SECTION II.—HISTORICAL SITES IN WAKHAN
In my personal narrative I have fully explained the reasons which made it impossible for me to descend the Oxus below Sarhad, however strongly I felt attracted by the fascinating regions lower down its course upon which my eyes had been fixed since early youth.' Thus it must be reserved for future chance to supplement this chapter by a systematic survey of the antiquities of Wakhân. That there are remains sufficiently conspicuous to attract the attention even of the passing traveller is clear from the mention which Wood and later visitors make of ` three Kaffir forts, which the natives believe to have been erected by the Guebers or Fire-worshippers '.2 One of them, known as Zamr-i-Atish-parast, opposite Khandût, I have already had occasion to mention. The others, Zangibar, a short distance above Kala-Panja, and Kala-i-Kaka, close to Ishtragh, are also both situated on the right, now Russian, bank of the Oxus, a circumstance which gives hope that their examination by some competent archaeologist will be not long delayed.3
But if access to the main parts of Wakhân was thus barred to me, I had at least the satisfaction of making a rapid survey of that ground which, as far as our extant records go, has most claim in Wakhân to be. considered an interesting historical site. I mean the position south of Sarhad where the Chinese general, Kao Hsien-chih, in A. D. 747 gained his signal victory over the Tibetan force defending the approach to the route across the Baroghil and Darkot. Since I have already discussed at length the general course of that memorable expedition and the routes by which the Chinese leader had concentrated his forces across the Pamirs for the capture of the route leading to Yasin,4 we may at once proceed to the consideration of the account of the battle, with its topographical details which Kao Hsien-chih's biography in the Tang Annals furnishes.5
The three Chinese columns operating, as I have shown, from the west, north, and east, ` had agreed to effect their junction on the thirteenth day of the seventh month (August) between seven and nine o'clock in the morning at the Tibetan stronghold of Lien-yün. In that stronghold there were a thousand soldiers ; moreover, at a distance of fifteen li to the south of the rampart, advantage had been taken of the mountains to crcct palisades behind which there were eight to nine thousand
troops. At the foot of the rampart there flowed the river of the valley of P`o-16 J which was
in flood and could not be crossed. Kao Hsien-chih made an offering to the river of three victims ; he directed his captains to select their best soldiers and their best horses ; each man carried rations of dry food for three days. In the morning they assembled by the river bank. As the waters were difficult to cross, officers and soldiers all thought the enterprise senseless. But when the other river bank was reached neither had the men wetted their standards nor the horses their saddle-cloths. After the troops had crossed and formed their ranks, Kao Hsien-chih, overjoyed, said to Pien Lingch'êng (the Imperial Commissioner) : " For a moment, while we were in the midst of the passage, our force was beaten if the enemy had come. Now that we have crossed and formed ranks, it is proof that Heaven delivers our enemies into our hands." He at once ascended the mountain
" For the linguistic relationship of Wakhi, cf. Geiger in Grundriss der Iran. Philologie, Bd. I. pt. ii. pp. 290 sqq. 1 See Desert Cathay, i. pp. 67 sq.
' See Wood, Source of the Oxus, p. 218.
3 Some account of these three strongholds is given by Lieut. Olufsen, Through the Unknown Pamirs, pp. 173 sqq.
Their extent and solid construction are well shown, but no clear data are furnished as to their origin and age. The connexion assumed with some invasion of the Siâh-posh Kâfirs is, historically, very improbable.
' Cf. above, pp. 53 sqq.
2 See Chavannes, Turcs occid., p. 152, note j.