516 DEPARTURE FROM KHOTAN [Chap. XV
Leaving in the direction of Zawa I passed several small patches of ground covered with old pottery débris up to a distance of about a mile from the mound above mentioned. Beyond, heavy dunes of coarse sand, very trying to our ponies, had to be crossed for some four miles before we struck the western bank of a broad marshy valley in which the stream of Yawa expands between numerous reed-covered lagoons. They vividly recalled to my mind the marshes near Niya in the extreme east of ancient Khotan territory. And when by nightfall I arrived at my camp pitched close to Zawa-Kurghan, I might well feel as if, by these changes of rich village land, sandy jungle, high dunes and marsh, Vaigravana, the genius loci of Buddhist Khotan, had wished to let me once more see, as a parting favour, every type of scenery I had beheld in the land over which he presided.
By daybreak of the 1st of May I set out on my long journey westwards. Cheered as I was by the thought of the road that now lay clear before me to Europe, it was sad to say farewell to a fascinating field of work and to the last of my faithful helpmates. At Zawa itself I had to take leave of Turdi, my faithful old guide, whose experience and local sense had never failed me in the desert. I rewarded his services liberally with more ` treasure ', i. e. cash, than he had ever brought back from his wanderings in the Taklamakân. I had also secured for him a promise, through Pan Darin's favour, that he was to be installed as ` Mira])', or steward of irrigation, for his native village near Yurung-kâsh. It was a snug though modest post to which our Ak-sakal of the Taklamakân', as I used to call him, fondly aspired, since he thought that he was getting too old for the desert. When we exchanged our farewell wishes I little thought for how short a time the fateful attraction of the desert would allow the old ` treasure-seeker ' to enjoy the comforts of this peaceful retirement. The circumstances of his somewhat tragic end are not yet fully known to me. But it is certain that towards the close of 1903 Muhammadju, one of my Yarkandi ponymen, when passing through Khotan with Mr. Crosby's caravan, found old Turdi imprisoned, apparently for having been tempted by his love of adventure and ` treasure ', to guide some traveller (?) into the desert without the permission of Pan Darin's successor. A short while later he ended his days, as I am told, while still in prison at Khotan.
Islam Bég and Badruddin Khan, who had reason to be satisfied with the rewards their efficient services had earned them, would not leave me until we had reached Tarbugaz, the lonely Langar on the desert edge where I had passed my first night on Khotan soil. It seems that convention, perhaps of old date, makes this the recognized place for the formal welcome and valediction of those who enter or leave the oasis by the western road. When they, too, had bidden me good-bye, and I . was riding on alone by the desert track to the ` Pigeons' Shrine ', my thoughts were free to turn to a more cheerful theme—the results I was bringing back from Khotan.
K. D. ow. a. Fragment of moulded terra-cotta vessel ; outer surface polished. 2 " x 2".
K. D. ow. b, c. Fragments of plain terra-cotta, polished on outside. ai" x 2k" and II" x ri' resp.
K. D. ow. d. Two fragments of plaster of Paris ; moulded enrichment. The pattern (a border) consists of 5 or 6 strands of overlapping scales or leaves, bound by crossing bands. 2*" x t" x . ", 24" x t i" x
K. D. ooz. e. Fragment of plaster of Paris ; border, plain, 5-sided.
K. D. ow. f. Fragment of plaster of Paris ; enrichment, resembling locks of hair. On the back is the impression of a rather fine canvas. These fragments d, e, f) resemble in material the Ak-sipil burnt stuccos (Cf. A. 024) and, like those, appear to have been burnt by accident after having become broken.