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0184 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 184 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Gold production of Khotan.


and their products, especially in a kind of filigree work, still find their way through the whole of Turkestan 23.

I have left to the last the mention of the gold produce of Khotan ; for if we except the little gold washed from the sand of the Yurung-kash, the precious metal with which the name of Khotan is often associated is found in its natural state only at places situated at considerable distances from the oasis. The gold mines of Surghak, Kapa, near the headwaters of the Cherchen river and on the high plateaus of the Arka-Tagh towards Tibet, may well have been worked in ancient times. But no mention is made of them in the old Chinese notices of Khotan ; and it is doubtful whether, with the exception of the first-named place (on the upper course of the Niya river), any of these localities ever fell within the political boundaries of the Khotan kingdom. That the gold extracted from them must have helped to increase the commercial importance of Khotan, as the nearest emporium for its disposal, may, on the other hand, be considered as certain.


Number of population.

Having acquainted ourselves, in main outline, with the geographical milieu and the material resources of the Khotan oasis, we may now complete our survey by a brief review of the people in their distribution, general character, and probable ethnical connexion. I shall not attempt to include in this sketch an account of the present conditions of life and social organization. On the one hand, the conditions at Khotan in most respects resemble so closely those found throughout the oases of Eastern Turkestan that the descriptions already available in the narratives of former visitors amply suffice for information on all general points. In this respect I may refer particularly to the excellent exposition of the subject which M. Grenard has given, based largely on observations made during a prolonged stay within the Khotan oasis 1. On the other hand, I shall have plentiful occasion hereafter, when describing the results of my excavations at ancient sites in the desert, to notice those particular features of modern life in the extant oases which help to illustrate them, and which themselves are proved by those finds to be of early origin.

It is not easy to form an approximately correct estimate of the present population of Khotan and, of course, still more difficult to guess the limits to which its number may have extended during early periods of greater prosperity. In 1873, the official figure communicated to Sir D. Forsyth's Mission was I29,5oo souls which, considering the undoubted diminution of the population due to the troubles of the Muhammadan rising and the exactions of Yaqûb Beg's reign, may not have been too low an estimate 2. General Przewalssky, on his passage through Khotan

23 For some specimens see Mission D. de Rhins, ii. p. 184, plate.

1 See particularly chapters i—viii, x, xi, of vol. ii Mission D. de Rhins. For the critical student it will be well to bear in mind that much of the valuable information presented applies far more closely to Khotan than to the rest of Eastern Turkestan. In the endeavour to give a thoroughly readable and graphic picture of life and people in this wide region local distinctions have not always been brought out as clearly as needed for thorough inquiry into particular features.

Reference to the Yarkand Mission Report, pp. 8o sqq., is still useful for a variety of data regarding daily life. Many interesting facts can be gathered also passim from Dr. Hedin's Through Asia and his Reisen in Z.-A. Having been obliged to spend most of my time in explorations over desert ground, and to concentrate my attention on things of the past within the oases, I could record in my ' Personal Narrative ' only casual observations and rapid glimpses of everyday life.

2 See Yarkand Mission Report, p. 62.