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0095 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 95 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Kuku-n& helped to save Little P`o-lii from fresh Tibetan aggression. But it is the famous exploit by which the great Chinese general Kao Hsien-chih in A. D. 747 brought an army across the Pamirs, defeated the Tibetan invaders on the Oxus, and led his troops across the Darkôt pass into Little P`o-1ü in the face of formidable natural obstacles that has furnished us with particularly interesting details. The topographical evidence elucidated by me when previously discussing the full record preserved by Kao Hsien-chih's biography in the Tang shu,5 leaves no doubt about the remarkable accuracy of that record. The description of the bold move across the ice-covered heights of Mount ran-chii exactly fits the Darkôt pass. The distances indicated conclusively prove that the town of A-nu yiieh, where the king of Little P`o-lii then resided, must be located at the present Yasin. In the same way it is certain that the bridge across the river So-i, the prompt destruction of which under Kao Hsien-chih's orders prevented the timely arrival of Tibetan reinforcements and thus ensured the immediate submission of the king and the people, corresponds to the bridge across the Gilgit river near the present Gûpis, by which alone Yasin can be reached from the route leading up the main Gilgit valleys

Remote as these Hindukush valleys may seem, we can yet, thanks to the Chinese record of Kao Hsien-chih's expedition, realize the importance they assumed at a momentous juncture of Asiatic history. The deep impression created by the occupation of Little P`o-lii is significantly reflected by the closing remark of the Tang Annals on that success : ` Then the Fu-lin (Syria), the Ta-shih (Arabs) and seventy-two kingdoms of divers barbarian people were all seized with fear and made their submission.' But Chinese control over this region was not destined to last long. I have already had occasion above to refer to the Chinese garrison which Kao Hsien-chih left behind in Little P`o-lii, and to the difficulties of supply that its maintenance entailed. Very interesting light is thrown upon the conditions thus created by the representation which the ruler of Tokharistân addressed in A. D. 749 to the Chinese Emperor and which has been fully analysed by me elsewhere.'

From the Chinese records we know that in A. D. 75o effective Chinese intervention, once again under Kao Hsien-chih's leadership, relieved P`o-lii and the mountain territories to the west from Tibetan pressure. But with that general's complete defeat in A. D. 751 by the Arabs, Chinese power in Central Asia was destined to decline rapidly, and the withdrawal of its distant outpost isolated in the midst of the Hindukush cannot have been delayed for many years. Yet as late as A. D. 753 we are told of an expedition led by Kao Hsien-chih's successor against Great P`o-li.i or Baltistän, which can scarcely have been undertaken from any other base than that furnished by the Gilgit valley ; 8 and the arrivals of embassies and tribute from Little P`o-lii is recorded right down to A. D. 755.9

expedition across Darkôt, A. D. 747.

Chinese garrison left in Little P

Later Chinese intervention.

5 Cf. Ancient Khotan, i. pp. 9 sq. ; Serindia, i. p. 55 sqq. ; also my paper A Chinese expedition across the Pamirs and Hindukush, G.J., 1922, Feb., pp. 112 sqq.

6 I may point out here that the identification of the So-i river with the main branch of the Gilgit river which comes from Ghizar and is joined by the Yasin river at Gupis is in no way impaired by the mention made elsewhere in the notice of Little P`o-lü furnished by the Tang Annals

that its capital Yeh-to iv   stood on the river So-i ;

see Chavannes, Turcs occid., p. 15o. I believe that a town is there referred to occupying the position of the present Gilgit fort and cantonment, which nature has marked out for the chief place in the main Gilgit valley.

But the natural advantages and importance of this position did not prevent those chiefs of Yâsin who in modern times made themselves temporarily masters of Gilgit from keeping Yasin as their ordinary place of residence. Climatic considerations alone would account for this preference. Hence the statement about Yeh-to is quite compatible with what the Chinese record tells us of the presence of the king of Little P`o-lü at A-nu yüeh, i. e. Yasin, at the time of Kao Hsien-chih's exploit.

? See Ancient Khotan, i. pp. II sqq. ; for the document itself, see Chavannes, Turcs occid., pp. 214 sq.

8 Cf. Chavannes, Notes addit., T`oung-pao, 1904, p. 88, note 2.

9 See Chavannes, loc. cit., pp. 85 sq., 93.