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0185 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 185 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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in 1885, estimated its population at 300,000, while General Pjewzow, five years later, put the number at about 160,000. That the figures communicated to Dr. Hedin in 1896, giving an aggregate of 524,00o souls for the Khotan oasis exclusive of the oases of Lop and Sampula, were greatly exaggerated, was recognized by that traveller himself 3. I have already, in a note to the preceding section, indicated the present conventional estimate, which assumes a total of 27,500 households for the whole of the Khotan oasis 4. Accepting the local reckoning of eight persons as an average for each household, we should arrive, on the basis of this estimate, at an approximate total of 220,000. Judging from the impressions I received of the relative density of the population in various parts of the oasis, from the extent of industrial exports and similar indications, I should not consider this estimate in any way excessive. But I am wholly unable to judge how closely it approaches to the truth a.

In distinction from other oases of the Tarim Basin where urban life is concentrated in Towns of a single town, Khotan possesses at present three places to which the designation of town can oasis. be justly applied, viz. Khotan or Ilchi, Yurung-kash, and Kara-kash. In size and commercial importance these three towns do not differ greatly ; but as the seat of the local administration Ilchi occupies the first place, and consequently claims the general designation of Khotan which has been applied from ancient days to both the oasis and its capital. None of the three towns equals Kashgar or Yarkand in wealth or population ; but their number when compared with the size of the oasis is a further indication of the prominent part which industrial occupations play in the economic organization of the people. In addition to these towns, the cantons of Borazan, Tosalla, and Sampula possess local commercial centres of their own, represented by the Bazars of Bizin, Imam-Mûsa-Qasim and Sampula, all of them much frequented on their weekly market days s.

We have previously seen how far back in history and antiquarian remains we can trace Protection

the industries and crafts which to this day distinguish Khotan. This observation alone would against


justify the hope that we might similarly find ancient peculiarities of character and race still invasions. surviving in the present inhabitants. But there are weighty geographical and historical considerations, too, which lend support to this expectation. It is certain that, among all the larger oases of the Tarim Basin, Khotan was best protected by nature against any violent and thoroughgoing ethnic changes. The mighty mountain ranges on the south may not have protected it altogether from invasion by small bands of bold adventurers—we know that the Karakorum in the opposite direction did not prevent successful inroads of Turki soldiers of fortune into the Upper Indus Valley and even Kashmir—but Kun-lun and Karakorum combined form an impassable barrier to any large ethnic movement. The great desert northward left no possible route of invasion, except along the bed of the Khotan river ; and this, owing to the extremely scanty resources offered by the narrow belt of desert jungle adjoining it for a distance of close on 300 miles, could never have served as a thoroughfare for a real migration. On the east, towards Lop-Nor, the desert belt stretching to the foot of the Kun-lun was, indeed, broken by small oases, as it is at present. But east of Niya the distances between these oases are so

3 See Reisen in Z.-A., p. 24.

4 See above, p. 131, note 3.

That the conventional estimate I heard does not err on the side of excess, seems clear, e. g. from the number of r000 households given in it for the town of Khotan. M. Grenard, who with M. Dutreuil de Rhins had for two years made Khotan town his winter quarters, and who had


spent there longer time than any other European, assumed for it a population of 26,000 ; see Mission D. de Rhins, ii. p. 96.

s Compare, regarding the main Bâzârs of the oasis, and the system by which the weekdays are divided between them, Ruins of Kholan, p. 486.