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0104 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 104 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Village of Darkôt.

north and much better preserved ; by the latter canal Sulaiman Shah, a Khushwaqt ruler of Yasin and Gilgit at the beginning of the nineteenth century,4 had endeavoured to bring water once more to Dasht-i-taus. This enterprise of reclamation is supposed to have been abandoned when the rule of that energetic but unscrupulous prince came to a violent end. That the occupation of the Dasht-i-taus belongs to an earlier period is proved by the remains of a large walled enclosure called Bahri-khan (Pl. 1), situated about two miles above the northern end of Yâsin and opposite to Ghujalti village on the left bank (Fig. 38). Tradition connects it with a Chinese or ` Kalmak' invasion, possibly the same that I have had occasion to discuss before in connexion with the Chinese record of Khush-amad's reign about the middle of the eighteenth century.5 The enclosing walls, built of large water-worn stones from the river-bed below and fully five feet in thickness, form an irregular pentagon of which the three best-preserved faces measure about 264, 273 and 153 feet respectively. Their present height nowhere exceeds four or five feet, and the remains of large quarters traceable near the centre of the enclosure are even more decayed. Apart from debris of hard dark-grey pottery within the ruined fort, I could trace no signs of prolonged occupation. But there can be no doubt that if the old canal were restored, or even if that of Sulaiman Shah were completed, the amount of arable land, and with it the population, in the Yâsin valley could be greatly increased.

Continuing our march up the valley we followed the line of Sulaiman Shah's canal for nearly four miles before crossing the mouth of a large river that descends the Tui valley. Through this leads an important summer route, by which the upper Yarkhun valley can be reached on the Mastûj side across the high Tui pass. Beyond the junction the main valley, known from this point upwards as Warshigûm, affords room for a succession of picturesque villages with rich fields and orchards, extending almost without interruption up to Hondur. They are comprised in the subdivision of Salgam that forms at the present day the best-populated tract of Yâsin. Passing the large fort of Mir Wali, called after Pakhtûn Wali's father, Hayward's murderer, I visited at Barkulti the fine but much-neglected house of the local ` Hakim' (Fig. 45). The style and abundance of the excellent wood-carving in its large halls recalled what I had seen in Hakim Obaidullah's house at Miragram on the Mastûj sides It was unfortunately too late in the day to take any photographs of the interesting interior. The house was said to have been built some five generations ago. A photograph (Fig. 42) taken at Hondur, where we halted for the night, may show how closely the fine physical appearance of the people of Warshigûm resembles that of their neighbours in Chitral and Mastûj. Notwithstanding their Burishaski speech, wholly distinct from either the Dardic or the Iranian language group, the ` Burish ' whom I saw seemed to exhibit all the physical features characteristic of the pure Homo Alpinus type.

From above Hondur cultivation becomes intermittent, as the valley northward narrows. But in spite of the stupendous rock walls rising on either side progress along its bottom remains quite easy right up to the village of Darkôt, a distance of nearly twelve miles. Here, at an elevation of over 9,000 feet, the head of the valley opens out into a huge amphitheatre, forming a wide grass and jungle covered flat flanked on its sides by mighty ice-clad spurs. The streams issuing from the glaciers which fill the side valleys between these spurs unite close to Darkôt to form the river of Yâsin. The plain extending around their junction abounds in grazing and fuel, and seems as if created by nature as a resting-place for a force of invaders from the north, such as Kao Hsienchih had successfully led across the Darkôt pass. It struck me as a significant indication of the vicinity of the uppermost Oxus valley that one of the headmen of Darkôt was an immigrant from

4 Cf. Biddulph, Hindu Koosh, pp. 137, 153 sq.   s Cf. Serindia, i. pp. 49 sq.

5 Cf. Serindia, i. p. 33 ; above, p. 38.

March to I-Iondur.