178 ON THE WAY TO LOP-NOR [Chap. V
and north-eastern portions of the great salt-encrusted sea-bed, which I had reason to assume that ancient route must have passed through or skirted, it was essential to effect excavations rapidly, and therefore to take along as many labourers as I could possibly manage to keep supplied with water.
The thirty camels I had succeeded in collecting were by no means too many for the large amount of stores and baggage to be carried. We had to take sufficient ice to assure minimum allowances of water for thirty-five people for at least one month, and food supplies for one month for all, and for an additional month for my own people ; in addition to this there was the outfit of furs, felts, &c., required to afford protection against the icy blasts of the wintry desert, and the silver, photographic plates and other stores, which I could not risk to part with. Apart from our own fine beasts, I had few camels likely to prove equal to prolonged exertions in an absolute desert, offering neither food nor water. It was accordingly clear that the loads of the others would have to be kept light, and that the labourers would have to help to carry the remaining baggage. It goes without saying that everybody was expected to walk.
It was a great relief when, on January 31st, all that was needed for the move was safely collected. On the same day the safe packing of the recovered mural paintings was completed and their convoy was ready to start for the long journey westwards (Fig. 127). But what cheered me most was the prospect of soon reaching that forbidding waterless desert where I should feel myself completely protected from any risk of human interference, and where fascinating problems, both antiquarian and geographical, held out the promise of ample reward for such difficulties and risks as nature might place in my way.
Arrangements for transport in Lop Desert.
LIST OF OBJECTS FOUND OR EXCAVATED AT RUINS OF ARRAN SITE
M. mu-vi. ox-g. Nine frs. of pottery ; coarse red unglazed. or and os of red clay, burnt black, full of white grit ; oz covered with thin slip. All sand-eroded. Average thickness 1", gr. fr. 3I-" x 3f", smallest z" x r1".
M. iv. 01-2. Two long oviform glass pendants (found embedded in masonry) ; opaque, solid, cobalt tinted. Sides ribbed vertically. Ball-shaped heads, drilled for thread, broken. General form recalls the Greek oviform miniature vases of gold used as pendants on necklets. Colouring matter prob. copper oxide. Surface oxydized to pale turquoise tint. Exposed parts abraded and colourless. For similar pendant, see Ser. iv. Pl. XXIX, N. xxxx. 005. Length (or) r ", (02) r 6", gr. diam. 1". Pl. XXIV.
M. v. or. Wooden boss in form of truncated cone, with slightly raised centre on upper surface. Pierced through axis with iron pin. May have been lotus-pedestal, or (reversed) attachment for pendant. For similar bosses from same ruin, see Ser. i. p. 546, M. v. 009-10 ; iv. Pl. XLVII, ?4f. v. oo6. Diam. of base 4", of top 21", of
raised centre ri", h. r 8". Pl. XXVII.
M. xxv. ox. Stucco relief fr., rounded, prob. from Buddha fig. Surface gilded, but sand-encrusted. Mud backing. 51" x 31" x (gr. thickness) ri".
M. xxv. 02-3. Turned wooden box, with lid (box 02, lid 03). Plain, circular ; lid slightly conical ; top edge
of box rebated to take lid, closely fitting. Remains
of black lacquer over sides and lid, with pattern in yellow and grey now hardly distinguishable.
Pattern on lid seems to consist of six-pointed star or flower radiating from apex, each point ending in palmette with central semi-oviform pistil. Between points, and also radiating from apex, six oblong labels in yellow outline, barred transversely with the same colour, and reaching half-way down sides of cone. On sides of box, top and bottom, thin annular lines in white and black, with festoon (?) band between. Part of side, and of lid, lost. Diam. 4", gr. h. 2". Pl. XXI.
M. xrv. 04-6. Three frs. of wooden relief carving; oblong, slightly convex laterally ; broken at lower ends ; upper ends (of 05, 06) intact, rounded. Carved in form of round-headed five-leaved plume or palmette, having half-elliptical centre and bound below by two transverse bands, with band of nail-head orn. between. o6 covered with remains of white priming and pink paint ; 04 broken off short above bands. Backs of all worm-eaten. Length (os and o6) 3", width 2", thickness c. i". Pl. XXI.
M. xxv. 07-g. Three frs. of wooden relief carving ; 07 and o9 (joining) show part of carved band, slightly warped with return piece along one long edge ; other long edge broken ; o8 prob. from return, uncarved. Pattern of carved face : a simple sq. meander made of line of nail-head orn. between two plain mouldings, with large sq. fonr-petalled rosettes filling hollows. Remains