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0103 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 103 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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cerning Little P`o-lii'.' It will, however, be convenient to indicate the main outlines here afresh, as this will render it easier to follow the details I shall have to offer concerning the different localities through which Kao Hsien-chih's march may be traced, and which my own route further on touched. Our knowledge of the events to be summarized and explained is derived wholly from the Chinese official records contained in the Tang Annals, and rendered accessible by M. Chavannes.'

Some years after A. D. 741 the Tibetans, to whose long-continued struggle against Chinese dominion in the Tarim Basin reference has already been made, succeeded in winning over Su-shih-lichih, the king of Little P`o-lü, i. e. Gilgit and Yasin, and made him marry a Tibetan princess. In consequence, the Annals tell us, ` more than twenty principalities of the north-west became subject to the Tibetans ; their tribute and offerings no longer reached the Imperial court '. After three expeditions organized by the ` Protector of the Four Garrisons ', the Governor-General of the district corresponding to the present Chinese Turkestan, had failed, an Imperial decree in A.D. 747 directed the Deputy-Protector Kao Hsien-chih to take charge of the campaign against the Tibetans in ` Little P`o-lü' with a force of 1o,000 cavalry and infantry. Starting from An-hsi, the present Kucha, he reached Su-16 or Kashgar in thirty-five days, probably through Ak-su and by the old high road leading north of Maral-bashi. Twenty days more brought his force to the military post of the Ts`ung-ling Mountains, established in the position of the present Tash-kurghan in Sarikol. Thence by a march of twenty days the ` valley, of Po-mi ', or the Pamirs, was gained, and after another twenty days Kao Hsien-chih arrived in ` the kingdom of the five Shih-ni', i. e. the present Shighnan on the Oxus.

The marching distance here indicated agrees well with the time which large caravans of men and transport animals would at present need to cover the same ground. But how the Chinese general managed to feed so large a force after once it had entered the barren mountains beyond the outlying oases of the present Kashgar and Yangi-Hisar districts is a problem which might look formidable indeed to any modern commander. In the Annals biography it is particularly noted that at that time the foot soldiers all kept horses (i. e. ponies) on their own account'. Such a provision of transport must have considerably increased the mobility of the Chinese troops. But it also implied greatly increased difficulties about supplies on the passage through ranges which, with the exception of certain portions of the Pamirs, do not afford sufficient grazing to keep animals alive without liberal provision of fodder.

It was probably as a strategic measure meant to reduce the difficulties of supply in this inhospitable Pamir region that Kao Hsien-chih divided his forces into three columns as a preliminary to his attack upon the position held by the Tibetans at Lien-yün. M. Chavannes has shown good reason for assuming that by the river P`o-le or So-le, which is described as flowing in front of Lienyün, is meant the Ab-i-Panja branch of the Oxus, and that Lien-yün itself occupied a position corresponding to the present village of Sarhad, but on the opposite or southern side of the river, where the route from the Baroghil Pass debouches on the Ab-i-Panja. We shall return to this identification in detail hereafter. Here it will suffice to show that this location is also clearly indicated by the details recorded of the concentration of Kao Hsien-chih's forces upon Lien-yün.

Of the three columns which were to operate from different directions and to effect a simultaneous junction before Lien-yün on the thirteenth day of the seventh month (about the middle of August),

Struggle of Chinese and Tibetans.

Kao Hsienchih's march across the Pamirs.

Concentration upon Lien-yün.

1 See Ancient Khotan, i. pp. 8 sqq.

R Cf. Chavannes, Turcs occid., p. 151, for the notice on P`o-1ü, and p. 152, note r, where interesting and much fuller details are reproduced from Kao Hsien-chih's official biography. To M. Chavannes belongs all credit for having

recognized that Kao Hsien-chih's expedition took him over the Baroghil and Darkot Passes. But he does not attempt to trace in detail the localities which the Chinese accounts mention along the route both to the north and south of the Hindukush.