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0076 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 76 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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mainly derived from the advantages enjoyed by Chitral through its vicinity and easy access to Badakhshan, an ancient seat of culture and material prosperity.

Along with other observers, I was impressed from the outset by the far higher standards in comforts of life, manners, and methods of cultivation which I noticed as soon as I had entered Chitral. But how could I attempt here to justify these impressions in detail, when I had scarcely more than a week of busy travel for catching glimpses of all the varied economical and social conditions which would claim long months or years of careful observation and study ? For a record of my impressions I must refer to Chapters IV and V of my personal narrative» At the same time I must express the earnest hope that the fascinating field which Chitral along with Mastûj offers for systematic geographical, ethnographical, and anthropological researches, will find its qualified students before old-world conditions are seriously changed by the action of the Indian influences which modern political relations are fostering. Much, if not most, of what I was able to observe as regards the material civilization of Chitral distinctly recalled Turkestan, while India seemed to lie far behind me in customs and conditions alike. With so much before my eyes that betokened direct importation from Badakhshan, it was impossible not to realize how important a part the ancient civilization established by the Oxus must have played in shaping the past of Chitral.

Unfortunately, the materials for reconstructing this past are extremely scanty. No written accounts of Chitral history have survived in the country itself, and the oral traditions which Colonel Biddulph collected are, as I was able to test by inquiries, for the period preceding the eighteenth century confined to recollections so vague and disjointed as to afford practically no historical indications whatever. The genealogy of the still ruling family of the princes or Mehtars, bearing the name of Katfir in its main branch, reaches back to about the seventeenth century. This family is supposed to be descended from a Khorasan adventurer adopted by the last of an earlier line of rulers known as Ra'is.13 All that is stated of these is that they are believed to have been related to the family which ruled Gilgit before the introduction of Muhammadanism,'} and ` that during the rule of one of them a Calmak or Chinese army, in alliance with a prince of Badakhshan, invaded and subdued the country '. To an earlier epoch is assigned the legendary story of a king Bahman, an idolater, who, after repeated efforts to defend Chitral, succumbed to an Arab army which had previously conquered Badakhshan and Wakhan.

Exceedingly meagre and chronologically indeterminate as these traditions arc, they yet show plainly a recollection of conquest from the Badakhshan side.' The point deserves notice all the more because the only historical record, which has so far come to light about Chitral in the pre-Muhammadan period, concerns an event of this kind. It is preserved in the Chinese annals of the Tang dynasty, and was first elucidated by me in Ancient Khotan.16 The facts which it records were the direct outcome of the political situation created by Kao Hsien-chih's successful expedition in A. n. 747 against the Tibetans in Yasin and the subsequent Chinese occupation of that territory

12 Cf. in particular Desert Cathay, i. pp. 32 sq., 37 sq., 48 sq. For a general description of the economic and social conditions of Chitral cf. Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, pp. 61 sqq.; Robertson, Chitral, passim.

13 See Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, pp. r 50 sqq. That there are certain chronological difficulties affecting the genealogical record of the Katar dynasty and its Khushwakt branch holding Mastaj and Yasin, even for the recent period it embraces, has been pointed out by Raverty, Notes on Afghanistan,

pp. 305 sq.

" The adoption of Islam by the rulers of Gilgit is con-

jecturally placed about the commencement of the fourteenth

century by Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, p. 134. But this chronology rests solely on approximate calculation from a genealogical list which cannot be critically tested. Raverty, Notes on Afghanistan, p. 300, note §, expresses the belief that this conversion took place much later, and a reference of 1klirza Haidar distinctly supports this view.

15 For invasions from Badakhshan in recent times cf. Biddulph, Hindoo Koosh, p. 153; Inzp. Gazetteer, x. p. 3o r ; Ritter, Asien, vii. p. 14 ; Raverty, Notes on Afghânislûn, p. 158.

16 See Ancient Kholan, i. pp. r I sqq., 15 sqq.

Material civilization of Chitral.

Historical traditions of Chitral.

Chitral in the Chinese Annals.