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0396 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 396 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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in his Appendix C, of the measurements and other observations recorded by me has confirmed it.2

From Paghû   From Paghû (6,600 feet) an instructive day's progress brought me on September 25th to

to Kala-i- Kala-i-Wâmar. The Bartang river before its junction with the Oxus above this, the chief place Wamar.

of Rôshân, passes through gorges if anything even more forbidding than those I had seen above. Between two of them, in which the track clings to almost vertical rock faces by frail wooden ` Rafaks' or ladders, lies Yemts, a picturesque village of some 3o houses ensconced among walnut groves and orchards. All the houses contained comfortable halls or Aiwâns, open loggias being very often added in front for use in the summer months. Rough as is the carving which decorates their woodwork, I could recognize the survival of some motifs which are clearly derived from the West and frequent in Graeco-Buddhist relievos, such as the four-petalled clematis-like flower and Roman rosette. It was a relief, after leaving Yemts by skin raft, to pass the last rock gate and reach the mouth of the valley where the Bartang spreads out to join the Oxus (Fig. 434) below the largest village of Shûjan. It was from the headman of the latter that I received the specimen of decorated wood-carving (Pl. LXVIII), used to hold the splinters of pine-wood which are burnt to light up Rôshân houses.

The single day's halt, which was all that regard for the journey ahead and the advancing season would allow me to spend at Kala-i-Wâmar (elevation about 6,25o feet), found me encamped in the pleasant old orchard adjoining the ruinous castle of the Mirs of Shughnân (Fig. 425). Besides doing much anthropometrical and other work, I used the opportunity for close examination of Ming-bâshi Mir Shikrâk's house, a typical Rôshân dwelling, situated about half a mile from the fort towards the village of Barzût. A piece of old wood-carving had been brought to me from it, and on inquiry I found it belonged to a fine double-arched window frame which, owing to intended alterations, had been removed from above the main entrance and put with the lumber. The photograph, Fig. 449, shows it as restored to its original place, and Pl. LXVIII as temporarily set up at the British Museum. The ornamentation of both window and door, though manifestly Saracenic in its main design, shows also elements of late Hellenistic origin, curiously Byzantine in appearance. This is particularly the case with the motif that decorates the jambs both of window and door, and is applied also to the fold of the latter. It consists of rows of circlets laced by a double scroll which

Old woodcarving from Kala-iWâmar.

2 The women of Roshan are said to be famous for good looks and particularly for fairness of complexion. I had a wayside chance of convincing myself that this reputation was probably well deserved, when, in company with the Ak-sakàl of Kala-i-Wamar, I passed three generations of his family assembled in a group (Fig. 426) near his home. Wife and mother were as fair of face as if they had been ladies of Europe. The elder of the two little girls in the group served to show how here, too, fashion endeavours to exaggerate favours bestowed by nature ; for her grandmother was just then busily engaged in smearing her pretty rosy cheeks with some wild berries intended to bleach the skin.

Roshan's fame for the beauty of its women might suggest that the name of Rôxana, borne by the daughter of the Bactrian chief Oxyartes, whose surpassing charms induced Alexander to make her his queen (Arrian, Anabasis, IV. xix. 5), may perhaps be derived from an earlier Eastern Iranian form, *Raukhshâna, such as in all probability underlies the modern designation Rbshân.

By a custom, still well known in IIindu States of India

and probably of old date, the different queens of the ruler are designated in common talk, not by their proper names, but by those of the territories from which they were wedded. Rbxana is said to have been captured with her mother and sisters in a high mountain stronghold of Sogdiana where Oxyartes had placed them for safety. Where exactly in Bactria the seat of Oxyartes lay we are not told. But if Rbxana was born to him by a princess of Röshan or if Rbshân itself was included in his chiefship, she might well have become popularly known by a name derived from that tract.

As a local parallel might be quoted the name of Shah Wanji, borne by a Mir of Shughnan who ruled towards the close of the eighteenth century and who derived his designation from the fact that his mother came from Wanj.

[Since the above note was written a reference kindly supplied by Sir George Grierson to Justi's Altiranisches Wörterbuch, not accessible to me, has shown that the name Rbxana is attested by classical texts for five other persons. This fact tends to invalidate the above conjecture.]