 
indebted to Major Gore, R.E., shows the routes tra- 
versed by the Boundary Commission during 1884, 
1885, and 1886. The second map, taken from the 
Blue-Books, illustrates on a larger scale the various 
points of interest connected with the settlement of 
the frontier. 

CHAS. E. YATE. 

LONDON, 12th April 1888. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. PAGE 

I. THE HIGHLANDS OF THE PAROPAMISUS, ... 1 

II. PREPARATIONS FOR WAR, 11 

III. HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES, . . . . .23 

IV. THE SIGNING OF THE PROTOCOL PEACE DECLARED, . 43 
V. LIFE AT KUHSAN REDUCTION OF THE ESCORT, . . 50 

VI. FINAL VISIT TO HERAT, 61 

VII. THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS, . . 70 

VIII. ACROSS BADGHIS, 88 

IX. CHRISTMAS AT MARUCHAK, 107 

X. WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA, . . . 120 

XI. MARUCHAK AGAIN, 159 

XII. THE HERAT FRONTIER, 173 

XIII. A SNOWSTORM IN THE CHUL, 199 

XIV. DELAYS IN THE NEGOTIATIONS RETURN TO CHAHAR 

SHAMBA, 209 

XV. BALA MURGHAB, 213 

XVI. THE MARCH TO THE OXUS, 226 

XVII. MORE RUSSIAN DELAYS THE KHOJAH SALIH QUESTION 

AND THE BANKS OF THE OXUS, .... 240 

XVIII. AFGHAN TURKISTAN KILIF TO BALKH, . . . 250 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

XIX. SUMMER-QUARTERS AT SHADIAN, . . . .261 

XX. VISIT TO MAZAR-I-SHARIF, 272 

XXI. COSSACK AND SEPOY, ...... 286 

XXII. THE DEPARTURE OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS 

TASHKURGHAN AND HAIBAK, 314 

XXIII. OVER THE HINDU RUSH, ..... 325 

XXIV. THE MAIMANAH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER, . . 334 

XXV. THE COMMISSION AT KABUL, 353 

XXVI. RECEPTION AT LAHORE, . . . . . .371 

XXVII. NEGOTIATIONS AT ST PETERSBURG FINAL SETTLEMENT, 378 

XXVIII. COMPLETION OF THE DEMARCATION, AND RETURN 

THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA, 384 

INDEX, ... ..... 421 



PLAN OF BALKH, ...... To face p. 256 

MAP OF THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER OF AFGHANISTAN, 

In pocket at end. 

SKETCH-MAP OF PARTS OF AFGHANISTAN, . . ll II 



NOBTHEKN AFGHANISTAN. 



CHAPTEE I. 

THE HIGHLANDS OF THE PAROPAMISUS. 

CAMP TAGOU ROBAT, 1st July 1885. 

AFTER the hurricane, which nearly tore our tents to ribbons, 
at Sinjao, on the 16th and I7th June, no time was lost by 
Colonel Eidgeway in getting us into more sheltered quar- 
ters, and on the 19th we started for the Karukh valley, lying 
north-east of Herat. Our marches were : 

Miles. 

19th. Gondou-Bala, . .... 10 

20th. Deh Shaikh, 7 

21st. Deh Moghul, ..... 8 

22d. MachGandak, .... 12 

At this latter place we halted on a grassy sward, on the 
banks of the Karukh stream. Our route had led us across 
the drainage of the country below the main rangf;,:ranl 
between that and the low range of hills that lies immedi- 
ately over Herat to the north, thus avoiding the Herat val- 
ley, although so close to the city itself. On the morning of 
the 20th, a small party of us, consisting of Colonel Eidge- 

A 



2 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

way, Major Bind, Dr Charles, Lieutenant Drummond, and 
myself, striking off to the right of the line of march, fol- 
lowed a track down the bed of the stream through the low 
hills till we came to the hill at the mouth of the Kamar 
Kalagh gorge immediately overlooking Herat, from the top 
of which we had a capital bird's-eye view of the city. The 
north wall immediately faced us, with the lofty tesselated 
pillars and buildings of the Musalla between us and the 
north gate. The citadel was clearly visible, while the im- 
mense height of the walls, or rather of the mounds on which 
the walls are built, was shown by the lowness of the city 
inside. The roofs of the houses and the chaharsu or cen- 
tral dome, with a few trees here and there, were all that was 
visible, and with that we had to be content for the present. 
The wind was so boisterous on the top of these hills that 
we were not sorry to get shelter from it in the gorge below, 
and turning our horses' heads northwards again, we rejoined 
the camp for breakfast at Deh Moghul. The next day's 
march to Mach Gandak was the prettiest we had had for 
some time. Our road led across a series of small ridges 
dividing a succession of little valleys one from the other, with 
the high range of mountains in the background, from which 
all these little valleys came radiating down. The villages 
were all separate little fortlets, with nothing visible but four 
square walls, too high even to allow of the domes forming the 
roof of the houses inside to be seen. The crops for the most 
part were nearly ripe, and the fortlets and orchards scattered 
about all gave an interest to the scene. At Mach Gandak 
we found Captains Maitland, Talbot, and Griesbach awaiting 
our arrival, on their return from a tour in the Dawandah 
Mige^, y/hich bounds the Karukh valley on the east, dividing 
it from Obeh and the upper waters of the Hari Rud. 
; ; ,Wfr all enjoyed the treat of being encamped once more 
on a grassy sward, free from the wind and dust that made 
our lives such a burden to us in the Sinjao valley. The 



THE HIGHLANDS OF THE PAROPAMISUS. 3 

cavalry horses, too, and especially the grass-cutters, must 
have revelled in the change ; but, alas ! though political 
officers and camp quartermasters may propose, the doctors 
dispose, and before many days had elapsed the fiat went 
forth that the ground was damp and unhealthy, and a 
further move was advisable. Owing to the quantity of 
cultivation about, the only other site available was a bare 
stony bit of plateau covered with thistles, and the change 
was looked forward to with anything but pleasure. How- 
ever, as everything was quiet in Herat, and there was no 
news of any Kussian movements on the frontier, or any 
apparent cause for special anxiety, Colonel Eidgeway de- 
termined to go out and see for himself some of the sites 
for a summer camp farther up the valley lately visited by 
Captains Maitland and Griesbach. Accordingly a small 
party of us, consisting of Colonel Eidgeway, Major Bax, 
Major Eind, and myself, started on the 27th, and passing 
through Karukh, camped some 16 miles up the valley. 
Karukh is a large straggling village inhabited by all classes 
of Afghans, Jarnshidis, and Tajiks. Our road, which led 
through the lower part of the village, ran along a narrow 
lane between the walls, sometimes of houses and some- 
times of gardens. The men were noticeable as all wear- 
ing white turbans, a peculiarity which I at first set down 
as due to the sanctity of the place; but on further in- 
quiry I found it is the common habit of the people here, 
whether of Afghan or Aimak origin. The Jamshidis settled 
hereabouts differ materially both in dress and habit from 
their wilder and more independent brethren of Kushk and 
Bala Murghab, the result, I presume, of two or three gen- 
erations of settled life. I noticed, too, that they were much 
more sparing of their salutations to us than their brethren 
across the mountains. 

On the 28th we made an excursion to a place called 
Jauz-i-kili, lying immediately under the Dawandah range. 



4 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Following up the valley of the Malirnar stream, an affluent 
of the Karukh, we eventually, after a ride of some two and 
a half hours, found ourselves in the uplands, resting under 
the shade of some fine old clumps of apricot-trees. The 
only available site for a camp we found was under cultiva- 
tion, not to mention the fact that the road up was hardly 
passable for our baggage -camels ; so we had to decide 
against the place. The air was delicious, and the first thing 
that brought home to us how much we had risen was the 
sight of the apricots on the trees above us little green things 
about the size of marbles ; whereas in the gardens at Mach 
Gandak and Karukh the apricot season was all but over. 
The only habitations in the place were two or three black 
kibitkas. An old man welcomed us pleasantly. He de- 
scribed himself as a Badghisi, or, as he pronounced it, Bai- 
ghisi, though what that was he could not say, except 
that they were originally of Arab descent. Possibly they 
peopled Badghis in olden times before driven out by Turko- 
man raids. Now, he said, they only numbered about a 
thousand families all told, and these were all scattered. He 
had fifteen families with him cultivating the ground we saw, 
but all except two or three were away with their flocks at 
their ailagh or summer -quarters, still higher up in the 
hills; while in the winter they went down and pitched 
in the valley below. This seems to be the life of the 
generality of the people in these parts. They have no 
houses or settled homes, but are known everywhere by the 
name of " Siah Khana," from their tents, made of a black 
blanket sort of material, in which they live both summer 
and winter. 

On the 29th we marched across the Karukh valley, and 
up to our present quarters in the Tagou Eobat on the main 
range of the Paropamisus, above the Zarmast pass ; and here 
in all probability we shall remain. The valley where we 
crossed it was only some 2 or 3 miles broad and quite 



THE HIGHLANDS OF THE PAROPAMISUS. 5 

uncultivated, though some 4 miles higher up we could see 
the village of Nourozabad ; and again, near the head of the 
valley, where the Dawandah and the main range meet at the 
Kotal-i-Aokhurak, the little village of Badantoo was visible, 
with its green crops covering the lower slopes of the Da- 
wandah range all apparently well watered from the still 
unmelted patches of snow on the heights above. 

There are two passes leading up the main range on the 
northern side of the valley : the Armalik from a little 
village of that name at its mouth and the Zarmast, both 
meeting at the top. We ascended by the Armalik, a rough 
but pretty pass, the road following the course of a clear 
rippling stream, the water beautifully cool, and the banks 
lined with willows, hawthorn, and white brier. At the top 
the ascent was steep, almost too much so for the few camels 
we had with us, but the scenery and air were delicious. 
Here we came upon a flock of ibex, but they were too quick 
for us, and though one of our party tried a shot at them, he 
was fain to acknowledge that an ibex running up a hill at 
400 yards was too much for him. Tagou Eobat is a sort of 
hollow at the top of the range between the Armalik and 
Zarmast kotals on the south, and the Kashka Jcotal on the 
north, and so named from a small brick robat, or shelter- 
house, on the banks of the stream, which here runs down a 
gorge to the west and falls into the Kushk river below. 
While the tents were being pitched I tried my luck with the 
rod, and soon found that the stream was full of fish, of 
what sort I cannot say, but they took a fly well, and were 
very good eating. 

The Zarmast pass, which I examined the next day, was 
found to be much more open than the Armalik, though 
steeper, but without the trees, rocks, and banks of the latter 
so fatal to the baggage-animals ; and as there appeared to be 
no great difficulty in getting the baggage up, it was soon 
decided to make this our summer-quarters at any rate for 



6 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the present and orders were sent for the camp to march 
up accordingly. 

The 1st of July we devoted to a trip to Naratu, a curious 
old fort on a scarped hill some 12 miles to the north. Our 
road led over the Band-i-Kashka, and then wound along the 
hillsides for some miles, finally descending into a sort of 
valley or plateau to the old fort called Kilah-i-Aman Beg, 
after the Dehzingeh Hazarah who built it, not far from the 
ziarat of Kwajah Dehistan. Dehistan is one of the cities 
of Badghis mentioned by Ebn Haukel, the Arab geographer 
of the tenth century, but I did not notice any particularly 
ancient-looking remains about. Naratu itself is a scarped 
hill, precipitous on all sides except at one narrow point on 
the east, connecting it with a long low ridge, which forms 
the only entrance. The sides are everywhere so steep that it 
is most difficult to get up ; and although the path to the one 
entrance wound all round the south-eastern side of the hill, 
even then it was too steep for our horses, and we had to 
dismount and lead them up. The old gateway forming the 
eastern end of the hill must have been a massive bit of 
masonry in its day ; but now it is all in ruins, and we had 
some difficulty in picking our way through to the old stone 
archway that once formed the inner gate. The scarp is 
surmounted with the ruins of a massive wall of stone and 
mortar all round, but even without this wall the precipitous 
face of rock must have made the place wellnigh impreg- 
nable. The western and southern faces were the strongest, 
owing to the unbroken nature of the scarp. The north side 
has two scarps, and each of these was fortified. At the 
north-west corner is a second small fortification on the lower 
scarp, called the Kilah-i-Dukhtar, and the wall was continued 
eastwards along the top of this lower scarp nearly up to the 
gateway at the eastern end. On this lower ledge there is a 
spring of water issuing from under the limestone rock of 
the upper scarp the only natural supply of water that we 



THE HIGHLANDS OF THE PAROPAMISUS. 7 

saw in the place. There are several reservoirs on the face 
of the hill, some even now holding water ; and in addition 
to these, we saw several wells cut down through the solid 
rock, which may have touched some hidden spring below. 
In one we could just distinguish some arches, evidently 
betokening a large reservoir 20 or 30 feet below, but ap- 
parently now dry. As this shaft was sunk in a great mass 
of rock without any apparent drainage to it, it could not 
have been intended for the storage of rain-water, and prob- 
ably tapped the sources of the spring on the northern face. 
No one here can tell us the origin of the fort. The only 
tradition concerning it is that it was built by Naraiman; but 
who Naraiman was is not known, nor even the history of 
his daughter, who gave her name to the fortification on the 
north-west corner. 

The great attraction of the place in these days is the 
ziarat or shrine of Imam Ali Asgar, the grandson of Hazrat 
Ali. This ziarat occupies the centre of the hill, and is en- 
closed by walls some 15 or 2 yards square, and overshadowed 
by pear-trees, the fruit of which, I noticed, was only just 
formed. These trees are covered with bits of rags, the offer- 
ings of thousands of pilgrims, and one old trunk bristles with 
pegs of wood stuck into it in all directions, as well as with 
bits of stone. Above the grove are the usual poles with 
red and white flags, surmounted with tin hands, the meaning 
of which, as a symbol, I have never been able to fathom. 
At the ziarat we found a curious unkempt old Fakir or re- 
ligious mendicant, who, when we entered, was busy ladling 
a bowl of milk into a skin ; but directly he saw us, he rushed 
out and insisted on shaking hands in the warmest manner, 
and eventually produced his store of bread and divided it 
amongst us. The view from the top of the hill was very fine : 
on every side vast grassy uplands covered with clusters of 
kibitkas, the summer homes of the Kilah-i-Nau Hazarahs. 
The country was covered with their flocks and herds grazing in 



NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

all directions ; and as every hollow has its spring or rill of 
water, there are plenty of places for the owners to camp at. 
The hill tops and sides have a sprinkling of juniper -trees, 
though we looked in vain for those forests of pine which 
we had been led to expect. 

The country to the west of our camp along the road to 
Kushk is much the same. The road- runs along the stream 
for some distance, and then turns up across the hills amongst 
beautiful scenery, passing close to a hamlet of Hazarahs. 
Imagine some eight or ten kibitkas clustered on a little 
plateau above the stream ; a short distance off, gradually 
working their way home for the night, a couple of flocks 
averaging a thousand head or more apiece ; on another hill 
a lot of black cattle, and above them again a herd of camels 
all wandering where they like. The great peculiarity of 
the camels of these parts is, that they always seem to affect 
the highest points of the hills, and one often sees them in 
the distance on the sky-line roaming about far above all 
other domestic animals. 

All the hillsides here have at some time or other been 
terraced out with enormous labour, but who the labourers 
were who can tell ? The Hazarahs and Jamshidis who now 
divide the northern slopes of these hills between them, seem 
to use them solely as summer grazing-grounds ; and I have 
seen few signs of cultivation. No one lives up here in the 
winter now ; but I cannot help thinking that at some time 
these hills had their regular population, else whence all these 
signs of former cultivation ? Our camp here now stands at 
a height of some 6000 feet above sea-level, in the most 
perfect climate, clear, dry, and cool, and unequalled, so far as 
I know, by any hill station in India. No fogs, no rains, 
and sheltered from the wind ; the thermometer in my tent, 
as I write now at noon, marking only 70, and the hills, or 
rather downs, around covered with grass, and rideable in 
almost any direction. A perfect sanitarium, some will say, 



THE HIGHLANDS OF THE PAROPAMISUS. 9 

for our troops when we garrison Herat. Others, alas ! say, 
Too late ! too late ! The Eussians will have Herat, and we 
cannot prevent them. Not so, I trust. Not content with 
the admission that Afghanistan is beyond the sphere of Rus- 
sian influence, we shall soon, I hope, lay down the dictum 
that not only is Afghanistan within the sphere of British 
influence, but that it -is an integral portion of the British 
Indian Empire, and that we mean to maintain that empire 
in its integrity. 

3d July. 

The main camp arrived this morning at the foot of 
the hills, and we expect them up here to-morrow. The 
situation is central, being about equidistant from Herat 
and Bala Murghab, so that we get all news of importance 
without loss of time, and we are also within easy reach of 
both Kushk and Kilah-i-Nau. It is a great comfort to be 
away from villages and cultivation, where there is always 
the danger of some quarrel over a restless grass-cutter or a 
stray mule ; whereas here not only is the supply of grass 
inexhaustible, the hills for miles around being covered knee- 
deep with a luxuriant crop of pure rye-grass, but whatever 
population there is, is exceedingly friendly to us indeed so 
much so, that the Hazarah chief of Kilah-i-Nau sent a 
message to Colonel Ridgeway asking him to take up his 
residence amongst them. 

The chief news from the frontier relates to the sickness of 
the Russian troops at Panjdeh, and to the arrival of some 
new Russian General, who was received at Panjdeh with a 
salute and much distinction. The Sarik Turkomans at Panj- 
deh are said to be much dissatisfied with Russian rule, and 
to talk of migrating south en masse to escape it. The 
Afghan troops have not advanced beyond Bala Murghab, 
as any fresh occupation of Maruchak might only lead to 
fresh excitement. Sirdar Mahomed Aslam Khan is with 
the Afghans at Bala Murghab. Mr Merk and Dr Owen 



10 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

returned a few days ago from a trip to Kushk, which they 
found nearly empty, almost the entire population having 
moved off to their summer-quarters in the hills. Captain 
Gore and Dr Aitchison are still in the neighbourhood 
of Mashhad, while Dr Weir is with Mr Finn on a tour 
along the Perso - Kussiaii frontier. Captains Maitland 
and the Hon. M. G. Talbot leave shortly for Obeh, and 
Captain Peacocke and myself for Kilah-i-Nau, whence we 
hope to have the chance of exploring and surveying some of 
the hitherto unknown Firozkohi and Taimani country. The 
heat and want of water in the desert will be so great for 
the next two months, that it is not considered probable that 
we shall commence the demarcation of the frontier before 
September, supposing that the negotiations are brought to a 
successful conclusion in the meantime. 



11 



CHAPTER II. 

PREPARATIONS FOR WAR. 

CAMP, ROZABAGH, 21st July 1885. 

WHEN last I wrote, the main camp was just arriving at 
Tagou Piobat, and we were all congratulating ourselves on 
the prospect of spending our hot weather in that glorious 
climate, little thinking that ten days hence would see us all 
on the march down again. But so it was. The cavalry 
arrived up on the 4th, and the infantry and remainder of the 
camp on the 5th, and we all settled down to what we thought 
were to be our summer -quarters. No difficulty was ex- 
perienced in bringing the heavy baggage up the Zarmast 
pass, despite its steep ascent and the fact that the Zarmast 
is the most difficult pass in the whole of the Paropamisus 
range. There will be no difficulty, therefore, in turning the 
place into the sanitarium it is evidently meant for, when the 
proper time comes. Our time at Tagou Eobat was pleasantly 
occupied, by some in long afternoon rides over the hills, and 
by others in fishing and in proposals for picnics to Naratu 
and other places in the neighbourhood, never destined to 
come off. One party, consisting of Major Meiklejohn, Cap- 
tain Durand, and Dr Charles, did indeed make good their 
visit to Naratu on the 10th, but others put off the trip till 
the morrow, and when the morrow came, half the camp was 
wending its way down the hill. I must not forget to mention 
the cordial welcome we always received in the Hazarah ham- 



12 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

lets when riding about the hills. Whenever I felt doubtful 
about the road and went up to the nearest cluster of kibitkas 
to ask my way, the whole hamlet, young and old, generally 
turned out with words of welcome and desire to be of ser- 
vice. The Hazarahs were much more genial in this respect 
than the Ghilzai and Mishwani Nomads, who were inter- 
spersed and scattered about amongst them. Curiously 
enough, these people live all about the hills, within hail 
almost of each other, and yet neither can talk the other's 
language, and, so far as one can judge, they have little or 
no intercourse with each other. All the Afghans in the 
Herat valley talk Persian fluently, but these Nomads seem 
to stick to their native Pushtoo despite all surroundings. 
We always found them civil, but all their energies were 
generally devoted to selling us a pair of old kurjins or some 
bit of carpet ; in fact, wherever you meet a Mishwani, he is 
pretty sure to have something to sell you. 

It is astonishing what a number of these Nomads are 
supported in these hills at this time of the year. To the 
west of the Hazarahs come the Jamshidis the Tagou-i- 
Jawal at the head of the Kushk river being the recognised 
boundary between the lands occupied by the two races ; 
while Sirdar Sher Ahmed Khan, who went along the foot of 
the hills exploring the direct road above Kushk to the 
Ardewan pass, reports that the whole country to the west 
of the Jamshidis, again, is covered with the black tents of 
Nomads from the Herat valley, while almost all the Afghan 
cavalry are grazing their horses opposite the Baba pass, and 
yet the pasturage is so luxuriant that there is room for 
thousands more. However, we were not to add to the num- 
ber for long. On the 10th the fiat went forth that we were 
to march down to the Tunian ford, some 20 miles east 
of Herat, cross the Hari Kud there, and march round to the 
south-west of the city. Application was received from the 
Afghan authorities for the services of officers to advise the 



PREPARATIONS FOR WAR. 13 

governor regarding the fortifications of Herat, and next 
morning Captain Peacocke and myself were on our way 
there. Eumour at the same time was busy with the report 
of fresh Eussian reinforcements at Zulfikar, and as the 
papers all tell us that this and Maruchak are the two points 
that the Amir insists upon, and that we therefore insist 
upon for him, we can hardly suppose that the Eussians 
would bring down fresh troops to Zulfikar if they had any 
intention of evacuating it again shortly after. However, 
nothing further has been heard of the reinforcements, and 
we can only trust, for their sake, that they are not having 
the same unhealthy and uncomfortable time of it as their 
brethren at Pul-i-Khishti. We certainly have had the 
pull of the Eussians in the way of climate and health. 
While they have been sweltering in the heat of the desert 
and decimated by sickness, we have been revelling in a 
climate where the thermometer rarely exceeded 75 in our 
tents by day, and where we sat down to dinner at night 
in our cardigans, or greatcoats, with hardly a man sick 
in hospital. Even here in the plains of the Herat valley 
the heat is nothing to complain of. If the thermometer 
does go up to 95, and sometimes even to 100, in 
our tents, still the breeze is always cool and the night 
just pleasant. In fact, we find a greatcoat most comfort- 
ing before marching in the early dawn. Yet this is the 
hottest month in the year. Certainly no climate that I 
know of in India can hold a candle to that of Herat at this 
season of the year, and were the latter a British station with 
regular houses, &c., it would be one of the healthiest and 
pleasantest of our possessions. 

It had been intended, on leaving Tagou Eobat, to march 
the camp across the Karukh valley, and cross over the 
Bund-i-Khinjak at the southern end of the Dawandah 
range on to Tunian, thereby avoiding the dense cultivation 
near Karukh. Eessaldar-Major Muhammad Husain, of the 



14 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

*7th Bengal Cavalry, who was sent on ahead to reconnoitre, 
however, reported the road unfit for camels, and so we stuck 
to our old road vid Karukh and Mach Gandak. Karukh is 
the seat of the Shaikh-ul-Islam, one of the most powerful 
divines of the Herat district. Here we found the reverend 
old gentleman passing the last weary days of the Eamzan 
fast under the cool shade of a huge grove of pine-trees. 
Despite the heat in the rays of the sun outside, the soughing 
of the pine-branches overhead tended of itself to minimise 
the pangs of any unassuageable thirst ; and I must say the 
pine-grove looked as pleasant a place to pass the Ramzan in 
as any that I have seen in the country about. In the 
absence of Dr Aitchison at Turbat-i-Shaikh Jam, I did not 
ascertain what species of pine these were ; but they were 
fine strong trees, some 70 or 80 feet in height a living 
proof of how much might be done in the way of arboricul- 
ture in this country under proper supervision. The trees 
are said to be 120 years old, having been planted by the 
present Shaikh-ul-Islam's father, who was the first to acquire 
possession of this plot of land, in the midst of which his 
remains now lie entombed in a huge ziarat. The camp 
halted a day on purpose to allow Dr Owen to operate on the 
eye of the Shaikh-ul-Islam. But professional jealousy, or 
political intrigue, or something, intervened ; and before the 
appointed time, the private hakim of Kazi Saad-ud-Din, the 
Amir's representative, had carried the day and persuaded the 
old gentleman not to undergo the operation. 

At Tunian the Hari Rud was found to be easily fordable, 
the water less than 2 feet in depth with a good bottom. 
The right bank is scarped by the water when in flood, and 
is some 2 feet in height ; but the left bank lies low, with 
a wide expanse of grassy sward, where the cavalry fed them- 
selves with ease for some days. 

Here Captain Peacocke and myself rejoined from our 
visit to Herat. We had had a busy time of it there, 



PREPARATIONS FOR WAR. 15 

thoroughly examining the works inside and outside the city, 
and were most civilly and hospitably received and enter- 
tained. We were met on arrival some 4 miles outside the 
city by Eustam Khan, the brother of the Sipah Salar, or 
commander-in-chief, and escorted by him and a regiment of 
Kabul cavalry to the quarters assigned to us in the garden 
of Shahzadah Kasim, on the north-east side of the city. 
The morning of the next day was spent in an inspection of 
the outside of the city; and the evening of the inside. 
Visits were also paid to the governor and the commander- 
in-chief ; at the latter's house the Naib Salar and General 
Ghaus-ud-Din Khan were both present. The names of both 
these officers will be remembered as the commanders of the 
Afghan troops at Panjdeh, and their cordial greeting was 
proof of itself that all rumour of any ill feeling against the 
British officers there on account of the Afghan defeat was 
devoid of foundation. The Naib Salar was looking thin and 
ill, having only just recovered from the effects of his wound 
a bullet through the thigh ; but General Ghaus-ud-Din 
was as hale and hearty and ready for a fight as ever, and 
came down to the garden with Eustam Khan on purpose to 
escort us over the fortifications. 

Of these works I can enter into no detail here. Suffice 
it to say that we spent five days in Herat, and met with 
the greatest civility throughout. The population of the 
place are only too anxious for the British to come; while 
as for the soldiers, so far from entertaining any ill feel- 
ing against the British, they are only longing for their 
aid in the coming struggle, and would be the first to 
welcome their advent. The religious element, too, is no- 
toriously in favour of the British alliance ; so much so, 
that it is said that when the Governor some short time 
ago referred the question as to whether the alliance and co- 
operation of the British would in any way detract from the 
merit of an Afghan yhaza, or crusade, against the Eussians, 



.16 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the question was met by a most decided negative and not 
only by a negative, but by strong advice in addition to secure 
British co-operation. This dictum, too, was given by Umar 
Jan Sabibzadah, now without doubt the most influential priest 
in Herat. I well remember this man at the time he came to 
Kandahar with Sirdar Abdullah Khan Nasiri as the envoy 
of Sirdar Ayub Khan from Herat an austere, thin-featured 
man, who had more to do in raising Zemindawar against us 
at the time of Maiwand than any other person, and who even 
then was one of the most influential and fanatical priests of 
the day. To have him on our side is indeed a change of the 
cards. 

From Tunian the Mission marched quietly down the Herat 
valley, which here is seen in its greatest fertility. I shall 
not easily forget the view I had of it on the evening of the 
19th, when I rode out with Major Bax and Captain 
Griesbach to a small mound near our camp at Kurt, called 
Tepe Ghar, or the cave-mound. Standing on the top of 
the mound, we could not but admire the beauty and 
fertility of the scene. Away on the other side of the 
valley the walls of Herat stood out, backed by the tall 
minarets of the Musalla the latter, alas ! destined soon 
to be demolished. The Amir's orders for the demoli- 
tion of both the Musalla and the still older Madrasah close 
by are being rapidly carried into effect, and a few days, 
or at most weeks, will see the last of this famous relic of 
bygone grandeur. The rooms and habitations have mostly 
disappeared, but the massive arches, some 80 feet in height, 
the still higher minarets, and the large dome, all of which 
bear traces of the beautiful tile- work with which they were 
covered, attest its former magnificence. 

In the centre of the valley the waters of the Hari Eud 
glistened in the setting sun ; while on every side, interspersed 
amongst the numerous villages and orchards, were lying the 
heaps of freshly cut corn, waiting to be threshed. The 



PREPARATIONS FOR WAR. 17 

irrigation-works are certainly one of the wonders of this 
country. The valley here is a perfect network of canals 
and juis, as they are called, varying in size from some 3 
feet in breadth and 2 in depth to the smallest cut of barely 
a foot in breadth. The annual labour expended in the repair 
alone of the canals is very great ; but for all that, the people 
apparently prefer canals to any system of well irrigation, 
which is here unknown. 

To-day the main camp is halting at Chahgazak, some 20 
miles to the south of Herat ; while Colonel Sir West Eidge- 
way, with Major Holdich, Captains Durand, Peacocke, Heath, 
and Griesbach, Dr Owen, Kazi Mahomed Aslam, and myself 
are at Eozabagh, a large village about 6 miles south of the 
city, where Sir West Eidgeway meets the governor of Herat 
to discuss the situation. 

Captain Cotton and Captain de Laessoe, with Eessaldar- 
Major Muhammad Husain, have just returned from a trip 
farther up the valley, where they have been prospecting for 
sites for a camp to which to move the Mission when the 
present arrangements with the governor of Herat have 
been concluded. Captains Maitland and the Hon. M. G. 
Talbot are still away exploring and surveying the upper 
waters of the Hari Eud, somewhere about Daulatyar.. 
Captain Gore is on his way back from Mashhad, and Mr 
Finn, Lieutenant Yate, and Dr -Weir are still travelling 
along the Persian frontier. The native attaches are nearly 
all away too. Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan is still at Bala 
Murghab, doing capital work in controlling the relations of 
the Afghan troops there with the Eussians at Pul-i-Khishti. 
Subadar Muhammad Husain, of the 2d Sikhs, is similarly 
employed on the western portion of the frontier. Eessaldar- 
Major Bahawaldin Khan, of the Central India Horse, is 
away on treasure-convoy duty at Mashhad ; while Mirza 
Ghulam Ahmad and Khan Baba Khan are located at 
Mashhad and Turbat-i-Shaikh Jam respectively. 

B 



18 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

To-morrow morning Major Holdich, Captains Durand and 
Peacocke, and Kazi Muhammad Aslam Khan proceed to Herat 
to set the works on the fortification going without further 
loss of time, rejoining Sir West Eidgeway at Kozabagh a 
day or two hence. It is now hoped that the Amir's local 
officials will cease all petty obstruction and put their 
shoulders to the wheel, recognising at last that the Amir's 
interests are in reality bound up with those of the British 
Government. 

The Amir's proclamation with the salute of 1 1 guns and 
general illumination of the city in honour of his appoint- 
ment as a G.C.S.I. seems to have occasioned an extraordin- 
ary and most unexpected excitement amongst the Heratis. 
The rumour has gone abroad that the British Government 
has given Hindustan to the Amir in exchange for Kanda- 
har and Herat, and nothing will persuade the villagers 
that the British are not shortly to take possession of 
Herat. The wish is evidently the father of the thought, 
and the eager manner in which the rumour has been 
credited and insisted upon may of itself very possibly 
have frightened the Amir's officials, who are probably the 
only people in the province to whom a British occupa- 
tion would be unpalatable. 

There is no particular news of any Eussian advance, with 
the exception of the move forward of 100 Cossacks from 
Pul-i-Khishti up the Kushk valley to Chaman-i-Bed. 
Various Panjdeh Turkomans who were arrested by the 
Eussians a short time ago, on the charge of being supposed 
to be friendly to the British, have, it is said, been released 
again, but the Sariks are still groaning under Eussian rule. 
We have no very recent news from Turkistan, but every- 
thing is supposed to be quite quiet there, despite the rumours 
current some little time ago regarding the imprisonment of 
Abdullah Khan Tohki, the governor of Badakshan, by 
Sirdar Ishak Khan. 



PREPARATIONS FOR WAR. 19 

IQth August 1885. 

Our camp at Eozabagh was broken up on the 28th ult., 
when Sir West Eidgeway returned to the main camp at Chah 
Gazak, but only for a couple of days. On the 30th, with 
the cavalry escort, and accompanied by Captain Peacocke, 
Mr Merk, Captain Griesbach, Dr Owen, and myself, he 
marched northwards again, while the Heavy camp and the 
Infantry Escort at the same time moved westwards to a 
more elevated site in the Doshakh range, conveniently situated 
in case of any emergency. Here Dr Aitchison and Captain 
Gore rejoined after their long absence in Persia, the former 
having completed and carefully stored his botanical collec- 
tions in the Mission House at Mashhad, out of harm's way, 
and the latter having not only fixed the longitude of Mash- 
had telegraphically with Teheran, but having completed the 
survey of a great portion of North -Eastern Khorasan in 
addition. Mr Finn not being at all in good health, Captain 
de Laessoe was sent off to assist or relieve him of his work 
along the Persian frontier. When last heard of, the party 
were at Kuchan, whence Lieutenant Yate was starting for 
Astrabad on return to India, crossing the Caspian to Baku, 
and thence visiting Batoum, Sebastopol, Constantinople, 
Athens, and Cairo en route. In the meantime Captain 
Cotton had been out on a trip with Eessaldar-Major 
Muhammad Husain, of the 7th Bengal Cavalry, across the 
Persian frontier, round by Charakhs and Yezdan, both Persian 
frontier stations. The country in that direction is very arid 
and the water often brackish. 

On the 2d August, Major Bax, Captain Peacocke, and my- 
self started on a fresh visit to Herat to report progress on 
the fortification works. On nearing the city on the morning 
of the 3d, we were met by Eustam Khan, the brother of the 
Sipah Salar, and learned that we had been expected by an- 
other road, and that the old Khalifah of Awalwali, a large 
shrine some 2 miles north-west of the city, had prepared 



20 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

tea and sweetmeats all ready for us, which unfortunately we 
had thus missed, and the good priest consequently had all 
his trouble for nothing. Three days were spent in the 
city in a thorough superintendence of all the works, which 
were being pushed on as rapidly as possible. Everything 
was thrown open for our inspection without the slightest 
hesitation store-houses, magazines, and all. The Amir's 
letter informing the people that he was sending his own son 
with reinforcements had considerably inspirited the Afghan 
troops ; and were the Amir really to send his son, or even 
any member of his family, to Herat, the troops would know 
that he was in earnest in the defence, and that is the one 
thing they require to know. The present Sipah Salar, being- 
only the son of a Kafir slave-girl, is a man of no position or 
influence, and the men can hardly be expected to fight so 
loyally for him as they would for a member of their own 
Eoyal Family. I can only hope that the Amir will carry 
out his promise, and that without the least loss of time. 

The houses in Herat are all low, and no buildings of two 
and three storeys in height like the Wali's and Sir Oliver St 
John's residences at Kandahar, for instance were noticeable. 
The Herat bazaar, too, is a very poor affair far larger than 
that of Kandahar, in so far that the four main streets con- 
verging from the various gates to the chaharsu in the centre 
are all roofed throughout, but that is all. The shops are 
almost all shut a few in the centre, close to the chaharsu, 
being all that remain. Everything about Herat, in fact, be- 
tokens the poverty of the people, and that is easily accounted 
for when one thinks of the number of sieges that this un- 
fortunate city has undergone, and the number of times that 
it has changed hands, not to mention the time after time 
that it has been plundered by the troops of various rival 
chiefs. The Heratis have certainly had a very hard time of 
it at the hands of their Afghan masters, and no wonder now 
that they long for a change. The idea is still prevalent that 



PREPARATIONS FOR WAR. 21 

the British Government is going to take over the country, 
and the people look anxiously for our coming, hoping for us 
to save them from the Kussians. The treatment the Turko- 
man women are getting at the hands of the Eussian soldiers 
is being everywhere spread about the country, and is causing 
considerable consternation amongst the people. With us 
they know that their womenkind are safe, and the steady 
discipline and good conduct of our troops during the last 
Afghan war is now bearing good fruit in bringing the 
sympathies of the people on our side. 

Captain Durand, during his visit to Herat, took some 
capital sketches of the place ; and he, again, was followed by 
Captain Griesbach, who succeeded in taking several good 
photographs of both the city and its surroundings. To talk, 
though, of Herat under present circumstances as a city, is a 
misnomer. The citizen is only conspicuous by his absence. 
The entire number of families in Herat is probably under 
2000, and as many of these as possible are clearing out. 
At any rate, hardly any but soldiers are to be seen about 
the place. In former sieges, generally the greater part of the 
population of the valley flocked into the city for protection ; 
but now, in the face of a Eussian advance, the desire of 
every one is to get themselves and their families away out of 
the city to some far-off place in the districts, where they 
will be safer from molestation. The position of the unfor- 
tunate Herati during a siege, with the Eussians outside and 
the Afghans in, would certainly be far from pleasant, and 
the farther they get away the better. Nothing can be more 
marked than the difference between the Herati and the 
Afghan. The former is far quieter and more subdued in 
manner a cultivator, as a rule, pure and simple, rarely or 
never armed, nor apparently trained to the use of arms. 
Even the local sowars, when called out on duty, have scarcely 
a weapon amongst them, and when they do possess one, it 
is of the oldest and rottenest description ; whereas the Ka- 



22 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

bulls swagger about armed to the teeth, with knives half 
as long as themselves, and weapons of every sort and shape. 
Despite all this swagger, though, the attitude of the Kabuli 
soldier towards the British is remarkably friendly. He still 
confidently hopes for the aid of the British soldier in the 
coming struggle ; and though, of course, there may be some 
who pray fanatically for preservation from all unbelievers 
alike, yet they are few and far between, and the feeling of 
the mass towards us is one of hope and dependence. 

Captains Maitland and the Hon. M. G. Talbot re- 
turned on the 8th from their interesting tour up the valley 
of the Hari Eud, having been able to get as far as Daulatyar, 
and having explored much hitherto entirely unknown coun- 
try. The wildest fastnesses of the Firozkohi and the Taimani 
lie in these upper waters of the Hari Eud, but the Taimanis 
were found to be a quiet, inoffensive set of people, while the 
Firozkohis, who had some row on amongst themselves, had 
all moved away from their ordinary habitations on the Hari 
Eud, and gone off in a body north to the upper valley of 
the Murghab, only a few thieves being left in the country, 
but these did not trouble the British camp. Curiously 
enough, the Afghan soldiers going to and from Kabul on 
leave all came to the British camp for protection along the 
way, and even the supposed fierce and fanatical Zamindawari 
is said to have done the same a striking example of the 
widespread confidence in our power of protection. 

The weather lately has been terribly hot and dusty. 
With the thermometer up to 100 in our tents, and the dust 
pouring in through every opening, we have often wished 
ourselves back again on the grassy slopes of the Tagou 
Eobat. However, the present uncertainty surely cannot go 
on for ever, and something will be decided before long. 
Once we know what it is we have to do, we shall buckle to 
in earnest to do it ; and we only trust that our future fate, 
whatever it may be, may redound to the credit of our country. 



23 



CHAPTER III. 

HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 

CAMP SANGBAST, 30<A August 1885. 

MATTERS here are much in the same position as when last 
I wrote. The Heavy camp and Infantry Escort are still 
encamped in the midst of the Doshakh range, where they 
enjoy a climate much more free from wind than we get here 
down in the Herat valley. The wind has been terrible for 
the last fortnight. Night and day it has raged unceasingly, 
and our tents are almost in ribbons so bad, indeed, that 
Major Bax reported that if we did not soon get into some 
more sheltered spot, his men would hardly have a tent left 
amongst them. Fortunately, the last few days the wind has 
lulled, for all our efforts have failed to find a sheltered spot, 
and indeed I do not suppose there is such a place anywhere 
south of the hills. Lieutenants Drummond and Wright 
have searched in vain amongst the nooks and corners 'in the 
northern end of the Doshakh hills, but the ravines there are 
all too small for such a camp as ours, and, with the exception 
of bringing us back glowing accounts of the picturesque 
charms of Eobat-i-Pai, a holy nook up in the hills possessing 
the mark of the Prophet's footsteps, nothing has resulted. 
So, till the times have changed or the political horizon has 
cleared, we must just face the wind as best we can. The 
heat has decreased of late, which is something, and the ther- 
mometer now rarely rises much above 90 in our tents. 



24 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Everything has been so quiet of late on the frontier, that 
we were somewhat surprised on the 14th to hear that a 
collision of some sort had occurred between the Eussian and 
Afghan pickets at Kara Tepe. This is the Afghan frontier- 
post on the banks of the river Kushk, some 19 miles above 
Chaman-i-Bed, which, with Islim, marks the Eussian frontier 
in that direction. Some Afghans so they at least report 
patrolled as far as the Eussian border at Islim, but on their 
return were followed back by a Eussian patrol. The Kara 
Tepe picket, seeing their own patrol pursued, as they 
thought, by the Eussians, at once turned out, and the result 
was that one of the Eussians the officer or non-commis- 
sioned officer in command, so it is said was shot. The 
Afghan story is, that the man in front was loading the rifle 
slung on his back, and that it went off by accident and 
wounded the man behind him. The Eussian story we have 
not heard ; but so far, the Afghan version has not been con- 
tradicted. The wounded man was taken in by the Afghans 
and tended at Kara Tepe till a day or two after, when a party 
of twenty Eussians came down from Islim and carried him 
off on a bed. The Eussians, of course, in this case were quite 
in the wrong, having had no business to cross the frontier 
line and push up to Kara Tepe, which is some 15 miles 
within Afghan territory ; but Eussian ideas of right and 
wrong in these parts are very vague, and the incident only 
shows how easily a collision can at any time be brought about. 
Though nothing further has happened, still the incident 
seems to have had some effect on the local Afghan authorities, 
waking them up to the fact that the present state of inaction 
along the frontier might at any moment develop into one of 
hostile advance, and inducing them to infuse even fresh 
energy into the works on the Herat defences. 

There is no doubt in the Amir's endeavours to imbue his 
people with the idea of the earnestness of his preparations. 
Large quantities of grain are ordered to be stored in the city, 



HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 25 

sufficient for a siege of many months' duration, and the 
strictest orders have been issued to the governor on the 
subject of the fortifications. When a petition a short time 
ago was submitted to him by the Heratis, praying that the 
graves on a certain mound inconveniently near the city 
might not be disturbed, the Amir replied at once, pointing- 
out to them how ill advised they had been to listen to such 
ideas ; that all his energies were being devoted to save them 
and their families from foreign invasion, and that nothing 
must be allowed to stand in the way of any necessary pre- 
cautions. As it happened, the destruction of these graves 
might have been the cause of much religious ill feeling had 
not the governor, by a good deal of tact, succeeded in calming 
the people's fears. 

On the 18th instant Major Holdich, Captains Maitland, 
Peacocke, Gore, Talbot, and myself, visited Herat to inspect 
and report upon the progress of the works, and spent three 
busy days there, examining the place thoroughly, inside and 
out. 

Herat is an interesting but not an inviting-looking city ; 
few Eastern cities are. All who remember Kandahar will 
know what Herat is like : the same square mud-built fort, with 
this exception that whereas Kandahar is simply surrounded 
by walls, Herat is surrounded by an enormous mound or ram- 
part of earth, on the top of which the walls are built. The 
city, like Kandahar, is divided into four quarters by the four 
principal streets, which run straight inwards from the entrance- 
gate to the old citadel on the north, and from the Irak, Kan- 
dahar, and Kushk gates on the west, south, and east respec- 
tively. These four main streets meet in the centre of the 
city under a large central dome called the cliaharsu. All 
the trade of the city is comprised in these four streets, and, 
with the exception of a few odd fruit-stalls here and there, 
there are no shops worth speaking of anywhere else. These 
four streets are roofed with wooden beams, covered with 



26 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

matting and earth during almost their entire length, from 
the gateways to the chaharsu the central portion adjoining 
the chaharsu being alone roofed over with regular brick 
domes. At present not half the shops are occupied, and 
only those in the immediate neighbourhood of the chaharsu 
are open. 

The most prominent place in the city is the old citadel, 
standing on a height of its own, slightly back from the 
main northern rampart, and towering over the rest of 
the city. The walls are mostly of brick, and apparently 
are of great age, as Ebn Haukel, describing this cita- 
del, says : " Herat has a castle with ditches. This castle 
is situated in the centre of the town, and is fortified with 
very strong walls." The ditches we found mostly filled up ; 
the castle no longer stands in the centre of the town ; and 
the strong walls, instead of a place of refuge, would prob- 
ably be the most dangerous of all under a modern bom- 
bardment. Still, the citadel as it stands forms a cool and 
pleasant residence for the local commander-in-chief. The 
inhabited portion is some 110 yards in length by 60 in 
breadth, and is a lofty building supported by four bastions 
along its face, and with the entrance-gate facing the main 
street down to the chaharsu. From the Sipah Salar's rooms 
on the northern face, a capital view is obtained of the coun- 
try beyond. Immediately below, some 80 feet down, is the 
new citadel an open space used generally as a parade- 
ground for the troops in garrison ; and away beyond that 
again, the buildings and minarets of the Musalla, with a 
stretch of open and gradually rising country up to the hills 
beyond. 

The northern face has two gates, known respectively as 
the Malik and the Kutabchak the bastions round the 
former bearing the mark of many a shot. The road through 
the Kandahar gate on the south leads straight away through 
suburbs to the Pul-i-Malun, the old bridge across the Hari 



HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 27 

End on the highroad to Kandahar. Only about half of the 
original bridge now remains ; and though the main channel 
of the river is every year turned under the arches still stand- 
ing at the conclusion of the spring floods, yet for several 
months of the year there is a long stretch of water to be 
waded through though I am told the flood is seldom so 
high as to render it impassable for many days at a time. 
Some twenty-five or twenty-seven arches, all told, are now 
standing. Some of these are broken through, but still pass- 
able, except towards the northern end, where the main 
channel of the river has cut a couple of arches clean away. 
Only three or four small blocks of masonry, sticking up in 
the shingle-bed of the river on the southern bank, show 
how far the bridge originally extended. 

The western face of the city is the least populated of all, 
and the houses on this side are practically nothing but a 
mass of ruins. The gateway, situated like the others half- 
way between the two corner bastions, is known as the Irak 
gate, and also, like the others, has a ziarat out in front of it. 
How a ziarat came to be planted opposite almost each of the 
gates, I do not know ; but so it is. 

The eastern gate is known indifferently as the Kushk or 
Khush gate. It appears, though, from Ebn Haukel, that 
Khushk is the correct spelling, and that of the various gates 
mentioned by him, this is the only one that has in any way 
retained its ancient name. 

The only building in the city noticeable by its size and 
height above the uniform dead level of mud-domes is the 
Juma Musjid a large, lofty, 'arched structure in the north- 
eastern portion of the city. Ebn Haukel says : " In all 
Khorasan and Mawar-ul-nahr there is not any place which 
has a finer or more capacious mosque than Heri or Herat. 
Next to it we may rank the mosque at Balkh, and after that 
the mosque of Sistan." Now, whether this is the original 
mosque referred to or not, it is impossible to say. Mirza 



28 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Khalil, our Persian writer, searched carefully for me for any 
evidence of the age of the building ; but the only thing he 
could find was an inscription engraved on the arch of the 
Mehrab, or prayer niche, on a marble slab set up by Sultan 
Abu Saiad in A.H. 866 (A.D. 1462) to record the abolition 
of some oppressive tax. 

The governor's residence known as the Chahar Bagh 
is also in the north-eastern quarter of the city, some little 
way to the west of the Juma Musjid. The entrance, as in 
all Afghan houses, is down a low dirty passage, leading out 
of a narrow lane ; immediately at the end of the passage is 
a large stable courtyard, but turning sharp to the left down 
another dark passage, the visitor is astonished to find himself 
in a large open court some 80 yards by 60 the walls 
around all coloured, and the ground laid out in walks and 
flower-beds, with a tank and fountain in the centre. Eooms 
open off this courtyard to the north and south used mostly, 
I believe, for the transaction of business. The governor 
generally receives his visitors in a room to the south, situ- 
ated a little back from, and slightly elevated above, the level 
of the courtyard, and entered through a narrow passage at 
the side. To the south-east of this courtyard, again, lies what 
is called the New Palace ; a smaller courtyard, but with the 
walls of the rooms surrounding it highly coloured and orna- 
mented with gilt moulding and decorations, though other- 
wise undistinguishable externally from the buildings around 
it. The European visitor has so few chances of seeing the 
inside of the houses in Herat or, in fact, in any Eastern 
city that it is difficult to form an opinion of their comfort ; 
but from all accounts, there is little wealth or display. The 
city has been subjected to so many sieges, and has suffered 
so badly at the hands of its various rulers, that its wealth 
has long since gone. The total population at the last census 
some years ago was only 1700 families; and though it is 
said that there are now some 2000 families in the city, I 



HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 29 

doubt if the actual population amounts to 10,000 souls all 
told. 

There are many small courtyards and gardens scattered 
about the city, full of mulberry and other trees ; but most 
of them look sadly out of repair. Water is brought into the 
city through a siphon from the canals ; and in addition to 
the sixteen large reservoirs and to the many private tanks 
and the various running channels all over the city, most of 
the houses have a private well of their own. Water is pro- 
curable at a short depth everywhere in the city though, 
curiously enough, the water in some of the wells is slightly 
brackish, and in others perfectly good. 

The city lies low, in a sort of hollow, surrounded by the 
great rampart of earth on which the walls are built. Every- 
thing is built of mud, and there is no such thing as stone- 
work, and very little brickwork, in the place. The streets, 
with the exception of the four main thoroughfares centring 
on the chaharsu, are simply dirty crooked lanes winding 
about amongst interminable lines of dead mud- walls, with 
here and there a low dark doorway marking the entrance to 
somebody's house the passage descending generally a step 
or two, and turning off sharp at right angles to prevent any 
glimpse from outside of what goes on within. Of citizens 
scarcely a soul is to be seen nothing but soldiers lounging 
about. The greater part of the houses in the city are un- 
inhabited, and mostly in ruins ; and were it not for the Kabul 
garrison, the place would almost be like a city of the 
dead. 

The troops are quartered in barrack squares generally a 
double row of domed rooms opening inwards into the square, 
some 50 or 60 yards across, with a gateway at either end. 
A great deal could be, and is even now being, done to im- 
prove the city. A good wide road has been cleared all 
round inside the walls, many ruins are being pulled down 
and spaces cleared ; and were only a little trouble taken to 



30 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

plant trees and keep the ground clean and in good order 
Herat would hardly know itself again. 

The objects of interest outside the city are almost entirely 
confined to ziarats, or shrines, and holy places of sorts. 
Amongst these, of course, the buildings of the Musalla on 
the north face of the city stood pre-eminent ; but being now 
in course of demolition, under orders from the Amir, nothing 
but the tradition of their beauty will remain for future 
generations. 

The Musalla consists in reality of the remains of three 
buildings running north-east and south-west, and covering a 
space of nearly 600 yards from end to end. Of the eastern 
building known generally, I believe, as the Madrasah or 
College nothing but two high arches facing each other and 
four minarets remain. The arches must be from 60 to 80 
feet in height, and are covered with the remains of what was 
once fine tile or mosaic work of beautiful and artistic de- 
signs now, of course, much defaced. The tiles on the 
minaret have mostly been worn off by stress of weather, but 
inside the arches the beautiful mosaic-work is still in many 
places almost perfect sufficient to give one an idea of the 
splendour of the building when new. The minarets of this 
Madrasah appear taller than the rest, and must be between 
120 and 150 feet in height. There is a tradition that the 
building included two colleges called in Turki the Kosh 
Madrasah, or the Pair of Colleges and that they were 
built by Shah Kukh Mirza, who died ruler of Herat, if 
I remember right, in A.D. 1446. Just to the west of the 
present archway lies a large handsome black marble slab, 
well carved in Arabic, but not easily decipherable. I was 
told it was the tombstone of Baikrar, son of Umar Shaikh, 
the son of Amir Taimur ; though I believe the only really 
legible part of the inscription was the date of death 
A.H. 843, or A.D. 1440. Between the Madrasah and the 
Musalla, 100 yards or so from each, is a domed building 



HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 31 

commonly called the tomb of Shah Eukh. This was for- 
merly covered with blue tiles and scrolls of text from the 
Koran, but is much weatherworn. It is faced on the east 
by another archway and one solitary minaret. Within the 
dome there are six tombstones, finely carved and engraved, 
to the memory of the following : 

1. Baisanghor, son of Shah Eukh, son of Taimur; dated 
A.H. 836 = AJX 1433. 

2. Sultan Ahmad, son of Abdul Latif, son of Sultan Ubed, 
son of Shah Eukh; dated A.H. 848 = A.D. 1445. 

3. Gohar Shad; dated A.H. 861- A.D. 1457. 

4. Allah ud Dowlah, son of Baisanghor, son of Shah 
Eukh; dated A.H. 863 - A.D. 1459. 

5. Ibrahim Sultan, son of Allah u'd Dowlah, son of Bais- 
anghor, son of Shah Eukh, son of Amir Taimur; dated 
A.H. 863=A.D. 1450. 

6. Shah Eukh Sultan, son of Sultan Abu Saiad, son of 
Sultan Muhammad, son of Miran Shah, son of Amir Taimur ; 
dated A.H. 898=A.D. 1493. 

It appears, therefore, that after all this building is not the 
mausoleum of the great Shah Eukh, the son of Amir Taimur, 
as is popularly supposed, but of some other Shah Eukh a 
great-great-grandson of Taimur 's who was buried here last 
of all, and thus probably gave his name to the building forty- 
seven years after the death of his great namesake. 

Gohar Shad is said to have been the wife of Shah Eukh 
and a sister of Kara Yusuf Turkoman, and the founder of 
the Gohar Shad Musjid in Mashhad. " The college of Gohar 
Shad Begum, her tomb and her grand mosque," are men- 
tioned amongst the sights of Herat seen by the Emperor 
Baber in 1506 ; but where the college was that bore her 
name I did not hear, neither did I find any trace in Herat 
of her mosque. Her tombstone alone remains, and that is 
overturned, uncared for, and half buried in rubbish. 

To the west of the tomb of Shah Eukh stands the Mu- 



32 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

salla a huge massive building of burnt brick, almost entirely 
faced at one time with tiles and mosaic- work, all the various 
patterns of which are beautifully fitted together in minute 
pieces set in gypsum plaster. Musalla means, I believe, a 
place of prayer ; and doubtless, on this account, the walls were 
covered with the numerous texts in tile-work that now orna- 
ment them. The main building consists of a lofty dome some 
75 feet in diameter, with a smaller dome behind it, and any 
number of rooms and buildings around it. The entrance to 
this dome is through a lofty archway on the east, some 80 
feet in height, the face of which is entirely covered with tile- 
work and huge inscriptions in gilt ; while above the arch- 
way is a lot of curious little rooms and passages, the use 
of which I cannot tell. To the east of this arch is a large 
courtyard some 80 yards square, surrounded with corridors 
and rooms several storeys in height all covered with tile- 
work. The main entrance of all is on the eastern side of 
this court, through another huge archway, also some 80 feet 
in height ; but though the inside of the arch is all lined 
with tiles, or rather mosaic-work in regular patterns, the 
outside is bare, and looks as if it had never been finished. 
Four minarets, some 120 feet in height, form the four corners 
of the building : a good deal of the tile- work has been worn 
off by the weather especially towards the north, the side of 
the prevailing winds ; but when new, they must have been 
marvellously handsome. It is hoped that they may be 
preserved from the general demolition. The rooms, it is 
said, were built for the accommodation of students, but 
where they all came from it is hard to tell. 

To the east of these buildings, and almost due north of 
the citadel, is a long mound, evidently at some time or other 
part of the rampart of the city wall. At what date the city 
was contracted within its present limits I could not ascertain ; 
but from the fact that Ebn Haukel distinctly describes the 
citadel as standing in the centre of the town, whereas it is 



HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 33 

now on the northern face, I can only conclude that the walls 
extended up to this mound so late as the tenth century. 
The mound is now known by the name of Tal-i-Bhangian, 
or the Mound of the Bhang-eaters the people given to the 
consumption of this drug being said to have formerly made 
use of this mound for their orgies. Before that, again, they 
say it was called the Mound of Holy Men, from the number 
of the latter who were buried in it. Certainly the mound 
is one mass of graves ; and at one place on the northern side 
the workmen, in digging out foundations for the new forti- 
fications, found a large stone chamber full of human bones, 
but with nothing in it to show who the people buried there 
were. No coins were found, or anything else, to give an 
idea of the age or customs of the people who raised the 
mound. But one of the two ziarats on the top of the 
mound takes us back to the early days of Mahomadanism, as 
the inscription round the pedestal of the tombstone enshrined 
therein gives the name of Abdullah, son of Maavia, son of 
Jafir, son of Abu Talib, who was the father of Ali, the son- 
in-law of the Prophet. The date of death, however, is not 
given only a statement to the effect that the building 
was erected by Shaikh Bayazid, son of Ali Mashrif, in 
A.H. 865=A.D. 1461. The second shrine known as the 
Ziarat-i-Shahzadah Kasim is apparently of later but un- 
certain age, as on one side of the tombstone Abul Kasim, 
son of Jafir, is said to have died in A.H. 994 = A.D. 1586, 
and on the other in A.H. 897 = A.D. 1493 ; while the other 
tombstones lying about are said to have been brought from 
other places, and are of little interest. 

Next to the Musalla, the prettiest and most famous shrine 
in the neighbourhood is Gazargah the residence of the Mir 
of Gazargah, one of the richest and most influential divines 
in the Herat province. Gazargah lies up at the foot of the 
hills some 2 miles to the north-east of the city. The 
shrine is distinguishable from afar by the huge lofty square- 

c 



34 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

topped mass of building over a high arch the usual feature 
of all sacred buildings in this part of the world. The shrine 
is well worth a visit, if only to see the simple yet handsome 
tomb of the Amir Dost Muhammad, and the handsome carved 
marble- work on the tomb of the saint, Kwajah Abdullah 
Ansari. Passing first through a large walled garden of pine 
and mulberry trees, the visitor comes to an octagonal-shaped 
domed building, full of little rooms and three-cornered re- 
cesses, two or three storeys in height, all opening inwards 
built apparently as a cool breezy place in which to pass the 
heat of the summer days. Beyond this, again, is the main 
enclosure of the ziarat, now a deserted and dilapidated- 
looking place. Everything wears a look of decay : the un- 
kept courtyard, the broken tile-work on the archway and 
entrance to the shrine, and general want of repair visible 
everywhere, betoken a great falling off from former pros- 
perity. The entrance to the shrine lies through a doorway 
under a high arched vestibule, crossing a long covered 
corridor, paved with slabs of white marble worn and pol- 
ished into the most dangerous state of slipperiness by, I 
presume, the feet of countless pilgrims. Eound about this 
door sit moollas, beggars, and pilgrims of sorts, in addition to 
all the blind hctfizes or reciters of the Koran, and showmen 
generally of the place. It is astonishing how these blind men 
know every tomb and the history of the people in each. In 
front of the entrance, looking inwards, but now half buried 
in the ground, is a carved figure in white marble of some long 
thin animal, said to be a tiger though what a tiger is the 
emblem of, in such a place, I cannot say. Passing through 
the entrance, one emerges into a square court surrounded 
by high walls and little rooms, with a lofty wall and half- 
domed portico at the eastern end. The tile-work on this wall 
has been handsome, but is now much out of repair. The 
tomb of the saint a mound some 10 yards long and 6 
feet high, and covered with stone stands immediately in 



HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 35 

front of this recess. The tomb of Amir Dost Muhammad lies 
close by to the north ; and the remainder of the court, as 
also the little rooms around, are filled with graves as close 
as they can be packed. 

The great feature of the place is the headstone of white 
marble at the grave of the saint, which stands some 14 or 
1 5 feet in height, and is most exquisitely carved throughout. 
This stone is a beautiful piece of work, as not only is the 
carving of the inscription well done, but the whole design 
and proportions of the stone are beautiful. From the Arabic 
inscription carved in the Khatt-i-suls character on the head- 
stone, it would appear that the present building was erected 
by Shah Eukh Mirza, the son of Taimur Lang, in the year 
A.H. 859, or A.D. 1455. This date, though, is nine years, I 
think, subsequent to the death of Shah Eukh ; but still he 
may have commenced the work. The whole of the Arabic 
inscription, however, could not be deciphered ; and though 
there is no mistake about the date 859, possibly it might 
not refer to Shah Eukh. The full name of the saint is 
given as Abu Ismail Khwajah Abdullah Ansari, and the date 
of his death is recorded separately on a corner of the stone, 
and in a different character, by a Persian quatrain, in which 
the word Fat, by the Abjad reckoning, gives the year A.H. 
481, or A.D. 1089. On one side of the grave there is an 
inscription recorded by Hasan, son of Husain Shamlu, in 
A.H. 1049, or A.D. 1640 ; and round the balustrade there is 
another, but without date. 

Amir Dost Muhammad's tombstone is a plain, simple, but 
handsome block of pure white marble, some 8 feet in length 
by 1 J or 2 feet in breadth, finely carved, and surrounded by 
a white marble balustrade. At the head and foot of the 
grave stand pieces of white marble, in imitation, but a very 
poor imitation, of the head- and foot-stones of the saint's 
shrine : they are dwarfed and quite lost in comparison with 
the original stones. 



36 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Inside the portico there are some twenty or thirty tomb- 
stones, but none were found of any very great age : the oldest, 
apparently, was one of black marble, beautifully engraved in 
Arabic, and bearing the date A.H. 865=A.D. 1461, but with- 
out any name. Four or rive other similar tombstones had 
both names and dates obliterated. Two others bore the 
names of Eustam Muhammad Khan and Muhammad Amin 
Khan, both described as descendants of Changiz Khan, and 
dated respectively, according to the Abjad reckoning, A.H. 
1053 and 1076 =A.D. 1643 and 1666; a third, to Muhammad 
Iwaz Khan, simply described as a son of the third Khan, is 
dated A.H. 1067 = A.D. 1656 ; while a fourth, to Shahzadah 
Masa'ud, is as late as A.H. 1256=A.D. 1840. 

In the courtyard we noticed two older tombstones with 
Arabic inscriptions one to Sultan Mahmud, dated A.H. 
761 = A.D. 1360, and the other to Ustad Muhammad Khwa- 
jah, dated A.H. 842 = A.D. 1438 ; but anything like a really 
careful examination would have taken a very much longer 
time than Mirza Khalil and myself had at our disposal. 

Not only is the courtyard packed full of graves, but every 
little room and enclosure round it is the same. One par- 
ticularly fine black marble stone marks the grave of the 
mother of some monarch. No name is given presumably 
it was not the custom at that time to inscribe the name of 
any woman on her tombstone ; but the title " Mahd-i- 
Uliya" lit., eminent cradle gives the clue to her royal 
position. The date of her death is given in a Persian 
hemistich, the translation of which is : " The place of de- 
scent of the light of pardon from the kindness of the in- 
comparable and eternal God." The first word, which gives 
the date, has been misspelt Mahbit instead of Mahbi, pro- 
bably on purpose. As it stands, by the Abjad reckoning 
the date of her death is A.H. 86 6= A.D. 1462; and that is 
probably more contemporary with the tombs around than 
A.H. 475=A.D. 1083, which would have been the date had 



HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 3*7 

the word been spelt correctly. None of the tombstones that 
we noticed were much more than 400 years old. 

At the entrance to the courtyard there is a large curious 
circular font or bowl made of white marble, and used, so far 
as I could make out, to mix sherbet in for the pilgrims visit- 
ing the shrine. Outside is the covered reservoir, locally said 
to have been built by a daughter of Shah Rukh ; but the 
inscription, on being deciphered, showed that it was origin- 
ally built by Shah Eukh himself, but fell into disrepair, and 
was restored in the year A.H. 1100=A.D. 1689, by some 
lady of royal descent whose name is not given. 

The Mutawali, or superintendent of the endowment of 
this shrine, is Mir Mortaza, in whose family the office has 
regularly descended for generations. His son, Muhammad 
Umar Jan, is a man of some thirty-five years of age, and 
is married to a daughter of the late Amir Sher Ali, a sister 
of Sirdar Ayub Khan. 

A mile or more to the north of the city there is a domed 
building covered with the remains of old tile-work, and with 
a hole in the centre of the floor giving access, apparently, 
to some underground chamber, now mostly filled up. Tradi- 
tion declares that there used to be a passage from this 
chamber right into the citadel ; but the appearance of the 
building would seem to show that it was erected as a mauso- 
leum. If there are any tombstones in it, they are buried in 
rubbish ; but some five or six are lying about a little way 
off, both of black and white marble some inscribed in 
Arabic, and others in the Persian Nastalik character, though 
only one of them could be deciphered : that was to Amir 
Jalalu'din, and dated A.H. 847 = A.D. 1444. There is 
another stone bearing the name of Amir Jalalu'din in the 
Ziarat-i-Shahzadah Kasim, and I heard of a third between 
Gazargah and the canal, dated A.H. 858=A.D. 1455; but 
who all these Amir Jalalu'dins were, could not be ascer- 
tained. 



38 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

To the west of this domed building with the underground 
chamber, there are various other shrines and tombs of holy 
men so holy, in fact, that access to some of them by 
Shiahs was even forbidden by their Sunni guardians. One 
of these, called the tomb of Moulana Jami Sha'ir, is prob- 
ably the place referred to by the Emperor Baber as " the 
mausoleum and tomb of Moulana Abdul Eahman Jam " ; 
while the " Takht " of Shaikh Zainu'din referred to in the 
same memoirs lies close by. Curiously enough, the deter- 
mination of the date of the latter's death, as rendered by 
the Abjad reckoning of the last clause of the Persian inscrip- 
tion on the pillar at the head of the grave, proved such a 
puzzle that no two of the experts to whom I showed it 
could agree in their interpretation of it. The translation 
of the inscription is something to the following effect: 
" Shaikh Zainu'din, Imam and Leader of men of Eeligion. 
The Axis of the World. The Threshold of Forgiveness. 
The Relation of Truth, who rose from the Earth below to 
the Heaven above, and on whose skirt there was no dust. 
His age was eighty-one, and the time of his death was also 
that number, with one year added to the calculation." 

The Abjad reckoning is a system of denoting dates by 
giving certain numerical values to the different letters of 
the alphabet ; and this very inscription has been variously 
calculated for me as A.H. 202, A.H. 621, A.H. 741, and 
A.H. 832=A.D. 818, A.D. 1224, A.D. 1341, and A.D. 1429 : 
which is correct I know not. 

Another noted Herat shrine is the Ziarat-i-Awalwali, as it 
is called, some 2 miles to the north-west of the city. The 
original tombstone has disappeared ; but from an inscription 
on a slab let into the wall above the door, it appears that 
the building in reality contains the tomb of Sultan Abul 
Walid Ahmad, the son of Abul Raza Abulah Hanafi of 
Azadan of Herat, who died in A.H. 232 = AD. 847, and that 
the present building a lofty arched portico, with the usual 



HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 39 

domed enclosure behind was erected by Sultan Husain 
Mirza, who reigned at Herat, I believe, from A.D. 1487 to 
1505. The building is of plain brick, and unadorned out- 
side, though there is some good mosaic- work inside. The 
garden in front has been allowed to go to ruin, and nothing- 
remains at present but some large pine-trees. Baber men- 
tions the building under the name of " Balmeri, which was 
originally called Abul Walid." 

Another large and similar shrine known as the Ziarat-i- 
Sultan Mir Shahid lies to the south-west of the city, close 
to the Burj-i-Khakistar bastion. The tomb lies in the 
centre of the lofty domed room behind the entrance-portico, 
and is surmounted by flags of various colours the poles of 
which are tipped with the figure of an open hand. No 
special meaning is attached to this symbol, so far as the 
moollahs could tell me all they knew being a tradition to 
the effect that the standards presented by the Prophet to his 
people were surmounted by a hand, and that the custom has 
been thus continued. 

To show how little the Heratis know of the history of 
their own shrines, I may mention that I was assured that 
the Sultan Mir Shahid buried here was the ruler of Herat 
when the city was besieged and captured by the famous 
Hataku Khan, son of Tuleh Khan, and grandson of Changiz 
Khan, after his capture of Baghdad about the year 1253; 
that he fell in the defence, and thus earned the title of 
Shahid, or martyr. By having the tombstone cleaned, how- 
ever, and the Arabic inscription deciphered, it appeared that 
the name of the saint was Abdullah ul Wahid, son of Zaid, 
son of Ali (the son-in-law of the Prophet), son of Abu Talib ; 
that he was born in A.H. 35 or A.H. 37 ( = A.D. 656 or A.D. 
658), and died in A.H. 88 ( = A.D. 707) in the lifetime of 
his father; that his tomb was discovered in A.H. 320 ( = A.D. 
932) in the time of Ali ibn Hasan (an Imam, I believe, of 
the Zaidi sect), son of Shaikh Hasan il Basreh ; and that the 



40 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

present building was erected by Shah Sultan Husain in 
A.H. 890 ( = A.D. 1485). The tombstone was so blackened 
by lamp-oil, that I do not suppose it had been deciphered 
for ages so long, in fact, that the identity of the saint had 
been quite forgotten. In the same building there is another 
tombstone to the memory of Jafir Abu Ishak, who died in 
AH. 289=A.D. 902. 

In addition to the small shrines at each of the city gates, 
there is one called the Ziarat-i-Khojah Ali Bafar immediately 
adjoining the powder-mill to the north-east of the city, and 
another, called the Ziarat-i-Khwajah Tak, adjoining the grave- 
yard used for the burial of Kabulis on the mound to the 
south-east of the city. But it is needless for me to recapitu- 
late all the shrines. Ziarats swarm here all over the coun- 
try. Every graveyard has its ziarat, or rather every ziarat 
has its graveyard. Only one point calls for notice, and that 
is the talent displayed by the masons of Herat in the carv- 
ing of the marble tombstones so much in use. Considering 
that no stonework whatever is used in building, the work- 
manship displayed in the carving of these stones redounds 
much to the credit of the artificers. The white marble 
comes, I believe, from the upper portion of the Hari Eud 
valley, in the direction of Obeh ; while the Sang-i-Musa, or 
the black marble as I have called it, is brought, if I re- 
member right, all the way from Shah Maksud, in the hills 
north of Kandahar. 

The fruit of Herat is hardly as good as that of Kandahar. 
Certainly I have tasted here some most luscious nectarines, 
such as I do not remember to have seen at Kandahar. The 
peaches here, too, are magnificent to look at a good deal larger 
than a ball of soap, for instance, and in fact almost as big 
as a cricket-ball ; but somehow we never get them properly 
ripe. They have always been so bruised and have become 
so rotten by the time they reached our camp, that it was 
impossible to enjoy them. Both nectarines and peaches, too, 



HERAT AND ITS ANTIQUITIES. 41 

seem to be grown in very small quantities, and are more a 
sample of what might be grown than a stern reality. The 
grapes here, also, have few varieties ; and the curious thing 
about them is, that the grapes on each bunch are never of one 
uniform size. A bunch of small grapes, either red or white, 
always has in it a certain proportion of large grapes full of 
seeds, while the small ones have none at all. The amount 
of grapes that can be purchased for a copper is something 
marvellous : so cheap are they, in fact, that the poorest sais 
in camp can always command either a bunch of grapes or a 
melon, whichever he prefers. 

Many are the rumours and hopes and fears now current 
amongst the native followers in our camp regarding our 
return to India. It is now exactly a year since we started, 
and every now and again my servants come up to me and 
ask in a hopeless sort of way if they will ever see their 
fathers and mothers again. I can promise nothing. I can 
only appeal to their reason and say to them, " Think of all 
the correspondence, negotiation, and delay that goes on be- 
tween two petty native States in India regarding half a mile 
of boundary. What must it be when two great Powers like 
England and Eussia commence to negotiate about an entire 
frontier ? " This convinces them. They see the argument, 
I really believe, and settle down to their work more firmly 
convinced than ever that they will see their fathers and 
mothers no more. 

On the 23d, Sir West Eidgeway, accompanied by Major 
Holdich, Captains Gore and Talbot, and Mr Merk, started for 
the Infantry camp, where they still are, leaving us quite a 
small party here viz., Major Bax, Captains Maitland, Pea- 
cocke, and Heath, Lieutenants Drummond and Wright, and 
Dr Owen and myself. Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan has 
just arrived from Bala Murghab, where his place has been 
taken by Sirdar Sher Ahmed Khan, and proceeds to Mashhad 
almost directly on treasure-convoy duty. The health of the 



42 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

men keeps wonderfully good, we have hardly a man in 
hospital. 

Dr Aitchison and Captain Griesbach are away on a botan- 
ical and geological tour in Khorasan. Captain de Laessoe is 
at Mashhad, and Mr Finn and Dr Weir still somewhere in 
the neighbourhood of Astrabad. 

The Survey officers are all busy working up the results of 
their late surveys Captain Gore that of Khorasan, and 
Captain Talbot of the upper valley of the Hari Eud. Sur- 
veyors Heera Singh and Muhammad Sharif have also brought 
back some capital maps of the Taimani country and of the 
hitherto unexplored districts in the neighbourhood of Taiwara 
and Ghor, which will be a valuable contribution to the re- 
sults of the Mission. I fear, though, little more can be done 
in the way of exploration and survey till the present unsettled 
state of affairs comes to an end. 



43 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE SIGNING OF THE PROTOCOL PEACE DECLARED. 

CAMP ROBAT-I- AFGHAN, 14ZA Sept. 1885. 

AT last we have heard some definite news, and we now 
know that peace is declared. The protocol has been signed, 
and the Commissions are to meet at Zulfikar within the next 
two months. Glad, indeed, must the Afghan authorities be 
to think that their rule at Herat is to be granted a fresh 
lease of life, and still more glad are all our men and followers 
to think that at last there is a chance of getting back to their 
wives and families. Only the other day, the sight of a fresh 
consignment of warm clothing filled the hearts of the follow- 
ers with blank despair. The Sirkar would never give us a 
fresh issue of warm clothing, argued they, unless it is their 
intention to keep us here another winter ; and they shuddered 
at the thought. Many were the longing glances cast at a 
few lucky men going down to Quetta with a kafila of ponies 
to bring up some stores, and many were the harrowing stories 
of starving children told that day, in the vain hope of getting 
permission to accompany that convoy. Now all is hope 
again. Something has been settled; something has to be 
done, and all are ready to be up and doing. It is not only 
the inaction, but the uncertainty and want of some object in 
life, that has told so heavily on us all during the past five 
months of weary waiting ; and now all are anxious to be at 
work again. The only fear is that the demarcation of the 



44 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

frontier will not be commenced soon enough to allow of our 
completing it in time to cross the passes this year ; but as 
long as we have work before us, we are content to leave the 
future to take care of itself. 

The camp will probably shortly be on the move down the 
valley in the direction of Kuhsan, where we shall be con- 
veniently situated, both with regard to the telegraph office 
at Mashhad and to Zulfikar. The Russians, it is presumed, 
will now withdraw their troops from the Zulfikar pass, which 
they have so long held, in spite of all promises to the con- 
trary; and when the Commission meets, the Afghan Irregu- 
lar Horse will probably occupy their place. At present the 
Russians have got a force of about a thousand men, including 
Cossacks, artillery, and infantry, in the Zulfikar pass, and 
have had all along ; whereas the only Afghans in the neigh- 
bourhood are a few cavalry patrols watching the passes, and 
there is not an Afghan Regular nearer than Herat, despite 
the alarmist telegrams that were published by the Russians 
to the contrary when moving more troops up to Zulfikar some 
little time ago. The Infantry camp will probably move up, 
and rejoin us at Kuhsan ; and once again we shall all be 
collected together on the same eamping-ground where we 
joined Sir Peter Lumsden just ten months ago, little think- 
ing then what was before us. 

The temperature has changed wonderfully during the last 
few days, and the hot weather of these parts, such as it is, has 
come and gone. The mornings are cool and fresh, and the 
nights so cold that two, and even three, blankets are none 
too much the thermometer going down as low as 41 at 
night, and rarely rising above 88 by day. There are no 
rains here as in India. There were some clouds about a few 
days ago, and some rain fell in the hills, but it was only an 
occasional shower ; all the rain, as a rule, falls in the spring. 
The year is divided into four seasons, as in England not 
into three, as in India and the autumn is now coming on 



SIGNING OF THE PROTOCOL PEACE DECLARED. 45 

apace, and very soon the trees will be casting their leaves, 
and the country assuming its wintry garb. 

The sand-grouse are now appearing in regular flocks, and 
even duck are beginning to show up again : another month 
and I have no doubt the latter will be swarming along the 
river. Last year, when we marched up in November, the 
river was full of all sorts of wild fowl; but the long marches 
and terribly cold wind that here beset us put a stop to 
almost all shikar. Now we are already looking forward to 
a 1st of October amongst the pheasants in the bed of the 
river below Kuhsan, where by all accounts they swarm. 
Here there are none, but Toman Agha is said to be full of 
them. Our old haunts on the Murghab at Karawul Khana 
and Maruchak are said to be as full of pheasants as ever 
again, and Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, who visited 
Maruchak not long ago, said that he found some seventy or 
eighty pheasants in the old fort alone. The ditch was full of 
pigs and the old ruins of pheasants, and yet only five months 
ago this fort was the home of some 200 or 300 Afghan 
Khasadars, a sure sign of the small impression their 
short residence there has made. The large black-breasted 
sand-grouse we found breeding all over the plains in May 
and June. A little hollow scratched in the ground by the 
side of a tuft of wormwood scrub was all the nest they 
made, and now the young birds are flying about, and are 
uncommonly good to eat. 

Just where we are now encamped on a large rushy com- 
mon, there is little to shoot but plover ; even pigeons are 
scarce. The nearer one gets to Herat, though, the thicker 
the pigeons become, and the villages round about the city 
simply swarm with them. The fields are alive with flocks 
of them ; but woe to the man who shoots them, as they are 
all considered private property and a regular source of in- 
come. The round towers at the corners of the villages are 
generally made into pigeon-houses, in addition to the regular 



46 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

square-built pigeon -towers that one sees dotted about the 
country. The birds have to be fed throughout the winter, 
and if not fed in one tower, they go off to another where 
they are fed; and it is the object of every owner to tempt as 
many birds as he can to take up their residence in his 
particular tower for the breeding-season in the spring. A 
large tower, it is said, will produce as much as 15 kharwars 
(1 kharwar = 10 maunds Indian) of manure in a year, and 
the ordinary round bastion-shaped tower at the corner of a 
village at least 6 or 7 kharwars each kharwar selling at the 
rate of 15 krans or 6 rupees. The Amir Sher All's Kabuli 
troops were much disliked, I am told, on account of their 
pigeon-shooting propensities, but no complaints have reached 
me regarding the present garrison on this score. 

We have had no news lately of any fresh movement of 
Eussian troops along the frontier, and probably all their 
energies will be directed now to the housing of those already 
on the frontier for the winter. The Turkoman kibitka is 
the warmest and most comfortable habitation possible, and 
will doubtless be largely requisitioned for their use. Our 
own men can bear full testimony to their comfort in cold 
weather, and I only trust that we shall find ourselves as 
well housed this year as we were last, should it be our fate 
to spend another winter up here. Our tents, after all they 
have gone through, are little calculated to bear the stress of 
fresh winter-storms, and we have no longer Panjdeh to draw 
on for kibitkas. 

From Panjdeh there is little news. The Eussians are 
still encamped at Kizil Tepe, and have hitherto so far 
observed the neutrality of Panjdeh, that they have not 
allowed their troops to cross the Kushk and enter the 
habitations. A Sarik to whom I was talking the other 
day amused me by his contempt of the Eussian currency. 
Not like us, he said, who paid for our supplies in solid 
cash, the Eussians had not a coin amongst them. Their 



SIGNING OF THE PROTOCOL PEACE DECLARED. 47 

only money was paper, and paper he seemed to think of 
small account. The paper rouble here goes by the name 
of manat, and though it ought to be worth 3J krans, it 
actually is only worth 3 Jcrans (2J Jerans = ouG rupee). 

I have been rather amused, too, of late, to see some of the 
extracts from Indian native papers extolling Eussian rule as 
evidenced by their promotion of native officers to high com- 
mands as, for instance, of Ali Khan to be governor of Merv, 
and the late Iwaz Khan to be hakim of Panjdeh. Could 
the editors of those native papers see the real state of affairs, 
they would probably tell a very different tale. No revenue 
is at present taken from either Merv or Panjdeh, and will 
not be taken, I believe, for the next seven years ; but sup- 
posing revenue were taken, the entire population of Merv 
and Yulatan combined does not come up to 50,000 houses, 
and the revenue at the outside would hardly amount to 
Es. 80,000 a charge not equal to that of the smallest 
tahsil in our districts. Ali Khan is a man who has been 
educated at St Petersburg, and, though a Mussalman, is a 
European officer; and yet, despite the high-sounding title 
of Governor of Merv, his pay, I am told, is only Es. 300 
a -month, equal to that of the lowest grade of Extra As- 
sistant Commissioner in the British service, and he is the 
one man in the Eussian service who has risen to such a 
high position, while we have hundreds in the British service, 
some of them drawing double and treble his pay, with far 
greater charges and responsibilities. Again, take Husain 
Khan, the present, or Iwaz Khan, the late, governor of 
Panjdeh: their pay was fixed at Es. 120 a-month, not 
even equal to that of an officiating tahsildar in our service. 
Panjdeh is simply a settlement of some 9000 houses, pay- 
ing no revenue at present, and at the best with only a 
revenue of some Es. 15,000 or Es. 16,000. I should be 
very sorry for the Indian tahsildar who changed his lot with 
Husain Khan to become hakim of Panjdeh. The tahsildar 



48 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

in our service has a career of promotion before him. Husain 
Khan has no hopes of promotion, and in all probability will 
be thrust aside as soon as his day is over. 

Of our life in camp I have little news to tell. The In- 
fantry Escort and Heavy camp, comprising Major Meiklejohn, 
Major Kind, Captain Durand, Captain Cotton, Lieutenant 
Eawlins, and Dr Charles, are still encamped at Kiliki, in 
the Doshakh range. Captain Gore is away again survey- 
ing on the Persian frontier. Sir West Eidgeway and Major 
Holdich returned to the Cavalry camp here on the 9th ; and 
Captain Talbot and Mr Merk have started off again on a 
trip to the Taimani country, to the south-east of Herat, 
hitherto utterly unexplored. Major Holdich, Captain Pea- 
cocke, Captain Heath, and myself, start to-morrow on a 
fresh visit to Herat to inspect the progress of the fortifica- 
tions. Major Bax and Lieutenant Wright are away on 
a trip to Mashhad, having taken advantage of the escort 
of a convoy proceeding to Mashhad for treasure under the 
charge of Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan. Sirdar Sher 
Ahmed Khan is still at Bala Murghab, and Kazi Muhammad 
Aslam at Herat. Subadar Muhammad Husain accompanies 
Captain Talbot to the Taimani country, and possibly up to 
Balkh. Mr Finn and Dr Weir have completed their trip 
along the Persian frontier, and the former has now rejoined 
his own appointment as consul at Eesht. Jemadar Amir 
Muhammad, of the llth Bengal Lancers, who has been out 
prospecting the country north of the passes, reports that the 
Afghan cavalry horses have eaten up all the grass at the 
Band-i-Baba, but that there is still a good supply to the north 
of the Ardewan pass. The weather is getting so cool now, 
though, that we no longer hanker after summer-quarters. 

A convoy of some thousands of breech-loading rifles has 
been sent down from Kabul to Herat by the Amir for the 
armament of the troops in garrison there a most welcome 
addition to their strength. The heavy guns, too, from 



SIGNING OF THE PROTOCOL PEACE DECLARED. 49 

Chaman, are well on their way past Girishk, the number of 
yokes of bullocks said to have been requisitioned to drag 
them being something fabulous. 

Eumour has it that there is a great scarcity of grain in 
Kandahar this year, but I do not know with what truth. 
Here, in the Herat district, the supply is plentiful ; but the 
villagers are all unwilling to sell, still firmly adhering to the 
belief that a British force is coming up, and that they will 
get better prices hereafter. I only hope that they will. 



D 



50 



CHAPTER V. 

LIFE AT KUHSAN REDUCTION OF THE ESCORT. 

CAMP KUHSAN, 28th September 1885. 

ALL the Mission is now once more concentrated at Kuhsan, 
in readiness to meet the Eussians on their arrival. Ten 
months ago we all met here once before, fully expecting then 
as now to meet the Eussians without further delay, and 
knowing just as little then as we do now what is before us. 
Now, as then, our minds are occupied with the thought of 
how we can best entertain the Eussian Commission, and this 
time we can but trust our preparations will not be all in vain. 
The weather has become much cooler since last I wrote, 
and is even cold in fact. Flannel and serge have taken the 
place of khaki in the day-time, and greatcoats are even 
coming into use again for dinner. The way in which the 
cold wind finds one out through all the partitions of a tent 
is something only to be learnt by experience. Indian tents 
are a poor protection against the winds of these parts. My 
own tent, for instance, a small Kashmir Swiss cottage, has 
the kanats laced on to the fly, and is also laced up at the 
corners. In India I should not notice that it was not all 
one piece ; here, unless I sew the divisions all up, I am 
reminded of it every minute. Even as I now write, the 
paper I am writing on is being blown all over the tent, and 
I have to put on my thickest coat to keep warm. Luckily 
we have an unlimited supply of wood close to hand in the 



LIFE AT KUHSAN. 51 

jungle in the bed of the river, and I see our men busy 
carrying in great logs in all directions. 

Nothing has been settled yet regarding our winter- 
quarters : our plans even are not yet fixed ; but it is certain 
that the whole of the frontier cannot be demarcated this 
autumn, and that we must make up our minds to winter 
somewhere here. Captains Peacocke, Heath, and myself 
start to-morrow to inspect and report upon the suitability of 
the old robats or caravanserais here and at Kafir Kilah for 
winter- quarters, but it is doubtful if they will be found large 
enough to house the entire Mission. Last year the men 
were most comfortably housed in the Turkoman felt Jcibitkas ; 
but now, alas ! we have no longer the Turkomans to draw 
upon, and this year the Panjdeh Jcibitkas are destined to house 
the Eussian, not the British, soldier. 

Kuhsan, I should mention, is the last inhabited place in 
this the north-west corner of Afghanistan. Kafir Kilah, 
some 8 miles 'beyond, is not a village, simply a frontier post 
on the Persian border guarding the highroad to Mashhad. 
Toman Agha, about 12 miles lower down the river, is en- 
tirely uninhabited, and so is all the country down to Zulfikar, 
some 60 miles beyond. 

We have not heard yet that the Eussian troops have 
evacuated the Zulfikar pass, of which they have held pos- 
session so long, but presumably they will do so before the 
Commissioners meet. The Escort on either side is to be 
limited to 100 men ; consequently the bulk of our small 
party will have to remain here, or in some other equally 
convenient place, during the demarcation. 

Sir West Eidgeway starts for Mashhad early next month, 
in order to be close to the telegraph office, and thus avoid 
all unnecessary delay in the final arrangements. 

Captains Maitland and the Hon. M. Talbot are to meet 
at Daulatyar on the 6th, and proceed together on a sur- 
veying tour up to Bamian and Balkh ; with them also is 



52 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Subadar Muhammad Husain of the 2d Sikhs, who, being the 
son of a Hazarah chief himself, will be of much assistance 
in traversing the Hazarahjat and the country of the Shaikh 
Ali Hazarahs beyond. 

Talking of the Hazarahjat, Ibrahim Khan, the Assistant 
District Superintendent of Police at Peshawar, our last 
joined native attach^, tells us that the road from Kabul 
through the Hazarahjat is now in first-rate order ; and the 
fact that a large camel convoy of breech-loading rifles and 
ammunition has just come through by that road from Kabul, 
is proof of itself that the road is passable for anything but 
wheeled artillery. 

CAMP KUHSAN, 12<A October 1885. 

Sir West Eidgeway left us on the 1st and arrived at 
Mashhad on the 7th, where the final arrangements regarding 
the meeting of the Commissions are being settled. The 
telegraph line, though, between Teheran and Mashhad, is 
down again as usual, we hear, and this will delay work con- 
siderably. Dr Owen and Captain de Laessoe are with Sir 
West Kidgeway at Mashhad, also Mirza Hasan Ali Khan. 
We in camp here are principally concerned in finding some 
suitable position for our winter-quarters, in case we have to 
pass the winter in the Herat valley. The winter hereabouts 
is said to be much colder than at Bala Murghab, where we 
wintered last year, and the wind very severe. At Bala 
Murghab we enjoyed a dry still cold, which invigorated and 
did not distress us. Here, they say, the wind blows in a 
perfect hurricane up the valley for on an average of about 
two days in the week ; and when we think of what we suffered 
from the wind the day we first arrived here in November 
last, we have some idea of what we may have to endure in 
January and February next. If we have to stay here, 
the first thing to see to is the supply of wood, and to 
get this we must be somewhere at this the western end of 
the Herat valley. Higher up the river the jungle in the 



LIFE AT KUHSAN. 53 

river-bed ceases, whereas here the supply is unlimited, and 
to be had in any quantity simply for the cutting in fact, 
without cutting, as the drift-wood alone will last us yet 
many a day. Ghorian has been proposed as a good site, but 
there seems to be some objection on the part of the Amir's 
officials to our wintering there, and the supply of wood is 
short. However, Major Holdich, Major Meiklejohn, Mr 
Merk, and Lieutenant Drummond start to-day to inspect it 
on their way to Herat, and the question of its suitability or 
otherwise will soon be settled. The present idea is that 
Kuhsan promises best, as there are a lot of walled fields 
around the village, which would of themselves give a certain 
amount of shelter from the wind, and in which, with the help 
of the wood close at hand, the men might be able to hut 
themselves without much difficulty. 

The Kuhsan robat is very dilapidated, but with some repair 
might take in a couple of hundred men or so, and the re- 
mainder would have to hut themselves around. The Kafir 
Kilah robot is better, but it is out of the way. These robats 
are all large buildings of burnt bricks, some 60 or 70 yards 
square, with a double row of domed corridors all round, and 
an open courtyard in the centre. In olden days this must 
have given grand shelter; now they are mostly in ruins. 
Khush robat, I remember, was exceptionally large, and looked 
big enough at first sight to shelter a brigade, but the accumu- 
lated filth of ages made it quite unfit for habitation. 

There is a ruined old place called the Citadel here, sur- 
rounded by a moat and garrisoned by a company of Khasadars 
or Afghan irregulars ; but it is all in ruins, and very dirty, 
and not enough shelter even for the hundred men now in it. 
These Khasadars are all men from the Logar valley, pleasant 
and civil when we visit them, and with the same innate 
craving that I have noticed amongst the Afghan troops else- 
where for some sort of uniform. Time after time has the 
Afghan sepoy expressed to me his wish that the Amir would 



54 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

give him a uniform ; and the wish, I must say, does honour 
to the man, and shows that he has some real soldierly feeling 
in him. Happy is the Afghan who can swagger about in 
the British soldier's red tunic, and marvellous is the variety 
of counties one sees on the shoulders of the soldiers in Herat. 
Where they all get the tunics from is the mystery, as I 
believe all these red coats are the private property of the 
men themselves, not served out by the Amir. The demand 
for them is doubtless very brisk on the frontier something 
like the demand round our camp here for ammunition-boots. 
Why the Afghans of all ranks have such a fancy for am- 
munition-boots I cannot say ; but so it is, and half the men 
one meets are wearing them. A boot that in India costs 
about Es. 4 or 5, is sold here easily for Ks. 10 and even Es. 
12 ; and a large trade could be done in them at that price, 
I have little doubt. 

Well, to return to the Khasadars in the Kuhsan fort. 
When Majors Bax, Meiklejohn, and Eind, Dr Charles, and 
myself were inspecting the old fort a few nights ago, the 
Sad Bashi or commandant turned out a guard of honour 
that showed to the full the different ideas of the men regard- 
ing uniform. Each man had got himself up in his best, and 
never shall I forget one man, apparently a would-be High- 
lander, who grinned with delight whenever his get-up 
attracted attention. His kilt consisted of a piece of the 
checked cloth in red-and-blue squares woven hereabouts, put 
round his waist like a towel, over a pair of loose, baggy, 
white trousers ; a barak coat, if I remember right ; and a 
hat that was the pride of his life something like a broken 
mushroom-shaped topee covered with bright red cloth, and 
with a white band round it. He was a cheery, good-tem- 
pered fellow, and long may he live to wear it. Poor 
Khasadars ! they have a hard time of it quartered indefinitely 
in some out-of-the-way place like this, far from their homes, 
without the slightest chance of relief. There are fifty more 



LIFE AT KUHSAN. 55 

in the robat at Kafir Kilah, some 6 miles farther on, watch- 
ing the highroad through there to Mashhad. The Persian 
border commences at a small nullah some few miles beyond, 
and the strictest watch is kept on all passers-by, and all 
suspicious characters are arrested. The Afghan authorities 
are most particular, and no one is allowed to cross the fron- 
tier who cannot satisfactorily account for himself. All sorts 
of people, I believe, turn up German-speaking Jews, Per- 
sian-speaking Turks, and many others, all generally on the 
search, they say, for some long-lost relation who was heard 
of last in Herat, but all equally ignorant of their relation's 
present whereabouts. Some doubtless get through, but the 
majority, I fancy, are stopped and turned back. 

At Kafir Kilah, in addition to the great big robat, there 
are the remains of the old fort that gives the name to the 
place. Who the Kafir was that built the fort I cannot say, 
but nothing now remains except a flat-topped mound some 
100 yards in length and slightly less in breadth, with the 
remains of bastions at the angles, and covered as usual with 
broken pottery and porcelain of fine make and design. From 
the inscription carved on some small marble-slabs in the wall 
over the doorway, it would appear that the robat was built 
in the year A.H. 1037, or A.D. 1628. 

Many were the hopes indulged that a 1st of October at 
Toman Agha would produce a good bag of pheasants ; but, 
alas ! all were doomed to disappointment. Captains Durand, 
Peacocke, and Heath, Lieutenant Eawlins and myself, were 
all out there, but to little purpose : the jungle was so thick 
that it was impossible to get through it, and the pheasants, if 
they were there, were safe inside it. Curiously enough, few 
hens or young birds were seen. Old cocks were found here 
and there on the edge of the jungle, and a few hens, but only 
one or two young birds, and they were very small hardly 
bigger than partridges. Possibly the hens are still with 
their broods in the thick jungle. Large flocks of "coolen," 



56 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

or kulang as they are here called, are daily seen wending 
their way south, doubtless on the road to India, with now 
and then a flock of pelicans in their wake, while the duck 
are getting more and more plentiful every day. Chakor 
swarm in the river-bed, -and afford capital shooting. A pack 
of a hundred or more will be seen darting off into the jungle, 
and once marked down, can be put up a few at a time, 
giving grand sport. Partridge for breakfast is therefore a 
regular standing dish now in camp. We get two kinds of 
sand-grouse, the common imperial or black-breasted grouse, 
and a white -breasted pintail variety slightly smaller: the 
former, though, are the best eating, and the young birds 
excellent. 

