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0412 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 412 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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Route to Lou-lan south of Lop-nor.


It was here, within ground belonging to Lou-lan or Lop, that the Huns would have their best chance of completely cutting off the force, or of at least seriously hampering its retreat. We know that the ` Êrh-shih Genera[' made his way back to the Chinese border line, though with only ` one or two tenths of those who had set out '.8 But we are not told what exactly was the chronological relation between his retreat and Jên Wên's punitive expedition against the king of Lou-lan.

The general tenor of the record, however, goes to show that the movement of Chinese troops to the seat of the king of Lou-lan took place somewhat later and was not a succouring expedition. If this interpretation of the facts so briefly recorded is right, some importance may, perhaps, be attached to the mention made of a convenient road ' by which the troops were to be led to the capture of the Lou-lan king. Taking into account ascertained geographical and archaeological facts, and what has been shown above as to the position of the ` capital ' of the Lop tract from Later Han times onwards, I cannot help surmising that this reference to a ` convenient road ' implies the use of a route different from that north of Lop-nor which, as we have seen, previous Chinese missions and expeditions are likely to have followed. If we assume that the chief's residence lay then, as it certainly did during the subsequent periods, to the south of the Lop-nor marshes in the MirânCharkhlik tract, this special mention of the route leading to it becomes fully intelligible ; for the nearest and most convenient route to a Lou-lan capital thus situated led clearly by the present Tun-huang—Charkhlik caravan track, and not by the line connecting the Tun-huang Limes with the once inhabited tract north of Lop-nor marked by the ruined ` Lou-lan Site'.

That by Jên Wên's expedition the Chinese had for the time being secured complete control over Lou-lan is proved by the unobstructed passage through it of the second and entirely successful expedition which the ` Erh-shih General ' led against Ta-yuan or Farghdna about tot—loo B.c.7 Nor could it have been very difficult to assure this control over the Lop region, considering that under the ` Êrh-shih General ' ` there marched out of Tun-huang a force of sixty thousand men, not including camp followers,' according to Ssü-ma Ch`ien's contemporary testimony. To the really serious difficulties which must have attended the movement of such numbers across desert ground I shall have occasion to refer later on. After the striking success which attended this great Chinese undertaking in a distant part of Central Asia, we are told that ` westwards, as far as the " Salt water ", i.e. Lop-nor, rest-houses were established '.s This measure was doubtless a result of the transport experiences gained between Tun-huang and Lou-lan. In 99 B. c., as we read in the Annals, Lou-lan furnished the troops for a Chinese attack upon Chü-shih or Turfân.9 Also in 89 B.C. a Lou-lan contingent figured in the force which was sent against Turfan in order to create a diversion, and thus to aid a Chinese force operating against the Huns north of the T'ien-shan. It was then that the king of Chu-shih submitted to the Empire.10

Meanwhile the king of Lou-lan had died in 92 B.C. The Chinese court, not finding it opportune to let the hostage prince who had been kept in confinement depart from China to his home, caused the next son to be installed. When he, too, died, ` the Hsiung-nu, first hearing of it, sent their hostage prince back, who succeeded to the throne.' This new king, when summoned by an Imperial rescript to proceed to the Chinese court, naturally delayed his appearance there, warned by the fact that two members of the royal family sent to China as hostages had never returned.11 The Annals then continue : ` Now the extreme eastern border of the kingdom of Lou-lan where it approaches nearest to China, was opposite to the Po-lung-tali (" White Dragon Mounds "), where there was a scarcity of water and pasture ; and it always fell to its share to provide guides, to carry water and

6 Cf. Kingsmill, J.R.A.S., 1882, p. 23.   9 Cf. Wylie, J. Anthrop. Inst., xi. p. io6.

' Cf. ibid., pp. 25 sqq.   19 See ibid., xi. pp. io6 sq.

8 Cf. ibid., pp. 24-9.   " Cf. ibid., x. pp. 26 sq.


Chinesecontrol over Lou-lan,

100 B.C.


Hun influence reasserted at Lou-lan.