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Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books

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0571 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 571 (Color Image)

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close to the bank of the western river-bed and about two furlongs to the west of the western gate of the town, and presented, as seen in Figs. 257, 258, a scene of utter destruction. All that could be made out on first inspection was a brick-built platform about 28 feet square and 7 feet high, and on its sides heaps of debris of masonry and timber, mixed up in utter confusion with fragments big and small of stucco, originally painted and evidently once forming part of clay images. Frames of wood and reed bundles, which had served as cores for statues, lay about on the slopes and all round on the gravel flat. All these remains had obviously suffered greatly by exposure after having been thrown down. But even a slight scraping below the surface sufficed to show that, while the remains of paper manuscripts and prints had been reduced, where exposed, to the condition of mere felt-like rags, below the outer layer of debris they were still in fair condition. The careful clearing and sifting of all the ` waste ' left behind in this sad condition by the first explorers of the ruin occupied us for fully a day and a half.

It must be hoped that, however rough the methods of that exploration had been, photographs and drawings of the structure before its destruction were secured. Not having, however, access at present to any publication in which these may have been reproduced,4 I think it useful to record here such scanty indications as I was able to secure concerning the now vanished superstructure and its contents. The platform previously mentioned was built of bricks measuring 12" x 5" x 2", set on edge as in all other buildings of the site. The middle of the eastern side projected by one foot, but no remains of stairs leading to the top of the platform could be traced. On this there appears to have risen a circular superstructure with an approximate diameter of 13 feet. Of the wall enclosing this, however, only a very small segment survived, about 2-i feet high, indicating an approximate width for the wall of 3 feet 6 inches. No safe conclusion could be drawn from the small surviving segment of the wall as to the shape of the dome that it carried.

But even if the height of this dome was not greater than would result from a hemispherical shape, there would have been sufficient clear space for statues much over life-size to sit or stand under it in the centre. That at least one such statue, together with numerous smaller images around it, occupied the interior was stated to me by Shapir, one of the eight Mongols whom Colonel Kozlov is said to have employed besides his Cossacks on his work at the site. Shapir's statement on this point is supported by the fact that one colossal stucco head, unfortunately very badly damaged, was found by us in the debris, besides similar remains of approximately life-size stucco images. His further account was to the effect that all the space left between the images was found filled with

Indications of destroyed structure.

Contents of interior of K.K. II.

in metal and wood were discovered of high and debased art, models of tombs, and many other articles. The value of the discovered articles was much enhanced by the wonderfully excellent condition in which they had been preserved in the exceedingly dry desert climate. Indeed, most of the books and manuscripts, and even the paintings, retained a striking freshness after having lain in the ground for several centuries. Not only the leaves of the books were in good condition, but also the covers of paper or silk, most of them of a blue colour. With all these treasures was interred a gegen, probably, the bones leaning in a sitting posture against the northern wall of the tomb.

` The tomb itself, as may be seen in the accompanying illustrations, rises above the ground to a height of 25 to 3o feet, and consisted of a base, a middle course, and a conical top, half destroyed by time or the curiosity of man. In the centre of the base was fixed vertically a wooden pole without any kind of ornamentation at its top. On the floor of the

tomb, round the pole, facing towards the centre, stood as many as twenty large clay statues of life-size, before which lay large books, just as before lamas reading their services. These books were of a thick paper of Chinese make with the letters Si-sia, generally found among the manuscripts of Khara-khoto.'

The illustrations referred to in this account are not found in the English translation reproduced in the Geogr. Journal, the drawing inserted there being a very rough sketch intended to show a cross-section, not of this ruin, but of the Muhammadan tomb, K.K. vi, to be described below.

As seen from the reference to the bones of a gegen, believed to have been interred within the ` tomb', Colonel Kozlov assumed the ruin to have been a burial-place.

4 [For reproductions of photographs taken, see now above, p. 438, note r ; also p. 448.]