FROM Lop, where I had camped, I was able to proceed at once, on April 5, to the easternmost of the ancient sites which still remained to be examined in the vicinity of the Khotan oasis. It was the Tati of Hanguya, from which a number of coins had been brought to me in November, and with which Turdi, from the vicinity of his own village, was, of course, thoroughly familiar. Before setting out for it, and subsequently on my way through the cultivated parts of the Hanguya tract, I had opportunities for interesting glimpses of the flourishing state enjoyed by this canton, and also by the canton of Sampula or Lop adjoining southwards. Both are administratively included in the district of Keriya, of which they form probably the fiscally most valuable portion. The Beg in charge of it, whose spacious, well-built house, with its pretty garden and orchard, vividly recalled to my mind the ruins of similarly substantial residences explored at the Niya Site, estimated the number of households within both tracts at about 9,000. This number, though nearly double that subsequently communicated to me as the present conventional reckoning 1, did not strike me as extravagant in view of the extent and busy life of Lop Bazar and the thriving look of the Hanguya villages. Those of Sampula owe their population largely to the flourishing carpet industry which is centred here, and to the early importance of which I have already had occasion to allude 2.
Immediately to the north of Lop Bazar stretches a small belt of salty soil, which is liable to be flooded by subsoil water. But immediately beyond richly-cultivated ground is entered, through which the road led for nearly five miles to the central market-place of Hanguya. Water for irrigation was said to be plentiful here, being brought by canals both from the Yurung-kâsh and from springs which appear to the south-west of Lop. Accordingly I was not surprised to find a great deal of ground recently brought under cultivation, i. e. recovered north of Hanguya Bazar. After riding about three miles north-north-west from the latter place I came to lucerne fields fringed by low dunes, which are slowly but steadily being levelled by irrigation cuts. Half a mile beyond we entered the desert amidst dunes 5 to 10 ft. high, covered at first with thorny scrub, and further on completely bare.
Following, under Turdi's guidance, a well-marked track which is used by people bringing wood from the jungles along the Yurung-kash course, we arrived, after a march of about three miles from the edge of cultivation, at eroded ground covered with red pottery of great hardness. It was the commencement of a typical Tati', just as Turdi's report had led me to expect, and which according to his statement extended far away to the north-west right across to the vicinity of Ak-sipil. That the débris-covered area here was large seemed very probable, but the prevailing dust-haze prevented even an approximate estimate.