Captains Maitland and the Hon. M. G. Talbot are now 
past Daulatyar, and well away on their journey through 
the Hazarahjat to Bamian and Balkh, a grand trip through 
utterly unexplored country. Mr Merk left Captain Talbot 
in the Taimani country, and rejoined camp on the 1st, after 
a pleasant three weeks' outing through country hitherto 
visited only by Terrier, and his account of it seems to 
have been incorrectly recorded. On the 4th, Major Bax and 
Lieutenant Wright arrived back from Mashhad, where they 
spent a pleasant week, and were most hospitably entertained, 
Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali Khan's Persian cook having amply 
demonstrated the merits of Persian cookery. The Prince 
Governor of Mashhad entertained them and Dr Aitchison at 
dinner. Asaf-ud-Daulah, the Governor- General of Khorasan, 
also received them most cordially, and not only entertained 
them with an endless variety of chocolates and sherbets at 
his reception, but held a review of all the Persian troops 
in Mashhad in their honour. Some 1500 cavalry and about 
1000 infantry, all told, marched past, the cavalry all ir- 
regulars, with the exception of one regiment of Khorasanis. 
All Mashhad was at the review, and all the Persians turned 
out in full dress. At the special request of the Asaf-ud- 



REDUCTION OF THE ESCORT. 57 

Daulah, the treasure-guard of twenty-five men of the llth 
Bengal Lancers, under Eessaldar Muhammad Akram Khan, 
then in Mashhad, also paraded and marched past, and went 
through the lance exercise, a charge, and a few other 
manoeuvres, which elicited great commendation. We can 
only trust that it is not the last time that British troops will 
parade with the Persian in friendly rivalry, or with the 
Afghan either. Major Bax and Lieutenant Wright returned 
vid Turbat-i-Haidari and Khaf, thus seeing a good bit of 
new country. 

Captains Durand and Peacocke and Lieutenant Eawlins 
are away examining the road through the Mhalsheni pass, 
through which the Demarcation party expect to march very 
shortly on their way to meet the Eussian Commission at 
Zulfikar. Captain Peacocke proceeds direct through the 
Ardewan pass to meet Major Holdich at Herat, for pro- 
bably a final inspection of the fortifications. The works 
now in progress are mostly completed, and the construction 
of the remainder will depend a good deal on the future policy 
of the Government. 

CAMP KUHSAN, 27th October 1885. 

Sir West Eidgeway returned from Mashhad yesterday, 
and the uncertainty in which we have all been kept for the 
past fortnight is now partially put at rest by the final orders 
regarding the reduction of the Mission. The Escort of the 
Demarcation party, not to exceed in number 100 men for 
duty, as agreed upon by the two Governments at home, will 
be furnished by the llth Bengal Lancers under the com- 
mand of Major Bax and Lieutenant Drummond. Another 
party of some 60 men of the 20th Panjab Infantry may 
also possibly remain under the command of Captain Cotton 
to escort the treasure and surplus stores to our winter- 
quarters at Maimanah, Shibarghan, Balkh, or whatever 
place may eventually be fixed upon. 

All the rest of the Escort return to India, but by what 



58 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

route is not yet settled. Various routes are open viz., 
through Seistan and Baluchistan, down to Gwadar ; or across 
the desert to Nushki, by the road we came this time last 
year ; or direct down the highroad through Farah, Girishk, 
and Kandahar; or finally, through Bamian and Kabul, or 
rather Ghorband and Charikar, to Peshawar. What the 
decision of Government will be is yet unknown. Several 
officers will also return, and the Mission will be reduced as 
much as possible with regard to the work that still lies 
before it. 

A Committee composed of Major Bax, Major Eind, and 
myself, has been busy for some days past considering what 
reductions could best be carried out, and everything has 
been arranged so far as is possible without final orders on 
the subject. 

The camp has been very quiet of late, and there has been 
little to talk about beyond reductions, with the exception of 
the experiences of the various members out pig-sticking. 
Pig, I may mention, swarm in the thick tamarisk-jungle of 
the river-bed, and some were seen daily by those out shoot- 
ing. At last it was determined to try if, after all, numbers 
could not succeed in driving them out into the open. The 
first attempt was made one afternoon by a beat up the river. 
The men of the 20th Panjab Infantry, with every huge 
Afghan and every other sort of dog that could be mustered 
in camp and their name is legion turning out to beat. 
One pig was eventually driven out and run for some dis- 
tance; but the great feature of the day's sport was the 
charge of a whole sounder of pig across the river right into 
the main body of the hunt. Some pig had been run and 
lost, and almost all, both horse- and foot- men, had collected 
on the banks of the river preparatory to a fresh start, when, 
all of a sudden, a hoorush was heard, and a whole sounder 
swept down the opposite bank pursued by one or two stray 
horsemen, and, boldly plunging into the river, swam straight 



REDUCTION OF THE ESCORT. 59 

for the assembled crowd. Such a gallop and such a rush 
there was along the bank to meet them, and then a curious 
sight was seen. On the top of the bank were officers and 
sowars on horseback, some with spears and swords, some 
with revolvers, sepoys with sticks and stones, orderlies with 
guns and rifles, dooliwalas and followers of every description, 
and dogs of every breed, and yet, nothing daunted, on came 
the pig, swimming gallantly, and headed by a fine old boar, 
whose wicked little eyes and glistening tusks were about the 
only part of him visible, and not paying the slightest atten- 
tion to the discharge of rifles, revolvers, or stones. The 
Commissariat Babu, I may mention, figured prominently 
with a revolver on horseback. Up came the pig to the 
bank, the old boar made straight for the nearest dog, rolled 
him over, and charging right into the middle of the crowd, 
went through them all, and vanished unscathed into the 
jungle behind, followed by the whole of his family. When 
all had gone and we looked round to count the spoil, nothing 
remained but a poor little pig shot by an orderly with his 
officer's rifle. So much for the Herati pig. 

The second day down the river afforded a run and a kill ; 
but the jungle was too thick to get the pig thoroughly out, 
and the best fun was the new experience we had of shooting 
pheasants off horseback. 

Orders have already been issued to stock the road from 
here vid Bala Murghab and Maimanah to Balkh with sup- 
plies, and Sirdar Sher Ahmed Khan goes on to Maimanah in 
advance to prepare the way. Sirdar Muhammad Ishak Khan 
and the Wali of Maimanah both wrote some time ago to say 
that they had received orders from the Amir to prepare for 
our arrival, and asking what amount of supplies we should 
require. Our party this winter will be a difficult one to 
feed, owing to the large number of Persian mules we have, in 
addition to all our Indian animals. The daily consumption 
of barley is consequently a serious item ; but so long as we 



60 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

get into winter-quarters in time to collect sufficient grain 
before the severe weather sets in, we shall have no particular 
difficulty in feeding ourselves. Afghan Turkistan is an un- 
known country to us as yet, and we are all anxious for a 
new field. 

There is no particular news from the border, with the 
exception that the Eussian troops have evacuated Panjdeh, 
and have gone back to Aimakjar and Hazrat Imam, lower 
down the Murghab, and half-way to Merv. The climate and 
ground are said to be better there, and the troops will prob- 
ably be permanently located at those places in preference to 
Panjdeh. There is no news of the withdrawal of the Eus- 
sian troops at present in occupation of the Zulfikar pass, but 
as the Escorts are to be limited to 1 men a side, it is pre- 
sumed they will be withdrawn before the Commissions meet. 
Major Durand, Captain Peacocke, and Lieutenant Eawlins, 
when out the other day, fixed the marches for the Demar- 
cation party down along the Hari Eud valley from here to 
Zulfikar, and found a good site for the camp a little to the 
south of the pass, where the party will wait for Sir West 
Eidgeway to rejoin them from Herat. It is not known yet on 
what day the Eussian Commissioner will arrive ; but the two 
months allowed by the protocol expire on the 10th Novem- 
ber, and it is hoped he will be up to date. 



61 



CHAPTER VI. 

FINAL VISIT TO HERAT. 

CAMP KAREZ ELIAS, 8th November 1885. 

THE principal event of the last ten days has been the visit 
of Sir West Eidgeway to Herat to inspect the fortifications. 
The Afghan authorities have hitherto invariably opposed 
any visit of the Commissioner to Herat, either fearing that 
such a visit would make the people think that the province 
was after all to be really ceded to the British Government, 
or for some other inscrutable reason best known to them- 
selves; but the Government of India, taking matters into 
their own hands, soon impressed on the Amir the necessity 
of issuing special orders for the reception of Sir West Ridge- 
way with all honours. The time was short, and a visit to 
Herat, just when the Commission had to be starting for 
Zulfikar, very inconvenient ; but all details for future 
arrangements having been settled during the short stay at 
Kuhsan on the 27th and 28th ultimo, Sir West marched 
for Herat on the morning of the 29th, leaving orders for the 
Demarcation party, consisting of Majors Bax, Holdich, and 
Durand, Captain Gore, Lieutenant Drummond, Ressaldar- 
Major Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, and the escort of 100 
lances of the llth Bengal Lancers, to march from Kuhsan 
on the 1st, and halt at Karez Elias, the most advanced 
Afghan frontier-post, some 10 miles above Zulfikar, while 
the remainder of the camp was to march on the 2d to 



62 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Mamezak, a village some 25 miles west of Herat, and then, 
as soon as the winter clothing, &c., was complete, proceed to 
Balkh, preparatory to a return to India vid the Shaikh Ali 
Hazarah country and the Ghorband pass to Charikar, and 
tEence down to Peshawar. 

This was the route selected by the Amir for the return 
of the Mission, and was said by him to be open all the year 
round. The latter point appeared at the time rather doubt- 
ful ; but to be prepared against all eventualities, Captain 
Maitland was directed by Sir West Eidgeway, when starting 
for Bamian nearly two months ago, to send on Subadar 
Muhammad Husain Khan, of the 2d Sikhs, from Bamian to 
explore that road ; and on his report the further march of 
the party beyond Balkh would probably have depended. A 
party of sixty men of the 20th Panjab Infantry, under Cap- 
tain Cotton, was to be left at Maimanah with stores and 
treasure, to await the arrival of the Demarcation party, 
when the settlement of the first portion of the frontier from 
Zulfikar to Maruchak had been completed. These arrange- 
ments, though, were all subsequently upset by special orders 
from the Government of India, countermanding the return 
of the party by the Ghorband route, and now the main 
camp is halted at Mamezak pending further orders. 

Our party to Herat with Sir West Eidgeway consisted of 
Captains Peacocke, Cotton, Griesbach, and De Laessoe, Mr 
Merk, Drs Owen and Charles, Lieutenants Wright, Eawlins, 
and Galindo, and myself, and an escort of half a troop of the 
llth Bengal Lancers. We marched the first day 22 miles 
to Eozanak, 25 miles the second day to Sangbast, and 18 
miles into Herat the third day, the 31st October. All sorts 
of difficulties regarding the Commissioner's reception were 
raised by the Afghan authorities, as usual; but Sir West 
stood firm, and eventually all went off well. 

The first man to greet us as we neared the city was 
Eessaldar - Major Bahaudin Khan, of the Central India 






FINAL VISIT TO HERAT. 63 

Horse, who for some little time past has been acting as 
British Agent in Herat. Shortly afterwards, Kustam Ali 
Khan, the Sipah Salar's brother, appeared, and then, about 
2 miles from the city, we were met by the Naib-ul- 
Hukumat, as the governor is styled, with all his following. 
We proceeded, escorted by him through the villages, till, 
emerging into open ground on the north-west of the city, we 
found a guard of honour of Afghan troops, consisting of a 
squadron of cavalry, a battery of artillery, and a battalion 
of infantry, drawn up in line, who presented arms and fired 
a salute as we passed. 

The Bagh-i-Karta, a garden to the south-east of the city, 
across the Karobar mdlali, was set apart for the Commis- 
sioner's use, and we all were encamped outside, as there was 
no room for tents within. The ride round the outside of 
the city to our quarters was a sight alone sufficient of itself 
to impress the new-comer with a sense of the strength of 
the place. The scarped ditch and the huge rampart, with 
its three lines of musketry-fire, one above the other, not to 
mention the outworks and redoubts, made one naturally feel 
that one would be sorry to have to assault such a place, 
and to express a hope that it may never be our fate to have 
to do so. We may legitimately hope to have a share in the 
defence, if the city is ever attacked, but never, I trust, will 
we allow it to fall into other hands, and so have to retake it. 

The 1st inst. was mostly taken up with ceremonial 
visits. In the morning Sir West Eidgeway, accompanied 
by all the British and Native officers, paid his visit to the 
governor and the Sipah Salar, or commander-in- chief to the 
former in his residence in the Chahar Bagh, and the latter 
in the old citadel, both of which places I have already de- 
scribed in former letters. The ceremonial at each was the 
same the trays of fruit and sweetmeats, the little cups of 
green tea handed round, and the usual giving of presents. 
The governor presented various webs of kurk and barak, the 



64 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

warm goat and camel-hair cloth of the country, with a few 
furs and silks, and a Turkoman horse and carpet, the latter 
of which was subsequently packed up for transmission to 
his Excellency the Viceroy. The Sipah Salar in his turn 
also presented a Turkoman horse and some more kicrk and 
barak. At the governor's were assembled all the local chiefs 
and celebrities, amongst them Ambia Khan, the chief of 
the Tairnanis, the Nizam-u'-Doulah, chief of the Hazarahs, 
Yalantush Khan, Jamshidi, the late governor of Panjdeh, 
who behaved so well at the time of the Eussian attack, and 
who himself had his horse shot and a bullet through his 
coat early that same morning. At the Sipah Salar's we 
found Generals Ghaus-ud-din and Allah Dad Khan, with 
various other brigadiers of artillery and colonels of regi- 
ments. 

In the afternoon, return visits were paid by the governor 
and Sipah Salar, when the same formalities were gone 
through again ; all the Afghan chiefs and officers were duly 
presented, and the usual presents, consisting of rifles, guns, 
pistols, watches, and a horse, were given in return. Glad 
enough we were when all ceremonial was at an end. 

Almost the whole of the 2d was spent by Sir West 
Eidgeway in the inspection of the fortifications. The 
Afghans and Heratis have, without doubt, proved themselves 
good workmen, and the way in which they have carried out 
Captain Peacocke's instructions shows what good material 
they have amongst them. There is every hope now that 
Herat will shortly be a really very strong place of defence, 
and long may it remain the bulwark of the British Indian 
Empire. 

On the morning of the 3d we said good-bye to all return- 
ing to join the main camp at Mamezak, and started off 
across Badghis to join the Demarcation party near Zulfikar. 
Our party consisted of Sir West Eidgeway, Captains Pea- 
cocke and De Laessoe, Mr Merk, Dr Owen, Kazi Muhammad 



FINAL VISIT TO HERAT. 65 

Aslam Khan, and myself, and our route was as fol- 
lows : 

Miles. 

3d. Kilah Mambar Bashi, on the Sinjou stream, . 20 

4th. Sang Kotal, . . . . . .17 

5th. Kara Bagh, . . . . . .16 

6th. Gulran, . . . . . .13 

7th. Kizil Bulak, . . . . . .20 

8th. KarezElias, ...... 12 

This route, I think, has already been mostly described ; 
suffice it to say, that during the first two marches, while on 
the south side of the mountains, we were much struck by 
the amount of fresh land taken up for cultivation since our 
last visit in the summer. Then the land was all waste : now, 
we found fresh little irrigation-channels cut in all directions, 
and men ploughing in almost every available spot ; the road, 
too, formerly a mere track, now a well-marked path, all 
signs of increased prosperity. There is not a doubt but that 
the money brought into the country by the presence of the 
Commission, and the expenditure on the fortifications, has 
given a great stimulus to trade of all sorts; and when so 
much can be done by the presence of a mere Mission, what 
could not be done with a British occupation ? 

As we marched out of Herat our road led us through the 
Musalla, the tall minarets of which are now alone standing ; 
the rest is simply a mass of dtbris, which a perfect army of 
donkeys is engaged in clearing away. Eiding up the Kamar 
Kalagh gorge, through the low hills to the north of the 
city, we passed an Afghan regiment at target practice. The 
practice, though, was hardly in accord with our theories on 
the subject. First of all, the butts, instead of being on the 
level, were well up the hillside ; secondly, the targets were 
only scarped banks of earth, coloured white, with a red 
patch in the centre, corresponding, I presume, to our bull's- 
eye ; and thirdly, there were no markers, and no one knew 
where his bullet hit. The men were marched out from the 

E 



66 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

ranks in squads of four, who all knelt or sat on the ground 
and fired one after the other, and then got up and gave 
place to another four. I sadly fear the Amir has not yet 
instituted such a thing as a prize for musketry, and marks- 
men, I should say, are quite unknown ; yet the material 
that these regiments are formed of is splendid, and under 
British officers would be fit for anything. The Afghan sol- 
dier, as a rule, is very poor, and cannot afford to join the 
cavalry; but I hope yet to see the day when the restrictions 
placed by the present Amir on his men enlisting in India 
will be abolished, and our frontier infantry regiments full 
of the men such as I have seen around me in Herat. So 
long as we have to campaign in countries like Afghanistan, 
so long must we get men able to stand the climate. The 
Afghan soldier is a sturdy fellow, who takes naturally to 
ammunition-boots, stockings, and puttees, wears any amount 
of warm clothes when he can get them, and is never so 
happy as in a British red tunic. The ordinary Hindustani 
in Afghanistan is out of place. His feet cannot accommo- 
date themselves to boots, and in cold and wet he is next to 
useless. He will take off his clothes to cook, and will divest 
himself of his trousers and go about with bare legs on the 
slightest provocation, and then neglect to put them on again 
at sundown, and next day finds himself ill in hospital. The 
wonderfully good health that all our men and followers on 
the Mission have enjoyed may be safely put down to the 
selection of so many Pathans for the escort, and to the lib- 
erality of Government, and stringent orders regarding the 
wearing of warm clothing by the others. For months past 
the daily number of men in hospital has only been about 
three or four; and this, out of a camp of some 1200 souls, 
speaks for itself a striking contrast to the sickness and 
mortality reported amongst the Eussians. The liberality of 
the Government of India in the way of free issues of warm 
clothing has amply repaid itself, and will, I trust, form a 



FINAL VISIT TO HERAT. 67 

precedent for future expeditions. Nothing in India can 
compare for warmth with the barak cloth made in the Herat 
districts, with which our men are now all clothed. The 
blanketing coats and trousers served out to us on leaving 
India were no protection at all against the real cold of these 
parts, and wore out in no time ; whereas the barak suit made 
here costs little more, wears double and treble the time, and 
keeps out the cold in a manner that no other cloth that I 
know of can equal. The supply of barak unfortunately 
would not equal the demand, had we any great number of 
men to clothe ; but with an ensured demand there is little 
doubt but that the supply would be largely increased, and 
I can think of nothing better than the establishment of a 
regular Government agency in Herat for the purchase of 
barak for the clothing required to be kept in stock for the 
equipment of the first army-corps that may be ordered on 
service up here. The troops like barak clothing and look 
well in it, and any little extra cost in the price is more than 
covered by the money which was wasted in the issue to our 
men, with the so-called Indian -made warm clothing, of 
flannel waist-belts and chest-protectors, neither of which were 
appreciated or understood, and were rarely or never worn, 
whereas a double-breasted barak coat answers every purpose. 
At Sang Kotal we camped for the night at the southern 
side of the hills, and crossed the pass the next morning. 
The rise from the south is very gradual and the ascent 
trifling ; but there is a short but steep descent on the nor- 
thern side, and then the road winds gradually out on to the 
downs of Badghis the last hill, as a matter of course, being 
crowned by the usual Turkoman watch-tower, now fortun- 
ately no longer required. Much has been written about the 
fertility of Badghis, yet I could not but be surprised at the 
amount of water we saw, whilst the ruins of old forts, old 
karezes, and old irrigation-channels show how well cultivated 
this district was in olden days. Now all is a waste. We 



68 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

have ridden across it from south-west to north-east, and 
with the exception of the Afghan outposts and a few shep- 
herds, there is not a human being to be seen. Imagine a 
succession of rolling clowns of alluvial soil, covered in most 
places at this time of the year with dried grass, large leafy 
sorts of thistles, and perfect forests of asafcetida plants ; 
the hollows, where there is water, full of thick reeds and 
bulrushes, arid every few miles or so a mound marking the 
site of some old fort. An old ruined robat or caravanserai 
half-way between Sang Kotal and Kara Bagh, called Kobat- 
i-Sargardan, and another at Gulran, show of themselves what 
traffic there used to be along this road. Kara Bagh, with 
its mound marking the site of the old fort with a well at 
the top, has already been described. At Gulran there is 
the ruin of an old mud-fort, the ditch of which is some 
150 yards square, with an outer line of walls, now simply 
a mound, 30 feet above it, and the old keep, a square 
building about 30 yards across, above that again in the 
centre of all. Who it belonged to who can tell ? Captain 
de Laessoe tried his best to decipher some of the inscriptions 
on the tombstones at the Ziarat-i-Baba Turk, a few miles 
west of Kara Bagh, but the graves appeared to be mostly 
those of Persians. The number of graveyards all over these 
downs is extraordinary, and shows how thickly populated 
the country must have been. Even at Kizil Bulak, so 
named from a small spring which bubbles up at the foot of 
some reddish-coloured rocks, and loses itself again within 
100 yards, there is still the inevitable graveyard on the top 
of the mounds above. To the north of Kizil Bulak the 
character of the country changes from the rolling downs to 
rocky scarps, all facing west towards the Hari Eud, and 
covered every here and there with pistachio-trees, or rather 
bushes, for they are rarely more than 15 feet in height. 
Curiously enough, some large hawk chooses these small trees 
in which to build a huge nest of twigs and branches a 



FINAL VISIT TO HERAT. 69 

great mass of sticks two and three feet in diameter, visible 
from any distance and yet I have never been able to 
find out for certain what the bird is. We passed several 
of these old nests by the roadside on the march to Kizil 
Bulak ; and as I myself saw them here early last spring, 
before the birds had begun to build, I can only conclude 
they are the relics of olden days, when these downs knew 
not the sight of man. 

The weather for our march has been splendid, slightly 
better than we expected ; but still I have worn a waist- 
coat and a cardigan all day in the sun under my coat 
without feeling it at all too hot. The air on the downs 
is fresh and clear, and in the shade of a tent simply 
delicious. Not that it is always so ; in many places we 
saw the marks of perfect hurricanes of wind, in huge 
masses of sticks and stalks, of thistles and shrubs of all 
kinds, which had evidently been blown for miles across the 
downs, gathering bulk as they went, like a snowball, till 
finally brought to rest at the bottom of some hollow. At 
other places, for some 200 or 300 yards in width, a 
clean sweep had been made of the asafoetida-stalks, which 
were all lying flat on the ground with their heads to the 
south. Talking of asafcetida, I should mention that we 
found some hundreds of powindalis, the camel-carriers of 
Afghanistan, encamped outside the Kandahar gate at Herat, 
all engaged, they told us, in the transport of asafcetida to 
India for sale. Were the trade properly fostered, there is 
little doubt that it would be highly remunerative. Now I 
must close. A letter has just been received by Sir West 
Ridgeway from Colonel Kuhlberg, the Russian Commissioner, 
stating simply that he will be up to time. According to our 
reading, time is up on the 10th ; but so far as we know, the 
Russian troops have not yet evacuated the Zulfikar pass 
an essential preliminary to peaceful negotiations. However, 
I will be able to tell more on this subject in my next. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 

CAMP ZULFIKAB, IQth November 1885. 

THE Commissioners have met at last, though not the Com- 
missions, and we have now a prospect of some work before 
us once more. 

We arrived here to-day from Karez Elias ; and our Rus- 
sian interpreter, an Armenian from Tabriz, named Anani- 
antz, who has joined us from the British Legation at Teheran, 
was at once sent over to the Russian camp, and returned with 
the news that the Commissioner himself had arrived, but that 
the other members of the Commission would not be here for 
some days. Sir West Ridgeway, on hearing this, rode over 
to the Russian camp to pay Colonel Kuhlberg a private visit ; 
and thus I can tell you the Commissioners have met, but 
not the Commissions. M. Lessar arrived in the course of 
the afternoon, and the remaining members, it is supposed, 
will turn up shortly. 

We are now a party of fourteen, all told, in camp 
namely, Sir West Ridgeway, Majors Bax, Holdich, and Du- 
rand ; Captains Peacocke, Gore, and De Laessoe ; Mr Merk, 
Dr Owen, and Lieutenant Drummond ; Ressaldar - Majors 
Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, Kazi Muhammad A slam 
Khan, Khan Baba Khan, and myself. Mr Merk and Khan 
Baba Khan leave in a day or two to join the main camp at 
Mamezak, where the remainder of the Mission are still await- 



THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 71 

ing final orders regarding the route they are to take on 
their return to India. 

My last letter told of our arrival at Karez Elias on 
our return from Herat. Karez Elias, hitherto important 
only as the most advanced post in Afghan occupation, is 
simply a little hollow in a ravine, with a small marsh at the 
bottom of it the site, I presume, of some ancient Jcarez. 
Our supplies are stored at Ab-i-Charmi three wells of 
fresh water some three miles to the east ; another depot is 
at Gulran, and a third at Maruchak ; and the task of collect- 
ing all these supplies in such a country as this, without a 
habitation within 60 miles, has been no slight joke. Our 
camp, much as it has been reduced, still numbers some 
600 men, including servants, Persian muleteers, and every- 
body, with nearly 900 animals, horses, ponies, and mules. 
We are all equipped with mule-carriage ; and pleasant though 
it is to have our baggage up so quickly, still the feeding of 
so many mules is a serious drain on the commissariat. The 
big Persian mules all take their four seers of barley apiece 
every day, and cannot do with less, their owners say, despite 
the idea we have that the mule is a hardy animal that can 
pick up a livelihood anywhere, like a donkey on thistles, 
and thrive on it too. Camel-carriage, though very cum- 
bersome, is doubtless much more suited to this country. 
Camel-grazing is procurable everywhere; and if ever we 
have a campaign in these parts, there is no doubt but that 
the mule-carriage will have to be limited strictly to the 
movable column, leaving the baggage of the remainder and 
all stores to be brought up on camels, owing to the difficulty 
that will be experienced in providing grain. Here, with us, 
camels have to be employed in bringing up the grain with 
which to feed the mules a thing that would be next to 
impossible were we on active service. The supply of camels 
seems almost unlimited, and we are inundated with offers of 
camels for hire from all quarters. The liberal hire that had 



72 NORTHEKN AFGHANISTAN. 

to be given when the Mission was started from Quetta has 
drawn men from all sides in the hopes of employment ; and 
we have now a mixture of Persian, Afghan, Seistani, Herati, 
Turkoman, and Usbeg camel-men about our camp, one and 
all willing to engage to bring just as many more camels as 
ever we want. Alas for their hopes ! we are reducing, not 
increasing, our numbers. Our pay may have been high, as 
local rates go, but still it has had a capital effect on the 
country generally, and no doubt greatly added to the diffi- 
culties the Russians experienced in procuring transport at 
the time when war seemed imminent. Everything now is 
so quiet and friendly that we can hardly believe that scarcely 
three months have elapsed since war seemed merely a ques- 
tion of hours, or that our thoughts, now centred on entertain- 
ing our Russian guests, were then solely bent on defending 
Herat to the best of our power against their assault. 

On arrival at Karez Elias on the 8th, we found that Major 
Holdich and Captain Gore were both away in the hills fix- 
ing their points for the survey before them, and they were 
fortunate in having a clear day. Yesterday and to-day have 
been both raw cold days, with a bitter north wind, and the 
clouds hugging the tops of the hills in a persistent manner 
that put all hopes of survey work out of the question. A 
change of the wind to the south, though, bids fair to put all 
clear again. 

Yesterday, Major Durand, Captains Peacocke and De 
Laessoe, and Ressaldar-Major Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, 
with the camp colour -party, moved on to Zulfikar, to open 
communications with the Russians and select our camping- 
ground. On arrival they rode up to the Russian camp, and 
found no one there but a couple of Cossack officers with 
a small party of Cossacks and some five-and-twenty infantry. 
Neither of these officers could speak either French or 
German, or anything but Russian, and communication could 
only be carried on through a Turki interpreter of theirs who 



THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 73 

spoke a little Persian. Colonel Kuhlberg had not arrived, 
but was expected, they said, though they knew nothing of his 
movements. The Russians, men and officers, were all living 
in huts, sunk some four feet into the ground, slightly walled 
round at the top, and roofed with reeds plastered over with 
mud, sloping on either side from a ridge-pole in the centre. 
There was not a tent in the whole camp. The Eussian 
soldiers are described as diminutive little fellows, who came 
popping up out of these holes of huts, most of them badly 
dressed, but very respectful and careful about saluting. 
The Eussian officers invited our party into an empty hut, 
and were kind in offering anything they had that could be 
of use. A site for the camp was afterwards selected near 
the river, about a mile south of the Eussians, into which we 
all marched this afternoon : the day was so cold and cloudy 
that we did not start till 10 A.M. 

Uth November 1885. 

The Commission is now engaged on its first meeting here 
in our mess -tent. But to continue the narrative from 
yesterday. Sir West Eidgeway, on arrival at the Eussian 
camp, was met by Colonel Kuhlberg, who came out to meet 
him directly he heard who was coming, and received him 
most civilly, while, to make up for the want of ceremony at 
meeting, a Cossack guard of honour was waiting to salute 
him on his departure. M. Lessar had also just arrived, 
having ridden in from Pul-i-Khatun, but was not well and 
did not appear. Colonel Kuhlberg readily accepted Sir 
West's invitation to dinner, and we all had an opportunity of 
thus pleasantly making each other's acquaintance. English 
was spoken at dinner throughout, and Colonel Kuhlberg 
seems quite at home in it He told us that his party 
would number fifteen officers altogether, besides subordinates, 
and that he had with him 140 men of his escort, besides 
irregulars, postal sowars, &c. No objection, of course, is 



74 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

raised to this on either side, as we have the same difficulty 
to contend with ; and were our escort to be cut down to 1 
lances all told, including non-commissioned officers, trum- 
peters, farriers, orderlies, police, and everybody, the sentry- 
duty would be so heavy that the poor men would hardly 
get a single night in bed. As it is, we have only 94 men 
for duty. In addition to our escort, there is also Kazi 
Saad-ud-Din and all his Afghan sowars to be counted in too, 
a goodly band of themselves, but necessary for postal and 
other arrangements. Seven of the fifteen Russian officers are 
said by Colonel Kuhlberg to be topographers, trained in the 
School of Survey in Tiflis, to which he himself belongs, and 
every preparation has been made by him for a large-scale 
survey of the whole frontier. He talked of wintering at 
Panjdeh, but nothing is settled on that point yet. 

This afternoon, just after the meeting of the Commission 
had broken up, and Colonel Kuhlberg and M. Lessar had 
ridden away, a grass-cutter was brought in bitten in the arm 
and scratched about the side by what he declared was a tiger, 
which had attacked him while cutting grass in the tamarisk 
jungle in the river-bed close by. Some twenty or thirty 
sowars soon turned out, and we beat the jungle, but with no 
result beyond finding the fresh tracks of some panthers. 
Tigers are here, we know, as we have seen their tracks, and 
not long ago Captain Griesbach saw one cross the road just 
in front of him when riding along near here ; but the grass- 
cutter's wounds are clearly due to a panther. 

I should mention that the first arrival of the Cossacks in 
camp to-day caused the greatest interest amongst our men. 
No sooner had Colonel Kuhlberg disappeared into the tent 
and our guard of honour was dismissed, than the four Cossack 
orderlies who came with him were taken off to tea by the 
men of the llth Bengal Lancers, who keenly enjoyed the 
sight of a new face. The Cossacks are little bits of chaps, 
with long loose coats almost down to their heels, and with a 






THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 75 

Berdan rifle, almost as long as themselves, slung across their 
shoulders, wrapped in a coarse black-felt cover. Their horses 
are small, sturdy, shaggy-looking ponies, and very diminutive 
beside the horses of the 1 1th Bengal Lancers. Their accoutre- 
ments generally are of the simplest, and their saddles are a 
sight that our men cannot get over at all. Imagine a great 
flat cushion or pad on the top of the horse, with a high flat 
wooden knob at the pommel and cantle, between which the 
rider has to balance himself as best he can, for I will defy 
any one to find anything in their saddles to grip with his 
knees. The stirrups are of brass, and circular at the bottom, 
with a round disc like a huge wad-punch underneath. What 
the origin of this was no one can tell, but presumably it is 
the relic of some ancient custom now perpetuated by regu- 
lation. 

12th November 1885. 

The first stone of the Afghan frontier-pillars has now been 
laid, and there is every hope that the work will progress 
apace. This morning at 9 A.M. Sir West Eidgeway and Major 
Durand, our Assistant Commissioner, with Colonel Kuhlberg 
and M. Lessar, rode down the Hari Eud valley to the point 
about a mile and a half to the north of the mouth of the pass, 
and fixed the site of the first pillar as near as possible on the 
spot laid down for the boundary in the Protocol. Kazi 
Saad-ud-Din, the Amir's representative, at once set his men 
to work, and the pillar will probably be finished to-day. 

The Zulfikar pass is not a pass through any range of 
mountains, as might be supposed, but simply a gorge or 
break in the line of high cliffs that bounds the valley of the 
Hari Eud on the east almost all the way up from Pul-i-Khatun 
to Karez Elias, a distance of some 40 miles. Through the 
whole of this, the Zulfikar pass is the only practicable com- 
munication between the road along the valley of the river 
below and the country above. A fresh means of access 
can be obtained some 10 miles to the north of Zulfikar, 



76 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

but the road there will require a good deal of work to 
make it practicable, and the loss of the ready-made road 
at Zulfikar must be very inconvenient, to say the least 
of it, to the Eussians : no wonder they wished to retain 
it. The possession of Zulfikar would have just nicely 
rounded off the Kussian frontier, and have given them the 
site for a good frontier-post, with direct lateral communi- 
cation between their main lines of advance up the valleys of 
the Hari Bud and the Kushk. By the loss of Zulfikar they 
are at present practically cut off from all lateral communica- 
tion with the Hari Kud anywhere south of Pul-i-Khatun, 
nearly 30 miles to the north. 

CAMP ZULFIKAR, 20th November 1885. 

My last letter told of the successful laying of the founda- 
tion-stone of the first boundary pillar on the banks of the 
Hari Kud, a mile and a half north of Zulfikar, or, more cor- 
rectly speaking, of an old tower on a mound opposite the 
mouth of the Zulfikar pass. Little more could be done 
beyond that till the ground was surveyed, and the line 
traced in the Russian map, and agreed upon in the Protocol, 
identified ; consequently the brunt of the work fell next on 
Major Holdich and Captain Gore. The Russian large-scale 
map of the pass having been accepted by the Commission, 
they have had simply to test the main points and see that 
the line is correctly laid down, without going into that minute 
detail which would have detained the Commission at Zulfikar 
for long. 

On the evening of the 12th the majority of the Russian 
Commission arrived, and when some of us rode over on the 
afternoon of the 13th to call on its members, we found some 
twenty kibitkas pitched on what was the old Russian parade- 
ground, and the Commission fairly established therein. 

On the 14th, Colonel Kuhlberg came over with a kind 
invitation for us all to dine at his camp that evening. We 



THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 77 

little expected the grand reception that was in store for us. 
A double row of bonfires, kept alight by the Eussian infantry 
soldiers, lighted our way up to a big reed -hut, in which we 
were received by Colonel Kuhlberg and all his officers, 
arrayed in full dress and decorations galore. The reed-hut 
had been decorated out of all recognition. The walls were 
covered with green leaves and ornamented with Cossack 
knives and swords, the roof covered with canvas, and the 
poles supporting the roof draped with white-red cloth and 
ornamented with bayonets, the sockets of which formed 
candlesticks. At the centre table Colonel Kuhlberg, M. 
Lessar, and Captains Gideonoff and Komaroff entertained Sir 
West Eidgeway, Majors Bax, Holdich, and Durand, and my- 
self. The rest of the party split up amongst five tables. 
One novel feature of the entertainment to us was the side- 
board, covered with the zdkuska, in the shape of anchovies 
and caviare, and other little appetisers of a like nature, to 
which we were all bid before sitting down to dinner, and 
where we soon learnt to take a glass of vodka in the place of 
our usual sherry and bitters. From the ready manner in 
which we all seem to take to this little relish before dinner, 
I can only wonder that the custom has never found its way 
into England or India. The dinner was capital, our hosts 
most pleasant, and we were soon on the best of terms pos- 
sible with our new acquaintances. Even those who knew no 
common language were all talking in some sort of jargon 
before the evening was out. Commencing on port with the 
soup, we ran through Madeira, claret, and Caucasian wine 
with the joints, and finished up with champagne and 
jam, by which time the most shy of men in an unknown 
tongue could at any rate summon up courage to clink 
his glass with his neighbour's and drink to his very good 
health. 

A Cossack guard outside sang beautifully in chorus the 
whole evening through a real treat to us, who have heard 



78 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

no music or singing since we left India fifteen months ago. 
The Cossacks here, I believe, are the 4th squadron of the 
Kubanski Eegiment, and are light blithe-looking little fel- 
lows, clad, when in full dress, in long black coats with red 
shoulder-straps. Each carries a whip an article not form- 
ing a portion of the equipment of our cavalry soldiers ; and 
it is most amusing to see each man swing himself into his 
saddle, and at once turn round and bring his whip down 
across his pony's flank, and go off at full gallop in a cloud 
of dust, so different from the more stately regulation of 
our men. 

The 15th and 16th were occupied mostly by meetings of 
the Commission and by interchange of visits with the Eussian 
officers. Major Durand is the British and Captain Gideonoff 
the Eussian Assistant Commissioner, M. Lessar attending on 
the part of the Eussian Foreign Office. 

The entire Eussian Commission, so far as we know at 
present, is, I believe, composed of the following officers : 

Colonel Kuhlberg, Colonel of the Staff, Commissioner. 

Captain Gideonoff, Staff and Astronomical Survey, Assistant 
Commissioner. 

Court Councillor Lessar, Agent on the part of the Eussian 
Foreign Office. 

Captain Komaroff, Commanding the Escort. 

Dr Semmer, in medical charge. 

Captain Kondratenko, Topographer. 

Captain Tchaplanski, Topographer. 

Lieutenant Gorokh, Eussian Sappers, Treasury and Com- 
missariat Officer. 

Titulary Councillor Ilyin, Topographer. 

Titulary Councillor Tolmatchoff, Topographer. 

Titulary Councillor Swetowidoff, Topographer. 

M. Mirzaeff, Interpreter. 

M. Mehemetoff, Interpreter. 

Cossack Captain Varenik, Escort. 



THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 79 

Cossack Lieutenant Kiachko, Escort. 

Cossack Sub-Lieutenant Winnikoff, Escort. 

None of the topographers speak anything but Russian, 
but the doctor speaks German, the Cossack lieutenant 
French, and the interpreter Mirzaeff Persian ; so that, as none 
of us can speak either Russian or Turki, our conversation is 
mostly limited with all but the four seniors and these latter 
three. Colonel Kuhlberg and M. Lessar both speak English 
well ; Captain Komaroff speaks German, French, and a little 
English ; and Captain Gideonoff a little French. Our know- 
ledge of oriental languages seems to surprise the Russians, 
as, so far as I can gather, none of them as a rule acquire 
the languages of the people under them, work being always 
carried on through interpreters, as their policy is to make 
the people talk Russian. 

On the 16th, Sir West Ridge way entertained the whole of 
the Russian Commission, and we did our best to show how 
well we appreciated the preparations they had made for us 
by decorating our mess-tent to the best of our power in 
their honour in return. With the help of the cavalry 
lances, swords, bits and chains, and a muster of all the best 
felts and carpets in camp, our shamianah and mess-tent 
looked quite gay, and, with the addition of a guard of honour 
of the llth Bengal Lancers outside, and one or two more 
of them and a man of the 20th Panjab Infantry inside, I 
may add, very picturesque at least that was the verdict of 
our Russian guests. We sat down a party of thirty-one 
altogether, sixteen of the Russians, as above, and fifteen of 
ourselves viz., Sir West Ridgeway, Majors Bax, Holdich, and 
Durand; Captains Gore, Peacocke, and De Laessoe; Mr Merk, 
Dr Owen, Lieutenant Drummond, Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali 
Khan, Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, Kazi Muhammad 
Aslam Khan, Khan Baba Khan, and myself. We had no 
band or singing to offer our guests, not even the sarnais of 
the 20th Panjab Infantry, which have charmed the savage 



80 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

hearts in our camp all these months, and which now, alas ! 
just at the time when we would fain have shown what 
our Afreedi warriors can do, are doomed to reduction and 
return to India. 

It would have been a grand finale could we have given our 
guests a Katak dance, and shown the Cossacks, who seem so 
fond of flourishing their swords and knives, what our men 
can do in that line ; but protocols and orders of Government 
cutting down the Escort have left us without even that 
resource ; while as to singing, the dooliwalas, I think, possess 
the only talent in the camp. The Russians, we hear, had a 
band of no less than thirty-five men all told off in readiness 
to accompany General Zelenoy last year, had he come ; but 
unfortunately, we were not allowed such a luxury, despite 
the kindness of Colonel Prinsep and the officers of the llth 
Bengal Lancers in offering theirs. However, although we 
could not return the compliment in music, we did our best 
to show the Cossacks how we appreciated their singing for 
us two nights before. While we were at dinner inside, 
Sergeants Manley and Brown and the men of the cavalry 
took good care of the Cossacks without. A cloth was spread 
round one of the big bonfires lighted by the men of the 
cavalry in front of the tent to illuminate the scene and 
show our guests the way ; and there the fun was fast and 
furious, despite all restrictions of language. Colonel Kuhl- 
berg arrived escorted by about half a troop of Cossacks 
headed by a man with a large green flag the squadron 
colour, I presume and these men were all set down to a 
good supper of bread and meat. The bread, it is said, they 
particularly relished, so different from their own dry black 
bread ; and in fact, as I heard it expressed, the Cossacks ate 
it like so much plum-cake. The Sikhs were all ready to 
join in when the brandy came round, and when Lieutenant 
Drummond and the Cossack lieutenant went out shortly 
after, they found all as merry as possible. One Cossack 



THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 81 

under-officer even knew some two words of English, and 
jumping up, drank to the health of " Victoria," an example 
that was instantly followed by all the rest. Lieutenant 
Drummond drank to the health of the Cossacks, and to his 
astonishment found himself at once hoisted up on their 
shoulders. Sergeant Manley and the Sikhs at once followed 
suit with the Cossack lieutenant, and neither was let down 
again till the Cossacks had sung a whole chorus around 
them an honour, so Colonel Kuhlberg said, that fell to the 
lot of few, and then only on special occasions. Inside we 
were nearly as merry. When the wine came round after 
dinner, Sir West Eidgeway proposed the health of the 
Emperor, to which Colonel Kuhlberg at once responded by 
proposing the health of the Queen. 

Kazi Saad-ud-Din and the governor of Herat are both 
encamped here with us. Both exchanged visits on arrival 
with Colonel Kuhlberg, who received them both with his 
usual courtesy, Mr Merk acting as interpreter each time. 
They both take an energetic part in the proceedings. 

The plans for future progress have been so far settled that 
the morning of the 18th saw several of us on the move. 
Captain Peacocke started with three Eussian topographers 
to survey the country east of Maruchak. This portion was 
reconnoitred by Captain Peacocke last year, but under the 
greatest difficulties, the snowstorms for days together quite 
obscuring all his points, and the cold being so intense that 
hardly a watch in his camp could be kept going, thus rendering 
his traverse exceedingly difficult. As it is, even now, with 
the fine weather that we may look for up to Christmas, this 
is still the most difficult portion of the whole frontier to sur- 
vey, as the survey officers can only give three points trigono- 
metrically fixed to work upon a small number on which to 
found the topographical survey of such a stretch of country. 
The zone to be surveyed is the country north of the Kaisar 
Eud and west of the Andkhui river, and this the Eussians 

F 



82 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

will divide into three sections, each topographer taking one. 

It is very unfortunate that our survey party should be so 

short-handed, but it cannot be helped. Captain the Hon. 

M. Talbot is away at Bamian, where, we hear, he hopes 

to connect his survey with those done at Kabul during 

the last war. He will then bring the survey up to Balkh 

and the frontier from there. Being entirely alone, with not 

even a sub-surveyor to help him, the opportunity of getting 

much of the country topographically surveyed is lost, as one 

officer can do comparatively little of the latter when he has 

to carry on his triangulation at one and the same time. 

Sub-Surveyor Heera Singh is busy carrying a survey through 

the Firozkohi country up to Maimanah, and will not join us 

till too late to be of much help this year, while Imam Sharif 

is away joining the surveys of this summer to the south of 

Herat on to those formerly done at Kandahar. Major Hol- 

dich, Captain Gore, and Sub-Surveyor Ata Muhammad, the 

only ones of the party left, are all now away with another 

party of Eussian topographers surveying the country from 

Zulfikar to Chaman-i-Bed. This survey is expected to be 

completed in time for the Commissioners to commence the 

demarcation on the 26th instant, on which date Sir West 

Eidgeway, accompanied by Majors Holdich and Durand, 

Captains Gore and De Laessoe, Dr Owen, Nawab Mirza Hasan 

Ali Khan, Kazi Muhammad Aslam Khan, and myself, with 

a light camp move along the line of the frontier with the 

Eussian Commission. The remainder of the camp, under the 

command of Major Bax, with Lieutenant Drummond and 

Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, march round vid Gulran 

in seven marches to Chaman-i-Bed, in time to meet the 

Commissioners there on arrival. It is impossible for the 

whole camp to inarch together along the frontier owing 

to the want of water. As it is, at the first camp at the 

head of the Zulfikar pass there is no water at all, and 

the only supply will be what can be taken there in camel 



THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 83 

pakhals, while at other places the supply will be very 
limited. 

Final orders have at last been issued for the return march 
of the party now at Mamezak to India. The route to be 
followed is practically the same as that we all marched up 
by last year, with this difference, that instead of risking the 
crossing of the Helmand at Chahar Burjak, the party will 
probably march round the Seistan lakes, and thus avoid the 
river altogether. The Helmand very possibly may be found 
at its usual level and easily f ordable ; but still there is always 
the chance of a winter flood, and it has been thought best to 
avoid the risk of a detention on the banks of the river in a 
place where it might not be easy to find further supplies at 
hand. 

The party returning to India is comprised as follows : 
Major Meiklejohn, 20th Panjab Infantry, in command. 
Major Eind, Commissariat Transport and Treasury Officer. 
Captain Heath, Lieutenant Wright, and 88 rank and file 

of the llth Bengal Lancers. 
Lieutenant Eawlins and 164 rank and file of the 20th 

Panjab Infantry. 

Dr Charles and the Military Hospital. 
Lieutenant Galindo, 14th Hussars, Intelligence Depart- 
ment. 

Conductor Lyttle, Mr Wilson, with Commissariat, Trans- 
port, and other details. 

Mr Merk, Political Officer, and Native Attaches ; Eessal- 
dar-Major Muhammad Husain Khan, 7th Bengal 
Cavalry ; Eessaldar-Major Baha-u'-din Khan, Central 
India Horse ; Mirza Muhammad Taki Khan and 
Khan Baba Khan. 

Mr Merk and Eessaldar-Major Baha-u'-din Khan, having 
seen the party safe to the Helmand, return and rejoin 
the Commissioner's camp ; a political officer from the 
Baluchistan agency being sent out to meet the party at 



84 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Khwajah All, and take them across the desert to -Nushki 
and Quetta. 

I give the route laid down for the march, as it can now be 
followed in the latest edition of the Turkistan map, viz.: 

Miles. 

Nov. 28. Mamezak (25 miles west of Herat) to Deh 

Afghan, 8 

n 29. Pahra, 13 

it 30. Chah Gazak, 11 

Dec. 1. Half-way to Sher Baksh, .... 19 

n 2. Slier Baksh, 18J 

n 3. Sarmandal, ....... 22 

4. Halt. 

it 5. Karez Dasht, 10 

n 6. Sangbur, 23 

., 7. Zigin, 17 

.. 8. Gang, 23 

M 9. Kin, . 21 

10. Kushk Rud, 11 

it 11. Lash Jowain, . . . . . 21 

12. Halt. 

M 13. Silgan, 18 

it 14. Half-way to Boli, 14 

M 15. Boli, ... 14 

ii 16. Nasirabacl, 14 

17. Halt. 

18. Halt. 

19. Wasilan, . . . . . . . 12 

20. Burj-i-Alam Khan, 7 

21. Gor-i-Haji, 18 

22. Dah Dehli, 12 

23. Chahar Burjak, . . . . . 21 

24. Khwajah, 18J 

.. 25. Rudbar, 19J 

., 26. Halt. 

M 27. Landi Baraich, 12| 

28. Khwajah Ali, 17*" 

and Quetta, about 20th January 1886. 

A camel sowar postal-line will be established from Quetta 
vid Nushki to meet the party at Nasirabad, and in the 
meantime postal communication will be kept open with 
them from the Commissioner's camp by a line of Afghan 
sowars from Herat. 



THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 85 

A farewell order has just been issued by Sir West Ridge- 
way, specially thanking Majors Kind and Meiklejohn, and 
notifying his appreciation of the thorough manner in which 
the men of both the llth Bengal Lancers and the 20th 
Panjab Infantry have done their duty, even under the most 
trying circumstances ; finally adding, that " their conduct 
and their invariably cheerful discharge of their duties have 
raised the name of the British army in Afghanistan, and the 
people of the country have learnt that their presence amongst 
them is an unmixed advantage." 

The return party have some long marches before them, 
necessitated by the want of water on the road, but the 
sturdy sepoys of the 20th Panjab Infantry think little of 
that now. Our only regret is that the party should have to 
go, and that we should have to lose them a regret shared 
equally by all. 

Captain Cotton and his sixty men, with treasure and stores, 
are now on their march vid Kushk to Chahar Shumba, 
where we join them after the completion of the boundary 
settlement up to Maruchak. The weather keeps cloudy and 
comparatively warm, the thermometer ranging from 62 by 
day to about 38 by night ; and we can only hope that with 
so many of us on the march, and so much surveying to be 
done, we shall not have a burst of wet weather. 

Our last discovery is the existence of a couple of shops, 
kept by a Greek and an Armenian respectively, in the 
Russian camp, with a varied assortment of goods, including 
a consignment of Caucasian wines which are all new to our 
taste. I fancy, though, that some liquors of a stronger 
nature must also be kept there, to judge from the attraction 
which that neighbourhood evidently possesses for some of 
our followers. An English-speaking commissariat sergeant 
has also turned up in the Russian camp, who gave a grand 
dinner to-day to Sergeants Manley and Brown, an entertain- 
ment which the latter and Duffadar Mir Baz, of the llth 



86 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Bengal Lancers, are going to return when the two camps 
next meet again at Chaman-i-Bed. Duffadar Mir Baz is a 
fine specimen of the Indian soldier, and plays a prominent 
part in all our camp arrangements. He it is who, armed 
with what he calls his compass, lays out our camp and sees 
that our tent-pegs are properly dressed in line, takes par- 
ticular care of the flagstaff, and, in fact, is the camp quarter- 
master's general factotum. Having spent some months in 
England as orderly to Sirdar Muhammad Afzul Khan, he is 
quite prepared to join in any dinner-party, and no doubt 
will make a capital host. 

Talking of entertainments, I must not forget to tell of 
the dinner-party given the night before last by our native 
attaches, Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, Kazi Muhammad 
Aslam Khan, and Khan Baba Khan, to their brother 
Mussulmans in the Eussian service, Mirzaeff and Meheme- 
toff. The latter, a Lesghin from Daghestan, is strict, and 
takes no wine ; but not so the former, a Eussianised Persian, 
who readily fraternised over the champagne at dinner on 
the 16th with his friends around. How or why he comes 
to be named officially as Mirzaeff, I cannot quite under- 
stand. To the best of my belief, the Eussian officers call 
him Nazar Beg. He himself says his name is Sherif, that 
his father's name was Hasan, and that he is called after his 
grandfather, whose name was Mirza. Why he should be 
styled Mirzaeff any more than Hasaneff, I have no idea. 
Similarly, Mehemetoff is known as Zachariah Beg. Possibly 
his grandfather was a Mehemet something. Whether or no, 
Zachariah Beg seems to love a good fight. Commencing 
life amongst a corps comprised of about a hundred cadets 
from Daghestani families of position, he spent four years in 
St Petersburg in some sort of body-guard duty about the late 
Emperor's Court. Returning at the end of his time with the 
rank of lieutenant and a decoration, he was a volunteer at 
Geok Tepe, where, rushing forward too soon, he was blown 



THE MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS. 87 

up in the explosion of one of the mines, and was taken out for 
dead some three hours afterwards, but recovered. He served 
also as a volunteer through the Turkish war at Kars and in 
Asia Minor, and now boasts of a row of some half-dozen decora- 
tions on his breast. The Caucasian dress which he wears is 
certainly very striking. Imagine a sort of pink-coloured silk 
waistcoat with high collar bound with gold-lace, buttoned tight 
up at the throat, and over this a long black coat fitting tight 
round the body, but with loose flowing skirts almost down to his 
heels, the usual row of silver-topped cartridge-cases across each 
breast, with a huge double-edged knife slung in front, and a 
curved sword with embossed silver scabbard at his side, long 
boots, and black breeches, and there you have the Lesghin. 
If they are all as handy with their knives as our friend here 
seems to be, no wonder they were a difficult race to conquer. 
The Caucasians, however, seem to be much split up amongst 
themselves. There are so many different tribes and people 
in the country, that they say they have no less than forty- 
five languages, and a village on one side of a valley often has 
an entirely different language from that spoken in the vil- 
lage on the other side. In one village will be found fine 
men and handsome women, and in the next a dirty ugly lot, 
of an entirely different race. However, to return to our 
dinner. The table was laid in the mess shamianah, and the 
party consisted of seven the three hosts, the two Eussian 
guests, and Mr Merk and myself ; and a merry evening we 
had of it, too. The conversation, of course, was entirely in 
Persian; but unfortunately, 'the Lesghin could talk nothing 
but Russian or Turki, and consequently all his ideas had to 
be translated by his Persian friend, helped on by a few odd 
words in Turki which the speaker's energy and gesticulation 
made comprehensible to all. 



88 



CHAPTER VIII. 

ACROSS BADGHIS. 

CAMP, HAUZ-I-KHAN, 4A December 1885. 

I HAVE already telegraphed the successful settlement of the 
frontier from Zulfikar to Hauz-i-Khan, and that the Com- 
missions are now halting here pending the completion of 
the survey of the country on to Maruchak, a further distance 
of some 40 miles as the crow flies. Hauz-i-Khan lies some 
70 miles almost due east of Zulfikar, but the boundary laid 
down in the Protocol trends considerably to the south, and 
the line actually demarcated is some 95 miles in length 
instead of 70. The main portion of the camp left Zulfikar 
on the 21st November, under the command of Major Bax, 
and marched round by the following route, as it was im- 
possible to provide water for all along the actual frontier 
line viz., Zulfikar to 

Miles. 

Karez Elias, . . . . . 12 

KizilBulak, 12 

Gulran, . . . . . 20 

Tutachi, ...... 16 

Bank of the Moglior stream, ... 14 

KaraTepe, ..... 14 

Chaman-i-Bed, . . . . . 16 

Hauz-i-Khan, ..... 

The Commissioner's camp, consisting of Sir West Eidge- 
way, Major Durand, Dr Owen, Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali 
Khan, Kazi Muhammad Aslam Khan, and myself, with an 



ACEOSS BADGHIS. 89 

escort of 25 sowars of the llth Bengal Lancers under 
Eessaldar Jeswunt Singh, left Zulfikar on the 26th, and 
camped that night at the top of the Zulfikar pass, where 
we were joined by Major Holdich, who, leaving Captain 
Gore at Chaman-i-Bed, returned with the survey of the 
country completed so far, on purpose to point out to the 
Commissioners the more prominent topographical features. 
There is no water at the top of the pass, but sufficient for 
the men was carried up in camel pakhals, and the majority 
of the horses were left at Zulfikar to march straight through 
the 26 miles to Ak Eobat the next morning. The mules 
did not seem to suffer in the least from the want of water 
for one night. 

The Zulfikar pass, as I have said before, is simply a defile 
leading up through the precipitous scarps of rock that run 
along the eastern bank of the Hari Eud. At the mouth of 
the Zulfikar pass the scarp rises straight up from the valley 
of the river to a height of about 800 feet. The land at the 
top slopes gradually down to the east for four or five miles 
beyond, and then rises abruptly again in a second scarp, 
just like the first, through which a second defile cuts its 
way, finally landing one in the ordinary undulating country 
of Badghis, some eight miles from the river-valley. The 
scenery in the pass is very wild, and at one place the rocky 
cliffs on either side are barely 30 yards apart. I noticed 
that at the narrowest corner in the western defile a stone 
wall had been built across from side to side, showing, I 
presume, that the passage had been disputed by some one 
in days gone by. The rocks are full of the nests of hawks 
and vultures, and the cliffs around abound with ibex and 
oorial. Unfortunately, we were all too busy to find time to 
go after them. 

The 26th was spent by the Commissioners in inspecting 
and deciding on the sites for the boundary pillars from the 
valley of the river up to the top of the pass. Starting 



90 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

about 10 A.M., we rode first to the Russian camp, where 
Colonel Kuhlberg and his staff joined us, and all then rode 
up the pass together. The Eussian Idbitkas had all been 
taken down and sent off, and the reed -huts forming the 
Eussian cantonment all through this past summer, were left 
standing, ready for their new occupants, the Afghans. As 
we all rode out together, we found the squadron of Cossacks 
drawn up in line on the roadside opposite their late 
quarters. After the salute Colonel Kuhlberg rode up to 
them, and giving some salutation, was at once replied to 
by the whole squadron in a curious and pleasant sort of 
chant, immediately after which they fell in behind us, and 
sang in chorus almost all the way up the pass. The governor 
of Herat and Kazi Saad-ud-Din, the Amir's agent, remained 
behind to take possession of the Eussian lines, and make 
the necessary arrangements for the Afghan garrison to be 
located there. The protection of this portion of the frontier 
has been intrusted to Muhammad Amir Khan, the Khan 
of Ghorian, with 100 of his horsemen and a company of 
Afghan Khasadars. The Khan himself accompanied us all 
round the boundary-line within the limits of his charge, 
finally leaving us at Ak Eobat, to return and superintend 
the erection of the pillars. 

The 2 7th was spent almost entirely in the saddle. Starting 
at 8 A.M., we rode out some four miles, and climbed to the site 
for a pillar on the top of the Dengli Dagh hills, a commanding 
position, whence the line of frontier could be traced all across 
the lower hills and undulations for miles. Here a good deal 
of work was got through ; and by the time all was settled, we 
were quite ready to sit down to the breakfast prepared for us 
by Sir West Eidgeway's dbdars. I must say a word in praise 
of the Persian abdar. He is not a cook, but something akin 
to it. The cook prepares and gives him the breakfast, and 
he is ready to stop anywhere on the road and serve you up 
that breakfast fresh and hot in less than no time. Mounted 



ACROSS BADGHIS. 91 

on a sturdy pony with two large regularly fitted-up leather 
bags, one on each side, and another behind the saddle, he has 
all his utensils and everything with him wherever he goes, 
and a handier man I have rarely seen. Colonel Kuhlberg, 
Captain Gideonoff, and M. Lessar breakfasted with us on the 
hillside, and then we all rode on to Ak Eobat together, getting 
in just at sunset, after just one little halt on the way to par- 
take of a glass of Colonel Kuhlberg's excellent Caucasian wine. 
Ak Eobat is a wide hollow in the downs, containing some 
fifteen or twenty wells with a plentiful supply of water, only 
some 12 or 15 feet from the surface. The robat or rest- 
house which gives its name to the place, consists only of a 
heap of bricks, hardly one now being left standing on another. 
The Eussians had a strong post here all the summer ; but this 
has lately been withdrawn, and, so far as I know, has not 
been replaced. Our two camps were close together. We 
thought we had a small camp, but the Eussians had one 
much smaller. We had one row of officers' tents, all of 
small Kashmir or Kabul pattern, with the servants' tents 
and horses, each in a row behind, and the escort of twenty- 
five sowars in a line in front, all compact, and easily guarded 
by a couple of sentries. The Eussian camp, so far as the 
officers were concerned, consisted of four JcibitJeas, while the 
Cossacks and infantry had apparently neither tents nor 
baggage. The Cossack ponies are never picketed in the 
way that our cavalry horses are, but are simply tied up in a 
double row with their heads together, and have neither jools 
nor felts nor anything to cover them at night. The men, 
too, apparently have nothing but the clothes they wear, and 
whatever they can carry on their pony to sleep in, and yet 
they do not seem to feel the hardship in the least. The 
Eussian officers tell us that during the Turkish war, when 
the Eussian soldiers lost their feet by scores from frostbite 
at night, the Cossacks escaped almost without loss in this 
respect. 



92 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

One great difference in the size and life of the Eussian 
camp is the almost entire absence of followers. Our camp, 
with our Indian and Persian servants, even at our present 
reduced scale, still presents a scene full of life and animation 
in comparison to the Eussian camp, where twenty-five Eussian 
infantrymen seem to do the servants' work for the whole 
party. They pitch and unpitch the kibitkas, and load 
them on the camels far better than the Turkomans them- 
selves ; indeed, as a matter of fact, the latter are quite 
useless at such work, as with them the women do all the 
pitching of their kibitkas, and the men are accustomed to 
look on with lofty contempt. 

Ak Eobat having been surrendered to the Eussians under 
the terms of Lord Granville's agreement, we had simply 
to define the boundary half-way between it and Sumba 
Karez, the frontier Afghan station nine miles to the south. 
A pillar, No. 13 of the series, was accordingly located by 
the side of the road on the morning of the 28th, and another 
on the top of the hill to the east, and we eventually found 
our way into camp at Au Eahak, 1 6 miles from Ak Eobat, 
at sunset. 

The day's ride afforded us two instances of the shikar of 
the country. The first, as we were all standing around the 
pillar No. 13, when an antelope or rather, I should say, a 
gazelle suddenly appeared, trotting quietly past at a distance 
of some 200 yards. Major Durand had just time to get his 
rifle from his orderly and roll it over by a good shot before 
it got out of reach. The Eussian officers, who had never 
seen an Express rifle before, seemed much struck at the shot, 
and examined the rifle with great interest. The deer of this 
country is something like, though larger than, the ordinary 
chikara or ravine-deer of India, with the same sort and size 
of horns, only with the difference that the tips of the 
horns bend inwards instead of backwards. These deer are 
very wild, and especially difficult to approach on these bare 



ACROSS BADGHIS. 93 

downs, and very few have been shot by us as yet. Several 
wild asses were also seen by Major Holdich, but all his 
efforts failed to bring one down. The flesh of these asses 
is regularly eaten by all the Heratis and Turkomans, 
though the Kabulis profess to turn up their noses at it 
on the ground that it is unlawful food. The flesh, though, 
is not much of a dainty. When I was first at Ak Eobat in 
February last, the Khan of Ghorian's men, who were then 
garrisoning the place, brought in a wild ass and invited 
me to partake of it ; but I have no desire to repeat the 
experiment. 

The second bit of sport that day was the running to 
ground of a fox by my greyhounds. The foxes here are 
large, bushy-tailed animals, nearly as big as an English 
fox, and the two little fox-terriers who followed this one 
down into the hole, could not bring him out again, and 
refusing to leave him, spent the night there. I had to 
return the next morning with spades and picks, and dig 
them out, and I eventually found the two little dogs and 
the fox all together at the end of the hole several feet 
under ground, and all considerably the worse for the night's 
fray. Coursing in this country is almost an impossibility, 
owing to the mass of rat-holes everywhere. The ground 
is undermined in every direction, and a horse is bound to 
come to grief. I remember a sowar's horse of the llth 
Bengal Lancers on the march up putting his foot through 
a rat-hole and breaking his own and very nearly his rider's 
neck on the spot. The rats are of all sizes, from a sort 
of marmot which look in the distance like so many small 
rabbits scuttling about to jerboas and field-rats with bushy 
tails, and even to mice. Apparently they never drink, and 
what they eat is a mystery. However, they and the land- 
tortoises seem to divide the country between them : the 
latter are everywhere, and their eggs and shells are strewn 
all over the downs. Some epidemic or storm seems to over- 



94 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

take them at times, as I have found tracts of country here 
and there thickly strewn with countless empty tortoise-shells. 
According to the Turkomans, the foxes live on the rats, 
and as long as the weather is mild and the supply is 
plentiful, they never leave the hills or come near the settle- 
ments. Hence the difficulty they have in catching them. 
The eagles and hawks that one sees about must prey a 
good deal, I think, on the tortoises, as I have often noticed 
half-eaten carcasses of the latter lying about, though I con- 
fess I have never yet verified the story of the tortoise being 
carried up and dropped from a height by the eagle. 

Au Rahak, where we camped on the night of the 28th, 
was simply a bit of flat ground by the side of a stream of 
salt water. All our drinking-water had to be brought with 
us in pakhals from Ak Eobat ; but the horses managed to 
get a drink some two miles up the stream that runs in from 
the south, though I believe the drinkable water is difficult 
to find without a guide who knows the place, as it is only 
at one particular spot, where apparently some fresh - water 
spring rises in the middle of the stream, that the animals 
will drink. Sumba Karez, some 10 miles to the west of 
Au Eahak, has a plentiful supply of water. The old Jcarez 
has been opened out by the Afghans, and there is now an 
ample supply of sweet water, sufficient, they say, for a party 
of 300 sowars. This place will doubtless be the Afghan 
frontier post in this direction, as now that Islim has been 
surrendered to Russia, it is the only place possessed of good 
water near the frontier in all the line between Zulfikar and 
Kara Tepe, a distance, as the crow flies, of some 60 miles, 
from each of which places it is almost exactly equidistant. 
The frontier on the Afghan side at Sumba Karez and Au 
Rahak has been put in the charge of a Herati Khan, and I 
was rather amused at a conversation I overheard between 
him and a Turkoman shepherd at the latter place just as we 
were leaving. The Turkoman hailed from Panjdeh, and the 



ACROSS BADGHIS. 95 

Khan was impressing upon him that now that the frontier 
had been defined, he must keep his sheep to his own side 
for the future. The shepherd vigorously remonstrated, but 
the Khan was firm. " You have gone over to the Eussians," 
said he, " and now you must stay with them." " Not a bit," 
said the Turkoman ; " we have not gone over to the Eussians, 
it is the Eussians who have come over us." The argu- 
ment waxed hot and strong, but I fancy the Turkoman was 
worsted in the end. 

On the 29th we had an easy day, simply marching down 
the valley of the Shorab (salt water), or, as the Eussians call 
it, the Egrigeuk stream, to Islim, a distance of some 12 
miles. The boundary line crosses the road about three miles 
west of Islim, and then runs up to the hill marking the 
watershed between the Shorab and the Kushk, near Kara 
Tepe. Islim consists of nothing but a spring of fresh water 
on the right bank of the stream ; and it was the knowledge 
of the position of this spring, I presume, that prompted the 
Eussian Government to claim a boundary-line crossing the 
valley and running along the crest of the hillocks bordering 
its southern bank, instead of following the natural line along 
the bed of the stream. Unfortunately the point was so 
conceded without proper inquiry from those on the spot, 
and the consequence is that the Afghans are cut off from 
the water-supply at this particular portion of their frontier, 
and have 3 miles of waterless downs to cross to Kara Tepe 
instead of a connected line of frontier posts. 

On the 30th we marched 16 miles to Chaman-i-Bed, a 
ruined old mud-fort on the right bank of the river Kushk. 
The Shorab was dry all the way down, the water we found 
running higher up having all disappeared below ground ; but 
the bed of the stream was as white as snow from some 
saline incrustation, and with water so salt the valley can 
never be of much use for cultivation. Chaman-i-Bed is 
very different. Here the Kushk river provides a plentiful 



96 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

supply of sweet clear water though it also sometimes 
runs dry, I have heard. Hitherto no one but a Turkoman 
has dared to show his nose in the place, and even the few 
adventurous spirits among the latter who did venture up so 
far, took good care to build their tower of refuge first, and 
to cultivate their fields afterwards. I noticed one or two of 
these buildings close to Chaman-i-Bed, and they generally 
took the form of a deep circular ditch with a walled en- 
closure inside large enough to hold the Turkoman and his 
cattle and all. Inside the man was quite safe, as the raid- 
ing -parties never ventured an assault on any walled en- 
closure, however weakly manned. 

Some two miles up the valley, to the south of Chaman-i- 
Bed, there is one of the curious artificial mounds so common 
in these parts, marking the site of some ancient fort ; a small 
higher mound, in the north-west angle, clearly marking the 
position of the former citadel. This place is known as Kara 
Tepe Khurd literally, the small black mound to distin- 
guish it from the real Kara Tepe, the Afghan post, some 
15 miles higher up the valley. We halted at Chaman-i- 
Bed on the 1st December, as the question of the settlement 
of the boundary where cultivable land was concerned was 
naturally a more difficult matter than that of the uncultivable 
downs through which we had hitherto been demarcating it. 
However, all differences were soon disposed of, and on the 
2d we moved eight miles farther down to Hauz-i-Khan, 
where we are halting for the present. From this point the 
boundary has to be demarcated, in nearly a straight line, 
across to some point north of Maruchak, and that point 
will be the most difficult of all to fix. However, Major 
Holdich, Captain Gore, and Captain Komaroff have started 
to survey the country up to Maruchak, and as soon as that 
is done the Commissioners will be able to set to work again. 

At Colonel Kuhlberg's request, the Afghans have under- 
taken the building of all the boundary pillars, and these 



ACROSS BADGHIS. 97 

have already been built all along the line from Zulfikar to 
Chaman-i-Bed, and the remainder up to Hauz-i-Khan will 
be ready in a day or two. The Eussian topographer, Sweto- 
widoff, who is finishing his survey near Zulfikar, is to inspect 
and report the completion of the pillars from Zulfikar to 
Islim, and I start shortly to inspect those on from the latter 
place to Hauz-i-Khan. 

The main portion of the camp marches for Maruchak on 
the 6th, under the command of Major Bax ; the Commission- 
ers' small party, as before, waiting at Hauz-i-Khan, ready to 
move directly the necessary survey is completed. The Eus- 
sian camp is exactly opposite to ours on the other bank of 
the river, while the governor of Herat and Kazi Saad-ud-Din 
are encamped close alongside of us. Now that we are halted, 
we are able to see a little more of our Eussian friends, and 
M. Lessar, Captain Komaroff, and the Cossack officers have 
all been dining with us the last night or two ; while to-night, 
Sir West Eidgeway, Major Durand, Dr Owen, Nawab Mirza 
Hasan Ali Khan, and myself, are all dining with Colonel 
Kuhlberg. It is unfortunate that the number of our guests 
must be so limited, but it is hardly a compliment to ask a 
man to dinner who cannot talk anything else but Eussian 
a language that all of us are absolutely ignorant of. Our 
social intercourse is thus nlost unfortunately restricted On 
that account. We hear that the Cossacks were hoping we 
should all be here together on the 9th, their annual fete-day, 
when they have a series of sports and festivities to commem- 
orate the presentation to them by the Emperor of a special 
standard, in recognition of the gallantry displayed by the 
regiment at the storming of Geok Tepe. Unfortunately, we 
shall probably at that date be toiling across the waterless 
tract between here and Maruchak. However, we hope to 
be able to give them a day's sport on our side before we 
part. The Murghab river, we hear, is considerably deeper 
now than it was this time last year, and the ford we crossed 

G 



98 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

by, just below the old ruined bridge at Maruchak, is now 
impassable. Captain Cotton got his party and stores safely 
across at Bala Murghab ; but all his mule-loads had to be 
transferred to camels, and even then the empty mules were 
many of them swept off their legs by the strength of the cur- 
rent. It is to be hoped that the Helmand is not similarly 
affected, as there seems to be some difficulty regarding the 
return march of Major Meiklejohn's party through Nasira- 
bad, in Persian Seistan, and they may still have to cross 
the river instead of marching round the lake at the end of it. 
Very probably the river may be in its normal state, and quite 
fordable ; but even supposing it is not, the governor of Farah, 
Muhammad Yusuf Khan, will probably be able to get the big 
boat we had last year down from Girishk again, and under 
these circumstances I am not sure that it would not be easier 
to cross the river than to pass through all the network of 
canals on the Persian side, including the great Kohak canal, 
which Bellew describes as 60 feet wide and 8 feet deep, 
with nothing but rafts of reeds, called tutis, to cross it upon. 
Major Meiklejohn and his party started from the Herat val- 
ley on the 1st, and are now well on their way to India. 

The Commissioners hope to complete the demarcation of 
the frontier up to Kilah Wali before the winter sets in, and 
in that case probably both Commissions will winter either 
there or at Chahar Shamba, ready to go on again the moment 
the weather permits. Sirdar Muhammad Ishak Khan, the 
governor of Turkistan, seems to be doing his best to arrange 
for the advent of the Mission, and to make things comfort- 
able for them during their stay in his province. Sirdar Sher 
Ahmed Khan, who has just returned from a trip in advance 
to Maimanah and Andkhui, reports that he has been received 
everywhere with the greatest cordiality and distinction. 

We are all looking forward to some pheasant-shooting in 
our old haunts at Maruchak when we get there. Here there 
is little to shoot. Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan and myself 



ACROSS BADGHIS. 99 

have bagged a few pheasants, but that is all, with the ex- 
ception of some specimens for the natural history collection. 
We have not yet seen the Eussian officers out shooting, but 
they have some guns with them, and we hope they will be 
able to join us. The climate, however, is so variable just at 
present, that it is impossible to reckon on the weather hold- 
ing up for very long. One day is sunny and still, and so 
hot that one thinks of getting out one's summer clothing 
again ; the next cloudy and raw, with a Scotch mist that 
chills one to the bone. To-day in my tent the thermometer 
is only 52; and one envies the Eussian officers in their 
working-dress, consisting of a short black-leather coat lined 
with red flannel, a pair of leather cherry-coloured pantaloons, 
and long boots. Certainly they are well equipped for cold 
and wet ; but how they would fare in a hot-weather cam- 
paign, either in Afghanistan or India, is a very different 
matter. They have no helmets nothing but their black, 
flat-topped cloth caps, which would be no protection what- 
ever against an Indian sun, while the fur caps of the Cos- 
sacks would be absolutely unbearable. 

CAMP, HAUZ-I-KHAN, Uth December 1885. 

Our weather for some days here at Hauz-i-Khan was wet 
and raw, and though it has now cleared again, still we have 
had nothing much to do while waiting for the completion of 
the survey on ahead. Life in a tent on a raw, cloudy day, 
with the thermometer at 40 or 45, is never pleasant, but 
nevertheless the days have seemed to fly. We are not early 
risers as a rule ; on these cold mornings no one seems to 
stir much before 8 A.M., and personally I honestly con- 
fess I am rarely up before 9 ; breakfast follows imme- 
diately afterwards, and before we have got through the 
work of the day the afternoon is closing in, and by 5 P.M. 
it is dark. 

Hauz-i-Khan is not an interesting place, as there is noth- 



100 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

ing much to tempt one out. In olden days it must have 
either had a considerable population or else have been one 
of the stages on some highroad for traffic. The place takes 
its name of the " Eeservoir of the Khan " from the hauz or 
reservoir, now in ruins, said to have been built by the great 
Abdullah Khan of Bokhara, to whom the erection of most of 
the buildings in this part of the country is assigned by local 
tradition. The valley of the Kushk here narrows slightly 
just at the bend of the river between the Kilah Maur and 
Chaman-i-Bed plains, on the north and south respectively. 
The old reservoir looks like an ordinary mound, and might 
be passed without notice. On near approach one sees that 
it is a great heap of bricks, and that the western side, where 
the arched roof has fallen in, is open. Climbing down, one 
finds one's self in the centre of three vaults, radiating north, 
east, and south ; each vault is some 30 to 40 feet in length, 
and 20 or more in height. The central dome and western 
vault have fallen in, but otherwise the building might easily 
be cleared out and restored. The bricks are all laid in 
mortar where the lime came from I do not know ; and in 
the lower five or six feet the lime has been mixed with 
charcoal or ashes, or something black, apparently to make it 
better resist the action of water. The reservoir must have 
been filled by rain-water collected in a ravine through the 
hills to the east ; and the river, I presume, must have run 
dry occasionally in this part of its course then, as now, to 
necessitate the building of a reservoir at all. The ground 
around is full of bricks, and probably a robot or rest-house 
for travellers stood alongside. 

About 5 yards or more to the north-west there is a small 
mound marking the site of some old fort, but this mound 
has long since been turned into use as a graveyard. One 
long tomb, some six or eight yards in length, is evidently 
supposed to contain the remains of some holy man, as all 
over this country the size of the grave seems to increase in 



ACROSS BADGHIS. 101 

proportion to the sanctity of the man buried in it. Un- 
fortunately the name of the saint buried here is lost. Close 
by, though, there are a couple of old white-marble tomb- 
stones. One has been rendered illegible by the action of 
the weather, but the other bears the name of Awes, son 
of Amir Osman, and the date in Arabic of A.H. 848 or A.D. 
1445, with some verses descriptive of the grief of the father 
for the loss of his son. 

Hauz-i-Khan has no inhabitants at present, though the 
Panjdeh Sarik Turkomans have been in the habit of cultivat- 
ing here of late years, living for the time being in a small 
hamlet at Kilah Maur, some 10 or 12 miles farther north. 
Kilah Maur is said to be the site of the ancient town of 
Bakshur. No doubt there was once a considerable population 
there, as the large artificial mound in the centre, now crowned 
by the ruins of an old brick fort, evidently of a much more 
recent date, is surrounded by mounds and ruins of houses for 
a considerable distance. Whether this was a big city, as is 
said, deserted on account of the river suddenly running dry, 
or whether the large extent of the remains was simply caused 
by the constant desertion and rebuilding of houses so common 
amongst the people of these countries, it is impossible now 
to tell. Cultivation nowadays, of course, is limited to the 
irrigable land in the river-valleys ; but there is little doubt 
that, were the population to increase, rain crops might be 
raised on the downs above. Many places in Badghis bear 
evident signs of having once been cultivated, and I can 
distinctly remember my Turkoman guide once calling my 
attention to the marks of cultivation on the ground as far 
north as the old wells at Elibir, north of the Salt Lakes of 
Yaroilan ; but as a rule, the farther north one goes, the 
sandier the soil becomes, as instanced by the fact that though 
rain crops are now largely cultivated by the Jamshidis at 
Kushk, yet the Sariks of Panjdeh say that they cannot do 
the same, as their soil on the neighbouring downs is so 



102 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

much lighter that the crops sown by them, though produc- 
ing plenty of stalk, never come into ear. 

On the morning of the 9th the main portion of the camp 
marched for Kilah Maur under the command of Major Bax, 
en route for Maruchak. 

The evening of the 8th was signalised by a dinner-party 
given by Colonel Kuhlberg to Major Bax and Lieutenant 
Drummond and his own Cossack officers. Every individual 
officer's health was proposed in turn by their genial host, 
and the evening was wound up by Cossack songs and dances 
round a big bonfire ; the entire squadron of Cossacks event- 
ually insisting on escorting the British guests down to the 
river-bank, singing in chorus the whole way and giving 
them a hearty good cheer on departure. Two days after- 
wards, Colonel Kuhlberg and his Assistant Commissioners 
were similarly the guests of Sir West Kidgeway. 

On the 9th I started to inspect the boundary pillars 
built between Hauz-i-Khan and Islim. I halted that night 
at Kara Tepe Khurd, and walking down in the evening to 
the reed-marsh close by to try for some pheasants, I gained 
some practical experience of the fearless character of the 
Badghis wild pigs. My dogs, catching sight of a sounder, 
went off in full chase ; but the pig soon turned the tables 
by promptly charging down on the dogs, and not only drove 
them back, but followed them right up to within 30 or 40 
yards of where I was standing, and this out in the open 
plain. An enormous old boar, almost as big as a donkey, 
who headed the party, grunted away, gnashed his teeth, and 
twice returned to the charge, following us for a consider- 
able distance, but eventually drew off, much to the relief of 
the unfortunate Persian farasJi who was acting as my beater. 
At Kara Tepe, 1 6 miles farther up the valley of the Kushk, 
I found some good pheasant-shooting in a reedy swamp by 
the river-bank. It is a curious fact that in this country 
pheasants as a rule are only to be found in the swamps ; 



ACROSS BADGHIS. 103 

wood jungle and dry grass, and other places that one would 
think would be excellent cover for them, are invariably 
driven blank, and yet no sooner does one get into a jheel 
after the snipe than the pheasants begin to appear. 

Kara Tepe itself is a huge artificial mound, some 50 feet 
high and about 100 yards square at the top, surmounted 
with the ruins of an old brick and mud wall with a gate- 
way to the south. The mound is surrounded by a moat still 
in a very good state of repair, and rising up as it does in the 
middle of a wide flat valley, must have been a strong place 
in its day. When its day was, who can tell ? . but still, even 
a century and a half ago, what a different place it must have 
been from what it is now ! It is recorded in the ' Tarikh-i- 
Nadiri,' the Persian history of Nadir Shah, that the latter 
marched up here on his return from India, and that he was 
met by his son from Khorasan at this very place, Kara Tepe, 
which was then the scene of a three days' entertainment oh 
a scale of almost unparalleled magnificence. All the plunder 
of India was exhibited, and amongst other things the banquet 
was held in an enormous tent, manufactured in India on pur- 
pose, of which the poles were of gold and the fringes strings 
of pearls. I have not the book to refer to here, but I believe 
Nadir Shah marched on by way of Maruchak and Maimanah 
to Balkh, exactly the road that we shall soon be following 
ourselves ; but there, unfortunately, the similitude ends, as 
we are neither laden with loot nor are we contracting mat- 
rimony at the various places on the road. Whether Kara 
Tepe was inhabited at the time of Nadir's visit, or by whom, 
is not stated, but the plain now is knee-deep in thick grass, 
and covered with a perfect network of old irrigation-channels, 
showing what could be done if the land was only properly 
taken up. At present the pig and the pheasants are the 
sole occupants, with the exception of a tiger or two, whose 
footprints we noted in the swamp five or six miles farther 
down the stream. Curiously enough, although so deserted, 



104 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

yet the lands of all these different places are thoroughly 
well known. Take this part of the Kushk valley, for ex- 
ample. The Jamshidis and others can all tell at once how far 
the boundary of each place extends. Kara Tepe, for instance, 
is said to extend to the bend of the river some eight miles 
down the valley. Then comes another old mound, known 
by the name of Kilah-i-Shaikh Janai the grave of the 
latter forming a well-known shrine close by. The lands 
belonging to this old ruin extend for another five or six 
miles down the valley till a fresh system of irrigation com- 
mences from a canal taken off from the river some three 
miles above Kara Tepe Khurd, to which place the land 
watered by it again belongs, and so on down to Chaman-i- 
Bed and Kilah Maur. The fact that this is all so well 
known seems to show that the country cannot have been 
depopulated so very long, and that the former Jamshidi 
occupation that one hears about must have been in com- 
paratively recent times. The Afghan outpost at Kara Tepe 
is to be moved forward to Kara Tepe Khurd, now that the 
frontier has been defined ; and doubtless before long all this 
land will be repeopled by Afghan immigrants. 

Major Holdich and Captain Gore are still hard at work 
on the survey of the country between here and Maruchak, 
and are endeavouring to make the most of our present spell 
of fine weather, which unfortunately cannot be expected to 
last for long. Although cold at night, the thermometer gen- 
erally going down to 15 or thereabouts, still the days are 
delicious, and riding out on the downs, the view from the 
higher points is magnificent. There is not a cloud in the 
sky, yet the sun is only just hot enough to make a light 
helmet pleasant ; the air is clear and bracing, and the whole 
range of the Paropamisus lies stretched before one just 
capped with snow at its highest points. Dawandah, to the 
north-east of Herat, is always the first to show signs of 
snow, and even the Band-i-Turkistan has a sprinkling on 






ACROSS BADGHIS. 105 

its top, although last year none fell on it till close on the 
New Year. 

We hope to have Captains Maitland and the Hon. M. G. 
Talbot back again with us for Christmas, or at any rate 
before the severe weather sets in. "When last heard of, the 
former was at Mazar-i- Sharif on his way back, and the 
latter was making his way from Haibak to Ghori, both 
having been received everywhere with the greatest honour 
and courtesy by the Afghan authorities. Captain Griesbach 
is also on his way to rejoin us from Zulfikar, and we hope 
to be all collected together again for Christmas, with the 
exception of Captain Peacocke, who, being engaged with the 
Kussian topographers on the survey of the country between 
Maruchak and Andkhui, cannot be back in time. Captain 
Cotton is waiting for us at Chahar Shamba with his party 
of the 20th Panjab Infantry, but whether we shall be able 
to join him there by Christmas or not depends entirely on 
the progress of the demarcation. So far things have worked 
well and smoothly, but it is whispered in camp that we have 
difficulties in store for us at Maruchak, and even more be- 
yond. Hitherto the line of the boundary has been pretty 
rigidly defined in the Protocol, and unreasonable claims have 
been out of the question : the farther we go through, the less 
precisely is the Protocol worded, and should the Eussian 
Commissioner insist on putting forward claims depriving 
Maruchak, Kilah Wali, Maimanah, and Andkhui, not only of 
their pasturages but also of their wells, it will be very evi- 
dent that it is not his intention to help on the negotiations. 
To the north of Kilah Wali and Maimanah there is a great 
stretch of desert, preventing all communication and popula- 
tion in that part of the country ; and the best of it is, that 
there is not a single Eussian subject whose interests touch 
on that part of the frontier. The Turkomans of Panjdeh, 
Yulatan, and Merv all have their recognised pastures to the 
west of the desert, while those living on the banks of the 



106 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Oxus have theirs on the east, and there are no others be- 
tween. The Usbegs of Maimanah will naturally resent being 
deprived of the wells they have dug to the south of the 
desert and the pasturages pertaining thereto, especially when 
there is no one close who can use them ; and we can only 
presume that it is the Eussian intention to try by all means 
to get a foothold south of the desert, sufficient to be able to 
keep a raw open on that part of the frontier for use as 
occasion may arise. 

Our news from Major Meiklejohn's party reports them 
progressing well on their way to Quetta. In all probability 
they will not after all enter Persian territory, but cross the 
Helmand at Chahar Burjak, as we did last year on the march 
up. Captain M'lvor, of the Baluchistan Agency, started at 
the end of last month to meet the party on the Helmand, 
and arrange for their march across the Beluch desert to 
Quetta. 



107 



CHAPTER IX. 

CHRISTMAS AT MARUCHAK. 

CAMP MARUCHAK, 27th December 1885. 

HERE we are in the midst of winter once again, sooner than 
we expected it. Last year we had no snow or cold to speak 
of till after the New Year. This year not only have we 
had the cold for some time the thermometer down to 11 
or thereabouts for many nights past is certainly cold but 
we woke on the morning of the 22d to find ourselves fairly 
snowed in, the snow lying some 6 inches deep on the ground, 
and no signs of it stopping. However, as the day wore on 
it began to freeze, and at night the snow stopped, and the 
clouds began to show signs of clearing again. ! As good luck 
would have it, our convoy of tents from India arrived in 
camp two days previously, and we were therefore able to 
replace all the men's old and worn-out tents by new ones, 
and also to provide shelter for the muleteers and camel-men. 
Our men's tents were in a terrible state after all the wind 
and storms of the past year, and the new ones arrived just 
in the very nick of time. 

The officers' tents have lasted wonderfully considering, 
and the small Kashmir and Kabul tents in which most of 
us are housed have stood their trial well. For hard marching 
and for warmth at night nothing can well beat the Kabul 
80 -pounder; but for living for days and weeks together in 
standing camps, as we have been doing for so many months 
past, the Kashmir tent is by far the best. It is only one 



108 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Persian mule-load, say three niaunds in weight, and is much 
cooler in summer ; while in winter, by sewing up the ends 
and covering the sides with thin felt, it can be made very 
warm indeed. Of course, tents made for use in India are not 
suited to the changes of an Afghan climate : for instance, 
the bath-room of an ordinary Swiss cottage-shaped tent is 
utterly useless in this country as a rule. The wind in 
summer and the cold in winter entirely prevent its use for 
the purpose for which it was intended. The only plan is to 
have the bath-room made in one piece with the inner body 
of the tent, and not merely enclosed by kanats attached to 
the outer fly, as is usual. For this climate the inner tent, 
top, sides, and bath-room should all be of one piece, with 
extra kanats to attach to the outer fly at either end to keep 
out the wind, snow, or rain, as the case may be. 

We arrived here at Maruchak on the 18th, and joined 
Majors Bax and Holdich, Captains Gore, Griesbach, and De 
Laessoe, Lieutenant Drummond, and Sirdars Muhammad 
Aslam Khan and Sher Ahmed Khan, who had all arrived 
here from various directions before us. The Commissioners' 
party, consisting of Sir West Eidgeway, Major Durand, Dr 
Owen, Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali Khan, Kazi Muhammad 
Aslam Khan, and myself, marched on the 15th from Hauz- 
i-Khan to Kilah Maur, 15 miles, camping some 3 miles 
below the old fort, just where the Maruchak road branches 
off to the east. The road runs down the right bank of the 
river to Kilah Maur, the valley gradually widening all the 
way. There is a plentiful supply of tamarisk wood in the 
river-bed, and a splendid plain of good culturable land on 
either side, a rich heritage for the Panjdeh Turkomans, who, 
by the present settlement, have become the actual possessors 
of all this land to the south of Panjdeh, which they formerly 
only enjoyed on sufferance. The old fort stands in the 
middle of the plain on the left bank and some little dis- 
tance from the river, and consists of a flat-topped mound, 



CHRISTMAS AT MARUCHAK. 109 

some 30 to 40 feet in height and about 200 yards long and 
150 yards broad, with the ruins of an old brick fort, some 
70 yards square, at its north-west angle. The Turkoman 
hamlets seemed to have increased considerably in size since 
last year, and doubtless there will be plenty of applicants 
for a share in all the new land hereabouts. 

On the 16th the camp marched 26 miles across the 
chul to Ab-i-Kashan, where there is now a fair stream 
of running water. The chul here consists of sandy hillocks 
and downs in endless ridges and confusion, inhabited by 
nothing but rats, and perfectly waterless. It has no drain- 
age so far as we could see, and the water simply runs into 
hollows and is absorbed by the soil as it falls. The road is 
a good deal up and down over the various ridges, but our 
camels did the march without any difficulty. The 17th 
was spent by Sir West Eidgeway in a ride up the Kashan 
valley, nearly to Eobat-i-Kashan, to examine the canal 
irrigation in the valley, and also to inspect the site for the 
boundary pillar proposed by Major Holdich and Captains 
Gore and Komaroff on the top of a hill, as near as they 
could fix it in the straight line from Hauz-i-Khan to 
Maruchak. Colonel Kuhlberg and the Eussian Commission 
came down the valley for the sam'e purpose from Eobat-i- 
Kashan, and camped close to us the same day. They, 
having a smaller camp and not requiring much water, had 
marched the 35 miles across the chul from Hauz-i-Khan to 
Eobat-i-Kashan in two marches, carrying water with them 
for the first day. For us it was easier to go vid Kilah 
Maur, and make the one long march, instead of two short 
ones which Colonel Kuhlberg preferred, as, having only 
camel-carriage, it was impossible for him to get his tents 
and baggage up before dark with so long a march in these 
short days, whereas to us with mule-carriage 26 miles was 
nothing out of the way. The Kashan valley runs into Bazaar 
Takta, the headquarters of the Harzagi section of the Sariks 



110 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

at Panjdeh, and the land in it is mostly cultivated by them. 
The Maruchak road crosses the valley about a mile to the 
south of a curious whitish artificial mound, called Yahud 
Tepe, or the Jew's mound. Some four miles to the south of 
this again are a couple more of small mounds, just opposite 
the proposed site for the boundary pillar on the top of a 
high hillock to the west. The stream here runs close under 
the hillocks on the western side of the valley, and the land 
on the eastern bank is irrigated from a canal taken off from 
the stream another three or four miles higher up. The whole 
of this canal, of course, is claimed by Eussia. Another 
canal taken off from the stream near Eobat-i-Kashan, higher 
up again, irrigates all the land on the western bank close 
up to the site for the boundary pillar; and this also is said 
to be claimed by Eussia. The question of the conflicting 
Afghan and Eussian claims is still under settlement. 

The march on the 18th into Maruchak was very short, 
only eight miles, through the sandhills lying between the 
valleys of the Kashan and the Murghab. The road de- 
bouches into the Maruchak valley through a narrow cleft 
in the hillocks, through which the old ruined Maruchak 
fort stood out particularly clear and plain a sight not 
easily to be forgotten. Our camp is pitched in the 
narrowest part of the valley, some three miles north of the 
fort, which stands on the opposite or eastern side of the 
valley. We are separated from the Eussian camp by a 
curious little mound, some 70 or 80 yards in length, used as 
a graveyard ; and as a good view of the valley is obtained 
from the top, many of the officers from both camps were 
found congregated there in the evening. The river is so 
high this year that it is unfordable near the ruins of the old 
bridge, about half a mile below the fort, where we crossed 
last year, and we have had to come to another ford a couple 
of miles or more lower down. This accounts for our being 
encamped so far to the north. Immediately to the west of 



CHRISTMAS AT MARUCHAK. Ill 

us is a dense mass of reeds and swamp, formed by an old 
bed of the river, through which runs the great Band-i- 
Nadir canal, which not only irrigates Panjdeh, but was 
formerly carried across the Kushk by the brick aqueduct at 
Pul-i-Khishti, and ran all down the left bank of the river 
right away to Yulatan. At present the old canal, though 
washed away by the encroachments of the river in places, 
as at Urush Doshan for instance, can still be traced all the 
way to Sari Yazi, the old traditional frontier of Panjdeh 
towards Merv. Sir West Eidgeway, with Captain de 
Laessoe and Kazi Muhammad Aslam, are the only members 
of our party who succeeded in getting so far north as Sari 
Yazi, and in actually inspecting the frontier decided on by 
Sir Peter Lumsden. I shall not easily forget meeting Sir 
West and his party starting out on their trip to Sari Yazi 
last February in the teeth of a bitter north wind and snow- 
storm, and I can only say that, had it not been for Sir 
West's determination to overcome all difficulties, it is fairly 
certain that not one of the Commission would ever have got 
so far north. I remember that I myself at the time was 
returning from Urush Doshan to Panjdeh, and I felt only 
too thankful to have the storm at my back and the prospect 
of shelter when I got in. Well, this Band-i-Nadir canal 
which I was describing is now the great bone of contention 
between the Kussians and the Afghans. The Protocol has 
laid it down that the boundary is to be drawn in nearly a 
straight line from Hauz-i-Khan to a point on the Murghab 
north of Maruchak. Now the natural point for the boundary 
is of course where the hills on either bank approach each 
other at the northern end of the Maruchak valley, some 
three miles below the fort, and there divide Maruchak from 
Panjdeh. Unfortunately, though, owing to the Band-i- 
Nadir canal running through this old bed of the river, the 
head of the canal, where it takes off from the river, instead 
of being to the north, is due west of the Maruchak fort, 



112 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

and some three miles within the Maruchak valley. The 
Eussians claim, and with reason, the head of the canal, 
upon which the cultivation of Panjdeh is entirely de- 
pendent; while of course the Afghans wish the strict letter 
of the Protocol to be adhered to, and claim the point at 
the northern end of the Maruchak valley. Were the 
Eussians content even with the possession of the head of 
their canal, things might be arranged ; but taking ad- 
vantage of having got the canal as the thin end of the 
wedge in the valley, they seem to wish to drive it in still 
farther, and there is no saying where their claims will end. 

