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0045 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 45 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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notwithstanding a nominal tribute, and their turbulent disposition and the danger it represented for the newly-constructed ` Gilgit Road ' ultimately led, in 1892, to the occupation of their territory by an Imperial garrison.

The Chilasis, in race, language, and ethnic peculiarities, are closely allied to the other Dard communities which, organized in small republics, extend far down both banks of the Indus, and collectively form the tract known as Shinkari or the Kôhistan of the Indus Valley. Though this region is still inaccessible to the European traveller, it is certain that the several sections of the valley are not separated from each other by great natural barriers. Hence constant relations are kept up between these Dard communities which used to combine when

threatened by an external foe.   In fact, tradition at Childs distinctly asserts that in pre-
Muhammadan times the whole of Shinkari was under the rule of one Raja 34.

We have seen already that, according to the indications furnished by the Tang Annals and Hsüan-tsang, this tract in the Indus Valley was at one time politically dependent on the kingdom of Udyana. The supremacy exercised from the Swat Valley may, at the period when we hear of the alliance between the Tibetans and Chieh-shih, have been replaced by predominant influence from the side of Chitral. Both from Chitral proper and from Upper Kashkar or Mastûj the Indus Valley can readily be reached by a number of routes leading across the headwaters of the Swat and Panjkôra rivers, and the remarkable extension which in recent years the Khan of Dir's power has taken in the direction of the Swat Kbhistan and the Indus Valley presents a curious parallel. Childs and the other Dard communities along the Indus, if left to themselves, could without great difficulty have been overawed by the Chinese garrison placed in Gilgit and Yasin ; but when controlled and supported by a neighbouring hill-state of such resources as Chitral, they were bound to become a serious menace to the Kashmir–Gilgit route, which they flanked, and upon which the maintenance of that garrison depended.


The total absence of reliable records makes it impossible at present to trace more of the early history of Gilgit and the adjoining regions than is revealed for a brief period by the illuminating notices of the Chinese Annals. A patient study of local traditions and ethnology, and a systematic search for ancient remains would, no doubt, bring to light materials likely to help us in restoring some aspects of the life and culture that prevailed there during pre-Muhammadan times. But for such labours the series of rapid and often trying marches which, between June I I and 28, carried me through the valleys of Gilgit and Hunza to the Hindukush watershed, as described in chapters II and III of my Personal Narrative, left no opportunity.

Among the few relics of Buddhist worship which are extant above ground in the main valley of Gilgit, and to which Major J. Manners Smith very kindly drew my attention, I was able to visit only the great rock-carved relief at the entrance of the Kergah Nullah, some four miles above Gilgit Fort and not far from the village of Naupiir. This relief, which appears to have been first described by Colonel Biddulph 1, occupies a conspicuous position, more than


Rock-sculpture near Gilgit.

34 For much interesting information collected by Colonel Biddulph regarding the Indus Kbhistân, see Hindoo Koosh, pp. 8 sqq.

1 See Hindoo Koosh, pp. 109 sqq., where a rather primitive sketch of the relief is reproduced in lithography. The


attempted identification of this figure with the colossal Buddha image seen by Fa-hsien in Darél, requires no serious considera. tion. A somewhat indistinct photographic reproduction of the rock-carving is given in the Pamir Boundary Commission Report, p. 32.