Detailed Report of Archeological Explorations in Chinese Turkestan
Sir M. Aurel Stein
Oxford Clarendon Press, 1907
This is the official report on
Stein's first expedition in 1900-01 from India into Chinese Turkestan. Since
this expedition was not nearly as lengthy in time or space as the second and
third expeditions, this report is shorter than Serindia or Innermostasia. Nevertheless it is full of
detailed scholarly footnotes and the second volume, attached, contains the many
photos of artifacts and diagrams Stein drew which fill several volumes in the
larger official records. Copies of some of the illustrations are
here. Stein repeatedly also refers the
general reader to his 'personal account' of this trip, Sand-buried Ruins of Khotan in which he comments
further on the expedition.
The text is a combination of sections in which Stein records in detail his
daily activities in chronological order and sections in which he writes general
commentary and scholarly conclusions based on information including material
learned much later during the expedition. From the Table of Contents one can
see how carefully he has organized the material into these separate sections .
The expedition is included also in Stein's
later summary work - On Ancient Central
Readers may find the extensive sections on the history of
Khotan of interest apart from the archeological expedition. Stein has brought
together as much of the history as he found in Chinese annals as well as
medieval and modern visitors and authors. The chapters on the desert ruins at
Dandan, Niya and Endere are also interesting from the historical point of view
apart from the details of archeological finds. He based his exploration during
all three tours on the British (Indian) consulate at Kashgar. Unfortunately,
although he did include historical information on Kashgar, especially its
various previous names, he did not survey the city or describe its physical
layout and fortifications, which have now been destroyed by 'urban renewal'.
Stein constantly provides names for locations, both as he visits them and in
his historical digressions. One is well advised to keep maps handy for
reference. The most detailed of these maps are those he included in Serindia. and Innermostasiahowever, he also provided
a large pull-out map at the end of his other books and we have photographed
sections of these.
As an archeologist Stein is meticulous in establishing
personally the exact relative location and time each artifact was recovered. He
carefully distinguishes between items personally found and those purchased from
locals. As a geographer and topographical engineer he kept detailed records of
temperature, elevations, weather, and hydrology; and created excellent site
plans and detailed full scale maps. As a student of Indian (Buddhist in
particular) art and culture he continually comments of the connections between
the sites he excavated and Gandhara (the Graeco-Buddhist area now in Pakistan).
He seeks to find connections also with ancient Rome, Scythia, Sogdiana,
Afghanistan and the West in general. As a student of history he traces the
history of each place through Chinese or other official documents and
traveler's memoirs. As a student of linguistics and anthropology he listens to
the speech of locals and takes measurements of their facial features to provide
to experts later. As a leader of a large and varied team he spends hours
keeping financial and other official records. As the organizer he plans for
months and even years ahead to order transportation and logistic support. As a
visitor to many different ethnic peoples he is unfailingly able to fit in and
treat everyone with great respect. These peoples include the many different
groups in India (Sikhs, Gurkhas, Punjabi, and others), various relatively
primitive mountain tribes, Afghans, Sarikolis. Turki, Chinese, Uigurs,
Khotanese, Lopniks, and numerous others. As a correspondent he devotes hours to
writing letters both official and personal to a vast group of government
officers and friends in India, England, and throughout Europe. As a military
leader one would note that he was his own S-1, S-2, S-3, and S-4, enginner,
transportation, intelligence and personnel officers.
Stein is always effusive in his acknowledgment of the
permission and support he received from the British Government in India and
London, and the contributions of many scholars who have studied the massive
collection of artifacts he brought out of the deserts and mountains of
Turkestan. Much of their contributions is included in the appendices and also
in the footnotes. He dedicated this volume to Sir Henry Yule, among many other
things the author of the definitive edition of Marco Polo's memoir. Stein
remarks that he carried Yule's volume with him always, along with his favorite
Chinese memoirs. He also unfailingly gives credit to the numerous Indian,
Afghan, Yarkandi, Chinese and other associates, helpers, and servants who
accompanied him and performed heroic work under trying conditions.
This expedition was conducted, as noted, in 1900-1901 but this
account was not published until 1907 due to the extensive work for its
preparation amid his other duties. Meanwhile he did publish the more popular
style personal narrative Sand-burried Ruins of
Khotan, in 1903. He wrote this introduction in July 1906 while on his
way back to Khotan during his second expedition. Therefor it also contains
Stein's comments based on further exploration. I consider it amazing that all
during this and the subsequent explorations into desolate mountains and deserts
Stein remained in contact with India and England via post carried by 'dak'
runners across this terrain. Thus he is able to comment, while exploring
glaciers at 15-17,000 feet elevation, when he takes a break for a day to work
on the proofs of an edition sent to him from London and then send them back
directly by postal courier. .
