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0044 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 44 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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[Chap. I

Childs and the Kashmir—Gilgit route.

It was, as we have seen, the danger threatening the route between Kashmir and Gilgit which induced the Chinese to lend their aid against the hill-state of Chieh-shih. Chitral seems distant from that route ; yet it does not need elaborate argument to prove that the co-operation of the Chitral chief would have made it far easier to the Tibetans to close that route of supplies for Gilgit, and thus to render the Chinese position untenable. The route followed by the `Gilgit Road ' is well protected against inroads from the east by the height and heavy snowfall of the ranges that flank it on that side, and the uninhabitable nature of the elevated valleys and plateaus between them 32. The great glacier-crowned spurs descending from the NangaParbat massif and the inaccessible character of the gorges that drain them, form a similar bulwark westwards as far as Astor ; but it is different beyond that place where the route descends to the Indus.

From the adjoining territory of Childs, lower down on the Indus, raids upon the route are possible both along the river itself and by certain tracks leading over the northernmost spurs of Nanga-Parbat. Such irruptions into the Astor Valley were frequently made by the Dards of Childs, who have always been renowned for their bravery and love of plunder, and were sometimes extended as far as the Kisangatiga Valley, Baltistan, and northward into Gilgit 33. These raids continued up to the time of the Dogra occupation of Gilgit, and were only stopped when Maharaja Guldb Singh's troops, about 1851, succeeded after great difficulties in invading Childs and reducing its chief stronghold. But the Chilasis preserved their independence

Yarkhftn Valley. This valley, through which flows the main feeder of the Chitral river, lies due north of the headwaters of the Gilgit river near the Shandur Lake ; and the name Khii, by which it is known below Mastûj, its chief place, is manifestly the modern derivative of the name intended by the Chinese transcription Chil-wei (compare for the name Khô, which is also given to the largest section of the Dard population of Kàshkar Bala, Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, pp. 59, 62). Further local research may yet help us to trace also the name of the capital A-shê yii-shih-fo, as recorded in the Annals.

The fertile and thickly populated Mastûj, with some adjoining parts of Kashkar Bala or Upper Kashkar, has, under the still ruling Khushwakte family, enjoyed independence from Chitral or Kashkar proper for a considerable period. This division, which is partly accounted for by geographical features, appears to me reflected in the distinction between Shang-mi (or Chü-wei) and Chieh-shih as indicated by the notices of the Tang Records. The name Shang-mi is,

I believe, properly applied only to the valleys drained by the Mastûj branch of the Chitral river. But we could well understand, from analogous cases elsewhere, how Hsüan-tsang, who did not personally visit this region, could have been led by his informants to comprise under this designation the whole Chitral valley, including that lower part which formed the separate territory of Kashkar or Chieh-shih. In the first place, Mastûj or Shang-mi lay nearest to the route which the pilgrim followed through Wakhan. It must further be remembered that both Mastûj and Kashkar may at the time of his journey have been under one ruler, as Chitral traditions record for more recent periods (see for such traditions retaining curious traces of earlier historical events, Hindoo Koosh,

PP. 149 sqq•)•

Dr. J. Marquart, in his exhaustive monograph on the historical geography of Tokharistan, has likewise discussed the Chinese notices concerning Shang-mi, with his usual learning and thoroughness. But the fresh data contained in M. Chavannes' publication were not then before him, and he could thus not give adequate attention to the geographical reasons against the identity of Shang-mi and Sung Ytin's Shê-mi as assumed by him. On the other hand, he rightly emphasizes the fact that the pilgrim Wu-leung correctly names Chil-wei immediately after Hu-mi or Wakhan. [Since the above note was written the Errata supplémentaires ' (lithographed) which M. Chavannes has added to his Turcs occid. (1904), show that the distinguished Sinologist has also recognized the identity of Chü-wei or Shang-mi with la region de Mastoudj et Tchitrâl'. He previously located Chü-wei in Yasin ; see Turcs occid., p. 129, note 2.]

It may be added that Wu-kung, in 752 A. D., travelled from Hu-mi or Wakhan to Chü-wei and thence, through two localities (Ho-lan and Lan-so) not yet identified, to Yeh-ho, in which M. Chavannes recognizes, with good reason, Yeh-lo, the capital of Little P'o-lü; comp. L'Itinéraire d'Ou-Wong, p. 12, and Turcs occid., p. 129, note 2.

32 The extent of uninhabited ground on either side of the route, bare of all resources for the support of human life, and either actual glacier area or under heavy snow for the greater part of the year, is well illustrated by the snow and race maps in Drew's Jummoo and Kashmir.

33 Compare, for an interesting account of the Chilasis and their predatory expeditions, which are still remembered in the adjoining regions, Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, pp. 15 sqq. ; see also Drew, Jummoo, pp. 398, 404.