On the 19th, Sir West Eidgeway, with Majors Bax and 
Durand, Captain de Laessoe, Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, 
and myself, rode up to the top of one of the highest hills 
overlooking the valley, whence a capital bird's-eye view of 
the whole tract in dispute could be obtained. One has 
-little idea what a very winding river the Murghab is, till 
seen from above for a good length of its course ; and to see 
it as it is, there is nothing like riding to the top of the 
nearest hill. By hill, though, I do not mean a hill in our 
ordinary sense of the word, but a sandy mound of greater 
or less elevation. There is no hill in this country which 
one cannot ride to the top of. In the afternoon, on the 
way home, Major Durand and I stopped to beat a patch of 
reeds we came to, and brought in a bag of nearly 50 
pheasants before sunset. It is extraordinary what a num- 
ber of pheasants there are in the reed -swamps in this 
valley; and this year they seem even more numerous than 
last, despite the thinning they got at the hands of the 
various members of the Commission last winter. I know of 
no country in the world where one can get such good, real, 
wild pheasant-shooting as this, and certainly none where 
one can do as one pleases with the coverts, and if they are 
too thick to beat, burn them with impunity. On the 21st 
we also brought in a bag of 72 pheasants, but as on the first 



CHRISTMAS AT MARUCHAK. 113 

day, lost a great many wounded birds. The reeds are so 
thick, and the birds, especially the old cocks, are so strong, 
that it is very hard to bag one's bird even after it is shot ; 
even if killed dead it is very hard to find, and if a spark of 
life remains it will invariably manage to creep off and hide 
somewhere. A good retriever would be worth anything 
here, but, unfortunately, amongst all our dogs we have not 
one of that breed in camp. Were I coming out to this 
country again, I should make a point of bringing a good 
retriever or a couple of retrieving spaniels with me ; they 
would stand the climate well, and make a day's shooting 
here really enjoyable. As it is, much as we enjoy the 
shooting, still our pleasure is constantly marred by the con- 
tinued loss of wounded birds a loss that tries the heart of 
every true sportsman. Fox-terriers and greyhounds are our 
only substitutes for retrievers, and we do our best with them ; 
but though they find some birds, they lose many more. 

The night of the 23d will, I think, live long in our 
memories unless, indeed, we are doomed to a continued 
repetition of such weather. During the afternoon the snow- 
clouds cleared away, and night fell with a perfectly clear sky 
and a glorious frost. By dinner-time, though, it got colder 
and colder ; and though we had pans of burning wood-ashes 
under the table, it was all we could do to keep our liquor 
from freezing as we drank it. By the time dinner was over, 
the thermometer was standing at 6, and during the night it 
went down to 2 below zero. One's breath froze into ice 
on one's pillow, and many of us found it difficult to sleep 
despite all the clothes we could pile on. I myself was 
awoke towards morning by a loud report, which I found 
was caused by the bursting of a bottle of what had been 
drinking-water, but which had turned into a block of ice, 
and burst under my bed ; and once awake, the cold was too 
intense to get to sleep again. At nine in the morning 
the thermometer was still only at 6, and it continued to 

H 



114 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

freeze all the day through despite the sun. In the after- 
noon I was out shooting, with the sun full on my face ; yet 
my hreath froze on my moustache the whole time. The 
poor cook, I think, has the hardest time of it. His eggs, he 
says, are all frozen hard, and he can make nothing of them. 
Writing with ink, of course, is an utter impossibility : every 
ink-pot in camp contains simply a solid block of ice ; and it is 
no use in thawing it, as it freezes on the paper before it has 
time to dry. I am writing this, therefore, in pencil. It is 
wonderful how well the men and followers are standing the 
cold ; but a liberal issue of meat and tea and sugar seems to 
make them all proof against anything. I must say, though, 
that they are precious quiet in the mornings, and loath 
indeed to get up. Their ablutions too, I daresay, are few 
and far between ; but really I cannot blame them. When 
it conies to us having to thaw our toothbrush every time we 
have to use it, and when everything around is frozen hard, 
little wonder that the poor Hindoo is chary of touching 
water. The bheesties, I think, I pity most. They can fill 
their mussucks certainly at the running canal, although even 
that is mostly frozen over ; but a little time after they get 
back into camp the water they have been carrying gets 
frozen, and absolutely refuses to run out of the mussuck 
again. The 24th was not quite such a cold day as the 
23d: the thermometer only went down to 2 at night, but 
it was still below freezing-point all day. 

M. Lessar arrived shortly after breakfast, and had a long 
conversation with Sir West Bldgeway and Major Durand 
over the boundary ; but what transpired, I do not know. It 
is generally supposed that his demands have not diminished. 
In the afternoon Major Holdich started for Chahar Shamba, 
whence he goes on to Daulatabad to collect his staff there, 
preparatory to surveying the country beyond that place up 
to the Oxus. Captain the Hon. M. G. Talbot writes that 
he had a most nattering and cordial reception at Mazar-i- 



CHRISTMAS AT MARUCHAK. 115 

Sharif, and he is now bringing his survey down from Balkh 
to Maimanah. The two sub-surveyors Heera Singh and 
Imam Sharif who have been away so long, have both re- 
turned. The former has completed a capital survey of the 
Band-i-Turkistan and the upper waters of the Murghab, in 
the Firozkohi country ; and the latter worked down south 
through the Taimani country into Zemindawar, to join on to 
the old Kandahar surveys. Both men went through con- 
siderable danger the former owing to the feuds raging 
amongst the various sects of the Firozkohis, and the latter 
in Zemindawar, where, though the people were quiet enough, 
the talibs, or religious students, were numerous and fanatical, 
and longed for the blood of an unbeliever. Imam Sharif 
tells us numerous tales of how they shot at him when work- 
ing on the tops of the hills ; and how one talib, more blood- 
thirsty than the rest, thinking that his survey khalassis, from 
the colour of their turbans, were Sikhs (it is curious what 
an innate hate the Afghan has for a Sikh, although he may 
never have seen one), came up to his tent flourishing a naked 
sword, which, he informed Imam Sharif, was known far and 
wide as the kafirchap, or the unbeliever-slasher, and that it 
was now his intention to use it on those Sikhs of his. On 
being persuaded that they were not Sikhs, he went away 
quietly enough. 

Our Christmas-day was bright and cold so cold, in fact, 
that we feared at first we should not be able to warm the 
mess-tent sufficiently to make it comfortable for ourselves 
and our Eussian guests. Dining in uniform in a tent with 
the thermometer at zero is by no means a pleasure ; but 
with the help of several layers of felt on the floor and a 
stove in each doorway, we succeeded in making the tent 
almost as warm and comfortable as a room. Colonel 
Kuhlberg and all his officers were the guests that night of 
Sir West Eidgeway, and a right merry evening we had. 
Twenty-three of us sat down to dinner all told, ten of us 



116 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

and thirteen of the Eussians viz., Sir West Bidgeway, 
Majors Bax and Durand, Captains Griesbach and De Laessoe, 
Dr Owen, Lieutenant Drummond, Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali 
Khan, Kazi Muhammad Aslam Khan, and myself ; while the 
Eussian party consisted of Colonel Kuhlberg, M. Lessar, 
Captain Gideonoff, Lieutenant - Colonel Prince Orbeliani, 
Captain Komaroff, Dr Semmer, Captain Kondratenko, Cap- 
tain Varenik, Lieutenant Kiachko, Lieutenant Gorokh, Cor- 
net Winnikoff, Councillor Neprintzeff, and M. Mirzaeff. 
After dinner Sir West proposed the health of the Emperor, 
and Colonel Kuhlberg that of the Queen. Colonel Kuhl- 
berg's health was then proposed by Sir West, and drunk 
with musical honours, followed at once by Sir West's health 
being proposed and drunk by the Eussian officers to the tune 
of a Georgian chant. The toasts of all the other officers 
were then proposed and drunk in turn ; and after that we 
had various Eussian songs and choruses, winding up finally 
with " Auld Lang Syne," and then, at Colonel Kuhlberg's 
request, with " God save the Queen." Altogether we had a 
most pleasant evening, despite the cold and other drawbacks. 
The morning of the 26th was spent by the Commissioners 
at a meeting in Colonel Kuhlberg's Jcibitka, and all the rest 
of us were invited by the latter to breakfast after it. Mid- 
day was the hour named, but the meeting of the Commis- 
sioners did not break up till 2 P.M., and then we all sat 
down to a regular Continental breakfast a dinner, in fact, in 
all but the name and the absence of soup to which we all 
did hearty justice. One JcibitJca not being able to hold us 
all, we divided into two parties, and the Cossacks sang in 
chorus to us outside. After breakfast we had some Cossack 
dances, and then Colonel Kuhlberg and the officers and 
Cossacks all escorted us back to our camp, the latter march- 
ing along behind singing in chorus, while one or two of the 
more active amongst them amused themselves by gallop- 
ing backwards and forwards and firing off their rifles on 



CHRISTMAS AT MARUCHAK. 117 

horseback. Major Bax, Captain Griesbach, and Lieutenant 
Drummond marched across the river the same evening to a 
fresh camp near the fort, and we all follow after them as 
soon as possible. The intense cold of the last few days has 
put a stop to the melting of snow in the hills, and the river 
is now much lower than it was, and we have little difficulty 
in crossing it ; the only thing is that it is still too deep for 
mules, and all our kit has to be moved on camels instead. 
We expect to move to our winter-quarters at Chahar Shamba 
very shortly, as soon as the negotiations here are brought to 
a close. The Eussian camp will probably remain where it 
is ; and with a plentiful supply of wood, they will be very 
comfortable here for the winter. The Panjdeh coloured 
felts make a capital warm lining for kibitkas, and both the 
Eussians and ourselves have been laying in a stock. The 
supply, though, is not nearly so great as it was last year, and 
prices have risen in consequence. As to Turkoman carpets, 
the supply seems to be quite exhausted. The Eussian 
officers say they can get none, and we certainly can get 
hold of none at all. Whether it is that the Turkomans are 
afraid to come to our camp, or what, I do not know ; but 
certain it is that they do not come, and we have scarcely 
seen a man of position since we arrived. 

Almost all the leading and wealthy men of the tribe 
belong to the Sokti section, which inhabits the northern 
portion of Panjdeh up to Pul-i-Khishti, some 25 miles to 
the north of our present camp those living near here being 
Harzagis, and apparently the poorest of the poor. In all 
the kibitkas forming the hamlets about here I have not seen 
a single carpet door purdah the surest sign of poverty ; as 
to floor carpets, I do not suppose they have one amongst 
them. The carpets, although very pretty, are of no practical 
use, so far as the cold is concerned. Nothing but felt can 
keep the floor of one's tent warm, and without felts the cold 
seems to strike up from the ground through and through one. 



118 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Yet these felts are of no use again, they say, in any other 
climate. In India they are far too warm, in England they 
absorb too much damp, and consequently, once the winter is 
over, their day is past and gone. 

The Russian officers are all two and two in a kibitka, 
with the exception of Colonel Kuhlberg and his two Assist- 
ant Commissioners, M. Lessar and Captain Gideonoff, who 
have each a kibitka to themselves. Our Government, by 
the way, has limited Sir West Eidgeway to one Assistant 
Commissioner instead of two. Lieutenant-Colonel Prince 
Orbeliani is a Georgian officer, who has just arrived, and 
having spent seven or eight years as a boy in England, 
speaks English capitally in addition to his other linguistic 
attainments, and is a great acquisition in consequence. 

We have had no Indian post for some days now, as the 
Band-i-Baba pass is quite blocked up by snow, and all com- 
munication with Herat is cut off. Our Mashhad postal line, 
though, is in capital working order, and we get our telegrams 
across Badghis in between three and four days. From Mash- 
had to Zulfikar the mails are carried by Persian sowars, and 
then from Zulfikar to Kushk Sir West Eidgeway has organised 
a line of Turkoman sowars, who are doing their work well. 

The public telegrams have already published the fact that 
differences have arisen regarding the demarcation of the 
frontier, and how these differences will be decided remains 
to be seen. In settling a boundary like this it is only, to be 
expected that differences should arise. To define a boundary 
between Panjdeh on the one side, and Sarakhs and Merv on 
the other, would have been an easy matter ; but to define a 
boundary between Panjdeh and the rest of the Herat district 
is a very different thing. Eights enjoyed by the Sariks as 
Afghan subjects have now to be taken away from them, and 
the Russians are naturally sore at their loss. The Afghans 
equally insist on the maintenance of the integrity of Maru- 
chak and other places guaranteed to them by the Protocol. 



CHRISTMAS AT MARUCHAK. 119 

The Amir in ceding Panjdeh claimed that Zulfikar, Gulran, 
and Maruchak should be secured to him, doubtless sup- 
posing that all lands and rights belonging to those places 
should be his also. We know how long it took and what 
difficulty there was before a settlement could be arrived at 
regarding the limits of Zulfikar. Now the same thing prom- 
ises to repeat itself with reference to Maruchak, with this 
exception, that M. Lessar, who had in the former case to 
deal with the Ministry at home, is now confronted with the 
British Commission and Afghan representatives on the spot. 
The case of Zulfikar was comparatively simple, as there 
were no inhabitants there on either side of the border, and 
the Afghans knew and cared comparatively little about the 
country beyond. At Maruchak all this is altered. On the 
Eussian side are the Sariks of Panjdeh, for whom the Eus- 
sian Commissioners appear to wish not only to obtain as a 
right the full possession of all former encroachments, but 
also scope for further encroachment in the future. The 
Afghans, on their side, are equally determined to resist, and 
claim to oust all Sariks within Maruchak limits, and the 
right to prevent all future extension of the Sariks to the 
south. Both sides have a certain amount of right on their 
side, and an equitable decision can only be arrived at by 
moderation on both sides. Unfortunately, that is the one 
thing wanting. Afghans are noted for their arrogance ; but 
if rumour is true, the Eussian claims, on the other side, are 
sadly wanting in moderation, and a boundary settlement con- 
ducted in such a spirit must naturally be full of difficulties. 
A meeting of the Commission, at which Kazi Saad-ud-Din, 
the Amir's representative, and the governor of Herat, will 
both be present, takes place to-morrow ; but whether a settle- 
ment will be arrived at here, or whether the matter will have 
to be referred to the two Governments at home, remains to 
be seen. Sir West Eidgeway has in any case a most diffi- 
cult task before him. 



120 



CHAPTEE X. 

WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 

CAMP CHAHAR SHAMBA, 9th Jan. 1886. 

ON the 28th December the final meeting of the Commission 
at Maruchak took place, so far as the present is concerned, 
and Sir West Eidgeway and Major Durand bade adieu to 
their Eussian confreres and crossed the river to the camp 
by the fort. 

Sir West Eidgeway halted at Maruchak Fort for the 29th, 
while Captain Durand accompanied the governor of Herat 
and Kazi Saad-ud-Din on a farewell visit to Colonel Kuhl- 
berg, rejoining the camp at Karawal Khana, 1 2 miles up the 
valley, the next day. Maruchak Fort, which the majority of 
us have probably now seen for the last time, has evidently 
been a fine place in its day. The outer walls are some 600 
yards square, slightly rounded at the corners, and are still 
some 15 feet or more in height, and surrounded by a moat. 
The main entrance is on the west, facing the river, which 
here extends, in the form of a large swamp, right up to 
within 200 or 300 yards of the gate. There are also other 
and smaller gates at the north-east and south-east angles ; 
but the whole enclosure is now the picture of desolation and 
decay. The centre is occupied by a circular mound some 3 
or 40 feet in height, and about 250 yards in diameter, the 
remains, I presume, of an inner fortress. The walls on the 
top of this have been partially repaired, and a row of bar- 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 121 

racks were built last year all round the eastern side for the 
Afghan garrison. These were all occupied when I saw them 
in February last, but that was before the attack on Panjdeh. 
They were deserted directly after. The heavy spring rains 
played sad havoc with the unburnt bricks of which they 
were constructed, and they will require a good deal of repair 
before they are fit for habitation again. The citadel is com- 
prised in a higher mound again, some 60 yards square, 
occupying the south-west corner of the fortress mound, and 
some 20 or 30 feet above it. The walls and bastions of 
this were built up to a height of some 10 feet by the 
Afghan masons before the winter set in last year, but 
nothing more, of course, was done this year. Next year, 
no doubt, as soon as the boundary is settled, the walls will 
be completed by the Amir's orders, and the place put in a 
state of defence. But however suitable for the accommo- 
dation of the Afghan frontier garrison, I doubt if the fort 
could offer any prolonged resistance to a Eussian attack. 

The road from Maruchak to Karawal Khana runs along 
the eastern side of the valley, close under the hills, twice 
crossing projecting spurs of the latter, and thus cutting off 
bends of the river. Woe to the unfortunate sportsman who 
crosses the canals by the bridge near the Maruchak Fort and 
shoots his way up the valley, fondly imagining that he can 
cross the canals and get back into the road again higher up. 
I myself can speak from personal experience on the subject, 
and I am not likely to forget how, after working my way 
through swarnps and reed-beds right up to the southern end 
of the first spur, I found myself brought up at the head of 
the canal by precipitous banks some 15 or 20 feet in depth, 
and utterly impassable for man or beast ; and how I wearily 
worked my way back for some five or six miles along the 
banks of this canal ; and even then, after the canal had split 
up into several branches, I only got across with the greatest 
difficulty, at the cost of a thorough ducking to myself, men, 



122 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

and horses a by no means agreeable termination to a day's 
shooting on a cold winter's evening, with one's camp almost 
as far off as when one started in the morning. 

Karawal Khana is a small Turkoman hamlet just at the 
junction of the Kilah Wali stream with the Murghab. We 
were encamped round the Ziarat-i-Pistah, a tomb enclosed 
by a low wall, and so known from the one solitary pistachio- 
nut bush overhanging it. The place is the site of some 
ancient building, as the mounds about, of which there are 
several, are full of burnt bricks and other remains. The 
Turkomans located at Karawal Khana are separated from 
the Jamshidis of Bala Murghab by a low projecting spur of 
the hills, though their respective hamlets are within a very 
short distance of each other, the Turkoman hamlets going 
right up to the point, and a big Jamshidi hamlet being just 
beyond. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to the unedu- 
cated eye to tell the hamlets of the one tribe from those of 
the other. The people of the one dress just the same as the 
other, and there is little to choose between them in the way 
of poverty ; the JcibitJcas of all are the same. 

The Turkomans are not at all a forgetful race, and I was 
struck by the warm welcome I received from a little old 
man who was out with me as a guide last year, and who 
recognised and rushed up to me the moment he saw me 
again. His real name I forget, but we nicknamed him 
Jowan Batur, from the untiring way he rode any distance, 
and the pride with which he told us that he had just mar- 
ried a third wife, a little girl in her teens. Battir is a 
Turkoman title answering somewhat to the Indian Bahadur, 
and the little man has stuck to it ever since. I think the 
best Turkoman bread I ever tasted I ate in his JcibitJca; and 
I well remember, when riding last year on a cold snowy day 
the 22 miles from Maruchak to Bala Murghab, thoroughly 
appreciating the hot bread he gave us to eat as we sat 
warming our frozen toes over the fire in his Tdbitka. The 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 123 

Turkomans at Karawal Khana, though they hold all the land 
at the mouth of the Kilah Wall stream, still seem not to 
extend far up its course. Within a very few miles we 
found that the Turkomans were superseded by Jamshidi 
flocks from Bala Murghab ; and, in fact, the Jamshidis seem 
to hold almost all the land between the two Turkoman 
settlements at Karawal Khana and Kilah Wali. 

From Karawal Khana we all marched up to Chahar 
Shamba in detachments. Captain de Laessoe and I started 
first on the 30th December to assist Captain Cotton in the 
collection of supplies for the winter. The cavalry followed 
on the 2d January, their party comprising Major Bax, Cap- 
tains Gore and Griesbach, Lieutenant Drummond, and Sirdar 
Sher Ahmed Khan Sir West Eidgeway, with Major Durand, 
Dr Owen, and Kazi Muhammad Aslam Khan, bringing up 
the rear on the 6th. The road is a good sample of the 
curious natural highways that exist in this country. The 
Kilah Wali stream is very small, not more than four or five 
yards in width at its mouth ; yet imagine a perfectly flat level 
valley, some half-mile in breadth, running more or less all 
the way down from Kaisar to Karawal Khana, a distance of 
nearly 60 miles, bounded on either side by low hills, those 
on the north gradually merging into the undulating sandy 
cJml, and those on the south into the lofty and now snow- 
clad range of the Band-i-Turkistan ; yet all the way up this 
valley you might drive a coach -and-f our with the greatest 
ease. How such little bits of streams work out for them- 
selves such wonderfully level valleys it is hard to say ; but 
judging from the curiously even way in which the hills on 
either side here and there have been cut through, it would 
seem to have been due to the action of ice. At the present 
time the stream runs almost all the way between high banks 
some 10 or 12 feet below the level of the ground on either 
side, and this is the general feature of all the streams in this 
country. How easily these valleys are traversed by wheeled 



124 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

carriage is proved by the fact that the Eussian Commission 
have a couple of carts which they brought with them from 
Ashkabad, and which have been driven through all our marches 
along the frontier without the slightest mishap. I can only 
trust that the practicability of this country for light-wheeled 
transport may be borne in mind by the military authorities 
when the next force is being equipped for service up here. 
So far as I am aware, there was nothing to prevent us using 
Heyland carts or other light vehicles all the march up from 
Quetta to Herat ; and the passes of the Paropamisus north of 
Herat that are passable for artillery, of course offer no im- 
pediment to their further advance. 

The march up the 42 miles from Karawal Khana to Chahar 
Shamba is not of any particular interest. Some six miles up, 
the road through the hills from Bala Murghab debouches 
into the valley, and some five miles farther on the road crosses 
the stream at a place called Shukr l Guzar, though I cannot 
say that I saw any reason for thanks regarding that par- 
ticular ford, as we found one of our mules, load and all, 
stuck in a mud-hole in the middle of it, quite unable to 
move, and which it took us some time to get out. I re- 
member finding a lot of pheasants in the reeds there when 
out with Sir Peter Lumsden one day last year, and their 
numbers seemed to increase higher up. The only signs of 
ancient habitations that I noticed in that part of the valley 
were some mounds full of bricks two or three miles above 
the ford. On one side of the road there were the evident 
remains of an old rdbat, and on the other of a reservoir both 
buildings, of course, being assigned by local tradition to 
Abdullah Khan of Bokhara. As a rule, the water in the 
Kilah Wali stream is brackish ; but this year, owing to the 
late freshets, it is everywhere drinkable. There is a spring 
of sweet water, though, on the eastern side of the valley, a 
mile or two above these ruins, known as Yan Chashmah, or 

1 Shukr = thanks. 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT G'HAHAR SHAMBA. 125 

the wayside spring. Seventeen miles from Karawal Khana 
there is a small Jamshidi hamlet called Bokun, where some 
twenty or twenty-five families, who fled from Bala Murghab 
on the retreat of the Afghans from Panjdeh, after wandering 
about in the hills all the summer, eventually settled down 
with the intention of cultivating the land next season. It was 
here and at Kilah Wali that I first heard of an instance of 
pheasant-hunting on horseback. I did not witness the sport 
myself, I regret to say, but I was told by Sirdar Muhammad 
Aslam Khan that, when travelling through during the heavy 
fall of snow a day or two before Christmas, he found that 
the villagers had captured no less than thirty-five, simply by 
riding them down. The sport, it seems, can best be pursued 
just after a fall of snow. In this case the whole village 
turned out to beat the reeds ; the birds soon got distracted, 
and after the first flight or two, sought safety by hiding 
under the snow and bushes. The horsemen, galloping up, 
marked where a pheasant settled, followed up its tracks, only 
too plainly visible in soft snow, and pulled it out of its 
hiding-place by the hand. No wonder the pheasants up 
this valley are comparatively scarce. At Maruchak the 
reed-beds are too vast and too dense to allow of such sport ; 
but along the banks of the Kilah Wali stream the beds are 
narrow and thin, and the birds can more easily be driven 
out into the open. 

The present village of Kilah Wali is some seven miles 
above Bokun, and three miles below the old fort of that name. 
It is inhabited entirely by Sarik Turkomans, emigrants from 
Panjdeh. Of the total of 420 houses or kibitkas which it is 
said to contain, 300 or more belong to the Harzagi section, 
and the majority of the remainder are Khorasanlis, with just 
a few Alishahs and Bairach amongst them. They are pre- 
sided over by an Afghan governor, known as the Akhund 
Zadah. The fort is simply one of the usual rectangular 
ruins so common in these parts. The outer walls are some 



126 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

100 by 80 yards in length and breadth respectively, with 
an inner fort some 35 yards square in the centre. In the 
middle of this again there is a curious double-storeyed cir- 
cular tower of burnt brick, the first of its kind that I have 
seen, and built to answer the purpose of a citadel, I pre- 
sume. The place is now entirely deserted. The valley here 
bends more to the east, and for some miles up is nothing 
but a mass of reeds. On the southern side of the valley the 
ruins of another old fort, called Guchmach, are distinctly 
visible just at the junction of a small stream running down 
from the mountains behind. A couple of miles beyond, the 
road forks, the northern branch running up to Chahar 
Shamba, and the southern up to Hirak, a parallel valley 
some three miles to the south, more immediately under the 
Tirband-i-Turkistan. 

At Chahar Shamba we enter the Maimanah district, 
Kilah Wali being the confines of the Herat province in this 
direction. So we have left the Heratis for good, and now 
we enter into a fresh course under the jurisdiction of Sirdar 
Ishak Khan. Muhammad Sarwar Khan, the governor of 
Herat, accompanied us to Karawal Khana, and from thence 
was to return to Herat. I regret that I had not an oppor- 
tunity of wishing him good-bye, as I have always found 
him most pleasant and cordial. In Sirdar Muhammad 
Ishak Khan we shall probably have a very different man 
to deal with. The treatment experienced at his hands 
by Captains Maitland and the Hon. M. G. Talbot in their 
travels, seems to have been very different from that we 
have hitherto been subjected to by Kazi Saad-ud-Din in 
the Herat districts. In Turkistan the cry is that India 
and Afghanistan are now all one ek doulat, as the ex- 
pression is and the utmost trust and confidence were re- 
posed in our officers. They were shown everywhere, paid 
the greatest attention, and treated as friends. Kazi Saad- 
ud-Din, on the contrary, sits at our doors, bent on preventing 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 127 

the slightest intercourse between ourselves and the people 
of the country, and doing his utmost to thwart our best 
endeavours for the good of the Amir and his dominions. 
Instead of friends and protectors, he would wish to make us 
out treacherous deceivers, and he has doubtless done his 
best to malign us and minimise the effect of all that the 
British Government has done for Afghanistan. Our attempts 
to keep the people loyal and true to the Amir in times of 
great difficulty, have invariably been met, not with thanks, 
but with virulent misrepresentation to the Amir, and any 
unfortunate man caught doing any of us the slightest ser- 
vice has always been flogged or otherwise severely punished. 
I have even heard it said that one poor man was badly 
beaten simply for hiring out his kibitka last winter to one 
of our officers. With such a man to deal with, it may be 
imagined how difficult it is for Sir West Eidgeway to keep 
things straight. 

CAMP CHAHAR SHAMBA, 23d January 1886. 

We are now fairly settled down into winter-quarters here, 
and very comfortable we are under the circumstances. The 
weather had been so warm of late that we had almost 
forgotten what real cold was, and many, getting tired of the 
monotony of camp life, were longing to be on the move again, 
quite forgetting what hardship is entailed by marching in bad 
weather at this season of the year. The only certain thing 
about this climate is its uncertainty. One never knows 
what the morrow may bring forth. For the greater part of 
this month we had a succession of fogs, mist, and rain, which 
kept us and all belonging to us in a continual state of damp- 
ness. Then suddenly we had a couple of warm sunny days, 
followed just as suddenly by a couple of days of snow and 
sleet. Then sun again, and then rain, suddenly turning into 
snow, all without any warning whatever. One thing certainly 
we escape here, and that is the wind. Had we remained in 



128 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the Herat valley we should have suffered from it greatly, 
whereas here we have escaped it entirely so far. The soil of 
this valley is terribly muddy and slimy a little mist and 
rain turns the whole place into one vast quagmire ; even 
horses can hardly keep their feet in it, and travelling is 
almost an impossibility. Our camp roads have been im- 
proved as much as possible by layers of gravel and stone, 
but still in a thaw the mud is something indescribable. On 
a dry day our camp is almost perfect. We have lots of 
room, and, thanks to the exertions of Captain Cotton and 
Lieutenant Drummond, the greatest regularity. The cavalry 
and officers' horses occupy all the northern face. The main 
street, comprising the tents of all the various officers and 
members of the Mission, occupies the centre, running east 
and west, with the infantry, hospital, and commissariat on 
the south. All the troops and most of the followers have 
been provided with kibitkas ; and as we have a plentiful 
supply of wood, they are all as happy as possible, and in 
the best of health. Owing to the reduction in our num- 
ber, sufficient kibitkas have been procurable locally to house 
almost all the men. The officers, as a rule, prefer their tents. 
We have all got a good Swiss-cottage tent apiece, and we 
have each of us run up either a fireplace or a stove, so 
that we can defy the cold. Great experience have we gained 
in the building of mud-chimneys. The number of times 
that some of these have been pulled down and built again, 
and the way in which the most inveterate tendency of some 
of these chimneys to smoke has been triumphantly overcome, 
ought to make us authorities in the art of chimney-building 
for the rest of our days. Fireplaces are, no doubt, prefer- 
able to stoves, the sight of a fire making the tent look so 
much cheerier ; and we have them of every pattern. We 
have the humble hearth, easily made by sinking the floor of 
the tent a couple of feet and tunnelling out the fireplace 
and chimney through the earth on one side ; and we have the 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 129 

regular fireplace and cliimneypiece, filling up the whole of 
one of the do'ors of the tent. I myself have a small iron stove, 
brought from Mashhad, with a pipe sufficiently long to carry 
the smoke through the side of the tent, and then outside a mud 
chimney which carries it on well beyond all chance of danger 
from sparks. Not that we are dependent on Mashhad, though, 
for our stoves, for one of the most effective I have seen was 
manufactured by Major Bax out of an old kerosene-oil tin, 
and would do credit to an inventories exhibition. We have 
almost all of us adopted the big Turkoman top-boots, lined 
with long felt socks, and there is nothing like them to keep 
one's feet warm ; when riding in the cold they are simply 
invaluable. Their only drawback is the long pointed heels 
shod with iron, which Turkoman fashion prescribes, and 
which make the boots most difficult to walk in. 

Chahar Shainba is not an interesting place to live in. 
Imagine a valley about a mile in width, with a small stream, 
some eight feet wide, running down the centre of it. On the 
north are the low hills, or rather hillocks, bordering the chid; 
to the south the same for a mile or two, and then another 
parallel valley known as Hirak, and then behind that again 
the range of the Tirband-i-Turkistan a grand sight certainly 
in its snowy grandeur when visible, but that has been so 
seldom, owing to the fogs, rain, and snow, that we hardly yet 
know what it is like. There is nothing in the immediate 
vicinity of the camp to tempt one out. Last year at Bala 
Murghab we had a fine river running past the camp, and 
sportsmen were always sure of a shot at a duck or a pheasant 
within a mile or two. Here there are no duck ; and though 
there are some pheasants five or six miles up the valley, the 
reeds they live in are so dense that it is next to impossible 
to get at them. We hope for a dry day and a good wind to 
give us a chance of burning those reeds, but till then we are 
helpless. Pigs, too, swarm in them ; and when we do succeed 
in burning the thick cover, we hope to have some fine fun 

I 



130 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

with them. Snipe certainly seem plentiful, but few of us 
have cartridges sufficient to waste on anything so small ; and 
in addition to that, the necessity of wading about in black 
mud, almost up to one's knees, in this cold weather, makes 
one think twice about going after them, with the prospect of 
a cold ride home again afterwards. 

The Usbegs certainly are neither a handsome nor an in- 
teresting race, so far as one can judge of those we see here. 
The village of Chahar Shamba is close to our camp, but only 
contains some 50 low, flat-roofed mud-houses, mostly small 
and dirty. Here, where wood, mostly juniper, is procurable 
in any quantity from the mountains behind, we no longer 
see the domed roofs which looked so picturesque in the less 
wooded districts we have been hitherto traversing. The 
rough sheepskin hats of the Herat district, and the black 
lambskin hats of the Ainiak and Turkoman tribes, which we 
have got so used to during the past year, have here quite dis- 
appeared. The Usbegs wear nothing but small blue lungis 
or turbans, and are much the most abject-looking race we 
have been amongst yet. Generations of oppression have, no 
doubt, told on them, and they are all apparently miserably 
poor. I have not yet seen a man amongst them wearing- 
arms, and they look to be anything but a fighting race. Still 
we know that they held out at Maimanah for long against 
the Afghans, and there are many tales of individual courage 
against the Turkomans. 

Eiding up the valley the other day, I came to an old de- 
serted fort at Chachaktu, some seven miles from here, and ask- 
ing the history of the place, I was told that it was sacked 
by the Turkomans ten years or so ago, and every man, wo- 
man, and child in it was carried off, with the exception of 
the head-man, by name Isfandiar, who still survives in the 
new village down below. The Turkomans, it seems, first 
sent on a few of their number with a long string of camels, 
who got admission into the fort under the pretence of pur- 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 131 

chasing grain. These men opened the gates to their friends 
hiding in the hills close by, and Isfandiar and his wife had 
just time to get into the round brick tower at the end of the 
fort before they were surrounded. Here these two bravely 
held out against all the attacks of the Turkomans, and the 
latter, in the end, were obliged to withdraw, with the loss of 
fourteen of their number, leaving Isfandiar and his wife in 
solitary possession of the village. It is only just lately, I 
was told, that Isfandiar has been able to ransom his other 
wife and children, who were then carried off. 

All this country seems to have been terribly harassed by 
Turkomans, even up to a very recent date. On arrival at 
Narin, a village some 25 miles to the east, the other day, 
the Shahgassi, or village official, pointed out a well-known 
Panjdeh Sarik leader, who was with me as a guide, as the 
man who had carried off 637 of their sheep only two years 
ago. " At any rate, he looks quiet enough now," said I. 
" Ah yes," replied the Shahgassi. " He was a wolf, but now 
with you he has become a lamb." The Turkoman raids, 
though, have not been put a stop to even yet. The Kara 
Turkomans, or the Lab-i-Abi, as they are more generally 
called, from living on the banks of the Oxus in Bokhara 
territory, still go on the foray, and several raids have 
occurred even since our arrival. A flock of sheep was 
driven off not long ago, and I hear that a Cossack, on duty 
with one of the Eussian topographers, was also rifled of all 
he possessed. No wonder that the Usbegs here are com- 
paratively poor in flocks, and that the Turkomans are rich. 
Poor Usbegs ! they have hardly dared to let their sheep out 
of their sight for many years past, and have been obliged to 
abstain from the use of their wells and pasturage in the chul, 
from fear of being carried off into slavery, and now have the 
mortification of seeing those very wells, dug by their ances- 
tors, claimed by Kussia on the ground that they were not 
using them at the time of the Kussian occupation of Merv. 



132 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

One thing the Usbegs exceed the Turkomans in the pos- 
session of, and that is cattle. These being always kept at 
home, I presume have suffered less in the raids in proportion 
to sheep, and consequently milk and glue are procurable here 
in plenty. The breed is small and black, about the same 
size, but not so shaggy, as Highland cattle, and are always 
used for ploughing. Amongst the Turkomans, on the con- 
trary, few oxen were seen in the plough. Horses were gen- 
erally used, much to the astonishment of our Panjabi sowars, 
who had never seen a horse put to such a use before ; and as 
often as not, camels and donkeys were yoked with the horse. 
I have even seen a camel and a donkey yoked together in a 
plough. Such, though, is not the custom here. The people 
of this valley are all now as busy as they can be, ploughing 
their fields for next year's crop indeed most of the wheat is 
already sown but I have never once seen a horse in a plough. 
The Usbegs are not great horse-owners. Only the head-men 
of the villages about here seem to possess a horse at all, and 
that generally is a very sorry beast. Sheep we have no dif- 
ficulty in purchasing from the Turkomans and such sheep, 
too, as they are ! Our ration meat equals the best English 
mutton, without any #ram-feeding or special preparation, as 
in India. The last batch of sheep purchased from the Turko- 
mans averaged each, when dressed, 75 Ib. in weight, and cost 
only sixteen krans apiece (Es. 6-6-4) ; and yet I can remem- 
ber a time when, as an ensign, I was weighing out the 
rations for my company, the commissariat sheep weighed on 
an average 13 Ib. apiece, or about as much as a good big 
hare : that, however, was in the Eajputana famine year, I 
confess. Talking of rations, we have now got an ample stock 
in hand. Thanks to Captain Cotton's exertions, two months' 
supplies of all kinds have been laid in here ; while Captain 
de Laessoe and myself purchased and stored about another 
month's grain and Ihoosa at Narin, ready for our move on- 
ward in the spring. Our demands, too, have been consider- 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 133 

ably reduced by the dismissal of 2 5 hired Persian mules ; 
so that we are now practically independent for the next three 
months, and by that time I hope the demarcation of the 
frontier will be in a fair way towards completion. It is 
hoped that all the necessary surveys will be finished by the 
end of March, if not before, and the demarcation then ought 
to progress apace, if the Eussian claims have been reduced 
by that time within reasonable limits. 

Our men here are all anxious to test their strength and 
agility with the Cossacks, but hitherto the constant rain and 
snow have quite put a stop to the practice of all outdoor 
sports. Last New Year's Day at Bala Murghab we had a 
capital day's races and sports, and the Eussians have often 
spoken of giving us an exhibition of their men's prowess ; but 
I fear there is little chance, so far as we know at present, of 
anything of the sort coming off. Had the two camps been 
wintering together, I have little doubt some friendly contests 
might have been arranged ; but as it is, I doubt if we shall 
ever have the wished-for opportunity. We had hoped to 
have had some of the Eussian officers up here on a visit, 
but almost all our invitations were declined. M. Lessar and 
Captain Komaroff, however, talk of taking a trip from 
Panjdeh into the chul to the east, and paying us a visit 
on their way back, but it is doubtful when their trip will 
come off. Lieutenant Kiachko and another Cossack officer 
are, though, it is hoped, really on their way up ; but I pity 
them if they are marching to-day, as it has been snowing 
steadily now for the past twenty-four hours, and their trip 
would be hardly a pleasant one. 

Sir West Eidgeway has just received a letter from Mr 
Ney Elias announcing his safe arrival at Khanabad. The 
messenger, a Yarkundi, who brought his note, had been 
with him throughout his journey for the past five months, 
and hurried away to rejoin and accompany him back to 
Yarkund. 



134 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

CAMP CHAHAR SHAMBA, 2d February 1886. 

The weather was wretched for the week before the 30th, 
and we were able to do nothing. Wet and raw, there was 
no comfort indoors, or rather in our tents, for we have no 
doors, and still less comfort outside. On the 30th the wet 
changed again into snow, and real cold set in. How long 
this will last remains to be seen. Mr Merk arrived just in 
time for dinner on the evening of the 29th, having ridden 
through the last 45 miles from Bala Murghab that day, and 
was lucky to get in when he did, just before the snow com- 
menced to fall. His Christmas dinner was eaten with the 
return party at Chahar Burjak, on the banks of the Hel- 
mand, and starting back the next day, he and Eessaldar- 
Major Baha-u'-din Khan have been travelling hard to rejoin 
us ever since ; and glad we are to see them both safe back 
again. We only trust that all our comrades with the return 
party are equally safe back in India. When our turn 
will come to follow them no one can say. True, the first 
half of the boundary from Zulfikar to Maruchak has been 
settled, but who can tell when the second half from Maru- 
chak to the Oxus will be finished ? The country through 
which the boundary will run is absolutely unknown, and till 
the survey is completed nothing can be done. Our first idea 
of it was that all the country between Maruchak, Maimanah, 
and Andkhui was one vast desert, but every day's experience 
shows us more and more how wrong our ideas were. Captain 
Peacocke, who has just returned from his survey trip in the 
country to the north and west of Maimanah, tells us that all 
the heads of the valleys draining down into the Ab-i-Kaisar, at 
an average distance of some 20 to 25 miles to the north of that 
stream, were formerly that is to say, up to within about the 
last twenty years or so well inhabited, and that the coun- 
try is covered with old wells and former sites of Tdshlaks 
or winter habitations. These gradually succumbed to the 
attacks of the Turkomans one after another, in many cases 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 135 

being absolutely destroyed, the people men, women, and 
children all being carried off into slavery, and the result is 
that no one has dared to go out to those places ever since. 
Not only has the population of these outer districts been 
carried off bodily, but even that in the more settled districts 
along the highroad has suffered in proportion. Almar, a 
level fertile plain, some six miles in diameter, 16 miles or so 
on this side of Maimanah, supported twenty years ago so 
Captain de Laessoe reports a population of 2000 families, 
whereas now there are hardly 700. So with all the villages 
about here. Chahar Shamba, where we now are, instead of 
a village of fifty houses, was formerly the centre of a well- 
populated district, extending down the valley almost all the 
way to Kilah Wali, 1 6 miles to the east. Curiously enough, 
the villagers claim to be not Usbegs, but the descendants 
of a lot of mixed races, and call themselves the Doazdah 
Aimak, or the twelve nomad tribes, and have no idea where 
they originally came from or what their tribes were. They 
are now, to all intents and purposes, Usbegs in fact, if not 
in name. Nadir Shah, the tradition is, settled 12,000 
families of different tribes down here, but that subsequently 
some returned whence they came, others moved elsewhere or 
were carried off by Turkomans, and now, of the original 
12,000, only forty families remain, the remaining ten houses 
in the village being comprised of six Jamshidi and four 
Khojah and Syed families. 

Chahar Shamba seems to have suffered heavily at the 
hands of the Turkomans. In 1846, they say, 500 Sarik 
horsemen attacked the village, killed 60 men, and carried 
off all the remainder men, women, and children -with all 
their sheep, cattle, and everything. Hukumat Khan, the 
then Wali of Maimanah, succeeded in ransoming the majority 
of the villagers through some Syeds of the Eshan or Priest 
of Khwajah Kandu, a shrine 12 miles to the south of Chahar 
Shamba, who proceeded as his representative to Merv for 



136 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the purpose, but the village never recovered its prosperity. 
So late as 1881 the last of their cattle and sheep were 
driven off by the Sariks to Panjdeh, and now they have only 
just sufficient to supply themselves with milk and ghee, and 
these animals they never allow to wander out of sight of the 
village. 

Hirak, the valley under the hills to the south of Chahar 
Shamba, though boasting a population of 250 houses, almost 
all Usbegs of the Mekrit branch, still possesses only one 
owner of a flock of sheep. Being more sheltered, they 
suffered comparatively less from the Turkomans, till, in 
1877, the Firozkohis came down on them on the other side, 
from over the Band-i-Turkistan mountains, and carried off 
3500 sheep and 300 head of cattle all they had, in fact. 
This was the last straw, and since then they have given up 
all attempts at keeping sheep. 

Hazarah Kilah, the village on the other side of our camp, 
a mile or two to the east of us, has a curious history ap- 
parently. As its name implies, it was originally peopled 
entirely by Hazarahs, descendants of a party who remained 
here out of the ancestors of the present Kilah Nao Hazarahs, 
and who were originally brought down, it is said, by Shah 
Eukh, the son of Amir Taimur, from Kunduz to Kilah Nao, 
by this very road. What their numbers were originally it 
is impossible to say, but they have dwindled down, till at 
present they number only seven families, and these have 
entirely lost all their Hazarah characteristics, and are 
Usbegs in all but name in no way differing from the 
other forty or fifty families of Usbegs who now share the 
village with them. 

As an instance of the curious mixture of races up here, 
we find a colony of some 600 or 700 families of Kipchaks 
settled in the Kaisar plain and the hills behind it, some 
12 miles farther east. Where they came from they 
cannot say, and they are the only representatives of that 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 13*7 

race in this country. They have two chiefs or Mirs, two 
brothers named Hakim Khan and Karim Khan, who claim 
descent from the great Changiz Khan. The latter died in 
1227, and it is just possible that these are a remnant of 
some of his mighty hordes who overran the country. Up 
in the hills, above the Kipchaks, at a place called Chahar 
Tagou, live another tribe, numbering some 300 families, 
called the Karaie. Who or what they are no one can say, 
and it is impossible to get to their snow-bound valleys at 
this time of the year. All I can hear about them is, that 
they have three Mirs, named Peerhat Beg, Turah Beg, and 
Morad Beg, who have been fighting among themselves for 
years, but that lately they have settled all feuds by mutually 
giving daughters in marriage all round, and are now at last 
at peace. They are said to resemble the Kipchaks in appear- 
ance ; and as the Kipchaks are very like the Usbegs, I do 
not suppose there is anything particularly noticeable about 
them. The common language amongst all these tribes is 
Turki in various dialects, but almost all understand and 
speak Persian as well. 

Our party in camp has been enlivened for the past week 
by the presence of a couple of Cossack officers Captain 
Volkovnikoff, of the 1st Caucasian Eegiment, and Lieu- 
tenant Kiachko, of the 1st Toman Eegiment. The latter 
belongs to the escort with the Eussian Commissioner at 
Panjdeh, but the former comes from Pul-i-Khishti, where 
his squadron is now quartered, and has come up with his 
friend to have a look at our Indian troops. He is said to be 
a keen soldier, and it would have been a pleasure to show 
him what we could, so far as our small number of men 
would allow it ; but, alas ! the weather has been so bad that 
any parades or sports have been quite out of the question, 
and all that he has hitherto been able to do has been to take 
a sketch of the different types of our native troops here in 
camp. Captain Yolkovnikoff wears the Order of St Jeanne, 



138 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

given him for some act of valour during the Turkish war. 
The decoration consists of a sort of red Maltese Cross, with 
crossed swords between the points of the cross, worn, as 
usual, on the left breast ; but in addition to this, the decora- 
tion is also engraved on the hilt of the sword, and the idea 
of putting a decoration for valour on the sword seems a 
peculiarly appropriate and soldierly one. Pul-i-Khishti, or 
Tash Kepri, as the Eussians call it, seems to keep up its 
reputation for unhealthiness even in this cold weather. 
Captain Volkovnikoff's sotnia, consisting of 125 men, has 
only been there two months, and yet 100 of these are down 
with Panjdeh sores, neither the cause nor cure for which 
have the Eussian surgeons yet been able to find out. It is 
very curious that when we were at Panjdeh this time last 
year we never even heard of this disease. 

Our kafila of treasure and stores from Peshawar arrived 
safe in camp on the 31st. It ought to have been here long 
ago, but was delayed some time at Balkh and by the bad 
weather since. We are delighted to get a fresh supply of 
stores ; but if this intense cold lasts much longer, we shall 
have little left to drink. All the wines are frozen hard, 
and bottles are continually bursting. Captain Griesbach 
last night, thinking to save something from the wreck, put 
his half-dozen bottles of beer up in the corner of his tent, 
close beside his stove, but all in vain they froze hard 
during the night, despite the heat of the stove, and all burst 
but one. Nothing, in fact, can withstand this temperature. 
For two nights running now the thermometer has been down 
to 11 and 12 below zero, and yesterday it never rose higher 
than 15 in the shade all day. With 17 of frost at the 
warmest in the day, and 44 at night, small wonder that 
bottles burst. The only wonder is that the health of all is 
so good. As it is, we have hardly a man sick in hospital. 
The glare of the sun on the snow tries the eyes of most of 
us ; but Sir West Eidgeway, when at Mashhad, took the pre- 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 139 

caution to lay in a small store of goggles, and these are now 
served out by Dr Owen to such as require them, and are, no 
doubt, saving us many a case of snow-blindness. It is 
amusing at dinner to see the way in which our liquor and 
water has all to be thawed. No matter what it is, it all 
conies in a solid block of ice. The cruet-stand on the table, 
too, is a joke, as the vinegar and sauces and everything 
are simply hard blocks of ice. The difficulty is to keep 
warm at night. Sheets, of course, have been long since dis- 
carded, and most of us have our blankets sewn up into bags, 
with just an opening at the top to creep into ; but a postin, 
I believe, rolled round one, is the warmest and most com- 
fortable of all. At the best, though, it is anything but 
comfortable. One wakes aching all over from the crumpled 
position the cold forces one into during sleep, only to find 
the pillows and blankets all wet from one's frozen breath. 

In this weather we cannot grumble at not receiving our 
Indian posts very regularly. Where the fault is we cannot 
say, but presumably with the postal authorities at Peshawar ; 
for though we do receive a post about once a-week with the 
English mail-letters, we have never yet, since the line was 
changed, received a single newspaper. Where they have 
gone to we cannot think ; and were it not for the Mashhad 
telegraph, we should be utterly without news of what was 
going on in the world. Thanks to Sir West Eidgeway's 
arrangements for a ddk of Turkoman sowars right across 
Badghis from Zulfikar to Kushk, we get public-news tele- 
grams now even here, at a distance of 320 odd miles from 
Mashhad, in between four and five days, and this despite all 
inclemency of the weather. 

CAMP CHAHAR SHAMBA, 12th February 1886. 

Our two Cossack guests Captain Volkovnikoff and 
Lieutenant Kiachko left us on the 6th after a ten days' 
visit, taking Lieutenant Drummond back to stay with them 



140 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

at Panjdeh. The sky cleared on the 3d and gave us a fine 
day, bright enough for Major Bax to be able to have the 
escort out on parade and show the Russian officers what 
Indian troops were like before they left. The cavalry fell 
in about noon, and were put through a few manoeuvres by 
Lieutenant Drummond, winding up with a short charge and 
the lance exercise ; but the snow balled so in the horses' 
hoofs that they could hardly keep their feet, and it was 
difficult to do anything much out of a walk. The infantry 
paraded, under Captain Cotton, in the afternoon, and the 
Cossack officers, I believe, afterwards expressed themselves 
much pleased and greatly surprised at the regular and quick 
way in which our men drilled. They seemed to have an idea 
that because Indian troops, as they had heard, were irregulars, 
they were loose and slovenly in their drill, and in fact not at 
all like regular troops. Lucky it was that the opportunity 
of a few hours' sunshine on the 3d was taken advantage of 
for the parades, as on the 4th the snow came down again and 
fell continuously all day. The 5th was little better ; but the 
men of the 20th Panjab Infantry, determined not to be 
beaten by the weather, and despite the falling snow, turned 
out with their spades, cleared a bit of ground, lighted a 
bonfire in the middle, and after dinner in the evening gave 
the Cossacks a Katak sword-dance, the like of which they 
had never seen before. The dancers all turned out in their 
loose flying white clothes, and the scene round that bonfire 
is one to be remembered. Never, I fancy, has a Katak 
dance been danced before in a snowstorm, but our men had 
their hearts in it, and nothing would daunt them. Those are 
the men for service in this country. 

On the 5th our hearts were gladdened by the arrival of 
some of our long-looked-for newspapers. We got a bag 
of some 400 papers, sent up from Quetta, containing a 
varied assortment of odd dates, ranging from the beginning 
of December to the middle of January, I am referring to 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 141 

the ' Pioneer ' of those dates. The English papers, of course, 
were much older. The Peshawar bi-weekly letter ddk comes 
in now very regularly despite the weather, and we have 
nothing to complain of in that line. 

Captain Peacocke started on the 9th for Maruchak en route 
to the Kashan and Kushk valleys, which he is to survey on 
a large scale in conjunction with Captain Kondratenko, the 
Eussian topographer. It has been agreed, in the settlement 
of the boundary -line across those two valleys, that the 
existing canals drawn off higher up from those streams on 
the Afghan side are not be increased, and a survey is there- 
fore to be made conjointly by an English and Eussian officer 
of all canals and cultivated lands for a certain distance up 
each valley. The object of the Eussian Commissioner in 
making this stipulation is, I presume, to secure for the Sarakhs 
in the future the same amount of water for irrigation that 
they have been hitherto receiving. In a country like this, 
where water is so precious, there is always the danger of 
constant quarrels about the supply of it ; and we can only 
trust that the present precaution will tend to lessen the 
chance of their occurrence here in the future as much as 
possible, and so prevent a state of things being brought about 
on this border similar to that which now exists along the 
Persian and Eussian frontier on the Khorasan border. 

The Eussian topographers, Ilyin and Tolmatchoff, are still 
at work on their respective sections of the chid, some 20 or 
25 miles to the north-east and north-west of us respectively, 
and do not apparently expect to finish their surveys for some 
weeks to come. Captain Peacocke's survey, however, of the 
country to the north of us, extending from the Kara Bel 
plateau to the north of the well at Kara Baba, nearly 30 
miles north of Chahar Shamba on the west, almost up to 
Daulatabad, 38 miles north of Maimanah on the east, has 
given Sir West Eidgeway all the needful information to 
work upon at present, and so there will be no necessity to 



142 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

wait for the result of the Eussian surveys. It is clear that 
the wells on the edge of the desert were all dug by Maimanah 
subjects there, and the habitations and rights of pasturage 
all belong to them. In fact, there never was anybody else 
to whom they could belong, as to the north of the Kara Bel 
plateau stretches a waterless desert right away to the Oxus, 
completely cutting off all communication with Merv, and 
the only way of approaching this tract on the south is 
either through Panjdeh on the west or Andkhui on the east. 
One by one these kislilaks, or winter habitations of the 
numerous nomad tribes of Maimanah, were destroyed by 
Turkoman raids, and the limit of the inhabited area was 
gradually lessened, till in 1877 an attack in force completed 
the depopulation of the border tracts, and even of the lower 
end of the Ab-i-Kaisar valley in addition, and for some time 
afterwards no one dared to go there. Now the land is 
cultivated, though no habitations have been erected on it yet. 
This last is owing to the Ersari raids. Though the Sarik 
raids have been put a stop to, the Ersaris still continue to 
harass the country, and no less than four different raids have 
occurred within the last five months, on each occasion two 
flocks of sheep, averaging probably 1000 to 1200 head each, 
having been carried off. 

Even now, as I write, news has just come in that some 
300 Kara Turkomans are reported to have started on a 
raiding expedition from the banks of the Oxus, and that 
the Wali of Maimanah has himself gone out at the head 
of all the sowars he can muster to try and intercept them. 
Winter is the time always chosen by the Turkomans for 
these raids, as not only does the snow on the ground 
enable the raiders to traverse country impassable in the 
summer owing to the want of water, but in the summer 
there are few or no sheep to drive off. During the summer 
months all the flocks in these parts are taken up to Kara 
Jangal and other highlands of the Band-i-Turkistan, and it 



WINTER- QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 143 

is when driven down from the hills by the snow that the 
sheep are all taken out into the chul to graze. It must, 
indeed, seem to the Wali of Maimanah to be the real irony 
of fate when not only his people are debarred from the use 
of their own grazing-grounds from fear of Eussian or Bokhara 
Turkomans, but the Russian Government in addition claim 
those very lands as their own, on the grounds that because 
the Maimanah people are not using them they do not there- 
fore belong to them. The Andkhui pasturages are much the 
same as those of Maimanah, with this exception, that being 
so close to the Oxus they are more than ever exposed to the 
raids of the Turkomans living on the banks of that river. 

The last few days have been beautifully bright and clear ; 
and though too cold for much (as I heard it expressed) 
fiddling about with a pencil, still, so far as the atmosphere 
was concerned, clear enough at times for surveying. The 
snow, though, on the hills, makes it most difficult to dis- 
tinguish the points, and adds greatly to the surveyor's 
troubles. Dr Owen sent out snow-goggles the other day 
sufficient to equip all the different survey -parties, and they 
received them, I believe, just in the nick of time. I know 
that, judging by myself, I could not work an hour without 
them. The snow in our camp is gradually melting, and 
soon, I suppose, we may expect to see the ground once 
again, and with it all the crocuses and spring flowers that 
so abound in this country. I give below the daily maximum 
and minimum temperature as registered by Dr Owen in 
camp since the beginning of the month. The average maxi- 
mum temperature in the shade for the last twelve days has 
been only 297'. This does not look much on paper; but 
think what this means living in a tent with the door wide 
open and one must have the door open to let in light. If 
we had glass doors, the case would be very different ; but as 
it is, it means that it has been freezing in our tents during 
all these days, and we have hardly been able to hold a 



144 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

pen in our hands from the cold. Ink, of course, can be 
kept thawed over the fire or stove, but not so one's hands. 
A yard away from the stove everything is freezing hard ; 
and one's hands get so numbed ^that one has to jump 
up every minute to warm them, and in the end to give up 
work in despair and to take refuge either in exercise or the 
fire. Eiding has been quite out of the question, and I do 
not think one of us in camp has been on a horse for a 
month. Many of us limit our daily exercise to an hour or 
two's walk up and down the main street of the camp ; but 
this, though good enough for a constitutional, is not much 
fun ; and every afternoon I generally trudge off with my 
gun through the snow and take my exercise in a walk up 
the banks of the stream, on the look-out for wild-fowl, and 
specimens for our natural-history collection. 

The following is the register of the thermometer : 



1886. Maximum. 


Minimum. 


1st February . . . 150' 


120' 


(below zero) 


2d ..... 150 


11 


H 


3d 


. . 332 


6 


i, 


4th 


. . . 32 2 


18 




5th 


332 


178 




6th 


39 


148 




7th , 


33 2 


16 




8th 


29 5 


160 




9th , 


21 


60 




10th , 


27 


7 () 


(below zero) 


llth 


37 


70 




12th , 


420 


170 





We have been highly pleased to hear by telegraph of the 
safe arrival of the return party, and we hope that we also 
may be returning before the year is out though in this 
country it is never safe to make plans beforehand, as one 
never knows what may happen. I think I mentioned in 
my last that Mr Merk and Kessaldar-Major Baha-u'-din 
Khan had rejoined us, having left the return party on the 
banks of the Helmand. The following extract from a letter 
by Mr Merk gives a capital idea of the country they travelled 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 145 

through on their way back. Their route lay through Per- 
sian Seistan round to the west of the Seistan lakes, and 
thence up to the Herat valley and through the Ardewan 
pass to Kushk and Bala Murghab. Mr Merk describes 
the part of Seistan that he passed through as most un- 
inviting to the ordinary traveller, though interesting to 
geographers. He writes : " From Chahar Burjak on the 
Helmand, where I said good - bye to the return party, 
I went down the river to Band-i-Kamal Khan, and then 
to the west across the strip of 50 miles of now waterless 
desert country which lies between the Helmand and the 
stream that, under the name of Sarshela, flows, in years when 
the Seistan Hamun is flooded, from the Western Hamun to 
the God-i-Zireh depression or swamp in the northern Beluch 
desert. My route took me along a wide trough or depres- 
sion winding from Band-i-Kamal Khan through desert bluffs 
in a general westerly direction towards the Sarshela. The 
banks of this trough are dotted with numerous ruins of 
ancient forts, tombs, villages, and pleasure-houses, and in its 
bed are traces of the great canal called the Jui Karshasp, 
which, taking off from the Helmand at Band-i-Kamal Khan, 
formerly irrigated what is at present a howling wilderness in 
Southern Seistan. Last spring the Helmand rose to an un- 
usual height, and much of the flood-water escaped through 
this trough to the Western Hamun. This fact, together with 
the position of the ruins and the general appearance of the 
country, are good reasons for believing that at no very distant 
period a main branch of the Helmand took this course, if 
indeed the whole river, instead of turning north at Band-i- 
Kamal Khan, did not flow by this bed into the Western 
Hamun within historical times. Anyhow, the discovery is 
interesting, if only as a possible opening for the diversion of 
part of the Helmand water into a region which sadly wants 
irrigation. At Trakun, in the centre of the desert strip, I 
found a large fort in perfect preservation. It must have 

K 



146 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

contained from 400 to 500 families. The Hammam in the 
citadel looked as if it had been abandoned only yesterday ; 
the large audience-halls were beautifully ornamented, and 
evidently Trakun was a position of much importance and 
strength. It is built on an isolated mound with scarped 
sides, situated in the centre of the depression I have 
mentioned. Local Beluch tradition says the last inhabitants 
left the place only three generations ago. Its neighbour- 
hood swarms with ruins of old forts, villages, and tombs. 
At Sarshela I was met by Persians, deputed by the Amir 
of Ghain, who is also governor of Persian Seistan. They 
received me very courteously. Up to this point I had been 
escorted by Beluchis of the Helmand, very good fellows, 
but men who, considered in their character of notorious 
robbers, were objectionable on account of their sensitive 
consciences, which did not permit them to plunder living 
men, and compelled them to slay diligently all their victims 
before they stripped them. They were long the horror of 
Eastern Persia and Southern Afghanistan. Now, however, 
the strong hand of the Amir, Abdur Eahman Khan, has 
changed all this ; and as one of my friends remarked with a 
sigh, a child may drive a ewe-lamb along the frontier, and 
we must all look on. They told me that eight years ago a 
big Feringhi had visited Shah Godar, a point some 50 miles 
south of Sarshela, and had built a pillar there. Possibly 
they meant Sir Charles MacGregor, who visited these parts 
about that time. At a ford called Gardan Eeg I crossed the 
Sarshela, which is here about 100 yards wide, on an average 
about two feet deep, and running with a good current south- 
wards to the God-i-Zireh. It was too hazy for me to see 
the Koh-i-Taftan, or smoking mountain, the much-sought- 
after volcano which is believed to exist in the Persian 
district of Sarhad ; but the Beluchis gave me circumstantial 
accounts of what, according to them, is the undoubted 
entrance to the bottomless pit. From Gardan Eeg the road 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 147 

lay for the next four days along the shore of the Western 
Hamun in striking scenery. To the left lay a barren stony 
plain gently sloping towards sterile ranges, while to the 
right the horizon was bounded by a deep-blue sea, unbroken 
by a single reed. The opposite shore of the Hamun was 
not visible, only the flat-topped Koh-i-Khwajah could be seen 
as an island in the lake. Last year's heavy floods have 
completely filled the area shown on our maps as " liable to 
inundation," and Persian Seistan is now a peninsula which 
can be approached dry-shod only along the left bank of the 
Helmand. Traffic with Lash Jowain or Persia is carried on 
by means of rafts, which are made of bundles of reeds tied 
together : they are necessarily limited in size, and carry at 
the most four passengers, and are punted by a single boat- 
man over the shallow water of the Hamun, which is rarely 
more than six feet deep. It is probable that the flood-water 
will not disappear for several years to come. Naturally, 
Seistan is frightfully unhealthy with such vast marshes and 
lagoons in its immediate proximity. The Seistanis appear 
to have a wretched physique, and the Afghan garrison, whom 
we met on the march to the Helmand in the Afghan portion 
of Seistan, had last summer suffered greatly from fever and 
the terrible plague of flies which follows the drying up of 
the land flooded every spring. The captain of a troop of 
Afghan cavalry near Nadali told me he had lost fifty horses 
last summer, owing partly to the flies and partly to a disease 
apparently blood-poisoning which is peculiar to Seistan. 
In winter, however, Seistan must be a paradise for sports- 
men, as the Hamun and the pools and swamps along its 
border are simply crammed with wild-fowl of every descrip- 
tion. At the point where the highroad from Birjand to 
Nasirabad strikes the Hamun, a spot which is marked by a 
high brick pillar said to have been erected by Nadir Shah, I 
turned westward to Bandan, and reached it after crossing a 
piece of desert without water, 30 miles in width. In fact, 



148 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

from the Helmand to Bandan the country through which I 
came is pure desert. Along the Hamun a few Beluch en- 
campments with their flocks are to be found, and for the 
res t nothing. Bandan is a small village remarkable only 
for a fine grove of date-palms. From Bandan I went straight 
to Dorah by three marches through uninhabited country. 
Dorah is the frontier village of Persia towards the Afghan 
province of Farah, and rejoices in a picturesque little border 
fort, perched on an inaccessible rock, and in a population of, 
for Persians, singularly uncouth manners. From Dorah I 
marched to Awaz, the last village of the Birjand district in 
the direction of Herat. It was not practicable to go to 
Birjand itself owing to the heavy snow in the passes. From 
Awaz I went to Yezdan, along the skirt of the aptly termed 
Dasht-i-Na Timed or " Desert of Despair," which is a series of 
arid plains broken by ranges of rocky hills without tree, or 
bird, or bush. From Yezdan to the Herat valley, the road 
was explored by our officers when we were at Kiliki last 
summer. Near Yezdan, at Burj-i-Gulwarda, I again heard 
of Sir Charles MacGregor. This time he was described as a 
Eussian who endeavoured to reach Herat, and got as far as 
Pahrah, where he was arrested and taken to Mashhad, and 
thence into captivity in Russia ! 

CAMP CHAHAR SHAMBA, 1\st February. 

Life in camp here passes very regularly and quietly, and 
we have little to disturb the even tenor of our ways at 
present. We are now in the midst of mud and slush, 
consequent on a thaw at last after a good month of con- 
tinuous snow. Up till within the last few days we have 
had six inches of snow all round us, which means that, 
letting alone the snowstorms, we have not had a day for the 
past month in which it has not been freezing hard in the 
shade all day. Now I trust that before long the ground 
will be clear of snow ; and as soon as the mud is dried up, 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 149 

we may look forward to some fine spring weather again. Al- 
ready we are all talking of moving ; and Sir West Eidgeway, 
if the weather keeps fine, proposes to start for Maruchak 
early in March, taking the infantry detachment of the 20th 
Panjab Infantry under Captain Cotton with him as escort, 
and sending on the cavalry and heavy camp ahead to 
Akchah or Tashkurghan in the Balkh direction. However, 
nothing is definitely settled as yet ; but without doubt, as 
soon as ever the weather permits, we shall be on the move 
to rejoin the Kussian Commission at Panjdeh, and commence 
work anew on the frontier. 

Captain Drummond, of the llth Bengal Lancers, has just 
returned from a week's visit to the Eussian camp, where he 
was entertained with great hospitality. Colonel Alikhanoff 
arrived from Merv while he was there, and General Komaroff 
was expected also at Panjdeh a few days afterwards. Captain 
Volkovnikoff, our late guest up here, has been appointed to 
the civil charge of Panjdeh, and he and his squadron have 
consequently moved up from Pul-i-Khishti, where they were 
quartered, to Bazaar Takhta, the headquarters of the Harzagi 
section of the Sariks, situated about the centre of the Panj- 
deh valley. There, I presume, they will be quartered perma- 
nently. The following extract from a letter from Captain 
Drummond, gives such interesting details of his visit, that I 
take the liberty of quoting it in extenso : 

" At Maruchak/' Captain Drummond writes, " I was met with 
great cordiality by Colonel Kuhlberg and the officers of the 
Kussian Mission, of whom the following were present viz., 
M. Lessar, Lieutenant-Colonel Prince George Orbeliani, Captain 
Gideonoff, Captain Komaroff (Staff), Dr Semmer, Lieutenant 
Gorokh (Sappers), Captains Kondratenko, Neprintseff, Denisoff, 
and Petroff (Survey), Captain Varenik, Lieutenant Kiachko, and 
Cornet Winnikoff (1st Kegiment Tomanski Cossacks), Captain 
Volkovnikoff (1st Regiment Kavkaski Cossacks), Lieutenant 
Mehemetoff (Lesghin Militia), and M. Mirzaeff (interpreter). 

" I was put up in a fine large new Panjdeh kibitka, heated by 
mungals (pans of hot ashes), with wooden doors, and felt covering 



150 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

sufficient to keep out the smallest breath of cold air. At dinner, 
on the evening of my arrival, a number of Cossacks sang their 
charming national songs, commencing with the ' Maritza,' the 
march which we had all so greatly admired on our first meeting 
at Zulfikar. After dinner my health was proposed and drunk 
with great cordiality, accompanied by l Three times three,' first 
in English fashion, and then in Russian, after which all the 
officers present sang the refrain which invariably follows their 
toast viz., the * Mramel Djamiya.' Next day I was entertained 
at breakfast by the officers of the Cossack squadron. We sat 
down at 11 A.M., and did not rise till 4 P.M. Song after song by 
the Cossack chorus, and toast after toast by my hospitable en- 
tertainers, passed the time most cheerily, until at the close of 
the entertainment, on taking leave of my hosts, I found a section 
of Cossacks in full uniform awaiting my exit from the kibitka. 
These men fired two volleys in my honour, and then proceeded 
to toss me in the air, cheering heartily during the performance. 
After this the section escorted me back to my own kibitka, 
singing lustily en route. The next day I spent in visiting the 
Russian officers whom I had not previously formally called on. 
In the afternoon I had a long conversation with M. Lessar, 
whom, I regret to say, I found looking extremely unwell. He 
suffers from a fever caught on the shores of the Caspian, and 
since his arrival on this frontier has scarcely been well for a 
single day. On the llth, Colonel Alikhanoff arrived from Merv, 
having driven all the way in a troika drawn by four horses. He 
was escorted by a troop of Merv militia, headed by a white 
standard bearing the Imperial monogram and a Turki inscription. 
Colonel Alikhanoff is a tall fine-looking man, and was dressed in 
the uniform of the Russian cavalry, wearing two Crosses of the 
Military Order of St George, one of which he had gained for 
bravery whilst serving as a private soldier. Next day a photo 
was taken of all the officers of the Commission, including their 
two guests, Colonel Alikhanoff and myself ; after which Colonel 
Alikhanoff drove off on his way back to Merv, to make prepara- 
tions en route for General Komaroff, who is expected shortly at 
Panjdeh. 

" On the 15th, Prince Orbeliani organised a partie de plaisir 
including Captain Varenik, Lieutenant Gorokh, Lieutenant 
Kiachko, M. Mirzaeff, and myself, and we started off for Bazaar 
Takhta in order to pass an evening with Captain Volkovnikoff. 
At a distance of three miles out we were met by a section of 
Cossacks commanded by a young cadet, who, after saluting, 
escorted us to camp, his men dashing forward at full gallop, 
firing off their carbines in every direction. At the kibitka 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 151 

destined for my abode I found two sections of Cossacks drawn 
up on foot, under command of another cadet, as a guard of 
honour. We spent a most cheery evening, in toasts and songs, 
after dining in true Cossack fashion on the ground. I was 
amused to find the Cossacks of the Kavkaski Regiment had also 
learned to cheer in British fashion. Next morning Captain Vol- 
kovnikoff kindly had a full-dress parade of his squadron, and 
showed me a few movements and the walk, trot, &c. Unfortu- 
nately the ground was in a wretched state, and consequently I 
was unable to form a really correct idea of Cossack drill. I was, 
however, greatly struck by the excellent condition of the horses, 
the steadiness of their parade movements, and the fine sturdy 
appearance of the men. After the parade we started back for 
Maruchak, escorted part of the way by Captain Volkovnikoff and 
his squadron. On the 17th I took leave of my hosts, and was 
again escorted by a full squadron of the Toman Regiment, 
under the command of Captain Varenik, who en route kindly 
showed me a little dismounted skirmishing. My escort was not 
content with seeing me to the banks of the Murghab, but insisted 
on crossing it with me, marching through the deep and rapid 
stream six abreast. On the farther bank I found that wine had 
been brought with a view to finally drinking my health in a 
stirrup-cup, after which a volley from a dismounted section, 
1 Three times three ' from the whole squadron, a song from the 
chorus, and I bade farewell to as hospitable and courteous hosts 
as we could meet in the two hemispheres." 

Here at Chahar Shamba we are hoping to be joined soon 
by Mr Ney Elias, who, I am sorry to hear, was taken so ill 
at Faizabad that he was unable to start on his return jour- 
ney to Yarkand, and has had to turn back to join us for the 
sake of rest and medical treatment. 

During the bad weather of late we have none of us been 
able to get out much about the country, and I can therefore 
describe little but one of the principal sights and places of 
resort near us viz., the reputed Cave of the Seven Sleepers, 
the Ashab-i-Kahf, a place of pilgrimage which our Mahom- 
adans are continually asking leave to visit. It lies in 
the Hirak valley, some four miles to the south-west of our 
camp. I rode out to it with Subadar Muhammad Husain 
Khan, of the 2d Sikhs, the other day, and we were both 



152 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

much amused at the immunity with which these worthy 
Sayeds or Eshans, as the descendants of the Prophet are 
called here, practise on the credulity of their neighbours. 
The story of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus is pretty well 
known, and the tradition is confirmed in the eyes of all 
Mussulmans by the mention of it in the Surah-ul-Kahf, or 
Chapter of the Cave, in the fifteenth Juz or section of the 
Koran. It is there related how these seven men, firm in 
their faith in their own God, separated from the rest of their 
tribe who had taken to other gods, and taking refuge in a 
cave, were caused to sleep there, with their dog, for 309 
years. The Eshans of Khwajah Altai Azizan change the 
scene from Ephesus to Turkistan, and tell a very different 
story. The King Dakianus, they say, was originally a shep- 
herd of Shibarghan, and tended his flock in the hills for 
twelve years, till one day he found a slab of stone with an 
inscription on it. Not being able to decipher the latter, he 
showed it to a moollali, who told him that it was a record of 
hidden treasure. Having possessed himself of the treasure 
and killed the moollah, Dakianus took service with the king, 
and after some time rose to the command of the army. He 
soon got the army on his side, seized the kingdom, and 
eventually conquered the world. When thus in supreme 
power, the devil appeared before Dakianus in the form of 
the angel Gabriel, and tempted him by telling him that God 
had sent him to say that he was God of the heavens, but 
that Dakianus was God of the earth. Dakianus, who was 
a worshipper of the one God, refused to believe the devil, 
and told the latter that he was not the true angel Gabriel. 
The devil then offered to prove that he was, by proposing, as 
a test, that if a certain fish on the top of the water went 
down on his approach, he was the true Gabriel, but that if 
it remained up he was an impostor. Accordingly, Dakianus 
and the devil went together to the bank of the river, and no 
sooner did the fish see the devil than it at once dived down. 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 153 

Dakianus believed the test, acknowledged the devil as the 
angel Gabriel, left off the worship of the true God, and at 
the devil's tempting, set himself up as a god on his own 
account. One day, however, when eating his food, Dakianus 
was bothered by flies, which, do what he would, he could not 
get rid of. His servants said to themselves, " He calls 
himself God, and yet cannot even get rid of the flies that 
bother him. He is no God." And they determined to 
leave him. Six men went off, and on the second day fell 
in with a shepherd, from whom they begged bread and 
water. The shepherd gave them all he had, and asked them 
where they came from, and where they were going to. They 
told him their story, and how they were fleeing from Daki- 
anus, and wished to hide, and the shepherd agreed to accom- 
pany them in their flight. The shepherd's dog also fol- 
lowed his master, and the men told him to drive the dog 
back, lest he should betray their whereabouts. The shep- 
herd objected, saying the dog had been his faithful com- 
panion for years ; but the others insisted, and the shepherd 
at last struck the dog with his stick, breaking one of its 
legs. The dog still followed, and the shepherd struck it 
again, breaking another leg ; but the dog continued to crawl 
after them, and the men, struck with pity, eventually 
took it in turns to carry it on with them. The shepherd 
guided them all to this very cave that he knew of, and once 
there they all went to sleep, and never awoke for 309 years. 
The fate of the dog, however, is left in uncertainty by the 
Sayeds. They cannot tell exactly how it came to die, but 
they point triumphantly to its grave a heap of bricks, 
surmounted by a pole and a flag, by the side of the en- 
trance to the cave. In the Koran it is distinctly stated 
that the sleepers were seven in number, and the eighth was 
their dog. But either the Arabic of the Koran is beyond the 
Sayeds, or they prefer a story of their own. Whichever it 
is, there is no doubt of the realism of the latter portion of 



154 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

their tale, as any one who knows the affection the shepherds 
here have for their great savage shaggy-coated dogs, and the 
huge sticks that the shepherds always carry, will testify. 
Further on in the story, however, the worthy Sayeds get 
more confused still, and they have it that the sleepers woke 
twice once in the time of Hazrat Esah, or Christ, and again 
in the time of the Prophet. According to the Sayeds, the 
men in the cave have been asleep for 2312 years viz., 
309 years before the birth of Christ, 700 years from that to 
the time of Mahomad, and 1303 years up to the present time. 
As a matter of fact, the Mahomadan era commenced on the 
16th July 622 of the Christian era; and therefore, reckon- 
ing their lunar by our own solar years, the time would be 
2195 years. The story is, they say, that when these men and 
the shepherd awoke they felt hungry, and sent one of their 
number to go to the city near by, called Shahr-i-Afsoz, to buy 
bread. On arrival he found the place much altered, and the 
first baker he went to refused to accept his money. Another 
to whom he applied asked him where he got his money from. 
The man said that it was his own, and from his own house. 
He was then told to point out his house, but could not at 
first, and eventually recognised it by a mulberry-tree, and 
going in, he told them to dig in a certain place, and there 
they found, sure enough, his store, a jar full of Dakianus's 
coins. The then owner of the house protested, and claimed 
the house and coins as his, and eventually both the men and 
the coins were taken before the king. When the king, who 
was a Christian, heard the man's story, and found he had 
been asleep for 309 years, he looked on the man as super- 
natural, and offered to resign the throne in his favour. The 
man declined, and stated that all he wished was to be 
allowed to return to his companions in the cave. The king 
thereupon accompanied him. With the king were a hawk 
and a dog ; and a deer being started on the road, it was caught 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 155 

by these two and brought in, thus making a third animal in 
the party. On arrival at the cave, not only the original six 
friends, the Altai Azizan, and the shepherd, but the king, 
and the dog and the hawk and the deer, all went off to sleep, 
and never woke again for some 700 years, when they were 
awoke by the arrival of the chahar yar, or the four friends 
of the Prophet i.e., Omar, Osman, Abubakr, and Ali, who, 
repeating the Mahomadan creed, at once awoke the sleepers. 
The latter got up, repeated the creed, and then fell asleep 
again, and there they still remain. 

All this was told me by the Sayeds in the cave, and they 
pointed triumphantly to the relics in proof of their story. 
Holding our lighted candles between the palings of the 
wooden screen which debars nearer approach to the sleepers, 
we were shown some cloths on the floor, apparently a rough 
common sheet with a dark-coloured fringed cloth above it, 
which was said to cover the sleepers. We asked if it was 
allowed to look under the cloth; but that, they said, was im- 
possible. Even they themselves, they said, knew not what 
was there. One man had once tried to look, and was imme- 
diately struck blind ; but that if we doubted, " there [point- 
ing in the direction] were the dog and the deer and the 
hawk." Holding the candles to the right, we could then see 
indistinctly something looking like dried bodies of some 
animals propped against the wall. They were very small. 
The first, said to be the dog, was about a foot in height, and 
the deer a few inches higher, but it was impossible to say in 
such light what animals they were. The bones of the legs 
were visible in fact, the dog's legs had fallen off, which 
rather told against its being asleep, but the body seemed to 
be covered with dry skin ; and yet, on the strength of these 
relics, some twenty families of Sayeds are kept in comfort, 
and live here on the contributions of pilgrims, with, in addi- 
tion, as much land as they require free of any rent and 



156 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

taxes. In ordinary years, with such a scant population, the 
contributions of pilgrims cannot amount to anything very 
great ; but still numbers are brought here for burial, and the 
little ravine in which the cave is situated is full of graves. 
The village of the Sayeds stands at the mouth of the little 
side ravine in which the cave is situated, a mile or two 
below the last of the eight hamlets in which the 250 
families inhabiting the head of the Hirak valley reside. The 
valley is narrow, and simply a level stretch of culturable 
ground, some 400 yards in width, marked by old watercuts 
and Turkoman watch-towers between the usual low hillocks 
on either side. A long, low mud-built building, used as the 
village musjid, is at the mouth of the ravine ; and here sit 
all the Sayeds in a row, with nothing else to do, apparently, 
than wait for the advent of visitors. The entrance to the 
cave is marked by a brick portico some 20 feet in height, 
surmounted, like all places of pilgrimage in this country, by 
the skulls and horns of wild sheep, the offerings apparently 
of the shikaris of the neighbourhood. Walking down the 
passage some 10 or 12 yards to a vaulted chamber, and 
then turning down another passage to the right, one comes 
to a small low passage at the end filled up with loose earth. 
This, the Sayeds declared, was a direct passage to Mecca, but 
that God would not allow it to be opened, as so fast as they 
dug out the earth from the entrance, it was filled up again by 
supernatural means. Turning, then, again to the right, we 
had to ascend a ladder into a dark chamber above, floored 
with boards, and in this is the wooden screen before men- 
tioned as enclosing the sleepers. 

Noticing what a number of the tombs in the valley around 
were built up with bricks, I asked where the bricks were 
procured from, and was told that all the little mounds in the 
valley were full of them. Curiously enough, it is just the 
same with us here at Chahar Shamba. Looking casually 



WINTER-QUARTERS AT CHAHAR SHAMBA. 157 

about, one would never suppose that there was a brick 
within miles. The villages are all built of mud, and there 
are no ruins or anything to catch the eye ; but the moment 
we required bricks to build chimneys to our tents, it was 
found that every little heap and mound in the place was full 
of old burnt bricks, most of them of an unusually large size, 
showing that there was a settled population living in regular 
brick houses here once, but so long ago that the remains of 
their houses even are distinguishable only on close search. 
So it is all over the country ; and we even hear rumours of 
the remains of a large city out in the desert, to the east or 
north-east of Panjdeh, called Shahr-i-Kishlak, said to have 
contained once 80,000 inhabitants. Kislilak is the word in 
common use all over these nomad countries to signify the 
winter- quarters, usually in the plains, in contradistinction to 
the ailagli or summer-quarters, usually in the hills. 

Where Shahr-i-Afsoz may be, the Sayeds of Khwajah 
Altai Azizan, although they have maintained the tradition, 
could not tell me. They themselves are divided in their 
opinions. Some of them say it was at Ala Taimur, a place 
to the south in the hills, which they describe as an ancient 
fortress built of stone on the top of some precipitous rock. 
Others say it was at Chachaktu, the village to the east of 
Chahar Shamba, some seven miles up the valley ; but none 
connect it with Ephesus. That Chachaktu was once a large 
place is very evident. It is the one place between Maruchak 
and Andkhui, mentioned in the history of Nadir Shah, in the 
description of that conqueror's march up from Herat to Balkh 
in the year A.H. 1152 or A.D. 1739, and presumably at so 
late a date as that it was a flourishing city. Now there 
is nothing to strike the eye but the ruins of an old mud-fort 
on a mound. I have mentioned in a former letter how it 
was devastated of late years by the Turkomans. Before 
that, some twenty odd years ago, I believe the Salor Turko- 



158 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

mans settled at it (or rather at Sir-i-Chashma, the spring two 
miles above it which forms the source of the Kilah Wali 
stream) for a time after they were driven out of Maruchak 
by the Sariks ; but they did not stop there long, and after 
plundering the Usbegs, they beat a retreat to Kara Tepe in 
the Kushk valley, whence they were driven to Zorabad in 
Persia, and they only finally settled at Sarakhs within the 
last few years. 



159 



CHAPTEK XL 

MARUCHAK AGAIN. 

CAMP MAEUCHAK, 14th March 1886. 

TEN days ago we were fairly launched into spring, and with 
the exception of the snow-clad Band-i-Turkistan to the south 
of us, all signs of winter had passed away. Postins and 
Turkoman felt-lined boots had all been discarded, and sun- 
helmets had taken their place. Instead of grumbling at 
breakfast at the cold saddle of mutton being frozen so hard 
that one might as well try to chop a bit off a stone with a 
hatchet as to cut a slice off it, we were grumbling at the 
heat. Certainly the change was very sudden and very great. 
The country entirely changed. The whole of the Chahar 
Shamba valley suddenly appeared covered with countless 
little yellow crocuses, looking for all the world like a mass 
of buttercups in the distance ; while the lower ground, nearer 
the water, came out full of a white, or rather very pale lilac, 
variety of the same flower. Here at Maruchak the flowers 
are not so numerous, the ground is much wetter, and the 
reeds in the swamps bordering the river being mostly on 
fire, the valley looks black and dirty. Despite the fact 
that the winter seems over, however, we are still luxuri- 
ating in last autumn's fruits. We have both pears and 
apples from Mashhad ; while the Amir, a short time ago, 
sent us some pony-loads of apples all the way from Kabul ; 
and now, as I write, a pony-load of pomegranates has just 



160 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

arrived as a present from Sirdar Ishak Khan at Mazar-i- 
Sharif. 

Our winter-quarters at Chahar Shamba have been broken 
up, and we all are, or soon will be, on the move again. Sir 
West Kidgeway and a small party are the only ones out as 
yet, but a few days more will probably see nearly all on the 
march a march, too, which we hope will not cease till we 
are all back in India again. Once the demarcation of the 
frontier is recommenced, we hope it may be successfully 
carried through ; and glad, indeed, our men and followers will 
be when once their faces are fairly turned towards home. 

Our plans at present, of course, are quite uncertain ; but, 
so far as we know, the probability is that if the boundary is 
demarcated up to the Oxus, we shall all march on to Tash- 
kurghan or thereabouts, and then divide, the cavalry and 
main camp returning direct to Peshawar, and the remainder 
through Badakshan to Gilgit and Kashmir. Mr Ney Elias, 
whose arrival from Yarkand I mentioned in my last letter, 
tells us that a small party will be able to procure sufficient 
supplies by the Badakshan route, supposing that time is 
given for them to be laid out beforehand and I, for one, 
am fully hoping to return that way. However, before build- 
ing castles in the air regarding the future, we must wait and 
see what is in store for us here. If the Eussian Commis- 
sioners have not considerably modified the claims put for- 
ward by them before we broke up for the winter, there is 
little chance of a speedy settlement being arrived at. Not 
only do they claim the wells and pastures in the chul, but 
also a considerable portion of the regularly inhabited and 
revenue-paying portion of Khamiab in the Khwajah Salar 
district on the banks of the Oxus. Neither of these claims 
has any connection with the cession of Panjdeh, and neither 
of them can be acceded to. Consequently, when these 
points are settled, it will be time enough for us to think 
of our return march. 



MARUCHAK AGAIN. 161 

As soon as the weather cleared, orders were issued by Sir 
West Eidgeway detailing the movements of the various par- 
ties, and the 4th March saw us on the move. Sir West him- 
self, accompanied by Captain Maitland and myself, started 
for Maruchak through the chul, with a light camp ; while the 
remainder of the Commissioner's party, consisting of Major 
Durand, Captain de Laessoe, Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali Khan, 
and Kazi Muhammad Aslam Khan, with an escort of twenty- 
five men of the 20th Panjab Infantry, under Subadar Ar- 
sallah Khan, and a few sowars of the llth Bengal Lancers, 
marched down the highroad vid Kilah Wali and Karawal 
Khana, for the same place. The cavalry and main camp, 
consisting of Major Bax and Captain Drummond, Mr Merk, 
Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, and Kessaldar-Major Baha- 
u'-din Khan, march shortly for Tashkurghan, halting en route 
at Andkhui, pending further orders ; while the remainder, 
consisting of Captain Cotton, Dr Owen, and Khan Bahadur 
Ibrahim Khan, with the remainder of the infantry escort, 
await the Commissioner's return at Chahar Shamba. The 
inarch of the cavalry on ahead is necessitated by the clause 
in the Protocol limiting the escorts of the Commissioners to 
100 men a side ; and Sir West is therefore obliged to divide 
the Commission so as to avoid the possibility of having too 
many men with him on the frontier. 

As I have already described the march up from Maruchak 
to Chahar Shamba, I will not follow the march of Major 
Durand's party down the same road. Sir West Eidgeway's 
march, however, was through comparatively new ground. 
The route was as follows : 

Miles. 

4th. Alai Chalai, . . 13 

5th. Kara Baba, ... .20 

7th. Kara Bel plateau, .... 20 

8th. Galla Chashraah, . 25 

9th. Maruchak, . . . . .18 

These places in the chul are as yet unknown, but will come 

L 



162 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

into prominence in connection with the boundary settlement. 
Starting on the morning of the 4th, Sir West Eidgeway first 
inspected Captain Cotton's detachment of mounted infantry, 
composed of sepoys of the 20th Panjab Infantry, mounted 
on ponies, with Turkoman saddles ; and uncommonly well 
the little party drilled, considering the very short time they 
have been in training. The experiment shows what useful 
men we have in our frontier Pathans. 

From Chahar Shamba the road to Kara Baba runs almost 
due north, and thence west to Maruchak. The level of 
the country slopes up gradually from the Chahar Shamba 
valley to the elevated plateau known as Kara Bel, which 
divides the watershed of the Murghab from that of the Oxus. 
Alai Chalai, for instance, is some 600 feet higher than 
Chahar Shamba, and Kara Baba 300 feet above that again; 
while the Kara Bel plateau, consisting of an endless stretch 
of undulating downs, ranges from 350 to 600 feet higher 
still, or say, on an average, some 3600 feet above sea-level. 
The first day's march lay through a belt of tumbled hillocks 
too steep to be of much use for pasturage or anything else. 
Alai Chalai, as the halting-place was called, simply consists 
of a couple of wells near a small spring in a little ravine, 
but with a plentiful supply of water; north of this the 
hillocks get gradually lower and more rounded, and become 
more and more valuable for pasturage till the plateau itself 
is reached, which at this season of the year is one mass of 
grass and verdure as far as the eye can reach very different 
from the desert we all supposed it to be. 

Curiously enough, these hillocks swarm with pig, despite 
the absence of water and the fact that the hillsides do not 
afford cover for a rat, except underground. Twice near 
Kara Baba whole sounders were passed, but being collectively 
too formidable for the dogs to make any impression on, got 
off scot - free. Not so, however, an isolated couple. The 
first, an old sow, being descried by the dogs in the distance, 



MARUCHAK AGAIN. 163 

was chased up a hill, but turning at the top, charged down 
on the dogs again, and sent them all flying back as fast as 
they came. Unfortunately, as if prompted by some evil 
genius, the beast finally came charging all the way down the 
hillside again herself, and stood at bay in the nullah at the 
bottom, and eventually had to be shot to save the dogs, who 
could not be otherwise got off. Very different was a fight 
with a solitary old boar the next day. The Turkoman 
guide a well-known man of the name of Gok Sirdar, the 
leader of many a raid hearing a row, galloped over a rise, 
and the first thing seen of him was his appearance galloping 
as hard as he could go up the next rise, with a boar in full 
pursuit. More than this, the old boar caught him and 
ripped up his horse's hock before he knew where he was. 
After that a regular fight commenced. The boar charged 
everybody and everything. The dogs, emboldened by their 
easy victory of the previous day, seemed to think the killing 
of a pig an everyday matter, and went in at the beast in the 
most reckless manner. I need not say that before very long 
they were all pretty well cut up. Sir West Eidgeway's 
bull-dog was slashed up the flank, the muleteer's big pie-dog 
was ripped up the back, and my kangaroo hound gashed 
across the throat in a manner that made one marvel how 
the dog escaped with its life. A Winchester rifle was tried, 
but the bullets seemed to have no effect whatever on the 
pig ; and eventually the brave old beast was shot with a 
cavalry carbine, fighting grandly to the last. Had he stood 
at bay a little longer, the dogs must have been killed. To 
shoot the boar was the only chance of saving them, and even 
that was no easy matter in the midst of the fray ; but how 
we all longed for a good spear and a fair fight ! When 
measured, the boar was not very tall, only about 37 inches, 
but with immense breadth and bulk, and about 52 inches in 
length. The body was covered all over with long, light, 
rather fawn-coloured hair, forming a regular fleece, and 



164 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

giving it quite a different appearance from the ordinary 
black-bristled Indian boar. 

Sir West Kidgeway halted a day at Kara Baba to have 
a good look at the country around from the heights about ; 
and as there is no water on the road for the next 6 3 miles to 
Maruchak, it had been arranged to fill the w&tQY-mussucJes at 
Kara Baba and take on a sufficient supply for one day from 
there, while a similar supply was to be sent up by the main 
party from Maruchak to Galla Chashmah. Unfortunately, 
however, the Kara Baba well was not equal to the demand, 
and our party were reduced to great straits. The well, on 
arrival, was found to be about 36 feet in depth, and to 
contain about 18 feet of water. The water, though sweet, 
had an unpleasant smell, and the muleteers were allowed to 
empty the well for their mules, in the belief that it would 
refill during the night, and the water next day be better. 
The story goes that Captain Peacocke, when out surveying 
during the winter, found this well nearly dry, and went 
down it to see what it was like, but that on arrival at the 
bottom he went plump into the carcass of a dead sheep, 
which had been thrown down some time before by a party 
of marauding Kara Turkomans, with whom it is a common 
custom thus to poison the water behind them to cover their 
retreat. No wonder, therefore, that the water did not 
smell very sweet. Next day, when the well came to be 
examined, it was found that it had not half refilled in 
the night, and that there was not even enough to fill a third 
of the mussucks for the next day's march. The horses and 
mules got nothing to drink that day, and the men very 
little, and the only chance was to send off the mussucks on 
camels to a small spring called Chashmah Pinhan, about four 
miles to the west, to get there whatever they could. The 
*7th turned out a very hot day, and the horses and mules, 
after a 20 -mile march and no water the previous day, 
were frantically thirsty ; but the pakhals had leaked on the 



MARUCHAK AGAIN. 165 

march, and there was little more than enough for the men. 
However, despite the heat and the thirst, all did the 2 5 -mile 
march the next day without loss ; and glad indeed were we, 
on arrival at Galla Chashmah, to see the twenty camel-loads 
of good Murghab water sent up from Maruchak lying ready 
for us. Each muleteer, as he came in gasping with his 
tongue out to show how dry it was, soon revived under the 
influence of a good drink, and only one mule out of nearly 
fifty gave in, and could not be got up again till revived with 
water. With the exception of this want of water, these two 
marches across the plateau from Kara Baba to Galla Chashmah 
were most enjoyable. From Alai Chalai to Kara Baba the 
road led up the bottom of a narrow ravine, known locally as 
the Kara Baba Shor ; the whole way the view was limited 
to the hills on either side. Two or three miles to the north 
of Kara Baba the crest of the plateau is reached ; and once 
out on the plateau, the country changed all at once to rolling 
undulating ground covered with young grass and little yellow 
flowers. Not a sound was to be heard but the singing of 
the larks. The change that had taken place was marvellous. 
Ten days before, the country was a snow-covered waste ; now 
it was found green and fresh, full of birds, beetles, and insects 
of every description, which had all suddenly appeared from 
goodness knows where. The road along the plateau crosses 
a succession of undulating ridges, known as Yedaram, a 
Turki word signifying seven ridges, and always used, so far 
as I can make out, to denote a country where the road 
crosses a succession of ridges at right angles instead of 
running parallel to them. 

From the road at intervals the country could be seen 
sloping gradually and smoothly away for some miles to the 
south, till the smooth ground suddenly changed into the 
tumbled mass of hillocks lying immediately to the north of 
the Kilah Wall stream. The camp on the Kara Bel plateau, 
chosen by the Turkoman guides, was a little hollow imme- 



166 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

diately to the south of a low slope covered with Kandam 
wood the curious, dry, low bush growing about the chul. 
It seems all rotten to the touch, and burns beautifully even 
when fresh cut, or rather broken. The hawks in the chul 
all seem to select this bush for their nests, and of these 
there were no fewer than eight in the small area close above 
the camp. Two of them were fresh nests, but with no eggs 
in them though eggs were taken from similar nests in the 
Andkhui chul by Captain de Laessoe nearly three weeks before. 
The Turkomans have an idea that if these eggs are not laid 
before the close of winter and thoroughly frozen, they will 
not hatch ; and I remember last year being gravely in- 
formed by my Turkoman guide that these hawks I could 
not ascertain then exactly what species they were always 
left their eggs for a certain time to be frozen, and then 
returned at the opening of spring to sit on them. None of 
their nests are more than eight feet from the ground, and 
the huge bundle of sticks of which they are built is gener- 
ally visible for miles around showing the most charming 
confidence and an entire absence of all fear of intrusion or 
molestation on the part of the parent birds. Near the road 
I picked up a small Bokhara knife, supposed to have belonged 
to some Ersari Turkoman from its make, possibly to one 
of the two men who were found dead near the same place 
by Captain Peacocke and Mr Merk in their trip across the 
chul last year, when the knife, being hidden under the snow, 
may have escaped observation. These two men, it was 
supposed, were raiders, who had succumbed during the 
retreat. 

