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0411 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 411 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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In order to shorten the journey and to see something of the mountains which separate the From

Hissâr to

Hissar tract from the plains of Bokhàra westwards I chose the route which leads from Sar-i-jai


past Tash-kurghan to Shahr-i-sabz. I thus missed seeing the greater portion of the ancient high road which passes from Termez on the Oxus through Shirabad and ` Darband ' towards the old centres of Sogdiana, Samarkand, and Bokhara, and which Hsüan-tsang had followed through the ` Iron Gate '. The ascent through the narrow canon-like gorges below Sangardak village (Fig. 45o) was difficult in places, and this, together with the height of the Karkhush pass beyond, about II ,000 feet above sea-level and already under snow, sufficiently explains why traffic from the Hissàr side makes the detour by the high road past Baisun and Darband. There was abundance of tree-growth on the picturesque mountain slopes, up to a height of about 7,000 feet, and this and the rich grazing on the downlike plateaus descending beyond the pass towards the village of Tash-kurghan both attested the favourable climatic conditions that here also prevail, in spite of the comparative nearness of the arid steppes of Bokhara.- After crossing another fine plateau, that of Kinnak, which nomadic Özbegs, known as Kongrad, from the tracts north of the Oxus frequent for its grazing, we reached the town of Shahr-i-sabz, in the wide and abundantly irrigated valley draining towards Karshi, on October loth. Thence on the following day a long and dusty drive carried me across the Takhta-karacha pass and the wide peneplain overlooking the Zarafshàn valley to Samarkand.

The extensive repairs that our baggage and kit needed after three months of rough travel in Stay at the mountains, together with other work, detained me for two days in this great busy city. Its Samarkand. Russian part appeared to have grown greatly since my first visit in 190I and looked even more than before like a town of Eastern Europe. Having previously visited the noble monuments of Timûr's period, I employed my present stay to inspect the plateau of Afràsiab, covered with debris mounds, to the east of the present city. It marks the site of the ancient capital of Sogdiana, the K`ang-chii or Sa-mo-chien of the Chinese records and the Maracanda of Alexander's historians.12 Digging for antiques in these huge accumulations of debris appeared to have been discouraged by the Russian authorities during recent years. I t was perhaps a consequence of this wholesome restriction that local dealers' shops could show me no antiques beyond a few fragmentary terracotta figurines curiously recalling Yôtkan ware and priced at exorbitant rates.l3

On October 25th I left by the Transcaspian railway for Bokhara, the other famous centre of Visit tor ancient Sogdiana, the An or Pu-ho of the Chinese Annals. On my former passage, in 1901, Bokhara. access to this city as to other parts of the Khanate had been denied me. Now a short stay enabled me to convey in person my very sincere thanks to the Khush-bégi, the representative of the Amir's Government, for all the help and attention I had enjoyed on my journey through Bokhara territory. Before that visit to the historic ` Ark ' I had taken occasion at the Russian Cantonment of Kaghan to express my warm gratitude also to Monsieur N. A. Shulga, the officiating Consul, for the kind recommendation of the Russian political authorities to which that very friendly reception had been due. My visit to Bokhara, brief as it had to be, allowed me to see the monuments of its mediaeval greatness and to gain some impressions of the busy trade which probably since very early times has been centred in this chief terminal oasis of Western Turkestan. When on the evening of October 28th I said good-bye to Bokhara, and with it to Sogdian soil, there was nothing to foreshadow in my mind the manifold convulsions and calamities which their people were doomed to pass through during the next few years.

12 For excellent photographs of Afrâsiab, see Rickmers,   13 For specimens acquired in 1901, see Ancient Khotan,

Duab of Turkestan, Figs. 22, 57.   ii. Pl. LXXXVIII.