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0098 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 98 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Mountain tract of Kho.

Ghizar tract.


languages.18a This conclusion is supported by the fact that the Burish or Wurish are considered to be of the same caste as the Yashkun who form the entire population of Punial, below Gûpis, and a very strong element numerically lower down also in the Gilgit valley, as well as in Astôr and Darél.'9 There is apparently little at present to distinguish the Burish or Wurish people (Fig. 42) in physical features from the type prevailing among the Dard-speaking population, whether of the Yashkun or of other castes in those valleys. But in view of the absence of adequate and systematically collected anthropological materials the relation between linguistic and racial divisions in this area can scarcely as yet be examined with profit.20

In my preceding observations on the geographical features, &c., of Yasin I have specifically had in view the main valley, i. e. Wurshigûm. But in a political sense Yasin all through its modern history included also the small mountain tracts of Kho (Kuh) and Ghizar on the uppermost Gilgit river, and having regard to their geographical position it is clear that this must have been the case also during earlier periods. A brief reference to them is, therefore, needed here. The tract, designated as Kho by Colonel Biddulph but spelt Kuh by more recent authorities,21 comprises the very narrow strip of valley through which the Gilgit river passes immediately above and below its junction with the Yasin river at Gûpis. The fact that with a total length of about thirty miles this portion of the valley counted in 1900 a population of only some 1,200 souls, sufficiently illustrates its very confined nature. Of the small side valleys which join it from the south and are included with it, only the Batres-gah Nullah supports a few hamlets. A very narrow defile, defended by an old tower some miles above the mouth of Batres-gah, divides Kho from Ghizar, while eastwards, in a still more difficult gorge extending for about nine miles, lies the boundary towards Punial and Gilgit.22 It is this easily defended defile which forms the true natural barrier between Yasin and Gilgit and explains the inclusion of Kho in the former territory.

The Ghizar tract extends right up to the watershed towards Mastûj and Chitral, formed by an easy saddle (12,250 feet above the sea) immediately west of the Shandur lake. The upper part of the valley from above Ghizar proper is fairly open, and this accounts for the presence of a population about twice as large as that of Kho. The importance of the district, however, is due solely to the easy route which it affords for communication between Laspur and Mastûj on the one side and Yasin and Gilgit on the other. The facilities afforded by this route explain why Mastûj and Yasin, though on opposite sides of a mighty mountain range rising to peaks over 21,000 feet in height, were yet for a long period united under one rule. They help us also to understand why the Chinese mission which Wu-k`ung accompanied about A. D. 751, coming from the Pamirs via the Baraghil, chose the detour through Mastilj, Làspur and Ghizar, as I have elsewhere shown that they probably did, in order ultimately to reach Udyana from the Yàsin side.23

18a Cf. e. g. Grierson, Linguistic Survey, VIII. ii. p. 6.

13 Cf. Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, p. 38. Drew, Jummoo and Kashmir, p. 427, offers some judicious observations about the ethnographic bearing of this ` caste ' distinction.

20 As regards the present racial constitution of the Burish or Wurish people, the possibility of its having been affected also by infiltration from Iranian-speaking ` Galcha' tribes north of the Hindukush ought not to be lost sight of. Thus we find nowadays the northernmost portion of the Hunza valley, known as Guhyal, occupied by Wakhis from the uppermost Oxus (cf. my Ruins of Khotan, pp. 45 sq.), while small Badakhshi settlemgnts appear in Yasin.

A similar process is observable at the head-waters of the Chitral river. The westernmost valley of Kàshkâr-bald is held by the Yidghah, who speak a dialect of Munjâni, one

of the Galcha languages, and in the topmost portion of the Yarkhun (Mastilj) valley I found in 1906 Wakhi immigration in actual progress ; see below, p. 49.

Thus we see that the Hindukush does not constitute

nowadays either   linguistic or a racial watershed. By
assuming similar conditions in the past we can best account for the very close resemblance in physical characteristics which undoubtedly connect the people of Yasin and Hunza, as well as those of Chitral and Mastilj, with the Homo Alpinus type of the Galchas ; cf. Joyce, Notes on the Physical Anthropology of Chinese Turkestan and the Pamirs, J. R. Anthrop. Inst., xlii. p. 462 ; Serindia, iii. p. 1357.

21 Cf. Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, p. 57.

22 For a graphic description of this defile, cf. Biddulph,

ibid., p. 55.   23 See Serindia, i. pp. 17 sqq.