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0038 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 38 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Return of Kao Hsienchih.


to the summit of the Darkbt Pass, considering that the ascent to the latter lies partly over the moraines and ice of a great glacier. The Darkbt Pass corresponds exactly in position to the ` Mount Tan-chü' of the Annals, and possibly preserves the modern form of the name which the Chinese transcription, with its usual phonetic imperfection, has endeavoured to reproduce. The steep southern face of the pass, where the track descends close on 6,o0o feet between the summit and the hamlet of Darkbt, over a distance of about five or six miles, manifestly represents ` the precipices for over forty li in a straight line ' which dismayed the Chinese soldiers on looking down from the heights of Mount Tan-chü.

From the foot of the pass at Darkbt a march of about twenty-five miles brings us to the village of Yasin 5, the political centre of the valley, in which we can safely recognize the town of A-nu-yüeh. Not only does the time indicated for Kao Hsien-chih's march to A-nu-yüeh fully agree with the three marches which are reckoned at the present day for the journey between Yasin and the watershed, but it is also evident that we have in A-nu-yüeh a fairly accurate rendering of the name Arniah or Arniya by which Yasin is known to the Dards of the Gilgit Valley 6.

The correctness of this identification is confirmed by the reference to the bridge over the river So yi, which is mentioned in the above account as sixty li beyond A-nu-yüeh. This river So-yi is named in the Annals' notice of Little P`o-lü as the one on which Yeh-to, the capital of the kingdom, stood, and there can be no doubt that the main Gilgit river is meant. Now a glance at the map shows that, descending the valley from Yasin, we reach the Gilgit river at a distance of about twelve miles, which agrees exactly with the sixty li of the Chinese record 7. It is equally clear that as the further route towards Gilgit proper and Baltistan leads along the right or southern bank of the Gilgit river, the Tibetan reinforcements hurrying up from that direction could not arrive at Yasin without first crossing the main river. Hence the importance to the Chinese invaders of destroying the bridge 8.

Once in possession of the Yasin Valley, the Chinese general induced the king of Little P`o-lü to surrender, and subsequently pacified the whole territory. Leaving behind a garrison to hold it, and taking along his royal prisoner he returned within two months to Lien-Vin. Then he regained the Pamir, whence he dispatched news to the Imperial Court announcing his victory. That the fame of Kao Hsien-chih's remarkable expedition must have spread far and created a deep impression, is shown by a closing remark of the Annals, the historical significance of which M. Chavannes has duly noted : ` Then the Fu-lin (Syria), the Ta-shih (i. e. Tazi or Arabs) and seventy-two kingdoms of divers barbarian peoples were all seized with fear and made their submission 8.'

It was, no doubt, the greatness of the natural obstacles overcome in the course of the victorious march across the Pamirs and the Hindukush which gave to this success of the Chinese

Bridge over the Gilgit river.

See Biddulph, Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh, p. 55.

6 See Biddulph, Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh, p. 62 (where ' Arinah ' is a misprint for Arniah). The omission of an equivalent of r in the Chinese rendering of this name has its parallel in the Chinese A-hsi-lan, ta-kan, which reproduce the Turki names Arsliin, tarkàn; comp. Turcs occid., pp. 239, 317.

' Compare for this distance also Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh, p. 55.

s All communication between Yasin and Gilgit is now carried on over the bridge which spans the Gilgit river near Gûpis at the mouth of the Yasin Valley. A wire suspension

bridge, constructed by Col. Aylmer, R.E., has, since the Chitral campaign of 1895, replaced the difficult rope bridge which previously existed here. Like all similar rope bridges between Kashmir and the Hindukush, the old bridge consisted of twigs twisted into ropes, and required frequent repairs to retain even a moderate degree of safety. It is very probable that the Chinese record, by its ` pont de rotin,' intends to designate a bridge of this peculiar description. The modern fort of Gûpis marks the strategic importance of the position.

9 See Turcs occid., pp. 151, 154, 296.