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0241 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 241 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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`Tati' remains from Vâshshahri.

Hsin-ch`êr,g located at VAsh-shahri.


Badly decayed wall fragments of a second small structure in hard-burnt bricks, half-hidden below a tamarisk-cone, were traced not far from the one described in Serindia. The bricks here measured 18 inches by 9 with a thickness of 3 inches. Near the north-east edge of the site an area over 200 yards in width proved to be thickly covered with remains of skeletons ; the position of those to which tamarisk-cones had offered some protection suggested that the bodies here buried were not those of Muhammadans. On a ` witness ' about six feet high in the midst of this area I found a wall fragment some 15 feet long ; it still rose to a height of over 8 feet and may have belonged to an enclosure of graves. Its sun-dried bricks were somewhat larger (18" x 9" x 4-") than those found in the ruined dwellings described in Serindia.

Among the small objects in glass, pottery, and metal which were picked up from among the `Tati' debris covering the bare wind-eroded ground among the tamarisk-cones, special mention may be made of the fragments of grey porcellaneous stoneware, glazed chiefly in greenish blue (V.S. 015, 018, 019, Pl. LI) or else with slightly crackled surface (V.S. 014).16 They correspond closely in character to specimens previously collected by me from this site and recognized by Mr. R. L. Hobson as dating from the period of the Sung dynasty.16a Other fragments of fine stoneware, glazed dark black-brown (V.S. 07-12), show close resemblance to ceramic products ascribed to the Tang period. The only coin obtained from the site was a Chinese ` cash ' of the Chung-ning period (A. D. II02-7). Its date confirms the conclusion I had drawn from numismatic evidence obtained on my former visit that the site was occupied down to the twelfth century A. D.17

In Serindia I have already discussed the evidence that the site of Vash-shahri marks the

position of Hsin-ch`êng   , ` the New Town ', which an itinerary of the Tang Annals mentions
as having been settled by K`ang Yen-tien, a chief of Sogdian origin ; a similar mention in a Chinese geographical text of A. D. 885, recovered by me from the caves of the ` Thousand Buddhas ' of Tun-huang, permits us to ascribe its foundation to the period A. D. 627-49.18 I have also recorded in the same work the impressions I formed on my first visit regarding the intermittent growth of the little oasis that since the Chinese reconquest of the Tarim basin, after the last Muhammadan rebellion, had been established about five miles to the east of the old site."

My renewed visit under Raze Beg's intelligent guidance, brief as it was, allowed me to make some interesting observations as to the development that had taken place there since 1906. We reached the western edge of land newly brought under cultivation immediately after crossing the summer flood-bed, known as Kône-darycz (the ` old river '), and found well-tilled fields with young plantations of poplars and fruit trees extending for fully a mile and a half eastwards, and stretching even farther from south to north. Instead of the few tumble-down huts that I had previously seen near a small granary and official rest-house, I now found at the central hamlet quite a number of substantial dwellings, including the Beg's own spacious house and a fine mosque. In all these buildings the timber was wild poplar, but well carved. The concourse of prosperous-looking cultivators whom I met there offered a striking contrast to the few roving men pretending to be settlers who were present in 1906. It showed that Raze Beg's assertion that his colony had grown in the interval from 20 to about 127 householders could not be very far from the truth.

On the morning of January 7 I followed the much-improved main canal, which accounted for the great extension of cultivated ground, to its head about two miles south of Raze Beg's house. Being 14 feet wide and 2 feet deep it fully bore out his statement that a volume of about four ` Tàsh' or millstones was at all times available in the river, while the increased volume of about 15 ` Tâsh'

Increase in cultivation of Vashshahri.

Irrigation resources of Vashshahri.

16 See below, Mr. Hobson's Appendix D. 16a Cf. Serindia, i. pp. 307, 316.

17 See ibid., i. p. 307.

18 Cf. Serindia, i. p. 306 ; also Pelliot, J. Asiat., 1916, jan.—fév., pp. 119 sqq.

18 See Serindia, i. p. 309 ; Desert Cathay, i. pp. 334 sq.