Sec. iv] FROM RÖSHAN TO DARWAZ 889
when occasion offered, upon their neighbours both to the north and south. Nevertheless dependence on the Shahs of Darwàz was, at least nominally, acknowledged, and is reflected in the fact that the Yàzgulamis are considered to be Sunnis, like all the rest of the Galchas northward. A route, crossing the Oxus at the mouth of the valley, connects Yazgulam with the tracts to the west of the river once included in Darwàz, and this being formerly the easiest line of access probably accounts for the political nexus indicated. Yet the population of Yazgulam, reckoned at a total of some 190 households, speak a language closely related to Shughni.e On the other hand, intermarriage freely practised with the people of Wanj may account for a distinct difference which I noted in physical type between the Yazgulâmis measured (Fig. 445) and the R5shanis.7
On moving through the gloomy gorges of the Oxus below Yazgulam (Fig. 433) by the new Oxus gorges bridle-path, blasted out of the perpendicular rock walls or leading over boldly built narrow
P P P g y Yàzgulam.
balconies, it was easy to realize why the passage of this succession of awrinz was formerly risky
even for local hillmen and quite impossible for the carriage of loads. After passing those gorges
we came in sight of the large village of Zhômarch on the other side of the river, from which easy
routes lead both to the grazing uplands of Badakhshan and down the left bank of the Oxus. There
are easy tracks likewise on the right bank below the mouth of the Wanj river. The road thence
down to Kala-i-Khumb, the capital of Darwàz, was said to have always been practicable for horses.
By the morning of September 3oth we had reached Rôkhar, the chief place of Wanj (5,600 Valley of
feet elevation), with its ruinous old castle which then served as the residence of the Amir's want.
` Amlakdar ' governing Wanj and Yazgulam. The appearance of heavy clouds threatening fresh
snow on the Sitargh pass induced me to push up on the following day to the hamlet of Sitargh at
its foot (6,900 feet elevation). This march of about 3o miles showed clearly the open character of
the Wanj valley and its abundant cultivation. At only one point near Baraun had an awrinz
(Fig. 435) to be crossed. The change from the narrow peripheral valleys of the Pamir region was
marked also by the evidence of a moister climate. Up to a height of a thousand feet or more above
the valley bottom fields could be seen on easy slopes, which are tilled without irrigation and in
years of average rainfall yield fair crops. On slopes too steep for cultivation there was abundance
of tree-growth, while plentiful orchards around the villages and rows of trees planted between the
fields gave to the broad terraces and alluvial fans of the valley quite a parklike appearance. In
harmony with the altered appearance of the landscape there was also a change in the population.
This displays the type of the Tàjiks, as found throughout the hills of Bokhàra territory (Fig. 446) ;8
they probably represent the Iranian race indigenous to ancient Sogdiana in greater purity than the
` Sarts ' of the plains. The only language known to the people is Persian. The population of Wanj
was estimated to me at 300 households. But I soon found that each of the homesteads, usually
large whitewashed structures, sheltered the families of several brothers or relatives.
Heavy rain with fresh snow on the mountains necessitated a halt at Sitargh on October 2nd. Sitargh pass
Fortunately the sky cleared in time to permit us to start for the pass long before daybreak on the crossed.
following morning. The ascent was steep but easy at first, the side valley leading up to the water-
shed towards Khingab being clothed with alpine vegetation and fairly open as compared with the
gorges which give access to the passes of Shitam and Adûde. From about 12,400 feet above sea-
level the climb led over large snow-covered moraines. Along debris masses skirting a steep glacier