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0042 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Shê-mi identified with Käfiristän.


form of the name, Chieh 26. This tract of Chieh (rate Chieh-shih) lay in the middle of the Ts`ung-ling mountains ; to the west and south it is bordered by (the territory of) Shê-mi ; to the north-west are the I-ta or Hephthalites'. As the Tang Annals explicitly state of Tokharistan that it was the seat of the Hephthalites 26, and as the portion of Tokharistan south of the Oxus is undoubtedly represented by the province of Badakhshän, it is plain that Chieh-shih or Chieh must be looked for to the south-east of the latter, i, e. in the direction of the valleys drained by the Chitral river.

The reasons which make me inclined to identify Chieh-shih (Chieh-shuai) with the portion of the main Chitral Valley, properly known as Käshkär or Chitral, are briefly these. The territory of Shê-mi fR , which is said to border Chieh-shih on the west and south, is also mentioned under the identical name in the account of the Buddhist pilgrim Sung Yün, and in the corresponding notices which the Wei Annals have preserved from the record of his fellow-pilgrim Hui-shêng. After a stay in the country of the Yeh-tas or Hephthalites, they passed (5 r 9 A. D.) into the small mountain tract of Po-chih, and hence into the territory of Shê-mi. There they gradually emerged from the Ts`ung-ling mountains, and proceeded to Udyäna which lay south of Shê-mi 27. The position indicated for Po-chih (to the south-west of Wakhän) and certain features mentioned of its mountains show clearly that it comprised the headwaters of the Varduj or Kokcha river, south of Zebak and towards the Hindukush watershed. From there it is possible to reach by a number of passes the cluster of valleys to the south of the great snowy range which since mediaeval times has been known by the general name of Käfiristän. Owing to the constant war waged against its inhabitants by the Muhammadan hill-states around, this great alpine region has remained more or less a terra incognita until quite recent times. But there is nothing to prove that those valleys were similarly closed to traffic in earlier periods, while it is certain that a route leading down the easternmost of them to the Kûnar or Chitral river and hence across Dir into the Swat Valley would form a shorter and in all probability an easier line of communication than a route crossing one of the high passes east of Lake Dufferin and thence descending to Käshkär or Chitral proper 28.

See Turcs occid., p. 159, with note 3 concerning the varying Chinese representations of the local name.

26 See Turcs occid., pp. 157 sq.

27 For an accurate translation of the passages mentioning Shê-mi in Sung Yiin's account and in the Wei Annals see now Chavannes, Voyage de Song Yun, p. 28. Dr. Marquart, Érân.fahr, pp. 244 sq., had already rectified some serious mistakes in Beal's version, Si-yu-ki, pp. xcii sq. Compare also M. Chavannes' abstract, Turcs occid., p. 159, note 4.

R8 It appears to me that a route such as I suppose Sung Yiin to have followed on his journey from Badakhshän to Udyäna or Swat would help to solve a geographical difficulty in Marco Polo's narrative which has puzzled no less an authority than Sir Henry Yule. In Chapter xxx, Marco Polo tells us ' that ten days' journey to the south of Badashan there is a province called Pashai, the people of which have a peculiar language, and are Idolaters of a brown complexion. They are great adepts in sorceries and the diabolic arts. They are a pestilent people and a crafty ; and they live upon flesh and rice. Their country is very hot.' The traveller then proceeds to tell us ` of another country which is seven days' journey from this one towards

the south-east, and the name of which is Keshimur (Kashmir)'; see Yule, Marco Polo, i. p. 164.

Sir Henry Yule was undoubtedly right in assuming that Marco Polo had never personally visited these countries and that his account of them, brief as it is, was derived from hearsay information about the tracts which the Mongol partisan leader Nigûdar had traversed, about 126o A. D., on an adventurous incursion from Badakhshän towards Kashmir and the Punjab. In chapter xviii, where the Venetian relates that exploit (see Yule, Marco Polo, i. p. 98, with note, p. 104), the name of Pashai is linked with Dir, the territory on the Upper Panjkora river, which an invader wishing to make his way from Badakhshän into Kashmir by the most direct route would necessarily have to pass through.

The name Pashai is still borne to this day by a Muhammadanized tribe closely akin to the Siah-posh, settled in the Panjshir Valley and in the hills on the west and south of Käfiristän. It has been very fully discussed by Sir Henry Yule (ibid., i. p. 165), who shows ample grounds for the belief that this tribal name must have once been more widely spread over the southern slopes of the Hindukush