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0040 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 40 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Synopsis of   I shall only depart from this course for the purpose of a rapid synopsis of such definite historical

historical data of importance concerning Turfan as Chinese records furnish for those limited periods when

data.   the territory was under Chinese political control in Han and Tang times. These data have

necessarily the closest bearing upon the interpretation of all archaeological observations in that region. They themselves evidently require to be considered in the light of the geographical conditions affecting that territory. I am not aware that any such review of the Chinese historical notices regarding Turfan has hitherto been furnished by those fellow scholars whom their archaeological work has made familiar with the ground. I may accordingly prefix it here to the account of my antiquarian observations on the afore-mentioned reconnaissances, and of the results which attended our excavations at particular sites such as Toyuk, Murtuk, Astana.

Chii-shih in   The notices which the Chien Han shu in Chapter XCVI devotes to the several territories com-

Former Han prised under the general designation of Chii-shih     jj are regrettably brief as regards the geo-

Annals.   graphical limits and character of these territories. But they at least make it quite clear that ` the
kingdom of Anterior Chü-shih ' during Former Han times must have comprised most, if not the whole, of the Turfan basin proper. In their historical portion, however, these notices are somewhat more ample and bring out two essential facts : on the one hand the close interrelation of these territories whether situated to the south or to the north of the Tien-shan, and on the other the strong influence to which they were exposed throughout that period from their nomadic neighbours on the north, the Huns. Both these facts are also reflected in the later history of this region and find their full explanation in clearly recognizable geographical factors, which deserve to be noted here at once.

The close interdependence of the territories on both sides of the mountain range is a necessary economic result of the fact that, owing to a striking difference of climatic conditions, they naturally complement each other in respect of their products. The adequate moisture available north of the portion of the Tien-shan dividing Posterior from Anterior Chü-shih makes that area, as we have seen, not only capable of producing an abundance of cereals without irrigation, but also provides it with plentiful pastures, to be found in the mountain valleys during the summer months and on the lower slopes and in the plains farther north during the winter. In consequence, there is a considerable excess of essential food-stuffs, both as regards cereals and live stock, available for the population of the oases in the south. There, within a small but potentially most fertile area, wholly different climatic conditions prevail. Owing to the fact that the greater portion of the cultivable ground in the Turfân basin descends well below sea-level, the climate of that area, though situated near the 43rd degree of latitude and in the close vicinity of a high snowy range, is for eight or nine months in the year so warm as to allow two crops to be grown yearly on soil that is thoroughly well manured, and cotton as well as fruit of all kinds to be produced in abundance and of excellent quality. Irrigation, however, is an absolute necessity throughout the area, and consequently the Turfân depression could never tempt any but settlers accustomed by tradition to a system of intensive cultivation by canals. On the other hand, the climatic conditions and the want of suitable pastures wholly preclude a pastoral mode of life.

The exceptional fertility of the district, when cultivated under such a system, is best proved by the fact that there alone in Chinese Turkestan we now find the use of Kârézes or underground canals extensively established. It is worked with an expenditure of money and labour which would never be thought of in any other oasis of the ` New Dominion ', and is justified only by the profit derived from such a valuable and easily exported produce as cotton. The development of Karéz irrigation in the Turfan area is of comparatively recent date, and its introduction certainly

Interdependence of Turfan and ` Posterior Chü-shih'.

Kâréz irrigation in Turfan basin.