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0071 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 71 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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the remains of ancient stone walls perched on precipitous cliffs, which rise above the left bank of the Taghdumbash river some seven miles above Dafdâr, there clings the story commonly known to Sarikolis and Kirghiz alike, that king Naushrrwân, an ancient Persian ruler, had once placed there his daughter for safety. On account of this story the ruins bear the popular designation Kiz-kurghan, meaning in Turki ` the tower of the daughter (or princess) '.

Owing to an unfortunate chance I did not hear of the existence of these ruins until after I had reached Tash-kurghan (July 7, 190o), having failed to notice them two days earlier when I passed the site on my march down the valley. Want of time did not permit me to retrace my steps a distance of some fifty miles, however anxious I was to examine them personally. But I was at least able by repeated inquiries to make sure of their approximate position, and of the widely spread knowledge of the legend attaching to them.

There can be no doubt that we have in the Kiz-kurghan legend a genuine relic of the fuller tradition current in Hsüan-tsang's days, and consequently we are justified in attributing historical significance to the place in which we find it localized. In the light of the story as recorded by Hsüan-tsang, popular tradition could not have supposed the Kiz-kurghan ridge to have been the temporary place of safety selected for the Chinese princess while the road westwards was blocked, unless at the time when the story was current a main route in that direction passed up the Taghdumbash Pamir at the entrance of which the ridge rises. Kiz-kurghan, like the modern fortified post of Ghujak-bai (Ujad-bai of the maps), which nearly faces it on the opposite bank of the river, must, in fact, be passed by all travellers who wish to reach the Upper Oxus, whether by the Wakhjir or the Payik Pass. Thus the legend localized at Kiz-kurghan affords direct evidence that the Taghdumbash Pamir was used as a general line of communication in ancient times, and further helps to support the assumption explained above that Hsüan-tsang himself travelled by it on his way to Tash-kurghan.

From the account of the Hsi yü-chi, already quoted, we learn that the palace in which the Han princess and her miraculously conceived son, the founder of the dynasty, first established themselves and ruled Sarikol, was built ` on the top of a rocky peak '. In the absence of any notice to the contrary, we may assume that the site of this royal palace was within the capital of Chieh-p`an-t`o which Hsüan-tsang visited, and of which he tells us that it ` rests on a great rocky crag of the mountain, and is backed by the river gird". The position here indicated agrees so closely with that of the present Tash-kurghan that the identification of the latter with the old capital of Chieh-p`an-t`o, first proposed by Sir Henry Yule, may be considered as certain 1°.

The modern Chinese fort of Tash-kurghan and the ruined town around it occupy part of a long rocky plateau or terrace which is washed along its east foot by the Taghdumbash river. That the latter is meant by Hsüan-tsang's Hsi-to, is clear from an earlier passage of the Hsi yü-chi ; there this name, a transcription of the Sanskrit ~Jïtâ, is applied to the Yarkand river, of which the Taghdumbash river is one of the main feeders 11. Hsüan-tsang's indication is borne out by the account of Sung Yün, who, as already noted, also speaks of the capital of Han-p`an-t`o or Sarikol as having a river along its east side. Though he calls this river by a different name, Mêng-chin, yet he leaves no doubt as to its identity with the Taghdumbash river ; for he mentions that it flows to the north-east in the direction of Sha-lei or Kashgar 12.

Position of Kizkurghân ruins.

Site of ancient capital at Tashkurghan.

a See Mémoires, transi. Julien, ii. p. 209 ;Si yu-ki, transi. Beal, ii. p. 298.

'o See Yule, Introduction to Wood's.journey to the sources of the Oxus, p. xlviii ; for a first account of my observations

confirming this identification, see Prelim. Report, pp. ix sq. i' See Mémoires, transi. Julien, ii. p. 208 ; Si yu-k:; transi. Beal, ii. p. 298.

" See Chavannes, Voyage de Song Yun, p. 23.

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