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0179 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 179 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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117. CARACHOÇO   163

in 59 s.c., and was re-organized in 48 B.C. Its aim was to strengthen Chinese influence in the territory of the king of Anterior Chü-shih, whose capital was at Yar, to the north-west of Turfan. Kao-ch'ang grew enough in importance to become in 327 the seat of a chün (« commanderie» in CHAVANNES'S terminology), which was created by the irregular dynasty of the Anterior Liang of Kan-su. When the Ta-Chü-chü became independent in the Turfan region, they had their capital at Kao-ch'ang; it was certainly there in the middle of the 5th cent. Later, the Ch'ü dynasty moved its capital to Yar, perhaps already in 497, and in any case before the Kao-ch'ang kingdom was conquered by the T'ang in 640; the accounts of the siege of the capital in 640 refer to Yar, not to Kao-ch'ang = Qarà-hôjo as is generally said. After the conquest, the «general protectorate for the Pacification of the West » (An-hsi tu-hu-fu) and the civil administration of Hsi-chou (« Western District ») were at first established at Yar, but were soon transferred (in 651 or 657) to « the ancient land of Kao-ch'ang », i. e. most probably to Qarà-hôjo. In 658, the « general protectorate for the Pacification of the West » was moved to Kucà, but the civil administration of Hsi-chou remained at Qarà-hôjo. About 790, Qarà-hôjo was conquered by the Tibetans. After the fall of the Uighur empire of the Orkhon basin in 840-843, a new Uighur kingdom was founded in the Turfan region; its southern capital was Qarà-hôjo, the northern one being Bes-balïq, north of the T'ien-shan and to the north-east of Urumchi. Vassal of the Qara-khitai in the 12th cent., the Uighur kingdom of Qarà-hôjo submitted to Chinghizkhan in 1209; the royal family and the grandees, laden with honours, retained a semi-official position; towards 1400, Qarà-hôjo was replaced by Turfan as the foremost city south of the T'ienshan. As the sovereign of the Uighur kingdom of Qarà-hôjo bore the title of iduqut, ïdïqut (< ïduq-qut, « Holy Majesty »), the ruins of his capital are now known locally as Ydïqut-sahri, « City of the ïdïqut ». The wonderful finds of manuscripts and of artistic and antiquarian remains which have in recent years been made at Idïqut-sahri by GRÜNWEDEL and, above all, by VON LE COQ, are well known.

The literature on Kao-ch'ang is voluminous. In the above sketch, I have summed up the conclusions of an unpublished memoir which I have written on the history of the Turfan region. Some of these conclusions are not in absolute agreement with current views. I must abstain, however, from quoting my authorities because they would be useless and sometimes misleading without a critical examination of almost every passage, a procedure which space here forbids.

At the beginning of the Christian era, the population of the region of Turfan must have spoken the same language as the people of Qaràsahr (then Yen-ch'i), a so-called « Tokharian dialect. Then with the growth of the colony of Kao-ch'ang, Chinese gained ground. The first Kao-ch'ang kingdom of the 5th-7th cents. was in the hands of rulers of Altaic origin who had already turned almost Chinese. A real Turkish influence is manifest in documents of the end of the 6th cent., when the T'u-chüeh empire extended its sway over almost the whole of Central Asia. Then came the Chinese conquest of 640, with a lasting cultural and linguistic action. The Tibetan occupation at the end of the 8th cent. was short-lived, and left but few traces. From the second half of the 9th cent., the Uighur dialect of the Turkish language ruled supreme, and was used by followers of all the various religions which were practised there, Buddhism, Nestorianism, Manichaeism, perhaps Mazdeism, and later Islam. In the Mongol period, the bulk