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0289 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 289 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Sec. iii]   FROM BUGUR TO KUCHA   8oi

canals from which these receive irrigation are fed partly by springs and partly direct from the outfall of the river. It was of interest to note how small was the volume of water carried by these canals as compared with that subsequently measured in the canals from the Muz-art river, which irrigates the principal portion of the oasis. Near the canal of the Och-kara tract a hearty welcome awaited me on the part of Sahib `Ali Khan and the sturdy Pathan traders under him. Escorted by them through lively village lanes we reached the pleasant suburban garden, near the eastern bank of the river and not far from the town, that had been secured from the Qazi of Kucha as my camping-place and temporary base at the head-quarters of the district.

After this summary account of the region crossed on our journey from Korla to Kucha it still

remains for us to consider the itinerary describing the route between the two places as it ran in Tang times.' M. Chavannes's extract from the T`angshu, Chap. XLIII. b, renders it as follows :

` After leaving Yen-ch`i (i. e. Kara-shahr) A   , by going to the west, one passes at the end of

5o li the defile of the Iron Gates, Tieh-mên kuan 3' p9   . 20 li farther on one arrives at the

town of the military post of Yii-shu   4ijt. 200 li farther on one arrives at the military post of

Yii-lin 4411   . 50 li farther one arrives at the military post of Lung-ch`iian    . 6o li farther

one arrives at the military post of Tung-i p`i     , 4I . 70 li farther one arrives at the military
post of Hsi-i p`i ati r , 4{', . 6o li farther one arrives at the military post of Ch`ih-an , j. 120 li farther one arrives at the seat of the protectorate of An-hsi (Kucha).'

In addition to the terminal point of the route, which, as we shall see, can be safely placed in

close vicinity to the present town of Kucha, we can definitely locate also the starting-point and the two initial stages. I have shown in Serindia that the ` defile of the Iron Gates ', T`ieh-mên kuan, mentioned also in the Chin Annals, undoubtedly corresponds to the river defile above Korla through which the Konche-darya has cut its way from the Baghrash lake into the plains of the Tarim basin.2 The distance of 5o li indicated by the itinerary agrees closely enough with that from Baghdadshahri, the site of the ancient capital of Yen-ch`i or Kara-shahr (Map No. 25. A. I), to the point where the road leading towards Korla enters the eastern end of the defile. The ` town of the military post of Yü-shu ' can on general topographical grounds be safely located near the eastern extremity of the Korla oasis which the high road reaches after passing through the defile for a distance of about seven miles.

Beyond this point we have at present no help for the identification of the successive stages

beyond that which the relative distances stated in the itinerary can give. With regard to these it should at once be pointed out that their aggregate length, 56o li, distinctly suggests that the ancient highway followed a line shorter than that of the present cart-road between Korla and Kucha. On this our measurements by cyclometer amounted to a total of 175 miles between the towns of Korla and Kucha. Reference to the map (No. 17. B, D. I) will show that from the oasis of Bugur to Kucha the road now follows what is practically a straight line along the foot of the outermost hills of the Tien-shan. It is by nature the easiest line for traffic, and the succession of ruined towers and stations met along it from Lai-su onwards, as described below, leaves no doubt that the same line was followed by the ancient highway.

The position is different as regards the eastern and longer portion of the road—that between

Korla and Bugur. Here the present road makes a not inconsiderable detour to the north, as Map No. 2I. A—D. I shows, being obliged, in order to keep within reach of water and supplies, to follow the chain of existing small oases all of which lie quite close to where the streams irrigating them debouch from the foot-hills. If we may assume that these streams in ancient times carried their water for some distance farther south into what is now scrub-covered desert—and the areas of old and now

1 Cf. Chavannes, Turcs Occid., pp. 7 sq.   2 See Serindia, iii. p. 1228.


T`angshu itinerary from Karashahr to Kucha.

Stations from Karashahr to Korla.


Western portion of route.


Shorter route W. of Korla.