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0058 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 58 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Early extension of Galchastock eastwards.

Connexion with ancient population of Khotan.

The Pakhpo tribe.


The hillmen of Sarikol at the present day form the extreme outpost of Iranian nationality towards the east. But if we may judge from several important indications, settlements of an Iranian-speaking race must in ancient days have extended much further eastwards, especially in the direction of Khotan. The documents in Brahmi script which my excavations brought to light from the ruined temples of the Dandan-Uiliq site, and which, with other records of the same character previously obtained from the same locality, have been partly deciphered by Dr. Hoernle, make it appear highly probable that the language spoken in the eighth century by the indigenous population of Khotan was of Iranian origin 12. On the other hand, the anthropometric data collected by me in the Khotan region, according to the careful analysis made of them by Mr. A. T. Joyce, in independence of any historical or linguistic arguments, plainly mark in the Khotanese population of to-day the prevalence of a racial element closely related to the hill-tribes generally designated as Galchas, who are settled in the highlands of the Oxus and Zarafshân 13.

The ethnographical importance of these observations is confirmed by the statement of the Chinese historical record to be discussed below, dating back to the period of the Tang dynasty's rule over Eastern Turkestan (7th to 8th century A. D.), which describes the external appearance and language of the people of Sarikol as identical with that of the Khotanese 14. In view of this convergence of linguistic, anthropological, and historical proofs, we can scarcely avoid the conclusion that the modern Sarikolis represent but the remnant of a larger Galcha population which once spread as far as the territory of Khotan, but further east has since undergone considerable racial amalgamation and abandoned its language for Turki. The great difference in geographical position, and consequently in accessibility between the valleys of Sarikol and the oases of the plain of the northern foot of the Kun-lun range would amply account for the thoroughness with which this transformation has proceeded in the latter region.

Finally, it may be pointed out in passing that an ethnic link between the Iranian Sarikolis and the present population of those oases is, perhaps, to be found in the small and little known hill-tribe of the Pakhpos, who partly as herdsmen, partly as cultivators, dwell in the narrow valleys near the headwaters of the Tiznaf and Yarkand rivers. Dr. Bellew, to whom we owe what scanty information has so far been recorded about this curious people, describes them as of ` pronounced Caucasian features ' and very fait-15. He was much struck by the difference of their physical type from that of other races he had come into contact with in Eastern Turkestan. He notes that the few Pakhpos whom he met and was able to examine, denied having any language of their own apart from Turki ; but he remarks also upon the extreme shyness of these hillmen, which ` led them to conceal all information regarding themselves '. I myself was unable to proceed near enough to their hills, south of Karghalik, to obtain an opportunity of meeting Pakhpos. But during my short stay at Karghalik, Mud Beg, a local official, who had for some years held charge of the tract they mainly inhabit, distinctly told me that, though all Pakhpos know Turki, and though its use is extending owing to frequent intermarriages with people of the Karghalik oasis, another language is talked by them among themselves which

12 Compare Ruins of Khotan, pp. 309 sq.; Hoernle, Central Asian Antiquities, ii. pp. 32 sqq.; below, chap. ix. sec. v.

13 See below, chap. vi. sec. iv., on the racial origin of the people of Khotan, and Mr. Joyce's paper in J. Anthr. Insl., 1903, pp. 322 sqq.

14 See Chavannes, Turcs occid., p. 124.

is Compare Yarkand Mission Report, pp. 61 sq. It must

be remembered that Dr. Bellew, with the main portion of Sir D. Forsyth's mission, did not visit the Sarikol valleys, and consequently could scarcely be expected to notice any similarity in physical appearance that might exist between Sarikolis and Pakhpos. The photographs of Pakhpos reproduced on p. 46 of the Yarkand Mission Report show types which to me do not appear to differ materially from those ordinarily met among Sarikolis and Wâkhis.