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0579 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 579 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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of some wealthy trader or other traveller who died here on a journey, it would be useless to guess. So much, however, may be stated without too great risk of chronological error, that his resting-place is probably the oldest distinctly Muhammadan building now extant in the westernmost portion of China proper.

About three-quarters of a mile to the north-east of the north-eastern corner of the town, a small Stûpa of a shape different from the rest and less ` Tibetan ' in appearance attracted attention (Fig. 256). It rises on a base it feet square as a tapering dome to a height of about 15 feet. A square member crowning the dome probably once carried a set of Chattras. The western side of base and dome had been dug into, and a thick layer of miniature Stûpas covered the slope of debris.

A little to the east of the Stûpa a low mound, K.K. iv (see plan in PI. 20), covered with gravel and fragments of semi-tubular roof tiles, was found, when cleared, to contain the remains of a small temple. It consisted of a cella, the interior of which measured 19 feet by 22, and of which the walls had decayed to within two feet from the floor even where least broken. Remains of delicately drawn wall-paintings in tempera survived on parts of the southern wall, the best preserved of the panels showing a sylvan scene with trees, hills, and a stream with two figures crossing it. As the pieces we succeeded in removing have not as yet been mounted no details can at present be given. An image platform, measuring I2 feet 3 inches by II feet 6 inches, with a well-proportioned plinth (see Pl. 2o), occupied the centre and still rose in parts to a height of 2 feet. Of the statues in stucco that had once stood on it nothing survived but the fragments described in the List. They consist principally of remains of richly painted drapery and of ornamental details, most of which are gilded (Pl. LIII). A life-size finger, K.K. iv. 05 ; an ear, o8, and toes, o24, all gilt, give no clue to the figures to which they once belonged. The remains of pieces of manuscript, about ten in number, were all in Chinese, a circumstance in striking harmony with the distinctly Chinese style of the wall-paintings and the non-Tibetan type of Stûpa.

Apart from the ruins now described, the ground outside the town walls and between the two river-beds comprised only a couple of small Stûpas, completely demolished, of the usual local type that we had passed on the way to K.K. iv ; some low mounds of solid brickwork scattered to the south and south-west of the town which might have once carried Stûpas ; and the scanty remains of walls of what seemed to have been quarters forming a small suburb outside the eastern town gate. A road leading through it from the bank of the dry river-bed eastwards was still traceable amongst this debris. Potsherds of the same type as were found in• the refuse deposits of the town were plentiful. But nowhere else did the bare gravel flat show similar evidence of former occupation.

Small Stùpa to NE. of town.

K.K. iv.

Ground outside town.


The reconnaissance on which I had sent out Afrâz-gul immediately on our arrival at Kharakhoto on May 26th, and which kept him engaged during the following two days, had led to the discovery of ruined dwellings and other indications of former occupation scattered amidst tamarisk-cones on ground lying east of the town site and extending for over six miles from SSW. to NNE. (Map No. 45. D. I). A number of coins and the specimens of pottery brought back by Afraz-gul, together with small objects of the ` Tati ' type, indicated that these remains dated back approximately to the same period as the ruined town. To the north-east of the latter, on the stretch of bare gravel, overrun here and there by dunes, between the two branches of the dried-up river, no traces of occupation had been found by him, except a small rectangular enclosure (Pl. 2o) about a mile and a half beyond K.K. Iv, built of masonry of the usual Khara-khoto type. Its character could

Reconnaissance NE. of ruined town.