The road from Kara Bel to Galla Chashmah was a gradual 
descent the whole way. From the last Kara Bel ridge on 
the western side of the plateau, some 7 or 8 miles from 
the camp above, the road led gradually down, finally opening 
into a valley some 11 or 12 miles below the crest of the 
plateau, about 300 yards in width, and full of soft wet soil, 



MARUCHAK AGAIN. 167 

with a shallow stream of bitter salt water in the centre. 
The road then winds down by the side of this stream for the 
next six miles or so to Galla Chashmah an open space 
covered with a succession of shallow pits, say 20 feet in 
diameter at the top and some 8 feet in depth, each containing 
a few inches of salt water, quite undrinkable by any animal 
except sheep, which, I have heard, will drink water that no 
other animal will touch. From Galla Chashmah to Maruchak 
the road makes a sudden descent from a small kotal, about 
10 miles out, down a narrow winding valley full of mud 
and salt water in places, which makes it most difficult for 
baggage -animals, and with a descent of some 700 feet within 
the first three miles. This road does not seem as if it could 
ever have been a great highway in olden times, and there 
are no remains of any robats, or rest-houses, that I know of, 
to show that it was ever much used. The road following 
the Galla Chashmah salt stream is better, I believe ; but that 
debouches into the Murghab valley at a place called Pusht-i- 
Hamwar, about half-way between Maruchak and Karawal 
Khana, and is not, therefore, much used, if at all. 

Our camp at Maruchak is pitched a little below the fort. 
The Russian camp is still on its old ground on the opposite 
side of the river, about three miles to the north. So far the 
Russians seem to have made no preparations for crossing, 
beyond the fact that the Panjdeh boat has been brought up 
and established as a ferry near the ford, about half-way 
between the two camps. The Panjdeh boat, I must say, is 
a marvel of marine architecture. Imagine a flat-bottomed 
punt some 20 feet in length and 12 in breadth, constructed 
of nothing but logs of wood by no means straight or uniform 
in size, but averaging between 3 and 4 feet in length, and 
say 6 to 8 inches in diameter. The solid way in which 
these logs are all held together and the boat is made water- 
tight, certainly reflects considerable credit on the Panjdeh 
builder. The Murghab has not yet come down in flood, 



168 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

though it is certainly rising ; and if the present hot weather 
lasts much longer, we may certainly expect the snow to 
begin melting in the mountains. We are generally sup- 
posed to have heavy rain in this country about the Nouroz 
the 21st of March and after that the snows begin to 
melt. The river is still fordable, though it is now impos- 
sible to ride across without getting one's feet and legs wet ; 
and we are therefore only too glad to avail ourselves of the 
use of the boat, while our horses are led across the ford. 

On the morning of the 10th, Lieutenant-Colonel Prince 
Orbeliani and Lieutenant Gorokh arrived with an invitation 
from Colonel Kuhlberg to Sir West Eidgeway and all of us 
to breakfast at noon the next day. The morning of the 
llth, therefore, saw us all riding over. To our astonish- 
ment we found not only a large Cossack guard of honour 
drawn up to salute Sir West Eidgeway on arrival, but a band 
of one of the Trans-Caspian Eifle battalions in addition, just 
brought down from Aimakjar, who played a selection mostly 
of English airs throughout breakfast, in turn with songs from 
the Cossack chorus, a wonderful treat to all of us, who 
have heard no music now for so long. We sat down a 
party of twenty: the English guests, with Colonel Kuhlberg, 
Captain Gideonoff, M. Lessar, and Prince Orbeliani at one 
table, and the remainder of the Eussian officers at the other 
all of us being easily accommodated in their fine large 
mess Jcibitka, which must be some 20 to 22 feet in diameter, 
and about the largest I have ever seen. The kilitka was 
made in Panjdeh, they told us, though the woodwork of it, 
it is thought, was brought from Khiva, where most of the 
best kibitkas are made, I believe. When Colonel Kuhlberg 
proposed Sir West Eidgeway's health, we were amused to 
hear the Cossack chorus outside break out into an English 
cheer, with a " Hip, hip, hurrah ! " and a " One cheer 
more," in the most approved style ; and we were even told 
that they all but knew "For he's a jolly good fellow," 



MARUCHAK AGAIN. 169 

though, of course, without any very exact idea of the mean- 
ing of the words. A Turkoman race-meeting was to be 
held by Captain Volkovnikoff in Panjdeh, we were told, on 
the 1 4th ; and there were also rumours that a Eussian lady 
the wife of the Colonel commanding the Eus'sian troops 
at Aimakjar was coming down to Panjdeh on a visit. 

A meeting of the Commission was held on the 12th; and 
all preliminaries having been arranged, we shall probably 
soon be on the march again back to Chahar Shamba, this 
time in company with the Eussian Commission. Kazi Saad- 
ud-Din, the Amir's representative, is in camp with us here, 
the governor of Herat being still at Karawal Khana. The 
latter has spent the winter at Bala Murghab, and probably 
will not be sorry to see the boundary demarcated up to the 
confines of his district at Kilah Wali, and be free to return. 
The Kilah Wali settlement, however, will probably require 
some looking to after our departure, as the Turkomans there 
have been rather uneasy of late. Having got hold of the 
idea that the Afghan Government intend to remove them 
from the frontier to the Herat valley, most of them are 
returning to Panjdeh in all haste ; and here at Maruchak, my 
tent being close by the roadside, I am continually seeing 
Turkoman family - parties passing by on their way back. 
Imagine a string of camels, probably eight or ten in num- 
ber. First of all comes, I presume, the father of the family 
on horseback ; then a boy leading the camels, on the first of 
which will be a pair of those huge carpet-bags so much 
prized by us for their fine workmanship, containing all the 
household goods and chattels, and on the top the mother of 
the family with a child or two in her lap. One of the ladies 
I saw passing to-day was resplendent in a bright green silk 
mantle, and evidently considered herself rather young and 
pretty, though to our ideas their round flat faces and small 
eyes are not particularly interesting. On the next camel in 
all probability is loaded the JcibitJca and felts thereof ; then 



170 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

follow half-a-dozen camels loaded with bags of grain, an old 
woman generally bringing up the rear on the last. Who are 
to take the place of these -Turkomans at Kilah Wali I have 
not heard. 

There is little news from Panjdeh. General Komaroff's 
expected visit has not yet come off, and apparently is in- 
definitely postponed. Colonel Alikhanoff at Merv holds the 
chief civil charge of all this frontier, but without any 
military command. He has under him, I believe, four 
assistants, in charge of Merv, Sarakhs, Yulatan, and Panjdeh 
respectively. Captain VolkovnikofFs appointment to the 
civil charge of Panjdeh is only temporary, pending the 
arrival of the permanent civil official. The Panjdeh Sariks 
seem to have tacitly accepted the position of Eussian sub- 
jects, and the joke in the Eussian camp now is (so all the 
Eussian officers tell us) that the Maruchak pheasants have 
had such a rough time of it at the hands of the British 
officers, that even they are now petitioning to be taken under 
Eussian protection. The pheasants certainly are the prin- 
cipal, in fact almost the only, inhabitants of the Maruchak 
valley at the present moment ; but I do not suppose the 
Amir intends they should long remain so ; and if ever we 
visit the valley again, it is highly probable that we may 
find our shooting-grounds much curtailed by the spread of 
cultivation. 

The railway to Merv is progressing apace, and is now 
running, we hear, as far as Doshakh. Colonel Kuhlberg 
and all the Eussian officers fully hope to return by rail from 
Merv, where it is expected to be open in time for them to 
avail themselves of it on their return from the Oxus. Work 
has also been commenced, it is said, on the section from 
Merv to Chahar Jui ; but the general progress of the line, 
we are told, has been much retarded owing to the freezing of 
the Caspian during the severe weather in the winter, which 
prevented the bringing up of the requisite amount of material. 



MARUCHAK AGAIN. 171 

Major Holdich, Mr Merk, and Jemadar Azizulah Khan, 
who left us on the 27th February, have been engaged for 
the last ten days with Captain Komaroff in fixing the sites 
for the pillars along the boundary from Hauz-i-Khan to 
Maruchak. It will be remembered that the frontier was 
demarcated from Zulfikar up to Hauz-i-Khan, but that from 
the latter point onwards, though a settlement was arrived at, 
no demarcation was possible before the winter. This has 
now been done, and Major Holdich and Mr Merk have just 
returned. The following extract of a note from Mr Merk 
tells us of some of their doings. He says : 

" We reached the Russian camp on the 3d, and were hospitably 
received, and left for Robat-i-Kashan on the 5th. During the two 
days we were with the Russians they had sports, which were 
very enjoyable, as the weather was beautiful and warm, and the 
events were numerous and amusing. The programme included 
horse-races in heats for Cossacks and Turkomans, at first separ- 
ately, and afterwards a combined Cossack and Turkoman race for 
the winners in both sections ; foot-races, sack-races, a donkey 
and a camel race, wrestling between Cossacks and Turkomans, 
and, what was the most interesting of all, a performance of the 
Jigitqffka by Cossacks of the escort with the Russian Commis- 
sion. We all sat on a low grassy mound, round which the race- 
course had been laid out, and at the foot of which the wrestling, 
&c., took place. The ground was very heavy from the effects of 
the recent thaw, but the little Cossack horses ploughed their way 
sturdily through it although, of course, in the international race 
they were outmatched by the much larger and more powerful 
Turkoman horses, a Cossack nag being rarely over 13.2, and 
being built more for endurance than for speed, much in the style 
of the hill-pony of India. The Turkomans, moreover, were no 
novices in the arts that go to win a race, and ' had been there 
before,' so to speak. The donkey-race brought out a procession 
of little Turkoman boys, who with great solemnity trotted in 
single file round the course, the last boy finishing at the end as 
conscientiously as the winner of the race. Certainly the best 
part of the entertainment was the Jigitojfka. It consists of 
mounted Cossacks at full speed picking up caps from the ground, 
jumping off and remounting, firing their rifles, and drawing 
swords, while covering a measured (and short) space of ground, 
galloping past, standing in the saddle, &c. It was carried out 



172 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

with spirit and zest, and is evidently a favourite amusement of 
the men. The pace, however, cannot help being slow, and we 
saw no barebacked exercises such as are common in our cavalry. 
During part of the time in the chul we were accompanied by 
Captain Petroif of the Eussian Topographical Department. It 
was interesting to meet him, as he had been on the staff of M. 
Khanikoff when the latter travelled to Herat, and thence by 
Anar Darah to Lash Jowain, and on through Southern Persia to 
Teheran in 1858. Captain Petroff also served on the Anglo- 
Russian Delimitation Commission in Asia Minor after the Crimean 
war, where he was with General Gordon, of whom he says that 
he then already formed the opinion that he was a i noble soul.' " 

Captain Griesbach has started on a fresh trip in the 
search for coal and other mineral wealth, and we can only 
trust his Turkistan explorations may meet with the success 
they deserve. The Mashhad telegraph line was interrupted 
for some little time owing to the late heavy rains in Khora- 
san ; but the energy of the English inspectors, under Major 
Wells, K.E., soon put it to rights again ; and now that the 
line is under British supervision, I trust we shall have none 
of the long and wearisome interruptions like those which 
occurred last spring, just at the time too when the line was 
most required. Jemadar Halim Khan, of the 20th Panjab 
Infantry, has just started for Zorabad on the Persian frontier, 
and several of the political orderlies are also engaged in 
looking after the Turkoman sowars who carry our Mashhad 
mails across Badghis ; so that I trust there is little fear of 
our part of the line not being maintained at its present 
efficiency, despite the heavy spring rains which are now 
upon us. The rain has been heavy and continuous for the 
last three days, and now, as I write, it has just changed into 
snow. The ground is all white again ; everything looks as if 
we are in for another spell of winter weather, so I fear our 
march may be delayed. The newspaper and letter ddks, how- 
ever, continue to come in with wonderful regularity. 



173 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE HEKAT FKONTIER. 

CAMP KARAWAL KHANA, 12th April 1886. 

THE demarcation of the frontier from Zulfikar to Maruchak 
or rather to the confines of Herat to the north of Kilah 
Wali, some 45 miles to the east of Maruchak having now 
been completed, it is time that I should send a short de- 
scription of the boundary, and a sketch of the line laid 
down. My previous letters have already described most of 
the places visited by the Commissioners, and I shall there- 
fore give simply a brief r&umd, showing, as connectedly as I 
can, the results of the settlement just concluded, defining the 
northern limits of the Herat province. 

Commencing from the Persian border on the west, the 
boundary starts from the right bank of the Hari Eud, at a 
point as near as possible 1J mile to the north of the small 
tower at the mouth of the Zulfikar pass. Down the valley, 
to the north of pillar No. 1, there is little more than room 
for the road between the river and the rough ground at the 
foot of the cliffs ; and the line of boundary thus demarcated 
gives the possession of all culturable land at Zulfikar to 
Afghanistan. Pillar No. 2 stands on the top of the cliffs 
immediately above No. 1, and thence the line runs in an 
easterly direction to pillar No. 5, on a prominent and well- 
marked point on the edge of the second line of cliffs. From 
this point the boundary runs south-east, following the edge 



174 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

of the second line of cliffs, crossing the second defile at 
pillar No. 7, about half a mile up the pass, and thence south 
and south-east for some 4 miles, still following the second 
line of cliffs, and then bending eastwards up a rocky ridge 
to pillar No. 10, on the top of the Dengli Dagh hills. From 
pillar No. 11, on the eastern point of these hills, the line of 
boundary can be followed running straight across the un- 
dulating ground below to the centre of three low hills, and 
thence to pillar No. 13, on the roadside half-way between 
Ak Eobat and Sumba Karez. Pillar No. 15 stands on the 
roadside about half-way between Ak Eobat and Au Eahak, and 
thence the line runs round eastwards for some 10 or 12 
miles, and turning south, crosses the Egrigeuk, Shorab, or 
Islim stream, as it is variously called, three miles to the west 
of Islim. From pillar No. 19 l the boundary runs south-east 
to the top of the highest hill, marking the watershed between 
the valleys of the Kushk and the Egrigeuk streams, and 
thence down along the watershed to pillar No. 21, some three 
miles to the south-west of Chaman-i-Bed. Pillar No. 22 
is on the highest point, the north-west corner of the mound 
marked in the map as Kara Tepe Khurd. The boundary- 
line runs straight across the Kushk valley at this point, just 
to the south of the spring and marsh at the head of the 
Chaman-i-Bed canal ; and thence, turning to the north-east, 
follows the line of the tops of the highest hills to pillar No. 
25, some three miles almost due south of Hauz-i-Khan. 

From this point the boundary turns eastward to the pillar 
No. 2*7, about half a mile to the south of Chah-i-Nakhash, a 
narrow well lined with tamarisk, and some 80 feet in depth 
the only well, in fact, between the Kushk and the Kashan. 
Then, turning a little more to the north, the line runs on 
across the hills to pillar No. 30 on the left bank of the 

1 This portion of the frontier from pillar No. 19 to pillar No. 35 was sub- 
sequently rectified in the final negotiations at St Petersburg, described in 
chapter xxvii. 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 175 

Kashan stream, below Eobat-i-Kashan, and on in a north- 
easterly direction across the hills and the western half of 
the lower portion of the Maruchak valley, to pillar No. 35, 
on the left bank of the Murghab river, at a point 150 yards 
to the south of the head of the Band-i-Nadir canal, and 
almost due west of the Maruchak fort. From there the 
boundary runs northwards down the centre of the river- 
bed to pillar No. 36, on the top of the low hills on the right 
bank forming the natural northern frontier of the Maruchak 
valley, at the point where the river, sweeping round to the 
extreme eastern side of the valley, cuts off all further com- 
munication along that bank. From this point the line fol- 
lows a general easterly and north-easterly direction across 
the hills to pillar No. 41, to the north of Kilah Wali, beyond 
which the Maimanah district commences. 

I have given this short technical description of the bound- 
ary to enable the line to be followed on the map, and also to 
be compared with the terms laid down in the Protocol of 
the 10th September 1885, published in the last blue-book, 
on which the Commissioners had to work. 

The ground traversed by this boundary during its entire 
length of some 180 miles is almost entirely pastoral, the 
only exception being the narrow strips of cultivation in the 
valleys of the Hari Eud, the Kushk, the Kashan, and the 
Murghab. The only culturable land at Zulfikar lies to the 
south of the mouth of the pass, in the river-valley, and the 
greater portion of that is on the left bank in Persian terri- 
tory. Zulfikar has been hitherto entirely uninhabited ; but 
an Afghan frontier-post has now been located in the lines 
vacated by the Eussians, and cultivators may possibly soon 
be settled in the valley under their protection. The bed of 
the Hari Eud is here well wooded with tamarisk and other 
low jungle, and the traces of irrigation-channels through all 
the culturable ground show that the place was once well 
cultivated. The Zulfikar pass, or rather the defiles known 



176 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

by that name, leading up through the two successive lines of 
cliffs that here run parallel to the river, has already been 
described. The boundary-line, running along the crest of 
the second scarp up to the top of the Dengli Dagh hills, is 
so well marked by nature that it can never be mistaken. 
Ak Kobat and Sumba Karez, the two places beyond, are both 
at present uninhabited ; but both possess a good supply of 
water, and will probably become the Eussian and Afghan 
frontier-posts respectively, in this direction, though no troops 
have been located at either place up to the present, so far as 
we know. 

Up to Sumba Karez there was no discussion between the 
Commissioners regarding the demarcation, the line to be 
followed having been so clearly laid down in the Protocol 
of the 10th September that no discussion or divergence 
of opinion was possible. A glance at the map, though, 
will show how the Kussian claims went on increasing 
beyond that point. From Sumba Karez to Chaman-i-Bed 
the boundary-line was so drawn by the Commissioners as to 
give both Au Eahak and Islim, belonging to Afghanistan 
and Eussia respectively, each its due share of grazing- 
lands on both banks of the stream, so as to prevent the 
chance of quarrels, if possible, by the too close contact of 
the shepherds and flocks on either side. Both places are un- 
inhabited ; and as the water of the Shorab or Egrigeuk stream 
is too salt for irrigation even, there is not much likelihood of 
there ever being any large population along its banks. 

At Chaman-i-Bed, some 80 miles from Zulfikar, the second 
strip of cultivated land is reached. The valley of the Kushk 
here is entirely uninhabited, and has only been cultivated of 
late years by Panjdeh Turkomans. As a matter of fact, 
there are no habitations down the Kushk valley on the 
Afghan side north of the Jamshidi headquarters at Kushk 
itself ; and the whole of Badghis having been depopulated 
by Turkoman raids, the Panjdeh Sariks were pretty well free 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 177 

to come and go when they pleased, their only restriction being 
the fear of Teke raiders from Merv. In this way of late 
years the Sariks have been in the habit of cultivating land 
at various places along the banks of the Kushk, each little 
field being cultivated under the shelter of one of their round 
mud-towers of refuge, in which a man armed with a gun 
was pretty sure to be let alone by any passing ataman. A 
glance at the approximate line of Eussian claims on the 
sketch-map will show how the Eussian Commissioners at- 
tempted to make capital out of this occasional cultivation, 
and how seriously they endeavoured to work the clauses 
regarding cultivation and pasturage in the Protocol of the 
10th September so seriously, indeed, that they actually 
claimed all the land for some 3 5 miles to the south, and up to 
within 15 miles of Kushk itself. Sir West Eidgeway, how- 
ever, stood up firmly against this, and the boundary-line, as 
will be seen by the map, was, after some discussion, eventu- 
ally drawn across the Kushk valley at Kara Tepe Khurd, 
30 miles to the north of Chahar Darah, the point the Eus- 
sians wished to lay claim to. The portion of the Kushk 
valley embracing Kara Tepe and Kara Tepe Khurd has 
already been fully described. I need only add that the 
Chaman-i-Bed valley is irrigated by a canal drawn from the 
stream a little less than a mile and a half to the south of 
the ruins of the Chaman-i-Bed fort, an old mud-building, of 
which only a bit of the walls is now left standing. The 
Kushk sometimes runs dry at this part of its course, but the 
canal is still fed from a spring rising in the middle of a 
reedy swamp, by the side of which the canal takes off from 
the stream. In former days the valley of the Kushk must 
have been largely populated ; but now it is quite deserted, 
and the old canals have mostly fallen out of use. The last 
of these on the Afghan side takes off from the stream some 
three miles to the south of the Kara Tepe Khurd mound, and 
flowing north past Kara Tepe Khurd, exhausts itself about 

M 



178 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

half a mile to the south of the Chaman-i-Bed fort, on the 
high ground to the east of the Chaman-i-Bed canal. The 
boundary-line having been drawn straight across the valley 
at Kara Tepe Khurd, leaves a portion of this high level land, 
irrigable from the Kara Tepe Khurd canal, on the Eussian 
side of the border ; but a proviso in the demarcation Protocol 
records the fact that the Eussians have no claim to water 
from any canal the head of which is in Afghan territory, 
and thus any disputes about water on this score will, it is 
hoped, be avoided. 

The land, though, in the Kushk valley, only gets properly 
watered if a good spring rainfall brings the stream well 
down in flood ; and the crops in this valley are often dried 
up and lost, they say, for want of water. Consequently, 
there will always be the chance of complaints from Eussian 
subjects in the lower parts of the Kushk valley against the 
excessive consumption of water by the Afghans higher up ; 
but this is only one of the many difficulties consequent on 
the surrender of Panjdeh. The water-supply, cultivation, 
and pasturage belonging to Panjdeh, is so mixed up with 
that belonging to the remainder or upper portion of the 
Kushk, Kashan, and Murghab valleys, that to delimitate a 
frontier across these valleys was not only a work of great 
difficulty, but, when done, the boundary is only an arbitrary 
line based on the circumstances of the moment rather than 
on any permanent and natural basis. The northern frontier 
of Panjdeh beyond Sari Yazi, on the other hand, is the 
natural and traditional frontier of Herat ; and to have de- 
marcated a boundary between Panjdeh on the one side, and 
Merv and Sarakhs on the other, would have been a work of 
no difficulty whatever, while the ample stretch of waterless 
country on either side would have been a sure safeguard 
against all future quarrels. Eussia, by the acquisition of 
Panjdeh, however, has got past the desert frontier, and well 
down within the radius of Afghan influence ; and at first 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 179 

sight it would seem as if there can be but little doubt 
that the Eussian foot now advanced will at some future 
time be either advanced still further or withdrawn alto- 
gether, and that a frontier thus arbitrarily defined, as this 
has been, cannot be expected to be permanent. But the 
boundary has this essential advantage, that .having once 
been defined, it cannot be crossed with impunity, and any 
future violation of that frontier must necessarily be an act 
of war. It is this latter circumstance that lends the fron- 
tier its importance, and renders it so incumbent on Sir 
West Ridgeway to take every precaution in his power to 
obviate the chance of border squabbles, and to secure as 
far as possible the smooth working of the frontier arrange- 
ments for the future. So far as the Kushk valley is con- 
cerned, a small Afghan frontier-post has been located at 
Kara Tepe Khurd ; and we hear that a battalion of Trans- 
Caspian Rifles is to be located on the Russian side at 
Chaman-i-Bed. East of Chaman-i-Bed, the hills through 
which the boundary runs, like those on the west, are simply 
used for pasturage, though marks here and there in the 
hollows show that the ground in places has been cultivated 
for rain crops at some previous time. 

The third strip of cultivation is reached some 37 miles 
to the north-east of Chaman-i-Bed, in the valley of the 
Kashan stream. This valley is comprised of a narrow strip 
of level culturable soil, about half a mile in width, with a 
small stream winding through it. The water of this stream, 
as a rule, is entirely used up for irrigation, and the stream 
itself below Robat-i-Kashan is generally dry except during 
the spring floods, when it becomes an unfordable torrent. 
The canal on which the Panjdeh Sariks depend for their cul- 
tivation in the northern portion of this valley takes off from 
the right bank of the stream, some three or four miles below 
Robat-i-Kashan, and irrigates the land down the right bank 
on to Panjdeh. Although the head of this canal lies some 



180 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

four miles to the south of the straight line from Hauz-i-Khan 
to Maruchak the Protocol of the 10th September laid down 
that the line should be nearly straight still, it was so de- 
sirable that the Panjdeh Sariks should have the command of 
the head of the canal upon which they were dependent for 
their irrigation, that Sir West Ridge way agreed to concede 
this point in their favour ; but not content with this, the 
Russians, as will be seen by the map, claimed the valley 
all the way up to Babulai, nearly 25 miles farther south. 
This, however, Sir West Ridgeway entirely refused to con- 
cede, and gained his point, as will be seen by the line of 
settlement. Robat-i-Kashan is simply an old ruined rest- 
house, and is entirely deserted at present ; in fact, the whole 
Kashan valley is uninhabited. The Panjdeh Sariks have 
hitherto been its only occupants, cultivating the land but 
not residing thereon. 

The Maruchak valley, some 14 miles farther north-east, 
the fourth and last cultivated strip, is also entirely un- 
inhabited on the Afghan side. The nearest habitation on 
the right bank of the Murghab is at Karawal Khana, 12 
miles to the south of the Maruchak fort ; while on the left 
bank there is no habitation at all right away up to Bala 
Murghab, 10 miles beyond that again. Any land that 
hitherto has been cultivated in the Maruchak valley has 
been cultivated by Panjdeh Sariks. The natural frontier 
between Maruchak and Panjdeh is at the northern end of 
the Maruchak valley, where the hills, closing in to the river 
on both sides, separate the Maruchak lands from Panjdeh. 
The river, which seems at some former time to have run 
down the western side at the northern end of the Maruchak 
valley, has apparently changed its course, and sweeping 
across the valley, now washes the hills on the eastern 
side. As it is now, the river, thus sweeping so straight 
across the lower end of the valley, forms a capital naturally 
marked frontier of itself; and so far as the right or fort 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 181 

bank of the river is concerned, the present settlement 
leaves little to be desired. The Amir, I believe, specially 
approves of having the river between himself and the 
Prussians. The Band-i-Nadir canal on the left bank was 
the cause of the great difficulty in the settlement at Maru- 
chak. Whether originally taken off from the river in its 
old bed at the point marked Band-i-Nadir in the map, it is 
now impossible to say ; but there is no doubt that in olden 
days the canal was a work of much greater magnitude than 
it is at present. Its former course, it is said, can be traced 
almost all the way down the valley of the Murghab to 
Yulatan, a distance of some 90 miles to the north of Pul-i- 
Khishti ; whereas now it is practically exhausted before it 
reaches Pul-i-Khishti itself, barely 20 miles below Band-i- 
Nadir, and the water for the cultivation beyond is drawn from 
the valley of the Kushk. When or how the present head of 
the canal came to be dug in the Maruchak valley, some nine 
miles to the south of Band-i-Nadir, cannot well be ascer- 
tained ; but presumably, when the river deserted the old 
bed, the remedy was applied of digging a canal from the 
river higher up into the old bed, so as to preserve the 
ancient canal-system in force. The result of this is, that 
the actual head of the Band-i-Nadir canal is now exactly 
opposite the Maruchak fort. That Kussia should hold the 
command of the canal-head on which the very existence of 
Panjdeh is dependent was only fair ; and for this reason Sir 
West Eidgeway acceded so far to the Eussian claims as to 
assent to the boundary -line being drawn in a straight line 
across from the head of the canal in the Kashan valley to 
the head of the Band-i-Nadir canal on the left bank of the 
Murghab, almost due west of Maruchak, instead of to the 
" point north of Maruchak " laid down in the Protocol of the 
10th September. By this settlement some culturable land 
on the left bank of the Murghab between the head of the 
Band-i-Xadir canal and the hills bordering the Maruchak 



182 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

valley on the west falls to Eussia, which is irrigable from 
two canals taken off from the river higher up in Afghan 
territory ; but owing to the proviso in the demarcation Pro- 
tocol, Kussian subjects are to have no claim to water for this 
land from Afghan canals. 

The Maruchak fort I have before described. It will, I 
presume, now be regarrisoned by Afghan troops ; but it is 
never likely to be a strong place, capable of any resistance 
worth speaking of, under Afghan rtgime. The bulk of the 
garrison will probably be quartered at Bala Murghab, as 
before. Maruchak will simply be held as the frontier post. 
By the demarcation of the frontier, Kussian subjects for the 
future, so far as the Maruchak valley is concerned, will be 
cut off entirely from the right or fort bank of the river, and 
will be restricted on the left bank to the land north of the 
boundary-line between the Band-i-Nadir canal-head and the 
hills to the west. The Afghans, in their turn, are the prin- 
cipal gainers, as they will now be able to occupy all the land 
in the Maruchak valley on the right bank, and two-thirds of 
that on the left bank, which they have never been able to 
occupy before, and which has hitherto been only lying waste 
or been cultivated by Panjdeh Sariks. 

The Russian Commissioners made great difficulties about 
the settlement at Maruchak, and put forward so many claims, 
that, what with the Russians on one side, and the Afghans 
on the other, it seemed at one time as if no settlement could 
ever be come to at all. The Russians, for instance, I believe, 
at one time demanded the cession of a strip of land some 
two miles in length on the right bank of the Murghab, close 
to the Maruchak fort, on the plea of building a bund across 
the river at the head of the Band-i-Nadir canal. Kazi 
Saad-ud-Din, the Afghan representative, and the governor of 
Herat, on the other hand, not only refused to accede to this 
demand, but refused to agree to any part of the settlement 
from Hauz-i-Khan to Maruchak without a reference to the 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 183 

Amir on the subject. All these conflicting interests had to 
be reconciled, the Eussian claims moderated, and the Afghan 
representatives brought to reason ; and it was with no small 
difficulty that Sir West Kidgeway was able to effect any 
agreement at all regarding the boundary, before the two 
Commissioners separated to go into winter-quarters at the 
end of last year. During the winter a reply was received 
from the Amir cordially accepting the frontier settlement, 
and severely censuring his representatives for their ill- 
advised obstruction, at the same time giving his consent 
to the construction of the proposed bund, or dam, by the 
Eussians across the river at the canal-head, on the con- 
dition that the bund was not to be used as a bridge, or 
held by any military post. As soon as the snow was off 
the ground again, therefore, the demarcation of the frontier 
from Hauz-i-Khan eastwards was carried out in accordance 
with the terms of the agreement previously recorded, and 
the settlement, so far as the Herat district is concerned, 
completed. The question of this bund, though, is one of 
the things that may still give rise to future complications. 
The possibility of making a bund at all at the head of the 
canal has still to be proved, as the banks thereabout lie low, 
especially on the Afghan side. The Murghab, as a rule, is 
a deep, rather slow-running river, some 40 or 50 yards in 
breadth, with comparatively few fords, and most difficult to 
cross at times. There are a couple of fords at Bala Mur- 
ghab, and a similar number at Karawal Khana, Maruchak, 
and Panjdeh ; but these are impassable during the spring 
and summer floods, and below Panjdeh they say the river 
is unfordable almost right down to Merv. The ancient 
bridges have long since been destroyed ; and though there 
are the remains of one standing at Maruchak, and of another 
some 18 or 20 miles higher up, near Bala Murghab, still 
nothing has ever been done to repair them, and communica- 
tion across the river is often entirely cut off. The Murghab 



184 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

in this respect is very different from its affluent, the Kushk, 
which not only often runs dry in its course, but at its best 
is almost entirely used up for irrigation. Last year, shortly 
before the Eussian attack on Panjdeh, the Kushk, at its 
junction with the Murghab just below Pul-i-Khishti, was 
simply a sandy bed with a few inches of water flowing over 
it. Yet, like all streams rising in the mountains, the Kushk 
is liable to sudden floods, as the unfortunate Afghans on its 
left bank found out to their cost, when, owing to the spring 
rains in the hills, it came down in full flood just the night 
before the Eussian attack, and cut off their retreat the next 
morning. 

Panjdeh, as the home of the Sarik Turkomans is called, is 
not a village or a town, but a long narrow valley, some 25 
miles in length, and averaging about two miles in breadth, 
containing a series of hamlets of Turkoman Jeibitkas. There 
is not a house in the place. The only building of any 
sort in use that I know of is a small, low, flat-roofed musjid, 
built of mud, at the northern end of the valley in the 
Sokti settlements, the peculiar property of Juma Eshan, the 
head priest of the Sariks, one of the men who behaved so 
staunchly to the British officers, and who stuck by them so 
faithfully when matters looked so threatening after the 
Eussian attack. Juma Eshan, by the way, is a son of the 
old Khalifah of Merv, who in his time behaved so well to 
Dr Wolff on his travels. 

What the name of Panjdeh, literally the five villages, 
originally arose from, I cannot say. From the fact of the 
Sariks being divided into five clans or sections, each with 
its separate settlements, it would look at first sight as if 
they had given the name to the place ; but this is not the 
case, as the name is of ancient date, being mentioned, so 
Eawlinson says, by Hafiz Abru in A.D. 1417. The Sariks 
only occupied Panjdeh some thirty years ago, when they 
were turned out of Merv by the Tekes. Before then it was 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 185 

held by a section of the Ersaris, whom the Sariks in their 
turn displaced. 

The Sariks have no hereditary chiefs or rulers. They are 
commonwealths pure and simple. Every man seems to 
think himself as good as his neighbour, and wealth is the 
only criterion. A wealthy man becomes naturally an influ- 
ential man, and the title Bai, given to the more wealthy, is 
the only mark of distinction that I remember amongst them. 
For instance, Said Bai, our camel-contractor, is a man, I be- 
lieve, who has suffered various reverses of fortune. He has at 
last apparently fallen on his legs, in so far that, after a year 
or more's enjoyment of our contract, he has now become the 
owner of so many camels that he richly merits the title of 
Bai, which he formerly only enjoyed on sufferance, in re- 
membrance of the wealth he had lost. I must say, better 
camels, and more willing hard-working camel-men, I have 
never seen. 

The title of Sirdar amongst the Turkomans has nothing 
to do with rank or position ; it is simply a title given to the 
best leaders of raids, and to the most knowing guides and 
well indeed they seem to deserve it. Gok Sirdar, Beg Murad 
Sirdar, and others whom I could mention, seem to know 
every bit of country from the Oxus on the east to the Hari 
Eud on the west. Every well, every pathway, every hill 
and hollow, seems to be engraven on their memory ; and no 
matter where they are, they are never at fault, and the way 
they will guide you across country from one place to another 
is simply marvellous. Now that raiding has been put down, 
the peculiar art or faculty necessary for the making of a 
good guide will, I fear, to a certain extent die out ; and I 
very much doubt if the next generation will be half as good 
men in that respect as their fathers across the chid. 

Each section of the Sariks has certain influential men, 
who generally lead and represent the others ; but the 
obedience accorded to them is purely nominal, and till one 



186 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

sees a certain number of the people collected together and 
under the influence of some excitement, one has little idea 
of what an unruly and turbulent lot they are. As a rule, 
the hamlets are so quiet that one little suspects what a slight 
breeze will blow down the veil and show the Turkoman in 
his real colours ; but just witness a race-meeting or any 
scene of popular resort, and see how little attention is paid 
to the leading men, and how the mob cheat and quarrel 
amongst themselves for the prizes, and what thoroughly 
unscrupulous rapacious beggars some of them are. The 
more one knows of them, the more one marvels that, amidst 
all the excitement and temptation consequent on the Eus- 
sian attack last year, the British officers at Panjdeh were 
left unmolested. 

The different sections of the Sariks are by no means par- 
ticularly amicably inclined to each other, and there is a 
great deal of internal jealousy. The five main sections have 
each their separate location, and mix comparatively little 
amongst themselves. The Soktis, the richest as well as the 
most numerous and influential section, hold the land on the 
left or western bank of the river from Panjdeh Kuhnah, or 
old Panjdeh, right away down to Sari Yazi, a distance of 
some 35 miles, though their cultivation does not extend at 
present beyond Kurban Niaz, some 13 miles north of Ak 
Tepe. The Harzagis hold the land on the left bank from 
Bazaar Takhta southwards up to Maruchak, while the Khora- 
sanlis, who are comparatively small in numbers, are located 
between the two. The right bank is divided between the 
two other sections, the Bairach and the Alishah. This 
division of the lands, though, was only effected some time 
after the Sariks came to Panjdeh. They only came there 
by parties and detachments, as one after another they were 
driven out of Merv. The fighting at Merv went on, I have 
been told by a man who took part in it, for two or three 
years ; and it was only when the Akhal Tekes came to the 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 187 

aid of their Sarakhs brethren that the Sariks were finally 
defeated and hostilities came to an end, though the enmity 
then engendered between the two tribes still exists. Long- 
before all the fighting was over, the wealthy Sariks who had 
anything to lose had left, and only the poorer portion re- 
mained to fight it out. The Soktis, the richest both in 
flocks and wealth, almost all left Merv, I have been told, at 
the first attack, and went off in a body to Panjdeh, where 
they settled. The remainder of the tribe went off by de- 
grees, some to Chahar Jui on the Oxus, others to Panjdeh, 
each making their escape as best they could. Those who 
went to Chahar Jui did not stay there long. The place was 
already so thickly populated, they said, that land could not 
be got except by purchase, whereas at Panjdeh it was free ; 
so they, too, left Chahar Jui and made their way to Panjdeh, 
travelling along the banks of the Oxus to Karki, and thence 
to Andkhui. From Andkhui those who had baggage-animals 
and water-m-Msswe&s crossed the chid by the direct road over 
the Kara Bel plateau, while the remainder went round 
through Maimanah and Kilah Wali. At first the Soktis 
held the sole tenure of the Panjdeh land ; but each section, 
as it increased in numbers, got strong enough to enforce its 
claim, and the land was finally divided off in the manner I 
have named, the only difference now being that a good many 
Khorasanlis, and some of the Soktis, have moved into the 
Kushk valley and settled at Kilah Maur and other neigh- 
bouring places, and the Harzagis spread southwards to Kara- 
wal Khana and Kilah Wali. The occupants of these two 
latter places remain Afghan subjects, and the question of 
their future disposal has only just been settled. The Afghan 
Government, fearing a further extension of the ethnological 
arguments formerly so successfully advanced by Kussia in 
the case of Panjdeh, decline to keep any Sariks near their 
borders, and have decided to remove all the Sariks remaining 
at Kilah Wali and Karawal Khana to Chahar Shamba and 



188 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

other places farther south in the hills where they are better 
under control, and to put Afghan settlers in their place. 
The rumour of this move operated forcibly on the Sariks 
so much so, that as soon as they heard it, they commenced 
to vacate Kilah Wali and to troop back to Panjdeh in num- 
bers ; and it is said that of the 300 odd families lately 
located there, hardly 30 are now left on Afghan soil. 

At the time of the Sarik occupation of Panjdeh, Maruchak, 
and afterwards Kilah Wali, were both occupied by the Jam- 
shidis before they finally settled down at Kushk after their 
return from Urganj in Khiva. No doubt the Jamshidis 
have the prior right to this ground ; and the old ruined fort 
of Kaurmach, or Guchmach, as it is variously called, some four 
miles above Kilah Wali, is still locally known as the Jam- 
shidis' fort, and is said to have been occupied by them both 
before and after their move to Urganj. At present the place 
is an utter ruin. The walls, some 300 yards square, are 
built of mud, and are almost entirely gone so much so, that 
a few years hence they will simply form a square mound 
like all the other old ruined forts in this country. When 
visiting the place the other day, I was much struck at its 
utter desolation. The two gates east and west were still 
partly standing, and also the little inner fort, some 40 yards 
square. In the centre of that, again, there were the remains 
of a circular double-storeyed brick tower, similar to that in 
the Kilah Wali fort ; but beyond that there was not a brick 
in the place. The whole inside was bare and damp, and the 
footprints of a tiger in the mud were the only noticeable 
feature about it. Yet this fort stands at the mouth of a 
fine valley, coming down from the Band-i-Turkistan, and 
ought to be a most fertile and favourite spot instead of the 
utter waste it is. However, I notice that now the boundary 
has been settled, the Jamshidis are flocking in numbers up 
the Kilah Wali valley ; and if, as I hear, the governor of 
Herat has collected 1000 odd families of Afghan and 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 189 

Ghilzai nomads to colonise the frontier, no doubt both 
Kaurmach and Maruchak will soon resound again with the 
signs of life. 

The great want of Panjdeh, of course, is culturable land. 
The long narrow valley known as Panjdeh cannot produce 
nearly sufficient grain for the population of nearly 8000 
families which it now contains, and the consequence is 
that they have to import it from Maimanah. This was 
the main reason of the emigration of Sariks from Panjdeh 
to Yulatan. The latter place was originally held by the 
Salors ; but they all fled before the Persian advance in 
1860, and were allowed to settle for a time at Maruchak, 
on the land vacated by the Jamshidis, till the Sariks fell out 
with them owing to their thieving propensities, and drove 
them clean away. Similarly, the Sariks drove out the 
Ersaris, who held Panjdeh before their advent from Merv. 
In fact, the shiftings and changings that have been going on 
amongst these Turkoman tribes are endless ; and, possessing 
no houses, they are always ready to load up and move on at 
a moment's notice. The Sariks who first went to Yulatan 
had a very rough time of it, I believe, at the hands of the 
Tekes, who are said to have at once carried off all their 
sheep ; and the consequence is, that the Yulatan Sariks are 
now almost all agriculturists and tillers of the soil, in con- 
tradistinction to the pastoral members of the tribe at Panj- 
deh. The great advantage about Yulatan is the unfailing- 
supply of water, the canal drawn off from the Murghab at 
Band-i-Kazakli being, they say, deep enough to carry a 
camel off its legs. 

As an instance of the enmity between the Sariks and the 
Tekes, I remember a story told me regarding a fight which 
occurred some years ago at Cham an-i- Bed. A prisoner, 
escaping from Merv, gave notice to his brethren at Panjdeh 
that a large Teke raid, numbering some 2000 men all told, 
horse and foot, was on the way up. The Sariks collected 



190 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

very nearly an equal number of men, and moved across to 
Kilah Maur, sending out scouts (of whom my informant was 
one) in all directions, to watch the Tekes. The latter were 
traced by these scouts to the salt lakes at Nimaksar, and 
thence on to Ak Kobat. The Sariks moved up to Chaman- 
i-Bed ; but thinking that the Tekes, from the direction they 
were taking, were bent on a raid into the Herat valley, they 
were not particularly careful. My informant, who had brought 
the news of the Tekes' whereabouts, was sent out again with 
a few men to keep watch on them, while the rest went to 
sleep. Scouting up through the hills on the left bank of the 
Egrigeuk stream, he found that the Tekes had moved in the 
meantime from Ak Eobat to Islim. At the same time, as it 
afterwards turned out, the Tekes sent a scouting-party down 
the right bank to Chaman-i-Bed, who, seeing the fires of a 
large camp there, and having no idea that the Sariks had 
news of their approach, went back as hard as they could, 
and gave notice to the main body that a large kafila, or 
merchants' caravan, was encamped at Chaman-i-Bed. The 
Tekes at once started off to attack it, and the horsemen, in 
their eagerness to be the first at the plunder, left the foot- 
men behind, and pushed on by themselves. They charged 
down on the camp with a yell, just before dawn, thinking 
they had nothing but a party of traders to deal with. The 
Sariks were taken by surprise, but still kept together, covered 
by their footmen ; and directly it was light, charged the 
Teke horsemen, and routed them in turn, and then falling on 
the footmen, who were coming straggling up behind, intent 
on nothing but the expected plunder, cut them all up in 
detail, and killed almost every man of them. This is the 
Sariks' side of the story. What the Tekes say on the 
subject I do not know; but the Sariks aver that they were 
freed from Teke raids for many a long day afterwards. No 
wonder, though, that the feeling between the two tribes is 
not particularly cordial. 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 191 

The chief wealth of the Panjdeh Sariks is in their sheep. 
These are reckoned by flocks, each flock consisting of from 
1200 to 1500 head, which are grazed about the ckul, sum- 
mer and winter, under the charge of a shepherd and his 
assistant. These men, equipped with a suit of clothes and 
a couple of donkeys, one for water and the other for food, 
wander about the country with their flocks from year's end 
to year's end, rarely or never apparently coming into the 
settlements except with the ewes at the lambing-season in 
March. No wonder that they are wild-looking men, almost 
as wild as their own strong shaggy sheep-dogs. Yet even 
they are susceptible of the charms of music. Last year I 
remember meeting a couple of Salor itinerant musicians on 
their way back to Sarakhs after a round of visits amongst 
the Sarik shepherds grazing their flocks near the salt lakes. 
These men played a sort of flute made out of reeds not the 
ordinary reed of the river-beds, but a stronger and larger 
kind grown in the hills, they said, on the Khorasan border. 
They gave me a performance on the roadside ; and wonderful 
music it was, and much appreciated apparently by the shep- 
herds, as they were driving back with them several sheep, 
the gifts of their patrons. The shepherds certainly seem to 
have wonderful power as to the disposal of their masters' 
sheep. It is a point of honour with them always to kill a 
sheep for the entertainment of any passing guest, and they 
are also allowed to kill as much as they require for their 
own consumption; but as a matter of fact, the wolves 
generally kill as much and more for them than they can 
possibly eat. These brutes are always hanging round the 
flocks ; and often in a single night they will kill and maim 
many sheep, always, I believe, seizing and lacerating their 
tails, and going on to attack another before the first is dead, 
thus wounding far more than they kill. Between 20,000 
and 30,000 sheep used to be sent annually to Bokhara, it is 
said, and sold there at prices varying from Es. 8 to Es. 10 



192 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

apiece. A good deal of trade seems to be carried on be- 
tween Panjdeh and Sarakhs, rice being largely exported, 
and oil-seeds brought back in return. A good many skins 
are also exported to Bokhara, more especially fox -skins, 
which sell for about a rupee apiece. The Panjdeh horses, 
though doing capital work for their owners, are not much 
to look at according to our ideas ; and so far as I can 
learn, they are not highly priced 50 tillahs, or Es. 270, 
being apparently considered to be a long price, and above 
the usual average. It is generally allowed on all sides that 
the Akhal Tekes possess by far the best breed of horses. 

The great feature of Panjdeh, though, and in fact the 
chief manufacture, is the carpets. These are made entirely 
by the women, and really the best are so fine that they are 
more fitted for tablecloths than for carpets. Every girl is 
supposed to make the carpets for her husband's kilitkas 
before she marries, though how she does it I don't know, as 
it is supposed to take five women about eight months to make 
one of their usual large-sized carpets. The richer families 
generally hire the services of the wives and daughters of 
their poorer neighbours to assist in the manufacture of their 
carpets ; and probably it is only the rich members of the 
tribe who attempt the manufacture of the fine silk carpets 
and bags with which the best kibitkas are ornamented. The 
wool they use is first steeped and washed in alum-water, and 
then dyed with dyes imported from Bokhara; but the silk 
used is purchased all ready dyed from Bokhara. 

I wish I could give a just description of a Turkoman mar- 
riage procession. It is a sight worth seeing. The bride, who 
is generally hung all over with the curious massive silver 
jewellery peculiar to the Turkomans, seems to be escorted 
about by her lady friends (who are all dressed in the 
height of Turkoman fashion), and followed by a crowd of 
women and gaily decked camels. The wonderful scarves 
and mantles, and the half-concealed but not uncomely faces 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 193 

of the younger women, all make up a scene not easily to 
be forgotten. 

The place marked " Old Panjdeh " in the map is simply the 
ruins of an old brick fort, built by no one knows who. New 
Panjdeh is merely a square enclosed on three sides by mud 
walls, now also entirely deserted. Band-i-Nadir is a small 
lund or dam, made of tamarisk-bushes thrown across the old 
bed of the river at the place where, I presume, the canal origin- 
ally took off before the river changed its course : whether or 
no, the lund only serves now to catch the water brought into 
the old bed by the canal which takes off opposite the Maru- 
chak fort. There is hardly a single tree in the whole Panjdeh 
valley : the Turkomans seem to be too wild and unsettled to 
care for arboriculture in any form, and are only now appa- 
rently just beginning to realise what a fruit - garden is. 
Panjdeh ought to be rich in antiquities ; and had we been 
there only long enough, I have little doubt many good coins 
and relics would have been obtained. Several curious jars 
and household vessels were found in the site of an old 
buried city on the right bank of the river ; and a most 
perfect set of caves, cut in the sandstone, were discovered 
and opened out by Captain de Laessoe on a hill overlooking 
the valley on the eastern side. I forget the exact length of 
the central corridor of these caves, or how many sets of 
rooms opened off from it on either side ; but the rooms were 
all perfect in their way, many of them with a staircase 
leading to an upper storey ; and it is curious to note that 
each set of rooms had a sort of well or shaft some 2 feet 
in diameter, and 8 or 10 feet in depth, sunk down in the 
solid rock, presumably for the storage of water, though how 
that water was ever carried up the hillside from the river 
away below, I cannot tell. These caves, however, are fully 
described in Captain de Laessoe's paper published in the Pro- 
ceedings of the Eoyal Geographical Society for September 
1885. The question of the ancient geography of this 

N 



194 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

country, and especially the identification of the site of the 
ancient city of Merv-ul-Kud, located by Sir Henry Eawlin- 
son at Maruchak, according to his paper published in the 
above-mentioned number of the Eoyal Geographical Society's 
Proceedings, is naturally the cause of much interest amongst 
the various members of the Commission, and many are the 
theories broached on the subject. The general idea at 
present is against Maruchak, I think. In the first place, 
Maruchak is on the eastern bank of the river, on the same 
side as Kilah Wali, which Eawlinson identifies with the 
ancient Talikan ; whereas Ebn Haukel states that the river 
runs between Merv-ul-Eud and Talikan, and is crossed over 
by a bridge. Again, Abu Zaid states that Merv-ul-Eud is 
six stages from Herat, on the road to Balkh ; and as the 
highroad to Balkh, one would think, would in all probability 
have run up the Kilah Wali valley, the great natural highway 
in the country, or else through the hills to the south of it, 
it would seem to follow that Merv-ul-Eud must have been 
somewhere opposite the roads into that valley, leaving 
Maruchak considerably out of the way to the north. Now, 
of the two old bridges still partly standing between Bala 
Murghab and Panjdeh, the first, just below Maruchak, may 
possibly be the bridge of Dizeh, which, as Eawlinson men- 
tions, was twice repaired by Timur in A.H. 782 and 785 (A.D. 
1380-83). The second is situated some four or five miles 
below Bala Murghab, where the road from Mangan debouches 
into the Murghab valley. Following up this road from 
Herat, we find that it is divided into exactly six stages, the 
very number named by all the ancient geographers as the 
distance from Herat to Merv-ul-Eud; each stage except 
Mangan being marked by a robat or rest-house, the ruins of 
which are still extant viz., Eobat-i-Baba, Kushk, Eobat-i- 
Kolari, Torshaikh, Mangan, and Eobat-i-Ishmail. One might 
suppose, therefore, that Merv-ul-Eud was situated somewhere 
on the left bank of the river, opposite or near to this bridge, 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 195 

which again is almost exactly opposite a road leading from 
the Murghab valley through the hills into the Kilah Wali 
valley. But unfortunately, not the least sign of any ancient 
city has been found as yet in that neighbourhood ; and so 
far, all our inquiries and all our theories on the subject have 
failed to lead to any definite result. Certainly there are 
said to be the foundations of other bridges still extant, 
though under water, and there are two other roads leading 
from the valley of the Murghab to Maimanah, either of 
which may have been the highroad from Herat to Balkh in 
olden days. The first runs from Bala Murghab straight 
eastwards through the low hills at the foot of the Band-i- 
Turkistan to the old ruined fort known as Takht-i-Khatun, 
and thence on past the well-known ziarat of Khwajah Kandu 
to Kaisar and Maimanah, and is said to be a good and well- 
marked road the whole way. The second is the route known 
as the Kara Jangal pass, which passes from Herat through 
Karukh, Tagao Eobat, Naratu, Kilah Nao, Darah-i-Bam to 
Darband-i-Kilrekta on the Murghab, and thence over the 
Tirband-i-Turkistan, locally known as Kara Jangal, to Takht- 
i-Khatun. This latter route over the Kara Jangal pass we 
have not as yet been able to explore, but it is passable for 
camels I arn told, and therefore must be a fairly good road ; 
and moreover, the ruins of an old robat, about half-way up 
the pass to the north-east of Band-i-Kilrekta, prove that it 
was once a regular caravan-road. Both of these roads, it 
will be seen, converge at Takht-i-Khatun. Who the fair 
lady may have been who made this place her throne I can- 
not say, but doubtless the place was important in its day. 
At present it consists of nothing but the remains of a mud- 
fort, 600 yards in length and 200 in breadth, situated at 
the foot and to the west of two low hills, between and near 
the junction of two streams known as the Kara Jangal and 
Khwajah Langari, which unite and form the rivulet running 
into the Kilah Wali stream at Kaurmach. The site is an 



196 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

excellent one, just at the foot of the mountains, in the midst 
of a wide level plain or valley of fertile land ; and the re- 
mains of old Jearezes or underground canals show that the 
place was formerly well cultivated. When visiting the 
place the other day, I could not help wondering if this 
might not have been the ancient Talikan. There was not a 
stone or a brick in the place, however nothing whatever to 
afford any clue to its age nothing but earthen walls, and 
those not of the thickest. But then, neither are there any 
bricks at Herat or at Old Kandahar, or at any of the ruins 
of the ancient towns in Seistan ; and here was a place, of 
course much smaller, but still very much after the fashion 
of Old Kandahar, as the hills above it had evidently been 
levelled at the top and fortified, something like the rocky 
Chihal Zinah range above Old Kandahar. However, spec- 
ulation was iiseless, and the Jamshidis in the little hamlet 
below could not help me to solve the mystery. They could 
only tell me that the more modern mud square fort, away in 
the valley below, was the work, it was said, of their ancestors, 
and that the land right up to Khwajah Kandu belonged by 
tradition to them. Certainly, from what I could see, the 
Jamshidis had made up their minds to put this tradition 
into force, as I found lots of new settlements all about the 
Kilah Wali valley and the hills to the south of it far more 
than were to be found there last year. 

The Herat district extends as far north as Kilah Wali and 
Kaurmach ; and it was with the view of getting this last 
north-eastern portion settled, at any rate with as little delay 
as possible, that Sir West Eidgeway consented, before leaving 
Maruchak for winter -quarters at Chahar Shamba, to an 
agreement fixing the boundary eastwards from Maruchak to 
the meridian of Sofi, at a distance of between 15 and 20 
miles to the north of the Kilah Wali stream. For the 
actual demarcation of this portion, it was necessary to wait 
for the completion of the maps of the Eussian topographers 



THE HERAT FRONTIER. 197 

intrusted with the survey of this section of the frontier; 
and these maps were not completed till after the middle 
of March, some days after Sir West Eidgeway's return to 
Maruchak. What the delay was I cannot tell, but I must 
say the country just to the east of the Maruchak is the most 
hopelessly intricate task possible for a surveyor, and all the 
Eussian topographers here declare that they have never had 
such troublesome work in their lives before. 

Imagine a huge tumbled mass of hillocks, most of them 
very steep, and rising straight up from a succession of ravines 
and valleys, locally known as shors, which here run down in 
long parallel lines from the edge of the Kara Bel plateau 
and fall into the Kilah Wali stream, with the exception of 
one the Galla Chashmah Shor which falls into the Maru- 
chak valley at Pusht-i-Hamwar. These skors are, most of 
them, very narrow in places just wide enough, in fact, for 
the tiny stream of salt water and mud, which, running down 
in wet weather, makes the roads up these valleys almost, if 
not quite, impassable. The hillocks are mostly too steep to 
make good pasture-ground, and the tract near the Kilah 
Wali stream is not, therefore, nearly so rich in pasturage 
as the more level ground on and bordering the Kara Bel 
plateau, which at this season of the year is simply one vast 
meadow, covered with all sorts of grasses ; whereas the hil- 
locks are only scantily covered on their northern slopes, and 
have little or nothing on the southern. Standing on any 
high point in the hills, it is curious, on looking north, to see 
everything tinged with brown, and on turning to the south 
to find all the brightest green. In addition to the grass on 
the hills, there are plants of many descriptions, and lots of 
flowers, amongst which bright red tulips, mauve-coloured 
cowslips, buttercups, dandelions, and other little yellow 
flowers, are in "endless profusion, while wild rhubarb grows 
everywhere. The camels, I notice, eat the rhubarb-leaves 
greedily, and in the winter I have seen the Turkomans 



198 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

digging up, the roots for their camels; but the plant has 
no other use that I know of. The only water in all the 
country between Maruchak and Kilah Wali is at a spring 
called Khwajah Gogirdak, some 10 miles north of the Jam- 
shidi hamlet at Bokun, 12 miles below or west of Kilah 
Wali. This place possesses, not one, but apparently a suc- 
cession of springs, most of them sulphur-springs, as the 
name implies. At the head of the valley the stream is 
salt ; then comes a narrow reedy marsh, with a spring of 
sulphur -water running out of a black hole, smelling and 
tasting most horribly bad, but not salt; while below that 
again, just where some white-coloured limestone rock sud- 
denly crops up, the water is sweet and clear. The place 
must have been inhabited at some time, as there is a grave- 
yard farther down the valley, where the stream falls into 
the sJior, but now it is simply the resort of shikaris from all 
the country round. The banks of the stream are strewn 
with the horns of mall or wild sheep, which, I presume, 
have been killed and eaten here. They abound, they say, 
in the hillocks around, as also do pig ; and man is not the 
only animal that preys on them, as the footmarks of a tiger 
were seen there though how a tiger found his way to such 
a place I cannot think. The prompt conclusion of the 
settlement of this, the last portion of the Herat frontier, sets 
free the governor of Herat, who has been waiting at Bala 
Murghab all the winter ; and not only will he be able to 
conclude his arrangements for the population of the frontier 
and return to Herat without further delay, but he goes 
back knowing full well that both lines of Eussian advance 
up the Hari Eud and Murghab valleys have been closed, by 
this demarcation of the border, against any encroachment 
short of an actual declaration of war. The main object of 
the Mission has thus been accomplished. 



199 



CHAPTER XIII. 

A SNOWSTORM IN THE CHUL. 

CAMP KARAWAL KHANA, 15th April 1886. 

AT last we have heard that the Eussian Commission is 
crossing the Murghab at Maruchak, and that they propose 
to join us here. Small news in itself, but still all-im- 
portant to us, who have now been encamped here nearly 
a month, awaiting the receipt of orders from his own 
Government by the Eussian Commissioner, and for which 
there seemed every possibility of our being kept waiting 
another month. Had the Eussians met us last month with 
the intention of settling the boundary, we should probably 
have been half-way to the Oxus by this time. However, 
better late than never, says an excellent proverb ; and the 
breaking up of their winter camp looks as if the Eussians had 
at last made up their minds, arid consequently a few days 
hence may see us all at work again. We hope so sincerely, 
as this enforced idleness is trying to everybody. The 
weather is now charming, the thermometer not having risen 
above an average maximum of 65 in the shade this month ; 
and we may fairly hope to have about done with all the 
snow and rain with which we have been visited so heavily 
of late. 

As soon as the negotiations were brought to a standstill 
by Colonel Kuhlberg, Sir West Eidgeway moved his camp 
from Maruchak to this place, and the difference in the air 



200 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

caused by the change up those 12 miles of the Murghab 
valley was very remarkable. Maruchak is a notoriously 
unhealthy place so much so, that I hear there is an old 
Persian proverb to that effect ; but I must say none of 
our party have ever suffered there, though the Eussians, I 
believe, have no liking for it. We set out on the 22d 
March, leaving the Eussiaus at their winter camp on the 
other, the left bank of the river, at the lower end of the 
valley, some three miles within the Panjdeh border; and 
there they have remained ever since. At the time we left 
Maruchak the Murghab was still passable ; but since then 
it has come down in flood, and now it is so high that for 
some days past the Eussians have not been able to work 
their ferry-boat. 

The camp at Chahar Shamba has been temporarily broken 
up, and all our winter tents and kibitkas have been left 
standing under the charge of an Usbeg guard, pending our 
return there with the Eussian Commission. When Sir West 
Eidgeway found out that his stay at Karawal Khana might 
be indefinitely prolonged, he brought down Dr Owen and 
Captain Cotton, and the remainder of the infantry escort, 
and also Mr Ney Elias, who had remained there under 
medical treatment. We shall probably find most of the 
kibitkas in a state of collapse on our return, as I don't think 
they were warranted to stand the effect of such storms of 
snow and rain as we had on the 28th March and 5th April 
respectively, without some one to look after them. The 
cavalry escort, under the command of Major Bax, started 
for Andkhui some days before the snowstorm, and though 
they were detained on the road by the snow, they got 
through all right, and are now halting at Andkhui, pending 
further orders. Captain Maitland and Mr Merk are also 
en route to Andkhui, the former going on to Balkh, the 
latter making certain inquiries regarding the grazing rights, 
while Captain Griesbach is at Shibarghan on a geological 



A SNOWSTOEM IN THE CHUL. 201 

tour. Captain Peacocke returned to camp here on the llth, 
having completed his survey of the cultivation in both 
the Kushk and Kashan valleys, in company with Captain 
Kondratenko. He proceeded down to Maruchak again to- 
day to make a further survey of the ground at the head of 
the Band-i-Nadir canal, in company with Captain Gideonoff, 
and to report on the feasibility of, and amount of ground 
necessary for, building the lund across the river there pro- 
posed by Colonel Kuhlberg. His rejoining us here in camp 
was a matter of no small difficulty, as it turned out. The 
first we knew of his arrival was seeing him on the opposite 
side of the river ; and as there was no other way of crossing, 
he just left his men and horses on the far bank and swam 
across to us. We rigged up a ferry with our little Berthon 
canvas boat in the evening, which enabled him to cross back 
again dry, but he had to wait till the next morning to swim 
his horses and camels across. The Eussians, I believe, are 
crossing all their horses and camels over in the ferry-boat, 
which accounts for the time they are taking. 

Major Holdich and I were out for some ten days with 
Captain Ilyin, putting up the pillars on the last portion of 
the Herat frontier, stretching eastwards from Maruchak, 
north of Kilah Wali, to the confines of the Maimanah terri- 
tory, and we were caught by a snowstorm in the midst of 
the chid, which nearly did for us. I must say that such 
a thing as a snowstorm on the lowlands is said to be un- 
known here after the Nouroz, on New Year's Day on the 
21st of March; and this storm, which was the severest 
we had all the winter through, seems to have played terrible 
havoc. The fruit -buds are entirely destroyed in many 
places, and all the little birds, that flocked here in num- 
bers from I don't know where at the opening of spring, were 
killed in hundreds. Their bodies are still to be seen lying 
all over the country. 

Starting from Karawal Khana on the 24th, our first day's 



202 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

marcli led us up the Shor Sanam, a long narrow valley, 
which gradually got narrower and narrower, till, some 13 or 
14 miles up, we found no road left at all except up the bed 
of the little salt muddy stream that formed the bottom of the 
ravine, and which was just wide enough for one camel at a 
time. The mud was so deep that it was all our horses and 
mules could do to get through it, and the wretched camels 
before long stuck altogether. This very narrow bit turned 
out to be some six or eight miles in length ; and had we 
known it, we should have halted at the mouth ; but not 
knowing what was before us, we pushed on, and the conse- 
quence was, that before we were half-way through, our ani- 
mals were done, and we were only too glad to find a narrow 
ledge on the hillside, some 30 feet above the mud, to camp 
on. As luck would have it, down came a tremendous thun- 
derstorm and caught us fairly in a trap. It rained hard all 
night and half the next day, and our camels and baggage 
were strewn all down the shor. The stream came down in 
flood, and the mud was worse than before. However, by 
evening of the 25th we managed to get all into camp. The 
Turkoman camel-men, always ready and willing to work, 
then set to and made a road along the hillside up to a side 
ravine, and next day we managed to get the camels out of 
the shor, and taking them over the hills, got all right to the 
water at Khwajah Gogirdak. The worst of it was, that our 
sheep, which it was impossible to drive up the shor, had to 
be tied on the camels, and were in a dying state when they 
got in, and had to be killed at once. The thunderstorm 
turned all the meat the same night, and we found ourselves 
started off on our trip the next morning without any meat 
rations at all, and no chance of getting any. We had a 
day's halt at Khwajah Gogirdak, to build a boundary pillar, 
and started again on the 28th for the Taidashti Shor, and 
the valley farther east, whence we hoped to get to the site 
proposed for the next pillar. The country there is very 



A SNOWSTORM IN THE CHUL. 203 

wild, just a tumbled mass of steep hillocks, with no way 
through it whatever, and almost utterly unknown and un- 
visited. Gok Sirdar was our only guide who had ever been 
near it, and he had a very hazy notion of the way about, 
but said he would be able to find his way to the next water 
at Pekenna, some 25 miles to the north-east. As it was, 
we only got about half-way to the Taidashti Shor when 
another storm came on, and we just got our tents pitched 
and our baggage up in time. At nightfall the rain changed 
into snow, and it snowed continuously for twenty -four hours. 
The 29th was a pretty miserable day for all of us. Snow 
being unknown, as a rule, out here after the Nouroz, we had 
made no provision against it. We had mussucks and mussucks 
full of water, just the one thing with the snow all round us 
that we did not want. Fortunately we had brought one or 
two camel -loads of tamarisk- wood from Khwajah Gogirdak, 
but not so much as we would have done had not the guides 
told us that we should find lots of wood ahead in the 
Taidashti Shor. 

Not knowing, therefore, when the snowstorm might stop, 
we had to be very sparing of what wood we had, and I sat 
shivering all day in one of those wretched thin little 80-lb. 
Kabul tents that were sent up to us by the last convoy from 
the Eawal Pindi or Allahabad arsenals. The old 80 -pounder 
was as warm a little tent as one could wish to have ; but this 
new ordnance pattern is so thin that the wind whistles through 
it in every direction, and it is impossible to keep it warm. 
I tried to write, but the minute particles of snow driven in 
by the wind lay so thick on the paper that the ink ran in 
all directions ; so beware for the future of the ordnance 
80 -pounder in a snowstorm. However, the snow stopped 
on the night of the 29th, and the morning of the 30th 
found us with a clear sky, but 12 or 15 inches of snow all 
round us. We determined at once to push on for Taidashti, 
so as to get some wood at any rate, and well it was that we 



204 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

did so. That night was bitterly cold, and the thermometer 
must have been very close to zero. When we sat down to 
dinner it was 22, and when we got up for breakfast next 
morning it was only 12; but what it was in the meantime 
we could only guess. We found lots of tamarisk-bushes all 
down the banks of the Taidashti Shor, and as our men could 
burn just as much as they liked to take the trouble to cut, 
they did not suffer in the least. The horses and mules were 
the things that suffered. Poor beasts ! they had had nothing 
to eat for two days but a little barley, and now we were 
running short of that. We had brought no bhoosa, or 
thrashed straw, with us, knowing that there was plenty 
grazing everywhere in the chul. As a matter of fact, the 
grass was some three inches high in all the ravines, and the 
animals ate this so greedily that they even refused their 
grain. The muleteers, knowing this, had only brought a 
little grain with them to save the loads, and, worse than 
all, the Kussians ran completely out. The Afghans sent over 
word to say that they were running short too, and to know 
if I could give them anything ; and when I came to inquire, 
I found that the Eussians, instead of having brought seven 
days' supplies from Karawal Khana, as I thought, had only 
three days' food all told. Here we were, three days' march 
in good weather from the nearest habitation, and not know- 
ing how long we might be storm- bound in these hills ! At 
last an old Jamshidi moollah said he thought that he could 
find a way by which horsemen might be able to get through 
the hills to Kilah Wali ; so we at once sent him off with all 
the spare Afghan yabus, and with instructions to try and 
make Kilah Wali, and bring up some grain and flour from 
there to meet us at Alai Chalai. We threw away the 
extra pony-loads of bricks, &c., for the pillars, taking on 
just sufficient for a couple more, and sent the ponies back 
empty, as that was their only chance of getting across. We 
ourselves put all our men on short rations and gave the 



A SNOWSTORM IN THE CHUL. 205 

Cossacks what we could, and as good luck would have it, on 
the march next day we came across a sounder of pig. First 
of all a family of little squeakers were descried, to which the 
Cossacks at once gave chase and ran down three or four in 
the snow. Just then we came up. My dogs got on to some 
big ones, and singling one out, ran it right down the hill, 
straight through the midst of all the camels, where the chase 
was joined in by all the Cossacks and followers, while we 
came pounding along through the snow behind. Poor piggy 
was eventually run to bay, and after a good fight with the 
dogs, in which the latter got much the worst of it and the 
little fox-terriers were all but killed, was at last shot by 
Major Holdich with his orderly's carbine. We presented it 
at once to the Cossacks, and were not they delighted ! I 
shall never forget the handy way in which one of them 
jumped off his pony, took off the headstall, gave one end of 
it a turn round the pig's snout and the other round his 
pony's tail, and remounting, trotted gaily off down the hill, 
his pony dragging the pig behind it, to the place where it 
could be loaded on the camels below. 

This welcome supply of meat kept the Cossacks going for 
the next three days, much to the astonishment of the Afghans 
and Turkomans, who had never seen the " unclean animal " 
put to such use before. Unfortunately, roast-pork would 
not feed the Cossack ponies. These hardy little animals, 
used to cold as they are, still found the snow too deep for 
them, and got more exhausted each day for want of food. I 
used to see them scratching up the snow with their fore-feet 
and doing their best to get at the grass below ; but all their 
efforts failed to get them sufficient to fill their stomachs, 
and the night before we got in to Alai Chalai, so Captain 
Ilyin told us, they got nothing to eat but the last crumbs of 
the Cossack's hard-baked service biscuits collected from the 
bottom of the bag and made into a paste with a little melted 
snow. When this was the state of the Cossack ponies, how 



206 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

f 

much worse was it for our Indian horses and ponies, that 
got no grazing at all ! Major Holdich's orderly's pony died 
straight off; and M. Ananiantz's and my orderly's horse got 
so weak that they could hardly walk in fact, M. Ananiantz's 
gave in entirely and had to be left out the last night on the 
road. One of the Afghan yabus also died, and the others 
were so done up that had we wished to put up another 
pillar we could not have done so. In fact we were very 
lucky to get the pillars built that we did. On the 31st, 
Gok Sirdar, our guide, managed to take us to Pekenna, and 
from there we found a point and survey-mark on the top of 
a high hill, from which we could see the last pillar we had 
built near Khwajah Gogirdak, and Major Holdich was just 
able to take his observations and the Afghans to build the 
pillar before dark. Precious cold work it was, I assure you. 
On the 1st April we got in to Alai Chalai, after a hard 
march through mud and melting snow of some 18 or 20 
miles down the Kara Baba Shor. The Pekenna Shor was 
quite impassable, but Gok Sirdar took us out of it and across 
the hills into the Kara Baba Shor, and we got down that all 
right, with the exception of some of the camels, which did 
not get in till next morning. The snow was now melting 
rapidly, and as I had never marched in snow before under 
the heat of an April sun, I little knew what an effect the 
glare had. All of us were more or less blind. One of 
Major Holdich's eyes was completely closed. Gok Sirdar, 
our only guide, and also Jemadar Azizulah Khan were both 
quite blind, and had it not been that M. Ananiantz had 
some spare goggles, I do not know how we should have got 
along. Several of the Cossacks, too, were suffering, and my 
khidmatgar was so bad that he did not get the use of his 
eyes again for some days after our arrival at Chahar Shamba. 
I had both goggles and a veil ; but even with these all the 
skin of my face peeled off, and I have hardly recovered 
it yet. 



A SNOWSTORM IN THE CHUL. 207 

On arrival at Alai Chalai we saw a couple of men with 
a bullock and some donkeys, and said to ourselves, " Ah ! 
these men have brought us out some supplies ; " but great 
was our disappointment to find that they were men who had 
been up to Kara Baba with supplies for Captain TolmachofF, 
who is still surveying up there, and that they had nothing 
whatever for us. The Eussians and Afghans had absolutely 
nothing left, and we were sadly contemplating our resources 
for dinner, when suddenly the men and ponies we had sent 
in to Kilah Wali arrived all right, having got through with- 
out loss, though with considerable suffering. It was not long 
before some mutton and fowls were roasting before the fire. 

On the 2d we marched into Chahar Shamba. The camel- 
men declared that their camels were so snow-blind that they 
could not possibly march, and Captain Ilyin also said that 
two of his camels were perfectly blind ; but they all got in 
somehow, and a couple of days' rest put them all right again. 

I must say it was a comical sight to see us all on the 
march. The Cossacks with their heads completely muffled 
up in their lashaliks, never daring to look out unless obliged ; 
the officers with their faces all swollen and burnt, and 
wrapped up in veils and pocket-handkerchiefs ; and the 
Indian servants with their turbans all tied across their eyes, 
each trying his best to escape the glare. 

Here in camp we have little to excite us, and day suc- 
ceeds day with wonderful monotony. The pheasants are all 
breeding ; in fact, the hens began to lay a month ago, and 
must have been sadly put about by the unexpected snow- 
storm. The cocks are incessantly crowing all over the 
valley, and it is amusing to watch an old bird, strutting 
about in the field, suddenly stand up and crow and flap his 
wings just like the old barn-door chanticleer. The hamlets 
at Karawal Khana and the whole of the Bala Murghab 
valley are entirely deserted ; all the Jamshidis have moved 
up with their flocks and herds into the hills behind, and 



208 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

hardly a soul is to be seen. Standing on the top of the 
old ruined fort some three miles up the Bala Murghab 
valley, there is not a kibitka to be seen all the way up to 
the Bala Murghab fort, which stands out a square mud- 
building in the distance. I wonder, by the way, what this 
old nameless fort has been. Imagine a huge artificial mound 
of earth, measuring about 130 yards in length and 100 in 
breadth at the top, and say 50 feet in height, standing out 
in the middle of the valley on the eastern bank of the river, 
but without any particular signs of any old ruins around it. 
The mound is encircled by a broad depression, and then a 
gradual rise to the top of the lower mound forming the 
ruins of the outer walls, which stand some 20 feet high in 
places and measures about 300 yards square. No doubt it 
was a strong place in its day ; and if Ebn Haukel can be 
read to mean that the Murghab ran between Kushk and 
Talikan, instead of between Merv-ul-Eud and Talikan, it 
might possibly have been the great Merv-ul-Eud itself. 



209 



CHAPTEK XIV. 

DELAYS IN THE NEGOTIATIONS RETURN TO CHAHAR SHAMBA. 

CAMP CHAHAR SHAMBA, 28th April 1886. 

THE Eussian camp joined ours at Karawal Khana on the 
1 6th, as we had expected, M. Lessar coming on ahead to stay 
with us, and taking up his quarters in Major Durand's tent. 
Sir West Eidgeway rode over in the afternoon to invite 
Colonel Kuhlberg to dinner, but the latter accepted instead 
an invitation for himself and all his officers to breakfast 
next day. Accordingly, at noon on the 17th our camp 
once more shone with Eussian uniforms, though in smaller 
numbers than hitherto, as only eleven turned up altogether. 
There was a meeting of the Commission in our mess-tent 
at 10 A.M., when Colonel Kuhlberg and Captain G-ideonoff 
arrived and joined M. Lessar. No settlement or arrange- 
ment was come to, and it was agreed that we should all 
march up to Chahar Shamba together, and have another 
meeting there, Captain de Laessoe with a couple of Eussian 
topographers being deputed to proceed across the chul 
from Maruchak in the meantime to settle the question re- 
garding some reported wells at Aghamet, about which there 
was some doubt. This latter trip, however, never came off, 
as they could not cross the stream for some days, and 
Colonel Kuhlberg finally waived the point. Breakfast was 
laid in the shamianah, and fortunately the rain, which 
threatened all the morning, held off long enough, as a 

o 



210 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

shamianah is not of much use in heavy rain, and without it 
we should have had some difficulty in finding room for our 
guests, having gone down to Maruchak with a very light 
camp, leaving all the big tents at Chahar Shamba. We 
were to have marched the following morning, but continuous 
rain for the next two days kept us prisoners in camp, and 
we were not able to start till the 20th. The Murghab came 
down in greater flood than ever, and had not the Eussians got 
across when they did, they might never have got across at all. 
The little Kilah Wali stream, as it was, turned out an 
impassable obstacle ; and the Eussians, disregarding the 
advice of their Afghan guides, crossed over to the northern 
bank on the morning of the 18th, and could not get back 
again till the 22d, and then only by crossing themselves and 
everything they had over on a raft made out of barrels. 
We marched on the 20th after the rain was over, and going 
up the Bala Murghab valley, crossed over through the hills, 
and on arrival at Bokun found M. Lessar there all alone. 
He, it seems, taking the advice of his Turkoman guide, had 
ridden up the left bank of the Kilah Wali stream, and 
when night fell and there were no signs of his party coming 
up, he tried to get shelter in the various Jamshidi hamlets 
about, but all in vain. One and all shut their doors in his 
face, telling him that were they to harbour a Eussian, they 
knew not what dreadful fate would not overtake them at the 
hands of Kazi Saad-ud-Din Khan and the Afghans ; and so 
there was nothing for it but to make for the tent of our 
postal sowars at Bokun. A bed, with half-a-dozen Turko- 
mans in a little bit of a tent, was not the height of luxury 
to look forward to ; so I can quite fancy he was not a bit 
sorry to find a tent of ours pitched there which Major 
Durand had sent on ahead under the charge of a Persian 
farash. Here we found M. Lessar very happy after a two 
days' sojourn with the tent-pitcher, living on whatever the 
latter could cook for him. He spent that day and the next 
with us, and when we marched on to Kilah Wali he rejoined 



RETURN TO CHAHAR SHAMBA. 211 

the Russian camp, which in the meantime had got across the 
stream. The Kilah Wall valley is now at its best, being 
covered with grass, and flowers of every description and 
colour ; so much so, indeed, that when I tried to examine 
the mounds that stretch for some 400 or 500 yards along 
the southern side of the valley, about a mile below the fort, 
and mark apparently the site of some old town, I found that 
it was impossible to tell which were natural and which 
artificial, as the thick grass concealed almost all traces of 
brick and pottery. The mounds round the old rolat, some 
1 2 miles farther down the valley, have lately been dug up 
I presume, to get bricks for the boundary pillars and it is 
astonishing to see what a mass of brickwork has been exposed 
there, stretching for about 300 yards on either side of the 
road. If these mounds at Kilah Wali were also dug up, it 
is highly probable that they would be just the same. 

The Russians and ourselves all marched into Chahar 
Shamba together on the morning of the 24th we taking up 
our abode in our winter camp, the Russians on the southern 
side of the valley just opposite. The 25th, Easter Sunday, 
the great festival of the Greek Church, was commenced by 
the Russian party with a full-dress parade. In the afternoon 
Sir West Ridgeway and all of us paid Colonel Kuhlberg and 
his officers a formal visit, which was duly returned the next 
day. The majority of the Russian officers, though, I must 
say, were not visible that Sunday afternoon : whether this 
was the result of the festival being kept as a feast, or what, 
I cannot say. The morning of the 27th was spent by the 
Commissioners in a formal meeting in Colonel Kuhlberg's 
kibitka, and we were all invited over to a mid-day breakfast 
at the conclusion of the meeting. We sat down a party of 
twenty-four altogether ; ten of us viz., Sir West Ridgeway, 
Majors Holdich and Durand, Captains Peacocke, Cotton, and 
De Laessoe, Khan Bahadur Ibrahim Khan, Kazi Muhammad 
Aslam Khan, M. Ananiantz, and myself, and fourteen of our 
hosts, consisting of Colonel Kuhlberg, M. Lessar, Captains 



212 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Gideonoff and Komaroff, Dr Semmer, Captains Petroff, 
Denisoff, Tolmachoff, and Ilyin, Lieutenants Kiachko, Go- 
rokh, Winnikoff, Mehemetoff, and M. Mirzaeff. 

The Eussian. officers, with the exception of the Commis- 
sioner and Assistant Commissioners, who are in kibitkas, are 
all in tents and precious hot, I fancy, they will find it a 
few weeks later, when our present rainy and cloudy weather 
has come to an end. The tents are square and low, the 
centre pole being barely 8 feet, and the four corner poles 
about 5 feet in height ; and so far as I could see, they con- 
sist of only single canvas, though I have been told that offi- 
cers' tents, as a rule, are double. The tents are small, say 
some 8 feet square at the top, with spreading sides some 5 
feet in height, which peg down on to the ground. They 
must be very easily pitched, as they have only four ropes, 
one at each corner, with the same number of pegs. How- 
ever well suited for a European climate, I fear the Eussian 
officers will find them regular ovens, when baking out here 
under the rays of a midsummer sun. They hope, I know, 
to be back home before then ; but what chance there is of 
their hopes being fulfilled it is impossible to say. So far as 
I have heard, the Kussian claims have not abated in the least, 
and the prospect of any definite settlement is as far off as 
ever it was. 

The cavalry, under Major Bax and Captain Drummond, 
are still encamped at Andkhui, with Sirdar Muhammad 
Aslam Khan, Eessaldar-Major Baha-u'-din Khan, and Sub- 
adar Muhammad Husain Khan. Mr Ney Elias has just 
left vis on his return journey through Badakshan. Sirdar 
Sher Ahmed Khan joins him en route, to arrange for the 
collection of supplies at Faizabad for our party returning to 
India that way. Captain Gore and Mr Merk have just re- 
joined us here in camp ; but Captains Maitland, the Hon. 
M. G. Talbot, and Griesbach are still away on tour in various 
parts of Turkistan. 



213 



CHAPTEK XV. 

BALA MUEGHAB. 

CAMP KILAH WALI, 26th May 1886. 

WHEN last I wrote, we were still all in camp together at 
Chahar Shamba, and everything was unsettled. Since then 
the two Commissions have moved on from Chahar Shamba 
to Andkhui, and the boundary has been settled as far as 
Dukchi, a point some 2 5 miles almost due north of Andkhui. 
Various parties, one of which I am with, are out putting up 
the pillars to mark the line agreed upon, and thus I date 
this letter from Kilah Wali instead of from headquarters at 
Andkhui. Both Sir West Eidgeway and Colonel Kuhlberg 
proceed at once to the Oxus, I believe, where the final 
difficulty has to be settled. How that will be done I do not 
know. 

The 1st of May saw the final break-up of our winter 
camp at Chahar Shamba. All the big tents were struck, 
and we moved out into a light camp ready for the march 
onward. A meeting of the Commissioners was held in Sir 
West Eidgeway's tent at 10 A.M., arid shortly after noon I 
received orders to proceed with Captains Komaroff and 
Kondratenko to survey and report upon certain canals in 
the Maruchak valley. We accordingly marched west the 
next morning, while the camps of both the Commissions 
moved eastwards up the valley of the Ab-i-Kaisar to Dau- 
latabad, and thence subsequently to Andkhui. 



214 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

We three had a rough march of it down to the Maruchak 
valley, as we were just caught in the heaviest of all the 
spring floods, and consequently found every little stream an 
unfordable torrent. The little Bokun stream came down in 
such flood that a whole Jarnshidi hamlet was carried away 
the night we were there ; and the last I heard of the poor 
people was that thirty-three dead bodies had been recovered, 
but a great many were still missing. We managed to get 
down all safe to the banks of the Murghab, and there, with 
the help of some Jamshidis, I rigged up a little raft of in- 
flated goat-skins, and crossed everybody and everything over 
the river without the least mishap till, last of all, I started to 
cross myself. What happened I do not know. I presume 
some excitable Jarnshidi would pull at the rope just at the 
wrong time, when the raft was caught by the full force of 
the current ; but whatever was the cause, the result was that 
the little raft turned clean over, and I suddenly found the 
raft on the top of me instead of me on the top of the raft, 
and consequently I had to swim the Murghab, clothes and 
all. Such a ludicrous scene as it was ! Half-a-dozen Jam- 
shidis at once plunged in to my rescue and raced me across 
in hot pursuit. All my servants on the bank commenced to 
howl, thinking no doubt their days were indeed numbered if 
their Sahib was drowned in the Murghab ; and only one man 
that I know of took it coolly, and he was the man who had 
the sense to swim after my helmet and rescue it before it 
was washed away clean out of sight. I owe that man a 
very good turn, as what I should do without my sun-helmet 
in this present heat I do not know. 

Mules are stupid enough beasts when set to swim across 
a river, but a camel beats everything. I never tried to swim 
a camel before, and of those I had with me, so far as I could 
see, not one could swim. They floated just like so many 
logs ; and when once they were carried out of their depth, 
they simply floated away placidly down the river, not mak- 



BALA MURGHAB. 215 

ing the slightest effort on their own behalf, till fate finally 
stranded them again on the same side from which they 
started. 

While I was at Bala Murghab, an amusing letter was 
received by the governor of Herat in camp there from the 
Sipah Salar, or commander-in-chief, at Herat, describing the 
advent of a European on an iron horse from Farah. This, 
I believe, was the American bicyclist, bent on making the 
tour of the world ; but he so frightened the governor of 
Farah by his sudden arrival, that he was at once sent on 
under escort to Herat, where the Sipah Salar seems to have 
been equally puzzled. He sent Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, our 
agent there, and various others, to interview the stranger 
and find out what he was, but all without avail. All they 
could learn was that -he came from the New World ; and as 
Yangi Duniya conveyed no very precise ideas of nationality 
to the Sipah Salar's mind, he was left in greater doubt than 
ever, and wrote to say that he had lodged him for. the 
present at Ziarat Gah, to the south of the city, and that if 
he could only be assured that he was an Englishman, he 
would bring him at once into the city, but that fearing he 
might be a Eussian, he had lodged him outside. I believe 
that subsequently the gentleman returned to Persia. 

At Maruchak we had an interview with Lieutenant - 
Colonel Tarkhanoff, the new Eussian governor of Panjdeh. 
We met at the boundary pillar on the left bank of the river, 
and Lieutenant-Colonel Tarkhanoff afterwards returned to 
Bazar Takhta, his headquarters, 12 miles farther down the 
valley. 

On my return to Bala Murghab I was much surprised by 
the arrival of General Ghaus-ud-Din Khan, the late Afghan 
commander at Panjdeh, with his aide-de-camp, as he calls him, 
Captain Muhammad Amin Khan, the officer who had charge 
of the advanced pickets at Sari Yazi at the time of the first 
Eussian advance. We had a great greeting, both being 



216 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

equally surprised at meeting the other so unexpectedly. 
General Ghaus-ud-Din Khan was resplendent in a round 
white felt hat, ornamented with a broad green ribbon and 
bow, cloth uniform and sword, and long rough Hazarah boots. 
He informed me with much pleasure that he had been re- 
appointed to his former command and charge of the frontier, 
with headquarters as before at Bala Murghab ; but we had 
not much time for any talk, as, after resting for an hour or 
so in my tent, he went on to see the governor, and in the 
evening rode back again to Band - i - Kilrekta, 20 miles 
farther up the valley, to hurry on the rebuilding of the 
bridge there which had been carried away by the late floods. 
All the officers of the Afghan regulars are now, it seems, 
known by the English names of the various ranks. They 
are all right in their generals, colonels, and captains, but 
apparently are a little puzzled about our Indian rank of 
commandant ; and with them the commandant, or kumedang, 
as they pronounce it, is the name they give the second in 
command of the regiment under the colonel. The Khasa- 
dars, or Afghan irregulars, still stick to their old titles and 
organisation. They are all composed of separate companies, 
each one hundred strong and quite independent of each other. 
For each ten men there is a Dah Bashi, or commander of ten, 
all under the Sad Bashi, or commander of a hundred. Five 
or six of these companies, I believe, form the command of a 
Sartib, and he again is under the orders of the Sarliang ; but 
what limit of strength is laid down for each I do not know. 
I believe it is quite unsettled, as at Bala Murghab, with 
only three companies, there is both a Sartib and a Sarhang, 
whereas at other places there is neither. 

The building of this bridge at Band-i-Kilrekta had now 
become a matter of the greatest importance. At Bala 
Murghab I found that the whole of the Jamshidis were 
returning en masse to Kushk, and that their places were 
going to be taken by Afghan nomads who were already 



BALA MURGHAB. 217 

collected to the number of some two thousand families on 
the western bank of the river, while the Jamshidis were all 
massing on the eastern. As I left Bala Murghab, I found 
the roads full of Jamshidis, all trooping up with their flocks 
and their herds, their goods and their chattels, their wives 
and their children, all laden on bullocks and donkeys, and 
forming one of the most curious migrations I have ever seen. 
On my return to Bala Murghab a week later, not a Jamshidi 
was to be seen. Nothing but their deserted hamlets were 
visible, with empty reed-huts, and old sticks and rags lying 
about in every direction the sticks, by the way, being 
carefully collected by the Afghans for firewood, a windfall 
that they are not likely to get again. 

I had occasion to go up to the bridge to see the governor 
of Herat and General Ghaus-ud-Din Khan, and the sight there 
was a curious one. On this side were all the Jamshidis 
streaming across the bridge in one continuous line, while the 
hills on the far side were black with the tents and the camps 
of the Afghans, waiting for the Jamshidis to pass. The 
Jamshidis one and all told me that they were delighted to 
return to Kushk ; and although all this country here on the 
northern slopes of the Tirband-i-Turkistan, from Bala Murghab 
to Khwajah Kandu, is known as the Yuri, or ancestral land 
of the Jamshidis, still they seemed to be leaving it with the 
greatest gladness a gladness, I fancy, fully shared by the 
Afghan governor, who on his part is equally pleased to see 
his frontiers tenanted by pure-bred Afghans. Most of the 
latter whom I saw were nomad Ghilzais, who at once, after 
crossing the river, scattered themselves and their flocks over 
the rich pasturages on the slopes of the mountains, where 
they will remain till the autumn. Towards winter they will 
come down to the valleys and set to work in all probability 
to cultivate some lands though for this, I believe, a special 
colony of Afghan cultivators is to be brought up. 

Eiding up the pass, I stopped for breakfast under the shade 



218 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

of a well-known mulberry-tree, the only one in the country, 
a little more than two-thirds of the way through ; and here I 
found the first of the new Afghan settlers, who had just 
arrived with his flock and his family and seemed thoroughly 
happy. He told me that he was a Ghilzai, a Hotak from 
the Kalat-i-Ghilzai district, whose forefathers had migrated 
to the hills near Herat some four generations ago. His 
language was still Pushtu, though he could speak Persian 
also. He was brimful of hope, and assured me over and over 
again that twelve thousand families of them were coming 
altogether, and that they would never allow a single Russian 
to cross the frontier. All they wanted, he said, was some 
guns from the Sirkar, and they would fight to the death. 
Other families, he said, were coming down from Kabul 
through Turkistan, and more from Zemindawar, all deter- 
mined to fight. I was just wishing to myself that the Amir 
would send up the whole of Zemindawar to the frontier, 
when who should turn up but a veritable Zemindawari. He 
sat down under the tree to have his chat too, and told me all 
his history how he fought against us at Maiwand, not from 
any love of Ayub Khan, but simply because the word went 
round for a ghaza against the unbelievers. Twenty thousand 
Ghazis, he said, were assembled that day. He himself was 
on the upper side towards Maiwand, opposite the Europeans ; 
but before he got within a thousand yards of the fighting- 
he was knocked over by a bullet in the groin. Directly he 
fell another Ghazi went off with his gun, and consequently 
he not only gained nothing by his ghaza, but he lost the gun 
that he had, and moreover, lay for six months on his back 
before he recovered the use of his leg. During this time he 
said he was fed by the Alizais ; but when he got better he 
went down to Quetta, and there his wound was treated by 
an English doctor, and he was fed by the English all the 
time he was there. He then returned home ; but hearing 
last summer that the Russians were going to attack Herat, 



BALA MURGHAB. 219 

he and lots of others like him had come up of their own 
accord to join in the ghaza against the Eussians. He had 
no family or ties of any sort to bind him to this world ; his 
life was of no value to him, he said, and all he wished was to 
meet his death fighting against the Eussians a true type of 
the real Zemindawari fanatic. 

The Darband pass is a difficult one to describe. The 
Murghab here forces its way through the mountains, and 
the gorge more resembles a great huge hollow tooth than 
anything else I can think of. On either side are lofty cliffs. 
Those on the west tower up in one long straight line the 
best part of a mile back from the river, with low hills at 
the bottom down to the river's bank. Those on the east 
stand several miles away, with a regular series of low hills 
in between them and the river. At either entrance to the 
gorge, some 14 miles apart from north to south, a stratum of 
solid rock, tilted up with the dip to the south, comes run- 
ning down from the main cliffs on either side right to the 
water's edge, thus completing the circle. The rocks at both 
entrances are marked by some old stone towers guarding the 
pass. The northern entrance, known as the Band-i-Joukar, 
is said by the Firozkohis to be the limit of their country. 
All the land in the pass they claim as their Yurt, and they 
have names for all the different spots. The bridge at 
Band-i-Kilrekta, the southern entrance, is simply formed 
by two rough but massive stone buttresses thrown out 
from either bank, joined by the trunks of two trees laid 
across about a 30 -feet span in the centre. The depth of 
the river must be considerable to allow so much water 
through so small a space ; and I only hope the bridge may 
stand till the old brick bridge at Bala Murghab has been 
rebuilt. The governor, I believe, intends to set to work on 
the latter as soon as the water goes down, and the sooner it 
is built the better. Last month, when we were in camp at 
Karawal Khana, a foolhardy Afghan sowar attempted to cross 



220 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the river at the Tanur Sangi ford ; but the current was so 
strong that both he and his horse were carried away, and 
neither man nor horse was ever seen again. Just that very 
day, or the day before, if I remember right, I winged an old 
cock-pheasant just at that very ford : he fell on the bank, 
and at once ran down and plunged into the river, and set to 
to swim for the opposite side. I had a little fox-terrier 
with me, who at once started in hot pursuit, and the swim- 
ming - match between the two was very amusing. The 
pheasant swam almost as fast as the dog, and was well out 
in mid- stream before it was caught ; and what with the bird's 
struggles and the force of the current, it was almost as 
much as the little dog could do to bring it ashore. Poor 
little dog ! never again will he catch me more pheasants. 
The heat the other day, marching across from the Kashan 
to the Maruchak valley, was so great that he died ; and the 
other two dogs I had were only pulled through with great 
difficulty. 

The heat just now in the Maruchak valley is tremen- 
dous. Not that I believe it registers anything excessively 
high by the thermometer, as with a good roof over one's 
head one would hardly feel it, but in the sun it is over- 
powering. The whole valley is uninhabited, and the ground 
is one dense tangled mass of thistles, flowers, grasses, and 
weeds of every description, standing between two and three 
feet high, and full of horse-flies and mosquitoes. For the last 
ten days there has not been a breath of wind, and very often 
a heavy dew at night. This all dries in the sun, and the 
steam or heat rising from this and the damp ground and the 
dense vegetation, all now drying up, without a breath of air 
to carry it off, almost suffocates one. I was encamped below 
an old mound, the remains of some former fort known as 
Kilah Kambar, close to the Afghan frontier - picket, and 
marched through the hills from there to Eobat-i-Kashan, a 
distance of about 14 miles. I was rather amused, I remem- 



BALA MURGHAB. 221 

ber, on the way, by the domestic troubles of the poor old 
Turkoman who was with me, which he related at great 
length, bitterly lamenting his fate all the time at living 
in such an age when he could no longer take the law into 
his own hands. From his account it appears that the ways 
of the gentler sex are just as inscrutable in the East as they 
are in the West. Poor old. man ! Whilst he was absent 
from home for two or three days, his brother-in-law arrived, 
and when he returned, he found that his wife had fled. She 
had simply jumped up behind her brother on his horse, and 
off she went ; and why ? There was the mystery. She was 
a Salor Turkoman girl, and " sixteen years ago," wailed the 
poor man, "I bought her for 600 Jcrans (Es. 240), and she 
has lived with me happily ever since ; and now she has gone, 
and so have my Jcrans, and I dare not do anything. Oh, if 
these Eussians were not here, I would kill her and her 
brother too ! and now all I can do is to give my petition to 
Tarkhanoff. What is the good of that ? " 

" But why did she run away ? " said I ; " did you beat 
her ? " 

" No," said he. 

