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0284 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 284 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Chêng-chi's establish- ment at TVu-lei.

Wu-lei replacing Lun-t`ai.

Bugur probable residence of Protector General.


the events which led to the establishment of a Protector General with head-quarters at Wu-lei. The essential facts were first made accessible by an illuminating note of M. Chavannes, and can now be consulted in Professor De Groot's translation of the biography which the Chien Han shu devotes to the chief actor in those events.12 In 68 B. c. the Chinese commander Chêng Chi *5 I formed a military encampment with Chinese troops in Ch`ü-li and, having accumulated there stores of grain and secured the assistance of neighbouring principalities, used Ch`ü-li as his base for successful operations against Chü-shih or Turfan.13 These ended with the submission of that State in B. C. 67, and led to the subsequent extension of Chinese influence over the Hsiung-nu tribes to the north-east of it. A final success in that direction achieved by Chêng Chi in B. C. 6o was rewarded by his appointment, as the first Protector General, to the chief political control of the Western Regions. ` Thereupon Chêng Chi determined the middle of the Western Regions, established there a tent residence, and carried on the administration from the city of Wu-lei. From there he subjugated and commanded the States, punished and fought them or kept them at peace by good treatment, and thus the orders of the Han controlled the countries of the West. Thus the work begun by Chang Chien was completed by Chêng Chi.' "

This interesting passage brings out clearly the important part which Wu-lei played at the time when Chinese political power in the Tarim basin attained its fullest development under the Former Han dynasty. The use which Chêng Chi had made of the military colony in Ch`ü-li, as his initial base, was but the development of a plan already conceived in ioi B. C. It is scarcely open to doubt that the vicinity of Chêng Chi's original base was a determining factor in the selection of Wu-lei as the head-quarters of the Protector General when he had attained supreme political control. We have seen that during the preceding phases of Chinese policy in the Tarim basin the plan of establishing a base of control at Lun-t`ai as well as at Ch`ü-li had always been prominent. Now, considering the persistence that is so characteristic a feature in all Chinese political effort, it must seem strange that after Chêng Chi's successful achievements conducted from the same base at Ch`ü-li, Lun-t`ai altogether drops out from the account in the Former Han Annals of the Western regions. The idea thus suggests itself that the territory of Wu-lei may have differed from the earlier Lun-t`ai only by its designation and have itself derived this from the place which the chief representative of the controlling suzerain power had chosen in it for his residence.

Not being able myself to consult the original historical sources on the point, I must for the present leave the question just raised without a definite answer.15 But there are two points of a topographical character which deserve to be noted here, both distinctly pointing to Bugur as the probable location for the Protector General's residence. One is the much greater importance which the Bugur oasis must claim by reason of its size as compared with that of Yangi-hissâr or Châdir. Its present population is at least three, if not four, times as large as that of Yangi-hissâr, while Châdir, at which modern Chinese antiquarians have proposed to fix Wu-lei,16 can scarcely bear comparison. The population of these oases and the area of cultivated ground which supports it are determined now, as they must have been in the past, by the available irrigation resources. That the proportion between these could have appreciably changed since ancient times is extremely improbable, considering that these oases are situated close to each other, share identical physical

12 See Chavannes, T`oung-pao, 1907, p. 154, note 1 ; De Groot, Hunnen, pp. 205 sqq.

13 See also Wylie, J. Anthrop. Inst., xi. pp. 107 sq.

14 Cf. De Groot, Hunnen, pp. 206 sq.

15 Neither Lun-ttai nor Wei-li are among the territories described in the Later I-Ian Annals or the TVeilio.

Wu-lei is indeed mentioned in the former as a part of

the kingdom of Kucha which Hsien, the ruler of Yarkand, on his conquest of Kucha detached and placed under a separate chief. But the passage does not help to settle the question of exact location ; cf. Chavannes, T`oung-pao,

1907, p. 200.

16 Cf. Wylie, J. Anthrop. Inst., xi. p. 95, note 3.