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0115 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 115 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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the notice of the Tang Annals already quoted and by a gloss of the Hsi yü-chi which states that the indigenous name of the territory was Hu-mi. The same annotator also indicates as an

alternative name Chin-Pau AV, iv, or Huo-k`an   The The latter form is found also in the
notice, and may possibly be looked upon as another attempt to reproduce the name Wakhan.13

` The kingdom of Ta-mo-hsi-t`ie-ti ', thus the Hsi yü-chi tells us,14 ` is situated between two Hsüan-

mountains ; it is an ancient territory of the Tu-huo-lo (Tokhara) kingdom. It is about fifteen or tsang,s de-

scription of

sixteen hundred li from east to west, and four or five li 15 from north to south, but in its narrowest Wakhan.

part not above one li. It lies along the River Fu-ch`u (Oxus) 46 pij of which it follows the windings. There are mounds and hills of different heights, and plains covered with sand and stones ; an icy

wind blows there. The only crops are wheat and pulse, and there is little vegetation.b6 This country produces excellent horses which, though small of size, stand long journeys with ease. Manners are not regulated by customs. The people are of a violent and coarse disposition ; their appearance is common and ill-favoured ; they wear woollen garments. For the most part they have greenish-blue eyes and thereby differ from other people. There are about ten convents, containing but a small number of monks.'

` Hun-t`o-to is the capital of the kingdom. In the centre of the town there rises a convent built by the first king of the country. For its construction the hill-side has been cut and a gully filled in. In the beginning when the kingdom had not yet received the doctrine of Buddha, the people sacrificed solely to evil spirits ; but for some centuries past the beneficent influence of the Law has commenced to spread.' The pilgrim then relates at great length the pious legend about the Arhat who induced the king after his cherished son's death to adopt Buddha's teaching. He also describes the miracle observed in the great Vihara of the convent where a canopy of gilt copper suspended above a stone statue of Buddha used to move with the worshipper as he circumambulated the image, and to stop when he stopped.

The physical features of the long and narrow valley of Wakhan, as shown by the map or described by modern travellers are here given with great accuracy. The length of the valley from east to west is, indeed, over-estimated, since the total marching distance from the Wakhjir Pass down to Ishkashim, even allowing for sinuosities of the track and the difficult ground above Sarhad, cannot exceed two hundred miles at the utmost. But the relative narrowness of the inhabitable strip of ground along the whole valley is well brought out, and it must be remembered that Hsüan-tsang had no opportunity to test personally the length of the main valley since his route across the Pamirs left it at Langar Kisht to ascend to Victoria Lake.17 His description of the ground, confined, as usual with him, to the actual route, duly reflects the frequent interchange of shingle-covered fans, rocky undulations, and stretches of riverine sand with fields and meadow land is

His remarks about the products of Wakhan still hold good. All observers agree that the strong wind that blows with little intermission throughout the winter and spring down the valley, influences unfavourably the climate and the growth of vegetation. Of the endurance shown by the

small but wiry Wakhi ponies I had ample occasion to gather personal experience.1° Constant

to Mastnj across the Barôghil branches off. hsi-tie-li transcribes a Skr. 'Dharmas1hi1i is But the origin of this name escapes us.

13 Cf. Watters, Yuan Chwang, ii. p. 280.

14 I follow Julien's translation, Mdmoires, except where otherwise marked.

13 Thus Waiters; Julien by an oversight cinq cents li'.

That Ta-molikely enough.

ii. pp. 20! sq., has ' quatre à

" Thus Watters ; Julien has : `On sème peu de blé et de légumes, et l'on cultive en quantité les fleurs et les arbres fruitiers.'

" Cf. Ancient Khotan, i. p. 3o.

18 I take my information from General Barrow's excellent Gazetteer of the Eastern Hindu Kush.

' Cf. Desert Cathay, i. pp. 72 sqq.

Correctness of Hsiian- tsang's description.

The people of Wakhan.