" Did the other wives beat her ? " 

" No ; I have two other wives, but they each have their 
separate abode, and always got on very well together." 

" Did she take anything away with her ? " said I. 

" Yes ; she took all her jewellery and the child's clothes. 
She has three children, the youngest four years old. Now, 
why," said he, " did she leave the child and take its 
clothes ? " 

" Heaven only knows," said I. " How old was she ? " 

There at last I tickled the old man's humour, as, breaking 
out into his first smile, he replied, " Ah, I never looked at 
her teeth ! " After that he forgot his woes, arid became as 
jovial as ever again. 

Eobat-i-Kashan must have been a fine place in its day, 



NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

and evidently a stage on a much - frequented highroad ; 
though whether the highroad from Herat to Merv ran down 
the valley of the Kashan or the Kushk, it is impossible at 
present to say. Taking into consideration the old bridge 
at Chihal Dukhteran, and the many ruins of important 
places in the Kushk valley, I am inclined to think that it 
followed the latter. The Kashan robat, or rest-house, is all 
built of burnt brick, and is of the usual design an outer 
wall, some 50 yards square, with a domed corridor all 
round the inside, and open in the centre. It stands on 
the right bank of the stream, in the centre of a fine stretch 
of cultivable land ; and the want of water, owing to the 
stream running dry, was provided against by the erection of 
a fine reservoir, some 70 yards to the south. This is now 
gradually tumbling in ; but the four arched vaults, some 
20 feet square, each radiating from a dome-covered centre, 
rather larger in size, are still perfect, and I see no reason 
why it should not be cleaned out and refilled. The place 
also boasts of its sets of caves, hewn out of the hillside, a 
little to the south ; but I had no time to explore them, 
though, I believe, others of our party have done so. On my 
way back to Bala Murghab I took the opportunity of explor- 
ing a cave in a cliff, on the left bank of the river, that I had 
often looked longingly at, but had never been able to get to 
before. After climbing along the steep hillside above the cliff, 
at some risk of tumbling into the river in full flood 100 or 
200 feet down below, and stumbling suddenly on the way on 
to a flock of young ibex, which certainly never expected to see 
us in such a place, I at last got to a slope where I could get 
down to the water's edge, and then, with the help of a rope, 
held by my two Sikh orderlies up above, I managed to climb 
along the cliffs, and after considerable scraping of elbows 
and knees, I got up to the cave, to find nothing but a simple 
vault, eight or ten feet deep. Two similar vaults, one on 
either side of the entrance, were partially broken away ; but 



BALA MURGHAB. 223 

when the place was new, I daresay it was cool and pleasant 
to sit and meditate in, with the river rolling away just below. 
I must say, however, that the majority of these rock-caves, 
which so abound in this country, are most uninteresting to 
explore, as nothing ever seems to be found in them to give 
the slightest clue to the makers. 

On arrival at Bala Murghab, I was only too glad to accept 
General Ghaus-ud-Din Khan's invitation to spend the day with 
him in the fort, while the tents and kit, &c., were crossed over 
the river on the raft. We sat in the north-west bastion 
and very pleasant it was to have a roof over one's head again, 
after the last few days in the sun. The present garrison of 
Bala Murghab consists of three lairaks or companies of Kha- 
sadars. General Ghaus-ud-Din Khan and his five-and-twenty 
or thirty orderlies men belonging to regular regiments 
occupy the fort, and the Khasadars are quartered around. 
The fort, which was entirely rebuilt when originally reoccu- 
pied in 1884, is some 100 yards square, built on an artifi- 
cial mound, about 3 feet high, with the gate on the northern 
face, immediately above the river. It contains a good resi- 
dence, with a Jiammam, and an underground passage down 
to the river, and quarters for two companies, as the garrison, 
with magazine and storehouses, &c. Whether this mound 
was the citadel of an old city or not, it is impossible to tell. 
The site is well chosen, protected as it is on three sides by 
the river, and walled across on the fourth. The outer gate- 
way lies to the east of the present fort, in this line of wall, 
and close by are the Khasadars' barracks, in the lines occu- 
pied the year before last by the battery of artillery, subse- 
quently captured by the Eussians at Panjdeh. The western 
side of the fort, a large space, some 500 yards square, in the 
bend of the river, lies low ; and if any city ever existed 
upon it, it was probably washed away in some flood. 

There is a mound marking the ruins of another old 
fort, I find, on the left bank, just at the bend of the 



224 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

river above the Kobat-i-Ishmail ford, and only a mile or so 
above the mouth of the Mangan pass. It consists of a mound 
some 200 yards square, and 20 feet in height, with another 
mound some 50 feet higher again, marking the site of the 
citadel in the north-west corner. I could get no name for 
it, though there is one, as a Jamshidi told me that an old 
man had once given him the name, but he had forgotten it. 
The ground around, he added, had evidently once been all 
under garden cultivation ; and this one can easily see for one's 
self. Everybody who remembers the deep rows of trenches 
and mounds on which grapes are grown in this country, will 
readily understand how very long it must take to eradicate 
all traces of a vineyard; and the marks of these parallel 
trenches are still to be seen all over both the Bala Murghab 
and Maruchak valleys at the present day. Ebn Haukel, if I 
remember right, specially notices the gardens for which the 
city of Merv-ul-Kud was noted, and yet at the present day 
there is not a tree or a bush in either the Bala Murghab or 
Maruchak valleys. Nomads like the Jamshidis and the 
Turkomans never cultivate trees on principle ; and till a few 
settled cultivators are introduced, it will be hopeless to ex- 
pect to get them. Once, however, the place has been popu- 
lated and cleared, I see no reason why it should not become 
another garden again. With good land and climate, lots of 
water, and the hills around to go to in summer, what more 
could settlers want? At present, certainly Maruchak is noth- 
ing but a mass of thistles. But one must not condemn the 
thistle, about the most useful plant in the country. We have 
them of every shape and size, from the broad spreading leaf on 
the ground, to the high stalk not much thicker than one's little 
linger, and yet standing five and six feet in height. All the 
fuel of the country is composed of these thistles. Wood can 
only be procured from the mountains, but the thistle grows 
everywhere, and is regularly used as fuel. In winter I used 
often to see the Usbegs bringing in donkey-loads of thistle- 



BALA MUKGHAB. 225 

stalks, and I don't think they ever burnt anything else. At 
this season the camels graze on them regularly, while almost 
all the little birds build their nests in them. 

The Khasadars at present in garrison at Bala Murghab 
and Maruchak are almost entirely Logaris, and fine sturdy 
fellows they are. I have seen a good deal of the Afghan 
soldier during the past year, and I must say that the more 
I see of him, the more I like him. He is very independent, 
and is often thought sullen and discourteous from his habit 
of never saluting a stranger ; but once get to know him, and 
see how he opens out under the influence of a few kind words, 
and what a ready and willing fellow he is. I only wish we 
had a few more of them in our ranks. I have heard it said 
that the Afghan is not a good fighting man, and certainly the 
Afghan regulars never once stood up against us that I know 
of ; but this I believe to have been due to their want of organ- 
isation and competent leaders, not to the want of individual 
courage on the part of the men. Look how bravely the 
irregulars fought us time after time ! and why should not 
those same men fight just as bravely for us as against us ? 
The Afghan orderlies, men from Kabul and Logar, who were 
selected from the llth Bengal Lancers for service with the 
Mission, are as fine a set of men as one could wish to see, 
and have done splendid service with us ; and the more we 
can get of their brethren, the better for us, I should say. 



226 



CHAPTEK XVI. 

THE MAECH TO THE OXUS. 

CAMP KHAMIAB, 15th June 1886. 

WE are now encamped on the banks of the Oxus, at the 
end of our boundary-line ; but, so far as I know, we are not 
a bit nearer the conclusion of a settlement than we were 
when we arrived here more than a fortnight ago. An 
earthen bank running in a long line between the Eus- 
sian camp and ours marks the boundary here between 
Bokhara and Afghanistan, and never till now has there been 
the slightest disagreement about it. The Eussian Com- 
missioners, however, as I have mentioned before, are bent 
on upsetting if they can this settlement, mutually effected 
between the local Afghan and Bokharan officials some 
twelve years ago, and are now busily employed trying to 
get up a case to prove that, in accordance with the agree- 
ment between the English and Eussian Governments of 
1873, the Khojah Salih therein mentioned is not the 
Khwajah Salar district belonging to Afghanistan, as hither- 
to understood by the people on either side, but a small 
ziarat or saint's grave of the same name, some 20 miles 
higher up the river a contention which, if allowed, would 
involve the surrender of all this thickly inhabited and 
regular revenue-paying district, that has belonged to Akchah 
from time immemorial. Matters for the moment are at a 
standstill pending the completion of a large-scale survey of 



THE MARCH TO THE OXUS. 227 

the district in question, which Colonel Kuhlberg has in- 
sisted upon as a preliminary, presumably, I suppose, to gain 
time; but the Eussian topographers are all at work, and 
the survey is to be completed within the next ten days or 
a fortnight, till when, I fancy, we must just grill and wait 
with the best patience we can. 

The boundary pillars have all been built from Maruchak 
right up to Dukchi, some 30 miles west from here, so that 
nothing now remains but the settlement of this question 
regarding the land on the river-bank. That in all prob- 
ability will have to be settled at home, but whether we 
are to await the result or not is not known. Diplomatic 
negotiations with Eussia are so very uncertain in their 
duration, that it is generally thought that the whole Mission 
will not be kept waiting on here indefinitely for the result. 

The country here is infinitely hotter than the Herat 
valley, where we were this time last year. The thermometer 
in our tents has ranged for some days past from 106 to 
108 Fahr.; but fortunately the nights are comparatively 
cool, and consequently the heat does not tell on us as it 
otherwise would. The Oxus here is rather a slow-running 
river, apparently about a mile in width, with low -lying 
banks, and bordered on either side by a strip of thickly 
populated land well cultivated and well wooded. Having 
only just rejoined headquarters, however, I must reserve all 
description for a future letter, when I have made myself 
better acquainted with the place, and at present I will 
confine myself to an account of the march up here. The 
following letter, kindly sent me by Mr Merk, gives a vivid 
description of the Queen's birthday sports and festivities at 
Andkhui, which were a novel and interesting sight for the 
Eussian officers and men, and were thoroughly enjoyed by 
all: 

" Colonel Sir W. Kidgeway and the headquarter camp of the 
Commission reached Andkhui on the 18th of May, where Major 



228 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Bax and the cavalry had already been for some weeks. The 
march to Andkhui was uneventful : we had a couple of hot days 
en route, but generally the weather was very pleasant. The 
most noticeable feature in the country the usual rolling downs 
through which we passed was the wonderful growth of grass, 
which, waving knee-deep, clothed the hills and valleys as far as 
the eye could reach. At this season of the year a division of 
cavalry moving anywhere between the Oxus and the Hari Rud 
would be almost independent of other sustenance for their horses : 
numerous flocks of sheep and herds of cattle that were pastured 
along our line of march appeared to make little impression upon 
the supply of grass. These tracts must be a paradise for sheep- 
farmers. Towards the end of May, however, the country becomes 
burnt up, and the sheep have to remove to the higher spurs of 
the Tirband-i-Turkistan. We halted for some days at Andkhui. 
The day after our arrival, Colonel Kuhlberg and the Russian 
Commission joined us and pitched their camp near ours. 

" On the 22d of May we celebrated the anniversary of her 
Majesty's birthday. The proceedings commenced in the morning 
with a parade of the escort before her Majesty's Commissioner. 
The men of both detachments looked very fit indeed, and turned 
out very smartly; the horses of the llth Bengal Lancers were 
in magnificent condition. After the usual salute, the cavalry 
and infantry marched past, and then went through a few simple 
manoeuvres for the benefit of the Russian officers present, who 
repeatedly expressed their admiration at the appearance and turn- 
out of the troops. At five o'clock in the afternoon our Russian 
friends came over to witness the sports got up by Captain 
Drummond, who had prepared a small steeplechase course and 
a tent-pegging run. The programme was : (1) A mule-race for 
Persian mules, owners up. This race afforded the usual amount 
of fun, the riders trying to cut every corner of the course, and 
the honorary secretary bumping them back again. (2) A mule- 
race for Indian mules and drivers. This lot was more orderly 
and the mules were not so eccentric in their pranks. (3) A 
steeplechase for sowars' ponies. A large number of entries, and 
a scuffle in heat and dust, the winner turning up in a smart 
little nag ridden by Sowar Sirdar Khan. (4) A V.C. race. The 
sowars picked up the corpses of their dead comrades (repre- 
sented by dummies), and returned over the hurdles in good style, 
under volleys of blank cartridge fired at them from a ditch close 
by. (5) Tent-pegging by the men of the llth. This was the 
feature of the evening ; it was performed in fine form, and was 
a sight as novel as it was interesting to Russians, who, I ought 
to have mentioned, had brought all their Cossacks and infantry 



THE MARCH TO THE OXUS. 229 

to see the sports. Many of the British officers took part in the 
tent-pegging, after which the sowars performed a few feats, such 
as standing on the saddle and going past at full gallop, picking 
up a handkerchief from the ground, &c. (6) Sword v. lance. 
The last contest, between Sowars Sher Mahomed and Mahomed 
Hassan, was particularly good. (7) Lime-cutting, ring-tilting, 
and cutting off a dummy's head, poor dummy had a good 
number of spare necks. (8) Infantry race, in marching order : 
the pace was good. (9) Dooly race. Three British officers, and 
Lieutenant Kiachko of the Cossacks, were carried by panting 
Jcahars, who with true courtesy bore their Eussian guest first past 
the post. (10) Bheesti race with filled mussucks. (11) Foot-race 
for men of the 20th, which produced a close contest. (12) Tug- 
of-war between the old and young soldiers of the llth, which 
was won by the lads after a long and most determined pull. (13) 
Tug-of-war between Khuttucks and Afridis of the 20th Panjab 
Infantry the cheery Khuttucks pulling over their adversaries 
amid wild yells of the hillmen. 

"This ended the day's programme, which was favoured through- 
out by lovely Queen's weather ; indeed too much of it, for it was 
uncommonly hot. In the evening Colonel Kuhlberg and all the 
Kussian officers dined with us : Colonel Kuhlberg proposed the 
health of her Majesty the Queen, and Colonel Eidgeway that of 
his Majesty the Emperor. After dinner the Khuttucks of the 
20th gave us one of their wild and picturesque sword-dances 
round a blazing bonfire. The Eussians were much impressed by 
it, and greeted with great applause the splendid sword-play 
shown by two well-known swordsmen of the 20th. 

"Next morning Major Bax, with Major Maitland, Captains 
Gore, Talbot, and Cotton, the bulk of the cavalry and infantry, 
marched for the Oxus. On the following day, Colonel Sir W. 
Eidgeway, accompanied by Majors Durand and Holdich, Dr 
Owen, Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali Khan, and myself, escorted by 
50 lances of the llth under the command of Captain Drum- 
mond, marched via Jar Kudak to Khamiab, and reached the 
classic Oxus on the 28th of May. The evening we arrived, 
some of us went down to the river, where I heard an old native 
officer of the 1 1th Bengal Lancers remark, 'Long is the arm of the 
Sirkar, for I have watered my horse in the Tientsin river in 
China, and to-day in the Amu Daria ! ' " 

The marches of the Mission from Chahar Shamba to 
Khamiab were as follows : 

Miles. 

May 6. Chahar Shamba to Khwajah Isik Bulan, . 8 
11 7. Khwajah Gaohar, . . . .18 



230 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Miles. 

May 8. Kasawah Kilah, . . . .15 

11. Ata Khan Khojah, ... 14 

12. Daulatabad, . . . .20 

17. Harfah Guzar, . . . .17 

18. Andkhui, ..... 18 

24. Ziarat Shah Murdan, ... 6 

25. Neza Beg, ..... 14 

26. Kak-i-Tali, . .... 18 
it 27. Jar Kudak, ..... 10 
it 28. Khamiab, ..... 19 

Total, . . 177 

From Khamiab the main camp, under the command of 
Major Bax, marched on to Karkin, 18 miles higher up the 
river, where they are still encamped. 

The character of the country changed greatly during this 
march of 177 miles. At Chahar Shamba we had the 
Band-i-Turkistan mountains immediately to the south of us, 
and the hillocks of the Maimanah chid to the north. The 
farther east we got, the more the mountains vanished and 
the less the hillocks became. At Daulatabad the latter had 
dwindled down to sandy undulations. At Andkhui they 
ceased altogether, and beyond that we traversed a great 
sandy waste. Isik Bulan, the first march out from Chahar 
Shamba, is a holy spot, as its designation of Khwajah im- 
plies, marking the resting-place of some pious saint. It 
consists of a small domed ziarat, well ornamented with flags 
and horns, on a little mound just above a spring of hot 
water, which here is collected in a reservoir, and forms a 
favourite bathing - place. The next march to Khwajah 
Gaohar strikes the valley of the Ab-i-Kaisar, down which 
the road runs till close to Daulatabad, where the stream 
falls into the Shirin Tagao. Beyond that, down to Andkhui, 
the united streams are known as the Ab-i-Andkhui, and 
there they come to an end in the sands of the desert 
beyond. 

At Kasawah Kilah the valley of the Ab-i-Kaisar is little 



THE MARCH TO THE OXUS. 231 

more than half a mile in width, though it widens out to a 
mile or a mile and a half farther north. The stream is 
only about 30 feet in breadth, and pretty deep at this time 
of the year ; but it overflows its banks in flood-time, and 
renders a lot of the adjacent land useless. Kasawah 
Kilah itself is an old mud-fort on the top of a small mound 
on the northern side of the valley, with mud walls and 
houses around it, and some patches of mulberry, pasliakhana 
and other trees down below. The valley is well cultivated 
down to Ming Darakht, eight miles farther down, but beyond 
that habitation ceases. Ming Darakht means the thousand 
trees, and though there are hardly that number now left, 
still there are a great many, and some very fine trees 
amongst them. These trees all get their nourishment from 
a spring on the southern side of the valley. In the midst 
of them stands an old domed musjid, and walking here in 
the evening I found an aged Syed, the only guardian of the 
place. He told me that they were formerly a thriving 
community, and had held the place for the last eleven or 
twelve generations, but that now only four families were 
left, and they lived in the ruins of the old mud-fort close 
by. The trees, he told me, were planted by an ancestor of 
theirs a hundred and twenty years ago, though one close by 
the musjid was known to be three hundred years old. 
Poor old man ! I fancy I was the first European he had 
ever seen. After looking at me for some time, he asked 
me if I was a Earangi : I told him I was. He then asked 
me if I was a Christian : acknowledging this also, he then 
asked me if I believed that Hazrat Esah was to return to 
this world again ; and when I assured him on that point as 
well, he seemed perfectly satisfied, accepted me as a believer 
of the Book, and talked away without the least reserve. 

To the north of Ming Darakht the valley of the Ab-i- 
Kaisar is now a desert. Formerly it was well inhabited, 
and there were large settlements of both Arab and Ersari 



232 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

nomads, who grazed their flocks in the chul to the west : 
these, though, were gradually reduced by Turkoman raids, 
and in 1877 the two last Usbeg villages of Ata Khan 
Khojah and Jalaiar were attacked and plundered, and since 
then the land has lain waste. 

The raiders were Sarik Turkomans from Yulatan, and one 
of their leaders gave me a long description of this very raid 
the other day. The story was briefly as follows : 

" We were a party of 500 horsemen, and 200 mirgans or match- 
lockmen on camels ; and passing down through the chul, via Chah 
Ata Murad, we arrived at Chashmah Pinhan. Here one of our 
scouts brought us news that an alaman of 50 Kara Turkomans 
was encamped at Kara Baba. We at once swept down on them. 
We found them all dismounted and unprepared, and charging 
down, only ten of them succeeded in reaching their horses and 
escaping ; three were shot, and the remainder were all taken 
prisoners. We kept their horses and arms, &c. ; but the men 
were subsequently let go, and found their way home through 
Andkhui. It was early spring-time, and the snow was not yet 
all melted. After this we went on to Yarghan Chakli and Kiamat 
Shor, and on the third day we attacked Jalaiar. We first sur- 
rounded and then stormed the place : there were only some fifty 
families of Usbegs in it. One man was killed ; but the resistance 
was trifling, and the place was soon cleared. The men, women, 
and children were bound on the camels, and we all went straight 
on to the attack of Ata Khan Khojah. Here we found some 
twenty-five families, and the place was soon razed and the people 
bound and sent off with the rest to Pekenna. There we halted 
for two days, watering and resting our horses. On the third day 
the prisoners and plunder were all sent off with half the footmen 
to Khwajah Gogirdak, while we all went to Alai Chalai, and 
thence swept down on the villages of Pain Guzar and Chachakli. 
There we captured some forty families more, and taking them 
down to Kilah Wali, we rejoined the others at Khwajah Gogir- 
dak. The male prisoners were let go ; but the women, children, 
and cattle, &c., were then divided by lot amongst all the different 
leaders. I myself had ten men under me, and to our lot fell 
three women, one child, four cows, two horses, and some per- 
sonal property. The women were good-looking, and ought to 
have been sold for 35 or 40 tillahs apiece (say Rs. 200 on an 
average) ; but when we got back to Yulatan, the headmen of the 
tribe assembled and decided to release the women and children, 



THE MARCH TO THE OXUS. 233 

and consequently our three women and the child were taken from 
us and sent back through Panjdeh. The only result of our foray, 
therefore, was 140 krans, the proceeds of the sale of the horses 
and cows, &c. of which 40 krans fell to my share, and 10 krans 
(Rs. 4) to each of my men. This was all we got for sixteen 
days' hard work. Truly, raiding was most unprofitable work. I 
was at it for many years, and left off 150 tillahs in debt (a tillah 
equals 13J krans, or Ks. 5-6-5), whereas I have saved and paid off 
100 tillahs during the time I have been a servant of the English ; 
and before I took to raiding, when I was only a shepherd, I saved 
enough to buy me a wife more than I ever did by raiding." 

It must have been small consolation, however, to the poor 
people carried off, that their captors were none the richer. 

Some six or seven miles below Jalaiar, the road turns off 
into the low hills and emerges into the valley of the Shirin 
Tagao a fine broad valley at least two miles in width. The 
village of Khairabad stands out green and fresh amongst 
its trees a great contrast in that respect to the Turkoman 
village of Daulatabad just beyond, which has not a tree in 
the place. Nothing marks the difference between the two 
races (the Usbegs and the Turkomans) more than the in- 
ability or aversion of the latter to cultivate trees or any- 
thing else likely to tie them down to any one particular 
spot. They are such thorough nomads, that tradition for- 
bids of their doing anything calculated to give them a per- 
manent interest in any particular land. Everything they 
have must be movable at a moment's notice ; and though 
doubtless they are gradually now being settled down, still 
it will be many a day before they go in for their gardens. 
Khairabad is the most northern Usbeg village of Maimanah, 
and I was sorry, when passing so close, not to be able to 
visit it. There are the ruins of a famous old fort there, 
known as the Jumjuma Kilah, about which there are many 
local traditions. The Usbegs also call the place Kilah 
Kazal ; and it is believed by some of them to be the fort 
of Kazal Arsalan, mentioned, I am told, by Shaikh Sadi in 
the ' Bostan ' ; and the traditions and stories they have about 



234 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

it are the most curious mixture of faiths and dates that one 
can well imagine. One story I remember is to the effect 
that Jumjuma was the descendant of Kazal Arsalan, and a 
king of great power. One day an old woman came begging 
to his durbar, but he refused to give her anything. She 
then went off to Khwajah Eoshnai the Mahomadan saint 
whose grave is now the great ziarat, or place of pilgrimage, 
in the neighbourhood and obtained from him a potion 
which killed the king. Fifty years afterwards Christ and 
His disciples arrived, and saw the skull of the king lying in 
the ground where it had been buried outside the fort. The 
disciples remarked on its size, and said how much they 
would like to see the man owning such a skull in the flesh. 
Christ thereupon raised the king to life again, and he 
ascended the throne a second time and ruled for years. He 
left one daughter, who grew up a most beautiful girl, but 
never married. She succeeded her father on the throne, 
and ruled well ; but she was devoted to the chase, and 
used to spend days and days out hunting. It is a curious 
thing, but I believe there are many stories current amongst 
the Usbegs regarding a visit of Christ and His disciples to 
these parts. 

Daulatabad consists of simply a collection of some 300 
kibitkas and reed-huts inhabited by Ersari Turkomans, with 
a mud-fort to the north of them on the banks of the stream, 
held by a bairak or company of Afghan Khasadars, under 
the command of the Sad Bashi. Daulatabad formerly be- 
longed to Maimanah ; but as the inhabitants are purely 
Turkomans, the direct administration has been taken over 
by the Afghan Government, and the present hakim is one 
of the men who lived in exile with the Amir and Sirdar 
Ishak Khan at Tashkend. 

The road from Daulatabad to Andkhui is most dreary and 
uninteresting the whole way. The valley of the Ab-i- And- 
khui is about two miles in width ; but the hills on either side 



THE MARCH TO THE OXUS. 235 

get flatter and lower and more sandy the farther north one 
goes, and the road on the eastern bank runs through desert 
the whole way. The river is invisible, running in a deep 
channel full of tamarisk and other low jungle. Harfah 
Guzar and Chap Guzar are simply bends of the river which 
here approach the road and give water for a camping- 
ground. 

Andkhui is not seen till one gets close to it. About three 
miles out, the road crosses the first canal just at the spot 
where it divides into four. Here the first gardens or trees 
commence, and the road runs on to the city past a succes- 
sion of these. The city itself is nothing but a collection of 
mud-ruins. Formerly, it is said, there were 13,000 families 
in the place ; now there are said to be 3000 but probably 
half that number would be nearer the mark. The houses are 
all flat-roofed, low, mud-buildings ; the old city walls are in 
ruins, and the bazaar and the fort are the only two points of 
interest in the place. The bazaar consists of four cross-roads 
meeting in the centre, and roofed over, but of very limited 
extent. The market-days are Sundays and Thursdays, if I 
remember right, and on other days there is little or nothing 
doing. Passing through the bazaar we arrived at the gate 
of the fort a high, irregular-shaped enclosure, some 250 or 
300 yards in diameter, and defended by a garrison consist- 
ing of one company from the regular regiments at Mai- 
manah, three companies of Khasadars, two guns, and 100 
sowars. All are quartered in the fort with the exception of 
the cavalry, which are outside on the northern face. The 
governor Colonel Abdul Hamid Khan occupies a good 
set of rooms in the highest part of the fort, whence a capital 
view is obtained of the city below and of the desert stretch- 
ing away to the north. Cultivation extends for a radius of 
six or eight miles all round the city, and the whole of this 
ground is one network of canals and water-cuts, into which 
the river is split up. How far north the river flows in flood- 



236 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

time, I could not see ; but I noticed that the walls of the 
gardens at Khan Chahar Bagh, at the north-eastern corner 
of the oasis, were all washed down during this last flood- 
season, and much damage was done. I presume the water 
must extend some way farther before it is finally absorbed. 
The snowstorm, too, that overtook us at the end of March, 
is said to have done the greatest damage in Andkhui. The 
fruit-trees were all nipped by the frost, and all hope of any 
fruit there for this year is gone. Eiding through these Khan 
Chahar Bagh gardens with my guide an Ersari Turkoman 
named Shayak Yeuzbashi I was shown a lot of mud-houses, 
the winter residences of some 400 Turkoman families who 
emigrated here so my guide said from the banks of the 
Oxus about eight years ago. At present I found all living 
out in their kibitkas, pitched in the open plain to the north. 
Kibitkas, I suppose, are after all the coolest during hot 
weather. The side-felts are all removed, and the walls con- 
sist of nothing but a reed cliik or mat, which keeps out the 
glare, but lets in the breeze from whatever quarter it may 
be blowing. 

The desert stretching from Andkhui to the Oxus is about 
as hot and wretched a country as ever I saw. The general 
feature is an endless stretch of rough, broken ground, very 
sandy in parts, and covered with wormwood and low bush. 
Water is very scarce so much so, that one or two of our 
postal stations have to get their water from Andkhui on 
camels. Kak-i-Tali possesses four wells of brackish water ; 
but the rain-water collected in a shallow tank off a stretch 
of hard clay is now exhausted, and the few Turkomans 
camped close by were all on the move when I passed 
through the other day. Jar Kudak has a plentiful supply 
of water in a well, and close to the surface the character 
of the country changing there a good deal. The wormwood 
gives place to low tamarisk, and the sandhills increase. A 
mud-enclosure, some 60 yards square, marks the site of an 



THE MARCH TO THE OXUS. 237 

Afghan frontier picket-station, though at the present time 
one old man is its only occupant. Wherever a little stretch 
of hard or clayey soil affords the slightest chance of water 
running off it, a tank has invariably been constructed to catch 
it ; but almost all these tanks are now dry. Wherever a few 
inches of mud and water are left, I used to see the white- 
breasted pintail sandgrouse coming to drink in small numbers ; 
but, with that exception, I saw no sign of game. Lizards 
seem the staple product, and they are to be seen of all sizes 
and colours. First and foremost comes a beast of a yellowish 
colour with red stripes, some two or three feet in length, which 
never tries to run away, but stands and hisses, distending its 
stomach to an abnormal size. The dogs hate them cordially? 
as, when approaching to the attack in front, the lizard sud- 
denly brings his tail round and gives the unwary dog a most 
tremendous wipe across the side of the head. The first inter- 
view between a dog and one of these animals is very amus- 
ing the dog is always so utterly astonished at this un- 
expected attack on the lizard's part, and also so hopelessly 
wroth. The natives have a holy horror of these lizards, and 
kill them whenever they see them. The touch of them, they 
say, is fatal to a man's powers, besides which, they suck the 
cows' and sheep's udders dry. A harrowing story was told 
me of a fine promising young shepherd, just married, who 
was foolishly playing with some companions one day, and 
had the misfortune to be struck by one of these animals. 
All the moollahs in the country were consulted by him in 
vain, but not one of them could give him the slightest hope ; 
and the only consolation he got was that " it was all that 
lizard." Another variety of lizard perhaps the most amus- 
ing of all is a little blunt-nosed fellow that sits up and 
curls his tail over his back like a squirrel, and then suddenly 
darts off, or else, by some imperceptible motion, buries itself 
in the sand. The sandhills between Jar Kudak and Dev 
Kilah are full of these, as well as of several other varieties. 



238 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Dev Kilah a flat-topped rocky hill, precipitous on the 
eastern side, and very steep on all the other sides is the 
great landmark hereabouts. It is only some two miles from 
our camp, and is a great object of veneration in the neigh- 
bourhood. Who held it, or where it got its name from, is 
unknown; but local tradition refuses to believe that any 
agency but that of demons could have constructed it. There 
is no water near it, yet the crest of the hill is surrounded 
by the remains of a thick masonry wall ; and there are two 
shafts sunk in the solid rock, which apparently must have 
gone right down through the hill to the level of the water 
in the plains below. These wells are now almost entirely 
filled up, so the depth cannot be ascertained ; but how such 
clean-cut circular shafts were bored through solid rock to the 
depth we would suppose is certainly a marvel. 

Our camp here is pitched on some nice grassy land be- 
tween the belt of cultivation and the river ; but the great 
heat of the last few days has brought the river down again 
in flood, and the level of the five or six canals on either side 
of us has risen tremendously, so that we shall have to move 
camp to escape being swamped out. The water-level is get- 
ting dangerously close to the surface ; and though it is very 
pleasant to have one's own little well of cool water in one's 
tent, still, when that well begins to overflow, it is about 
time to move on. 

Mr Merk and Captain Komaroff are just starting to make 
some inquiries regarding an alleged former ferry higher up 
the river, and Sir West Eidgeway and Major Durand pay a 
visit to the other camp. Captain Griesbach has just rejoined 
us after a long tour through the mountains. Starting from 
Chahar Shamba, he first went up to Farad Beg a little to the 
west of the Tailan pass in the Band-i-Turkistan and thence 
across the Kara Gali pass into the Surkh Ab valley, and down 
to Maimanah. From there to Belchiragh and Deh Miran, where 
he found hundreds of old rock-cut caves, but no inscriptions 



THE MARCH TO THE OXUS. 239 

caves, in fact, he found everywhere from Farad Beg all 
the way through the northern Hazarahjat to Bamian. From 
Deh Miran he traversed the Yekh Darah pass to Foughan in 
the Ferozkohi country, just on the northern slope of the Band- 
i-Turkistan, and about 9000 feet above sea-level. The Yekh 
Darah is so narrow in places, he says, that an unladen mule 
can only just be squeezed through. The walls are precipi- 
tous for some thousand feet up on either side, and the sun's 
rays in some spots never reach the bottom. He had the 
bad luck to be caught in a snowstorm in this pass ; and had 
the Foughan people not turned out with torches to help, the 
servants and baggage would never have got through. From 
Foughan the road ran along the Astarab valley to Siripul. 
Thence Captain Griesbach. traversed the Sangjairak district, 
inhabited by a mixed population of some 4000 families of 
Hazarahs and Usbegs, to Darah Yusaf, crossing the Balkh Ab 
river by a bridge at Ak Koprak. Here the Hazarahjat was 
entered, and extended throughout to Bamian the boundary 
between Kabul and Turkistan being at the southern Ak 
Eobat Kotal. The Hazarahs and all the tribes were, Cap- 
tain Griesbach says, most civil and hospitable throughout. 
Everywhere the orders issued by Sirdar Ishak Khan for his 
safe-conduct were thoroughly carried out, and no restric- 
tions whatever were placed on his movements. 



240 



CHAPTER XVII. 

MORE RUSSIAN DELAYS THE KHOJAH SALIH QUESTION 

AND THE BANKS OF THE OXUS. 

CAMP KARKIN, 3CM June 1886. 

TO-MORROW the main camp, under the command of Major 
Bax, marches for Shadian, a place in the hills some 1 5 miles 
to the south of Mazar-i- Sharif, where we hope to find 
cool quarters for a time while the present negotiations are 
being brought to a close. Sir West Eidgeway, with Majors 
Holdich and Durand, Captains Peacocke, Gore, and Drum- 
mond, Mr Merk, Dr Owen, Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali Khan, 
Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, and Kazi Muhammad Aslam 
Khan, remain at Khamiab, and we can only trust that the 
present uncertainty may soon be ended. The only question 
now remaining for settlement is that regarding the point 
where the boundary is to strike the Oxus, and known briefly 
as the Khojah Salih question. The land between Dukchi 
and the river is almost entirely desert, with the exception 
of a strip of cultivation about a mile in width, running 
along the banks of the Oxus and inhabited by Ersari 
Turkomans, and it is just this strip of fertile land that 
the Eussian Commissioner is now trying to lay claim to. 
The land on the Afghan side of the boundary belongs to the 
district of Akchah, and on the other side to Bokhara, but 
both sides are equally inhabited by Ersaris, who apparently 
occupy the whole of this portion of the left bank of the Oxus. 



THE KHOJAH SALIH QUESTION. 241 

Akchah came into Afghan possession some thirty-seven years 
ago, and the Russians acknowledged it to be an integral por- 
tion of Afghanistan by the agreement of 1 8 73. By that agree- 
ment the Afghan boundary was said to extend as far down 
the Oxus as Khojah Salih, but the agreement apparently was 
written without any knowledge of the country in question, 
and the consequence was, that when the Boundary Commis- 
sion appeared on the scene, it was discovered that there was 
no such place on the Oxus as Khojah Salih, but that the 
district along the river-bank was known by the general 
name of Khwajah Salar, from some old saint of that name 
who lies buried at a place called Ziarat-i -Khwajah Salar. 
It was also discovered that some little time after the agree- 
ment of 1873 between England and Russia, the local Afghan 
and Bokharan authorities met together and formally recorded 
the limits of their respective districts. The boundary was 
well known, and there had never been any quarrel about it ; 
and the local authorities therefore simply marked out the 
frontier between their respective frontier villages viz., 
Khamiab on the Afghan and Bosagha on the Bokharan 
side and there the matter rested till the present day. 
Instead, however, of gladly accepting this settlement by the 
Bokharan authorities, the Russian Commissioner claims the 
letter of the agreement of 1873, and has been delaying 
and putting off the completion of the settlement for the last 
month on the plea of making surveys and inquiries in 
furtherance of his claim. Ziarat-i-Khwajah Salar lies some 
20 miles up the river from the boundary -line, between 
Khamiab and Bosagha ; but there was never any ferry or 
post there, as was supposed in 1873, and all the Russian 
inquiries have failed, so far as we know, to make out any 
case for the boundary being fixed at the ziarat, or any other 
place than where it now is. 

The land at Khamiab having been in Afghan possession 
for the last thirty-seven years, will, of course, never be sur- 

Q 



242 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

rendered by the Amir except under compulsion ; and on the 
other side, as the Bokharans have no claim to it whatever, 
we can only presume that the Eussians are trying to get 
possession of it for themselves. One can quite imagine the 
desire of Eussia to obtain a permanent footing, however small, 
here on the bank of the Oxus. I presume the day is not far 
distant when all the left bank of the Oxus in the possession 
of Bokhara will be permanently annexed by Eussia ; but still 
I doubt if the time is ripe for it just yet, and the Eussians 
would get all they want at present if they could manage to 
force us to surrender a strip of Afghan territory, just suffi- 
cient for them to form a frontier station where their troops 
would be a standing menace to Mazar-i-Sharif and to all 
Afghan Turkistan. There is not the least doubt that any 
concession in the present case would enable Eussia to avoid 
the annexation of Bokharan territory, and yet at the same 
time to hold out a visible threat to the Afghans, which all 
Turkistan could not fail to understand. However, the matter 
will, I suppose, be brought to an issue now without further 
delay, and we shall then await the final orders of Govern- 
ment as to the conclusion arrived at. 

Mr Merk and Captain Komaroff were deputed to take the 
evidence advanced on both sides, and left Khamiab on the 
15th, and the 16th and 17th were spent at Karkin visiting 
the river and places of interest in the neighbourhood. On 
the 19th they crossed over to Kilif and stayed there the 
20th, and on the 21st went on to Chahar Shanga on the right 
bank, whence they returned to camp. Mr Merk writes me 

" The country on the right bank is very like a bit on the 
Indus : wide, muddy river fringe of cultivation and canals, then 
level bare put, then barren stony hills, and a fiery hot blast blowing 
over all. The Bokhara cultivation did not look so flourishing as 
the Ersari Afghan fields on the left bank ; the canals were slovenly, 
walls all tumbled down, and houses poor-looking. I guess the 
Usbegs are more oppressed. I was the first British officer to cross 
the lower Oxus for the past forty years." 



THE BANKS OF THE OXUS. 243 

Sir West Eidgeway and his party will not be kept long, 
we hope, down in the heat at Khamiab, which is at its 
height during July. We had it for some days 108 and 110 
in our tents, which was trying while it lasted, but fortunately 
it was always cool at nights. With a cool night and good 
sleep one can stand almost any heat in the daytime, and it 
is only when the nights are hot too that heat really tells 
seriously upon one. Our life at Khamiab for the last fortnight 
was a very quiet one. I mentioned in my last letter how the 
sudden rise of the river was driving us out of our pleasant 
camp on the low grassy land near its banks, and within a day 
or two the whole of this tract was waterlogged. There was 
no sudden overflow, but the water slowly and surely rose up 
through the ground from below, and every little hollow and 
depression became a pool. The Russian camp moved off to a 
garden some two miles down the river, while we found shelter 
under some trees just on the outer edge of the cultivation. 

So long as the two camps were close together we saw 
a good deal of the Russians, and Colonel Kuhlberg and 
some of his officers were either dining with us or some 
of us with them almost every evening. When the camps 
separated, however, we were not able to see so much of 
each other. The Russian party, too, is gradually decreasing 
in numbers. Captain Grideonoff, the Assistant Commissioner, 
has started for Bokhara and Samarcand, and several of the 
topographers have been set to work to survey the country 
down the left bank from here to Chahar Jui. What the 
Amir of Bokhara thinks of this long stay of the Russian 
Commission in his dominions, I do not know ; but he has 
deputed some high official to attend upon them, who doubt- 
less keeps him well informed of what is going on. Who 
the official may be I do not know, as we have seen nothing 
of him ; but I heard that Colonel Kuhlberg had paid him a 
formal visit and held a parade of the escort in his honour, so 
I presume he is a man of rank. 



244 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

A good many Bokharans are coming in for treatment in 
Dr Owen's dispensary, as well as Ersaris from the neigh- 
bouring villages. By villages I do not mean a collection 
of houses in the ordinary sense of the term a village 
here is more properly a district. Take, for instance, the 
country between our two camps at Khamiab and Karkin, 
18 miles apart. A strip of cultivation a mile or more 
in width extends the whole way, and each Turkoman 
in this strip lives on his own homestead. His house is a 
long, square, flat-roofed mud-building, the walls of which 
are all built sloping slightly inwards, with no windows, 
only a door. There is sometimes a second storey, approached 
by a ladder, in which, I fancy, the silkworms are generally 
kept. These houses, though, are all empty at the present 
time. The Turkomans during the summer season live out 
in their kibitkas, pitched under the mulberry and other 
trees that surround the house. The fields are mostly en- 
closed by low mud-walls, and divided from each other by 
rows of willows and the pollard mulberries on which the 
silkworms are fed. Two or three fields distant from one 
mud-hut will be seen another, and so on all the way up. 
The road runs the whole way just along the skirts of the 
sandhills, and between them and the cultivation. There is 
a great deal of flood-water out over the sand at present, 
and I noticed that the drainage seemed to run from the 
river inland. This flood-water comes from the canals, 
which are all now full to overflowing and very deep, as 
one poor camelman, whose corpse I saw fished out of one, 
found out to his cost. His camels were on the sandhills 
above, and saying to his comrades that he was going to 
try some of the mulberries on the trees in the gardens 
below, he went off, but never returned. The night passed, 
and the next morning his comrades, searching about, found 
his shoes on the far bank of the canal. Getting some 
Turkomans together, they searched the canal, and found his 



THE BANKS OF THE OXUS. 245 

body in the mud at the bottom. From the marks on the 
bank it was pretty clear that the poor man, thinking the 
canal was shallow, threw his shoes across and then waded 
in. The water is densely muddy, so he could not judge of 
the depth, and instead of a shallow stream, he found himself 
in a canal with precipitous sides and some 10 feet in depth, 
and being unable to swim, like most Pathans, was drowned 
on the spot. 

From the road the river is rarely visible, and then only in 
the distance. The cultivation and orchards are green and 
pleasant to look upon, and behind them, away in Bokhara 
on the opposite side of the river, rises the great mountain 
known as Koh-i-Tan, a huge rocky mass rising directly out 
of the plain, something like Mount Abu in Rajputana, only 
some 3000 or 4000 feet higher. Captain Griesbach, our 
geologist, asked permission to examine this range, but Colonel 
Kuhlberg declined to allow him to cross the border. On 
the other or southern side of the road, the look-out is dreary 
in the extreme, nothing but a sandy desert stretching away 
as far as the eye can see. The only birds are some species 
of tern, which hover about over the pools of water caused by 
the overflow from the canals. In the trees amongst the 
cultivation there are lots of cuckoos, jays, and magpies, but 
very few other birds so far as I have seen as yet. 

The Ersaris here differ greatly in appearance from their 
brother Turkomans, the Sariks of Panjdeh, having a much 
more Tibetan style of countenance, and being apparently 
more exclusive and much more religiously inclined, doubtless 
due to their propinquity to Bokhara. Here the azan, or the 
call to prayer, is heard continuously, whereas such a thing- 
was almost unknown in Panjdeh. Very few of the Ersaris 
can speak Persian, and thus our intercourse is comparatively 
restricted. None of us can speak Turki, and we feel it a 
great want. Great efforts are being made, I see, to encourage 
the study of Eussian in the Indian army : but I trust the 



246 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Government will not forget that a knowledge of Turki is 
equally indispensable ; and I hope before long to see the 
study of it encouraged amongst Indian officers by the grant 
of the same rewards that are now given for passing in Persian 
and Arabic and other Eastern languages. 

The Usbegs of this country, I must say, do not strike me 
as a pleasant race. In Maimanah and Andkhui the majority 
of the villagers appear a dirty, sullen-looking, lazy sort of 
people, not half so jolly or so hearty as the Turkomans. 
The Bokharans, what we have seen of them, appear to be 
tall cadaverous-looking men, whom one can quite imagine 
are outwardly intensely religious, but mean-spirited and 
cowardly at heart. 

All these Usbegs, Turkomans, and in fact all Turki- 
speaking races of Central Asia, are of one stock so a very 
genealogically inclined old Jamshidi once informed me ; and 
I remember being much amused at the pains he took to 
impress upon me the fact that the Eussians were of Eastern, 
not Western, origin. " Mogul, Kipchak, and Kazak," said 
he, " were three brothers, all the sons of one father Mogul, 
and from them are descended the three races of Moguls, 
Kipchaks, and Kazaks. These very Cossacks that we have 
here now," added he, " are not Eussians. The real Eussians 
are of the same stock, but they separated from it much 
further back. The Hazarahs and the Eussians are brothers. 
They are both offshoots of the same Mogul family, but they 
have no affinity whatever with the Usbegs and Turkomans, 
who are of an entirely different origin again." Whether the 
old Jamshidi's idea of the Mongolian descent of the Eussians 
and Cossacks is generally accepted in Central Asia, I do not 
know ; but he himself absolutely declined to admit the least 
doubt of his theory. It hardly agrees though, I fear, with 
that of the writer who claims for the Cossacks a Polish 
descent. However, whatever their origin, there are rumours 
that we shall see more of them here before long. The 



THE BANKS OF THE OXUS. 247 

Afghans have got the idea that Russian troops are being 
moved up in this direction, and we have heard for some 
time that a steamer was coming up the river. Neither 
troops nor steamer have appeared as yet, though what 
may arrive in the future none can tell. 

The party going to Shadian consists of Major Bax, 
Captains Cotton, the Hon. M. G-. Talbot, and Griesbach, 
Khan Bahadur Ibrahim Khan, Ressaldar-Major Baha- 
u'-din Khan, and Subadar Muhammad Husain Khan, with 
half the cavalry and the whole of the infantry escort. 
Colonel MacLean also accompanies the party. Major Mait- 
land is away on a trip up the Oxus to complete the 
examination of the ferries commenced by Captain Peacocke. 
The latter has just returned from a visit to Mazar-i-Sharif, 
where he had an interview with Sirdar Ishak Khan, who 
received him most courteously, and made arrangements for 
him to return down the left bank of the Oxus. Captain 
Peacocke describes this journey as follows : 

" On leaving Mazar, the road to Patakesar, the ferry across the 
Oxus on the highroad to Bokhara, runs almost due north over 
an open plain for some 26 miles, and then for the last 10 miles 
through heavy drift-sand covered with saxsal bush. Half-way 
the road passes through the old ruins of Siahgird, which cover an 
area of some 10 square miles. The ruins were mostly of mud, but 
there are remains of brick buildings in the centre, and the place 
must have been a very big one in its day, though when that day 
was nobody knows. The place was, at any rate, of sufficient 
importance to have a large canal all to itself. Of the three canals 
that take off from the Daria Band-i-Amir at the Imam Bakri 
bridge at the mouth of the Paikam Darah valley, some 12 miles 
west of Mazar, one runs to Balkh, one to Siahgird, and the third, 
the Shahi Nahr, supplies Mazar. These Siahgird ruins extend 
for some 10 miles along the roadside right up to the edge of the 
sand at Padah Khana. Where the road hits the Oxus the river 
is divided by islands into several channels, but below these 
islands, at the ferry, the river is 1000 yards in width. The 
whole of the river-bank is covered with thick jungle called the 
Hazarah Toghai, and abounds with tigers and deer. The trees 
are of large size, mainly of the sort known as Padah, a species of 



248 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

willow, with a fringe of reeds along the edge of the river. There 
are no inhabitants here on the left bank, with the exception of 
the twenty boatmen and their families. The opposite side is flat 
and fairly open, and populated with mixed Ersari Turkomans and 
Usbegs. Some eight miles down the river, on the right bank, lies 
Tarmiz, where there are vast brick ruins. The place has been an 
important one, as the river is here confined by high banks in a 
permanent channel, which is said by the boatmen to have been 
once spanned by a bridge, the piers of which, they say, are still 
to be seen at low water, and form a source of danger to boats 
going down the river. There is a large domed ziarut too, said 
to contain an inscription on marble and another on a silver plate, 
recording the fact that the place was sacked three times, once by 
Alexander and twice subsequently. A Russian traveller, more- 
over, it is said, tried hard to obtain possession of this silver plate 
a few years ago, but without avail. Beyond Tarmiz the river 
makes an abrupt bend, and there is no road along its banks. 
The ordinary track runs across the sand for some 18 miles, and 
joins the river again at Chobash. Thence down to Kilif, a distance 
of some 36 miles, there is a strip of cultivation between the 
edge of the sand and the low-lying grass and jungle-covered 
land along the bank of the river. This is occupied by some six 
thousand families of Ersaris, inhabiting the successive districts 
of Chobash, Ganesh, Karujah, Dalli, Aranji, and Islam, each of 
which has its own canal from the river, bearing the name of the 
district, and lined on both banks with the usual orchards, houses, 
enclosures, and mulberry plantations. The Ersaris are multi- 
plying and spreading up the river. Three years ago they 
resettled at Islam, and this year they founded a new colony 
some 30 miles above Patakesar : that at present appears to be 
the highest point up the river to which they extend. The river 
is now in flood, and in some places below Chushka Guzar it is a 
magnificent open sheet of water a mile and a half in width. Its 
course, though, is tortuous, and broken by islands. There is a 
local tradition that the river once flowed to the south of the Kilif 
rocks and away to Jarkudak, but its course beyond that is mere 
speculation. 

" Chushka Guzar ferry lies about five miles below where the 
road from Patakesar debouches from the sands at Chobash. The 
course of the ferry runs diagonally across the river, and is about 
a mile in length. Eight boats are employed in the service four 
on either bank and are propelled by long sweeps. Horses are 
only used to tow them in bad weather, both there and at 
Patakesar. At the latter place there are six boats, three on 
either bank. There is a large traffic over the Chushka Guzar, 



THE BANKS OF THE OXUS. 249 

but principally of travellers, as merchandise generally goes by 
Kilif. Curiously enough, a large number of Kashgari Hadjis 
were crossing the river at Chushka Guzar on their way to Mecca, 
via Kabul, Peshawar, and Bombay : 800 were said to have crossed 
this month, and 900 more were said to be on their way. These 
unusual numbers rather startled Sirdar Ishak Khan ; but the 
reason given by the Hadjis was that they had heard the Russians 
were coming, and so they thought they had better make the best 
use of their time, and get to Mecca while they could. 

" There used to be two other ferries, one at Shorab above, and 
the other at Kara Kamar, below Chushka Guzar ; but these did 
not pay, and were discontinued some twelve years ago. The main 
routes to Bokhara from the Patakesar and Chushka Guzar ferries 
join at Sherabad in Bokhara, and are both equally direct from Mazar. 
From Mazar to Chushka Guzar the road runs via Daulatabad and 
Alti Tepe, which latter place is 18 miles short of the ferry." 

Sherabad in Bokhara is described in Dr Yavorski's ' History 
of the Eussian Mission to Kabul in 18 78,' of which he was 
a member, and the town has acquired additional importance 
of late from the fact that the Eussian Government demanded 
permission from Bokhara to establish a cantonment there ; 
but the late Amir refused his consent, and the demand was 
not enforced. The endeavour, however, to establish Eussian 
troops at a place like Sherabad, immediately commanding the 
two main routes into Afghan Turkistan, shows how longingly 
the Eussian eyes are turned in that direction, and how 
directly Kabul is menaced. 



250 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

AFGHAN TUKKISTAN KILIF TO BALKH. 

CAMP SHADIAN, 7th July 1886. 

HERE we are in an Afghan Turkistan hill station, and how 
welcome the change is can be easily guessed when I men- 
tion that yesterday at Dehdadi, at the foot of the hills, the 
thermometer was 11 4 in our tents, and to-day it is only 
85: not that we have gone up to any great height, as we 
are only 5000 feet above sea-level, but the change in the 
air is delightful. Shadian is simply a small mud-village of 
some 200 houses of Tajiks, and there is nothing particularly 
striking or picturesque in the place. Immediately above 
and to the east of us, is a line of tall bare limestone cliffs ; 
to the west and south, bare stony undulating country roll- 
ing away to the pass below, and up again on the opposite side ; 
and to the north, the gorge in the low hills leading down to 
the dusty-looking plains below. 

Here we remain for the present till it is known what is 
to be the result of the Khojah Salih dispute. Sir West 
Eidgeway and his camp are still at Khamiab, and the 
latest news we have is that Colonel Kuhlberg had at last 
agreed to produce his final statement of claims within the 
week. Nothing of course can be done till that statement is 
received, and nothing of course is known for certain yet as 
to what those claims will be or what line of argument will 
be followed ; but one thing is clear and certain, and that is, 



AFGHAN TUKKISTAN. 251 

that Colonel Kuhlberg has had every opportunity given him 
of testing the merits of the case, and that if he has not been 
able to find a good and sufficient cause for upsetting the 
mutual settlement arrived at by the Afghans and Bokharans 
some ten years ago, during the last month and half that the 
British Mission have so patiently waited for him, he is never 
likely to do so. When we left Karkin on the 1st, Cap- 
tain Kondratenko was out examining and reporting on the 
Chushka Guzar ferry, and Captain Gideonoff was also away 
making inquiries on the Bokhara side of the river ; and as 
soon as their reports are received, I presume there will be no 
further excuse for delay. 

Our route from Karkin, on the banks of the Oxus, to 
Shadian, was as follows, viz. : 

Miles. 

July 1. Kilif, 14 

2. Chilik, 20 

3. ChaharBagh, .... 23 

4. Chahar Bulak, . . . . 13 

5. Balkh, ..... 12 

6. Dehdadi, 10 

7. Shadian, 16 

Total, . . .108 

Both Kilif and Balkh were interesting places to visit, and 
we could have stayed longer at both with pleasure. In fact, 
so cool and pleasant was the breeze under the trees by the 
river's bank at Kilif, that more than one of us would have 
spent the next day there, and have ridden on to overtake 
the camp the next evening, had not the thought of those 
20 miles across the sandhills deterred us. -As it turned 
out, though, the sand was not so heavy as we expected. The 
sandhills ceased after the first eight or nine miles, and the 
ground beyond was comparatively hard and good going. 
The sturdy sepoys of the 20th Panjab Infantry started at 
1 A.M., and did the march at the rate of three miles an hour 
including halts, and thought nothing of it, despite the fact 



252 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

that they had been fasting for nearly a month previously 
during the Eamadzan. 

The Oxus at Kilif passes through some rocky ridges run- 
ning down from the Koh-i-Tan mountain in Bokhara, and 
its bed is consequently very much narrowed there : the 
average breadth is only about half a mile, while at the ferry, 
from point to point of the rocks, the distance is only 540 
yards. Kilif itself stands on the Bokhara side, and consists 
of a small picturesque-looking fort on a rocky mound just 
at the water's edge, with a bazaar and village behind it. 
On the Afghan side there is no village or cultivation of any 
kind, nothing but the huts of the few boatmen built out on 
the projecting spit of rock behind which their three boats 
are sheltered. Two bluffs, some 400 yards apart, overhang 
the river, each of which apparently was fortified in olden 
days ; but the western bluff has nothing on it now but a 
ziarat, while the fortifications on the eastern one are all in 
ruins : so apparently the little fort opposite was too much 
for them. 

The ferry is the chief attraction of the place, and great 
was the interest taken in it both by us and all our men. 
We were all sitting at breakfast, I remember, under the little 
clump of trees on the water's edge, when the cry went round, 
" The boat is coming." The cook left his pots and pans and 
all the servants scuttled out, and even we, phlegmatic Britons 
as we are, left our breakfast to get cold and went out to look 
at the novel sight of a boat being drawn across a swift and 
deep river by a couple of horses, as if it was a waggon on 
wheels. Nowhere else have I ever heard of such a ferry, 
and yet the arrangement seems wonderfully simple and easy. 
This first boat that we saw contained a light load of pas- 
sengers only, and was drawn by a couple of horses fastened 
to the bow. The next boat that came across was full of 
camels, and this had three horses harnessed to it two at 
the bows and one at the side. Another boat, that was 



KILIF TO BALKH. 253 

brought out for Captain Griesbach to photograph, had four 
horses attached to it, and I presume that is the maximum. 
The boats are very heavy, being made of logs rather than of 
planks, and about 35 feet in length by 12 or so in breadth. 
The arrangement for harnessing the horses seems very 
simple, nothing in fact but a band round the body, by which 
the animal is suspended to a peg on any part of the boat 
that may be necessary. His weight is supported by the 
boat, and all that he has to do is to strike out for the op- 
posite shore ; but for all that, the poor beasts puff and blow 
tremendously, and I should say the work must be very ex- 
hausting. The men in the boat use their sticks freely, and 
I fancy the poor ferry-boat horse has decidedly a rough time 
of it. The boat is naturally swept a good distance down- 
stream in crossing, but when land is reached, it is towed 
up by the horses along the bank to the regular ferry station. 

From Kilif our road led round the rocky bluffs and then 
southwards across the desert strip to join the main Balkh and 
Akchah road. Owing to the heat of the sun in the day we 
had to do all our marching at night, and jolly cool and 
pleasant I must say the nights were. Hot weather as we 
know it in India is unknown here. During June and July, 
apparently, the sun in the daytime is terribly hot; but then 
the breeze, when there is one, is generally cool, and in a 
good house I don't believe the heat would be anything so 
great. It is only in tents that one feels it so much. 

Starting from Kilif, Colonel MacLean and myself deter- 
mined to try the effect of dividing the distance, and so, 
starting about 6 P.M. in advance of the rest, we rode till 
dark, then halted and had dinner, after which we lay down 
and slept till dawn, and then rode on quietly into camp at 
Chilik, arriving just about the same time as the camp colour- 
party, which had started shortly after midnight. The belt of 
low sandhills which we passed through for the first 1 miles 
or so, is thickly covered with a stunted small-leaved bush 



254 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

standing some four or five feet in height, which burns beau- 
tifully even in its greenest state. The supply of firewood, 
therefore, in this strip of desert is practically unlimited. 
Beyond the sand we gradually got on harder ground, and 
then into a plain covered with camel-thorn and low scrub 
as far as the eye could reach, till eventually we struck the 
outskirts of cultivation at Sardabah, a small collection of 
Turkoman huts. Chilik is a bare uninviting place, with no 
trees or gardens and few inhabitants. We passed lots of 
spill-water running to waste over the plain, and population 
is the only thing required to bring huge tracts of this arable 
land under cultivation. 

Our march to Chahar Bagh was mostly done in the dark ; 
but, so far as I could see, for the first two-thirds of the way 
we passed through another level camel-thorn-covered plain, 
all similarly run to waste for want of population. Just as 
dawn broke, however, we were astonished to find ourselves 
in the midst of acres and acres of old mud-ruins, and not at 
all the ordinary class of mud-ruins, but the walls of large 
high houses, perforated with double rows of arched windows. 
Each of these houses apparently formerly stood in its own 
garden, as they were mostly surrounded by the long parallel 
mounds, marking the site of former vineyards. Now the 
place is entirely deserted, and nothing but the name Un- 
paikal remains. How or when it was destroyed I did not 
ascertain. Another curious feature in the landscape was 
the unusually large number of tepes or artificial mounds in 
sight. Ten or a dozen of these were continually in sight at 
the same time ; and not small mounds either, but many of 
them of large size. Ages must have passed, I suppose, 
since each of these was a flourishing village or castle, or 
whatever it was, but their presence shows what a thick 
population the land must have supported in olden days. In 
fact, the more one sees of this Turkistan plain the more 
fertile does the land seem to be. The soil is good, and we 



KILIF TO BALKH. 255 

passed through enormous crops of ripe wheat standing ready 
for the sickle. Wherever I asked I was always told that the 
supply of water was far in excess of present requirements, and 
that cultivators were the only things wanting. The Balkh 
river, or, as it is here more generally known, the Band-i-Amir 
river, which emerges out on to the plains through the gorge 
in the Alburz range, some 15 miles south of Balkh, flows 
northwest to Akchah, and there expends immense volumes 
of spill-water in the desert beyond, all of which might be 
utilised were there only people to utilise it. But the people 
have all apparently been killed off. Three or four miles 
beyond Chahar Bagh, on the highroad to Balkh, we passed 
the ruined walls of Nimlik, or Minglik, as it is variously 
pronounced, which twenty years ago was a flourishing Usbeg 
town under a Mir of its own. It was twice, I believe, 
sacked by the Afghans ; once in the time of Akhbar Khan, 
and finally, after an obstinate defence, by the troops return- 
ing from the siege of Maimanah under the then Sirdar Abdul 
Eahman Khan, when, so I was told, something like 1500 
Afghans fell in the attack, and double or treble that number 
of Usbegs in the defence. Many other similar ruins dot 
the country, and we can hardly wonder, therefore, at the 
smallness of the population. A certain portion of the waste 
land has been taken up by Afghan immigrants from Kabul, 
who seem to be rapidly extending their gardens and orchards 
and to be good cultivators ; but all along the road from Chahar 
Bagh to Balkh the cultivation is limited to a line of villages 
near the foot of the hills on the south, and the plain to the 
north remains a camel- thorn-covered waste. 

Balkh is nothing but a vast ruin. The present popula- 
tion does not exceed some 500 houses, mostly of Afghan 
settlers, who cultivate a succession of gardens and orchards 
along the southern portion of the old city. The bazaar is 
simply a covered street with a few shops in it, running- 
through the village. There are very few Usbegs in the 



256 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

place, but a considerable colony of Jews, who have a separate 
quarter of the village to themselves, and appeared, so far as 
we could judge, to be fair-looking men with most unmistak- 
ably Jewish features. I also noticed a Hindu shopkeeper 
in the bazaar, who smiled and salaamed with great gusto as 
we passed. 

To describe the old city of Balkh I cannot do better than 
give a rough sketch of the place, merely premising that in- 
stead of a populated city it is now one vast ruin. The walls, 
some six miles and a half in circumference, are all in ruins. 
Nothing is left of them but a long line of dried mud, worn 
by the weather into all manner of desolate and fantastic 
shapes. 

The southern and south-eastern portions, from the Burj-i- 
Azaran to the Mazar gate, stand high on the top of a large 
earthen rampart, something like the walls of Herat ; but all 
the remaining portion, with the exception of the old fort and 
citadel, are low, and not more than 10 feet thick. The fort 
is an entirely separate building, standing a considerable height 
above the level of the country around, and the citadel, in its 
south-west corner, stands some 5 feet or more higher still ; 
the whole being surrounded by a separate moat, rather nar- 
row towards the city, but with steeply scarped sides. Taking 
one's stand on the top of the citadel, a capital bird's-eye view 
of the whole city is obtained. To the north lies the fort 
an empty bare place, surrounded by high walls and ruined 
bastions, with no signs of habitations in it except the ruins 
of a lot of low brick buildings at its southern end. I saw 
no water in it, nor could I see whence its supply had been 
obtained. The citadel is nothing but a mound, with half 
of a glazed pillar, and a few low, plastered walls, remaining 
standing on the top of it. The walls have all been levelled 
and destroyed. 

The whole of the northern half of the old city is nothing 
but a mass of brick and debris, and utterly waste. Entering 



KILIF TO BALKH. 257 

by the Akchah gate, one passes three lofty arches, said to 
mark the remains of the Jumma Masjid, and at the cross- 
roads there are the foundations of what was once evidently a 
fine dome, said to have been the chaharsu of the city bazaar. 
A little to the east of it are the remains of two lofty gate- 
ways ; and taking into consideration the remains of an old 
wall, that seems once to have run all the way from the Burj- 
i-Azaran to the south-west angle of the fort, it would look as 
if the city at first had only extended so far, and that these 
were the main city gates, the western portion of the city 
having been added subsequently. The most ancient Balkh 
of all is said to have stood to the east of the present city 
altogether. A mass of mounds and bricks on the road to 
Mazar mark the site of some old city, and in addition to 
these there is still standing a considerable portion of the old 
walls. An old Afghan with me described these ruins on the 
east as the Shahr-i-Hinduan, which he declared was de- 
stroyed by Changiz Khan, and the new city afterwards built. 
Whether these old walls, which now stand out in the plain 
a great thick mass of hardened earth, some 30 feet or more 
in height, and extending perhaps 200 yards on the eastern, 
and 600 yards on the northern face, were ever joined on to 
the present citadel, it was impossible to say. 

The present town is nothing but a collection of the ordi- 
nary mud, flat-roofed huts, and the only garrison in the place 
consists of a few Khasadars. The regular troops are all 
stationed at Mazar-i-Sharif and at Takht-i-Pul, a sort of 
walled cantonment, about half-way between Balkh and 
Mazar. 

The only two buildings of any note that I could find the 
remains of in Balkh, were the Masjid-i-Sabz and the Madra- 
sah. The former consists of a handsome dome, ornamented 
with green tiles, and marks, I believe, the grave of the saint 
Khwajah Abul Narsi Parsar. I did not go into it, but I 
asked some bystanders if there was any inscription in it, and 

R 



258 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

I was amused to be told in reply that formerly there was 
one, but that the English had carried it away. When I 
asked if any Englishman had come to Balkh and carried it 
off, they said, " Oh no ! but they got a Eessaldar at Peshawar 
to give a man a thousand rupees to go and fetch it " ! The 
Madrasah or college is all in ruins, and nothing but the lofty 
arched entrance remains. I was told it was called Madrasah- 
i-Syad Subhan Kuli Khan, after a descendant of the Amir 
Taimur, who built it, in which case it was of no very great 
date. The walls were all knocked down, and the materials 
carried away by the late Amir Sher Ali's governor, Naib Alam 
Khan, to build a new college at Mazar, and nothing but the 
d&ris remains. 

In a garden in the south-east portion of the city there is 
a house known as the Haramserai, built also by Naib Alam 
Khan, and used for the accommodation of travellers of rank. 
All of us who have visited Balkh have been put up there ; 
and I myself spent a pleasant day there, very glad to have a 
roof over my head instead of a canvas tent. The house is 
of the usual structure, consisting of a lot of rooms in a long 
row, with wooden shutters instead of windows, and the walls 
and floors mostly unplastered ; but it also boasts of a fine 
hamam, and the garden possesses some magnificent chenar- 
trees. 

To the south of the city lie two most curious structures, 
known respectively as the Tope-i-Eustam and Takht-i- 
Eustam. My old Afghan gave it as his opinion that they 
were relics of ancient fire-worship, but it seems equally prob- 
able that they are of Buddhist origin. The Tope-i-Eustam 
is a circular building, some 50 yards in diameter at the 
base, and about 50 feet in height, much weather-worn and 
damaged by rain, and looking in the distance like a tall 
mud mound. On getting close, one finds that the base of it 
is built of large unburnt bricks, some two feet in length and 
four or five inches thick, and that the tope on the top of this 



KILIF TO BALKH. 259 

was also apparently built of the same unburnt brick, but 
with a facing of burnt brick, now much defaced. There are 
no signs of mortar in the building, but the bricks are all of 
the same large size. Climbing up to the top, I found the 
summit flat, and nearly 3 yards in diameter, with four cir- 
cular vaults inside, exposed to view owing to the domed roofs 
having fallen in. These four, vaults or cells are not in the 
centre of the building, and consequently there may be others 
in it still intact. The base of the tope is pierced by four 
shafts, apparently meeting in the centre ; but whether these 
passages were part of the original building, or whether they 
were run through afterwards, it is difficult to tell. If part 
of the original building, there may have been some internal 
communication with the cells above ; but in such a case one 
would naturally suppose that the passages would have been 
properly arched and the sides made smooth, whereas, as it is, 
the side walls are rough and uneven, and the top of the pas- 
sages is simply formed of the rough edges of the broken ends 
of the unburnt bricks, all laid horizontally without the slightest 
attempt at arching, and so rough that it looks most probable 
as if they had been subsequently cut through. The passages 
themselves are now so much filled up that one can only creep 
in for a few yards. 

The Takht-i-Eustam is about the same height, but is 
wedge-shaped not circular, like the tope. I saw no traces 
of bricks in it, and it seems to have been built of hardened 
mud, with straight perpendicular sides, say some 100 yards 
in length north and south, and 60 yards in breadth at the 
western and 20 yards at the eastern end. The top is per- 
fectly flat, and full of rain-holes, but whether the rain runs 
down into cells inside or not I do not know. There were no 
inside chambers or entrances visible at any rate. 

A road runs through various gardens from these old mounds 
to the Darwazah-i-Baba Koh, the southern gate of the city, so 
named from the Ziarat-i-Baba Koh, situated under some huge 



260 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

chenar-trees just outside. The ancient names of the city 
gates, given by Ebn Haukel and other old Arabian geogra- 
phers, seem to have been entirely lost, and I could get no 
trace of where they were. However, further research might 
lead to their identification, though whether we shall have 
the opportunity for it or not remains to be seen. Appa- 
rently there are several Buddhist remains in the vicinity. 
Another tope, or something very like one, was clearly visible 
to the west of the city ; and on our way out to Dehdadi, 
on the south - east, we passed between two other curious 
structures of a like nature, called respectively Chihal Dukh- 
teran and Asiah Kuhnah. Both are built of the same large 
unburnt bricks ; and while the former is lower and more 
irregular shaped, looking as if it had a vaulted chamber in- 
side it, the latter is a simple solid cone, some 50 feet in 
height, and between 20 and 30 yards in diameter. The top 
seemed flat; but we could not stop to climb up to it, and 
there were no signs of any opening at the bottom, though, 
as there is a small village built close around it, it was not 
easy to examine it closely. 

Our last march up to Shadian led, for the first 10 miles, 
across the bare open dasht or plain, at the foot of the hills, to 
a curious narrow rocky gorge, so narrow that it was spanned 
by an arch, and flanked on each side by tall precipitous cliffs : 
a more impossible place to force one can hardly conceive. 
Over the archway were rooms and loopholed walls, though 
now considerably out of repair. The road led through this 
gorge for some distance, till it opened out into the valley 
behind, and then gradually ascended for about six miles more 
to the village where we are. 



261 



CHAPTEE XIX. 

SUMMER-QUARTERS AT SHADIAN. 

CAMP SHADIAN, llth August 1886. 

SIR WEST EIDGEWAY, with Captain Drummond, Nawab 
Mirza Hasan Ali Khan, and Kazi Muhammad Aslam Khan, 
arrived here from Khamiab on the 6th, and the whole 
party are already the better for the rest up here in the cool. 
The heat and hard work down below had told heavily on 
them, and all were unwell and much in need of the change. 
The office work, too, had been unusually heavy of late, and 
Messrs Clarke and Chapman were equally in need of a rest. 
Writing all day with the thermometer 110 in the tent is 
apt to undermine the strongest constitution. 

Much delay was caused owing to the dilatoriness and 
procrastination of the Eussians in the preparation of the 
protocols recording the proceedings of the last few meetings 
of the Commission ; but these were at last completed and 
signed, and now they have all been sent off with the final 
despatch detailing the history of the Khojah Salih case, and 
consequently there remains little else to be done except 
await the orders from home. Whether the new Ministry 
will order us to return to India at once, or to remain here 
and await the result of the negotiations between the two 
Governments, will probably be settled before this letter 
reaches you. In case of our return, there is nothing, I 
fancy, to prevent our starting next month and being back 



262 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

at Peshawar in October, as the distance from here vid 
Ghorband and Charikar is not believed to be more than 
some 450 miles, which we shall do easily in 30 marches. If 
we are ordered to await the termination of the negotiations, 
there is no saying how long we may be kept, and in that 
case it is to be hoped that Government will arrange to 
relieve our present escort. Two years' service in this 
country away from their homes is a great strain on our 
men, who have little employment and less excitement, and 
no interest whatever in the boundary, and, considering that 
so many of them are not even our own subjects, it would 
be hardly fair to keep them here a third year. The conduct 
of all has been extraordinarily good throughout, despite all 
the restrictions they are necessarily subject to under the 
circumstances of our sojourn here, and they fully deserve 
every consideration and the most thorough and hearty 
recognition of their services. 

The only work now remaining on hand is the completion 
of the compilation and copying of the maps, and these are 
expected to be ready for the Commissioners' signatures in 
another fortnight or so. Major Holdich and Captain Gore, 
with sub-surveyors Yusuf Sharif, Heera Singh, and Imam 
Sharif, are hard at work on them at Khamiab ; but the 
great heat there in the tents makes the work much slower 
than it would have been could it have been done in a more 
temperate climate. Sir West Eidgeway will probably re- 
turn to Khamiab in a fortnight or so as soon as the 
maps are near completion and in the meantime Major 
Durand, Assistant Commissioner, remains in charge of the 
camp there, with Captain Peacocke, Mr Merk, Sirdar 
Muhammad Aslam Khan, Sirdar Sher Ahmed Khan, and 
Munshi Allah Baksh, the Eussian Commission being still 
encamped in the garden some two miles off on the Bokharan 
side of the border. 

The Eussian claims as presented by Colonel Kuhlberg 



SUMMER-QUARTERS AT SHADIAN. 263 

have been so far modified, that instead of extending the 
claim, as was first supposed, up to the old graveyard known 
as the Ziarat-i-Khwajah Salar, he only extends it to the site 
of a former ferry across the Oxus, between the villages of 
Islam on the Afghan and Chahar Shangah on the Bokharan 
bank, situated some 1 2 miles up the river from the recognised 
frontier at Khamiab. This ferry, it appears, was formerly 
known as the Khwajah Salar ferry, owing to the district on 
the Afghan side, both above and below it so the Bokharan 
witnesses aver being known as Khwajah Salar ; but it did 
not pay, and was finally closed some eighteen years ago, 
when the boats were moved up to Kilif. Even at its best 
it was only used when robbers, or some such cause, made 
the Kilif ferry unsafe. For a few years after 1868 one 
boat used to be brought down for two or three months in 
the cold weather for local use ; but there seems to be little 
doubt that the ferry, as a ferry, had been quite abolished 
before the agreement of 1873 was recorded. However, 
even supposing that this ferry was the one referred to, still 
there seems to be no reason why all local considerations are 
to be left out of consideration in the interpretation of that 
agreement, and that the lands belonging to and below the 
ferry must be surrendered to Eussia any more than those 
above it. The Eussian Commissioner claims up to the site 
of the actual ferry itself, according to the letter of the agree- 
ment as he reads it ; but, according to the spirit of the 
agreement, no such reading need be taken, as it is clear 
from the context that it was never intended to deprive 
Afghanistan of any lands then in the Amir's full possession. 
There can be no doubt that the Bokharan authorities 
correctly interpreted the agreement when they demarcated 
the frontier between their village of Bosagha and Khami- 
ab in 18*74; and considering that possession is generally 
considered to be nine points of the law, and that Afghanistan 
is proved to have held continued possession of these 12 



264 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

miles of now disputed territory for the last thirty -seven 
years, one would naturally conclude that the Kussians had 
not a leg to stand upon. Curiously enough, too, the present 
boundary between Bosagha and Khamiab has been hither- 
to acknowledged by the Eussians, and the frontier was 
correctly laid down some two miles to the north-east of Dev 
Kilah, as it at present stands, in their maps published so 
late as 1881. Consequently the idea of contesting it is 
apparently only of recent date. 

The survey of the country under dispute between the 
Murghab and the Oxus was carried out conjointly between 
the members of the two Commissions. Colonel Kuhlberg, 
on his part, undertook the survey, with his staff of topo- 
graphers, from Maruchak to Daulatabad ; while Sir West 
Eidgeway agreed that our survey officers should carry it 
on from the latter place to the Oxus. The whole of the 
triangulation on which the survey of the boundary was 
based was carried out by the British officers from end to 
end, commencing from Mashhad, and terminating on the 
Hindu Kush, the Eussian maps being adapted to the 
results of the English triangulation. It was in addition to 
this that Captains Gore and Talbot, with sub-surveyors 
Imam Sharif, Saiadulah, and Ata Muhammad carried out 
the topography of the desert from Daulatabad to the Oxus. 
The Eussian plane-tables are quite different from those of 
the Indian Topographical Survey. Instead of the ordinary 
ruler and sights, they have a telescope mounted on a brass 
ruler. This telescopic power moving in a vertical plane 
gives considerable advantages in a country destitute of con- 
spicuous natural objects, and is, consequently, much more 
perfect; yet it takes a much longer time to work, and 
appears needlessly minute. 

The Eussian Topographical Department is divided, I am 
told, into two branches the Military and the Civil. The 
topographers attached to the Commission are all of the 



SUMMER-QUARTERS AT SHADIAN. 265 

Military branch ; but so far as I have heard, they are not 
combatant officers or military men in reality, but have the 
rank of captains and lieutenants and a uniform of their 
own. They go on service with troops ; and I believe a 
topographer is always attached to each general's staff, 
whose duty it is to explain to him the topography of the 
country they are operating on, though what their system of 
rapid sketches is I do not know. Their plane-tables, stands, 
and instruments are specially constructed to be slung over a 
man's back, and are always carried by Cossacks ; but still, 
their plane-tables take much longer to set up than ours, and 
seem by no means adapted for quick work. Their maps, 
too, seem to be never inked in at the time. The topographer, 
on his return, hands over his board to a special draughtsman, 
who undertakes all this part of the work a division of 
labour that one would hardly think to be conducive to a 
correct delineation of the various topographical features of 
the country. 

The Eussian topographers, I must say, had many dif- 
ficulties to contend against in their survey of this frontier. 
One officer, I heard, lost several of his Cossacks' horses from 
thirst, and ran a good chance of losing himself and his Cos- 
sacks too, in addition, from want of water. Our officers 
were never sent out into the chul without a good supply of 
water in mussucks on camels, and plenty of spare carriage for 
wood and fodder in case of accidents ; but the Eussian topo- 
graphers apparently were allowed nothing of the sort, and 
had to trust to luck and the Afghans. During the whole 
survey of the country from Maruchak to Daulatabad, the 
Eussian topographers were entirely dependent throughout, 
for food, guides, and escort, on the Afghans. Everything 
they required was supplied to them, and every facility 
afforded them by the Afghans. Eussia had no population, 
no wells, no anything along the Maimanah frontier, and 
any one working in the chid there was naturally dependent 



266 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

on Maimanah for supplies ; yet no sooner was this chul sur- 
veyed than Eussia, ignoring all Afghan assistance, laid claim 
to the whole of it. A good many mistakes were naturally 
made by the Eussian topographers in the nomenclature of 
various places, owing to the want, I fancy, of good guides ; 
but these, when found out, were corrected, and though the 
maps have taken a long time to compile, they are now, I 
believe, completed at last, and no time is being lost by our 
officers in copying them. 

The floods in the Oxus are now beginning to subside, 
as the canals and inundations at Khamiab are rapidly 
getting dry, and it is only to be hoped that the ground 
there may not become malarious before we are able to 
leave it. 

Here, at Shadian, we are in a glorious climate. The 
maximum temperature by day now rarely exceeds 77 or 
78, while it goes down to 49 and 50 at night, and the 
place certainly would make a capital sanatorium for troops. 
Standing here on the crest of the first line of hills, I can 
see the best part of Afghan Turkistan spread out before me. 
Balkh and Mazar are immediately below, the latter only 
some 14 miles distant, while the Oxus glitters on the horizon 
to the north. To the south stretches one continuous mass 
of hilly country for nearly 150 miles right away to the 
Hindu Kush. 

The plain of Afghan Turkistan may be best described by 
dividing it into four belts. First on the north come the low 
banks of the river, covered in places with cultivation, and in 
others with jungle to a depth of three or four miles ; next 
comes a strip of sand some 1 miles in width ; then some 
25 miles of fertile land watered by the Balkh river, as it 
is called in our maps, and other streams coming down from 
the hills ; and finally, the usual belt of arid and gradually 
ascending plain immediately at the foot of the hills. The 
greater portion of this fertile belt, some 25 miles in width, 



SUMMER-QUARTERS AT SHADIAN. 267 

and from Akchah on the west to Tashkurghan on the east, 
between 90 and 100 miles in length, consists of fine level 
culturable ground, while the ruins we have seen bear ample 
testimony to its former prosperity. All that is required is 
population, and that is increasing year by year owing to the 
number of Afghan immigrants that have now begun to find 
their way across the hills from Kohistan and other districts 
near Kabul. Amongst the Afghans, the western portion of 
this district is familiarly known as the Hizhdah Nahr, from 
the eighteen canals into which the Balkh river is divided 
for irrigation purposes. A great portion of this water runs 
to waste, as it is far in excess of present requirements ; but 
the principal waste occurs at Akchah, where, according to 
all accounts, there is a huge swamp in addition to all the 
spill-water that is lost in the sands beyond. This swamp, 
I know, is full of pheasants ; but I have not heard that 
there are any deer there. Major Maitland, who returned a 
little time ago from his trip up the Oxus, though he never 
actually saw any of the deer that are said to abound in the 
jungle along its banks, yet he managed to obtain a small 
broken specimen of their horns. 1 

We have no particular news of any sort from Bokhara. 
Captain Gideonoff has returned from his trip here, and now 
Captain Komoroff has gone off to Samarcand in his place. 
There are no further rumours of the advance of Eussian 
troops, though 150 Cossacks are reported to have arrived at 
Chahar Jui. A Bokharan caravan on its way through Mazar 
is said to have given the news that all Afghans are being 
expelled by the Kussian authorities from Samarcand and 
those parts of Eussian territory, notwithstanding the many 
years they may have been settled there as traders, &c. ; and 
also, that the Eussians are commencing to build a canton- 

1 This horn was subsequently identified in the Indian Museum at Calcutta 
as belonging to the Cervus Cashmerianus, from the fact of the second brow- 
antler exceeding the brow-antler in length. 



268 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

ment at Karki, between Chahar Jui and Khamiab. This 
report, however, has not as yet been confirmed. 

It is amusing to us to see by the extracts translated from 
the Eussian papers that they, too, have got the idea that we 
are bent on the annexation of Badakshan. This they must 
have got from Afghan sources. How the rumour arose, or 
what put the idea in the Afghan mind, we cannot think ; 
but there is no doubt that it took firm hold of their imag- 
ination, and was even shared in by the Amir. First of all 
came the news of the arrival of Colonel Lockhart and his 
party on the Badakshan frontier from Chitral. Then it was 
heard that he had 300 armed men with him, the truth 
being, I believe, that he had left his mule-carriage behind 
owing to the difficulty of the roads, and that this terrible 
army of his was comprised of nothing more formidable than 
Chitrali baggage - coolies. Just at that time, however, Sir 
West Ridgeway, in anticipation of an early settlement of this 
frontier, was making arrangements for a certain portion of 
the Mission to return to India vid Badakshan and Gilgit, 
surveying the upper Oxus and the little-known regions of 
Eoshan, Shignan, and Wakhan on the way. These arrange- 
ments, coupled with the arrival of Colonel Lockhart's party, 
by some curious misunderstanding, gave rise to the idea 
that the two parties were to act in co-operation, and to 
seize Badakshan. 

All chance of any of us returning vid Badakshan has, of 
course, long since been knocked on the head. The unfore- 
seen delays and difficulties raised by the Eussian Commis- 
sioner rendered any such trip out of the question, and the 
season is now too far advanced for a start. It is a great 
pity that the proposed survey-parties, who were all ready 
and equipped for the trip, were not able to carry it out, as 
the work must consequently remain over now for some 
future opportunity. However, Mr Ney Elias's explorations 
have given us a good insight into the country generally, and 



SUMMER-QUARTERS AT SHADIAN. 269 

a professional survey is all that is now required to complete 
it. Had our survey officers been able to work through, 
and to join on to Colonel Woodthorpe's surveys on the other 
side of the passes, the thing would have been complete. I 
still trust, however, to have a chance of exploring that 
country in time to come, and of trying conclusions with the 
great Ovis Poli that are said to roam over its uplands. 

I must say the freedom with which we have been able to 
wander about the country hitherto, has been wonderful con- 
sidering. Whatever part of Afghanistan we have been in, 
we have always found ourselves as safe as, or even safer 
than, if we had been in India. In the main camp, of course, 
there are always the regular sentries ; but the only cases of 
theft we have ever had have been those committed by our 
own men in the camp itself. Officers on detached duty 
have wandered about and camped night after night in out- 
of-the-way villages, inhabited by all kinds of people, and 
have slept safe and sound without the protection of a single 
sentry or watchman of any kind whatever. In Herat, cer- 
tainly, Afghan sentries were always posted round us ; but 
out in the districts this was never done, and our Afghan 
Mehmandar and his men always went to sleep with just the 
same confidence that we did ourselves, and not a thing has 
ever been touched. 

We had a new arrival in camp yesterday in the shape of 
a merchant from Mazar with a consignment of all sorts of 
Russian goods. Wines, scents, sweetmeats, silks and furs, 
and even white kid gloves, were all turned out in turn, and 
last, but not least, the man himself turned out to be an old 
Jemadar and native Adjutant of the 2d Beluchis, who had 
served with them in both Persia and China, and who took his 
discharge some eighteen years ago, and has been trading ever 
since in various parts of Central Asia. He gave me correctly 
the names of almost all his own officers, and even of those 
in the 1 st Beluchis as well ; and the last time, it seems, that 



270 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

he visited his old regiment was at Kandahar in 1880, when 
his old comrade, Subadar Dost Mahomed Khan, was acting 
under me as Kotwal of the city. He has just returned from 
Tashkend, where he went with Es. 20,000 some months ago 
to purchase goods, but apparently he purchased firearms, or 
in some way fell foul of the authorities, and was, further, 
arrested as a British spy, and only got away again after 
four months' imprisonment and the loss of half of his stock. 

At Khamiab, too, lately, there has been quite an irrup- 
tion of Indian fakirs. The way these men wander about 
these countries seems very extraordinary. We have had 
men in patchwork, men in sackcloth and ashes, men in 
chains, and men of all sorts at times. The last arrivals 
were, first, a couple of Sikh priests of sorts, who, curiously 
enough, came down from Bokhara, and after good enter- 
tainment and help from us, went on to Akchah ; and 
secondly, a sort of mad Bengali Babu. Last year he was in 
England, and saw London, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Bristol, 
and, so far as could be ascertained, had worked on the 
Peninsular and Oriental Co.'s steamers as a sort of purser's 
clerk, and knew English well. Apparently he was dis- 
missed for smoking charas, and is now off his head. 

So long as Captain Drummond and his men were at 
Khamiab, they used to have small gymkhanas and sports 
every Thursday, which, I hear, were very amusing. The 
Turkomans used to turn up in great force, and appreciate 
the fun immensely. Up here, at Shadian, our men are 
amusing themselves by going out shooting after the oorial 
and ibex in the hills, and by trips to the hot springs at 
Chashmah Shaffah, some 16 miles off over the hills to the 
south-west. Now that the late Afghan restrictions on our 
movements have been somewhat relaxed, our Mussalmans 
all hope to get permission to make their pilgrimage to the 
famous shrine at Mazar, the tomb of Ali. It naturally is 
very disappointing to them to be so near, and yet not to be 



SUMMER-QUARTERS AT SHADIAN. 271 

allowed to visit it owing to Afghan truculence ; but this now, 
I trust, is at an end. A lot of our unruly Persian faraskes 
and muleteers rushed off to Mazar in a body the day before 
yesterday, and have just been sent back under escort by 
Sirdar Ishak Khan, much to their disgust, and the amuse- 
ment of the rest of the camp. They are a turbulent and 
easily excited set these Persians. A muleteer quarrelled 
with a commissariat weighman about his rations of Ihoosa, 
knocked him down, and when dragged off, rushed at him 
again with a drawn knife, and was only just seized in time. 
Naturally he got a good flogging on the spot, but he turned 
out to be a Syed, and the opportunity was seized by a few 
men to excite some others, and induce them to rush off to 
Mazar. If they thought of taking shelter in the sanctuary 
in the shrine, and striking for higher terms or anything, 
they were sadly disappointed, as Sirdar Ishak Khan only let 
them in four at a time, and then at once sent them all back. 
So they have only got laughed at for their pains. 



272 



CHAPTER XX. 

VISIT TO MAZAR-I-SHAKIF. 

CAMP SHADIAN, Wth September 1886. 

SIR WEST EIDGEWAY is now back again at Khamiab, 
where the final meeting with the Eussian Commission is 
being held, and we here are all busy packing up and prepar- 
ing for an early move. The telegrams informed us some 
little time ago that it had been decided that we were not to 
remain here for another winter, and now we hear that a con- 
vention has been recorded with the Eussian Government to 
the effect that demarcation having been completed as far as 
Dukchi, the joint Commissions are to be withdrawn, and 
the remaining 30 miles of frontier between Dukchi and 
the Oxus settled between the two Cabinets. Meanwhile the 
status quo is to be respected. This is most satisfactory, and 
another week will in all probability see us all on the return 
march to Peshawar. 

The men are all in great delight at the thought of a 
speedy return to their homes, and the great topic of conversa- 
tion amongst them is the amount of leave they will get. I 
only trust that the military authorities will treat them in 
this respect with the liberality that they deserve after two 
years of such good service under peculiarly trying conditions. 

Major Maitland and Captain the Hon. M. G. Talbot have 
gone on ahead to Haibak, our starting-point on the main 
Kabul and Tashkurghan road, and we expect to follow them 



VISIT TO MAZAR-I-SHARIF. 273 

a few days hence, and to wait for Sir West Eidgeway and 
his party to rejoin us there on their return from Khamiab. 

We are only a small party here at present namely, Major 
Bax, Captains Cotton, Drummond, and Griesbach, Khan 
Bahadur Ibrahim Khan, and myself, with the greater portion 
of the cavalry and the infantry escort. 

I hear that Mr Merk, Captain de Laessoe, and Munshi 
Allah Bakhsh will in all probability remain on the frontier 
for the present with Colonel MacLean, while Major Durand 
returns home vid the Caspian, and Captain Gore returns 
to India vid Persia, travelling through Kirman down to 
Bandar Abbas. Our return party, therefore, will be con- 
siderably diminished, and we shall arrive at Peshawar in 
very different numbers from what we started with at 
Quetta two years ago. 

How long Sir West Eidgeway may be detained at Kham- 
iab, or whether some fresh complication may not arise to 
still further delay his departure, yet remains to be seen. 
However, all our heavy tents and surplus stores have been 
packed up and sent off in readiness some for the benefit of 
the Teheran Legation, and the remainder for the use of 
Colonel MacLean and his party remaining in the Persian 
frontier, as of course it would be useless to drag such things 
all the way back to India. We ourselves are to march very 
light with mule-carriage, leaving whatever extra baggage we 
have to follow us by camel kafila under Afghan escort. 

Sir West Eidgeway started from here on the 28th August, 
going down first to Mazar-i- Sharif at the special invitation 
of Sirdar Ishak Khan. His party consisted of Colonel 
MacLean, Major Bax, Dr Owen, Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali 
Khan, Kazi Muhammad Aslam Khan, Eessaldar-Major Baha- 
u'-din Khan, and myself, with an escort consisting of Ees- 
saldars Jeswunt Singh and Tejah Singh, and 70 men of the 
llth Bengal Lancers, under the command of Captain Drum- 
mond. We rode down in the evening and camped for the 

s 



274 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

night at the foot of the hills, and made our entry into Mazar 
early the next morning. We had only some seven miles to 
ride in, and Mazar lay spread out before us as a great clump 
of green trees standing out in the plain, with the fortified 
cantonment of Takht-i-Pul four or five miles to the west of 
it, and Balkh in the distance beyond that again. The only 
distinguishing points about Mazar are the two blue -tiled 
domes of the shrine glistening in the sun from the midst of 
the surrounding trees. No houses or buildings of any sort 
stand up in sight, and even when one gets quite close, one 
sees nothing but a mass of gardens divided by narrow lanes 
between high mud-walls. The city is not enclosed in any 
way, and the only gates are the different entrances to the 
bazaar. We were located in a house called the Bagh-i- 
Sarhang, a little way outside the Tashkurghan gate, an un- 
imposing-looking place consisting of two courtyards. The 
first contained a long row of stables round two sides, with 
just space sufficient for our servants and horses. The inner 
court or garden had a house with three sets of rooms on one 
side of it, and flower-beds round a square tank in the centre, 
with a clump of fine chenar-trees around it, under which a 
shamianah was pitched, which we used as our mess and 
reception room. The cavalry camped in an open space to 
the south. We all had a good deal of ceremonial to go 
through, though, before we got finally settled in those quarters. 
When we arrived about a mile and a half from the town we 
were met by Kazi Saad-ud-Din Khan, the Amir's representa- 
tive, and Sirdar Sultan Muhammad Khan (Barukzai) on the 
part of Sirdar Ishak Khan, with an escort of one squadron of 
local irregular and a regiment of regular cavalry. The lo- 
cal irregulars were composed partly of Usbegs and partly of 
Turkomans, and were known as the Daulatabad levy. Each 
class had its own big red standard, but the men wore their 
own national dress and had their own horses and arms. The 
Usbegs were distinguishable by their turbans, and Turkomans 



VISIT TO MAZAR-I-SHARIF. 2*75 

by their black lambskin hats ; otherwise the dress and ac- 
coutrements of each were much alike. The Haidari regiment 
of regulars turned out very weak, hardly 200 strong, and for 
an Afghan regiment were a poor-looking lot. Neither the 
horses nor the men came up to the standard of those that 
we saw in Herat ; and in fact the same remark would apply 
to all the Turkistan troops that we saw, both officers and 
men, cavalry and infantry. 

The regiment was drawn up in line and received Sir West 
Eidgeway with a general salute, after which the colonel by 
name Afrasiah Khan was called out and presented by Kazi 
Saad-ud-Din Khan. Both Sir West Ridgeway and Colonel 
MacLean rode down the ranks, and the regiment then filed 
off one squadron in front and the remainder behind us. 
Thus escorted, with the kettle-drums and trumpeters im- 
mediately in front of us, we wound about through various 
lanes and passages amongst the gardens, till we finally 
emerged at an open space a graveyard, of course in front 
of the Tashkurghan gate. Here a regiment of infantry was 
drawn up in line and received us with another general 
salute, the band playing some Afghan air. The men were 
armed with Sniders, but were dressed in dirty khaki coats 
and white trousers, and were very badly set up, presenting 
a decidedly poor appearance. They, like the cavalry, were 
dressed in imitation Eussian caps of dirty black cloth, with 
a red band and a huge peak, generally wrongly put on ; and 
the cap, being worn well pulled down over the head, looked 
more like a shapeless nightcap than anything else. Why 
the Sirdar should go out of his way to dress his men up in 
such an unsuitable head-dress, I cannot think. The cavalry 
with any other head-dress in their brown Eussian cotton 
cloth coats and blue cotton trousers and long boots would 
have looked comparatively well, but the badly fitting cap 
spoilt their appearance entirely. The latter were armed 
with smooth-bore carbines ; but they had swords with small 



2*76 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

hilts to them the first I have seen of the kind, as the 
Afghan regulation sword is a copy of the Cossack pattern, 
with a handle like that of a knife, fitting well down into 
the scabbard. I noticed that the officers of both cavalry 
and infantry were dressed according to their own individ- 
ual fancy, without the slightest reference to the uniform of 
their men. 

