518 TO KAN-CHOU AND THE CENTRAL NAN-SHAN [Chap. XIV
means of iron nails. The whole is oblong, the short edges vertical.
Upper and lower borders are carved with a group of five (upper) and three (lower) mountain peaks as the central feature, the central peak supporting an uncarved boss or disc. R. and L. a sinuous snake-like, three-toed dragon with almond-shaped hairy tail, energetically striding away from centre ; but neck and head recurved towards centre. Head was carved in separate piece and in each case is missing, the dowel only remaining. Body scaly.
Floral scroll-work of trefoil leaves in profile forms a background to dragons on a generally slightly lower plane. Vertical sides have five Chinese cloud scrolls with the edge of a kind of sunflower throwing out five long curving streamers. Background to clouds similar to that of dragons. Corners of torus have finely designed peonies in profile.
Whole carved in typical Chinese style such as used in lac-carving. The bold curve of contour of moulding conveys a fictitious impression of high relief in the carving. The work is pierced through and hollowed away at back in a semi-tubular form, similar to ` decorated ' Gothic work.
Inner border about I" thick, fiat, and carved with V-cuts into very accurate Chinese fret. One long side (top) only preserved. On fret are two crouching hares facing each other at a distance apart of * the length of border ; carved in separate pieces, rather flat, and pegged on, each with three wooden pins. Corners masked by separately carved peony (one remaining) pegged on. The
four circular bun-shaped bosses along centre are pierced like torus, and the Chinese chars. have background of clouds:
Traces of red paint in protected parts. Strips of wood with channelled front edge frame the whole on two sides. Well preserved. Size over all 3' 6e" x 2' I". Breadth of torus 3i", projection i f ". Width of inner border (fret) rr. Diam. of bosses 4i". PI. LXVIII.
Ma•ti•ssü. ou. Rect. Tibetan canvas painting, bordered with black and brown striped silk. Wooden stiffener at each end.
Subject : Buddha enthroned, holding bowl, from which flames appear to proceed. R. and L. are standing attendants each carrying a similar bowl and a staff with loose rings and Vajra as insignia. The pillar on each side of Buddha is composed of an elephant, a lion, and a man in black top-boots wearing a mask. Above, cloud scroll of elaborate type, from which develops a dragon on each side, and a blue jewel. Immediately over centre of main fig., a flying Garuda-like creature.
Bodhisattvas and demons are lavishly distributed over general ground, with a background of blue sky and clouds. Poses of figures are dramatic and well drawn. Several types of head-dress are worn.
Two or three (?) Tibetan characters recur frequently on Asanas, and haloes. On central Padmâsana, a character seems to have been written on each petal. Final painting has not followed original sketch, which has come through in places. All flesh is gilded except that of demons. 4' 4" X 2' 5f". Much worn on surface.
Proposed Nan-shan explorations.
SECTION III.—RETURN FROM THE NAN-SHAN TO MAO-MEI
On July 16th we were able to resume our journey. As planned by me, it was to take us first down the valley to the monastery known as Ta-ssti, at the entrance of the unexplored gorge through which the Kan-chou river breaks through the range northward, and thence up the main western branch of the river to its sources, which in 1907 we had been able to survey only from a considerable distance .1 Thence I proposed to make our way to the head of the Ta-t`ung valley near the point where we had touched it on the former journey from the side of the Su-lo-ho sources .2 After descending this valley to the east of the pass which connects it with O-po, I wished to cross the easternmost offshoots of the Richthofen range, as yet unsurveyed, down to Liang-chou. It was a programme which, having regard to the work to be done far away in the west during the autumn and winter, was practicable within the time available—provided that we could keep our reluctant transport in hand, as we had managed to do in spite of all difficulties during our previous explorations in this region.
But Fate, adverse this time, had decided otherwise. As we marched down the wide open valley, for the most part in drizzling rain, there was little to distinguish our surroundings from the monotony of a Pamir, except for the rich growth of grass. Over the level ground of the valley bottom, about three miles. across, Tangut herds and flocks, including hundreds of ponies, roamed everywhere. Accompanied by the two surveyors I had tramped on for fourteen miles by the track leading above the left bank of the O-po-ho, when we were brought up by a side stream swollen by the rain and
1- See Map No. 43. n, c. 3 ; Desert Cathay, ii. pp. 309 sqq. 2 Sec ibid., ii. pp. 326 sq.