46 SARIKOL AND THE ROUTE TO KASHGAR [Chap. II
Whatever opinion may be held on this point, it is certain that the remarkable shape of the huge dome of ice rising above all other mountains must have vividly suggested to Buddhist eyes the idea of a gigantic Stûpa. This striking form, which even more than its height distinguishes Murtâgh-Ata from all ice-crowned peaks of the Pamirs, is illustrated by the photographs I took of its west and north faces from the Shama'lda ridge (Fig. r i) and Lake Little Kara-kul (Fig. i2). But it is even more notable when this mighty mountain mass is seen from a greater distance, as when I first sighted its glittering dome on my way to Tâsh-kurghân, some fifty miles away as the crow flies 18. It is to be hoped that a telephotographic view taken by some future traveller may yet do full justice to this aspect of the ` Father of ice-mountains'.
The worship of natural objects bearing resemblance to the traditional form of Stûpas came as readily to Buddhists as that of svayambhii or ` self-created ' images to Hindus of all periods 1''. In the latter case it may be noted that the origin of the peculiarly shaped rocks, peaks, &c. thus worshipped, is invariably traced back to some miraculous event or similar extraordinary occasion. It seems probable that we have to interpret in this sense the feature of the Buddhist legend, which connected the creation of ` a Stûpa of a wonderful and mysterious character ' with the miracle witnessed by an ancient king.
18 See Ruins of Khotan, pp. 68 sq. references see the index of my Rajat. translation, s. v.
19 Compare, regarding the worship of ` Svayambhii' images, svayambhü.
&c., in Kashmir, my note on Rajat. ii. 136 ; for other