Passing through the bazaar which consists of a series of 
cross streets roofed over with rafters and matting we found 
small crowds at each of the corners waiting to see us ; and 
beyond these, again, we came to the Sirdar's residence, with 
a small open space in front, where we all dismounted. 

The Sirdar's residence is certainly a most unpretentious- 
looking place from the outside a plain mud-building two 
storeys in height, with a particularly narrow and dirty 
entrance. Ascending a low, winding staircase, we were 
received at the top by the Sirdar himself. Sir West Eidge- 
way introduced us all in turn, and we soon found ourselves 
seated in a sort of open durbar-room, looking out on the 
open space in front, and on a garden courtyard behind, which 
apparently separated these public rooms from the private 
apartments. 

As soon as we were seated, the Sirdar asked each of us 
individually after our health, and after that Eussian cigar- 
ettes in boxes and silver cases were handed round, and sub- 
sequently tea was brought in. The table, which ran down 
the centre of the room, was covered with sweetmeats of all 
kinds, as well as with grapes and melons. Conversation 
went on for some time the Sirdar repeatedly expressing his 
assurances that we should always meet with every comfort 
and consideration anywhere in the Amir's dominions. Finally, 
the Sirdar's presents for the acceptance of Sir West Eidge- 
way and Colonel MacLean were brought in, consisting first 
of trays of sweetmeats perfect triumphs of the local confec- 
tioner's art, in the shape of sugar elephants, horses, goats, 



VISIT TO MAZAR-I-SHARIF. 277 

&c. followed by trays of Astrakhan lambskins, Bokhara 
silks, barak, kurk, and carpets, &c. ; while three horses were 
led up in the open space below. The Sirdar was most 
affable throughout, and was handsomely dressed in a drab- 
coloured, gold-embroidered coat, with a large fur hat of sable 
or other skin, ornamented with a diamond decoration. 

Saying good-bye to the Sirdar, we at once went on to call 
upon his son Sirdar Ismail Khan in the garden next 
door. We passed a new house for him in course of construc- 
tion the front of which, apparently, was being built mostly 
of wood, with partitions of unburnt brick ; and then enter- 
ing a big garden by a narrow doorway, we found the young 
Sirdar waiting to receive us in a tent under the shade of a 
fine plane-tree. He had little to say for himself, conversa- 
tion being mostly kept up by Kazi Saad-ud-Din Khan ; and 
despite his position as Commander-in-chief of the Turkistan 
troops, he was evidently little accustomed to the reception 
of strangers. Tea and cigarettes were again produced, fol- 
lowed by some more presents and a couple more horses ; and 
then we all took leave and rode off, not at all sorry to find 
breakfast and a change of cool clothes awaiting us at the 
Bagh-i-Sarhang. 

One feature worth noticing in Sirdar Ismail Khan's garden 
was his summer-house simply a roof on poles, with the 
four sides filled up with green camel-thorn, which, when 
wetted on the windy side, acts as a tatti, and keeps the 
temperature within much lower than that outside. The 
light, too, coming in through the green thorns is soft and 
pleasant to the eyes ; and inside one of these houses there 
is comparatively little to complain of, either regarding the 
heat or glare during summer in these parts. 

We halted at Mazar on the 30th, and both days were 
thoroughly enjoyed by our men and followers in visiting the 
bazaar and the ziarat. After our long sojourn in the wilder- 
ness along the frontier, a real bazaar was a grand treat, and 



278 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

everywhere our men seem to have been well received. In 
such a sacred place as Mazar-i-Sharif one naturally expected 
to find the people extra bigoted ; but so far was this from 
being the case, that the shrine itself was even thrown open 
to our Sikhs and Hindus, who were allowed to visit it in 
parties under Afghan guidance a liberality that I have 
never heard of elsewhere. Major Bax and Captain Drum- 
mond also visited the local horse-fair, but did not succeed in 
finding anything worth purchasing at the prices asked. 

The evening of the 30th was the time fixed for the return 
visit from Sirdar Ishak Khan to Sir West Eidgeway, but 
unfortunately the Sirdar was so unwell during the day that 
he had to send his apologies, and to request Sir West Eidge- 
way to receive his son in his place. With the son came, of 
course, Kazi Saad-ud-Din Khan and also General Nujbudin 
Khan, the Sirdar's latest father-in-law, a fine handsome old 
man, the Shahgassi, the Lalla, and various brigadiers, colonels, 
and adjutants, who were all duly presented ; a very hetero- 
geneous lot they were, too, with not a thoroughbred-looking 
Afghan amongst them. The Shahgassi is a Civil official, 
and the Lalla is the title given to the governor of all young 
nobles, an influential post in these countries. The young 
Sirdar was dressed in a large gold-embroidered grey Astra- 
khan hat, surmounted by a green plume, embroidered coat, 
gold-lace trousers, and patent-leather boots, and arrived under 
an enormous red-and-gold umbrella carried by an attendant, 
with a couple of gold-bridled and gaily caparisoned horses 
led in front, more after the manner of a Hindu Eaja than 
anything I have yet seen in Afghanistan. On our side the 
cavalry escort were drawn up as a guard of honour on two 
sides of the courtyard, looking as clean and fresh as the day 
they left Umballa two years ago. Tea and ices were handed 
round, and then Sir West Eidgeway's presents to the Sirdar 
and his son were brought in on trays, after which the visit 
terminated. 



VISIT TO MAZAR-I-SHARIF. 279 

The morning of the 31st saw us all en route again, Sir 
West Bidgeway, Colonel MacLean, Dr Owen, Kazi Muhammad 
Aslam, and Eessaldar-Major Baha-u'-din Khan starting off 
for Khamiab, while Major Bax, Captain Drummond, and my- 
self, with the cavalry escort, returned to Shadian. Bessal- 
dars Jeswunt Singh and Tejah Singh, of the latter, both 
enjoyed their visit exceedingly ; and I fancy there are few, 
if any, other Sikhs who, like them, have sat in an Afghan 
durbar, unless, indeed, we except the famous Diwan Nanak 
Singh, who was at one time hakim of Tashkurghan under 
Sirdar Abdur Eahman Khan, before the latter was finally 
driven out of the country by Amir Sher Ali Khan. 

The celebrated shrine at Mazar is from all accounts a 
more imposing - looking place outside than in, and the 
building is not to be compared, I heard, to Ahmad Shah's 
tomb at Kandahar. Although claimed by some to be the 
burial-place of Hazrat Ali, still I think the superior claims 
of Najaf, near Baghdad, to this distinction, are generally 
admitted, and Mazar is simply reckoned as a Kadamgah 
literally, " a place of the footsteps " of Ali. Nawab 
Mirza Hasan Ali Khan, who duly went to pay his de- 
votions, tells me that the shrine under the dome is sur- 
rounded by railings some six feet in height, lined throughout 
with cloth, so that it is impossible to see what is inside. 
The railings have a silver-mounted gate, but this is carefully 
locked. The outside and surroundings of the shrine are 
filthy in the extreme, and visitors are besieged by beggars 
at the gate. In spring, when the annual fair is held, the 
dirt and crowd must be tremendous. Inside, at the en- 
trance to the shrine, there is a huge copper pot in which 
all donations are placed. Everything is acceptable, from 
a bit of bread upwards, and all is collected in this one 
huge pot. 

The entrance is through a high archway on the east, 
ornamented with the " Al Eahman " chapter of the Koran 



280 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

inscribed on tiles, and a wooden gate worked in brass with 
a couple of minarets, one on either side. A similar archway 
on the west leads into a large garden, the property of the 
shrine. The original tiles with which these archways were 
covered are said to have been defaced, and the present 
ones to have been put on by Naib Muhammad Alum Khan, 
the governor of the province under Amir Sher Ali Khan. 
A small musjid has lately been built to the east of the 
shrine by Sirdar Ishak Khan, and immediately behind it lie 
the graves of Sirdars Muhammad Akram Khan, Muhammad 
Akhbar Khan, and Amir Sher Ali Khan. Near this, too, 
there are also a couple of mausoleums lined with old tile- 
work, now much defaced, but in which the remains of Cufic 
inscriptions can be traced. The eastern building apparently 
contains tombs only of ladies of royal descent ; but un- 
fortunately the stones mostly have either no name or no 
date, and the only real legible inscriptions are those to the 
memory of Kansh, daughter of Kilich Kara Sultan, dated A.D. 
1543, and Sharifah Sultan, dated A.D. 1619. The tomb- 
stones in the western building are similarly mostly defaced : 
but amongst them the names of Khan Kara Sultan, A.D. 1543 ; 
Kara Sultan, son of Jani Beg, A.D. 1545; Kilich Kara Sultan, 
son of Kastin Kara Sultan, A.D. 1555 ; and Ibrahim Muham- 
mad Bahadur, son of Siunj Bahadur, dated A.D. 1601 , were 
made out. Mirza Khalil, our Persian writer, tells me that the 
inside of the domes of the shrine are painted in imitation of 
the tile- work said to have been originally put up by Sultan 
Husain Baikrar, which painting is said to have been done 
by an artistic moulvi in the time of Sirdar Muhammad Af- 
zal Khan, the father of the present Amir. The walls are 
covered with various Persian poems, giving the supposed 
history of the shrine, the general purport of which is to the 
following effect : 

During the reign of Sultan Sanjar, a man named 
Muhammad obtained possession of some historical book in 



VISIT TO MAZAR-I-SHARIF. 281 

India, in which it was related that the grave of Hazrat 
Ali was in the Khairan fort near Balkh. Muhammad came 
to Balkh and spread the news. Some of the Syeds there 
acknowledged that they had had a dream to the same effect, 
and finally one Ahmad Kamaji went to the governor and 
laid the facts before him. A moollah who happened to be 
present in the durbar denied the facts, and maintained that 
Hazrat Ali was murdered at Kufah and buried at Najaf. 
That night, however, Ali himself appeared to the moollah 
and sharply reprimanded him for disbelieving these reports 
- a fact which was duly communicated by the moollah to the 
governor next morning. The governor, accompanied by a 
great crowd, at once went to the spot where the grave was 
believed to be, opened it, and found the body of Ali in 
perfect preservation. By the order of Sultan Sanjar, a 
building was at once erected over the grave. This was 
completed in A.H. 530, or A.D. 1136. On the advent of 
Changiz Khan this building was demolished and the grave 
alone remained, known as the Khwajah Khairan. Sub- 
sequently, however, a descendant of Bayazid Eustami made 
it again known that the grave was that of Hazrat Ali, and 
the coffin was reopened by the order of Sultan Husain 
Baikrar, when a red brick was found in the grave, on which 
it was recorded that this was the grave of Hazrat Ali. 
The present building was then erected in the year A.H. 886, 
or A.D. 1481. 

So much for the historical claims of Mazar to distinction ; 
and yet, on the faith of this, thousands of the halt and the 
maimed and the blind collect here every April in the hopes 
of a miraculous cure, and the failure to get it is simply put 
down to want of faith on their own part. 

Dr Owen writes to me that, on their way from Mazar to 
Balkh on the 31st, Sir West Eidgeway and all of them rode 
through the fortified cantonment of Takht-i-Pul, which he 
describes as a huge cantonment, as near as possible a square, 



282 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

with double walls some 30 feet high pierced for musketry, 
and sundry bastions for guns, and a big moat. There are 
the ruins of what must have been once a fine fort to the 
south of it, but now the place is so surrounded by villages 
that it could never make a long defence. 

Our life here at Shadian for the past month has been 
comparatively quiet and uneventful on the whole. All of 
us have thoroughly enjoyed the immunity from the heat 
which had to be borne in tents below by the remainder of our 
party detained by duty at Khamiab, and we have congratu- 
lated ourselves on our escape from it. Captain Drummond, 
who came up weak and ill from an attack of dysentery, 
pulled round in no time ; and I myself, when laid up by the 
same complaint, had great reason to be thankful for the 
climate I was in. We have had an abundant supply of 
grapes and melons of late, and the men are all now in 
fairly good health, though there is a good deal of fever 
knocking about both here and at Khamiab. Every 
Thursday we have had our sports, which have been a great 
success, thanks to Captain Drummond's good management, 
and one day we were shown a new game by Kazi Saad-ud-Din 
Khan's local sowars called Buzghalah Tazi, or the race for 
the young goat. This game seems to be the common form 
of sport amongst the Ersari Turkomans, the Usbegs, and the 
local Afghan sowars of this part of Turkistan. One man 
starts off at a gallop with a goat across his saddle in front 
of him, and all the rest race after him and try to get the 
goat from him. The man who brings it in when time is 
called gets the prize. 

The immediate neighbourhood of Shadian is stony and 
rough, and not very pleasant either for walking or riding ; 
but once one gets to the top of the cliffs, which tower 2000 
feet above us on the east, or over the Kotal at the head of 
the valley to the south, the country is much softer and more 
undulating. One favourite ride is to Malmul, another some- 



VISIT TO MAZAR-I-SHARIF. 283 

what similar valley to this, about 8 miles to the east, but 
more cultivated and restricted, being only some 4 miles 
square, or about half the size of this, which is some 8 miles 
in length by 4 in breadth, and therefore not so good for a 
camp. Another ride is to Kafir Kilah, a great bluff some 
10 miles to the south and about 8300 feet above sea-level, 
overlooking all the country right away to the Hindu Kush. 
Unfortunately the weather is so hazy and dusty at this time 
of year that it is impossible to see any distance. 

One place I should much like to have visited is Band- 
i-Amir, the source of the Balkhab river, in the Northern 
Hazarahjat. Major Maitland, Captain Talbot, and Subadar 
Muhammad Husain Khan are the only members of our party 
who have seen it, and from their accounts it must be well 
worth a visit. The Subadar, who has just been describing 
it to me, tells me that the water collects there from all sides, 
and that, across the valley itself and also across the side 
ravines, there are a succession of natural bunds of rock 
which confine the water in a series of lakes, the overflow 
of one going in to the next, and so on, till, at the end, the 
Balkhab river is formed. There are some five or six dif- 
ferent lakes in the valley, in the course of 10 or 12 miles, 
of unknown depth, but full of fish, many of them of great 
size, and all very tame and carefully preserved, the valley 
being renowned through the Hazarahjat as a place of pilgrim- 
age. On the opposite side of the Kotal one of the sources 
of the Helmand is said to take its rise from a spring, the 
water of which is shot up out of the ground with great force, 
and is therefore supposed to come by some underground 
passage from the lakes On this side. 

Fish seem to be common all over this country. At Mazar 
we got capital fish caught in canals drawn off from the 
Balkhab, and the Oxus is famous for them. At Khamiab 
we used to get a beautiful large white fish, with quite a 
different taste from the usual fresh-water fish. We all came 



284 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

to the conclusion that it must have been a fresh-run fish from 
the Sea of Aral. 

Although here, at Shadian, we are not in the Hazarahjat, 
still we are close on the borders of it, as there are some 
four hundred families of Hazarahs camped about the hills 
quite close to us. I find, too, that these men are regularly 
employed by the Afghan Government as Khasadars or ir- 
regulars; and of the 400 families about here, 150 men 
are away at the present moment on duty at Daulatabad 
and Akchah and other places in the province. The Shadian 
villagers are all Tajiks, and it is amusing to see with what 
zest all the boys turn out for our races. Every boy from 
five years upwards turns out and runs his best, all expecting 
to win the prize. At first the Afghans would not let them 
appear, with their usual jealousy of our intercourse with 
their subject races ; but fortunately this has somewhat 
decreased of late. 

One curious feature of Shadian, which none of us have 
been satisfactorily able to solve as yet, is the number of 
large cylinders hewn out of solid rocks that are to be seen 
about the village. These cylinders are 6 and 8 feet in 
depth by some 3 feet in diameter, and the only explanation 
we can get about them is that they were water-mills ; but 
how they were worked none can tell. One idea given to 
me was that, owing to the scant supply of water in the 
little rills about, the water was collected in these stone 
cylinders so as to bear with greater pressure on the mill 
below ; but that is only a supposition. The immense labour 
of hollowing out these great cylinders would never have 
been undertaken, however, without good cause. 

A good many of the villagers still come in for treatment at 
Dr Owen's dispensary, but many others are stopped by the 
Afghans. The Afghans themselves, when ill, invariably come 
freely to our hospital for treatment, but Kazi Saad-ud-Din 
Khan's constant opposition to the country people coming in 



VISIT TO MAZAR-I-SHARIF. 285 

has been most difficult to meet, and has prevented much good 
work that would otherwise have been done. As it is, there 
have been no fewer than 22,633 patients treated in the 
dispensary during the past year, including 80 major and 
371 minor operations, and this although for more than half 
the time Dr Owen has had only one hospital assistant, Pati 
Earn, to assist him. I must say that Pati Earn deserves 
every credit for the way he has worked, and the interest and 
skill he has shown in his work. Last year the number of 
patients was only about 13,000; and it is wonderful that 
this year there has been so great an increase, considering 
how long we were encamped on the outskirts of all habita- 
tion along the frontier, and that Dr Owen and Pati Earn 
have had to do all the work themselves with a much reduced 
establishment, and without being able to leave camp and go 
into the villages at all. In June this year, when we reached 
the Oxus and found a decently populated district to work 
in, no fewer than 4521 patients were attended to during the 
montb, which proves of itself what a still better return there 
would have been to show if Dr Owen had the same oppor- 
tunities elsewhere. Patients have been coming in all the 
way from Khiva, Samarcand and Bokhara ; and, curiously 
enough, even the Bokharan villagers of Bosagha and Karki 
send us their sick instead of going to the Eussians, who are 
encamped in their midst. Dr Owen has certainly been un- 
lucky in never having had the chance during the past year of 
camping in the neighbourhood of or in any large town for 
more than a day at a time ; but, considering the wilderness 
that he has lived in, his show of work is decidedly encourag- 
ing, and it is to be hoped that the Amir will appreciate the 
work that has been done, and which has been the means of 
alleviating so much sickness and suffering among the people 
on his northern frontier. 



286 



CHAPTEK XXI. 

COSSACK AND SEPOY. 

CAMP SHADIAN, 12th September 1886. 

Now that we expect to be shortly saying good-bye to the 
Eussian Commission, it is time that I should send a few 
notes regarding the Eussian troops, so far as we have been 
able to see and judge of them from the escort with the 
Eussian Commissioner. Beyond that our experience is nil; 
but, taking the squadron of Cossacks and the small party of 
some five-and-twenty infantry as average specimens of their 
service, we have still been able to draw some few compari- 
sons between them and our own troops more especially our 
Indian native troops. 

The dress of the Eussian officers of all branches of the 
service that we have seen is of the same pattern the 
flat -topped cap, a short frock-coat, double-breasted and 
buttoning up across the throat in front, with a double row 
of white silver buttons stamped with the Eussian arms, 
and loose pantaloons and top-boots. The pattern is the 
same for all, the colour of the cloth alone marking the 
difference in the services ; as, for instance, the cavalry is 
blue, the infantry 'is dark - green or black, &c. There 
is no such thing as an undress coat or patrol jacket 
with the Eussian s, as with us. The one frock-coat does 
duty for both, the only difference being that medals are worn 
in full dress and not in undress. In summer the officers 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 287 

wear a white cover to their cap and white or drab-coloured 
frock-coats, just of the same shape as their winter uniform. 
I have seen nothing with the Eussians corresponding to our 
serge or khaki uniform, though I must confess I should be 
sorry to recommend our pattern. Why our military author- 
ities should have selected such a short tight khaki serge 
coat as the one they have, with only two pockets, for our 
service coat, I cannot think, when they might have selected 
some nice easy jacket, such as the Beresford for instance, 
with four good pockets, and fitting loosely but equally well. 
It seems to have been forgotten that a man on service is 
not always buckled up in his belts. Again, look at the cut 
of our men's trousers. The Eussian trousers, I notice, are 
always cut particularly wide and loose round both hips and 
thighs ; yet how often do we see Thomas Atkins toiling along 
in a pair of trousers as tight as possible round the hips and 
thighs, and loose and flappy over the boots ! When we go 
out shooting we take good care to have a pair of free and 
loosely made knickerbockers, or, at any rate, our trousers cut 
wide and easy, so as to give full play to the legs ; and why 
should we not do the same for our men ? 

The rank of the Eussian officer, as with us, is distinguished 
by the shoulder-straps, but instead of the simple badges that 
we wear, the Eussian officers have a huge broad flat stiff 
lace-strap, some six inches in length by three in breadth, 
passing from the collar well over the shoulder, and remov- 
able at will. This strap has one narrow red stripe, perhaps 
a quarter of an inch in breadth, down the centre in the case 
of subalterns and captains, and two stripes for lieutenant- 
colonels and colonels. There is no rank of major in the 
Eussian army. A subaltern has three little gold stars 
round the stripe, and the captain has none. Similarly the 
lieutenant-colonel has three little gold stars round his two 
stripes, and the colonel has none. The whole army has the 
red stripe except the staff, who wear a black stripe. Other 



288 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

departments have different colours. The topographers, for 
instance, have a blue stripe, the telegraphists a yellow 
stripe, and so on. The sword-belt, made of a narrow silver- 
lace-covered strap, is worn over the right shoulder, and the 
scabbard seems to hang easily and comfortably down the 
left side, and to be as much as possible out of the way. 
The sword is always worn back to the front, not like ours 
with the edge to the front. 

The Cossack dress for officers is of the same cut as that 
of the men, though of finer material, and the pattern 
seems certainly to have the merit of simplicity ; for, as one 
Eussian officer laughingly told me, with shoulder-straps and 
with decorations it is full dress with shoulder-straps but 
without decorations it is undress and without either 
shoulder-straps or decorations it is night-dress. Think of 
that, ye native cavalry, with your dozen different combina- 
tions of dress ! 

If we are to judge of the number of decorations current 
amongst the Eussian army by what we see here, they must 
indeed be a well-decorated body of men. Hardly one of the 
officers here has not three or four decorations of sorts. What 
they are for I don't know, but they mostly consist of light 
white and red enamelled sort of Maltese crosses, generally 
intermixed with crossed swords or gold filigree work. The 
Turkish war medal, which several wear, is handsome a 
small thin gold medal, with a device on it of a cross above 
the crescent. The ribbons, too, instead of being worn straight 
as ours, are worn crossways through a ring, and we all cer- 
tainly look very insignificant in the way of crosses and 
ribbons when confronted by our Eussian confreres in all the 
glory of full dress. The Eussians have no miniature medals, 
nor is it customary for them to wear the ribbon in undress 
as with us. The only decorations worn in undress are those 
for valour, and they are, I believe, always worn, and very 
rightly too. No Eussian officer is allowed to wear mufti, 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 289 

and is always in uniform, unless, indeed, he may be travel- 
ling abroad on leave. Then, and then only, is he allowed 
to appear in plain clothes. 

The Cossack dress, apparently the ordinary everyday 
national costume, consists of a loose short shirt with a waist- 
coat, or rather a sort of jacket with short skirts, fastening 
with hooks up to the throat, and loose baggy trousers tucked 
into a pair of top-boots. Over this is the coat, open at 
the neck, showing the jacket beneath, and hooked in front 
down to the waist, with long flowing skirts, reaching down 
below the calves of the legs. A narrow leather belt is 
worn round the waist, from which is suspended the knife in 
front and little ornaments at the side, with a revolver in 
addition in the case of the officers. The sword-belt, also a 
narrow leather strap, is worn over the right shoulder, the 
sword hanging by a couple of slings, back to the front, down 
the left side. Almost the whole of the hilt of the sword 
fits inside the scabbard, and nothing but the tip of the hilt 
is visible. The coats, of whatever material, or however many 
may be worn, are all of one shape and fit one over the other. 
In cold weather a postin or sheepskin coat of the same 
shape is worn on the top of all again. 

The head-dress is a round lambskin fur cap without any 
peak or shape, and with a different -coloured cloth top, 
according to the regiment. This is the ordinary everyday 
dress of all Cossacks from the Caucasus. 

The men have only one suit of uniform, consisting of a 
long black-cloth coat, with red facings and shoulder-straps in 
the case of the men of the 1st Eegiment of Tomanski Cossacks 
here with us, and a thin red undercoat, fastening up to the 
throat.; but this is never worn except on special occasions, 
and, so far as I have seen, every man wears, as a rule, his own 
private clothes, all cut in the same shape, but of whatever 
colour or material he likes best, the prevailing colour being 
dark brown, and the material the common Eussian cotton 

T 



290 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

cloth to be found in all the bazaars in these parts. The 
non-commissioned officers have no distinguishing stripes on 
the arm like ours, simply a small band of gold lace across 
the shoulder-straps. All ranks, both officers and men, have 
a row of sham cartridge-cases across each breast. These are 
worn as ornaments in peace time, and are replaced by ball- 
cartridges in time of war. 

Service of course is compulsory, and each man serves for 
his four years, practically speaking, without pay. His pony is 
his own property in many cases, I fancy, bred by himself 
and a hardier, stronger little animal it is impossible to con- 
ceive. Accustomed, I suppose, to roam about and pick up 
what it can all its life, it is the very beau-ideal of an animal 
for military service. In the coldest weather, with the ther- 
mometer at zero, it requires no clothing, but stands in the 
open, protected by nothing but its own shaggy coat. The 
ponies are all geldings, and are particularly quiet and trac- 
table. At the end of a march they are all simply hobbled 
and turned loose, and allowed to graze where they like till 
dark, when they are brought in, and, instead of being 
tethered in lines like our cavalry horses, their heads are 
simply tied to a rope stretched between two pegs in the 
ground, as close together in double rows as the animals can 
well stand, and consequently the squadrons are accommodated 
in the smallest possible space. Each pony carries a head- 
stall and rope and a pair of hobbles, and is ridden with a 
snaffle-bridle of the simplest and roughest description. The 
saddle, like everything else, with the exception of his Berdan 
rifle, belongs to the Cossack, and is made apparently accord- 
ing to his own particular fancy. There is no such thing as 
any fixed regimental pattern in saddles, or in anything else. 
As a rule, the saddle is very narrow, hardly more than 1 2 or 
14 inches from back to front, with two high flat wooden 
knobs forming the pommel and cantle, sitting very high, 
some three or four inches, off the pony's back, and with a 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 291 

seat composed apparently of a couple of stuffed leather 
cushions, one on either side, tied down by a leather surcingle. 
The saddle has two girths, narrow leather straps, one at the 
pommel and the other at the cantle, the surcingle being- 
buckled round between the two. In one officer's saddle I 
noticed that the stirrup-leathers were tied down by the sur- 
cingle in such a manner that the stirrups had only three or 
four inches play, but I never noticed this in the case of the 
men. 

Cossacks all ride well forward, with their heels as a rule 
tucked up under their ponies' ribs. They wear no spurs, 
and there is nothing for their knees to grip hold of. Their 
seat apparently seems to rest entirely on balance, and the 
power of managing their ponies on the use of their whips, 
combined with hard tugging at their bridles. Every man 
carries a whip, consisting of a short wooden handle about 
a foot long with a leather lash varying from one to two feet 
in length, with which, like the Turkoman, he belabours his 
pony on the slightest provocation. 

Altogether, so far as I have seen, I should say the 
Cossacks' saddlery and accoutrements generally are of the 
roughest and most inferior description, and are by no means 
calculated to stand the wear and tear of a long campaign. 
The men, when left to themselves, seem by no means care- 
ful, and a large percentage of their ponies, despite the shape 
of the saddle-tree, are continually suffering from sore backs. 

The Cossack drill I have never seen, so I can give no 
opinion on that point, but I should imagine it to be slow 
and simple. The rifle is carried slung over the right 
shoulder in a long-haired black-felt cover, except when, as 
often as not, on the march the men tie it to their saddle 
lengthways along the pony's off- side, just under the cushion 
forming the seat, where it lies flat and out of the way under 
their right knee. Similarly, their swords are often carried 
rolled up in their round felt cloaks, of the Caucasian pattern 



292 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

called boorkas, which each man carries strapped on to the 
saddle behind him. The rifle ammunition is carried in a soft 
long flat pouch slung over the left shoulder and resting 
under the right arm. Each pony also carries a small kurzin 
or double carpet-bag, strapped on like a valise behind the 
saddle ; and this and the felt cloak is the only baggage they 
have. 

Cossacks on service are allowed no tents or bedding, or 
anything beyond what each man can carry on his pony, and 
this felt cloak is his tent, greatcoat, bedding, and everything 
combined. The Cossack dress seems certainly admirably 
suited for the climate and work for which the men require 
it. The long skirts to their coats keep their thighs warm 
and protect their legs from cold and wet, and the small fur 
cap answers every requirement for a cold climate, while 
here, in the present hot weather, they seem to get along 
very well in their thin cotton underclothing, or else in a 
long print cotton coat of the same cut as their warmer ones. 
The light waterproof felt of which their cloaks are made is 
certainly a capital material, and I cannot help thinking that 
the Indian Government might take a profitable lesson from 
the Kussians in the use of it. The Herat felts, for instance, 
are wonderfully close and good ; and instead of going to the 
enormous expense that we do on campaigns, in the issue, to 
every follower even, of a waterproof sheet, each one of which 
has, I believe, to be procured from England at a ruinous rate 
of exchange, a piece of felt served out to each would answer 
the purpose of keeping his bedding dry almost just as well, 
and be infinitely warmer and more comfortable for him to 
sleep upon. We have all seen what little store the native 
follower sets on his waterproof sheet, and how little he 
appreciates its advantages ; but give him a bit of felt to 
sleep upon, and see how tightly he will stick to it. Felts 
were served out to all our men and followers on this Mission 
during last winter with the happiest results, and I trust the 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 293 

experience thus gained here may not be thrown away. 
Another useful thing with which every Eussian soldier is 
provided is the Caucasian bashalik, which has now been 
adopted throughout the entire Eussian army. It consists 
of simply a peaked head -cover, fitting well over the cap 
and coming down on each side over the ears, with loose 
ends to wrap round the throat and chin. It is very light, 
weighing only a few ounces, and is a grand protection in 
cold or wet weather. The Eussian sentries always wore it 
in bad weather, both day and night. Both felts and ba- 
slicdiks could easily be manufactured in India at little cost, 
I should imagine, in comparison with waterproof sheets, 
and I feel pretty sure they would be much preferred for 
winter service in Afghanistan. The value of good Herat or 
Hazarah barak as warm clothing for troops in a climate 
like this I have already pointed out in a former letter, and 
I only hope that steps may be taken to increase the supply 
of it. Our men here are clothed in nothing else, and like it 
immensely. 

The Cossack commences his service at eighteen, and the 
first two years are spent at the headquarters of his regiment 
learning his drill. At twenty he is sent to join the 1st 
Eegiment of his corps wherever it may be, and serves with 
it till he is twenty-four. From the age of twenty-four to 
twenty-eight he serves with the 2d Eegiment, and from 
twenty-eight to thirty-two with the 3d Eegiment, after 
which he is free. The 1st Eegiment is always permanently 
embodied, and apparently, in the case of the Cossacks, is 
generally on service away from its own district. The 2d 
Eegiment of the corps is only embodied in the case of war 
or necessity, but the horses and men are all kept in readi- 
ness, and can be mobilised at any time within three days. 
The 3d Eegiment, composed of men between the ages of 
twenty-eight and thirty-two, does not, I believe, keep up its 
horses. The discipline of the Cossacks, I fancy, is of the 



294 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

strictest, and the punishments severe. No body of men 
could be more respectful, as a rule, in their behaviour to 
their officers, not only to their own officers but to every 
Eussian officer, whether combatant or non-combatant ; and 
a non-commissioned officer or soldier, when addressed by 
any officer, invariably stands with his hand to his forehead 
at the salute as long as the officer is addressing him. Al- 
though, to our eyes, the absence of uniformity and the 
slovenly and untidy and often dirty appearance in their 
dress give the Cossacks outwardly a wild and irregular look, 
still, in the matter of interior economy and material disci- 
pline, they are, I fancy, equal to, if not stricter than, our own 
regiments. We pay great attention to uniformity, smart- 
ness, and the cleanliness of our saddlery and equipment; 
whereas the Eussian officer, judging by the Cossacks, would 
seem to have no eyes scarcely for anything of the sort, 
but to be extra strict in the discipline and management of 
his men. 

The Eussian officers were much surprised, I believe, at 
the regularity of our native troops forming the escort of the 
Mission, and their steadiness on parade. They seemed to 
have an idea that all our Indian regiments were irregular, 
and their drill, therefore, as loose and slovenly as their own 
irregulars. The size of our men, too, greatly struck them. 
The Sikhs and Pathans of the llth Bengal Lancers, mounted 
as they are on such fine strong horses, looked huge beside 
the small Cossacks on their ponies ; while the Pathans and 
Afridis of the 20th Panjabis towered head and shoulders 
over the little Eussian infantry. The only men of the lat- 
ter that we have seen are the five-and-twenty men with the 
Eussian Commission, belonging to a local Trans-Caspian 
rifle battalion. These men, though, I should say, are good 
specimens of their class, as these local battalions, raised for 
permanent service in Central Asia where there is no Eussian 
population, have no particular districts to recruit from, and 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 295 

are composed of men from all parts of the Russian empire. 
I was surprised to find even Mussulmans in their ranks. 
Captain Komaroff's servant was a Tartar from Kazan on the 
Volga, rejoicing in the familiar name of Abdul ; yet he lived 
with and was dressed just the same as the rest, his skin was 
as fair and his hair just as light coloured, and looking at 
him casually, I should never have noticed the least differ- 
ence between him and the pure -bred Eussian soldiers. 
Turki, though, was his native tongue, and he came under 
notice from the fact that he was always brought forward to 
interpret between his master and the Turkomans. I even 
heard an amusing account of his being the medium of com- 
munication at a visit his master paid to the governor of 
Herat. Captain Komaroff said what he wished to say to 
Abdul in Eussian, Abdul translated it into Turki to a 
Turkoman, the Turkoman repeated it to a Jamshidi, and the 
latter finally conveyed it in Persian to the governor ; and so 
on all the way back again. Yet it is only a few years, I 
believe, since these same Tartars rebelled when conscription 
was brought into force amongst them, and refused to per- 
form the required military service. The Eussian Govern- 
ment simply ordered a money payment to be levied instead, 
and after a few years the Tartars soon got tired of paying, 
and a few decorations judiciously distributed amongst the 
headmen finally removed all opposition, and now the Tartar 
puts in his service just the same as everybody else. Ap- 
parently they live, cook, and feed with the Eussians, and to 
all practical intents and purposes are now Eussians in all 
but name. The same thing is being repeated, I believe, 
with the Circassians and the Lesghins and other Muham- 
madans of the Caucasus at the present day. The conscrip- 
tion has only lately been put in force amongst them, and 
just now they are going through the money - payment 
stage ; but before long that will probably be brought to an 
end, and they will be finally welded into Eussian regulars 



296 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

just like the Tartars. The Caucasian Muhammadans, how- 
ever, seem to be just as much Europeans as the Russians 
themselves, and consequently there is only the difference 
of religion to contend against, no diversity of race. The 
Caucasians are mostly fine -looking men, but the Eussian 
soldiers, I must say, of whatever class that we have seen, 
are certainly very small men ; and if those native editors 
who are so fond of dilating on the size and ferocity of the 
Russian soldier only interview the sowars and sepoys of our 
escort on their return, they will soon find out how little the 
latter think of them. 

We have had no opportunity of testing it by practice, but 
I believe that our native troops are infinitely superior to the 
Russians in all feats of strength and agility, and without the 
least doubt all our men here consider themselves to be so, 
and look down on the Russian attempts at prowess with the 
greatest contempt. They all say that whenever they have 
tried the Russians at anything in their own camp they could 
always beat them, and though I have often seen the Rus- 
sians standing round and watching our men practising, jump- 
ing, or putting the stone, or anything of that sort in our 
camp, I have never seen one of them attempt to join in. 
As to the Cossack jigitoffka (or mounted sports), our sowars 
have the meanest opinion of it. 

The Russian infantryman is dressed in a dark -green 
jacket reaching down to the hips, and trousers of the same 
material tucked into a pair of top-boots, with the usual low, 
flat-topped, round-peaked cap to match. In the summer 
they wear a white cover to their cap, and a red cotton 
blouse, worn with a small black belt round the waist, mak- 
ing them look for all the world, as I heard it described, like 
the London Shoeblack Brigade. 

The Russian boot I do not like. Our ammunition boots, 
with gaiters or puttees, seem infinitely preferable; and it stands 
to reason that a long top-boot, more especially with the tops 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 297 

loose and wrinkled, cannot be a good boot to march in. It 
is the national boot, however, and worn from infancy. 

Never having seen the infantry on parade, I can say little 
or nothing about their drill or equipment. As far as I 
know, they have been employed on this Mission almost solely 
as officers' servants, and I always saw them putting up and 
taking down the kibitkas, loading the camels, and doing the 
general fatigue-duty of the camp. The only time I ever 
saw one on duty was as sentry over some commissariat 
stores, and the small size of the man in comparison with his 
rifle was then particularly striking. When standing with 
his rifle at the " order," the muzzle was well above his 
shoulder, and the bayonet above that again made him look 
smaller than ever. I never saw a Cossack sentry carrying 
a rifle always a drawn sword, though once I saw one 
carrying two rifles slung down the left side, in addition to 
his drawn sword, possibly as a punishment. 

The Cossack himself is a cheery, hardy little fellow, and 
I cannot imagine better material for an irregular soldier. 
They are all great singers, especially in chorus, and every 
squadron has its special chorus, whose duty it is to inspire 
the rest, and admittance to which is a post of honour. The 
men, as a body, I should say are religious, and they are 
always very particular about crossing themselves both before 
eating and at prayers. The Lord's Prayer and the evening 
hymn are regularly sung by the squadron chorus at retreat 
every day, and sound particularly well on a still evening. 

The more one sees of the Cossacks, the more I think is 
one inclined to wonder what part they are destined to play 
in action. Mounted on ponies, sturdy though they are, still 
too small to meet regular cavalry in the open, and armed 
with light swords without any guard to the hilt whatever, 
they can hardly, one would think, be classed or utilised as 
regular cavalry, while their want of a bayonet and dress 
generally seems equally to unfit them for use as mounted 



298 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

infantry. There is nothing for it, therefore, but to class 
them as irregulars pure and simple. One great difference I 
noticed between them and our men is the freedom the Cos- 
sack enjoys in the use of his horse and his arms. The 
horse, or rather pony, is certainly the Cossack's own pro- 
perty, but so it is in the case of our own sowars, unless, 
indeed, the horses may be called regimental property ; but 
whether or no, our men rarely or never take their horses out 
except for duty and parade, and to fire off their carbine is 
looked upon as a terrible thing nothing less than trial by 
court-martial, in fact, for making away with Government 
ammunition. I remember when out in the chul, not long 
ago, my Sikh orderly came running up to tell me that he 
had just passed a whole sounder of wild pig. " Why did 
you not shoot one ? " said I. " Oh, I did not dare to use 
my Government ammunition," said he. " I should be court- 
martialled if I did ! " Here, no sooner do the Cossacks spy 
a sounder of wild pig, than off they go in full chase, firing 
freely at them both from horseback and on foot ; and I 
know a Cossack who succeeded in killing three pigeons at 
one shot with his rifle. All this tends to make the men 
good shots and good riders, and to accustom them to the use 
of their arms ; and why should our Sikhs, who love a wild 
pig just as dearly, be debarred from similar use and enjoy- 
ment of their horses and the arms in their hands ? Of 
course, up here our supply of ammunition is limited ; but 
still, when practicable, the example of the Cossacks, one 
would think, might be followed with advantage. 

Russian officers, again, out shooting not that many of 
them apparently do shoot, but still those that do have no 
one but their own men with them ; and why should we not 
follow the same plan ? Why should an officer in India be 
dependent on coolies when he has his whole troop or com- 
pany at his back ? What better opportunity is there for 
the officer to get to know his men, or the men their officer, 






COSSACK AND SEPOY. 299 

than away from barracks, and out in the freedom of the 
jungle ; and why should not the men be encouraged to volun- 
teer for such trips ? There is no rule against it that I know 
of, but still it is rarely the custom. 

To draw actual comparisons between our Indian cavalry 
and the Cossack is a difficult matter, they are so utterly 
dissimilar. The Cossack is an irregular, a scout, a forager, 
and an outpost man, rough and ready for any contingency, 
but he is a conscript who can be ordered about anywhere. 
The sowar, though theoretically an irregular, has been gradu- 
ally worked up into the most regular of regulars, but, withal, 
is a volunteer, and to be treated accordingly. There, of 
course, lies the difference. The Cossacks are numerous, they 
can be ordered out in almost any number, and put to any 
sort of work, and freely expended in war. The sowar, on 
the contrary, enlists voluntarily, and belongs, as a rule, to a 
class unaccustomed to menial labour, and would not enlist if 
put to such labour. Moreover, their numbers are too small, 
and their losses too difficult to replace, to allow of their 
being expended like the Cossacks, or of their being frittered 
away on lines of communication and other such duties ; and for 
the latter work, I must say, we sadly want the counterpart 
of the Cossack. The Cossacks do everything, from carrying 
ddJcs and parcels, to survey or any other work. We here 
hire Turkoman and Afghan sowars to carry our ddks, and 
send out coolies to put up survey-marks, never making use 
of our fighting men for any such purpose. No sooner, how- 
ever, does a Eussian topographer set to work than he sends 
out his Cossacks in different directions, and they go on in 
front of him putting up marks on different hills for days to- 
gether ; and when he has to send in a letter to headquarters, 
he sends it by the hand of one of his own men, and never 
dreams of hiring a Turkoman or any other man to take it. 

One instance I may mention of how the Cossacks are 
worked occurred in the winter, when Colonel Kuhlberg 



300 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

sent us up a box of felt-lined Russian boots from Maruchak 
to Chahar Shamba, a distance of 55 miles. This box was 
big enough and heavy enough to require two men to carry 
it, yet a couple of Cossacks brought it all the way through, 
and thought nothing of it. They slung the box on a pole 
and 'carried it between them, each man resting one end of 
the pole on the saddle in front of him. What would have 
been the difference in numbers, supposing that an escort of 
two of our sowars had been required to take some similar 
box down from us to the Russian camp ? First, the two 
sowars would have required a syce and a pony for horse-gear ; 
next, a muleteer and a mule for their baggage, bedding, and 
tent, and another for the box. Total two sowars, two 
followers, two horses, one pony, and two mules, all to do the 
work done by a couple of Cossacks and a couple of ponies 
as a matter of course. 

Again, look at the Russian topographers. They are sent 
out with an escort of a dozen or fifteen Cossacks each, who 
do everything for them. One Cossack is the topographer's 
private servant. Four more carry his plane-table, stand, and 
instruments, and do all our Indian khalassi's work, such as 
the putting up of survey-marks, &c. The topographer has 
one canvas tent, and the Cossacks another, though that is a 
luxury not allowed them on service, whatever may be the 
weather. Total one officer, fifteen men, sixteen ponies, two 
tents, and, say, one camel-man and four or five camels to 
carry the officers' baggage, supplies, &c., though the camel- 
man is not a necessity, as in one case I know the topo- 
grapher had his private camels, and the Cossacks looked after 
them as part of their duty. 

A Russian topographer must of course be compared as 
regards equipment with an English topographer, of whom 
we had none with us on the Mission. A survey officer 
doing triangulation in addition, necessarily requires more 
extensive equipment, and consequently comparisons between 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 301 

him and a Eussian topographer hardly hold good. Still, 
supposing one of our survey officers to be sent out with 
a native cavalry escort of similar strength to the Eussians, 
what a different party he would have ! The escort alone 
would number fifteen sowars, eight saises, fifteen horses, 
eight ponies, four tents, and ten baggage-mules with three 
muleteers, or twenty-six men and thirty-four animals against 
the Kussian fifteen men and sixteen animals, without counting 
the survey, followers, or private servants, &c. 

The Cossack, so Russian officers tell me, prides himself 
upon his power of endurance. The Cossack pony, they say, 
has no speed, but is trained to endurance. Yet, if there is 
one thing more than another at which our Indian cavalry 
ought to and do excel in, it is in the power of endurance 
to do long marches, and I feel confident that when the time 
comes they will excel the Cossacks in this just as much as 
in everything else. 

The men of our escort are now so accustomed to long 
marches, that 20 miles is thought nothing of by the sepoys 
even ; and as to the sowars, they would think no more of 
double that distance now, than, I believe, a inarch of 20 
miles would be thought of in India, 

All the men on this frontier, I notice men accustomed, 
as a rule, to ride from morning to night always have a 
cord attached to their horse's headstall, sometimes aided by a 
small running chain noseband, sometimes without, but always 
with a small iron peg at the end of it. This cord on the 
march is looped up, and the iron peg is hung over the 
pommel of the saddle. Whenever they stop to rest, or 
drink tea, or chat, or anything else, they simply drive the 
iron peg into the ground with the heel of their boot or any- 
thing else that comes handy, and the horse is then left to graze 
quietly, while the man rests himself at his ease. Indian 
cavalry have the cord, but no iron peg at the end of it ; and 
consequently, when they halt on the march in a treeless 



302 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

country like this, where there is seldom anything to tie the 
horses up to, they have to sit and hold their horses, and 
thus lose half the benefits of the rest they would otherwise 
enjoy unless, indeed, they make use of the picketing pegs 
carried in marching order, but that is hardly worth while 
for a simple halt. 

There are many good points to be found amongst these 
frontier men up here, and if ever we wish to raise the 
counterpart of the Cossacks, what a capital selection we 
might have amongst them ! good men, inured from their 
youth to ride long distances, and just as handy and as hardy 
as the Cossacks themselves. Our service is already most 
popular all along the frontier, as is evidenced by the ready 
manner in which even the Panjdeh Turkomans come forward 
for engagement in our postal line ; and were the men to be 
allowed to bring their own horses and saddlery, and to wear 
their own style of dress, a regiment might be raised up here 
in no time, ready to take the field at a moment's notice, 
without a single follower or baggage-animal and right good 
men they would be too. 

We have already no less than 176 Turkoman sowars and 
36 Persians in our service, employed in the carriage of 
the mails from here to Mashhad, a distance of 740 miles. 
The Turkomans are posted along the line from here to 
Zulfikar, 630 miles in length, and the Persians take the 
remaining 110 miles from Zulfikar to Mashhad. 

These Turkomans, with their felt numdahs and their 
kurzins at the back of their saddles, are independent of all 
transport, and quite used to forage for themselves. What a 
capital squadron of irregulars they would make ! but then 
they would have to be localised on the frontier. Transfer 
to India would ruin them. In fact, they would be almost 
as thoroughly spoilt there, as a corps of the sort raised in 
India would be out of place here. I have oftened won- 
dered that the military authorities, when raising new 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 303 

cavalry regiments last year, did not try to include in their 
programme the raising of some local corps of this sort on 
the Baluchistan frontier. But it is not the raising of one, 
but of many such corps that we require. 

The Afghans, I am sorry to say, are just as surprised as 
the Eussians at the smallness of our army. An Afghan 
general only the other day asked me, " Why don't you keep 
a larger army ? Look at the Eussians," he said ; " they have 
no money, but they have lots of men. You have lots of 
money, but no men. Why don't 3 r ou get more ? We are 
all ready to fight with you, side by side," he added, and I 
believe he was sincere in saying so ; but still he shook his 
head over the small number of our men. The Eussians 
cannot understand how we hold India at all with the 
force that we do, much less how we can spare a man to send 
out of it. It takes 90,000 of their men to hold the Caucasus, 
and yet they find us holding the whole of India with little 
more than double that number, and expecting to meet them 
in the field as well at no very distant date ! 

If, instead of wasting the money that we do in palatial 
barracks, high education, civil officers' tents, grand dispen- 
saries, ornamental kutcherries, and suchlike luxuries, we 
were to content ourselves with a more moderate standard, 
and to spend the balance in extra battalions or a good 
reserve, how much better off we should be ! However, to 
return to our Cossacks. 

Not long ago, when out with a couple of Eussian officers, 
we had occasion to cross the Murghab, then in high flood, 
and I was struck at the little the Cossacks seemed to think 
of swimming a river, though whether a larger proportion of 
them can swim well than of our men, I am doubtful. I 
arrived first at the banks, and getting some Jamshidis to 
help me, rigged up a raft of inflated, goat-skins, and crossed 
my men and kit over. Next morning the Eussians arrived. 
They declined all help from the Jamshidis, and said they had 



304 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

men enough themselves. The Cossacks, however, did not 
seem to get easily into the knack of managing the raft, and 
very soon broke all their ropes by trying to haul against the 
current, and did not get the last of their kit over till night- 
fall, and then only by the help of our postal ddk ropes, over 
which I and my sowars passed their light things, such as 
rifles, swords, and saddles, &c. The three sowars I had with 
me worked with a will, and helped the Cossacks right well 
throughout the day. When it came to swimming the horses 
over, though, the Cossacks had the best of it, as they got all 
theirs over without help, which was more than we did. Of 
my three sowars only one could swim, a young Sikh, and I 
will say he took his horse across in capital style. Our other 
horses, though, had all to be swum across by the Jamshidis, 
who took them over one by one. The Cossacks adopted a 
different plan, the result of the way their ponies are trained 
always to keep together. The banks were steep, and it was 
necessary to enter the river high up, and to swim down for 
some 200 yards before the horses could get out on the 
opposite bank. At first the leading Cossack tried it alone, 
swimming by the side of his horse, but the current over- 
powered him, and the horse broke loose about half-way 
across, and made back for the bank whence it came, and 
eventually got out some way clown the river, and returned 
and rejoined its companions. 

The Cossack, nothing daunted, swam back again, and after 
consultation with his men, I saw them all take off their 
cotton trousers and shirts, the only things they had left on, 
wind them round their heads, and prepare for a general start. 
Three men went ahead, each mounted on his pony bare- 
backed, and without bridles only a halter. Having gained 
wisdom from their leader's first attempt, they stuck to their 
ponies and rode them all the way across this time, instead 
of trying to swim alongside. The remaining five or six men 
brought in the other ponies behind these three, but as soon 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 305 

as they got well into the river they slipped off, and drove 
the ponies before them into the deep water ; and once 
started, the ponies, all of their own accord, followed the 
leaders, and swam across all right. It was an amusing sight 
to see the three men, very much in a state of nature, canter- 
ing back across country to the camp nearly a mile away, 
followed by a dozen or more riderless ponies, the other men 
having gone back to cross by the raft. 

Talking of swimming a river, I remember an anecdote 
told me by one of my Turkoman guides. He, with a party 
of his friends, had been out on a raid across the Oxus into 
Bokhara territory, and had captured a lot of camels, either 
double - humped or long - haired, I forget now which, but 
exceptionally valuable. They drove them all right down 
to the banks of the Oxus, and were just congratulating 
themselves on getting them away when the pursuers ap- 
peared. Behind them, as my guide said, were the gleaming 
swords and certain death ; in front of them the vast river, 
with almost equally certain death. However, there was 
nothing for it but to chance it, and plunging in just as they 
were, they swam for their lives. All escaped, he said, but 
three, and those three sank with their horses and were never 
seen again. The cause was, he presumed, that the horses 
caught their feet in the stirrups the only reason he could 
think of to account for their going down so suddenly. 
Whether this is possible or not, I do not know. 

If ever our cavalry have to swim the Oxus, they will find 
a capital example ready to hand in the ferry-boats at Kilif 
and elsewhere. I have already described the manner in 
which these ferry-boats are towed across the river by one or 
two pairs of horses ; and once our men have seen how easily 
it is done, I fancy they will jump at the idea, and, given the 
possession of one of these boats, they will soon learn to 
utilise their horses in towing it across, while they themselves, 
with their baggage and saddlery, are all accommodated inside. 

u 



306 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

With reference to the respective service equipment and 
establishments, one great advantage which the Eussian has 
over the Indian army is the absence of followers. In the 
Eussian camp here there is not a single follower that I know 
of, unless, indeed, it be the Mission cook. The waiters, the 
servants, and all are soldiers. 

In the Cossack squadron there is no one but fighting-men. 
What a contrast to our squadron of Bengal cavalry, with 
its saises, and bheesties, and sweepers, and servants of all kinds 
and degrees ! Why should our sowars' horses require a 
grass-cutter and a pony to feed them any more than the 
Cossacks' ? Why should not our horses be rationed on ser- 
vice as well as the Cossacks' ? As a matter of fact, the 
rations of the Cossack ponies here are better, both in quality 
and quantity, than those of native cavalry horses. 

The Eussians are intensely amazed at the idea of our 
sowars all having their servants, as they call it ; and although 
there is only one sais between every two sowars, still I have 
heard that, when all the followers of a native cavalry regi- 
ment are totalled up, even on Kabul scale, they are not far 
short of one for every fighting-man ; and the Eussian idea, 
therefore, that each man has his own servant, is not so very 
far wrong. There are comparatively few places in Afghan- 
istan where the grass-cutter can find any grass to cut ; and 
of the two years that we have been in the country now, I 
don't suppose our grass-cutters have been of any use in the 
way of procuring fodder for their horses for half that time, 
and I have little doubt that it would have been much cheaper 
for Government to have rationed the horses throughout, and 
to have left the grass-cutters and ponies in India. Not that 
I would abolish the grass-cutter, or his pony either: I 
think that Government ought to be only too glad that such 
a nucleus of trained transport men and followers is kept up 
for them in peace-time, ready for immediate use in case of 
war. But, considering the barren nature of many parts of 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 307 

Afghanistan, and with reference specially to service in that 
country, to the frequency with which native cavalry have to 
be dependent on the commissariat for their fodder when on 
service there, and to the length of time that both grass- 
cutter and pony have consequently often to be fed for doing 
little or nothing, I cannot help thinking that it would be 
easier in the long-run for the commissariat to undertake the 
feeding of the horses, and to relegate the grass-cutter and 
pony to transport duty. It is the case that in India the 
whole carriage of a native cavalry regiment is often fur- 
nished by these ponies and their grass-cutters ; but that does 
not apply to Afghanistan, where the winter climate necessi- 
tates a much larger scale of bedding, clothing, and tentage. 
Moreover, this pony - carriage includes neither shops nor 
ammunition. To keep one man for every pony is excessive, 
too, for transport duties, even supposing the carriage to be 
sufficient. I see no reason, though, why some arrangement 
should not be come to, so that, on the outbreak of war, the 
grass-cutters and ponies of each cavalry regiment ordered 
on service to Afghanistan should be at once available for 
transport purposes, with their own regiment. Each grass- 
cutter would only have to be supplied with two extra ponies 
or mules, and the regiment would be completely equipped 
at once, shops and ammunition included, the grass-cutters 
being taken on for the campaign as public drivers instead 
of remaining as private servants. 

As to other followers, Iheesties are surely a luxury unneces- 
sary on service ; and if any men in the world ought to be 
able to cook their own food, Hindustanis ought, from what- 
ever part of India they may have come from. 

The Eussian officer, even with us here on a commission 
of peace, has only his soldier-servant to look to, while most 
of us have four or five native servants of sorts. This num- 
ber, of course, is cut down on service ; but I well remember, 
during the Afghan campaign, that officers who lost their 



308 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

native servants were usually able to get a man from their 
regiments quite willing and able to wait upon them, and 
do for them generally, just as well as the regular servant 
whom they replaced ; and I see no reason why the system 
should not be more frequently adopted when practicable, 
and an officer in a native regiment be allowed a servant 
from amongst his men when the man is willing to serve. 
Every step tending to reduce the fearful number of followers 
on service must be a step in the right direction. How 
can we hope to compete on even terms with the Eussians, 
in a barren country like Afghanistan for instance, when 
every army-corps of 25,000 men we put in the field, means 
25,000 followers in addition, who have all to be equally 
fed and clothed, and also protected ? Our native troops, 
I feel sure, would willingly go on service without their 
usual number of followers were Government only to give 
them an inducement to do so, in the shape of increased field 
allowances. I see lots of recommendations in the papers 
for increasing the sepoy's pay, but surely the first thing we 
require to get sanctioned is not so much increase of pay in 
peace-time, but extra inducement to go 011 service in case of 
war. The present system of granting latta and donations, 
one cannot help thinking, is a bad one, being uncertain in 
its amount, and rewarding all alike, whether they have been 
simply a day across the frontier, or whether they have borne 
the heat and burden of the day throughout a long campaign. 
It tells equally unfairly on officers and men. The medal- 
hunter, up for ten days, and the man who serves throughout, 
get the same money reward. Then, again, the satisfaction 
caused by the grant of latta is in a great measure marred 
by the irritation caused by stoppages for rations and other 
suchlike inconsiderate retrenchments. 

Take the native cavalry, for instance, and see how un- 
fairly the stoppages for horse rations fall on the men, and 
what irritation these stoppages cause. Why cannot Govern- 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 309 

ment, instead of raising by some trifle the sowar's pay, say 
once and for all that free rations will be granted on service 
for both man and beast ? I can think of nothing better 
calculated to sharpen the sowar's desire to go on service 
than such an order ; and I know of nothing more calculated 
to deaden that desire than the present orders regarding 
stoppages, which leave the sowar, so far as I am aware, 
worse off on service than he is in cantonments. 

The Eussian army, I believe, has a regular scale of field 
allowances, and the officers and men here on duty with the 
Boundary Commission are now drawing, I am told, in some 
cases something like treble and quadruple the amount of 
their ordinary pay. This is possibly exceptional. Still the 
system of field allowances seems to be a good one, and one 
that we might adopt for our Indian army with advantage. 

The ordinary pay of a captain of Cossacks is, I have 
heard, 85 roubles a-month in Eussia, raised to 130 roubles 
when serving in Central Asia ; a rouble being equal to 2s. 
at the present rate of exchange. The Cossack soldier's pay 
is 27 roubles a-year, or 2J roubles a-month. Out of this 
by no means large amount, hardly sufficient for much more 
than tobacco one would think, the Cossack has to pay for 
his horse and equipments : if he does not bring his own 
pony, he is provided with one ; and the cost, which, I believe, 
varies from 25 to 50 roubles, takes up his first, and possibly 
his second year's pay, as the case may be. Then his sword 
costs 3 roubles more, and his saddlery something else, so 
that, altogether, I doubt if he even gets enough to buy his 
tobacco after all ; but then the Eussian theory is that every 
man is bound to give his service for his country free of pay. 
Eations, of course, are always provided by the Government. 
Then all Eussian soldiers, when on service, have the privi- 
lege of being entitled to draw their pay in gold instead of in 
paper directly they cross the frontier. Not that they are 
actually paid in gold, but they are paid in paper roubles at 



310 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the current rate of exchange with gold, and this nearly 
doubles their pay at a stroke. In addition to this, they 
have their field allowances. I don't quite know what these 
amount to, but the result is, I hear, that the Cossacks who 
are now with us on this Mission get 9 roubles a-month 
apiece instead of 2J, or exactly quadruple their ordinary 
pay, and this in addition to free rations for man and horse. 
If all ranks on service get extra pay at the same liberal 
rate, we can hardly wonder at the invariable anxiety of 
the Eussian army for war, and all the more reason that 
we should give our own men some similar inducement to 
be equally ready to meet them. 

Another point, apparently, in which the Eussian service 
differs much from ours, is in the strength of their hospital 
establishments. Here we have an establishment of forty-five 
men, with five dandies, thirteen mule kajavahs, and a Takht- 
i-Eawan with their muleteers ; while, so far as I know, the 
only sick-carriage possessed by the Eussian Commission is 
one stretcher carried on a camel, and a couple of pony-carts 
available for sick if required, with an establishment of per- 
haps three or four hospital apprentices. 

The number of our hospital establishment, too, has only 
been reduced to its present limit after considerable time and 
trouble. Something like nearly half the number of dooli- 
walas, with which the medical authorities wished to burden 
us, were sent back from Quetta before we started, and the 
balance was subsequently reduced again when the return 
party went back, their places being taken by Persian mule 
Jcajavahs. When we on a Boundary Commission find the 
excessive number of kaliars an unbearable nuisance, what 
must it be with an army in the field ? Why the medical 
authorities should continue to insist on the sole use of 
dandies for the carriage of the sick and wounded in a coun- 
try like Afghanistan I don't know, when I presume there 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 311 

can be no doubt that a large percentage of sick, at any rate 
almost all simple ordinary cases, can be carried just as well 
in light ambulance - carts or mule kajavahs. Surely the 
fifty mules or the twenty-five or thirty pony-carts necessary 
for the carriage of 100 ordinary sick, are more easily fed 
and protected, and take up less room on the line of march, 
than the 700 kahars and their 100 dandies, more especially 
when the kahars themselves are generally the first to fall 
sick, and to fill the dandies they come to carry. Every one 
who remembers what rear - guard work was like on Sir 
Frederick Eoberts's march from Kabul to Kandahar, will, 
I am sure, have a lively recollection of the dooliwala, and 
will have no wish for a larger percentage of them with him 
on another long march than is absolutely necessary. So far 
as I have seen of Afghanistan, I know of no impediment 
to the use of mule-panniers, or even of light ambulance- 
carts ; and certainly, so far as we on this Mission are con- 
cerned, we might have had the latter with us all the time, 
I believe. 

The ordinary small Indian mule is not, I know, big 
enough to carry two men, but Persian mules can carry two 
men with ease. Many Persian mules are too big even for 
artillery purposes, and why should not a certain number of 
these latter be kept up for ordinary transport work in peace- 
time, ready for hospital service in case of war? The number 
required would be nothing so very great, and could easily be 
procured. A large number, I believe, could be purchased 
in Mashhad alone, and I know of nothing to prevent them 
being marched down direct from there to Quetta, instead of 
being sent all the way round by sea. Nothing showed us 
the utility of mule -pannier sick -carriage more than the 
snowstorm that overtook Sir Peter Lumsden's party when 
crossing the Paropamisus in April 1885. Kahars and 
dandies were useless then, and had we been dependent on 



312 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

them, not a man could have been moved ; whereas, with the 
help of the Persian mule Jcajavahs and some Mosley crates 
over the ordinary pack-saddle, forty or fifty frost-bitten 
men were sent in from Chashma Sabz to the camp at 
Tirpul, a distance of 25 miles, two and two on a mule, in 
a single march, without the slightest trouble or mishap. 

The Kussian commissariat establishment, again, seems to 
be quite on a different footing from ours. Here, on this 
Mission, our commissariat numbers some thirty men after 
all reductions with the return party ; while that of the Kus- 
sian Mission is practically nothing at all but the officer, as 
everything with them is done by contract. The Eussians 
have neither butcheries nor bakeries. The troops apparently 
do the work of the former for themselves ; and as for the 
latter, they are content with the bread of the country. I 
have before once or twice mentioned the excellence of the 
country nan, and I can only say that I have myself lived 
on it for weeks at a time, and that I never had any 
desire for change. In fact, to my mind, good fresh nan 
is infinitely preferable to bad commissariat bread ; and 
bread baked hurriedly on the line of march is almost 
always bad. 

Our Indian commissariat might well follow the Eussian 
example in this case, I think ; and if, instead of burden- 
ing themselves on service in Afghanistan with those huge 
unwieldy iron ovens, they were to leave them and their con- 
voys of white Cawnpore Mills flour behind, and to content 
themselves with the ovens and the flour of the country, they 
would find their work much simplified ; and the men, I 
believe, would get, on the whole, better bread than they do at 
present. A fresh nan nicely warmed is capital eating, very 
different from the so-called commissariat brown bread ; and 
if the services of a few good Afghan and Persian bakers 
were only secured to teach the Indian bakers how to make 



COSSACK AND SEPOY. 313 

and use the ordinary country ovens made here in the ground, 
the necessity for carrying iron ovens would be done away 
with. These country ovens are to be found everywhere ; and 
were the commissariat to take up the baking of nan instead 
of bread, not only could all Mahomadans have their rations 
issued in baked nan instead of in atta should occasion arise, 
but I really believe the Europeans would prefer the nan to 
the bread. 



314 



CHAPTER XXII. 

THE DEPARTURE OF THE JOINT COMMISSIONS 

TASHKURGHAN AND HAIBAK. 

CAMP HAIBAK, 2Qth September 1886. 

I MENTIONED in my last letter that we at Shadian were 
expecting to march shortly for Haibak, but instead of 
marching straight across the hills as we had expected, we 
moved down to the plains on the 14th, and camped at a 
place called Ziarat-i-Ali Sher, just at the mouth of the 
Shadian gorge ; and after a few days' halt, while Sir West 
Eidgeway's party were marching up from Khamiab to 
Balkh, we marched on by the following route to Haibak : 

Miles. 

19. Gor-i-Mar, . . . . .12 

20. Naibabad, . . . . .11 

21. Tashkurghan, . . . . .13 

22. Gaznigak, . . . . .15 

23. Bad Asiah, ..... 11 

24. Haibak, ..... 14 

Total, . . 76 

Sir West Eidgeway, coming up behind us, arrived here at 
Haibak to-day, and we shall now all march on together. 

Gor-i-Mar is the most eastern village watered from the 
Balkhab river, and is divided by a low arid ridge from the 
Tashkurghan lands beyond. Our road from the mouth of 
the Shadian gorge cut across the plain three or four miles to 
the south of Mazar, and joined the highroad running parallel 



TASHKURGHAN AND HAIBAK. 315 

to the canal which waters Gor-i-Mar a little beyond it. 
The latter village, as its name lit., the Grave of the Snake 
implies, was the traditional scene of an encounter be- 
tween Ali and some huge fabulous serpent, in which, of 
course, the latter was vanquished. 

ISTaibabad is a little place, the houses of which are mostly 
quite new ; some twenty families and a few Khasadars and 
ddk sowars having been settled there to keep open com- 
munication along the highroad. A small rill of water has 
been brought down with some trouble from the hills ; and if 
the supply can only be maintained, it will be a great boon 
to travellers, who would otherwise have to do the 25 miles 
on to Tashkurghan at a stretch. The road here we found 
very uninteresting, the great rocky hills on our right rising- 
straight up some 4000 or 5000 feet above the plain, and 
on our left an uninhabited and uncultivated waste stretch- 
ing away towards the Oxus as far as the eye could reach. 
Even the tepes, or artificial mounds, marking the sites of 
former fortlets, which were so numerous between Mazar and 
Gor-i-Mar, here ceased, and there was nothing to break the 
monotony of this great level plain not even a tree or a 
bush. The undulations of the ridge between Gor-i-Mar and 
Naibabad in former times used to conceal many a raiding 
party, I was told, who at times rendered the road almost 
impassable ; but a couple of strong circular towers, with 
their garrison of Khasadars, have quite put a stop to all 
that, and highway robbery is now quite unknown. 

Tashkurghan is the great trade-mart of Afghan Turkistan, 
and about its most important place. Here the caravans 
from India on the one hand, and Bokhara on the other, all 
break bulk, and from here the merchandise is distributed 
all over the country. Nothing is obtainable at Mazar even, 
except through Tashkurghan. Approached from the west, 
the latter town appears to be nothing but a huge mass of 
gardens, composed of apricot and other trees, surrounded by 



316 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the usual mud-walls, and it looks double or treble the size 
of Mazar. As we passed along the southern side of the 
town, Sirdar Sher Ahmed Khan pointed out to me a new 
garden-house lately built as a guest and reception house, in 
which he was most comfortably lodged by the governor 
when on his way through to and from Badakshan. Our 
camping-ground just beyond was a confined stony waste, a 
mass of rocks and boulders. Last year, they told us, it was 
a fine level plain, but the town was overtaken in the spring 
by a great flood, which washed down from the hills right 
across this maidan and into and through the town, doing no 
end of damage a thing which had never been known to 
happen before, showing that the storms and floods we had 
to go through in the spring were as unusual here as in the 
Murghab valley. 

Just to the east of our camp lay the old fort of Tashkur- 
ghan, built on a rising ground, and with precipitous sides 
except to the west, where the buildings all down the 
slope of the hill are fully exposed to fire. The place is 
mostly in ruins, and I presume was originally built to guard 
against raiders issuing from the gorge in the hills just 
opposite ; but now the times have changed, and instead of 
guarding against raiders from the hills, we have to prepare 
to defend the hills against invaders from the plains ; and 
certainly a more wonderful gorge to defend I never saw. 
Looking south from our camp, there was nothing to be seen 
but high, rocky, and almost precipitous hills, rising some 
5000 or 6000 feet above the plain on either side of the 
gorge, with a great wall of rock running down between them, 
through which it seemed hardly possible that we should 
ever find our way. However, before describing the gorge, I 
must tell you of our visit to Khulm, the ruins of which lie 
between two and three miles to the north of Tashkurghan. 
Eiding out in the afternoon with Colonel Bax, Captains 
Cotton and Drummond, Sirdar Sher Ahmed Khan, and 



TASHKUKGHAN AND HAIBAK. 317 

Eessaldar-Major Baha-u'-din Khan, we first visited the 
Tashkurghan bazaar, a long street covered with matting 
and rafters, and culminating in a curious sort of chaharsu, 
forming the centre of the cloth-market called the Tim. 
The shops were mostly shut, as is usually the case in these 
parts except on market-days; but the building was worth 
seeing, being nicely domed and ornamented with lots of 
small china saucers let into the walls. The money-changers 
all sat on a raised platform in the centre, but did not seem 
to be doing much business. 

Khulm we were rather disappointed in, as it took us 
some time to get there, and when we did arrive, we found 
nothing but a huge flat-topped mound, with some old mud 
walls and ruins behind it. These latter, I was told, were 
the remains of the later Khulm destroyed by Ahmad Shah 
Abdali, who founded Tashkurghan some century and a 
half ago, and took all the inhabitants away from Khulm 
to populate it. Only a hundred families or so of Usbegs 
now remain on the outskirts of the former city. The 
real old Khulm consists simply of the great mound, some 
600 yards in length by 300 or 400 yards in breadth, and 
say 30 or 40 feet in height, and covered with broken pot- 
tery. On the western side there are the remains of a 
detached fort and a succession of smaller mounds, marking 
the site of the oldest city, I suppose ; but beyond that there 
is nothing to see. Eiding back, I found that it took me 
thirty-six minutes as fast as my horse could walk to get 
through the gardens and town of Tushkurghan, which will 
give some idea of its size not that there is much of a town 
to look at. We rode through nothing but a succession of 
lanes, bounded by 8 -feet-high mud-walls on either side, with 
just the tops of the apricot and fig trees beyond peeping 
over them. Few houses were to be seen and fewer people, 
and each lane had a canal running down the centre of it 
just the same as the last. I know of nothing more dreary 



318 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

and monotonous than an Eastern town. Except in the 
actual street devoted to the bazaar, there is no sign of life 
everything is shut up and hidden behind those interminable 
mud- walls ; and were it not for a few men sitting solemnly 
and silently here and there at the various corners, one 
might be in a city of the dead. 

Tashkurghan is the most easterly portion of Sirdar Ishak 
Khan's province, and belongs to Afghan Turkistan, though 
it has a subordinate governor of its own, Mirza Purdil Khan. 
The district extends for some 15 or 20 miles to the east up 
to the confines of Khairabad, the first habitation on the 
Badakshan side, a place built lately by Sirdar Abdullah 
Jan, the governor, as a resting-stage for travellers on the 
highroad to Khanabad, his present capital. 

All this country was formerly entirely independent, under 
various Usbeg Mirs, such as those of Badakshan, Kunduz, 
Ghori, Haibak, Saighan, Tashkurghan, Balkh, Nimlik, &c. ; 
and Khan Bahadur Ibrahim Khan, who knows the country 
thoroughly, tells me that it is a well-known fact that Amir 
Dost Muhammad Khan and his son Muhammad Akhbar 
Khan, when flying through it on their way to Bokhara at the 
time of the first British occupation of Kabul, were the first 
to discover the weakness of the Mirs ; and no sooner was Dost 
Muhammad seated on the throne again, than he at once 
despatched Akhbar Khan with a body of troops against 
them. Muhammad Akhbar Khan succeeded in bringing the 
whole country under subjection, with the exception of 
Badakshan and Maimanah. Muhammad Afzal Khan, 
afterwards Emir, was appointed the first Afghan governor, 
and he it was who finally demolished the Nimlik fort, 
making use of its wood -work and material for the con- 
struction of Takht-i-Pul, which was then his capital. 
After the death of Amir Dost Muhammad Khan in 
1863, the province passed through various and many 
vicissitudes; but in 1866, when the Amir Sher Ali Khan 



TASHKUEGHAN AND HAIBAK. 319 

had finally established himself on the throne, he sent Naib 
Muhammad Alum Khan to Balkh as governor of the pro- 
vince. The latter was a Shiah, a follower of Ali, and for 
that reason made Mazar his capital, and it has continued 
so to the present day. Naib Muhammad Alum Khan at 
once attacked Badakshan, and his troops, under General 
Hafizullah Khan, defeated and made a prisoner of Mahmud 
Shah, the Mir of Badakshan, and Badakshan was occupied 
as well as Shignan, Roshan, and Wakhan. Muhammad 
Alum Khan subsequently annexed Maimanah, as previously 
related, and just before Arnir Sher Ali's death, the entire 
Turkistan province was for the first time brought completely 
under Afghan subjection. After Naib Muhammad Alum 
Khan's death, Shahghassi Sherdil Khan, and on his death 
his son Kushdil Khan, succeeded him ; and on the death of 
Amir Sher Ali, General Ghulam Haidar Khan, Wardak, was 
appointed governor by Yakub Khan. Ghulam Haidar Khan 
fled to Bokhara on the arrival of Amir Abdur Eahman in 
March 1880, and the province was then divided in two by 
the latter. Sirdar Abdullah Jan Tokhi was appointed 
governor of Badakshan, including Shignan, Roshan, and 
Wakhan, as well as Kunduz, Ghori, Baglan, Khinjan, and 
Bamian ; while Sirdar Ishak Khan became the governor of 
the western portion, with the exception of Maimanah, which 
was given semi-independence. Bamian and Haibak have 
since been taken by the Amir under his direct administra- 
tion, and have their local governors appointed from Kabul. 

The local Mirs have almost all been ousted, and Mir 
Sultan Murad Khan, the son of the late Mir Atalik of 
Kunduz, and the Mir of Roshan, are, I think, about the only 
ones left. The former lives at Talikan, instead of at Kun- 
duz, which, I believe, is most unhealthy and unpleasant to 
live at. The country round it, however, so Sirdar Sher 
Ahmad Khan tells me, is covered with wood and jungle, and 
is full of tigers and game of all kinds. I trust I may be 



320 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

able to visit it myself some day. Badakshan is described as 
a very cold and poor country, and one that never can be rich 
owing to the want of culturable land, very different from 
most of the western portion of Afghan Turkistan, which has 
plenty of arable land, and wants nothing but the population 
to cultivate it. Before closing my description of Afghan 
Turkistan, I must not forget to mention the tradition cur- 
rent amongst the Afghans here to the effect that the British 
and Kussian troops are destined to fight some day at Dasht- 
i-Arzanak and Dasht-i-Bakwa, when much blood is to be 
shed. The Dasht-i-Arzanak is a plain some 15 miles west 
of Balkh, and Dasht-i-Bakwa lies between Farah and Kan- 
dahar, so that it is not so very improbable that the Afghans 
may see their tradition fulfilled after all, though what part 
they are to take in the fight is not stated. 

Our march on the morning of the 22d through the 
Tashkurghan gorge was one of the most interesting that we 
have had for a long time. Our road first wound along for 
some 2J miles up the bank of a swift mountain-stream, 
past a succession of gardens, till we crossed a little brick 
bridge just at the entrance of the gorge. Here a wonderful 
sight met our eyes. Imagine a solid and precipitous mass 
of rock rising up on either side to a height of a thousand 
feet I should think, leaving just sufficient room for the stream 
and roadway by its side. At one place these precipitous 
walls are hardly 40 feet apart, and I do not suppose the 
width exceeds double that distance at any point for the 
first 300 yards or more. After that the rocks recede a bit, 
but the defile continues for some 10 miles, bounded on 
either side by almost impassable hills, with an average of 
hardly more than some 200 yards of level ground between 
them all the way. Then comes the little village of Sayat, and 
beyond that the road emerges into the comparatively wide 
and grassy plain of Gaznigak. Farther on the road is com- 
paratively uninteresting, and Bad Asiah has nothing particular 






TASHKURGHAN AND HAIBAK. 321 

about it but an old mud-wall on the top of a hillock to rep- 
resent the traditional windmill that gave its name to the 
place. Haibak is a beautiful fertile valley dotted all over 
with villages and gardens. The hills here are several 
miles apart, and every bit of available ground seems to be 
under cultivation. The governor lives in an old mud-fort 
on the top of a low hill, at the head of the valley imme- 
diately above the bazaar, which consists of a couple of 
short streets, roofed over with sticks and grass, and con- 
taining, strange to say, many Hindus' shops though what 
Hindus are doing here I do not know. The old barrack 
square for troops, just below the bazaar, is now mostly in 
ruins, and the garrison only numbers some 200 Khasadars 
all told. 

The highroad to Bamian leaves the valley at its southern 
end, and wanders through a beautiful gorge, bounded by 
high cliffs on either side, and all the space between one 
mass of gardens and orchards. The road we shall follow to 
Ghori branches off to the east. I do not think I have ever 
seen finer apricot-trees than those growing here, though the 
walnuts are not of any great size. The inhabitants of 
Haibak call themselves Chagatais, a Persian-speaking race, X 
supposed to be of Turkish origin, though now generally 
mixed up with the Tajiks, and are most friendly and civil to 
meet. Altogether, I should say that Haibak ought to form 
a capital site for a cantonment. The valley, I believe, 
stands at an elevation of something like 3100 feet, and 
ought to be warm in winter, and not too hot in the summer. 
At some time or other it seems to have been a favourite 
resort of the Buddhists. Only a couple of miles from the 
fort there is a wonderful tope, called, as usual, Takht-i-Rus- 
tam. It is a great beehive-shaped stupa, some *70 feet in 
diameter and 30 feet in height, hewn out of the solid rock, 
with a platform, or, as it is locally called, a throne, on the 
top of it, also hewn out of the same solid rock, and some 

x 



322 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

20 feet square and 8 feet in height, with a small chamber 
exactly in the centre of it, entered by a passage from the 
south. 

The entrance to the tope lies through a wide tunnel in 
the hillside, and the effect of suddenly finding one's self in 
the deep circular cutting around it is very strange. A rocky 
hill to the north is honeycombed with caves, from the large- 
domed vault to a long double corridor, while on the top of 
the hill there are the remains of some old building of un- 
burnt brick. The view from the top of the tope, with the 
whole of the Haibak valley, say some ten miles in length 
and two in breadth, full of villages and orchards, spread 
out below one, backed by the hills beyond, is very fine, and 
worthy of Buddhist selection for such a site. There are 
many other Buddhist remains about, such as Hazar Sum, or 
the thousand caves, in the hills at the northern end of the 
valley, and the Sum-i-Sangi, or rocky caves, some way off 
to the south-west ; but unfortunately we have no time to 
visit these. Captain Talbot, I hear, though, spent some 
days examining them. 

Our party now is a very small one, as Majors Holclich and 
Maitland, Captains Peacocke, Talbot, and Griesbach, are all 
ahead examining and surveying the various passes over the 
Hindu Kush, and we do not meet them again till we get to 
Charikar. Colonel MacLean, with Mr Merk, Captain de 
Laessoe, and Munshi Allah Bakhsh, started for Mashhad on 
the 15th from Khamiab, Captain Gore having started for 
Bundar Abbas some days before. Major Durand, who, I am 
sorry to say, has been suffering for some time from a bad 
sprain, the effect of his horse falling with him, and is still 
unable to ride, has been kindly invited by the Eussian 
Government, at the instance of M. Lessar, to accompany the 
Commission on its return march vid Chahar Jui, on the Oxus, 
to Merv, and thence by rail to the Caspian a much 
shorter journey than marching all the way vid Mashhad to 



TASHKURGHAN AND HAIBAK. 323 

Astrabad, the nearest port on the Caspian, and a much 
quicker and more interesting way of going home. 

On what date the Eussian Commission started we have 
not yet heard. All its members, I believe, were delighted 
at the thought of an early return to the civilisation of Ashka- 
bad and Tiflis, and were very glad to get away so soon. 
The orders for their return were evidently quite unex- 
pected, as I hear that a party of some fifty Cossacks arrived 
only a day or two before Sir West Eidgeway's departure to 
relieve their time-expired men, and these would hardly 
have been sent so far had the authorities had any idea of 
such an early break-up of the Mission. How it was, too, 
that the Eussian Government recorded the agreement for 
the withdrawal of the joint Mission on the 26th August, 
and then never communicated it to their Commissioner till 
the 12th September, is one of those strange facts of Eussian 
diplomacy that I suppose no fellow can be expected to 
understand. However, once the orders were received, no 
time was lost. The British Mission dined with their Eus- 
sian confreres the same evening, and next day Colonel Kuhl- 
berg and all his officers were the guests of Sir West Eidge- 
way, when the two Commissions finally said good-bye to 
each other. 

Sir West Eidgeway has been suffering greatly from fever 
on the march from Khamiab, and is consequently much 
pulled down ; but the change to the hill air here will, it is 
hoped, soon drive the fever away. The health of the camp 
generally has much improved, and with plenty of warm 
clothing, we hope to get over the passes in front of us with- 
out risk. Last year Major Maitland and Captain Talbot had 
heavy snow at an elevation of only some 8000 feet early 
in October, whereas we shall be crossing passes some 13,000 
or 14,000 feet in height; but if the weather keeps up, we 
have every hope that we may get through in time. With Sir 
West Eidgeway we have Colonel Bax, Captains Cotton and 



324 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Drummond, Dr Owen, Nawab Mirza Hasan All Khan, Kazi 
Muhammad Aslam Khan, Khan Bahadur Ibrahim Khan, 
Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, Sirdar Sher Ahmad Khan, 
Ressaldar-Major Baha-u'-din Khan, and Subadar Muhammad 
Husain Khan, and myself, with the whole of the cavalry and 
infantry escort. The whole camp seems to be afflicted with 
the desire to buy ponies, and we shall probably march into 
Peshawar with a goodly number of animals of sorts. Prices, 
though, have gone up here wonderfully of late. 

"We shall probably halt for a day or two at or near 
Kabul on our way back. The Amir has given Sir West 
Ridgeway a most cordial invitation to Kabul, and everything 
betokens a very friendly reception for us there. 



325 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

OVER THE HINDU KUSH. 

CAMP CHABIKAR, 12th October 1886. 

I HAVE already telegraphed our arrival on the southern side 
of the Hindu Kush ; but I must now try to take up the 
thread of the narrative from the date of my last letter from 
Haibak, where we had collected for our march across the 
mountains. The origin of the name Hindu Kush it is 
impossible to tell. There is a tradition here that these 
mountains were all formerly included in the general name 
of Himalaya, but that, at a time while Balkh was still 
held by Hindus, some ancient conqueror invaded the coun- 
try from the north, and all the Hindus fled for refuge 
into the mountains, and were there overtaken by a sudden 
snowstorm and killed to a man : hence the name Hindu 
Kush, from the Persian word kushtan, to kill. However 
this may have been, no doubt these mountains are liable 
to sudden and severe storms at this time of the year, 
and had not the storm encountered by Sir "West Eidge- 
way and his party on the top of the pass on the morn- 
ing of the 6th luckily passed off, there is no saying what 
might have been the result. To have been snowed up 
in such a place, with nothing for our horses and mules to 
eat, would have been very hard on the latter, to say the 
least of it. Eations for men we could carry with us, but 
fodder for such a number of animals nearly 1300 all told 



326 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

could not be carried with us ; and as the Afghan stores 
very soon ran out, a forced halt on the top of the pass 
would have been anything but pleasant. In fact now, as I 
write, there is a storm raging over the hills, and whenever 
the clouds lift a bit we can see the freshly fallen snow even 
on the lower ranges, which shows what we have just escaped 
on the higher. 

Our march over the Chahar Dar pass has been quite a 
novelty to us after all the time we have spent amongst the 
rolling downs of the chul, and I for one have enjoyed it 
immensely. At Chashmah-i-Sher we had our last day's 
pheasant-shooting. We found a lot of birds in the high 
reeds there, but they were difficult to get at. Colonel Bax, 
Captain Drummond, Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, Subadar 
Muhammad Husain Khan, and I, with a dozen sowars of the 
llth Bengal Lancers, formed a line across country and did 
our best to get the birds out, but our bag was only a small 
one after all. The marvel is that any pheasants, or even 
chikor the local partridge survive at all. In the winter, 
as one of my guides explained to me, when the snow is fresh 
and a foot or more in depth, the birds all come down into 
the open valley in search of food, and the people turn out 
en masse after them. As soon as the birds are flushed a 
horseman gallops after them, and if he can only mark 
where they settle he is certain to catch them, as they rarely 
fly a second time, but hide in the snow, where their tracks 
betray them, and they are pulled out by hand without diffi- 
culty. In Badakshan, I am told, they use dogs for the 
purpose ; and an Afghan sowar, with whom I was out the 
other day, gave me a graphic account of the big hunts they 
have there after these birds in the winter. 

The Ghori valley is a broad level plain full of villages 
running down both banks of the Surkh Ab or Kunduz river. 
We camped at the head of the valley, and here it was that, 
owing to the difficulties of the road ahead, Sir West Eidge- 



OVER THE HINDU RUSH. 327 

way determined to break up the camp into three. Sir West, 
with Dr Owen, Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali Khan, Kazi Mu- 
hammad Aslam Khan, Sirdar Sher Ahmed Khan, Subadar 
Muhammad Husain Khan, and an escort of 50 sowars of 
the llth Bengal Lancers and a working party of the 20th 
Panjab Infantry, under Captain Dmmmond, went on ahead ; 
the remainder of the camp, with Captain Cotton, Khan 
Bahadur Ibrahim Khan, Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, and 
myself, under the command of Colonel Bax, followed the 
next day ; and the camel kafila of heavy baggage, under 
Bessaldar-Major Baha-u'-din Khan, followed us again. 

Our first march of 24 miles over two kotals and a very 
rough road to Dahan-i-Kaian was stiff work for the mules, 
but they did it all right. The hills we passed over were 
covered with pistachio-bushes, not so high as the Badghis 
bushes, these rarely exceeding 8 or 10 feet in height, while 
the nut, I was also told, is not so good. The^Shaikh Ali 
Hazarahs, who live about Ghori, make their living a good 
deal, I fancy, by gathering these nuts for the Kabul market. 
They are a wild but cheerful and pleasant set of men. Up 
the Iskar valley we passed through a good many juniper- 
trees, and the place swarmed with chikor. I also shot a 
mountain-hare there a beast more like a rabbit, but with 
black-tipped ears. Chahar Dar is a curious little valley, or 
rather a circular sort of hollow in the hills at an elevation 
of about 6570 feet; but to get to it we had to cross the 
Kotal-i-Fazak at an elevation of 10,000 feet. Such a climb 
as it was too ! and an amusing sight it was to see all the 
cavalry saises going up in a long zigzag, each man holding on 
to his pony's tail. On the top we had a grand view, with 
a high, rugged, rocky range of hills in front of us, covered 
with patches and rifts of last year's snow. The Kotal-i- 
Bargah was not so high as the Fazak, but the descent was a 
real steep one, and we all felt very glad that we had not to 
go up it. Chahar Dar is so called from the four valleys or 



328 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

doors that here open into this little valley at right angles to 
each other. The main stream is full of trout, and Captain 
Griesbach tells me that they took a fly greedily : the water, 
however, was icy-cold and as clear as crystal. 

Standing on the camping-ground I noticed curious little 
cylinders of mud full of some white stuff, about half an inch 
to an inch in length, which none of us could make out the 
origin of till we called our guide, a local Hazarah. He at 
once scratched up the ground and pulled out lots more and 
bigger, and showed us that each was full of locusts' eggs, 
and that what we first saw were the empty shells out of 
which the eggs had been eaten by birds, more especially the 
choughs which here abounded. The whole of this part of 
the country has been almost depopulated, it seems, by the 
locusts, which have been settled down now for the last three 
or four years ; and so terrible is the plague of them that the 
unfortunate people have been unable to raise any crops, and 
have been driven away one after another to try and get their 
living at Balkh and other places. Strange to say, these 
locusts' eggs, laid in these little mud cases just below the 
surface of the ground, do not appear to be killed by the cold 
of winter, and the young come out as fresh as possible in 
the spring. 

The morning we left Chahar Dar we started in rain and 
mist, which quite hid all the beauty of the scenery from us. 
We wound up along the banks of a nicely wooded mountain 
stream, and being unable to see the bare rocky mountains 
above, we might for all the world have been in a Highland 
glen in the north of Scotland in the midst of a good old 
Scotch mist. By the time, however, that we got up to 
Chap Darah, 4000 feet above Chahar Dar, we found that 
what had been rain and mist below was snow up there, 
and when we joined Sir "West Eidgeway's camp we found 
out what a very unpleasant morning they had had of it. 
When rtveiltt went the snow was several inches thick and 



OVER THE HINDU KUSH. 329 

still falling, with a bitter cold wind, and the only thing 
to be heard was that old familiar sound we are so well ac- 
quainted with namely, the beating of the tents with sticks 
to clear off the accumulated snow. Morning after morning 
in the winter did we go through that to get the weight of 
snow off before the ridge-pole of the tent gave way, but we 
never thought, after the heat of summer, that we were des- 
tined to hear it again. However, the snow ceased, and Sir 
West Eidge way's party got off all right ; but it still looked 
threatening, and when Colonel Bax arrived he determined 
to push straight on and get over the pass, if he could, that 
night, and not run the risk of being snowed up. So on we 
went, and that march of 28 miles over the Hindu Kush will 
long be remembered by most of us, I fancy. We halted at 
Chap Darah for breakfast, and what a glorious appetite for 
breakfast an elevation of 10,580 feet at this latitude does 
give one ! Breakfast on the roadside is now a regular in- 
stitution with us, and, following the example of the Persian 
abdars, our Indian kliidmatgars always now have all their 
materials for breakfast in the kurjins or carpet saddle-bags on 
their ponies behind us, and wherever we stop they have our 
tea and breakfast ready in less than no time. While we sat 
and breakfasted all wrapped up in our greatcoats, for it was 
precious cold the clouds gradually rose and eventually the 
sun came out, and we had a fine day after all. The top of 
the pass we made out, by aneroid readings, to be 13,500 
feet above sea-level, and the scenery all the way up was 
very wild but desolate. The road followed the banks of the 
stream, but all trees, bushes, and, indeed, vegetation of any 
kind, gradually ceased, and we passed through nothing but a 
bare, wild, rocky country without a sign of life. Just near 
the top of the pass we crossed the first real snow, a great 
furrowed frozen mass as hard as a rock: the result, I should 
fancy, of the freezings of many years. The freshly fallen 
snow all melted immediately the sun came out, but we ap- 



330 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

parently just touched the permanent snow-line, as there were 
patches of old frozen snow all about. The view from the 
top was very disappointing, as we could not see over the 
succeeding ranges, and on the southern side our road took 
us down a little narrow valley to the first village, called Deh 
Tang, and rightly too, for I do not think I ever saw a village 
in so tight a place before. Deh Tang stands at an eleva- 
tion of some 8580 feet, so that our march of 28 miles at 
such an elevation, ascending about 4000 feet and descending 
another 5000 feet on our way, was no slight march in itself, 
and I doubt if it has ever been equalled by any body of 
regular troops before. 

At Deh Tang we passed from the jurisdiction of Sardar 
Abdullah Jan of Badakshan into that of the governor of 
Ghorband, and we have been marching down the Ghorband 
valley ever since. One trophy of the Hindu Kush was 
secured by Sir West Eidgeway, in the shape of a specimen 
of the mountain-partridge, a beautiful bird some 2 feet in 
length and 5 Ib. in -weight. It was captured in a curious 
manner. It was being pursued by an eagle, and was seen 
by an Afghan sowar to take refuge under a rock, where he 
ran up and caught it. They are rare birds, living only up in 
the snows ; and Captain Talbot is the only one of us who 
has seen them. Unfortunately this one did not survive its 
capture, but I have its skin preserved. 

The country down the Ghorband valley is very pretty 
now with the fruit-trees all in their autumn tints. Pul-i- 
Eangar, where the Deh Tang stream falls into the Ghorband 
river, is especially so. Above are the ruins of a curious old 
fort called Kilah Morad Khan, with the rocky hills above 
that again, and below the stream rushing through a dense 
mass of fruit-trees of all descriptions. From there Captain 
Griesbach paid a visit to the lead-mines at Farinjal, which, 
he tells me, are well worth seeing. The old gallery worked 



OVER THE HINDU RUSH. 331 

by the ancients or the " Kafirs," as the Afghans say, a 
word which to them covers all unknown races of former 
time runs far into the hillside. The present workings 
are at the end of this gallery, some 1200 feet into the hill, 
of which about 200 feet constitute the present workings. 
The annual out-turn is some 6000 maunds. 

Our camp to-day is stirred with unwonted activity. 
Lieutenant - Colonel Ata Ulah Khan, the British agent at 
Kabul, has just arrived on a visit, and the men of his escort 
belonging to the 10th Bengal Lancers are busy fraternising 
with their friends with us in the llth Bengal Lancers. All 
our detached parties have come in. Majors Holdich and 
Maitland, Captains Peacocke and Talbot, and Sub- Surveyors 
Yusuf Sharif and Heera Singh have all rejoined from their 
various explorations and surveys of the different passes over 
the Hindu Kush, and Ata Muhammad is expected in shortly. 

All survey operations have been brought to a close here 
now that we have joined on to the Kabul series carried out 
during the late war; and our survey officers may well be 
content with the work done during the past two years. 
The survey operations during the first year before the meet- 
ing of the joint Commissions embraced geographical work 
chiefly. The surveys of the Baluchistan desert, of the 
Helmand valley, the Persian border up to Mashhad, of Bad- 
ghis and the valley of the Hari Rud, with part of the 
country between it and Kandahar, were all completed then. 
The longitude of Mashhad was fixed to give a starting-point 
to the demarcation survey, and triangulation which com- 
menced from a base at Kuhsan was gradually extended over 
the whole country, including Eastern Khorasan, reaching as 
far south as Zamindawar and Seistan, and eastwards to the 
Koh-i-Baba mountains within sight of Kabul. 

The necessity of placing Herat in a state of defence 
somewhat interfered with survey work about the end of the 



332 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

first year of the Commission's existence ; but as soon as the 
demarcation of the boundary had been finally arranged, the 
survey party was again extended so as to complete one 
uninterrupted map of the whole region of Afghan Turkistan 
and of the province of Herat to a junction with previous 
surveys from Kabul on the east and from Kandahar on the 
south. 

The demarcation survey forms a chapter of its own. 
This was carried out chiefly during the winter of 1885- 
86. A special boundary series was run from Zulfikar to 
the Oxus, the object of which was to fix accurately, and 
to obtain a computed record of, the position of every pillar 
or boundary-mark as far as possible. At the same time, 
a complete reconnaissance of the country adjoining the 
boundary was to be carried out, as well as large - scale 
surveys of all parts demanding special attention. To this 
was added a considerable portion of the topographical 
survey at first undertaken by the Eussian staff, as it was 
necessary that the British survey party should take a share 
of the topographical work in addition to the triangulation. 
Our survey staff, however, even when strengthened from 
India, was not strong enough to complete the whole of the 
programme, owing to the want of topographers ; but enough 
was accomplished to secure a final record of every position 
of importance. Afghan Turkistan up to the limits of Ba- 
dakshan was speedily reduced to mapping, leaving nothing 
but a few small and comparatively unimportant blanks for 
future enterprise. 

The last manoeuvre of the survey party, with the help of 
the officers of the Intelligence Department and their well- 
trained duffadars, was to deploy along the northern face of 
the Hindu Kush between Bamian and the Khawak Pass, 
and to cross that range by every known available pass to 
Kabul. 



