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0216 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 216 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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Samarkand. The envoys of Mirza Olug Beg (the astronomer, and eldest son of Shah Rukh), who governed there, had already started,' but those deputed by other princes joined the mission here, and the whole party left Samarkand on the 10th Safar 823 (25th February 1420).

Passing by TASHKAND, SAIRA.M, and ASHPARAH3,2 they entered the Mongol territory on the 25th April, and were soon afterwards met by

the venerable Amir Khudaidâd (see infra, pp. 525, 545). We cannot trace with certainty their course to YULDUZ, but it probably lay by the Issikul and the Ili River, crossing the Thian Shan N.W. of YULDUZ.3

From Yulduz they proceeded to TURPAN (see infra, p. 578) where the people were mostly Buddhists, and had a great temple with a figure of

Sakya Muni. From Turfan they reached Karakhoja (infra, p. 275) and five days beyond this they were met by Chinese officials, who took down

the names of the envoys and the number of their suite. Seven days later they reached the town of ATA-SUFI (a name which does not seem to occur elsewhere), and in two marches more KA3IUL (infra, pp. 390, 579) where they found a magnificent mosque and convent of Derwishes

in juxtaposition with a fine Buddhist temple. The envoy notes that at the gate of the latter were figures of two demons which seemed preparing

to fly at one another ; a correct enough description of the figures commonly called warders which are often found in pairs facing one another in the approaches to temples in Burma and other Buddhist countries.

Twenty-five days were then occupied in crossing the Great Desert. In the middle of the passage they fell in with a wild camel and a ICuté s, or wild Yak.

1 A place called Sairam appears in some of our modern maps about one degree north of Tashkand. The Sairam of those days must, however, have been further east, for Hulagu on his march to Persia reached Sairam, the second day after passing TALAS. Rashid also speaks of KariSairam near Talas as an ancient city of vast size, said to be a day's journey from one end to the other, and to have forty gates. (Not. et Ex. xiii, 224) .

2 Asparah was a place on the Môngol frontier, frequently mentioned in the wars of Timur's time. Its position does not seem to be known, but it certainly lay east of Talas, not far from Lake Issik Kul. It is perhaps the Equius of Rubruquis, a place that has been the subject of great difference of opinion. The idea that its odd name is the translation of some Persian word beginning with Asp (a horse), is due to Mr. Cooley in Maritime and Inland Discovery. There is another Asparah or Asfarah south of the Sihun, with which this is not to be confounded. (Remusat, Nouv. Mélanges, i, 171 segq. ; Not. et Extraits, xii, 224, 228 ; Hist. Univ. (Moderne) iv, 139, 141 ; Arabshah, i, 219). Some remarks on the

topography of Rubruquis, including the position of Equius, will be found at the end of this paper.

3 The only places named between Asparah and Yulduz are Bilugtu and the river Kan/car or Kangar; and they passed the latter five days before reaching the Yulduz territory, whilst in that journey they traversed a desert region so cold that water froze two inches thick, though it was nearly midsummer. The Kangar from these indications would seem to have been the Tekes or one of its branches ; perhaps the Kungis. The cold region must have occurred in the passage of the Thian Shan.