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0398 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 398 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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early snowfall, with resulting delay in my further programme, I felt obliged to travel here rapidly. This circumstance, together with the fact that a considerable portion of this alpine territory of Bokhàra has been studied and described with care in publications readily accessible to the reader not acquainted with Russian, will explain the succinct form in which the observations made on this part of my journey are here presented.

Ascent to   In order to reach Yàzgulàm, the valley adjoining Rôshàn on the north, I chose the old route

Adûde pass. leading by the Adûde pass across the high ` Rôshàn range ' which strikes towards the Oxus from the Sel-tàgh. Communication between Rôshàn and Yàzgulàm along the right bank of the Oxus was rendered practically impossible by a succession of formidable defiles before the construction of the Russian bridle-path a few years before my passage. The approach to the Ad ride pass led past the much-frequented shrine of Shah Tàlib, with the tomb of a famous Ismailia saint, up a narrow side valley where small patches of cultivation and summer grazing grounds were met with up to an elevation of about 10,500 feet. Starting on September 28th from Shahji-shau-jai, a point about i,000 feet higher up, we ascended with laden ponies over old moraines and struck, at a distance of about 6 miles, a gently sloping glacier fed by comparatively small névé beds to the east and west of the pass. Numerous small crevasses were encountered before the watershed on the glaciated saddle was reached at an elevation of about 14,500 feet. A fine hanging glacier descending towards it from the east was a striking feature. To the north the view extended across the range separating Yàzgulàm from Wanj to the high ice-crowned peaks rising between the latter valley and Darwàz.

Descent   On the descent northward we had to thread our way for about four miles in a zigzag line over

to iards~~r the glacier before we reached its present end at a large sheet of ` dead ice ', overlooked by a high terminal moraine rising in front of it. Recent shrinkage of the glacier was here clearly marked. The steep descent from this point (about 13,300 feet elevation) led over a succession of old moraines down into a narrow valley filled at its bottom with a thick belt of birch trees and junipers. Beyond the junction with the Doderga valley the stream bed has cut itself an impassable canon ; winding above this along steep slopes the track brought us at about 8,70o feet elevation to the first patch of cultivation. As we made our way farther down over boulder-strewn terraces, night overtook us and necessitated a halt at the first tolerably open spot, some six miles above Matraun.

Halt at   On our descent next morning to this Yazgulam village I was greeted by Bokhàra officials

Matraun sent up from the Darwàz side. Their presence afforded welcome assurance of the help which village.

Colonel Jagello's kind forethought had prepared for my farther progress. At the same time their

gay flowing silk robes and swarthy faces made me realize how soon the true alpine tracts of the Upper Oxus were to be left behind. The impression was strengthened by the perceptible heat encountered in the main valley during a short halt at Matraun (5,50o feet elevation) and by the appearance of the Yàzgulàm people. Their sallow faces clearly betrayed the effect of the malarial fever which prevails in the lower portion of Yàzgulàm, while what I saw of their houses showed that protection from the cold of the winter was no longer the chief concern of their builders.

Past   Shortness of available time obliged me to push on the same day towards Wanj. Hence my

Ydzguliim• notes about Yazgulam or Ye zdum, as it is known to its people, can only be of the briefest. Separated from the valleys north and south by high mountain ranges, and practically inaccessible both from the east and by the canon-like gorges of the Oxus, Yàzgulàm appears to have been for a long time a kind of no-man's-land between the chiefships of Darwàz and Shughnàn-Rôshàn. Its inhabitants were credited with having used the advantages of this position to prey impartially,

5 See in particular Rickmers, Duab of Turkestan, Chaps. xm, xiv, xvII, xvnI ; also Pumpelly, Explorations in Turkestan,

ii. pp. 265 sqq.