OVER THE HINDU RUSH. 333 

Thus a fairly complete map of the whole system has been 
secured. In all, about 120,000 square miles of Persia, 
Afghanistan, and Afghan Turkistan have been added to our 
geographical mapping. Captain Gore and Sub- Survey or 
Imam Sharif, moreover, are still in the field, mapping a 
most important line of route between Herat and Bandar 
Abbas. 



334 



CHAPTEK XXIV. 

THE MAIMANAH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 

KABUL, 17th October 1886. 

MY letter of 12th April 1886 gave a description of the first 
half of the boundary from Zulfikar to Maruchak, and it is 
now time for me to send a brief account of the second half 
from Maruchak to the Oxus so far as it has been settled. 
My description of the first half has so far to be altered that 
the position of pillars Nos. 30 and 31 was subsequently 
changed, 1 a concession having been given to the Kussian 
Commissioner by fixing these pillars, one on either side of 
the valley at the head of the Band-i-Kashan canal, about 
half a mile below Kobat-i-Kashan, instead of in their former 
positions some little way lower down, in exchange for an 
abatement on his part of the Eussian claims to the Mai- 
manah pastures in the chul farther east. The reason for this 
was that some Panjdeh Turkomans had sown crops during 
last winter on the left bank of the Kashan stream close to 
pillar No. 30, but, as the head of the canal irrigating this 
land remained in Afghan territory, they found themselves 
in the spring, under the terms of the boundary Protocol, 
debarred from the use of water for it. This caused con- 
siderable discontent in Panjdeh, which culminated as the hot 
weather came on and the crops began to dry up ; and had 

1 These were again changed by the final negotiations at St Petersburg, 
described in chapter xxvii. 



THE MAIMANAH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 335 

it not been that just at this time the concession in question 
was agreed to, the probability is that there would have been 
a collision between the excited Sariks and the Afghan 
frontier picket. By giving the Turkomans the head of this 
canal disagreement was happily avoided ; and when last I 
saw the place, there were several scores of men and boys all 
hard at work cleaning out the canal and letting in the water 
as fast as they could. Not only on this canal were they 
engaged, but also on others lower down the valley ; and I well 
remember how agreeably I was surprised at the way the men 
in these various parties came forward to claim acquaintance 
and shake hands as I passed through them, and the willing 
manner in which one and all turned to extricate one or two 
of my mules that got stuck in the mud. This was the last I 
saw of Panjdeh, and the recollection is certainly a pleasant one. 
In the western half of the Maruchak valley down the left 
bank of the Murghab, just above where the boundary-line 
from pillars Xo. 34 to 35 cuts across the valley to the 
head of the Band-i-Nadir canal, there has also been a good 
deal of dispute regarding Turkoman cultivation. Some time 
after the boundary had been settled and demarcated, Colonel 
Kuhlberg discovered that the Sariks in the southernmost 
Panjdeh hamlet of Khojah Ali, just on the Eussian side of 
the border, had sown a lot of wheat during last winter on 
ground subsequently awarded to Afghanistan, while at the 
same time, just as in the Kashan valley, the irrigation of the 
land cultivated by these Turkomans below the boundary-line 
was dependent on canals, the heads of which were some eight 
miles up the river in Afghan territory. I mention this to 
show how mixed up the Maruchak is with the Panjdeh cul- 
tivation, and how difficult it was to define a boundary between 
the two places under the circumstances. An examination 
of the irrigation system of the western half of the valley 
showed that there were six canals running down it, the 
heads of which were all in Afghan territory : of these, three 



336 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

canals watered land almost entirely on the Afghan side, two 
similarly almost entirely on the Eussian side, and one half 
and half. The object of the original clause in the Protocol 
giving Eussian subjects no right to water from any canal the 
head of which remained in Afghan possession, was to prevent 
Eussia hereafter claiming powers of interference in the 
sources of the water-supply, such as, for instance, has lately 
happened on the Persian frontier. The Eussian Govern- 
ment subsequently did advance a claim to the head of these 
Murghab canals, but the claim could not be acceded to with- 
out ample compensation to Afghanistan elsewhere, which the 
Eussian Commissioner was not disposed to give. The Afghan 
authorities allowed the Turkomans for this one year to reap 
the crops they had already sown on the Afghan side of the 
border, and they also granted them the free use of water 
from the canals as a set-off against the abatement of Eussian 
claims elsewhere ; but this concession was not made until 
the Afghans had received from the Eussian Commissioner a 
written agreement to the effect that this grant of water was 
a loan for this year only, and not a right to be enjoyed in 
perpetuity ; and there the matter rests. Probably the claim 
to these canals will be again brought forward by the Eussian 
Government in connection with the settlement of the 
Khwajah Salar question, and may form the basis for some 
compromise should the Home Government be willing to 
discuss such terms. It was distinctly specified, however, in 
the London Protocol, that the boundary was to be laid down 
at a point to the north of Maruchak, and Sir West Eidge- 
way has already stretched a point in the Eussian favour by 
agreeing to fix the boundary at the head of the Band-i-Nadir 
canal to the west of it. This further claim, therefore, for 
land on the left bank to the south of Maruchak is quite 
against rule, and can only be entertained as a special case ; 
in consideration, for instance, of some liberal offer by the 
Eussian Government for an exchange of territory elsewhere. 



THE MAIMANAH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 337 

The Sariks, I can quite imagine, are very sore at losing 
land which they have once cultivated, and the incident 
shows of itself what a loss Panjdeh is to Afghanistan, and 
how injuriously the forced separation acts on both sides. 
The Sariks have little culturable land, and are much in want 
of more. This they can most easily get by spreading south- 
wards into Afghan territory, but from this they are now 
debarred. Afghanistan, on the other hand, is debarred from 
making use of its former Panjdeh subjects for the cultivation of 
its waste land in their neighbourhood. The Eussian Govern- 
ment, however, by a little expenditure of money on irrigation 
works, will have no difficulty in reopening the ancient 
canals and giving the Sariks plenty of culturable land in 
the valley of the Murghab, north of Panjdeh, and this is 
what they ought to do. 

The possession of the heads of these Maruchak canals 
would, without doubt, be of the greatest advantage to Eussia, 
but she is bound by the terms of the Protocol just as much 
as we are ; and, considering what little consideration has 
been shown by the Eussian Commissioner for the wants and 
necessities of the Maimanah population, despite the agree- 
ment in the Protocol on that point, and how the Eussian 
claims have been advanced over every little bit of ground 
where the terms of the Protocol could in any way be 
worked to the disadvantage of Afghanistan, it is only just 
that the same strictness should be shown on our side in 
maintaining the conditions laid down in the Protocol, even 
though they fall somewhat heavily on Eussian subjects. 
But it is to be hoped that the Eussian Ministers will now 
approach the subject of the final settlement in a more liberal 
spirit. 

The second half of the frontier touches Herat territory 
from Maruchak up to Kilah Wali, and beyond that Maimanah, 
Andkhui, and Akchah respectively. Maimanah is now the 
last of the petty Khanates of Western Afghan Turkistan 

Y 



338 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

under a ruler of its own all the others having been one 
after another annexed to Afghanistan. Not that it is inde- 
pendent by any means ; far from it. The Wali only rules 
under the constant supervision of the Afghan Resident, 
backed up by a couple of Afghan regiments quartered in the 
town. Mr Merk, who has been studying the Maimanah 
history of late, tells me that the State apparently attained 
its highest prosperity during the reign of Mizrab Khan from 
1830 to 1845. Mizrab Khan died in 1845, and in 1846 
Wazir Yar Muhammad Khan, of Herat, marched up with 
a large force and took the town. In 1855, Wali Hukmat 
Khan submitted to the Amir Dost Muhammad ; and then in 
1858, and again in 1859, Shah Nawaz Khan, of Herat, 
invaded Maimanah with a considerable force, and plundered 
the country generally. In 1860, Hukmat Khan was killed 
by his brother Mir Hussain Khan, the present "Wali, who 
seized the chief ship. In 1868, Sirdar (now Amir) Abdur 
Rahman besieged Maimanah with 16,000 men for thirty-six 
days and then retired. In 1869-71 came the great famine, 
when the sheep were almost all swept away ; and sheep, it 
must be remembered, form the staple wealth of the country. 
Finally, in October 1875, Naib Muhammad Alum Khan laid 
siege to the city again with 24,000 men, and in March 
1876 the place was stormed, and a general slaughter took 
place. Mir Hussain Khan was taken off captive to Kabul, 
and from 1876 to 1879 Maimanah was administered by 
Afghan governors, and held an Afghan garrison. The 
troops were withdrawn during the war, and Dilawar Khan, 
the son of Hukmat Khan, was sent to govern the chiefship. 
In 1882, however, after the accession of the present Amir 
Abdur Rahman, 5000 troops from Afghan Turkistan and 
1200 from Herat were moved on Maimanah. After some 
delay the city surrendered, and Mir Hussain Khan replaced 
Dilawar Khan as Wali, and a considerable tribute was im- 
posed. Altogether, therefore, the State has passed through 



THE MAIMANAH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 339 

terrible vicissitudes during the last forty years, and the only 
wonder is that it has held together so long. 

The city of Maimanah I have not seen, so I can only 
describe it from hearsay. I believe it is about two-thirds the 
size of Herat, strongly walled and surrounded by a moat, but 
completely commanded by some high ground on the east, 
and quite indefensible. The inside of the city is mostly in 
ruins and buildings are few, many of the people living in 
kibitkas. The shops in the bazaar are poor, and the regular 
residents all the year round do not exceed some 2500 families. 
In addition to these there are as many more half-nomad 
families, who live up at their ailaghs in the hills during the 
summer, simply coming down to Maimanah for the winter 
months. Most of these live entirely in kibitkas ; and now 
that the Afghan garrison are quartered inside the city, many 
of them prefer to remain outside and pitch their kibitkas in 
the environs, instead of inside the walls as formerly. Another 
10,000 families probably cover the whole remaining popula- 
tion of the Maimanah districts. 

Nothing shows the richness and fertility of Maimanah 
more than the manner in which it has survived its succes- 
sive famines and sieges. The cheapness and abundance of 
supplies of all kinds is even now remarkable, and after a 
few good years of settled government the out-turn would be 
enormously increased. The country may be divided roughly 
into three belts. First, the rich culturable land lying at the 
foot of the hills stretching from Chahar Shamba to Mai- 
manah, and then down the Shirin Tagao to Khairabad ; 
secondly, the hill-tracts and summer-quarters in the Band-i- 
Turkistan to the south; and thirdly, the grazing-lands in 
the chid to the north. It is with these latter that we have 
had most to do. 

The waterless country stretching between the lower 
Murghab and the Oxus terminates to the south in an ele- 
vated plateau, known generally as Kara Bel, some 3500 or 



340 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

4000 feet above sea-level, and running parallel to, and on 
an average about 40 miles to the north of, Chahar Shamba 
and Maimanah. From the southern edge of this plateau 
the ground gradually descends in a succession of sJwrs or 
valleys for some 1500 feet to the level of the Kilah Wali 
and Ab-i-Kaisar streams, into which these shors empty 
themselves. The first half of this descent is through un- 
dulating ground affording capital pasturage, but the latter 
half is comprised in a rugged belt of steep hillocks of com- 
paratively much less grazing value. The water in the shors 
is generally salt ; but in the centre of the undulating strip 
there are a series of wells of drinkable water such as those 
at Aghaz Paz and its neighbourhood, marking the site of 
former nomad habitations. Water apparently is plentiful 
in the valleys just below the crest of the plateau, though its 
depth varies greatly in different places, some of the wells 
being only 30 and others 130 feet in depth. These habi- 
tations, though, were all deserted one after another owing to 
Turkoman raids, and the probability is that they have not 
been used for the last twenty years or more. Almost all 
the wells were subsequently filled up to prevent the Turko- 
mans from making use of them in their raids, and the 
water in those now open is mostly bad-smelling from long 
stagnation, and often unfit for use. 

The right of Maimanah to all these wells, of course, was 
undisputable. The Panjdeh grazing-lands were admitted, 
even by the Sariks themselves, to extend only as far east 
as the western edge of the Kara Bel plateau, and, with the 
exception of the Maimanah people, there never was any one 
else to use them. The Panjdeh Sariks held the grazing as 
far east of the Murghab as the water-supply allowed them 
to penetrate, and the Bokharan Ersaris on the left bank of 
the Oxus as far west as they could go ; but the central 
space between the two rivers being a waterless wilderness, 
without any inhabitants whatsoever, Maimanah enjoyed sole 



THE MAIMANAH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 341 

rights on its southern border, and consequently possessed 
all the land as far north as its people could go. 

The natural frontier, and the one claimed by the Af- 
ghans, ran along the Kara Bel plateau, and the wording of 
the London Protocol of 10th September 1885, No. 109 of 
the Blue-book in which it was laid down that the boundary 
should " follow a line north of the valley of the Kaisar and 
west of the valley of the Sangalak (Ab-i-Andkhui) " might 
be taken to imply the same place, as, when talking of the 
valley of the Kaisar, it was not supposed that the actual 
banks of the stream itself were intended, but the valley 
including both the stream and its affluents. This reading, 
however, was contested by the Kussian Commissioner. 

The names used in the Protocol are misleading, and 
I must here explain them. The stream called by the 
Kussians the Kaisar is the one which rises a little to the 
east of Chahar Shamba, and flowing west through Kilah 
Wali, falls into the Murghab at Karawal Khana. This 
stream is called by us the Kilah Wali stream, as we were 
never able to find any local name for it, and it was neces- 
sary to distinguish it from its next-door neighbour, the Ab- 
i-Kaisar. This latter takes its rise in the hills south of the 
Kaisar plain, and running north-east, joins the Shirin Tagao 
near Daulatabad, and the two streams combined are, beyond 
that, known as the Ab-i-Andkhui. This Ab-i-Kaisar is 
the Sangalak of the Protocol, so named, I believe, from a 
ford across it called Sangalak on the road from Kaisar to 
Almar; but this did not deter the Eussian Commissioner 
from taking advantage of the wording of the Protocol to try 
and advance a claim to the Shirin Tagao, farther east, as the 
stream referred to, despite the fact that the Ab-i-Kaisar 
valley was inhabitated and cultivated by Maimanah sub- 
jects to the west of it a claim, too, which was upheld by 
his own Government. The Eussian Commissioner, more- 
over, quoting Lord Granville's memorandum of 22d May 



342 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

1885 No. 32 of the Blue-book claimed all land not 
actually in use at the time of the Eussian occupation of 
Merv in March 1884. The wording of this memorandum 
is to the effect that her Majesty's Government " have not 
asked for any extension of the Afghan pastures, but only 
that the inhabitants of Maimanah and Andkhui, which, 
under the agreement of 1873, were recognised as belonging 
to Afghanistan, should not be deprived of their cultivated 
lands, or of those pastures the use of which they were 
actually enjoying before the Eussian occupation of Merv 
established tranquillity in those regions." 

As a matter of fact the Eussian occupation of Merv had 
nothing whatever to do with the tranquillity of the Maimanah 
chul. The Teke Turkomans of Merv confined their attention 
mostly to the Persian and Herat frontiers, and, without 
doubt, thoroughly succeeded in depopulating those borders. 
The depopulation of the Maimanah border was due to the 
Sarik Turkomans of Panjdeh and Yulatan, and in a lesser 
degree to the Karas and Ersaris from the banks of the Oxus 
in Bokhara. The raids of the latter still continue, but the 
former were put a stop to by the Afghan occupation of 
Panjdeh in June 1884. The present improved state of 
affairs on the Maimanah border was thus due entirely to 
the action of the Afghans themselves, and in no way to 
that of the Eussians. Of course, as to Andkhui, Merv had 
nothing whatever to do with it, as the distance across the 
desert was far too great to tempt raiders from Merv in that 
direction, and the Eussian occupation of Merv had naturally 
no effect on the immunity of the Andkhui people from 
Bokharan raids. These facts, though, were unknown before 
the arrival of the Boundary Commission on the spot ; but 
still the terms of Lord Granville's memorandum were held 
to be binding, and all that Sir West Eidgeway could do was 
to obtain the best terms he could. 

The result was that, after much discussion, an agreement 



THE MAIMANAH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 343 

was finally come to by which a belt of pasturage, averaging 
1 5 miles in width, measured to the north of the Kilah "Wali 
and Ab-i-Kaisar streams, was to be left to Maimanah in 
consideration of concessions to Eussia at Band-i-Kashan and 
Khwajah Gogirdak and the temporary grant of water in the 
Maruchak valley, with a 12 -mile belt of pasturage onwards 
towards Andkhui and 15 miles again beyond it. Khwajah 
Gogirdak is a spring about 10 miles to the north of the 
Kilah Wali stream at Bokun, and has been described before. 
It was conceded to Eussia in exchange for more land 
farther on, as the river being comparatively close there, 
its water was not of such vital importance to Afghan 
subjects. The boundary consequently runs eastwards from 
pillar No. 36 on the right bank of the Murghab below 
Maruchak to pillar No. 39 on the top of a hill just to the 
south of Khwajah Gogirdak, and thence onward, passing 
some 9 miles to the north of Alai Chalai, to pillar No. 44 
on the top of a high peak known to the survey as Askara 
Hill Station. Thence the line, turning northwards, follows 
the watershed of a range of hillocks known as the Bel-i- 
Paranda, and running down a spur to the north-east, it 
crosses the Kiamat Shor and again the Shor Aghaz Kin, 
the northernmost of all these Maimanah shors, and gradually 
inclining inwards, joins the 12 -mile radius at pillar No. 54, 
almost due west of Daulatabad, and some 110 miles from 
Maruchak. 

By this settlement Eussia gains the wells at Kara Baba 
and Pekenna, and all those at Aghaz Paz and at the head 
of the Kiamat Shor, and along under the crest of the Kara 
Bel plateau up to the head of the Shor Aghaz Kin, west of 
Daulatabad; but, as a matter of fact, these wells and 
grazing-grounds having been unused by Maimanah now for 
the best part of a generation, their loss, consequently, is 
not felt at present, and both the Afghan and Maimanah 
authorities are only too pleased at the settlement as it 



344 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

stands. Of course the question of a few miles of ckul here 
or there seems a little matter and not worth fighting or 
arguing about ; but that, I take it, is not the way to look 
upon it. The future has also to be considered. At present 
the Maimanah sheep are not calculated to number more 
than some 350,000, but. with good seasons and under a 
peaceful administration, each flock is calculated to double 
itself in five years ; and supposing this much-troubled State 
of Maimanah to have a rest now from wars and famine for 
some years to come, so as to recover something of its former 
prosperity, the number of sheep' will be enormously in- 
creased, and then the question of pasturage will again come 
to the front. Under present circumstances the pasturage on 
the low ground at the foot of the hills and the 15 -mile 
radius beyond the Ab-i-Kaisar is more than ample for all 
their wants, and the Maimanah people are well pleased at 
having got so much. 

The word ckul is a difficult word to translate, and the 
Maimanah chul can by no means be represented by the 
word " desert " that has generally hitherto been used to 
describe it. It is not a desert in any sense of the word ; 
perhaps wilderness would better describe it. It is waterless 
in so far that water is only to be found in certain localities 
and at a considerable depth below the surface, but still it 
is not a waste. On the contrary, it is covered in the spring 
with a fine crop of grass and plants of sorts, sufficient to 
feed enormous flocks of sheep. The custom is with all 
these nomads to take their sheep up into the mountains 
during the summer, and to bring them down to the plains 
in the autumn, and to spend the winter and spring out in 
the chul. So long as the snow remains on the ground, both 
sheep and shepherds are almost entirely independent of 
water. Unlike the Panjdeh Turkomans, who leave their 
flocks under the sole charge of a shepherd and his assistant 
all the year round, the Usbegs and Arabs and other nomads 



THE MAIM ANA H AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 345 

of the Maimanah districts always live with their sheep 
themselves ; and wherever they go, their wives and families 
and all go with them. Consequently in former days there 
was a regular migration in spring and autumn to and from 
the Band-i-Turkistan and the chid below. Latterly this has 
all been altered owing to fear of raids, and the Usbegs in the 
winter have had to content themselves with the pasturage 
at the foot of the hills within the line of habitation ; while 
the Arabs and others have gone off in a body to Siripul and 
its neighbourhood, well within the frontier, and out of reach 
of the raiders. 

The Andkhui chid is very different from the Maimanah 
chul, being much more sandy and much less productive. 
The grassy hillocks and undulations that distinguish the 
Maimanah pasturages come to an end at Daulatabad, and 
the ground gradually merges into the sandhills and wastes 
to the north. In describing the Andkhui chul, I cannot do 
better than quote from Captain de Laessoe, who was deputed 
to put up the pillars from Daulatabad to Dukchi, and has 
kindly given me the following account of the country he 
passed through : 

" The main chul, consisting of high rolling downs, is, to the 
north-east, limited by a belt of low sandhills about 25 miles 
broad. These hills are covered with gandum-trees, arid afford a 
fair amount of grazing for sheep and numerous herds of ante- 
lopes. The hills are, so to say, grouped round a large valley, 
which, starting from somewhere near Andkhui and running in a 
north-westerly direction, is joined by numerous lateral valleys 
with excellent grazing, and water 50 to 100 feet from the sur- 
face. Former inhabitants have taken advantage of this to dig 
wells, many of which could be cleaned out with very little 
trouble and expense. Continuing north-east, the hills finally 
give way to a plain with very long, low, and broad undulations, 
with an occasional isolated sandhill. For about 30 miles the 
soil is loose and sandy, and covered with grass and gandum. 
Afterwards the soil becomes harder, grass is very scarce, and the 
gandum is replaced by butah ; but about 20 miles from the Oxus 
the sand again appears, the country becomes slightly hilly, and 
gandum is again predominant till we reach the belt of movable 



346 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

sands along the bank of the Oxus. All over the above-men- 
tioned plain we found small round or oval valleys, where rain- 
water naturally collects. The bottom is frequently formed of a 
sort of pat, which retains the water for a long time, and in 
the centre of these valleys the sheep-owners have built tanks, 
locally known as kaks, where sweet water is found from March 
till the end of June. Many of the valleys have wells, dug 
hundreds of years ago and usually brick-built. They are 150 to 
200 feet deep, and the water is, as a rule, salt, and sometimes 
quite undrinkable ; but this is simply due to the fact that they 
have been abandoned for the last century or so. When a well 
is cleaned out, the water immediately becomes, if not perfectly 
sweet, at least quite drinkable. 

" A remarkable feature in the Andkhui chul is a large shor, 
which seems to have been, if not an old bed of the Oxus, at least 
a branch of that river. Starting from a place east of Kilif, it 
passes by Dungez Syot and Zaid, and continues past the Hulu 
wells, west of Burdalik. At present no water from the Oxus 
reaches this shor, except by refiltration ; but in very rainy 
seasons it affords an outlet for the surplus Akchah waters, which 
this year are said to have reached Hulu. This shor may possibly 
be the branch of the Oxus which in former times reached the 
Caspian. The isolated stony hills known as Kara Tapeh Kalan, 
Kara Tapeh Khurd, and Dungez Syot, are conspicuous objects in 
the plains, and form, with Chash Baba and Kilif, the solitary 
remnants of a prehistoric mountain-chain, destroyed by the an- 
cestor of the present Oxus, as Captain Griesbach calls the river 
which, some dozen of million years ago, formed one of the main 
features of the country." 

Andkhui itself I have before described. The three 
neighbouring towns of Akchah, Shibarghan, and Siripul I 
have not seen, but from all I have heard, I gather that 
they are very like Andkhui : the same amount of ruins 
and tumble-down walls, about the same population, and the 
same sort of citadel commanding the town, similarly occu- 
pied by the governor and a small Afghan garrison. All 
the old Usbeg rulers of these States have been displaced, and 
Afghan governors now rule in their stead. The last Mir 
of Andkhui, Gazanfar Khan, died in 1873, and his son and 
successor, Daulat Beg, is now an Afghan State pensioner at 
Mazar. The prosperity of Andkhui was at its height under 



THE MAIMANAH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 347 

the rule of Mir Shahwali Khan, from 1821 to 1843. The 
invasion of Wazir Yar Muhammad Khan in 1845, and the 
famine which followed, depopulated and ruined the oasis. 
It came under Afghan supremacy in 1864, and was finally 
taken under direct Afghan administration in 1881. The 
present governor, Colonel Abdul Hamid Khan, is the 
brother of Colonel Abdul Ghani Khan, the governor of 
Akchah, and both are young and pleasant men, the sons of 
one of Amir Sher Ali's generals, named Nujbudin Khan, 
who, fortunately for himself, possessed a handsome daughter 
whom he gave in marriage to Sirdar Ishak Khan, directly 
the latter arrived, and was thus enabled to make a home for 
himself at Mazar, and so far to escape the fate that has 
overtaken the other adherents of the late Amir. 

Eegarding the antiquities of Andkhui there is little to 
relate. In these old mud-built places there is little to find, 
and inscriptions on the mosques and tombstones are about 
the only record of former times. These latter Munshi 
Allah Bakhsh, our native attach^ at Andkhui, has been 
doing his best to decipher; but the oil and dirt accumulated 
on the tombstones, owing to the practice pious ladies have 
of burning lamps on them at night, renders the deciphering 
a very difficult job. The oldest building in Andkhui appa- 
rently is a dome containing the grave of a saint, and known 
as the Ziarat-i-Baba Wali, which dates from the year A.D. 
1386, there being an inscription on the walls to the effect 
that " the year of the death of Hazrat Eshan Baba Wali is 
787 Hijrah." Another inscription on some iron - barred 
lattice-work is as follows: "On the 20th Zu'l Hijjah 1088 
A.H. (A.D. 1677), during the reign of the Great Khan Eah- 
matulah Khan, a much-respected Sirdar of Turkistan, the 
Hakim of Andkhui may God protect him from envious 
eyes ! the son of the gracious, the greater than the great, 
the late pardoned Niyaz Mahomed Khan Wali of Ummul 
Bulad (mother of cities i.e., Balkh), the lattice-work of the 



348 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

blessed and sacred shrine of the Chief of Saints and Priests 
Baba Sangu, the brave may God make his grave happy 
and turn it into paradise ! was completed and safely fin- 
ished." The grave is covered with a wooden frame, which 
was put up so it is recorded on it " By the order of 
Alijah Amin-ul-Doulah, Mir Daulat Khan, in A.H. 1289 
(A.D. 1873). 

Another domed building containing fourteen marble slabs, 
twelve white and two black, is known as the Ziarat-i- 
Chahardah Ma'sum, or the shrine of the fourteen innocents. 
Three of these slabs have no inscription ; but the others, to 
the memory of four men, five women, and two children, are 
covered on the top with Cufic inscriptions, giving the names 
of the deceased and their ancestors and the date of death, 
mixed up with various Arab phrases, and on the sides with 
texts from the Koran and Persian verses imploring heavenly 
blessings on the dead and grieving at their untimely death. 
The inscriptions show that the deceased were Syeds, some 
of their pedigrees being traced back to Ali. The following 
translation from the Arabic is a good example : " This is 
the tomb of the Amir, the late pardoned Amir Syed Abdul 
Matlab, son of the great Amir Syed Kamil, son of the great 
Amir Syed Alaika, son of the great Amir Syed Ali, son of 
the late Amir Syed Yahiya, son of the pardoned Amir, the 
Amir Syed Ali, son of the great Amir Syed Malik, son of 
the pious Amir Syed Hasan, son of the late Amir Syed 
Husain, son of the pardoned Amir Syed Ahmad, son of the 
great Amir Syed Ismail, son of the great Amir Syed Ali, 
son of Syed Isah, son of Amir Syed Hamza, son of Syed 
Wahab, son of Amir Syed Hashim, son of Amir Syed 
Kashim, son of Syed Mahomed, son of Amir Syed Abdulah, 
son of Amir Syed Musa, son of Amir Syed Hasan, son of 
the Amir of Musalinans, the brave lion of God, Ali, the son 
of Abu Talib." Then follow six lines of Persian poetry, and 
finally, again in Arabic : " Died in the year of the Prophet 



THE MAIM AN AH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 349 

may peace be on him! [A.H.] 889 " [A.D. 1472]. The 
latest inscription is dated A.D. 1577, and marks the tomb 
of the gentle, graceful, and pious Hamidah Bano [lady], 
daughter of Syed Muhammad Kasim, [who] died during the 
month Shabah in the year of the Hijrah 984." 

About the other buildings in Andkhui no reliable infor- 
mation could be obtained. It is said that there are inscrip- 
tions both in the Juma Musjid and in the Madrasah, but 
that they are now hidden by whitewash. Local tradition 
says that the Juma Musjid was built a hundred years ago 
by Abdul Momin Khan Padar Kush (patricide), son of the 
great Abdullah Khan of Bokhara ; and that of the two 
Madrasahs or colleges, one was founded about a hundred 
years ago by Xasarulah Khan, a descendant of Shah Eukh 
Mirza, of Herat, and the other by Shahbaz Khan, Chulush 
Turkoman, from whose family the governorship of Andkhui 
was transferred to Niyaz Khan, the first Usbeg ruler, in 
A.D. 1470 ; though what reliance can be placed on these 
traditions I cannot say. 

The settlement of the Andkhui frontier differed so far 
from that of Maimanah in that, instead of there being an 
unoccupied wilderness in front of it and no rival claimants, 
here in Andkhui the Bokhara territory was close, and the 
wells and pastures given up by Andkhui, owing to fear of 
Bokharan raiders, were soon occupied and made use of by 
Bokharan shepherds ; and, as a matter of fact, the Andkhui 
people were only too pleased at the settlement effected, 
giving them a radius of some 23 miles to the west and 
north of the town or nearly 15 miles beyond the limits 
of cultivation. 

The boundary, commencing from pillar No. 54 near 
Katar Kudak to the west of Daulatabad, runs north for some 
25 miles, nearly parallel to, and at a distance of 12 miles 
from, the Ab-i- Andkhui, up to a point almost due west of 
Ziarat-i-Baba Yataghan. Thence it circles round parallel to 



350 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the outskirts of the Andkhui cultivation, leaving the wells 
at Yaman Kudak, Sarimat, Jelajin, Chichli, Oikal, and Chah-i- 
Imam Nazar, and several minor wells and tanks, to Afghan- 
istan. Pillars Nos. 59, 60, and 63 were built close to 
Sarimat, Chichli, and Oikal respectively; and the last pillar, 1 
No. 66, lies about 1J mile north of Chah-i-Imam Nazar 
and 3 miles south of Dukchi, on the main road from And- 
khui to Karki, a total distance of nearly 190 miles from 
Maruchak and some 80 miles from Daulatabad. 

Eussia by this settlement gets a connected line of wells 
all along her frontier from Panjdeh to the Oxus. This road 
is passable for camels all the way, and, in fact, better for 
camels than any other animal, as they require no grain and 
there is plenty of grazing for them everywhere. I believe 
camel caravans can do the distance from Panjdeh to And- 
khui in five days. The Eussian route along the frontier is 
as follows : 

From Panjdeh to Miles. 

1. Galla Chashmah, . . . . 18 

2. Kara Bel, ..... 25 

3. Kara Baba, ..... 20 

4. Yedikui, . . . . . 19 

5. Hazarah Kudak, . . . . 12 

6. Chah-i-Pirjik, . . . . . 18 

7. Tezakli, ..... 30 

8. Sehchanche, . . . . . 13 

9. Gandeh Chah, . 8 
10. Dukchi, ...... 22 

Total, . . 185 

This line runs all the way within the Eussian border ; but 
crossing the frontier, there is a direct road to Daulatabad, 
from Hazarah Kudak vid Katar Kudak, with four wells on 

1 The position of this pillar was subsequently altered, and the wells of Imam 
Nazar made over to Russia by the final settlement at St Petersburg, described 
in chapter xxvii. 



THE MAIMANAH AND ANDKHUI FRONTIER. 351 

the way. Similarly, going from Panjdeh to Andkhui, there 
is a road from Chah-i-Pirjik to Chap Guzar, and thence 
down the river to Andkhui. 

The only stages on the route without water are the first 
two ; but supposing water for the first march to be sent out 
from Panjdeh, there will never be the slightest difficulty in 
making use of these routes. 

Beyond Dukchi the boundary is not yet settled ; but roads 
run from there both to Karki and to Bosagha, the present 
frontier Bokharan villages. Karki, we hear, is shortly to 
become a Eussian cantonment ; and should that be the case, 
of course with a direct road through Dukchi, Andkhui could 
be occupied by Eussian troops from there at any time with- 
out difficulty with this condition only, namely, that now 
that the frontier has been defined any such occupation would 
be an act of war a most conclusive proof in itself of the 
utility and necessity for a defined frontier. As it is, the 
settlement and demarcation of about 325 miles out of a 
total of some 350 miles of frontier is no slight thing of 
itself, and the Mission has every reason to congratulate 
itself on having effected so much in the teeth of so many 
difficulties. In addition to this it must be remembered, too, 
that the Mission has collected a vast amount of information 
regarding these hitherto unknown regions, and future opera- 
tions in Afghanistan will now be greatly simplified as, 
instead of having to rely solely as hitherto on the chance 
reports of casual travellers, the Government will have at its 
disposal a trained body of thoroughly experienced officers 
possessing an intimate knowledge of the resources and 
features of all North- Western Afghanistan. 

The only question now remaining to be settled is the 
point where the boundary is to strike the Oxus. It has 
already been decided by the two Commissioners that the 
line is to run eastwards from pillar No. 66, near Dukchi, to 



352 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the north of Jar Kudak ; and there will, therefore, be no 
difficulty in putting up the pillars across the remaining 
25 or 30 miles of desert between Dukchi and the Oxus, as 
soon as it has been decided by the Government at home 
whether the present frontier between Khamiab, belonging 
to Akchah, and Bosagha in Bokhara, on the banks of that 
river, is to be maintained or not. 



353 



CHAPTEE XXV. 

THE COMMISSION AT KABUL. 

CAMP JAMRUD, Zlst October 1886. 

WHEN I wrote from Charikar we were just starting for 
Kabul, and the Amir, we heard, was away at Bagran, where, 
by all accounts, he had been successful in bringing a con- 
siderable amount of land under cultivation which had for- 
merly lain waste for want of water. At Tutam Darah we 
were shown the head of a large canal, taken off from the 
Ghorband river, which has been newly constructed under 
the Amir's own orders, all previous attempts at making a 
canal there having failed. 

We heard that the Amir would not reach Kabul for a 
day or two after us, but that all arrangements were ready 
for our reception ; and so, on we went. The Charikar 
valley was so well known in the last war that I need not 
try to describe it. We marched leisurely according to the 
stages fixed by the Afghans, viz. : 

Miles. 

13. Robat, ...... 6 

14. Siah Ab-i-Charmgah, .... 15 

15. Kabul (Aliabad), . 15 

Total, . . 36 

The change to this densely populated and thickly culti- 
vated valley after the wildernesses that we have wandered 
through was a pleasant surprise to those of us who, like 

z 



354 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

myself, had not seen it before. We did not see many of 
the people on the whole ; and, doubtless, all those who 
suffered so severely at our hands six years ago kept out of 
our way. Those that we did see were most civil, and I 
really think I received almost as many " Khush Amadeeds " 
and suchlike salutations of welcome during these three 
marches as I have during the whole of the past two 
years. 

Our arrival at Kabul was signalised by an entertainment 
in real Afghan fashion. Aliabad consists of a large garden 
and house in the Chahar Deh valley, just at the back of 
the Asmai heights, and a little way to the north of the 
Deh Mazang gorge through which the Kabul river runs into 
the city. The Amir being away, almost everybody of posi- 
tion was away with him. The Sipah Salar Gulam Haidar 
Khan was absent suppressing some disturbance in Laghman, 
and Sir West Eidgeway was received by the Brigadier- 
General commanding, with a couple of squadrons of cavalry, 
some two miles out, and escorted by him to the residence 
set apart for us at Aliabad. The Brigadier appeared in a 
long gold-embroidered green coat, with a general's sword 
and belt, and a white-plumed gold-laced shako, escorted by 
some Turkistan Lancers, men in huge sheepskin hats, blue 
coats and trousers, and a long lance painted green, with a 
blue- and- white pennant ; in fact, their lances were so long 
that they had no lance-buckets to their stirrups, but had 
to order their lances on the ground. The Brigadier advanced 
to meet us, and as soon as he had been introduced by Kazi 
Saad-ud-Din Khan, he cantered back to the troops drawn 
up in line and received Sir West Eidgeway with the usual 
salute. The Hizdah Nahri Eegiment, which formed the 
escort, were all dressed in old British red tunics, and armed 
with muzzle-loading carbines and Cossack swords. None 
of the Afghan cavalry except the Amir's own body-guard 
are yet armed with breech-loading carbines ; but this, no 



THE COMMISSION AT KABUL. 355 

doubt, will come in time. The Afghan soldier's head-dress, 
I must say, is the most curious I have ever seen ; and it 
was only on arrival in Kabul that we saw it for the first 
time in general use. Imagine a small beehive of brown felt 
without any shade or peak, or anything to relieve the rigidity 
of its appearance, except in some cases a small tassel at the 
top and a black band round the bottom, with now and then 
a rosette on one side. This cap is worn by all arms of the 
service, and looks better on a body of men than might have 
been expected. 

On arrival at Aliabad we found a couple of guards drawn 
up who duly presented arms, and we then all dismounted 
and entered the house. A house in this country is hardly 
in conformity with our English ideas on the subject. A 
narrow entrance, turning three or four times at right angles, 
took us into a courtyard some 20 yards square, surrounded 
by open rooms on three sides, and by a hamam on the 
fourth. Who the rightful owner is I don't know, but it 
is State property at present, and has, I heard, been lately 
presented by the Amir to Sirdar Yusaf Khan, at present 
governor of Farah. In olden days, I believe, it belonged 
to the family of Kessaldar-Major Sirdar Muhammad Aslam 
Khan, and this was almost his first look at the home of his 
ancestors, as, having left Kabul thirty-seven years ago, when 
a boy of eleven, he had only vague recollections of what it 
was like. It was wonderful how his memory returned 
to him directly he saw the place, and how well he knew 
the names of everything he saw ; though, as he told me, he 
was much surprised to find how small everything looked to 
him now after the vastness with which his boyish ideas had 
pictured each place. 

Everything that could be done in the short time at their 
disposal had been done by the Afghans to fit up the house 
for our reception. All the doors, windows, and shutters had 
been freshly painted, the walls whitewashed, and the floors 



356 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

carpeted with felts and white cloth. The cornices of the 
rooms were even ornamented with rows of apples, pome- 
granates, and quinces, and very good those apples were, as I 
have good reason to remember. We were first of all ushered 
into the rooms on the south side, which had been fitted up 
as ante-room and dining-room respectively. The table in 
the latter room round which we sat was covered with sweet- 
meats of all shapes and sizes ; and soon afterwards tea was 
brought in and handed round in little china cups, and after 
that again, cups of hot spiced milk and sugar. This refection 
having been done good justice to, Kazi Saad-ud-Din and the 
Brigadier took leave, and we were left to settle ourselves 
down. 

Sir West Ridgeway occupied the couple of rooms above 
the dining-room, which had been expressly furnished and 
carpeted for him. I took possession of a room down-stairs, 
and the Commissioner's office and Nawab Mirza Hasan Ali 
Khan were located in others. The majority preferred to 
pitch their tents in the garden outside, which was in reality 
a wonderfully pretty place. These Eastern rooms, though 
so clean and nice to look at, have not the bath-rooms and 
conveniences which we are accustomed to, and, moreover, 
are very cold at night, as they are all open on the inner 
side, and though they can be closed by wooden shutters, 
still these, after all, are poor protection. Outside in the 
garden we found several Turkoman Jcibitkas had been pitched 
for our use, and two capital pavilions or summer-houses, 
which were all lined and carpeted throughout with red 
cloth. Certainly everything possible had been done for us 
in the way of preparation. 

Hardly were we settled than breakfast was announced, 
and we all sat down again to another Afghan feast. First 
of all, a company of infantry arrived bearing huge wooden 
trays of sweetmeats, which were set down on the ground 
outside and covered the whole courtyard. These were 



THE COMMISSION AT KABUL. 357 

divided amongst all our men, and a grand feast they must 
have had. Our breakfast arrived in a long procession of 
metal trays covered with kincob and gold-embroidered cloths. 
These latter, when removed, revealed huge pilaos of various 
kinds, a lamb roasted whole with pistachio-nuts, and finally, 
a sheep roasted whole a huge dish with the sheep lying 
flat and four legs sticking straight out at each corner. All 
sorts of pickles and spiced meats in little china dishes and a 
few sweets completed the repast, and a right good repast it 
was too. I did my best to do justice to it ; but I confess, 
despite all my efforts, I was beaten by Khan Bahadur 
Ibrahim Khan and Subadar Muhammad Husain Khan, who 
were sitting next to me. 

The Amir did not arrive in Kabul till the 18th, and we 
did not pay our formal visit to him till the 20th, so we 
had nothing much to do but rest ourselves after our travels 
for the first four days. Captains Peacocke and Cotton, and 
also Messrs Clarke and Marshall, paid a visit to Sherpur 
early on the morning of the 16th; but after that we were 
asked not to visit either the city or Sherpur till the Amir 
arrived, and consequently we had to content ourselves with 
short rides in the neighbourhood. What surprised us most 
were the excellent roads laid out in all directions both in the 
Kabul and Chahar Deh valleys, planted with rows of pop- 
lars on either side ; and the work is still progressing, as we 
found a battalion of sappers or pioneers encamped in the 
Deh Mazang gorge, busily engaged in blasting away the 
rock for a good 30 -feet road in place of the track that 
formerly existed. The Amir's visit to Eawal Pindi was, I 
heard, the cause of all this activity in roadmaking, and very 
probably this is the case. But the Amir's attention has 
by no means been confined to roads. Eiding out on the 
evening of the 17th with Sir West Eidgeway, Dr Owen, 
Sirdar Sher Ahmad Khan, and Eessaldar-Major Baha-u'-din 
Khan, we paid a visit to his Highness's new garden, called 



358 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the Bagh-i-Baland, on the slopes of the Ao Shar Kotal. The 
whole hillside has been levelled and terraced and planted 
with vines, and we found fruit and sweetmeats all ready laid 
out for us in a pavilion, where we had a splendid view over 
all the valley the lake, Sherpur, Siah Sang, and Kabul, all 
lying spread out before us. 

Ten o'clock on the morning of the 20th was the time 
fixed for our visit to the Amir, and accordingly that hour saw 
us all in full dress on our way to the Bagh-i-Babar, a garden 
round the tomb of the Emperor Babar, at the back of the 
Sher Darwaza hill, where the Amir generally resides pend- 
ing the completion of his new palace. At the gate we 
found a band and guard of honour drawn up, who received 
Sir West Eidgeway with the usual salute. Dismounting 
and walking up the garden, we were met by a procession of 
generals, brigadiers, and colonels, all in single file, headed 
by the Naib Salar, or acting commander- in-chief, Parwanah 
Khan, who were all introduced one by one to Sir West 
Eidgeway by Kazi Saad-ud-Din Khan. The latter having 
been away from Kabul with us for the last two years, got 
a little mixed over the various names and ranks, and the 
promptness with which each corrected any mistake in 
announcing his rank was rather amusing. This introduc- 
tion over, the Naib Salar conducted Sir West to a large open 
pavilion all lined and carpeted with red and white cloth, 
where he was received by Sirdar Shums-ud-Din Khan and 
four or five other Sirdars, the Khan Mullah Khan or High 
Priest of Kabul (the father, by the way, of Kazi Saad-ud- 
Din Khan), the City Judge, and one or two others who alone 
were allowed seats at the durbar, all the military officers 
having to stand in a row outside behind them. We were 
all seated down one side of the room and the Sirdars 
down ,the other, and hardly had we got into our places when 
sounds of " Allah " and other cries of salutation announced 
that the Amir was arriving from his residence close by, and 



THE COMMISSION AT KABUL. 359 

a minute later the Amir himself appeared riding on horse- 
back, with a huge gold-embroidered umbrella held over his 
head, despite the fact that he had hardly twenty yards to 
come, and the sun was shaded by the trees. His Highness 
was preceded by some twenty or thirty men of his body-guard, 
fine-looking men, all Barukzais, I believe, armed with Mar- 
tini-Henry carbines and bandolier belts, and clad in a dark 
uniform with round Eussian-shaped fur caps. In addition 
to these there was also a guard of Turkistan Horse in their 
huge sheepskin hats, and another in the ordinary uniform 
felt hat. These all ranged themselves around while the 
Amir dismounted and entered the pavilion. His Highness 
first shook hands with Sir West Eidgeway, and then, after a 
few words of welcome, with each of us in turn as we were 
separately introduced by Sir West, after which he sat down 
on a small sofa placed at right angles to our line of chairs. 
His Highness was plainly dressed in a drab suit, with a 
plain leather sword-belt without any embroidery or ornamen- 
tation beyond mauve-coloured velvet facings and Eussian 
shoulder-straps his only decoration being the Afghan Order 
of Bahadari in diamonds, worn on the side of his grey 
Astrakhan hat. 

The conversation lasted for about an hour, chiefly upon 
subjects connected with the boundary. His Highness wel- 
comed us all to Kabul after all the wanderings we had gone 
through, expressed himself as very glad to see us, adding 
that he hoped we should not be the only British officers he 
should see at Kabul, as, till the boundary was finally settled, 
British officers would be continually coming and going. His 
Highness finally invited us all to breakfast at his new palace 
the next morning. Before we left, our presents to the Amir 
from the Government Toshakhana were brought in and pre- 
sented. These included handsome rifles, a large telescope, a 
diamond-mounted watch and certain jewellery, and also full- 
dress general officers' swords and belts for each of his two 



360 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

elder sons, and a third in miniature for the younger one, 
as well as various other rifles, pistols, &c., and a couple of 
valuable Arab horses for the Amir and a Waler for each of 
the sons. Neither of the sons, however, was present at the 
durbar, and, as a matter of fact, we never saw them the 
whole time we were at Kabul. A younger brother of Sirdar 
Ishak Khan's, a tall man in a white Kussian uniform, stood 
behind the Amir, and various other young Sirdars were also 
standing in the background, no near relations being allowed 
to sit. Sirdar Sher Ahmad Khan also stood throughout the 
interview a mark of respect which, I believe, greatly pleased 
his Highness. The only peculiarity I noticed at the visit 
was that the Amir, after shaking hands with Sir West Eidge- 
way, sat down on his sofa and shook hands with all the rest 
of us sitting down. 

In the afternoon I had my first ride through the city of 
Kabul. We were a large party, consisting of Sir West 
Eidgeway, Colonel Bax, Captains Peacocke, Cotton, and 
Griesbach, Dr Owen, Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, Eessal- 
dar-Major Baha-u'-din Khan, and myself, and we were every- 
where received with perfect civility. The bazaars are so 
well known that I need not describe them. The only 
change, I fancy, since the time of our occupation, was the 
sight of the Naib Kotwal, well known by the name of ISTaib 
Sultan Khan, administering justice in the Kotwali. This 
man is, I believe, probably the most hated and most feared 
of all the officials in Afghanistan. He is at the head of all 
the secret police, and is popularly supposed to have a spy in 
every family ; and so strict is his vigilance, that no two or 
three men dare to gather together anywhere, much less, 
they say, to talk to each other openly. 

A fine new bridge is being made across the river, but 
the old buildings are mostly in ruins. The palace occu- 
pied by the Amir Sher Ali Khan and Yakub Khan is now 
half in ruins, part being occupied as a barrack and the 



THE COMMISSION AT KABUL. 361 

remainder as a prison a prison, too, they say, from which 
a prisoner never returns. The Upper Bala Hissar is still 
perfect, but the lower portion has been almost entirely de- 
molished, and the old foundations are now being utilised for 
the excavation of saltpetre. 

Our breakfast at the Amir's new palace on the morning 
of the 21st was a great surprise to us all, as we had no idea 
that such a magnificent building existed in Kabul. First of 
all, riding along the river-bank, we found a regular embank- 
ment under construction, which the Amir afterwards told 
us he was going to complete and adorn. And beyond that 
again, we came upon a new and spacious bazaar also in 
process of building. Just outside the city we came to the 
new palace, which, on the outside, is simply a large rectan- 
gular fortification with mud-walls and ditch all round it. 
Outside the entrance-gate is a row of new buildings designed 
for public offices. The Amir explained to us that he had 
found all the Mirzas working separately each in his own 
house, by which arrangement it took ten days to get one 
day's work properly done ; so he had determined to locate 
them all together close to himself, and for the future, I sup- 
pose, office hours will be enforced with as much regularity 
in Kabul as they are in India. 

Entering the palace-gate, we pass through a fine garden 
of big trees, down a road bordered with iron railings on each 
side, to a long white building with a corrugated iron roof. 
This constitutes the private or ladies' apartments, known as 
the Haram Sarai. The public or men's portion of the 
palace consists of an ornamental and lofty pavilion in the 
midst of an enclosed garden, with entrances on each side and 
a high domed octagonal room in the centre, in which we 
were all received. The garden around is beautifully kept, 
and inside everything was good. The doors, carvings, and 
fittings of all the little rooms and the central reception-hall 
were perfect, and I have never seen anything like them in 



362 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

India. Above, in the balcony of the second storey, there 
were fine china vases full of flowers, and a large chandelier 
hung from the centre of the dome. 

The Amir entered just after we arrived, shook hands with 
Sir West Ridgeway, bowed to each of us, and sat down on 
his favourite sofa, while we were seated around the hall on 
one side, and the Naib Salar and various generals and col- 
onels occupied the other. Sirdar Ishak Khan's brother 
again stood behind the Amir's sofa, and also the long-haired 
youth in gold cap and belt and the crutch stick, who appa- 
rently is always in close attendance, as I even recognised his 
face in one of the Rawal Pindi photographs hung up on the 
wall. The Amir talked long, mostly on subjects connected 
with the army, and evidently for the benefit of the officers 
of his army who were present. Little tables covered with 
sweetmeats were brought in, and also tea and cigarettes ; but 
eleven o'clock struck and then twelve, and it was not till 
about half -past that the Amir began to get angry and to ask 
why breakfast was not brought. Finally, he wrote a note, 
apparently to the cook, which must have frightened him, as 
at last tables were brought in, cloths spread, and breakfast 
produced. The Amir left us to breakfast at the tables alone 
and went outside, where carpets were spread all round for 
his own officers to sit and breakfast upon. All our native 
officers and men of the escort were also invited in, and re- 
galed with a sumptuous repast, the Amir personally welcom- 
ing them as friends and brothers who were always to be 
allies for the future. As soon as breakfast was over and 
the cloth removed, the Amir joined us again, and further 
conversation commenced, during which he referred to the 
British Parliament, and pointing out to us the two paintings, 
GDC of the House of Lords and the other of the House of 
Commons, that hung on either side of him, suggested that 
we ought all to go to England and personally enlighten 
Parliament on the state and condition of Afghanistan a 



THE COMMISSION AT KABUL. 363 

proposal we assured him we should be delighted to carry 
out, were it possible. 

We finally took leave, and started off under the guidance 
of his personal officials to see the interior of the palace, 
which, being not quite finished, has not yet been occupied 
by the ladies for whom it is intended. Entering by the big 
gateway, we found ourselves in a fine courtyard, some 80 
yards long by 50 yards broad, surrounded by handsome 
corridors, all finished with carved gypsum plaster. Crossing 
the corridor and ascending wide flights of steps, we found 
ourselves in a series of lofty rooms, all beautifully carpeted 
and lighted, with all the shelves and recesses filled with 
vases and china, the last room of all containing a capital 
collection of Kashgar china bowls. Each room was double 
that is to say, one to the front, with another at the back 
opening off from it, and the whole were warmed by hot-air 
pipes built into the walls. The only articles of furniture that 
we saw were huge iron and brass bedsteads, brought back, I 
believe, by the Amir when he returned from Eawal Pindi. 
Chairs and tables there were none. The other two sides of 
the court were filled up with servants' rooms, &c. When we 
had finished our inspection of this, we were taken to see the 
Durbar Hall, which is a separate building beyond. Here an- 
other surprise awaited us, as we found ourselves in a vast hall, 
60 yards long by 20 broad, with a painted roof, supported 
by two rows of pillars. All this took some time to see, and 
it was not till late in the afternoon that we got back again. 

The 22d was an equally busy day. We were all invited 
to breakfast by the Naib Salar, or acting Commander-in- 
Chief, and the Afghan generals and colonels conjointly, and 
a great breakfast we had of it too. I may here mention 
that evidently, in the Afghan army, anything under the 
rank of a colonel is a nobody. They have captains, but I 
have met only a few of them, and they are not held to be of 
much account, or apparently admitted into society. Certainly 



364 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

none were present at the breakfast. On arrival at Parwanah 
Khan's house, we found ourselves in a great big yard or en- 
closure where a half-battalion of the Kandahari Eegiment 
was drawn up as a guard of honour, with band and colours, 
and also a party of pipers. We passed through into the 
private apartments which had been fitted up for our recep- 
tion, and here we found a long table covered with sweet- 
meats, on one side of which were ranged the Afghan officers, 
and ourselves on the other. Sir West Eidgeway was given 
the seat of honour at the head of the room, with the Naib 
Salar on his right and Kazi Saad-ud-Din Khan on his left. 
Afghan ideas of hospitality appear to be diametrically op- 
posed to ours. When they ask a man to dinner, instead of 
giving him his dinner at once, they amuse him first with 
tea and sweetmeats, conversation, and the circulation of a 
friendly pipe or two for some hours, so as to give him 
a chance of getting up an appetite, and then they produce 
the dinner. So it was with us. We sat from ten o'clock 
till noon amusing ourselves with sweets and cigarettes as 
best we could, and it was not till afternoon that the break- 
fast appeared. The sweetmeats were cleared away and the 
table laid for us in their place, while the Afghans and our 
native officers and attaches, who had not yet mastered the 
mysteries of the knife and fork, sat down in a solemn row 
in the adjoining room, and then round went the dishes. Tray 
after tray was brought and distributed between the two 
rooms, all the servants, in regular Afghan fashion, being 
armed to the teeth. Wherever we went it was just the 
same, everybody was armed, and I don't think I know of 
any other place where I have been waited on by so many 
servants in such gorgeous - coloured cloth coats and such 
ornamental sword-belts as I saw in Kabul. Every man 
wore a sword and pistol, and all wore good English boots ; 
in fact, English boots, and trousers with straps to them, 



THE COMMISSION AT KABUL. 365 

seemed to be the Kabul regulation from highest to lowest. 
A few only wore long Kussian boots. 

Shortly before we sat down to breakfast, just as the last 
cup of tea came round, Sir West Eidgeway proposed the 
health of his Highness the Amir, to which the Naib Salar 
at once responded by getting up and proposing the health of 
her Majesty the Queen, a toast that was fully honoured, and 
I do not suppose her Majesty's health has ever been more 
heartily drunk in any liquor than it was by us on this occa- 
sion in green tea. No sooner was the cloth removed and all 
the Afghans back in their chairs again, than the Dabir-ul- 
Mulk, a functionary corresponding somewhat to our Foreign 
Secretary, appeared with a written speech, which he read 
out in the name of the Naib Salar, welcoming the Mission 
to Kabul, and offering congratulations on the friendship now 
established between the two nations, evidenced to all by the 
officers of both thus meeting together in mutual friendship. 
Sir West at once replied, thanking the Amir and his officers 
for all their hospitality, and expressing his conviction that 
the friendship now so happily established would be lasting, 
and that, for the future, the two nations would always be 
found side by side. 

During the entertainment a regimental band and the 
party of pipers played alternately in the court below, and 
uncommonly well they played too. The bandmaster and 
the pipe-major were both apparently Hindustanis trained in 
India, and they deserve every credit for the way they have 
taught the raw Afghans they have had to work upon. The 
bagpipes looked much as if they had been locally manu- 
factured, and I fancy, as in the case of the heliographs, the 
Amir got possession of one and had the others made up like 
it. The Amir told us himself that he had now a body of 
some two hundred trained signallers, and communication 
was regularly kept up by them between the city and his 



366 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

camp all the time he was away, all of which speaks much 
for his Highness's application and ingenuity. 

The 23d was again another busy day. First of all the 
Dabir-ul-Miilk arrived at 10 A.M., with presents from the 
Amir. He was received with all ceremony, and first of all 
presented an autograph letter from the Amir to Lord Salis- 
bury, which Sir West promised to safely deliver. After that 
the presents were brought in, the principal point about 
which was a little tray containing a decoration for each 
officer, as an acknowledgment of the Amir's gratitude for 
all their labours on his behalf. Sir West Eidgeway was 
first decorated with a diamond star, the first class of the 
Afghan Order of Chivalry, and Colonel Bax with a smaller 
star of somewhat similar pattern, being the second class of 
the same Order. All the other officers were presented with 
the gold decoration of the Afghan Order of Honour, and 
each also received a dress of honour. On the conclusion of 
the presentation we all put on our decorations and rode off 
to the Bagh-i-Babar to pay our final visit to his Highness. 
Sir West Eidgeway, first of all, had a private interview, at 
which, it is said, his Highness expressed his entire satisfac- 
tion at the boundary settlement so far as it has gone. After 
this we were all introduced, and took our final leave of his 
Highness. The Amir received us this time in another 
pavilion erected at the top of the garden close to the 
Emperor Babar's tomb, which stands in a marble mosque, 
with an inscription on the arches recording the fact that 
Shah Jehan, after conquering Balkh, Shibarghan, and Tash- 
kurghan, came to Kabul and built the mosque, and erected 
the tombstone over his ancestor's grave in the year A.H. 1056, 
or A.D. 1643; the date of Babar's death being recorded by 
the Abjad reckoning in certain Persian verses on the tomb- 
stone itself. 

From the garden we rode straight off to the other side of 
the city to witness a review of the Afghan troops. The 



THE COMMISSION AT KABUL. 367 

Naib Salar and Afghan generals met Sir West Eidgeway at 
the new palace, and escorted him to the parade-ground on 
the large Chaman near Siah Sang, immediately below Fort 
Eoberts, where we found all the troops drawn up in readi- 
ness. After the salute the march past commenced, and was 
gone through with wonderful regularity, taking everything 
into consideration. The force was a small one, as some of 
the troops in Sherpur were not present ; and then no less 
than two batteries of artillery and seven regiments of in- 
fantry were away with the Sipah Salar in Laghman, and 
three more had been lately despatched to Ghazni. Alto- 
gether 32 guns, about 2800 infantry, and 800 cavalry were 
present. The artillery came first, a couple of mountain bat- 
teries of six screw-guns each heading the column. These 
were not mounted on mules as with us, but on yabus, and 
capital strong ponies they were too. Next came a couple 
of light batteries of four guns each, and then a couple 
of heavier batteries of six guns each ; none of these 
batteries had any waggons, and whether to call them field 
or horse artillery I do not quite know. Every man was 
mounted, but on the gun teams ; they had no mounted 
detachments. The two light batteries had only five horses, 
and the heavier batteries six and eight horses, respectively, 
to each gun, and each horse carried his man. The men, 
however, though badly dressed, seemed to manage their guns 
well, and all looked serviceable. 

After the artillery came the infantry by companies. It 
was difficult to distinguish the regiments, as only a propor- 
tion of the men were clad in uniform that is to say, in red 
British tunics, and distance was not very regularly kept. 
Almost all the men, however, had the regulation felt hat, and 
were undoubtedly fine material for soldiers had they only 
good officers. The company commanders looked hardly up 
to their work, and the want of good officers is probably 
the weak point of the Afghan army. Such men under 



368 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

British officers, ought to make capital soldiers. As it was, 
they kept good step and good line, and were wonderfully 
steady considering. 

The cavalry turned out about the best of all. The two 
troops of the Shahi or Eoyal Eegiment of the Arnir's own 
body-guard looked uncommonly well. They are all Barak - 
zais, mounted on Government horses, with Government 
arms and equipment, and both horses and saddlery were in 
good condition and well kept. They carried their Martini 
carbines in buckets. These were the only men armed with 
breech-loaders, all the rest having muzzle-loading carbines 
carried slung over the back or else hooked on to the waist- 
belt. The infantry were armed, some with Martinis, a 
larger proportion with Sniders, and some with muzzle- 
loaders. The last were principally confined to the young 
lads in the training battalion. 

It was too late in the day by the time all had gone past 
for any manoeuvres, so, after wishing the Naib Salar and his 
generals good-bye, we all rode home ; but not to rest, for 
Kazi Saad-ud-Din Khan had to be received in durbar in 
the evening, to receive his presents and to say good-bye. 
The Kazi on his part came down with an autograph letter 
from the Amir to Dr Owen, specially thanking him for all 
his hard work and attention to the sick during the last two 
years a graceful parting acknowledgment. The Kazi, 
when the time came, seemed sorry to say good-bye ; and I 
daresay he was, as life with the Amir, I fancy, is not at all 
bliss for his officials. However, all things must have an 
end, and so had our visit to Kabul. 

The morning of the 24th saw us all on our way again. 
Eiding out to Butkak in the early morning, we paid a 
visit to Sherpur, where some of us, like Sir West Eidgeway 
and Dr Owen, who had lived there before, were anxious to 
have a look at their old quarters. The place, I believe, is 
in very much the same state as when we left it, except that 



THE COMMISSION AT KABUL. 369 

part has been demolished by the Ainir for the sake of the 
woodwork, which he utilised in the new palace. He told us 
himself that he did not like the place, and very possibly he 
may dismantle it all in time. Colonel Bax and Dr Owen 
paid a visit to the cemetery, which, they said, was very 
little disturbed ; some of the graves had sunk and fallen in, 
and most of the tombstones were down on the ground, and 
the names carved on them had been chipped and defaced, 
apparently by mischievous boys, but a little repair would 
put all to rights again. This the Amir himself promised 
Sir West Ridgeway should be done, and, in fact, before we 
left Kabul orders were issued by his Highness for the wall 
to be built up afresh, and the whole cemetery to be repaired 
and preserved. We had a last leave-taking of Kazi Saad- 
ud-Din Khan and the Farash Bashi, a capital fellow, who 
had looked after us so carefully during our stay, and one 
or two others, on the road ; and then we bade final good- 
bye to Kabul and fairly started for India. 

The country from Kabul to Peshawar was so well known 
during the last war that I need say nothing more than that 
we marched by the following stages, viz. : 



24. Kabul to Butkak, . . . .15 

25. Barik Ao, . . . . .25 

26. Safed Sang, ..... 32 

27. Rozabad, ..... 18 

28. AH Boghan, ..... 19 

29. Busawal, . . . . .23 

30. Landi Kotal, ..... 25 

31. Jamrud, . .. . . .16 

Total, . . 173 

Here we are fairly, at last, in British territory, and we march 
in to Peshawar to-morrow. Captain Leigh, the political 
officer in charge of the Khaibar, met us at Landi Kotal, and 
there we finally said good-bye to our Afghan friends, and 
came under the welcome protection of the Khaibar Rifles 

2 A 



370 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the first sign to us that we were really back in our own 
territories. I must say, however, that we owe a great deal to 
the Afghans. For two years not a shot has been fired at 
us, and not a thing even has been stolen from us, and I 
know of no country where we could have experienced such 
entire immunity from theft. We had a troop of Afghan 
cavalry on duty with us from Kabul to the frontier, and 
the way they watched over us was something wonderful. 
Not only was there a circle of vedettes round our camp both 
day and night, but even when Sir West Eidgeway halted 
on the roadside for breakfast, there was a circle formed all 
round in no time. I was particularly struck in the Jagdalak 
pass how quickly each hill-top in the neighbourhood was 
crowned by one of these men, and how well they seemed to 
understand their duty ; without doubt, the Afghan sowar 
has the makings of a fine soldier in him. 

At Landi Khana we found the Maliks of the neigh- 
bourhood assembled, with an address of welcome all ready 
written for presentation to Sir West Eidgeway ; and the 
men of the Khaibar Eifles, with their brothers and their 
cousins, were all waiting to welcome their commandant, 
Eessaldar-Major Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, back again. 

Here, at Jamrud, we have been met by Colonel Water- 
field, C.S.I., the Commissioner of Peshawar ; Mr Anderson, 
the Deputy Commissioner ; Mr Hastings, the District Super- 
intendent of Police, and we are all thoroughly happy in the 
enjoyment of Colonel Waterfield's genial hospitality, en- 
hanced by the knowledge that all care and anxiety is at an 
end, now that we are once more back amongst our own 
people. To-morrow, we hear, we have a grand reception in 
store for us, on arrival at Peshawar, by all the troops in 
garrison under the command of General Sir Hugh Gough, in 
addition to special entertainments for both officers and men. 
I need not say how proud and gratified all of us are, from 
the highest to the lowest, at such a cordial welcome. 



371 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

RECEPTION AT LAHORE. 

LAHORE, 6th November 1886. 

SIR WEST EIDGEWAY started for England last night, and 
the Boundary Commission is now being broken up. Never 
shall I forget the reception that has been accorded to us 
since our return. When last I wrote we were just starting 
from Jamrud, the whole of the little garrison of the fort 
there being drawn up on the roadside waiting for us to pass. 
On arrival at Peshawar we were met by Brigadier- 
General Sir Hugh Gough, V.C., K.C.B., at the head of all the 
troops in the station, consisting of M Battery 3d Brigade 
Eoyal Artillery, 1st Bengal Cavalry, the Wiltshire Eegiment, 
the 4th Battalion King's Royal Rifles, the 21st, 29th, and 
31st Panjab Infantry, all drawn up in line in review order 
on either side of the road to salute us as we passed. 
We were played in all the way to our camping-ground 
by the bands of the different regiments, and escorted by 
the General and his staff. Many were the kind greetings 
we received, and many were the encomiums we heard passed 
on the fine appearance of our men. We then began to 
realise what a difference the invigorating winter air of the 
northern regions we had been living in had made in the 
physique of both our men and followers how it had filled 
out their chests, and made them much more robust than 
their brethren who had never been out of India. 



372 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

Our day in Peshawar was a busy one. Our orders were 
to proceed at once to Lahore, where his Excellency the 
Viceroy had graciously signified his intention of receiving 
us ; and as his Excellency was to leave Lahore on the 4th, 
it was as much as we could do to get our equipment and 
stores and everything settled up and handed over in time to 
allow of our departure in the morning. The night of the 
1st was a gay one for all. The officers of the station gave a 
.ball in our honour, while all the native officers, attaches, and 
men were each entertained at various feasts and entertain- 
ments, followed by fireworks, illuminations, and dances that 
lasted till a very late hour in the morning. However, mid- 
day of the 2d saw us all on our way, the General and many 
of the officers kindly coming down to see us off. 

On arrival at Eawal Pindi in the evening we had another 
and most unexpected welcome. Brigadier- General Sir John 
Hudson, K.C.B., with all his staff, a regimental band, and 
many of the officers of the station, were waiting to meet us 
on arrival and bid us welcome by the special request of 
H.RH. the Duke of Connaught, commanding the Division, 
and proud we were at the honour. 

On arrival at Lahore on the morning of the 3d we were 
met at the railway station by Major-General Murray, C.B., 
commanding the Division ; Mr H. M. Durand, C.S.I., Foreign 
Secretary to the Government of India ; and the Deputy and 
Assistant Commissioners of Lahore ; and we found a camp 
pitched for us all ready for immediate occupation. 

The first thing to greet us on arrival was the receipt of 
the following notification : 

11 NOTIFICATION. 

" No. 1885 F. 

" SIMLA, the 1st November 1886. 

" On the return to India of the Afghan Boundary Commission, 
the Governor-General in Council desires to place on record his 



RECEPTION AT LAHORE. 373 

high appreciation of the valuable services rendered by officers 
and men during their two years' absence from British territory. 

" Colonel Sir West Kidgeway and the political officers under 
his orders have shown skill, judgment, and tenacity in their 
endeavours to secure the primary objects of the Commission, and 
the results obtained in other departments have been highly 
satisfactory ; while the military escort, composed of detachments 
of the llth Bengal Lancers and 20th Panjab Infantry, have 
upheld throughout, by discipline, endurance, and good conduct, 
the credit of her Majesty's army. 

" The Governor-General in Council heartily congratulates the 
members of the Commission upon the completion of their trying 
duties, and welcomes them back to the British frontier. 

" By Order of the Governor-General in Council, 

"H. M. DURAND, 

" Secretary to the Government of India" 

This was followed on the afternoon of the 4th by the 
investiture of Colonel Sir West Eidgeway with the insignia 
of a Knight Commander of the Star of India, and the public 
reception of the officers and men of the Commission, by his 
Excellency the Viceroy at Government House. In describing 
this, I cannot do better than quote the following extract from 
the ' Civil and Military Gazette,' the local journal, of this 
morning's date : 

" INVESTITURE OF SIR WEST RIDGEWAY. 

" The most significant, and albeit its narrower dimensions as a 
spectacle, the most imposing, functions of the Lahore festivities 
came off on Thursday afternoon at 4.30 P.M., when a Chapter of 
the most Exalted Order of the Star of India was held to invest 
Sir West Ridgeway with the insignia of the second class of the 
Order. At the same time the opportunity was taken of welcom- 
ing the members of the Afghan Boundary Commission. Not- 
withstanding that the Chapter had been ordered at very short 
notice, it was a scene solemn and impressive. One of the upper 
rooms in Government House had been cleared and arranged in a 
manner suitable to the occasion. At the head of the room was 
the throne for his Excellency the Grand Master, and on either side 
of the centre passage were seated the Knights Grand Cross and 
Knight Commanders, and below them the Companions. Below 
the Companions, on either side, were seated the officers and 
native attaches of the Boundary Commission. All heads of 



374 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

departments were present, and many distinguished visitors 
attended the installation, who were provided with seats behind 
the members of the Order. His Honour the Lieutenant-Go vernor 
was present, welcoming the Maharajahs of Bahawulpur, Nabha, 
Jhind, and Nahun, and before the proceedings commenced he 
took his seat among the Knights of the second class. The 
entrance to the robing-room was guarded by non-commissioned 
officers of the llth Bengal Lancers, and the archway leading 
into the drawing-room behind the throne was guarded by two 
non-commissioned officers of the 20th Panjab Infantry. At 4.25 
P.M. his Koyal Highness the Duke of Connaught arrived, all pres- 
ent rising and the band outside playing the National Anthem. 
After a few minutes' interval the curtains leading to the robing- 
room were drawn apart, and his Excellency the Grand Master 
appeared, preceded by the members of his staff, and followed the 
secretary of the Order, who wore his robes. All the assembly 
rose as his Excellency entered, and remained standing until 
the Grand Master had taken his seat. His Excellency wore the 
ribbon of the Order, and his breast was covered with the stars of 
the many orders of which he is a member. As soon as the 
Viceroy had taken his seat, the Secretary of the Order advanced 
and informed the Grand Master of the business before the 
Chapter viz., that of the installation of Sir West Bidgeway as a 
Knight of the second class. The two junior Knight Commanders, 
Sir Dinkur Eao and the Kaja of Natore, accompanied by the 
attache in the Foreign Department, then proceeded to the robing- 
room and led up Sir West Ridgeway to his Excellency. The 
Grand Master then rose, and in a clear and distinct voice said, 
'In the name of the Queen-Empress of India, and by her 
Majesty's command, I hereby invest you with the honourable 
insignia of the Star of India, of which most exalted Order her 
Majesty has been graciously pleased to make you a Knight Com- 
mander.' Sir West Ridgeway then knelt before the Grand 
Master, who, after touching him on the shoulder with the sword 
of the Military Secretary, said, ' Arise, Sir West Ridgeway.' The 
new Knight, after making a profound reverence, then retired on 
one side, and the Junior Knight Commander attached the Star of 
the Order to the left breast, the attache in the Foreign Department 
at the same time presenting the collar and badge of the Order as 
custodian to the Grand Master, who invested the new Knight 
with the collar and badge. The newly invested Knight, having 
made his reverence to the Grand Master, was led by the Secretary 
to his seat. The Secretary of the Order then reported that 
there was no other business. 

" Thus ended a most imposing scene, and all the more so from 



RECEPTION AT LAHORE. 375 

the quiet way in which all the actors in the performance went 
through their duties. His Excellency after this expressed a wish 
that the officers of the Boundary Commission should be presented 
to him. Every member of the Mission in order then made his 
reverence to his Excellency, Colonel Sir West Kidgeway naming 
each officer as he approached the chair. This ceremony having 
been carried out, his Excellency the Viceroy next addressed the 
assembly in the following terms : 

" ' Knights, Princes, and Gentlemen, Great as has been my 
pleasure in conferring upon Sir West Eidgeway, the distinguished 
Chief of the Boundary Commission, the honours which have been 
so justly awarded him by the gracious favour of the Queen, I feel 
that my satisfaction would not be complete unless I took this 
opportunity of welcoming back to India those other officers who 
have returned with him to Lahore, and who have so ably seconded 
his endeavours in carrying out the difficult and arduous duties 
imposed upon him. There are, indeed, few tasks more ungrateful 
or more exposed to mortification than that of delimiting a frontier 
in the interests of an ally. In matters of this kind there are 
always disputable points, almost impossible to settle without ex- 
citing a certain amount of discontent in the minds of those in 
whose behalf we are mediating 5 for it is difficult to make them 
understand that there must be a certain amount of give and take, 
and that right is not always on one side. I am happy to think, 
however, that, thanks to the good sense and intelligence of the 
ruler of Afghanistan, we have already been able on more than 
one occasion to settle controverted matters in a pacific manner ; 
and I am certainly of opinion that the moderation and conciliatory 
spirit shown by his Highness in regard to the demarcation of the 
western portion of his frontier ought to facilitate the arrangement 
of the only remaining matter in dispute, in a manner consonant 
to his interests, and as I conscientiously believe, to his rights. 
Be that, however, as it may, I desire to assure Sir West Ridge- 
way and all his associates that their countrymen and the whole 
Indian community are heartily glad to see them back amongst us. 
From their first departure to the present moment we have watched 
their proceedings with the deepest interest and sympathy. We 
are fully aware of the arduous and trying circumstances which 
have attended the execution of their mission, and that they have 
been exposed to privations and hardships, sickness, and on more 
than one occasion to considerable peril; but from first to last 
their conduct has been deserving of the highest praise, and they 
have exhibited a degree of fortitude and patience which has been 
exemplary. Nor is it inappropriate to remember that, apart from the 
diplomatic object upon which they have been engaged, they also are 



376 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

able to show, thanks to the energy and industry of their scientific 
colleagues, geographical and scientific results of a most interest- 
ing and valuable character. Last, not least however, I would 
desire to congratulate them on the auspicious circumstances under 
which they passed through Kabul, and on the rapidity of their 
march from that capital to the British frontier. That an English 
Mission so constituted should be received as honoured guests by 
the Amir, and with the most hearty and friendly welcome at the 
hands of his subjects along their entire route, is in itself a remark- 
able and significant circumstance, which cannot fail to have a 
most beneficent effect upon the future relations between the 
Governments of India and Afghanistan. In conclusion, allow me 
to hope that, however disagreeable may have been a great portion 
of the period you spent in Afghanistan, at all events hereafter it 
will suggest none but pleasant reminiscences ; for I am happy 
to think that the one thing necessary to all servants of the Queen, 
European or native, civil or military, to make a retrospect agree- 
able, is the consciousness that they have nobly and faithfully 
done their duty.' " 

The assembly broke up as soon as his Excellency had 
finished speaking, and shortly afterwards his Excellency, 
accompanied by H.E.H. the Duke of Connaught and 
General Murray, inspected the escort, who were drawn up 
in the grounds of Government House. The escort received 
his Excellency with a royal salute, and, the inspection being 
finished, his Excellency addressed the men in the following 
words : 

" In the name of the Queen and the Government of India, I 
have come here to-day to bid you all a hearty welcome back to your 
country. I assure you that I am very proud to find myself sur- 
rounded by soldiers who have so admirably done their duty. I 
am well aware that during the period which has elapsed since 
you first crossed from Hindustan into Afghanistan you have been 
called upon to encounter great privations and other trials of a 
very serious kind, but all your officers assure me that they have 
never seen men under such trying circumstances exhibit more 
fortitude, more patience, more good-humour, or more untiring 
devotion to a sense of duty. You may take my word for it, that 
all your countrymen in India are very proud of you, and that the 
recollection of the way in which you have behaved during the 
time you have been absent will be a just source of pride to you 
all your lives." 



RECEPTION AT LAHORE. 377 

The grounds of Government House at this time were full 
of guests who had come to attend Lady Aitchison's garden- 
party, and the inspection of the escort was a picturesque 
sight, such as is seldom seen in India. The local journal, 
commenting on the scene, says that those who missed the 
sight missed the finest of all o,ur recent spectacles and very 
truly too. 

This and the dinner given to the officers of the Boundary 
Commission by the hospitable members of the Panjab Club, 
wound up our festivities at Lahore, and now we are all on 
the move again. The infantry escort left last night to rejoin 
the headquarters of their regiment, and the men of the cavalry 
are all being paid up and sent off to their homes, on the nine 
months' furlough which has been specially granted to them 
in consideration of their long and good service across the 
frontier. The various officers are all starting for their re- 
spective destinations, and I myself am off to Calcutta to 
wind up the various business and accounts, &c., connected 
with the Mission. What the result of the negotiations in 
Europe may be, the future alone can tell. 



378 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

NEGOTIATIONS AT ST PETERSBURG FINAL SETTLEMENT. 

LONDON, August 1887. 

THE Blue-book showing the result of the negotiations at 
St Petersburg and the final settlement of the Frontier 
question has now been published, and nothing remains 
but the demarcation of the boundary-line agreed upon. 

After the adjournment of the joint Commissions on the 
Oxus in September 1886, it was doubtful whether Russia 
would consent to complete the work, as it seemed evidently 
to her advantage to leave the frontier unsettled. However, 
by March 1887 it was found that the time had come for 
a resumption of the negotiations, and it was agreed that 
these should take place at St Petersburg, partly as a matter 
of expediency and partly as a question of etiquette the 
former arrangements having been concluded in London. 

Colonel Sir West Ridge way was accordingly directed to 
proceed to St Petersburg, and arrived there in the middle 
of April. The Russian Government deputed as their dele- 
gate M. Zinoview, the head of the Asiatic department, 
assisted by Colonel Kuhlberg and M. Lessar Sir West 
Ridgeway on his side being assisted by Captains Barrow 
and De Laessoe. 

The first important question to be decided was whether 
the district of Khwajah Salar, with its area of about a 
thousand square miles and a population of some 15,000 



NEGOTIATIONS AT ST PETERSBURG. 379 

souls, belonged to Afghanistan or Bokhara. The British 
contention was, that by the agreement of 1872-73 it had 
been decided that in principle all territory which at that 
time was actually in the possession of the Amir of Afghan- 
istan should belong to Afghanistan, and that a certain place 
on the banks of the Oxus, designated by the British Govern- 
ment as the " Post of Khojah Salih," and by the Eussian 
Government as the " Point of Khojah Salih," should form the 
western limit of Afghan possession on the Oxus. The Com- 
mission had been unable to find any place corresponding to 
the "Post" of the arrangement of 1872-73, and it was evi- 
dent that some geographical mistake had been made, and 
it would be necessary, therefore, to decide the question with 
sole reference to the spirit of the agreement ; and as it was 
admitted that the whole of the Khojah Salih, or Khwajah 
Salar district, had been in Afghan possession at least since 
1850, it was clear that the whole district must continue to 
form part of Afghanistan. 

The Eussian Government considered the case from a 
different point of view. Their delegates argued that in 
1872 the British Government had claimed the whole of 
Badakshan and Wakhan for Afghanistan, and an extension 
westwards to a point on the Oxus situated between Khojah 
Salih and Karki. The Eussian Government had, on the 
contrary, been of opinion that Wakhan and certain parts of 
Badakshan did not belong to Afghanistan, and that in the 
west Afghan possessions did not extend beyond Khojah Salih. 
Subsequently the Eussian Government, maintaining their 
view as to actual possession, had, in deference to the wish 
of the British Government, consented to consider the whole 
of Badakshan and Wakhan as being within the limits of 
Afghanistan ; while the British Government, in their reply, 
had stated that as long as the post of Khojah Salih remained 
in Afghan possession, they would not insist on defining the 
frontier as meeting the river below that place ; that this 



380 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

was a distinct concession made to Eussia in return for her 
concessions on the upper Oxus, and that there could con- 
sequently be no question of general principles so far as 
Khojah Salih was concerned; that, in addition to this, there 
were even stronger reasons preventing Eussia from admitting 
that the case could be decided as a matter of principle. 
The agreement of 1872-73 declared the Turkoman tribes 
north of Andkhui, Akchah, and Maimanah to be generally 
independent of Afghanistan, and subject to Eussian influence ; 
and the London protocol of 1885 gave the control of the 
Panjdeh Turkomans to Eussia, thus admitting that their 
country was independent of Afghanistan. Yet the Boundary 
Commission had by recent demarcation deprived these Panj- 
deh Turkomans of a large extent of pasture and lands, and 
consequently the principles of 1872-73 had been distinctly 
violated in this case, and it was not possible for Eussia to 
admit that the principle should be applied where it- was in 
favour of Afghan claims, and neglected when its application 
would favour Eussian subjects. 

Eussia must consequently insist upon the literal appli- 
cation of the terms of the agreement. The words " Point " 
and " Post " could not possibly be made to mean a large 
district ; they referred to some definite place of small ex- 
tent, and the only definite places called Khojah Salih were 
a graveyard called Ziarat-i-Khojah Salih, and an adjacent 
ruin called Sarai Khojah Salih ; that this ruin had once 
been a fortified building, and was the only place which in 
any way corresponded to the expression " Post." This ruin 
was therefore, in the opinion of the Eussian Government, the 
Point referred to in the agreement of 1872-73, and the 
frontier line must be drawn to that place. 

This Sarai Khojah Salih, I should add, is situated at 
the upper end of the district, and consequently concession 
of the line thus claimed by Eussia would have deprived 
Afghanistan of more than some 600 square, miles of land, 



FINAL SETTLEMENT. 381 

with some 13,000 inhabitants, and a revenue of some 
1300. How far the contentions of each party were justi- 
fied is immaterial. It is sufficient to say that the British 
Government maintained their view of the case, though ad- 
mitting that the letter of the agreement of 18 72-73 was in 
favour of the Russian claims. Finally, in order to prove 
their respect for treaty engagements, they offered to com- 
promise the matter. 

The Russian delegates, on their part, admitted that lands 
which had been in Afghan possession for many years past 
ought to remain Afghan, but said they could not surrender 
their claims unconditionally, having to consider the interests 
of their Turkoman subjects, and that they were willing to 
agree to a compromise which would leave the Afghans in 
possession of the Khojah Salih district, if it restored to the 
Panjdeh Turkomans the lands of which they had been 
deprived by the recent demarcation. 

Negotiations on this basis finally resulted in the settle- 
ment now published. 

The main result has been to confirm the Afghans in the 
possession of Khojah Salih, and to give the Panjdeh Turko- 
mans the greater part of the land they formerly occupied. 
This land is at present uninhabited and yields no revenue, 
and the Amir loses nothing by the exchange. 

The frontier line, instead of running, as described in my 
former letters of 12th April and 17th October 1886, will 
now run from pillar 19 to the Kushk river, near the point 
where it is joined by its affluent the Moghor, and thence up 
the bed of the Kushk as far as Chihal Dukhtaran, and from 
there north-eastwards again to the highest point in the Baba 
Taghi hills, and along the crest of that range to the Kashan 
stream, which is crossed a little below Torshaikh, and thence 
along the crest of the hills again to the head of the Yeki- 
yeuzi canal on the left bank of the Murghab river at the 
head of the Maruchak valley, and down the bed of that 



382 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

river to pillar No. 36 below the Maruchak Fort. This 
change gives the Turkomans some extra 800 square miles 
of pasture-land, of which perhaps 20 square miles may be 
culturable. The remainder is only fit for sheep-grazing. 
The Kara Tepe side of the Kushk valley, Chihal Dukh- 
taran, Torshaikh, and Maruchak Fort are all retained for 
the Amir, the only difference being that the Turkomans 
are given their formerly cultivated lands on the left 
bank of the Kushk up to Chihal Dukhtaran, at Eobat- 
i-Kashan, and along the left bank of the Murghab in the 
Maruchak valley. The Turkoman cultivation on the 
western side of the Maruchak valley has already been 
noticed in my letter of 17th October last, and I had then 
occasion to mention how sore the Turkomans were at the 
loss of it. As there is no one else on the Afghan side to 
cultivate this land if the Turkomans do not, the restitution 
of it to the latter is no loss to the Amir. The doubtful 
question of the water-supply to the Panjdeh hamlets opposite 
the Maruchak Fort has thus been settled, and one essential 
result of the settlement is, that while treaties have been re- 
spected, tranquillity has also been better assured. The fact 
that by this last settlement the Kussian frontier has been 
advanced 10 or 15 miles nearer Herat, as I have seen 
mentioned in the newspapers, does not appear to me worth 
discussion. Once the old frontier from Sher Tepe to Sari 
Yazi proposed by Sir Peter Lumsden was given up, and 
Pul-i-Khatun and Panjdeh, the only two points of any 
strategical importance, were surrendered to Eussia, the 
question of 10 miles here or there on the sterile downs 
of Badghis became of little moment. 

As a matter of fact, the removal of any likely cause of 
irritation is more likely to conduce to the duration of the 
settlement than the reverse ; and while the Eussian Gov- 
ernment is to be congratulated on having obtained satis- 
faction for the Panjdeh Turkomans, the British Government 



FINAL SETTLEMENT. 383 

is to be equally congratulated 011 having at last secured a 
recognised treaty frontier. Without this final settlement 
the work of the past three years would all have been lost, 
and Afghanistan would have been left without any recog- 
nised frontier from the Hari Eud to the Oxus either 
party being at liberty to act according to circumstances. A 
large and influential party in Eussia considered this an 
enormous advantage, and the influence exercised by that 
party made negotiations difficult and precarious. The suc- 
cess of the negotiations may be taken as a proof that the 
Emperor and his most trusted advisers wish to improve 
the relations between the two countries. 

Captains Komaroff and Kondratenko have, it is said, been 
appointed the* Eussian representatives for the final demarca- 
tion of the frontier ; and Major Peacocke and myself expect 
to be sent out shortly to join them, proceeding across the 
Caucasus to the Caspian, and through Persia from Astrabad 
to Mashhad, and thence along the frontier to the Oxus, 
putting up the pillars on the way. 



384 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

COMPLETION OF THE DEMARCATION, AND RETURN THROUGH 
TRANS-CASPIA. 

CAMP KARAWAL KHANA, 28th Dec. 1887. 

THE last pillar of the rectified line of frontier between the 
rivers Kushk and Murghab has now been erected, and we 
start to-morrow for the Oxus. The demarcation commenced 
at Kara Tepe, in the Kushk valley, on the 21st November, 
and was completed here on the banks of the Murghab on 
the 25th December: and a most unexpectedly festive 
Christmas Day it was for us too. When Captain Komaroff 
met us in the morning to build the last pillar, he told us 
that Colonel Alikhanoff, the Governor of Merv, with Colonel 
Tarkhanoff, the Governor of Panjdeh, a couple of travelling 
French officers, a German baron, and a Eussian count, had 
arrived the evening before, and were coming to join us ; 
and sure enough, soon after, they all turned up. Colonel 
Alikhanoff rode up, preceded by a troop of Turkoman 
irregulars, headed by a man with a large white standard, 
and followed by a crowd of others, all apparently got up in 
their very best and gaudiest coats. Our Turkoman postal 
sowars, seeing this, all rushed into their finest fancy coats, 
and came across the river to swell the throng. The build- 
ing of the boundary pillar thus suddenly became the subject 
of most unwonted interest, and our French travellers lost 
no time in photographing the scene. I doubt if so many 



COMPLETION OF THE DEMARCATION. 385 

nationalities were ever collected together on the banks of the 
Murghab before, or so many different types of the Central 
Asian soldier. Cossacks and Turkomans, Bengal Lancers, 
and Afghan cavalry all looked on around, and I wonder if 
they speculated as to who was next to be arrayed against 
whom. However, there was little time for speculation, as 
no sooner was the pillar built than we all adjourned to our 
camp for lunch, and festivity was the order of the day. 
While healths were passing in I do not know how many 
languages in our mess-tent, the Cossacks and the Turkomans 
were all being variously regaled outside ; and it was well on 
in the afternoon before we all mounted our horses again, 
and rode out to where Jemadar Khan Sahib Amir Muham- 
mad Khan had his little escort of some five-and-twenty men 
of the llth Bengal Lancers drawn up to show our guests 
what Indian cavalry were like. Colonel Alikhanoff, an old 
cavalry officer himself, expressed the keenest interest in 
everything, and I am bound to say he had nothing but praise 
to bestow. They were the finest irregular cavalry he had 
ever seen, was his final verdict, and doubtless well deserved. 
His astonishment was great at finding that the native officer 
in command was an Afghan, a native of Kabul ; and I don't 
suppose he had realised that we had so many Afghans in 
our ranks, or what good soldiers they could be made. 
Jemadar Amir Muhammad Khan's show of medals, ranging 
from Lucknow to China, Umbeyla, Kabul, and Kandahar, 
attracted much attention, and was an honest and instructive 
record of the service done for us by our Indian army. 
Christmas night was a memorable one for us. We dined 
with the Russians, and had a capital dinner and a most 
festive evening, which we thoroughly enjoyed despite the 
fact that we had eight miles out and back again to ride on 
a cold winter night. We were a party of three Russians, 
three English, two Frenchmen, a German, and four Cauca- 

2 B 



386 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

sians, all of different religions and nationalities, and all en- 
joying ourselves together, while the Cossacks sang in chorus 
round the bonfire outside. 

Of the new frontier there is little to tell. The line we 
have demarcated is a little more than 100 miles in length, 
and the watershed of the Chingurak range running east 
and west between the Kushk and Kashan streams forms 
the principal feature in it. The main difference between 
the present and the former frontier is the surrender to 
Eussia of the right bank of the Kushk below Chihal 
Dukhtaran, and the western half of the Maruchak valley 
along the left bank of the Murghab. The Maruchak valley 
is still uninhabited and uncultivated, and except that the 
reeds have been a good deal cleared, there is little difference 
from what it was three years ago. The Kushk valley at 
Kara Tepe, though, we found had greatly altered. This 
was formerly nothing but a waste of camel-thorn and reed- 
swamps inhabited by tigers and pheasants ; but now we 
found it peopled by a colony of some 500 or 600 families 
of Zamindawari cultivators, who had been brought up and 
located here by the Amir's order, and whom we found 
settled in regular mud -villages all about the valley. 
Nearly half of these people were settled on the Eussian 
bank and had to be moved ; and this, with winter so close 
at hand, was an equal hardship both for the poor people 
themselves and for the Afghan authorities, who had to 
provide for them. 

However, all was arranged and the ground was vacated 
even before Alikhanoff s visit to the place. I was in their 
villages almost every day, and no sooner did I appear than 
men and boys used to flock out for a chat, with offers of 
snuff or any other little thing they had all so different 
from the surly and fanatical spirit Zamindawaris are 
generally supposed to possess. 

That Alikhanoff should seize the earliest possible moment 



COMPLETION OF THE DEMARCATION. 387 

to start upon a tour along his new frontier would seem to 
show that the Russians set greater store upon their new 
acquisition than we thought. The Panjdeh Sariks, we 
know, are terribly hard up for cultivable land, and I have 
not the slightest doubt that the new field now thrown open 
to them will be taken advantage of at once. By the pos- 
session of the left half of the Maruchak valley they have 
got some of the most fertile land along the banks of the 
Murghab. The Afghan colonists brought up to Bala 
Murghab by the Amir's order are as yet almost all nomads, 
and prefer to camp up in the mountains above, where fire- 
wood is plentiful, to settling in the valley below, where not 
a stick is to be found. But this, I daresay, will soon 
be altered. General Ghaus-ud-Din Khan, who still reigns 
at Bala Murghab with charge of all the frontier districts, is 
bent upon bringing as much land as possible under cultiva- 
tion ; and with a man of his energy in command, a few years 
will probably effect a great change. The General was to 
have accompanied us as the Amir's agent, but he was 
occupied in the Firozkohi country when we arrived on the 
frontier, and it is only now at the very last that he has 
been able to join us. His brother, Mullah Abdul Aziz 
Khan, the governor of Kilah ISTao, has been acting with us 
as his deputy during his absence, and we now leave them 
both in the Bala Murghab fort, where the General has taken 
unto himself a new bride from amongst his lately imported 
nomads, and has apparently settled down for good and all. 

The reed-beds in the Maruchak valley, though thinner 
than formerly, we found were still thick enough to provide 
cover not only for pheasants, but also for tigers. Shooting 
clown the valley one day towards the old fort, we came 
across half - a - dozen Turkomans, some on horseback and 
the others on foot, with a pack of about a dozen great 
shaggy dogs on the hunt for pig, they said : not that they 
would eat pork themselves, but that they wanted some to 



388 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

feed the dogs upon. We left them beating a patch of reeds 
that we had vainly tried to get the pheasants out of ; and 
though we heard the dogs barking behind us, we went on, 
thinking nothing more of the matter, till some time after, 
when one of the Turkomans came galloping up to tell us 
that the dogs had found a tiger. We at once went back, 
but instead of having a long and difficult business to beat 
the beast out of the reeds, we found the dogs had already 
done this ; and before we were aware that we were within a 
mile of the fray, we suddenly saw a riderless horse gallop- 
ing and men running about, one with a drawn sword, 
another with a very old gun, down which he was vainly 
endeavouring to ram a bullet, and all shouting and yelling 
and wildly gesticulating. To jump off one's horse and seize 
a rifle was the work of a moment, and stepping up on to the 
bank of a small dry canal to see what all the row was about, 
I found myself face to face with the tiger within five-and- 
twenty yards and uncommonly angry he was too. The 
dogs were baying round him at a little distance, but there 
was no time to stop and watch the fun. The tiger was 
evidently coming straight for us, and to let drive at him 
was the work of a moment. Fortunately I rolled him over 
in his tracks, and a second shot settled the matter, and then 
all the dogs rushed in and worried the beast to their hearts' 
content, with a pluck that I have never seen equalled before. 
These large Turkoman dogs are certainly grand animals in 
many ways ; and the way they stuck to and worked this 
tiger out of his retreat in the reed-beds reeds, mind you, 
8 and 10 feet in height and utterly impassable for men 
out into the open, and there never left him for a second, but 
worried him to his death, is worthy of every praise. We 
found that one of the Turkomans was badly mauled, the 
tiger having seized him and dragged him off the horse we 
saw galloping about just before we came up ; so we bound 
him up as well as we could and sent him off to our camp at 



COMPLETION OF THE DEMARCATION. 389 

once, where his wounds were properly dressed, and two days 
afterwards he left hospital and rode off home again, appa- 
rently not in the least put out by his wounds, nor having the 
least idea of what shock to the system or suchlike civilised 
ailments meant. The tiger was a large full-grown male, 
quite as big as an Indian tiger, but much dingier in. colour. 
The skin was more of a dirty brown, with very little black 
about it at all. Just a few of the stripes on the back were 
black, but the majority were simply of a darker shade of 
brown than the rest of the skin. 

While we were at Maruchak the garrison of the fort 
there, consisting of 100 Khasadars under a Sad Bashi, 
and some sowars, did everything they could for us ; and I 
must say that wherever we have thus come across Afghan 
troops we have found them willing and obliging. Nothing 
can better exemplify the change of feeling that is apparently 
coming over the Afghans towards us than the cordial recep- 
tion which our escort met with on the march up. The 
men of the escort were full of it when they joined us, and 
they told us how everywhere on the march they had been 
cordially received and well treated, and how at Farah even 
the Afghan sepoys in garrison there had come out to them 
with presents of pomegranates, &c. all so different from 
what the feeling of the country was even three years ago, 
and evidencing a most welcome change. 

The escort, consisting of 30 men of the llth Bengal 
Lancers, under the command of Jemadar Khan Sahib Amir 
Muhammad Khan, and accompanied by Assistant Surveyor 
Khan Bahadur Yusuf Sharif, Hospital-Assistant Amir-ud- 
Din, and various other details, numbering altogether 103 
men, 38 horses, and 109 mules, all under the charge of 
Subadar Khan Bahadur Muhammad Husain Khan of the 
2d Sikhs, left Quetta on the 12th October and joined us at 
Kara Tepe on the 22d November. I do not know accu- 
rately what the distance is, but the Subadar estimates it at a 



390 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

total of 609 miles, which was covered in forty-one marches, 
of which they made ten from Quetta to Kandahar, 137 
miles; sixteen from Kandahar to Farah, 234 miles; and 
ten on to Pahrah, close to Herat, 153 miles,, from which 
place it was five marches, or 85 miles, vid the Ardewan 
Pass, to our camp at Kara Tepe. 

Of our own journey to the frontier I have little to telL 
Major Peacocke and I left London on the 22d September, and 
travelling vid Constantinople (where we were joined by our 
Russian interpreter, Mr Woodhouse) to Batoum, we reached 
Tiflis on the 8th October. There we halted a day to pay our 
visits to Prince Dondukoff Korsakoff, the Governor-General 
and Commander-in-Chief of the Trans-Caucasus, General Zele- 
noy, Colonel Kuhlberg, and others whom we had known on 
the Boundary Commission. Prince Dondukoff received us 
most civilly, and gave us all the information he had about 
the arrangements for the demarcation of the frontier. He 
also gave us an account of his recent visit to Merv, and told 
us what a rich country it was going to become. He had 
been to Bandi-i- Sultan himself, and told us that the remains 
of the masonry of the old dam across the river Murghab 
there were still to be seen, and the old canals taking off 
from it could still be traced along either bank. The esti- 
mates for the rebuilding of this dam had now been com- 
pleted and sanctioned, and when done, the large tract of 
country to be irrigated from it would enable all the cotton 
required for Eussia to be grown at home instead of being 
imported from abroad. The Prince afterwards showed us 
his collection of curiosities, arms, brass and bronze ware and 
armour, &c., which he said it had taken him forty-five years 
of his life to collect, and was certainly well worth seeing. 
One room, I remember, was furnished throughout with Bom- 
bay black-wood furniture which I never expected to see in 
the Caucasus. Last of all the Prince showed us his two 
special objects of interest. The first was a quill-pen in a 



COMPLETION OF THE DEMARCATION. 391 

glass case the pen, he said, with which Williams signed the 
capitulation of Kars ; and the second was the coat of the 
Afghan colonel who was killed at the Kussian attack on 
Panjdeh. 

At Baku we had just time to drive out to Sorakhana and 
visit the old Hindu monastery there, but found it deserted. 
The last of the fakirs left about three years ago, and now 
the place is simply an empty enclosure surrounded by the 
works of a Eussian oil-refining factory, and would be hardly 
recognisable were it not for the Hindi inscriptions on the 
walls. The enclosure is an irregular quadrangle surrounded 
by a high wall, with vaulted chambers and cells all around 
the inside, and a domed cupola in the middle ascended by 
steps, in the centre of which in former days the sacred fire 
fed by natural gas was kept alight. 

Leaving Baku on the afternoon of the 10th October, we 
breakfasted the next day at Uzunada, the terminus of the 
Trans- Caspian Eailway, where the lines of the ordinary 
gauge, about 5 feet, but lightly laid on the sand, run right 
up to the piers alongside of which the steamers lie. The 
railway station and houses were all log-huts, and very com- 
fortable they looked too. Uzunada is only the temporary 
terminus, I believe, as we were told the line was eventually 
to be carried on to Krasnovodsk, which has the best harbour 
on that side of the Caspian, and will probably become the 
port of the future. Chikislar, which we passed early in the 
morning of the 12th, seemed to consist of nothing but some 
huts on an arid sandbank. Some 500 troops, we were told, 
were stationed there, and a hotter or more wretched-looking 
place to be quartered at one could hardly conceive. The 
island of Ashurada, the Eussian naval station, which we 
reached about 1 P.M. the same day, was much pleasanter- 
looking. Here the scenery entirely changed. Before us we 
had the lofty mountains of Persia, wooded down to the 
water's edge ; and the island itself, though only a few hun- 



392 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

died yards across, seemed full of houses, and with its church 
and buildings looked comparatively civilised. We had no 
time to inspect the place, as the steamer only stopped long 
enough to land the mails and supplies, and then ran straight 
across to the Persian post of Bandar-i-Gaz just opposite, 
where we landed. There we found Gok Sirdar, our old 
Turkoman guide, and various Persian servants sent down 
with some tents by General MacLean from Mashhad to meet 
us, and we soon settled down into camp life again. At the 
entrance to the village we found the local garrison, consist- 
ing of some twenty Persian matchlockmen, drawn up as a 
guard in our honour, and passing through we had tea with 
the Sartip or General in local command. 

Khorasan is comparativly well known, so I will simply 
give a list of our marches to Mashhad, in case it may be 
of use to some future traveller that way. Starting from 
Bandar-i-Gaz we proceeded as follows : 

Miles. 

1. Langoran, ...... 23 

2. Astrabad, ...... 13 

3. Kujlak, .'-. . . . .19 

4. Tash, . . . . . .20 

5. Shahrud, 22 

6. Khairabad, ..... 8 

7. Maiamai, ...... 30 

8. Miandasht, ..... 22 

9. Abasabad, 20 

10. Mazinan, ....... 24 

11. Mehr, \ 18 

12. Sabzawar, ...... 30 

13. Robat-i-Sir-Poshidah, .... 14 

14. Shorab, . . . . . .23 

15. Nishapur, ...... 22 

16. Bagh-i-Shan, ..... 20 

17. Sharifabad, ..... 23 

18. Mashhad, ...... 22 

Total, . . 373 

At Mashhad we were the guests of General MacLean for 
a week, while the arrangements for our transport, servants, 



COMPLETION OF THE DEMARCATION. 393 

and camp equipage were completed ; and starting again on 
the 5th November, we reached the Afghan frontier at Zulfi- 
kar on the 10th, two years to the day from our first arrival 
there for the meeting of the Joint Commission. We found 
the Afghan Sad Bashi in command duly expecting us, and 
with orders to afford us every .assistance ; and once again in 
Afghanistan, we felt quite at home. We marched across 
Badghis by the old route vid Gulran to Kara Tepe, where 
we arrived on the 15th, and were joined by the Eussian 
Commission, consisting of Captain Komaroff, Topographer 
Ilyin, Interpreter Mirzaeff, and an escort of 25 Cossacks 
of the Caucasian Eegiment, on the 19th. We set to work 
on the frontier without delay, but demarcation in such a 
country is by no means so easy. First of all we had to 
send out men and camels, and dig out and bring in bricks 
from various ancient mounds and ruins about. Then lime 
had to be burnt and brought in from a distance ; and last of 
all, the site for the pillar was often 10 or 15 miles away 
from our camp or from the nearest water, and we had thus 
to take out everything with us all that distance ; and some- 
times it was not at all an easy matter to get the things out 
so far, to find and fix upon the site, and to build the pillar 
and get home again before dark. Fortunately for us, the 
weather kept up, and though the survey work was several 
times brought to a standstill by cloudy, foggy weather, still 
we have had only one day's snow as yet ; and if we can only 
reach Andkhui before the winter breaks, we shall have noth- 
ing to fear, as in the low country there along the banks of 
the Oxus the snow never lies very thick. 



ON BOARD THE S.S. GRAND DUKE MlCHAIL, 

BLACK SEA, 12th February 1888. 

The demarcation of the Afghan frontier up to the Oxus 
has now been completed, and we are all on our way home 
again. When last I wrote, we had just finished the first 



394 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

portion up to the Murghab and were starting onwards. 
Our march up to Andkhui was of no special interest. We 
followed the same route down the valley of the Ab-i-Kaisar 
that we took in 1886, and the only thing worth noticing 
was the extraordinary difference in the climate. Instead of 
the intense cold of the winter of 1885-86, we experienced 
warm, fine, sunshiny weather, and with the exception of a 
day at Andkhui, we were never once stopped by the snow. 

At Chahar Shamba our Afghan agent from Herat, Abdul 
Aziz Khan, was relieved by the Turkistan agent, Nazir 
Nurudin Khan, whom we found waiting for us some three 
miles out with an escort of a troop of Afghan cavalry, who 
drew swords and received us with a salute with all due 
formality, and we then rode in together. It was curious to 
see the old mud chimneys and fireplaces still standing in 
rows on either side of the gravel walk that had formed the 
centre street of our camp two years ago ; and I daresay 
they will remain like those at Bala Murghab for many a 
day yet, to mark the site of the British encampment. 

At Khwajah Isik Bulan, our next day's march, there is 
a curious hot spring, and I think almost every man, not 
only in ours, but in the Afghan camp as well, had a real 
good wash that day. All our men and the Afghans bathed 
away most amicably together all day ; but in the afternoon, 
when the Cossacks joined in, Afghan fanaticism began to show 
itself, and Nazir Nurudin had eventually to post sentries over 
the water, and to put a stop to the bathing for fear of a row. 

We found the wild boar just as numerous as ever down 
the Ab-i-Kaisar valley, and we had some capital runs, 
spearing several of them. The Cossacks killed several, 
shooting them with their rifles off horseback ; but that is 
dangerous sport with unskilled men, as the Afghans found 
out to their cost by shooting one of their own men through 
the shoulder one day. 

At Jalaiar we were joined by Muhammad Sharif Khan, 



COMPLETION OF THE DEMARCATION. 395 

one of the Wall of Maimanah's sons ; but being unable to 
talk anything but Turki, our conversation could only be 
carried on through interpreters. His men all prided them- 
selves on their skill in shooting off horseback, but un- 
fortunately we had then no opportunity of testing it. 

At Andkhui we exchanged visits with our old friend the 
governor, Colonel Abdul Hamid Khan, an ardent sportsman, 
like his brother Colonel Abdul Ghani Khan, the governor 
of Akchah. The latter was to have met us at Jarkudak, 
but was prevented by illness, and thus we never saw him 
at all. 

Owing to the dry season and want of water in all the 
wells, we found that it would be impossible to take any 
large party along the frontier that we had to demarcate ; so 
at Andkhui we divided. Major Peacocke and Captain Ilyin 
struck off due north to Imam Nazar, and constructed the 
pillars across the chul from there to the confines of Khamiab ; 
while Captain Komaroff and myself, with the main party, 
pushed through to Khamiab, and there built the pillars 
through the cultivated land between that place and Bosagha 
a division of labour that enabled us to push the work 
through with much greater rapidity. The Afghans made all 
arrangements for bricks and masons, &c., for Major Peacocke's 
party, and the Bokharan officials did the same for Captain 
Komaroff and myself; and thus we were able to work both 
sides at one and the same time. 

At Jarkudak I had my first day's deer-hawking. Nazir 
Nurudin's hawks and dogs arrived from Akchah, and we 
hunted along across country during our day's march. He 
had three hawks (chirkh) all procured young, he told me, 
from the nest in the cliffs on the Koh-i-Tan mountain in 
Bokhara, and then subsequently trained to the sport. I 
found, however, that they would not touch bucks being 
afraid of their horns, and that they invariably singled out 
some poor little doe for their quarry. The general turn-out 



396 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

of Nazir Nurudin's men was certainly very handy. Three 
men, mounted on strong sturdy ponies, each carried a hawk 
on his wrist ; and each had a dog, the native greyhound, 
fastened to his left leg by a long leather thong the best 
way of slipping a dog when riding at full gallop that I think 
I have ever seen. One end of the thong was fastened to the 
man's waistband, the other end had a slit in it ; and the man 
on mounting simply passed the thong through a ring in the 
dog's collar, and then put his foot through the slit just before 
putting it in the stirrup. The dog then ran easily along by 
the side of the horse, and could be slipped at any moment 
by the man simply drawing his foot out of the stirrup. We 
had some capital runs ; and I was much struck at the way 
the hawks and dogs worked together, and how well the dogs 
always followed the hawks, although they themselves had no 
idea at the time where the game was as in all the sandy 
bush-covered country where the deer were, the dogs could 
see nothing till close up. The brushwood was very thick in 
parts, and once or twice it took us some time to find out 
where the deer had been killed. In one run a hare was 
started half-way, and the hawks at once left the deer and 
went for the hare ; and the moment the dogs caught the 
latter, it was curious to see with what confidence the hawk 
dived in between them and insisted upon having its share of 
the sport as well. 

Captain Komaroff and I arrived at Khamiab on the 1 4th 
January. We were rejoined by Major Peacocke and Captain 
Ilyin soon after, and the demarcation of the frontier was 
completed by the 18th, though it took us some days longer 
to compile and copy the maps and to complete the records 
on the final close of the Mission. Both Afghans and Bok- 
harans seemed pleased with the settlement, and assisted us 
in every way they could. By the 27th the final arrange- 
ments were completed the last protocol had been signed ; 
and the morning of the 28th saw us all on the move. 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 397 

Major Peacocke, Mr Woodhouse, and myself, it had been 
arranged, were to return by the Trans-Caspian Eailway from 
Chaharjui. The Indian escort party were to march back to 
Quetta by the route they came ; the Persian party, under 
the charge of Mirza Abdulah, turning off at Kushk and 
marching vid Zulfikar to rejoin General MacLean at Mash- 
had. Captain Komaroff had already sent on his Cossack 
escort by route-march to Chaharjui, and had secured the 
two boats belonging to the Ak Kum ferry just below Bosagha 
to convey us down the river. He, with Captain Ilyin and 
Mirzaeff and two or three Cossack servants, took one boat, 
and we three with our Persian servants the other, and by 
about 9 A.M. we were all under way. Nazir Nurudin, 
Subadar Muhammad Husain Khan, Jemadar Amir Muham- 
mad Khan, and all the men of the escort off duty, came 
down with us to the river-bank to see us off, and our last 
link with British India was the hearty cheer given us by 
the latter as our boats pushed off into the stream. 

Life in a boat on the Oxus is anything but lively work. 
The boats themselves are clumsy heavy things, some 40 feet 
in length and 12 in breadth, built of squared logs of wood 
clamped together with iron bands, and the boatmen have 
not the faintest idea of either sailing or steering. We just 
drifted down the stream at the rate of about three miles an 
hour, and all the energies of the boatmen were devoted to 
keeping us off the sandbanks, and by no means with in- 
variable success. The Oxus, for the 40 miles of its course 
from Ak Kum to Karki, is very shallow and tortuous, and the 
scenery there, as well as beyond right down to Chaharjui, 
140 miles farther, intensely uninteresting; nothing but 
low level sandbanks and river-flats on either side, covered 
with water during the floods in summer, and just the tops 
of the fringe of trees visible in the distance marking the 
line of cultivation. Not a living thing was to be seen for the 
greater part of the way. Two or three times we passed a 



398 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

ferry where a kafilah of laden camels was being ferried 
across, but the villages were rarely in sight, and the only 
time we really found ourselves close to habitations was 
where the river was changing its course, and we passed a 
village in rapid course of demolition. The people were all 
busy tearing the woodwork out of their houses, cutting 
down their trees, and doing their best to save what little 
they could before the land was washed away from under 
their feet. The banks were falling in in great masses every 
few minutes as we passed, and house after house was gradually 
going, and probably by this time not a trace of that village is 
left. Birds, too, were extraordinarily scarce all down the river, 
and during the four days we spent upon it I do not suppose 
we saw more than a few stray flocks of wild geese, and an 
odd duck and paddy bird or two. 

We did not arrive at Karki till after midnight ; but late 
as it was, we found a most hospitable welcome awaiting us. 
A small phaeton, with three ponies harnessed abreast, was 
waiting for us on the river-bank, with carts for our baggage ; 
and we were driven straight off to Colonel Shorokoff the 
commandant's house, where we found the Colonel and his 
wife had prepared supper all ready for us, and that Dr 
Bratin, who lived next door, had kindly turned out of his 
house to make room for us. Our servants soon brought our 
baggage up ; and after a hearty supper, we all turned in. 
The next day, Sunday, we spent quietly at Karki dining 
with Colonel Shorokoff at 12 noon, and then starting again 
for Chaharjui later in the afternoon. 

Karki is a place something like Kilif, in so far that the 
river is confined between two rocky points though the 
river at Karki, when at full flood, must be some 1200 yards 
in width, or about double that at Kilif. On the north bank 
of the river a low range of hills comes to an abrupt end, 
and exactly opposite, on the southern bank, is a mound 
forming the site of the fort and town of Karki. The citadel 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 399 

of the fort rises some 50 feet or more sheer up from the 
river's edge ; and there is a walled fort behind that again, 
with the bazaar and native town around it. 

The Eussian cantonment lies along the river-bank, about 
half a mile to the west of the fort; and considering that 
the place was only occupied in May last, it is wonderful how 
much has been done to make it habitable in so short a time. 
Both troops and officers are all comfortably housed. The 
barracks run in one long row, parallel to, and say 200 yards 
back from, the river, with the officers' houses in a parallel 
line close to the river-bank. The garrison consists of two 
squadrons of Cossacks, a battery of artillery, and a regiment 
of infantry. The Cossacks belong to the Astrakhan regiment 
on the Volga, and we hardly recognised them as Cossacks 
so different were they from the Caucasian Cossacks whom we 
had hitherto been thrown in contact with. They wore the 
ordinary Eussian flat cap, and trousers with an enormous 
yellow stripe down them more, to our idea, like regulars 
than Cossacks. The artillery were a Turkistan battery, said 
to be a very smart one ; but being Sunday, we had no chance 
of seeing it on parade. Eussian officers seem to be very 
proud of their artillery, and to look upon it as the finest 
arm of their service ; and we were sorry not to have the 
chance of seeing a battery on parade. 

The infantry consisted of the 17th Turkistan battalion. 
Karki and Chaharjui, both being in Bokharan territory, 
belong to the Turkistan and not to the Trans- Caspian Govern- 
ment, and are garrisoned entirely by Turkistan troops. 
Colonel Shorokoff, who commands the 17th Eegiment, told 
us that all his service had been passed in Turkistan, and 
that he had been almost in every part of it, from the Kuldja 
frontier downwards. He got the command of his battalion 
in eighteen years, which is quicker promotion than we get, 
and he had held it for the last nine years. Having been so 
long in Turkistan, he had settled at Tashkend, where his 



400 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

boys were at school very different from us in India, who 
have always to send our children home to be educated, and 
rarely or never permanently settle in the country. 

The men of the 17th Eegiment were almost entirely 
enlisted from the valley of the Volga. They wore the 
usual Russian infantry dark -green blouse, a loose easy-fitting 
coat with a couple of pockets in front, and worn with a 
small black-leather belt round the waist, but instead of the 
ordinary trousers of the same material, they were distin- 
guished by red or rather cherry-coloured leather trousers, 
which we had not seen in such use before. These trousers, 
we were told, were worn by all Turkistan regiments and 
capital things they are : very soft and fine, cool in summer 
and warm in winter, and very inexpensive. They are made 
in Tashkend of sheep or goat skin, and cost only, I think, 
1 rouble and 2 5 kopeks, or say two shillings to half-a-crown 
a pair. The llth Hussars, I should think, would revel in 
them. 

In Turkistan, which the Russians consider a warm 
country, the soldiers are given tea and sugar rations instead 
of spirits, and in the early morning we could see the men 
running off down to the river with their kettles to get the 
water for their morning cup. There are no such things 
as Iheesties in a Russian regiment, and I did not see a 
single native follower or servant in the whole of Karki. 
The water-carts were driven down to the river and filled by 
soldiers ; the officers' servants were all soldiers ; the cooks 
and the very washermen were soldiers. The barracks were 
all built by the soldiers, as well as the officers' houses. In 
fact, the employment of native labour of any kind is un- 
known in a Russian Central Asian garrison, and therein 
lies the great difference between their system and ours in 
India. The barracks were long mud-huts, well roofed and 
furnished with capital doors and windows, and I must say, 
reflected great credit on the men's work. 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 401 

Eussians, as a rule, seem to be excellent carpenters, and 
their doors and windows were certainly capitally turned out. 
For the barracks the Government simply bore the cost of 
the material, the soldiers' labour, of course, being given free. 
The officers had to bear the expense of their own houses 
themselves, and this cost them, I believe, from 500 to 1000 
roubles apiece as a rule. None of the houses or the bar- 
racks were built with verandahs as with us in India, but 
the officers acknowledged that in summer this would be a 
great improvement. 

In the morning, before dining at Colonel Shorokoff s, we 
all walked down to the ferry to see about the change of 
boats to take us on to Chaharjui, and we afterwards went 
up into the fort to pay our visit to the Beg of Karki, as the 
native Bokharan governor is styled. The latter received 
us on the staircase clad in a most gorgeous robe of gold 
and many colours which he had just received as a dress of 
honour from the Amir of Bokhara a few days before. He 
was most civil and obliging, and I must say he did every- 
thing he possibly could to make us all comfortable on our 
journey. He had tea ready prepared for us the night be- 
fore on our first arrival ; and altogether, at Karki as well as 
at Chaharjui, both the Russian Commission and ourselves 
had great cause to appreciate Bokharan hospitality. 

The Bokharan soldiers which formed a guard of honour 
at the gate were a real surprise to us, though Captain Koma- 
roff had seen them before. Such curious figures as they were. 
Nothing in any native Indian State that I know of could come 
anywhere near them. The head-dress was a plain Astrakhan 
fur cap, but their coats were gorgeous in colour. The artil- 
lerymen had coats of the brightest green, and the infantry of 
the brightest red, both cut very short, so as to allow full dis- 
play of the ample proportions of their wide yellow-leather 
trousers. These garments were real curiosities in their way, 
being worn over their top-boots, but split at the bottom and 

2 C 



402 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

largely covered with embroidery. The effect of all this col- 
our and embroidery surmounted by a very rusty old musket 
was ludicrous in the extreme. 

We had a most pleasant dinner-party at Colonel Shoro- 
koff s, and did not bid our hospitable host and hostess good- 
bye till well on in the afternoon. We then drove down to 
the ferry, and finally started, about 5 P.M. Unfortunately 
we could not wait to avail ourselves of the invitation of the 
officers of the garrison to their club in the evening, but sev- 
eral drove down to see us off. It is wonderful how the 
hackney-carriage has established itself wherever Eussians 
are to be found in Central Asia. Even at Karki, the most 
forward post, only just occupied, we found the little phaeton 
and pair of ponies, with its Eussian driver, dressed just as 
he would be in Eussia, plying away for hire as if he had 
been there all his life. Good, though, as the Eussians are at 
carriages, I must say they are just the reverse at roads. I 
did not see one single attempt at a road in the whole Trans- 
Caspian territory. At Chaharjui the roads were just the 
ordinary country tracks, and the bridges over the canals were 
simply made of brushwood laid on a few poles and covered 
with earth, and naturally were full of holes. Even in Ash- 
kabad itself there was not a single metalled road, and the 
streets were all holes and dust, worse than the most ordinary 
village track in India. The telegraph line has not yet been 
extended to Karki, and the postal communication, I believe, 
is not very quick money-orders and registered letters, &c., 
being only received once a-month, when an officer is sent 
down to Chaharjui to receive them. 

On starting from Karki the boatmen lashed our two 
boats together, and thus, by working in relays and with the 
help of a full moon and a clear sky, we were able to travel 
day and night, and we thus accomplished our 140 miles, or 
whatever the distance was, in a little more than two and a 
half days. Lucky, indeed, it was for us that we had such 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 403 

fine warm weather, or those three nights in an open boat in 
mid-winter would have been anything but pleasant. We 
had some felts spread on the bottom of the boat, and there 
was just room for the six of us to sleep heads and tails like 
sardines in a tin, covered simply by our rugs and greatcoats. 
One man at the prow of each boat with a pole kept sound- 
ing the depth and looking out for sandbanks, and two others 
at the helm wielded an enormous sweep, and thus helped to 
guide the boat at the bowsman's direction. We drifted 
quietly along with the stream, disturbed by nothing but the 
continual sound of banks falling in on either side. The 
navigation seemed much easier below Karki than above it, as 
the river keeps more to one channel with a better depth of 
water. The river seems full of sturgeon, and a fresh -caught 
sterlet that Captain Komaroff procured at Karki was deli- 
cious eating, and in fact lasted us all the way to Chaharjui. 
Some fresh caviare, too, which was given him was very good, 
and we feasted on it all the way down. 

The Beg of Karki, thinking that we should halt each 
night on the way down, had sent on tents and cooks to 
three different places, Isan Mangli, Koraish, and Sakar 
Bazar, so that everything might be ready for us on our 
arrival. The two first places were passed at night, and 
we only halted for a short time at the third while wait- 
ing for the moon to rise. The Bokharan official who was 
deputed to accompany us in the boats rejoiced in the title 
of " Karawal Begi " literally, I suppose, " the chief of the 
outposts ; " but what his precise functions were I did not 
learn. No sooner, however, had we landed on the river's 
bank at Sakar Bazar than he sent off a boatman to the 
village, and in a very short time up rode the local Beg with 
several followers. One had a tent up behind him not 
such a very big one, I confess, but of the kind we call a 
" Bechoba " in India. Another had a carpet ; others sweets, 
tea, and refreshments ; and in less than no time we found 



404 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

the tent pitched, the carpets spread, and a choice assortment 
of Russian and Bokharan sweets spread out before us, whilst 
the cook outside was busy over an enormous caldron of 
soup. In Turkistan everybody is so accustomed to make 
long journeys on horseback, and to carry everything neces- 
sary upon their saddles behind them, that the horses get 
trained to carry enormous weights, much more than we in 
India should ever think of putting on them. In Afghan- 
Turkistan such a thing as a cart or any wheeled conveyance 
is almost unknown, but directly we crossed the Bokharan 
frontier we found carts in common use ; and now, under 
Russian example, their numbers will probably increase 
every day. All the carts I saw were drawn by ponies, not 
by bullocks as in India. The wheels of the carts were 
enormous, six feet or more in diameter, and fully five feet 
apart ; the body of the cart looking like a little box 
perched up between the upper halves of the wheels. The 
shafts are suspended by a rope over a saddle on the pony's 
back on the top of which the driver generally sits with his 
knees tucked up to his chin and are fastened to a wooden 
yoke, resting against a piece of felt acting as a collar round 
the pony's neck. Chaharjui was full of these carts, as well 
as of the regular little phaetons, plying for hire. 

We arrived at Chaharjui about 10 A.M. on the morning 
of the 1st of February, and suddenly found ourselves once 
more in the bustle of European life. We landed just under 
the railway bridge, a huge wooden structure on piles, in the 
midst of numbers of Russian workmen all hard at work. A 
Bokharan official, on the part of the Beg of Chaharjui, was 
waiting to receive us, and we all drove off to the Beg's 
house, recently built close to the Russian bazaar, where we 
were most hospitably entertained during our three days' 
stay. We had hardly finished breakfast before General 
AnnenkofFs private secretary arrived with an invitation for 
us all to dinner. The General had just come in from his 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 405 

camp at the rail-head, and hearing of our arrival, at once 
very kindly sent over to ask us to go out again with him 
in the evening. After breakfast we accompanied Captain 
Komaroff to call upon Colonel Kazantzoff, the commandant 
of the garrison, consisting of the 3d Turkistan battalion, who 
welcomed me as an old Panjdeh acquaintance. We after- 
wards saw the regiment on parade, and uncommonly well 
they drilled. The men apparently always parade in full 
marching order. They have no valises, but carry their 
greatcoats, when not wearing them, over their shoulders, 
and their service-kit in a couple of large haversacks, slung 
one over each shoulder. These haversacks look bulky, 
sticking out one over each hip, but Eussian officers say 
that they have been found by experience to be very prac- 
tical, and preferable in every way to the valise. 

In the afternoon we visited the two new steamers just 
built for. service on the river. They are to be officered and 
manned by sailors from the navy, but have no guns, and 
are principally intended, we were told, to ply between 
Khiva and Chaharjui for the carriage of cotton. Each 
steamer has a large iron barge in tow for this purpose, but 
also capable of accommodating several hundred men if re- 
quired. Curiously enough, we found a fellow-countryman 
belonging to a firm in St Petersburg in charge of the 
steamers. He it was who had brought them down in 
pieces from St Petersburg, and had put them together at 
Chaharjui, and was then simply waiting for the arrival of 
the officers to hand them over. 

In the evening we paid our visit to General Annenkoff, 
at his house near the railway bridge, and afterwards started 
with him in his train drawn up outside. The band of 
the Eailway Battalion occupied the two first trucks, and 
the General's saloon carriage was the third. We went 
very slowly over the bridge, five versts an hour being the 
maximum speed allowed. The total distance from bank to 



406 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

bank is 2f miles, but the actual bridge over the main 
channel is 2041 yards in length, and is built entirely of 
wood throughout, all brought down the Volga from Eussia, 
and thence across the Caspian, and on by rail. The re- 
mainder is mostly comprised of embankments over river- 
flats, flooded in summer but dry in winter, with two bridges 
over small channels. We stopped at Farapp, the first 
station, five versts beyond the bridge, on the Bokhara side, 
and there the General took us over the train of double- 
storeyed waggons forming the quarters of the two companies 
or five hundred men of the Eailway Battalion, and the gangs 
of Persians who were at work under him at the rail-head. 
All live in this train, and move on from station to station 
as the line advances. We entered the lower storey of one 
of the waggons, and this we found held twenty-four men. 
Two shelves or ledges across either end held six men each, 
while their rifles were all in racks along the roof. The 
colonel of the battalion had a nicely fitted-up waggon to 
himself, and the other officers had, I think, a truck between 
two or three, according to rank. The kitchen - waggon 
was a curious sight, the fuel being naphtha-refuse, the same 
as in the engines. 

The General's private carriages consisted of a kitchen- 
waggon, a dining-saloon, and a private saloon, divided into 
sitting-room, bedroom, and secretary's room all double- 
storeyed, with the servants' quarters above. At dinner all 
the officers of the Eailway Battalion were present, and we 
sat down a party of about twenty. The General proposed 
our healths, and drank also to the officers both of the English 
and of the Indian army, which, he said, had produced such 
fine soldiers as Havelock, Lawrence, Eoberts, and others ; 
and with such a genial host it was little wonder that it was 
well past midnight before the band and ourselves got into 
the train that was waiting alongside to run us back to our 
respective quarters at Chaharjui. 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 407 

Next morning we were up betimes and off by train again 
to the rail-head, where General Annenkoff showed us his 
system of platelaying. The General had sent his horses on 
ahead for us to ride, and we had a most pleasant morning's 
excursion. The men, we found, were divided into two 
parties, each consisting of one company of the Eailway Bat- 
talion and a gang of Persian labourers. Each of these 
parties worked from noon one day till dusk, and then from 
6 A.M. the next day till noon, when they were relieved by 
the other, and had their twenty-four hours off. The work 
was carried on entirely under the supervision of the officers 
of the Eailway Battalion, who were all mounted. Each 
material train on arrival was run up to the rail-head, and 
the sleepers were at once thrown out and carried forward, 
and put down on the line by the Persians. The rails were 
slid along on rollers, run out on to a trolly, and linked in 
by the men of the Eailway Battalion almost as fast as they 
could be brought up, being simply spiked on to the sleepers. 
The earthwork, of course, had all been prepared beforehand, 
and nothing but platelaying remained to be done, and this, 
the General informed us, was being laid, as a rule, at the 
rate of 4 versts, or 2 f miles a-day ; and though that rate 
could not be maintained every day, especially in sand, still 
he said that he hoped to run his line into Samarcand in 
April. In that case, all the necessary material will be over 
the Oxus before the next flood comes down ; and even sup- 
posing any part of the bridge should give way, communica- 
tion can always be kept up by boat. 

The native town of Chaharjui lies some six miles to the 
south of the railway station on the river-bank, and the road 
between the two is of the worst description. We hired a 
phaeton, and drove out, and found an old mud-fort on an 
artificial mound, with the bazaar as usual below. The 
Beg of Chaharjui being away at Bokhara, we had no oppor- 
tunity of thanking him for the kind way in which we were 



408 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

looked after by his officials, one of whom was with us. The 
bazaar was a poor one, on the whole ; in fact, all business is 
mostly done, I fancy, in the Eussian bazaar at Amu Darya, 
as the Russian settlement is called. The land for this was 
given free by the Amir of Bokhara, and the present settle- 
ment has all risen, I believe, within the last few months. 
The construction of the bridge, and the bringing up of such 
a large amount of material, brought together a large number 
of Russian officials and workmen, and these are now all 
settled down with their wives and families just as if they 
were in Russia. There are no buildings of any size. The 
troops are in long low mud-huts, and the rest of the houses 
are mostly of mud, or else wooden shanties. The railway 
station is the only conspicuous building, and that is of no 
particular size. The houses are scattered about around, and 
the only attempt at a street is in the bazaar, where the Rus- 
sian, Armenian, and other shops are all in regular line. 
General Annenkoff has established a school for Russian 
children, and wonderfully well they all looked, too, when we 
paid them a visit one morning in company with the Gen- 
eral's private secretary. Neither at Merv, Ashkabad, nor 
anywhere else, did I hear of any schools for the native popu- 
lation ; and we in India might perhaps be better off if we 
took a leaf out of the Russian book, and spent a little less on 
high education and a little more on big battalions. 

The regular passenger mail-train from Chaharjui to the 
Caspian runs only twice a-week ; and as these trains have 
no first-class carriages, and only a very few apologies for 
second and third classes, we were indeed lucky to get an 
invitation from General Annenkoff to travel with him in his 
special train to Ashkabad, where he was going to see General 
Komaroff. Nothing could have exceeded General Annenkoff s 
kindness to us throughout our stay. The second evening he 
invited us to dine with him at the Chaharjui Club, and the 
following night to a dance at the same place, where we 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 409 

danced away merrily till late, and finally finished up with a 
supper given to us by some of the officers of the Eailway 
Battalion, before turning in to our carriage in the special 
train ready for an early start in the morning. The train 
was made up entirely of the Boundary Commission party 
and General Annenkoff's private carriages. First came the 
Cossacks and their ponies, then Captain Komaroff, Ilyin, and 
Mirzaeff in a baggage- waggon, in which they rigged up their 
own camp-beds and made themselves very comfortable. We 
three followed in another, but we all spent the day in General 
Annenkoff's saloon. The upper storey of the latter, where 
we had a sort of verandah to sit in, was a very favourite 
resort, and gave us a capital view of all that was to be seen. 
The ground between Chaharjui and Merv is densely cov- 
ered with saxsal bushes, and the only real sand is a belt 
some 15 or 20 miles in width, running parallel to the Oxus, 
similar to that through which we saw the line being laid on 
the opposite bank of the river. Here, so General Annenkoff 
told us, they preserved the railway banks by putting a slight 
layer of clay-soil over the sand, and by laying down layers 
of grass along the edges ; but so far as one could see, the 
difficulty regarding shifting sand did not seem to be any- 
thing very great. Some 17 miles from Merv we passed 
through old Merv, a great extent of mounds and mud-ruins 
stretching for several miles along either side of the railway, 
and now known by the name of Bahram Ali. This was the 
old original Merv, watered by the canals from the Band-i- 
Sultan, and finally destroyed when that dam was broken. 
The land there is excellent, but all waste at present. When 
the new Band-i-Sultan is finished, however, it will all be 
brought under cultivation again; and General Annenkoff 
has great schemes on hand for the colonisation of all this 
land, as well as of much more now lying untenanted along 
the banks of the Oxus between Chaharjui and Khiva, by 
Kussian peasants. We heard that to provide funds for the 



410 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

new Band-i-Sultan the Emperor had advanced 1J million 
roubles out of his own private purse, and in return is to 
receive one-sixth of the land reclaimed as his own private 
property. 

The first sight of new Merv that we got was the walls 
of Kaushid Khan Kilah, a huge oblong rectangular enclosure 
surrounded by high thick mud-walls on three sides, but 
unfinished on the fourth. The railway runs through the 
centre of this enclosure, and inside it also are the governor's, 
the officer commanding, and most of the other officers' 
houses, and the public gardens, &c. The walls of the 
enclosure run along the right bank of the Murghab, here a 
comparatively small river, only some thirty yards in breadth, 
and crossed by a wooden-pile bridge. On the opposite bank, 
near the railway station, stand the Eussian bazaar, the club- 
house, the hotel and cafi chantant, and other emblems of 
civilisation. The Turkomans to a stranger are hardly in 
evidence at all. Coming in by rail nothing is to be seen of 
them but various clusters of kibitkas scattered about in the 
distance, over a bare, arid-looking plain, without a tree or a 
garden, in true Turkoman fashion. Their hamlets extend 
for miles, I daresay, as far as the water will reach, and 
there they will continue to live, I presume in their old 
primitive fashion, for many a year to come. But one sign 
of improvement I noticed amongst them, and that was, 
that one or two of the khans or chiefs had built little 
enclosures and houses after the Eussian pattern, in which 
to receive their Eussian guests, though apparently they had 
not advanced so far as to live in the houses themselves, as I 
always noticed their kibitkas pitched outside. No Turko- 
mans seem to be employed in Merv as servants. The latter 
are all either Eussians or Caucasians, and such a thing as a 
native servant, as with us in India, seemed unknown. We 
arrived at Merv about 5 P.M., and just had time to drive 
through the bazaar, do a little shopping, see the club, and 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 411 

call upon Colonel Linevich, the commandant, before going 
on to dinner with Colonel Alikhanoff. The rapid rise of 
Merv has been most astonishing, I believe. We were told 
that a year and a half ago Colonel Alikhanoff was living in a 
kibitka, and there was not a house in the place. Now there 
are lots of houses and a large foreign population. By foreign 
I mean Eussians, Armenians, Caucasians, Persians, Bok- 
harans, and Jews, in contradistinction to the local Turkoman 
population. The former are almost all shopkeepers or 
traders of sorts, and, in fact, there seem to be so many shops 
that one wonders where all the customers come from. 

The club-house contains some large fine rooms ; and here 
I must say a word about Russian clubs. Wherever we 
went we found a club, but not like our English clubs ; they 
were always open to ladies as well as to gentlemen. In 
fact, they more resembled our up-country Indian station 
clubs. At Chaharjui, of course, the club-house was simply 
a low rough building lately run up. At Merv the club- 
house was much better, and at Ashkabad better still, with a 
large ball-room, and card-rooms, &c. The ball-room and 
card-rooms seem to form the principal feature of all these 
Russian clubs, much more space and attention being devoted 
to them than to the dining or refreshment room, which was 
generally very roughly furnished. A weekly Sunday even- 
ing dance seemed to be a regular institution everywhere, 
and we were lucky enough to come in for one of these both 
at Ashkabad and at Tiflis. Newspapers, and even English 
illustrated journals, were taken in at all the clubs ; but I saw 
no signs of the library that is so general in every Indian 
station club with us. 

Colonel Alikhanoff's house is a fine one, and was erected, 
I believe, at Government expense as the residence for the 
governor, the sum of 5000 roubles having been granted for 
the purpose. The military officers, though, had all to build 
their houses at their own expense, simply receiving regi- 



412 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

mental advances, repayable by instalments, as with us in 
India, At Colonel Alikhanoff s I found the finest collection 
of Turkoman carpets that I have yet seen. Russian officers 
all use these carpets as hangings for their walls, and rarely 
or never put them down on the floor, and both Colonel 
Alikhanoff' s and Colonel Linevich's drawing-rooms were a 
sight in this respect. The walls were entirely hung round 
with carpets, and uncommonly handsome they looked. 

Our dinner-party in the evening .was a pleasant one, and 
Colonel Alikhanoff, our host, proposed each of our healths 
in turn before we broke up and returned to the train to 
continue our journey. 

The Merv troops we did not see, as they are mostly quar- 
tered some way off, the Russian officer being just as anxious 
as his English confrere to keep his men well away from the 
liquor-shops in the bazaar. The garrison is not a very large 
one, consisting only, I believe, of three battalions, two bat- 
teries, and a regiment of Cossacks. I was sorry not to have 
had another day in Merv, just on the chance of making the 
acquaintance of some more of the officers quartered there. 
As it was, I met one old acquaintance in the club, who 
came up to shake hands and remind me of our former meet- 
ing at Panjdeh, and how it was upon his loorka that I had 
sat during our final interview the evening before the attack. 
Otherwise I think we saw about all there was to see. 

Leaving Merv at 10.30 P.M., we arrived at Ashkabad at 
2.30 P.M. next day. The total length of the railway from 
the Caspian to the Oxus is 998 versts say 665 miles 
and this is usually run through in 54 hours, includ- 
ing stoppages at each station, of which there are 44 alto- 
gether, and halts of 1J hour at each of the three principal 
places viz., Kizil Arvat, Ashkabad, and Merv, distant re- 
spectively from Uzunada 162, 136, and 215 miles which 
gives an average rate for the trains of about 12 J miles an 
hour. We in our special train ran somewhat quicker. The 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 413 

line having very slight gradients, and no sharp curves, the 
wear and tear of the permanent way is reduced to a mini- 
mum, and trains can travel with ease at the rate of 2 miles 
an hour, as our special did at times, despite the fact that 
the rails are simply spiked on to the sleepers, not bolted 
into chairs as ours are, and that the only ballast is sand, 
and very little of that. No money has been expended on 
platforms or any luxuries of that sort. Troops can climb 
in and out of the carriages, they say, without platforms, and 
one wooden ramp to each five waggons is considered ample 
for baggage, &c. The line is worked throughout by the two 
Railway Battalions. These are formed of men originally 
trained to railway work, and taken from their regiments 
after completing one year's service in the ranks, which is 
considered sufficient for the purely military portion of their 
training, and sent to complete the remaining four years of 
their service on the railways. Drivers, guards, pointsmen, 
carriage-cleaners, and all, are Russian soldiers. The station- 
master is an officer walking about with a sword, and so are 
the other officials. Repairs to the line are mostly done by 
Persian labourers under Russian supervision, and these 
Persians are the only natives of the country employed. 
Turkomans were engaged for a time when 1 the line was 
first commenced, but as soon as the earthwork was com- 
pleted they were dismissed again, and none were kept on per- 
manently. A considerable number of men have to be kept 
up to watch the line, so lightly laid as this is, and for that 
purpose a certain number of old soldiers are retained after 
the completion of their service, but their pay seems to be just 
the same as that of the Persians viz., 17 roubles a-month, 
8 for pay and 9 for food. The rouble is now of little more 
value than a rupee ; and as I was told by some Persians that 
Sunday's pay, when no work was done, was always deducted, 
their average earnings therefore amounted, as nearly as pos- 
sible, to about 8 annas, or say 9d., a- day. 



414 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

The country that we travelled through from the Tejend 
to Ashkabad may be briefly described as a line of snow- 
covered mountains along the Persian border to the south 
and the desert to the north. Villages were few and far 
between, and the different railway stations, with one or two 
exceptions, were little more than small Eussian settlements. 
The Persian border lies mostly well back amongst the hills, 
but at one place it juts out into the plains to take in a 
Persian village, the only one, I believe, now remaining to 
them there. We stopped some little time at the railway 
station close by, and General Annenkoff very kindly took 
us over the station buildings and the quarters of the com- 
pany of the railway battalion located there, a squad of 
recruits for which were drawn up for the General's inspec- 
tion on our arrival. 

The railway buildings simply consisted of a couple of 
blocks, containing four rooms each for the accommodation 
of officials and stores. The third block was the barrack, 
with the officers' room at one end and the men's at the 
other, with a row of outhouses, comprising kitchen, bakery, 
and storeroom behind. The first thing that caught the eye 
in the men's barrack-room was the company altar, sur- 
mounted by the usual embossed gilt-covered pictures, which 
accompanies the headquarters of each company, apparently, 
wherever it may go. The men's beds consisted of a wooden 
platform ranged down the whole length of either side of 
the room, upon which, apparently, they slept in one contin- 
uous row. In the kitchen we tasted the men's soup and 
boiled buckwheat, which seemed to form their staple food, 
and found it very good. It was all cooked by one of the 
men themselves in huge copper caldrons. The bread was 
black and slightly bitter, and not so much to our taste. 
The storeroom was well arranged, and contained the spare 
arms, clothing, and equipment for the whole company. 
In Trans-Caspia there are no such things as white ants, we 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 415 

were told, and the Eussians are thus spared all the* trouble 
and loss that we in India have to endure from their depre- 
dations, not to mention all the extra expense of iron tele- 
graph poles and suchlike things. 

Ashkabad is simply a collection of white houses out in 
the open plain, say 10 miles or so from the foot of the 
mountains, and very much resembles a small Indian can- 
tonment. The houses are mostly one-storeyed, each in its 
own little compound and in regular rows, while the bar- 
racks are long whitewashed buildings with thatched roofs 
plastered over with mud, and look in the distance like low 
one-storeyed Indian barracks with enclosed verandahs. The 
railway station is on the northern side, quite on the out- 
skirts of the town, and driving from the station we passed 
the fortified enclosure prepared for defence when the place 
was first occupied by Eussian troops after the capture of 
Geok Tepe. It consists of a plain mud-wall and ditch, 
with a few small guns mounted at the angles, and a small 
mound or citadel in the centre ; but nowadays the town has 
grown up all round it out in the open, just like an Indian 
station, and the country has been so quieted that the ne- 
cessity for a fort no longer exists. An open space divides 
the bazaar from the cantonment proper, in the centre of 
which stands an obelisk erected to the memory of those who 
were killed in the attack on the Afghans at Panjdeh, sur- 
rounded by four of the Afghan guns captured that -day. 
These, if I remember right, were old Cossipore smooth-bores 
cast some fifty years ago. The bazaar we found densely 
crowded with Eussian soldiers, Persians, Turkomans, and 
Caucasians of all sorts, and the unwonted sight of British 
uniform made us an object of considerable interest. 

We paid our visit to General Komaroff, the Governor- 
General, in the evening too late, I am sorry to say, for us 
to be able to see his fine collection of antiquities, though 
we saw some of his stuffed birds and natural history 



416 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

specimens. The General very kindly offered us the use 
of his private railway carriage for our journey onwards ; 
and though we did not get it, as it had been sent off for 
repair, we were given a special carriage to ourselves in its 
place, and we were not even allowed to pay for our railway 
tickets. We were treated as guests throughout by special 
orders, and conveyed free of all charge from one end of the 
line to the other. 

Our last dinner with our Eussian colleagues was a very 
pleasant one. Captain Komaroff, who on return to Ash- 
kabad rejoined his permanent appointment on the general 
staff there, shared a house with Colonel Zakrchevski, the 
chief of the staff, my old Parijdeh acquaintance, with whom 
I had my interviews just before the Eussian attack. He, 
I remember, had lunch with me on the 29th March 1885, 
the afternoon preceding the engagement, on the neutral 
ground between the two forces, the Afghan vedettes looking 
down upon us on one side and the Cossacks on the other ; 
and I little thought then that the next time we should meet 
I should be his guest at Ashkabad ; but so it was. Our 
party consisted of Captain Komaroff and Colonel Zakrchev- 
ski, our hosts ; General Annenkoff and his secretary; Captain 
Ilyin and M. Mirzaeff ; ourselves and another Eussian officer : 
and after dinner Captain Komaroff, in a kind and cordial 
speech, gave us his final toast, and drank to our healths as 
brother soldiers, English gentlemen and patriots, with whom 
he had been living for the past two or three months, and 
from whom he was now sorry to part, sentiments on our 
side that we cordially reciprocated and fully responded to. 
General Annenkoff, before leaving, presented both Major 
Peacocke and myself with a series of some forty or fifty 
photographs of the various places and points of interest on 
the Trans-Caspian Eailway a valuable collection, all nicely 
mounted, and a most pleasing memento of our visit. 

Afterwards we all adjourned to the ball at the club, 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 417 

where we found a large assemblage of ladies and a capital 
ball-room. The waltz as we dance it seems unknown in 
Eussia, and there was not a lady in the room who had 
mastered the mysteries of the troistemps ; but square dances 
formed the chief feature of the evening, and those we could 
all join in. To our surprise we met a fellow-country- 
woman in the wife of a Eussian railway accountant, and a 
true good fellow-countrywoman too, who, out of the kind- 
ness of her heart, not only did her best to entertain us at 
the ball, but most thoughtfully provided us the next morn- 
ing with a nice hamper of cold roast-beef, white bread, good 
wine, and pickles, and other luxuries for our onward journey, 
in true English fashion. 

Captain Komaroif came down early to see us off; and 
after a final cup of tea with General Annenkoff, we bade 
good-bye, and started with Captain Ilyin and Mirzaeff for 
Tiflis in the mail train at 9 A.M., and arrived at Kizil 
Arvat at sunset, and at Uzunada the following morning 
at sunrise. 

The scenery throughout the day was just the same as 
that of the day before, the same bare snow-sprinkled 
mountains rising like a wall to the south, and the desert 
plains to the north. We had expected to see a good deal 
of drainage from the mountains, and to find the railway 
crossing a succession of water- courses ; but this was not the 
case, and there was hardly a bridge or culvert on the line. 
The water seemed all to run underground, and though there 
was no lack of it apparently when dug for, there was little 
or none on the surface. So easy is the water to get at, and 
so great is the pressure from the mountains above, that 
almost every station had a natural fountain continuously 
playing in front of it. 

The second station, 28 miles from Ashkabad, was Geok 
Tepe, and as the railway station immediately adjoined the 
ruins of the old fort, we were able to have a good look at it. 

2 D 



418 NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. 

At first sight one could hardly believe that this was the 
place from which Eussian troops had twice recoiled, and that 
it was only taken the third time after a prolonged resistance. 
Imagine an open square out in the middle of a plain, a 
simple enclosure, say about half a mile in length and rather 
less in breadth, surrounded by a mud-wall about 20 feet 
high and from 15 to 20 feet thick. There was no large 
" tepe " or mound, as I had imagined from the name, noth- 
ing but a small rise in the north-west corner, and a bastion 
at the south-west angle, on which, I believe, the Turkomans 
had mounted the old guns formerly taken from the Persians, 
but which they did not know how to use. At the time of 
the final assault this enclosure was one teeming mass of 
kibitkas, men, women, and children, horses and sheep, all 
collected inside from far and near. During the siege the 
women and children, I believe, were sheltered in pits and 
hollows, that we could still see the marks of, dug out in the 
ground ; and terrible indeed must have been the scene when 
the place was finally captured. The great fault in the work 
was its rectangular construction and the want of proper 
flanking defence ; but yet with all its defects of structure, 
what astonished one more than anything was the little effect 
that the Eussian artillery seemed to have had on the walls. 
The marks of each shot were plainly visible, but not a bit of 
harm had they done, and had the Eussians not succeeded in 
mining the place, the siege might have been indefinitely 
prolonged. The breach through which the place was as- 
saulted lies at the south-east angle, and just outside it is a 
small memorial stone marking the place where those who 
were killed in the assault were buried. Standing on the 
top of the breach, one could not help thinking what a won- 
derful power of resistance these mud-walls possess ; and if so 
much could be done with a simple 20 -feet wall like this, 
what could not be done with Herat ! 

At Kizil Arvat we found ourselves in a large station with 



RETURN THROUGH TRANS-CASPIA. 419 

a refreshment-room, Eussian ladies walking about the plat- 
form, and every sign of Western civilisation. Uzunada I 
described in my last letter. The railway officials were kind 
enough to run our carriages on from the station down to 
the pier, and by noon we had embarked on board the s.s. 
Tsesarevitch Alexander, and were at Baku by 10 A.M. the 
next morning. There we caught the 2.30 P.M. train, and 
8 A.M. on the morning of the 9th February saw us steaming 
into Tiflis. General Dondukoff Korsakoff, we found, was 
absent at St Petersburg ; but we at once called upon General 
Sheremetoff, his locum tenens, who, unfortunately, again was 
ill ; and also upon General Zelenoy and Colonel Kuhlberg. 
The two latter returned our calls immediately, and were most 
kind and hospitable inviting us to the ball at the club in 
the evening, where we did not part till after a most convivial 
supper-party in the early hours of the morning. 8 A.M. saw 
us at the railway station again, and also Colonel Kuhlberg, 
Captain Ilyin, and M. Mirzaeff, who kindly came to see us 
off; and I can only say that I hope I may always part from 
my Eussian friends on the same cordial terms. The Black 
Sea is well known, and I must say no more. Our Asiatic 
wanderings are over for the present ; and if we are destined 
ever to see the frontier again, the future alone can telL 



INDEX. 



Ab-i-Andkhui, 230 et seq., 341 

Ab-i-Charmi, 71. 

Ab-i-Kaisar, 134, 142, 213 et seq., 340 

et seq., 394 et seq. 
Ab-i-Kashan, 109. 
Abasabad, 392. 
Abdul Aziz Khan, 394. 
Abdul Ghani Khan, 347, 395. 
Abdul Hamid Khan, 235, 347, 395. 
Abdullah Jan, 318 et seq. 
Abdullah Jan Tokhi, 319. 
Abdullah Khan, 100, 124. 
Abdullah Khan Nasiri, 16. 
Abdullah Khan Tohki, 18. 
Abdur Rahman, 319. 
Abdur Rahman Khan, 146, 255. 
Abu Saiad, Sultan, 28. 
Abu Zaid, 194. 
Afghan Boundary Commission, 372 

et seq. 
Afghan Turkistan, 242 et seq., 338 et 

seq., 404 et seq. 

Afghanistan, 146, 269, 342 et seq. 
Afghans, 3-9, 21, 24, 53, 64, 66, 72, 

90, 130, 178 et seq., 216 et seq., 265 

et seq., 312 et seq., 381 et seq. 
Afrasiah Khan, 275. 
Afridis, 229, 294. 
"Aghamet, 209. 
Aghaz Paz, 340 et seq. 
Aimakjar, 60, 168 et seq. 
Aimaks, 3, 130. 

" Aitchison, Dr, 10 et seq., 42, 56. 
Aitchison, Lady, 377. 
Ak Koprak, 239. 

Ak Robat, 89 etseq.,\H etseq.,19Q etseq. 
Ak Robat Kotal, 239. 
Ak Tepe, 186. 
Akchah, 149, 226 et seq., 337 et seq., 

380 et seq. 



Akhal Tekes, 186 etseq. 

Akkum, 397. 

Ala Taimur, 157. 

Alai Chalai, 161 et seq., 343 etseq. 

Albury range, 255. 

Ali Boghan, 369. 

AH Khan, 47, 97, 108 et seq. 

Aliabad, 353 et seq. 

Alikhanoff, Colonel, 149 et seq,, 384 et 

seq., 411 et seq. 
Alishahs, 125, 186. 
Alizais, 218. 
Allah Dad Khan, 64. 
Almar, 341. 
Alti Tepe, 249. 
Ambia Khan, 64. 
Amir Muhammad, 48. 
Amir Muhammad Khan, 397. 
Amir-ud-Din, 389. 
Amu Daria, 229. 
Amu Darya, 408. 
Ananiantz, M. , 206 et seq. 
Anar Darah, 172. 
Anderson, Mr, 370. 
Andkhui, 81 et seq., 212 et seq., 334 

et seq., 380 et seq. 
Annenkoff, General, 404 et seq. 
Aral, Sea of, 284. 
Aranji, 248. 

Ardewan Pass, 12, 48, 57, 145, 320. 
Armalik Pass, 5. 
Arsallah Khan, 161. 
Asaf-ud-Daulah, 56. 
Ashab-i-Kalif, 151. 
Ashkabad, 323, 402 et seq. 
Ashurada, 391. 
Asiah Kuhnah, 260. 
Askara, H.S., 343. 
Asmai, 354. 
Astarab, 239 et seq. 



422 



INDEX. 



Astrabad, 19, 42, 323, 383 et seq. 

Ata Khan Khojah, 230 et seq. 

Ata Muhammad, 82, 264. 

Ata Ulah Khan, Lieut. -Colonel, 331. 

Au Rahak, 92, 94, 174, 176. 

Awaz, 148. 

Ayub Khan, 16, 218. 

Azizulah Khan, 171, 206. 

Baba Pass, 12. 

Baba Taghi, 381. 

Babulai, 180. 

Bad Asiah, 314 et seq. 

Badakshan, 160, 210 et seq., 316 et seq., 

379 et seq. 
Badantoo, 5. 
Badghis, 4 et seq., 101, 139 et seq., 331 

et seq., 382 et seq. 
Badghisi, 4. 

Bagh-i-Babar, 358 et seq. 
Bagh-i-Kharta, 63. 
Bagh-i-Sarhang, 274 et seq. 
Bagh-i-Shan, 392. 
Baghdad, 279. 
Bagran, 353. 
Baha-u'-din Khan, Major, 83, 134, 

144, 161, 212 et seq., 317, 357. 
Bahadur Ibrahim Khan, 357. 
Bahaudin Khan, 62. 
Bahawaldin Khan, Major, 17. 
Bahawulpur, 374. 
Bahram AH, 409. 
Bairach, 125, 186. 
Bakshur, 101. 
Baku, 19, 391, 419. 
Bala Hissar, the Upper, 361. 
Bala Murghab, 3 et seq., 59, 98, 122 et 

seq., 210 et seq., 387 et seq. 
Balkh, 27 et seq., 82, 115, 138 et seq.., 

194 et seq., 366 et seq. 
Balkh Ab, 239, 283 et seq. 
Baluchistan, 58, 303, 330. 
Baluchistan agency, 83. 
Bamian, 51, 56, 58, 62, 239 et seq. 
Band-i-Amir, 255 et seq. 
Band-i-Baba, 48, 118. 
Band-i-Joukar, 219. 
Band-i-Kamal-Khan, 145. 
Band-i-Kashan, 334 et seq. 
Band-i-Kashka, 6. 
Band-i-Kazakli, 189. 
Band-i-Kilrekta, 216 et seq. 
Band-i-Nadir, 111 et seq., 175 et seq. 
Band-i-Sultan, 390, 409 et seq. 
Band-i-Turkistan, 104, 115 et seq., 195 

et seq. , 335 et seq. 
Bandan, 147 et seq. 
Bandar Abbas, 273, 333. 
Bandar-i-Gaz, 392. 
Bara Bagh, 65. 



Barrow, Captain, 378. 

Barukzais^ 359 et seq. 

Batoum, 19, 390. 

Bax, Major, 3, 16 et seq., 54 et seq., 88, 

97 et seq., 200 et 'seq., 273 et seq., 326 

etseq., 369 et seq. 
Bazaar, Takta, 109, 149 et seq. 
Beg Murad Sirdar, 185. 
Bel-i-Paranda, 343. 
Belchiragh, 238. 
Bellew, Dr, 98. 
Beluch, 106, 145. 
Beluchis, 146 et seq. 
Birjand, 147 et seq. 
Bokhara, 124, 131, 191, 240 et seq., 

342 et seq., 379 etseq. 
Bokharans, 242 et seq. , 396. 

Bokun, 125, 198 et seq., 210 et seq., 

343 et seq. 
Boli, 84. 

Bosagha, 241 et seq., 351 et seq., 395 

et seq. 
Boundary pillars, situation of the, 173 

et seq. 

Bratin, Dr, 398. 
Brown, Sergeant, 80, 85. 
Bund-i-Khinjak, 13. 
Bandar Abbas, 322. 
Burdalik, 346. 
Burj-i-Alam Khan, 84. 
Burj-i-Azaran, 256. 
Burj-i-Gulwarda, 148. 
Busawal, 369. 
Butkak, 368 et seq. 

Caspian, the, 19, 150, 170, 273 etaeq., 

346, 391 et seq. 
Chachakli, 232. 
Chachaktu, 130, 157. 
Chagatais, 321. 
Ctiah Ata Murad, 232. 
Chah-i-Imam-Nazar, 350. 
Chah-i-Nakhash, 174. 
Chah-i-Pirjik, 350 et seq. 
Chahar Bagh, 29, 63, 251 et seq. 
Chahar Bulak, 251. 
Chahar Burjak, 83, 84, 106, 134 et seq. 
Chahar Dar, 326 et seq. 
Chahar Darah, 177. 
Chahar Deh, 354 et seq. 
Chahar Gazak, 19. 
Chahar Jui, 170, 187, 243 et seq., 322 

et seq., 397 et seq. 
Chahar Shamba, 85, 98, 105 et seq., 

209 et seq., 340 et seq., 394 et seq. 
Chahar Shangah, 242 et seq. 
Chahar Tagao, 137. 
Chaharjui, Beg of, 404 et seq. 
Chahgazak, 17, 84. 
Chaman, 49, 367. 



INDEX. 



423 



Chaman-i-Bed, 18 et seq., 86 et seq., 
100 et seq. 

Chap Darah, 328 et seq. 

Chap Guzar, 235, 351. 

Chapman, Mr, 261. 

Charakhs, 19. 

Charikar, 58, 62, 262 et seq., 325 
et seq. 

Charles, Dr, 2, 11 et seq., 83. 

Chash Baba, 346. 

Chashma Sabz, 312. 

Chashmah Pinhan, 164, 232. 

Chashmah Shaffah, 270. 

Chashmah-i-Sher, 326. 

Chichli. 350. 

Chihal Dukhteran, 222 et seq., 381 et 

seq. 

Chihal Zinah, 196. 
Chikislar, 391. 
Chilik, 251. 
Chingurak, 386. 
Chitral, 268. 
Chitrali coolies, 268. 
Chobash, 248 et seq. 
Chushka Guzar, 248 et seq. 
Circassians, 295 et seq. 
Clarke, Mr, 261 et seq. 
Connaught, H.R.H. the Duke of, 372 

et seq. 

Cossack and Sepoy, 286 et seq. 
Cossack drill, 291. 
Cossacks, 44, 74, 77, 78, 80, 81, 90, 

97, 116, 140, 205 et seq., 265 et seq., 
323 et seq., 385 et seq. 

Cotton, Captain, 17, 19, 48, 57, 62, 85, 

98, 105 et seq., 200 et seq., 270 et seq., 
323 et seq. 

Daghestan, 86. 

Dah Dehli, 84. 

Dahan-i-Kaian, 327. 

Dalli, 248. 

Darah-i-Bam, 195. 

Darah Yusaf, 239. 

Darband Pass, 219. 

Daria Band-i-Arair, 247. 

Darwazah-i-Baba Koh, 259. 

Dasht-i-Arzanak, 320. 

Dasht-i-Bakwa, 320. 

Dasht-i-Na Umed, 148. 

Daulat Beg, 346. 

Daulatabad, 114, 141, 213 et seq., 341 

et seq. 

Daulatyar, 17, 22, 51, 56. 
Dawandah range, 1, 3, 5, 13, 104. 
De Laessoe, Captain, 17, 19, 42, 52, 

72, 79, 82, 108 et seq., 193 et seq., 

273 et seq., 345 et seq. 
Deh Mazang, 354 et seq. 
Deh Miran, 238 et seq. 



Deh Moghal, 1, 2. 

Deh Shaikh, 1. 

Deh Tang, 330 et seq. 

Dehdadi, 250 et seq. 

Dehistan, 6. 

Dehzingeh Hazarah, 6. 

Dengli Dagh, 90, 174 et seq. 

Denisoff, Captain, 149. 

Dev Kilah, 237 et seq. 

Dilawar Khan, 338. 

Dinkur Rao, Sir, 374. 

Dizeh, 194. 

Do Shakh, 170 range, 19, 23, 48. 

Dondukoff Korsakoff, Prince General, 

390, 419. 
Dorah, 148 et seq. 

Dost Mahomed Khan, 270, 318 et seq. 
Drummond, Lieutenant, 2, 23 et seq., 

82, 102 et seq., 149, 212 et seq., 273 

et seq. 

Dutfadar Mir Baz, 85, 86. 
Dukchi, 213 et seq., 341 et seq. 
Dungez Syot, 346 et seq. 
Durand, Captain, \\etseq., 48, 55 et 

seq., 97 et seq., 209 et seq., 273 et seq. 
Durand, Mr H. M., 372 et seq. 

Ebn Haukel, 6, 26, 27, 32, 194 et seq. 

Egrigeuk, 95, 174, 176, 190. 

Elias, Mr Ney, 133, 151, 160, 200 etseq. 

Elibir, 101. 

ErsariJTuj^ojiians, 166 et seq. 

Ilrsaris7~1427 166, 189, 231 et seq., 

282 et seq. 
Eshans, 152. 

Faizabad, 151. 

Farad Beg, 238 et seq. 

Farah, 58, 148, 215, 320 et seq., 390 

et seq. 

Farangi, 231. 
Farapp, 406. 
Farash Bashi, 369. 
Farinjal, 330. 
Ferrier, 56. 

Finn, Mr, 10, 17, 19, 42, 48. 
Firozkohi country, 82, 115. 
Firozkohis, 10, '22, 115, 136 et seq., 

219 et seq., 387 et seq. 
Fort Roberts, 367. 
Foughan, 239 et seq. 
Foughans, 239. 

Galindo, Lieutenant, 62, 83. 

Galla Chashmah, 161, 164 et seq., 350 

et seq. 

Galla Chashmah Shor, 197. 
Gandeh Chah, 350. 
Ganesh, 248. 
Gang, 84. 



424 



INDEX. 



Gardan Reg, 146. 

Gazanfar Khan, 346. 

Gazargah, 33. 

Gaznigak, 314, 320. 

Geok Tepe, 86, 97, 415 et seq~ 

Ghain, 146. 

Ghaus-ud-Din, General, 15, 64, 215 

et seq., 387 et seq. 
Ghazis, 218. 
Ghazni, 367. 

Ghilzai nomads, 12, 189, 217 et seq., 
Ghor, 42. 

Ghorband, 58, 62, 262, 330 et seq. 
Ghpri, 326 et seq. 
""Ohorian, 53, 105. 
Ghulam Haidar Khan, General, 319. 
Gideonoff, Captain, 77, 78, 79, 91, 116 

et seq., 201 et seq. 
Gilgit, 160, 268. 
Girishk, 49, 58, 98. 
God-i-Zireh, 145 et seq. 
Gok Sirdar, 163, 185, 203 et seq., 392. 
Gondou-Bala, 1. 
Gor-i-Haji, 84. 
Gor-i-Mar, 314 et seq. 
Gore, Captain, 10, 17, 19, 25, 41, 48, 

61, 70, 72, 76, 79, 82, 89, 96 et seq., 

212 et seq., 273 et seq., 333 et seq. 
Gorokh, Lieutenant, 78, 116, 149 et 

seq., 212 et seq. 

Gough, Sir Hugh, General, 370 et seq. 
Griesbach, Captain, 2, 3, 16, 17, 19, 

21, 42, 62, 74, 105 et seq., 200 et 

seq., 322 et seq. 
Guchmach, 126, 188. 
Gulran, 65, 68, 71, 82, 88, 119 et seq., 

393 et seq. 
Gwadar, 58. 

Hadjis, 249. 

Hafizullah Khan, General, 319. 
Haibak, 105, 272, 314 et seq. 
Haidari, 275. 
Halim Khan, 172. 
Hamman, 146 et seq. 
Hamun, Seistan, 145. 
Hamun, Western, 145 et seq. 
Harfah Guzar, 230 et 'seq. 
Hari Rud, 2, 12 et seq., 42, 60, 68, 
75, 76, 89, 173, 175 et seq., 228 et 
seq., 383 et seq. 
Hasan AH Khan, 52. 
Hastings, Mr, 370. 

Hauz-i-Khan, 88, 96 et seq., 102 et seq. 
Hazar Sum, 322. 
Hazarah Kilah, 136. 
Hazarah Kudak, 350. 
Hazarahjat, 52, 56, 239 et seq. 
Iazarahs, 8 et seq., 52, 109, 117 et seq., 
., 239 et seq., 327 et seq. 



Hazrat Imam, 60. 
Heath, Captain, 17, 41 et seq., 83. 
Heera Singh, 42, 82, 115, 262 et seq. 
Helmand, 83, 98, 106-134 et seq., 283 

et seq. 
Herat, 1, 2, 3, 9 et seq., 25 et seq., 49 

et seq., 104 et seq., 215 et seq., 382 et 

seq., 418. 

Heratis, 18, 20, 21, 25, 39, 64, 72, 93. 
Hindu Kusli, 264 et seq. 
Hirak, 126 et seq. 
' History of the Russian Mission to 

Kabul in 1878 ' referred to, 249. 
Hizdah Nahri regiment, 354. 
Hizhdah Nahr, 267. 
Holdich, Major, 17, 18, 25, 41, 48, 53, 

57, 61, 70, 72, 76, 77, 79, 82, 89, 93, 

96, 104 et seq., 201 et seq., 322 et 

seq. 

Hudson, Sir John, General, 372. 
Hukumat Khan, 135. 
Hulu, 346. 
Husain Khan, 47, 48, 338. 

Ibrahim Khan, 52, 247, 273. 

Ilyin, Councillor, 78, 141, 201 et seq., 

393 etseq., 419. 
Imam Ali Asgar, 7. 
Imam Bakri, 247. 
Imam Nazar, 395. 
Imam Sharif, 82, 115 et seq., 262 et 

seq. 

Indian Commissariat, 312. 
Irak, 25. 

Isan Mangli, 403. 
Isfandiar, 130. 
Ishak Khan, 18, 126, 160, 234 ct seq., 

318 et seq. 
Isik, Bulan, 230. 
Iskar, 327. 
Islam, 248 et seq. 
Islim, 24, 95, 97 et seq., 174, 176 et 

seq. 

Ismail Khan, 277. 
Iwaz, Khan, 47. 

Jagdalak, 370. 
Jalaiar, 232 etseq., 394. 
Jamrud, 353 et seq., 370 et seq. 
Jamshidiv3, 8, 12, 101, 104, 122, 188 

et seq. , 303 et seq. 
Jarkudak, 229 et seq., 352, 395. 
Jauz-i-Kili, 3. 
Jelajin, 350. 

Jeswunt Singh, 89, 273 et seq. 
Jhind, 374. 
Jui Karshasp, 145. 
Juma Eshan, ] 84. 
Juma Musjid, 27, 28, 257, 349. 
Jnmjuma Kilah, 233. 



INDEX. 



425 



Kabul, 22, 29 et seq., 159, 218 et seq., 

SSietscq., B85etseq. 
Kabulis, 21, 22, 46, 93. 
Kafir Kilah, 51, 53, 55, 283 et seq. 
"Kafirs," 331. 
Kaisar, 123, 136, 195 et seq., 341 et 

seq. 

Kaisar Rud, 81. 
Kak-i-Tali, 230 et seq. 
Kalat-i-Ghilzai, 218. 
Kamar Kalagh gorge, 2, 65. 
Kandahar, 16, 18 et seq., 40, 49, 58, 

82, 196 et seq., 320 et seq., 385 et 

seq. 

Kara Baba, 141, 161 et seq., 343 et seq. 
Kara Baba Shor, 165 et seq. 
Kara Bagh, 68. 
Kara Bel, 141 et seq., 197 et seq., 33 

et seq. 

Kara Gali (Pass), 238. 
Kara Jangal, 142, 195 et seq. 
Kara Kamar, 249. 
Kara Tepe, 24, 88, 94, 95, 103 et seq., 

382 et seq. 

Kara Tepe Kalan, 346. 
Kara Tepe Khurd, 96, 102 et seq., 

346. 

Kara Turkomans, 131, 142. 
Kavaic, 137. 
Karas, 342. 
Karawal Khana, 45, 120 et seq., 173, 

209 et seq., 341 et seq., 384 et seq. 
Karez Dasht, 84. 
Karez Elias, 61 et seq., 84 et seq. 
Karki, 187, 268 et &cq., 350 et seq., 

401 et seq. 

Karki, Beg of, 401 et seq. 
Karkin, 230 et seq. 
Karobar, 63. 
Karujah, 248. 

Karukh, 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 14, 195 et seq. 
Karukh stream, 1. 
Kasawah Kilah, 230. 
Kashan, 109, 110, 174 et seq., 220 et 

seq., 334 et seq., 381 et seq. 
Kashgari Hadjis, 249. 
Kashmir, 160. 
Katack dance, 80, 140. 
Katar Kudak, 349 et seq. 
Kaurmach, 188 et seq. 
Kaushid Khan Kilah, 410. 
Kazaks, 246. 
Kazan, 295. 

Kazantoff, Colonel, 405. 
Khaf, 57. 
Khaibar, 369. 
Khairabad (2), 233, 318 et seq., 392 et 

seq. 

Khamiab, 160, 226 et seq., 395 et seq. 
Khan Babu Khan, 17, 70, 79, 83. 



Khan Bahadur Ibrahim Khan, 161, 

211. 
Khan Bahadur 1 Muhammad Husain 

Khan, 389. 

Khan Bahadur Yusuf Sharif, 389. 
Khan Chahar Bagh, 236 et seq. 
Khan Mullah Khan, 358. 
Khan Sahib Amir Muhammad Khan, 

385 et seq. 

Khanabad, 133, 318. 
Khanikoff, M., 172. 
Khasadars, Afghan, 45, 53, 54, 216 et 

seq., 257 et seq., 315 et seq. 
Khawak Pass, 332. 
Khiva, 168, 188, 285, 405 et seq. 
Khojah Ali, 335. 

Khojah Salih, 226 et seq., 379 et seq. 
Khojah Salih question, the, 240 et seq. 
Khorasan, 27, 42, 56, 141, 191, 331, 

392. 

Khorasan, North- Eastern, 19, 172. 
Khorasan is, 56. 
Khorasaalis, 125, 186 et seq. 
"RtluTm. 316 et seq. 
Khuttucks, 229, 246. 
Khwajah, 84. 

Khwajah Abul Narsi Parsar, 257. 
Khwajah Ali, 84. 
Khwajah Altai Azizan, 152, 157. 
Khwajah Gaohar, 229 et seq. 
Khwajah Gogirdak, 198 et seq., 343 et 

seq. 

Khwajah Isik Bulan, 229, 394. 
Khwajah Kandu, 135, 195 et seq. 
Khawjah Khairan, 281. 
Khwajah Langari, 195 et seq. 
Khwajah Salar, 160, 226 et seq., 378 et 

seq. 

Khwajah Salar question, the, 336. 
Kiachko, Lieutenant, 79, 116, 133 et 

seq., 149, 212 et seq., 229. 
Kiamat Shor, 232, 343. 
Kilah Kambar, 220. 
Kilah Kazal, 233. 
Kilah Mambar Bashi, 65. 
Kilah Maur, 100, 101 et seq. 
Kilah Morad Khan, 330. 
Kilah Nao, 136, 195 et seq., 387 et seq. 
Kilah Wali, 98, 105, 122 et seq., 210 

et seq., 337 et seq. 
Kilah-i-Aman Beg, 6. 
Kilah-i-Dukhtar, 6. 
Kilah-i-Nau, 9, 10. 
Kilah-i-Nau Hazarahs, 7. 
KilaE-Shaikh Tanai, 104. 
Kilif, 242 et seq., 346 et seq., 398 et 

Kilik'i, 48, 148. 
Kin, 84. 
Kipchaks, 



et seq. / 



426 



INDEX. 



Kirman, 273. 

Kizil Arvat, 412, 417 et seq. 

KiziL Bulak, 65, 68, 69, 88. 

Kizil Tepe, 46. 

Koh-i-Baba, 331. 

Koh-i-Khwajah, 147. 

Koh-i-Taftan, 146. 

Koh-i-Tan, 245, 252, 395. 

Kohak, 98. 

Kohistan, 267. 

Koniaroff, General, 150 et seq., 408, 

415. 

Komaroff, Colonel, 149. 
Komaroff, Captain, 77, 78, 79, 96, 97, 

109, 116, 149 et seq., 212 et seq., 267 

et seq., 383 et seq., 401 et seq. 
Kondratenko, Captain, 78, 116, 141, 

149, 201 et seq., 383 et seq. 
Koraish, 403. 
Kotal, 282 et seq. 
Kotal-i-Aokhurah, 5. 
Kotal-i-Bargah, 327. 
Kotal-i-Fazak, 327. 
Krasnovodsk, 391. 
Kubanski regiment, 78. 
Kuchan, 19. 
Kufah, 281. 
Kuhlberg, Colonel, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 

76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 90, 91, 97, 

102, 109, 115, 116 et seq., 198 et seq., 

390 et seq., 419. 
Kuhsan, 44, 45, 50, 51, 53, 54, 57, 61, 

331 et seq. 
Kujlak, 392. 
Kuldja, 399. 
Kunduz, 136, 318 et seq. 
Kiirban Maz, 186. 
Kurt, 16. 

Kushdil Khan, 319. 
Kushk, 3 et seq., 46, 53, 76, 85, 95, 

100 et seq., 217 et seq., 381 et seq. 
Kushk river, 5, 12. 
Kushk Rud, 84. 

Laghman, 354 et seq. 

Lahore, 371 et seq. 

Landi Baraich, 84. 

t-andi Khana, 370. 

Landi Kotal, 369. 

Langoran, 392. 

Lash Jowain, 84, 172. 

Leigh, Captain, 369. 

Lesghin, 86. 

Lesghins, 295. 

Lessar, M., 70, 73, 74, 75, 77, 78, 79, 

91, 97, 114, 116 et seq., 209 et seq., 

322 et seq. 

Linevich, Colonel, 411 et seq. 
Lockhart, Colonel, 268. 
Logar, 53, 225. 



Lumsden, Sir Peter, 44, 111, 124, 311. 
Lyttle, Conductor, 83. 

MacGregor, Sir Charles, 146, 148. 

M'lvor, Major, 106. 

MacLean, Colonel, 247 et seq., 392 et 

seq. 

Machgandak, 1, 2, 4, 9, 13, 14. 
Madrasah, 30, 257 et seq., 349 et seq. 
Mahmud Shah, 319. 
Mahomed Aslam, 17, 48. 
Mahomed Aslam Khan (Sirdar), 9. 
Mahomed Hassan, 229. 
Maiamai, 392. 
Maimanah, 57 et seq., 98, 103, 195 et 

seq., 318 et seq., 380 et seq. 
Maimanahs, 344. 
Maitland, Captain, 2, 3, 10, 17, 22, 

25, 41, 51, 56, 62, 105 et seq., 200 

et seq., 267 et seq. 
Maiwand, 16, 218. 
Malimar, 4. 
Malmul, 282. 

Mamezak, 62, 64, 70, 83, 84. 
Mangan, 194 etseq., 224. 
Manley, Sergeant, 80, 81, 85. 
Marshall, Mr, 357. 
Maruchak, 45 et seq., 96 et seq., 102 et 

seq., 209 et seq., 336 et seq., 381 et 

seq. 
Mashhad, 10, 17, 19, 41, 42, 44, 48, 

51, 52, 55, 56, 57, 118, 264 et seq., 

383 et seq. 
Masjid-i-Sabz, 257. 
Mawar-ul-nahr, 27. 
Mazar, 257 et seq., 347 et seq. 
Mazar-i-Sharif, 105, 114, 160, 240 et 

seq. 

Mazinan, 392. 
Mehemetoff, M., 78, 86, 149, 212 et 

seq. 

Mehr, 392. 
Meiklejohn, Major, 11, 48, 53, 54, 83, 

85, 98, 106 et seq. 
Merk, Mr, 10, 19, 41, 48, 53, 62, 64, 

70, 79, 81, 83, 87, 134 et seq., 200 et 

seq., 273 et seq., 338 et seq. 
Merv, 47, 60, 111 et seq., 222 et seq., 

322 et seq., 384 et seq., 408 et seq. 
Merv-ul-Rud, 194 et seq., 224. 
Miandasht, 392. 
Ming Darakht, 231 et seq. 
Mir Mortaza, 37. 
Mir Sultan Murad Khan, 319. 
Mirza Abdulah, 397. 
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, 17, 215. 
Mirza Hasan AH Khan, 261, 279, 356. 
Mirza Hasan Khan, 79. 
Mirza Khalil, 27. 
Mirza Purdil Khan, 318. 



INDEX. 



427 



Mirzaeff, M., 78, 79, 86, 116, 149 ct 

seq., 212 et seq., 393 et seq., 419. 
Mishwain nomads, 12. 
Mizrab Khan, 338. 
Moghor, 88, 381. 
Moguls, 246. 
Muhammad Afzal Khan, 86, 280, 318 



MuHammad Akbar Khan, 318 et 
Muhammad Akram Khan, 57. 
Muhammad Alum Khan, 319 et seq. 
Muhammad Amin Khan, 215. 
Muhammad Amir Khan, 90. 
Muhammad Aslam Khan (Kazi), 18 et 

seq., iQetseq., 86, 98, 111, 240. 
Muhammad Aslam Khan (Sirdar), 17 

et seq., 61, 71, 86, 108 et seq., 211 et 

seq., 240 et seq., 355. 
Muhammad Husain Khan, 83, 98, 151, 

247, 357, 397. 
Muhammad Husain, Ressaldar- Major, 

13, 17, 19, 48, 52, 62, 212 et seq. 
Muhammad Husain, Subadar, 17. 
Muhammad Ishak Khan, 59. 
Muhammad Khan, 274, 394. 
Muhammad Sarwar Khan, 126. 
Muhammad Sharif, 42. 
Muhammad Taki Khan, 83. 
Muhammad Umar Jan, 37. 
Muhammad Yusuf Khan, 98. 
Mullah Abdul Aziz Khan, 387. 
Munshi Allah Baksh, 262 et seq. 
Murghab, 22, 45, 60, 97, 110 et seq., 

210 et seq., 337 et seq., 381 et seq. 
Murray, Major-General, C.B., 372 et 

seq. 
Musalla, 26, 30, 32, 33, 65. 

Nabba, 374. 

Nadali, 147. 

Nadir Shah, 147, 157. 

Nahun, 374. 

Naib Alam Khan, 258. 

Naib Kotwal, 360. 

Naib Salar, 15. 

Naibabad, 314 et seq. 

Najaf, 279 et seq. 

Naratu, 6, 11, 195 et seq. 

Narin, 132. 

Nasirabad, 84, 98, 147. 

Natore, Rajah of, 374. 

Nawab Mirza Hassan Ali Khan, 82, 

88, 229. 

Nazir Nurudin Khan, 394 et seq. 
Neprintzeff, Councillor, 116, 149. 
Neza Beg, 230. 
Nihalsheni, 57. 
Nimaksar, 190. 
Nimlik, 255, 318 et seq. 
Nishapur, 392. 



Nizam-u'-Doulah, 64. 
Nourozabad, 5. 
Nujbudin Khan, 347. 
Nujbudin Khan, General, 278. 
Nushki, 58, 84. 

Obeh, 2, 10, 40. 

Oikal, 350. 

Orbeliani, Colonel, 116, 118 et seq. 

Owen, Dr, 9, 14, 17, 19, 41, 52, 62, 

64, 70, 79, 82, 88, 97 et seq., 200 et 

seq., 273 et seq., 369 et seq. 
Oxus, 114, 131, 213 et seq. ; the march 

to the, 226 et seq., 339 et seq., 379 



Padah Khana, 247. 

Pahrah, 84, 148, 390. 

Paikam Daragh, 247. 

Pain Guzar, 232. 

Panjdeh, 9, 15, 46, 47, 60, 74, 94, 108 

et seq., 178 et seq. description of, 

184, 193 et seq., 215 et seq., 334 et 

seq., 391 et seq. 
Panjdeh Kuhnah, 1, 4, 11, 104, 124, 

186, 311 et seq. 
Panjdeh Sariks, 176, 179 et seq., 245 et 

seq., 387 et seq. 
Panjdeh Turkomans, 18, 105 et seq., 

302 et seq., 344 et seq., 380 et 

seq. 

Parwanah Khan, 358, 364. 
Patakesar, 247 et seq. 
Pathans, 66, 162, 245, 294. 
Pati Ram, 285. 
Peacocke, Captain, 10, 13, 14, 17, 19, 

25, 41, 48, 51, 55, 57, 60, 62, 64, 70, 

72, 79, 81, 105 et seq., 200 et seq., 357 

et seq., 390 et seq., 416. 
Pekenna, 203 et seq., 343 et seq. 
Peshawar, 52, 58, 62,. 138 et seq., 248 

et seq., 369 et seq. 
Petroff', Captain, 149, 172. 
Prinsep, Colonel, 80. 
Pul-i-Khatun, 73, 75, 76, 382. 
Pul-i-Khishti, 13, 17, 18, 111 et seq. 
Pul-i-Malun, 26. 
Pul-i-Rangar, 330. 
Pusht-i-Hamwar, 167, 197. 

Quetta, 43, 72, 84, 106 et seq., 218 et 
seq., 389 et seq. 

Ramadzan, 252. 

Rawal Pindi, 357 et seq. 

Rawlins, Lieutenant, 48, 55, 57, 60, 

62, 83. 

Rawlinson, Sir Henrv, 194. 
Resht, 48. 
Ridgeway, Colonel, 1, 3, 9, 17, 18, 19, 



428 



INDEX. 



41, 48, 51, 52, 57, 60, 61, 62, 63, 
64, 69, 70, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, 82, 
85, 88, 90, 102, 108, 109, 111, 112, 
114 et seq., 196 et seq., 268 et seq., 
325 et seq., 364 et scq., 373. 

Kind, Major, 2, 3, 48, 54, 58, 83, 85. 

Robat, 353. 

Robat-i-Afghan, 43. 

Robat-i-Baba, 194. 

Robat-i-Ishmail, 194 et seq., 224 et seq. 

Robat-i-Kashan, 109, 110, 171, 174 
etseq., 220 et seq., 334 et seq., 382 
et seq. 

Robat-i-Kolari, 194. 

Robat-i-Pai, 23. 

Robat-i-Sargardan, 68. 

Robat-i-Sir-Poshidah, 392. 

Roberts, Sir Frederick, 311. 

Roshan, 268, 319 et seq. 

Rozabad, 369. 

Rozabagh, 11, 17, 18, 19. 

Rozanak, 62. 

Rudbar, 84. 

Rukh Mirza, Shah, 30. 

Russian Commissariat establishment, 
312. 

Rustam AH Khan, 63. 

Rustam Khan, 15, 19. 

Saad-ud-Din, 14, 74, 75, 81, 90, 97, 

119 et seq., 210 et seq., 274 et seq., 

354 et seq. 
Sabzawar, 392. 
Safed Sang, 369. 
Saiadulah, 264. 
Said Bai, 185. 
Saighan, 318. 
Sakar Bazar, 403 et seq. 
Salar Gulam Haidar Khan, 354. 
Salor Turkomans, 157, 221. 
Salors, 189 et seq. 

Samarcand, 243 et seq., 267 et seq., 407. 
Sang Kotal, 65, 67, 68. 
Sangalak, 341 et seq. 
Sangbast, 23. 
Saiigbur, 84. 
Sangjairak, 239. 
Sarakhs, 118, 158, 170 et seq. 
Sardabah, 254. 
Sarhad, 146. 
Sari Khojah Salih, 380. 
Sari Yazi, 111 et seq., 215 et seq., 382 

et seq. 
J3arik Turkomans, 9, 101, 125 et seq., 

-seq., 342 et seq. 
Sariks, 18, 46 et seq., 186 et seq., 335 

et seq. Panjdeh Sariks, 170 et seq., 

340 et seq. 

Sariks of Panjdeh, 101, 119 et seq. 
Sarimat, 350. 



Sarmandal, 84 et seq. 

Sarshela, 145' etseq. 

Sayat, 320. 

Sayeds, 153 et seq. 

Sehchanche, 350. 

Seistan, 58,83,98, 145 Cf!sg., 331 etseq. 

Seistan, Persian, 146 et seq. 

Seistan, Southern, 145 et seq. 

Seistanis, 72, 147. 

Semmer, Dr, 78, 116, 149, 212. 

Seven Sleepers, the Cave of the, 151 



5-2- 



Shadian, 240 et seq. 

Shah Godar, 146. 

Shah Jehan, 366. 

Shah-Maksud, 40. 

Shahghassi Sherdil Khan, 319. 

Shahi Nahr, 247. 

Shahr-i-Afsoz, 154 et seq. 

Shahr-i-Hinduan, 257. 

Shahr-i-Kishlak, 157. 

Shahrud, 392. 

Shahzadah, Kasim, 15. 

Shaikh Ali Hazarahs, 62. 

Shaikh-ul-Islam, 14. 

Sharifabad, 392. 

Shayak Yeuzbashi, 236. 

Sher Ahmed Khan, 12, 41, 48, 59, 98, 

108 et seq., 212 et seq., 316 et seq., 

357 et seq. 
Sher Ali, 319, 360. 
Sher Ali Khan, 279, 318. 
Sher Baksh, 84. 
Sher Darwaza, 358. 
Sher Mahomed, 229. 
Sher Tepe, 382. 
Sherabad, 249. 
Shereinetoff, General, 419. 
Sherpur, 357 et seq. 
Shibarghan, 57, 200, 346 et seq. 
Shignan, 268, 319 et seq. 
Shirin Tagao, 230 et seq., 339 et seq. 
Shor Aghaz Kin, 343. 
Shor Sanam, 202. 
Shorab, 95, 174, 176, 249-392. 
Shorokoff, Colonel, 401 et seq. 
Shukr Guzar, 125. 
Shums-ud-Din Khan, 358. 
Siah Ab-i-Charmgah, 353. 
Siah Sang, 358 et seq. 
Siahgird, 247. 

Sikhs, 80, 81, 115, 270 et seq. 
Silgan, 84. 
Simla, 372. 
Sinjao valley, 2. 

Sipah Salar, 15, 19, 20, 26, 63, 64. 
Sir-i-Chashma, 158. 
Sirdar, the title of, 185. 
Siripul, 239, 345 et seq. 

Dkti settlements, 184. 



INDEX. 



429 



Soktis, 116, 186 et seq. 
Sum-i-Sangi, 322. 
Sumba Karez, 92, 94, 174, 176. 
Surkh Ab, 238, 326. 
Swetowidoff, Councillor, 78, 97. 
Syeds, 281, 348. 

Tabriz, 70. 

Tagao Robat, 4, 5, 11, 13, 22, 195 et 

seq. 

Tagao-i-Jawal, 1. 
Tagou-i-Jawal, 12. 
Taidashti Shor, 202 et seq. 
Tailan (Pass), 238. 
Taimani country, 115. 
Taimanis, 10, 22, 42, 48, 56. 
Taiwarah, 42. 
Tajiks, 3, 250 et seq., 321. 
Takht-i-Khatun, 195 et seq. 
Takht-i-Pul, 257 et seq., 318 et seq. 
Takht-i-Ea\van, 310. 
Takht-i-Rustam, 2, 258 et seq., 321. 
Tal-i-Bhangian, 33. 
Talbot, Captain, 2, 10, 17, 22, 25, 41, 

48, 51, 56, 82, 105 et seq., 212 et seq., 

272 et seq., 323 et seq. 
Talikan, 194 et seq., 319 et seq. 
Tanur Sangi, 220. 
Tarmiz, 248. 
Tartars, 296. 
Tash, 392. 

Tashkend, 234, 270, 399 et seq. 
Tashkurghan, 149, 160, 267 et seq., 

366 et seq. 
Taskhanoff, Lieutenant-Colonel, 215, 

221, 384. 

Tchaplanski, Captain, 78. 
Tegend, 414. 
Teheran, 19, 52, 70, 172. 
Tejah Singh, 273 et seq. 
Te'kes, 177 et seq., 342. 
Tepe Ghar, 16. 
Tezakli, 350. 
Tiflis, 74, 323, 390 et seq. 
Tirband-i-Turkistan, 126 et seq. 216. 
Tirpul, 312. 
Tolmatchoff, Councillor, 78, 141, 207 

et seq. 

Toman Agha, 45, 51. 
Toman regiment, 151. 
Tomanski's Cossacks, 289. 
Tope-i-Rustam, 258. 
Topographical Department, Russian, 

264. 

Topographical Survey, Indian, 264. 
Torshaikh, 194, 381 etseq. 
Trakun, 145. 
Trans-Caspia, 414. 
Trans-Caspian Railway, 391 et seq. 
Tunian ford, 12, 13, 14, 16. 



Turbat-i-Haidari, 57. 

Turbat-i-Shaikh Jam, 14, 17. 

Turkistan, 18, 126, 210 et seq., 399 et 
seq. 

Turkistan, Afghan, 60. 

Turkoman raids, 4 et seq. 

Turkomans, 21, 72, 93, 94, 105, 122 
et seq., 157, 171 et seq., 244 etseq., 
302 et seq., 380 et seq. Kara, Turko- 
mans, 164. 

Tutachi, 88. 

Tutam Darah, 353. 

Umar Jan Sahibzadah, 16. / 
Umbeyla, 385. 
Urganj, 188 et seq. 
Urush Doshan, III et seq. 
Usbegs, 72, 106, ISO etseq., 200 et seq., 
274 et seq., 344 et seq. 

Varenik, Captain, 78, 116, 149 et seq. 
Viceroy of India, 373 et seq. 
Volkovnikoff, Captain, 137 et seq. 

Wakhan, 268, 319, 379. 

Waterfield, Colonel, 370. 

Weir, Dr, 10, 17, 48. 

Wells, Major R. E., 172. 

WinnikofT, Sub-Lieutenant, 79, 116, 

149, 212 et seq. 
Woodhouse, Mr, 390 et seq. 
Woodthorpe, Colonel, 269. 
Wright, Lieutenant, 23, 41, 42, 48, 

56, 57, 62, 83. 

Yahud Tepe, 110. 

Yakub Khan, 360. 

Yalantush Khan, 64. 

Yaman Kudak, 350. 

Yan Chashmah, 124. 

Yangi Duniya, 215. 

Yarghan Chakli, 232. 

Yarkand, 151, 160. 

Yarkund, 133. 

Yaroilan, 101. 

Yate, Lieutenant, 17, 19. 

Yavorski's, Dr, 'History of the Rus- 
sian Mission to Kabul in 1878 ' re- 
ferred to, 249. 

Yedaram, 165. 

Yedikui, 350. 

Yekh Darah (Pass), 239 ct seq. 

Yeki-yeuzi, 381. 

Yezdan, 19, 148 et seq. 

Yulatan, 47, 111, 170, 181, 189 etseq., 
342 et seq. 

Yulatan Sariks, 189. 

Yusaf Khan, 355. 

Yusuf Sharif, 262 



430 INDEX. 

Zaid, 346. Ziarat-i-Chahardah Ma'stim, 348. 

Zakrchevski, Colonel, 416 et seq. Ziarat-i-Khwajah Salar, 241 et seq., 

Zitmindawari, 22 et seq., 386. 380 et seq. 

Zarmast Pass, 4, 5, 11. Ziarat-i-Pistah, 122. 

Zelenoy, General, 80, 390, 419. Ziarat-i-Shah Murdan, 230. 

Zemindawar, 16, 115, 218, 331. Zigin, 84. 

Ziarat Gah, 215. Zinoview, M., 378. 

Ziarat-i-Ali Sher, 314. Zorabad, 158, 172. 

Ziarat-i-Baba Furk, 68. Zulfikar, 13, 43, 44, 51, 57, 60, 61, 62, 

Ziarat-i-Baba Koh, 259. 64, 69, 70, 72, 75, 76, 82, 88, 89, 

Ziarat-i-Baba Wali, 347. 94, 97, 105 et seq., 302 ct seq., 393 

Ziarat-i-Baba Yataghan, 349. et seq. 



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SCOUGAL. Prisons and their Inmates; or, Scenes from a Silent 
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SELLAR. Manual of the Education Acts for Scotland. By the 
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WILLIAM BLACK WOOD AND SONS. 21 



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WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS. 23 



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WILLIAMSON. Poems of Nature and Life. By DAVID R. 

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YATE. England and Russia Face to Face in Asia. A Record of 

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