Table of Contents - pgs v - xv
Addenda and Corrigenda - pgs xv - xvi
List of Illustrations, - pgs xx - xxi
List of Abbreviations Titles (bibliography) - pgs xxii - xxiv
Chapter I - From Kashmir to the Pamirs - pgs 1 -21
Section I - The Gilgit Road and Kisanganga Valley - pg 1
Section II - Chinese Historical Relations with Gilgit - pg 4
Section III - The Chinese Occupation of Gilgit and Route to Kashmir - pg 8
Section IV - Ancient Remains in Gilgit and Hunza - pg 17
Chapter II - Sarikol and the Route to Kashgar - pgs 22 - 46
Section I - The Geographical Position and Ethnography of Sarikol - pg 22
Section II - Early Chinese Accounts of Sarikol - pg 27
Section III - Historical Sites of Sarikol - pg 33
Section VI - From Sarikol to Kashgar - pg 40
Chapter III - Historical Notes of Kashgar - pgs 47 - 72
Section I - The Old Names of Kashgar - pg 47
Section II - Kashgar During the Han epoch - 52
Section III - Eastern Turkestan Under the Ta'ngs - 57
Section IV - Notices of Kashgar During the T'ang Period - 65
Chapter IV - The Ancient Remains of Kashgar and the Oases of Yarkand and
Karghalik - pgs 73- 93
Section I - The Stupas of Kurgahn-Tim and Kizol-Debe - pg 73
Section II - The Ruins near Khan-ui - pg 79
Section III - The oasis and City of Yarkand - pg 86
Section IV - Khargalik in Chinese Records - p 89
Chapter V - The Route from Karghalik to Khotan: Its Ancient Topography and
Remains - pgs 94 - 122
Section I - By Desert Edge to Khotan - pg 94
Section II - The Oasis of Guma - pg 99
Section III - The Tati of Kakshal - pg 103
Section IV - The Ancient Remains at Moji - pg 110
Section V - From Moji to Khotan Oasis - pg 115
Chapter VI - The Khotan Oasis: its Geography and People - pgs 123 - 150
Section I - The Oasis in its Geographical Features - pg 123
Section II - Agriculture and Industries In Khotan - pg 130
Section III - The Population of Khotan: its Distribution and Character - pg 136
Section IV - The Population of Khotan: its Physical Characteristics and Racial
Origin - pg 143
Chapter VII - Historical Notices of Khotan - pgs 151 - 184
Section I - The Early Records and Names of Khotan - pg 151
Section II - The Legendary Traditions of Khotan - pg 156
Section III - Khotan in Chinese Records, From Han to Sui Dynasty - pg 166
Section IV - Khotan during the T'ang Period - pg 172
Section V - Later Chinese records of Khotan - pg 177
Chapter VIII - Ancient Sites of the Khotan Oasis - pgs 185 - 235
Section I - The Hill of Gosrnga - pg 185
Section II - The Culture-strata of Yotkan - pg 190
Section III - The Site of the Ancient Capital - pg 199
Section IV - Antiques acquired from Yoktan and Khotan - pg 206
Section V - Buddhist Sites Described by Hsuan-tsang - pg 223
Chapter IX - The Ruins of Dandan-Uiliq - pgs 236 - 303
Section I - The Desert March to the Site - pg 236
Section II - First Excavation of Buddhist Shrines - pg 242
Section III - Art Relics of Site Dii - pg 249
Section IV - First Finds of Ancient Manuscripts - pg 256
Section V - Discovery of Dated Documents - pg 264
Section VI - Records of the Hu-kuo Convent - pg 273
Section VII - Other Ruins of Dandan-Uiliq and General Observations on Site - pg
Section VIII - List of Objects excavated or found at Dandan-Uiliq - pg 288
Chapter X - From Dandan-Uiliq to the Niya River - pgs 304 - 315
Section I - The Rawak Site - pg 304
Section II - A Judeo-Persian Document - pg 306
Section III - Keriya, Niya, and Iman Ja'far Sadiq - pg 309
Chapter XI - The Ancient Site Beyond the Niya River - pgs 316 - 416
Section I - The Ruin Ni and the First Finds of Inscribed Tablets - pg 316
Section II - Excavation of Ancient Residences, Nii, Niii, Niv - pg 328
Section III - Discoveries in an Ancient Rubbish Heap Nxv - pg 338
Section IV - Ancient Documents on Wood and Leather - pg 344
Section V - Chinese Documents from Nxv and the Writing on Wood - pg 358
Section VI - Decipherment of Ancient Documents Kharosthi and Chinese - 363
Section VII - Exploration of Ruins Nvi-xii and General Observations on Site -
Section VIII - List of Antiques Excavated at Niya Site - pg 385
Chapter XII - The Endere Ruins - pgs 417 - 442
Section I - The March to the Endere River - pg 417
Section II - Excavation of the Endere Temple - pg 421
Section III - The Ruined Fort and Stupa of the Endere Site - pg 430
Section IV - The List of Antiques from the Endere Ruins - pg 438
Chapter XIII - Khara-dong and the Search for Hsuan-tsang 's P'i-mo - pgs 443 -
Section I - Expedition to the Kara-dong Ruins - pg 443
Section II - Hsuan-tsang's Notice of P'i-mo and Marco Polo's Pein - pg 452
Section III - The Sites Uzun-Tati and Ulugh-Ziarat - pg 457
Section IV - The Tuga-dong Mounds and the Keriya- Khotan Route - pg 465
Chapter XIV - The Ruins of Ak-sipil and Rawak - pgs 470 - 506
Section I - Hanguya Tati and the Site of Tam-Oghil - pg 470
Section II - The Remains of Ak-sipil and Kighilik - pg 474
Section III - The Rawak Stupa - pg 482
Section IV - The Sculptures of the Rawak Vihara - pg 488
Section V - The Date of the Rawak Remains; The Jumbe-kum Site - pg 500
Chapter XV - Departure from Khotan - pgs 507 - 520
Section I - Islam Akhun and his Forgeries - pg 507
Section II - Last Days at the Khotan Oasis - pg 514
Section III - From Khotan to London - pg 517
Appendix A - Chinese Documents From the Sites of Dandan-Uiliq, Niya and Endere
- pgs 521 - 547
Appendix B - Tibetan Manuscripts Sgraffiti Discovered at Endere - pgs 548 - 569
Appendix C - The Judeo-Persian Document From Dandan-Uiliq - pgs 570 - 574
Appendix D - Inventory List of Coins found or Purchased - pgs 575 - 580
Appendix E - Extracts from Tibetan Accounts of Khotan - pgs 581 - 585
Appendix F - Notes on Specimens of Ancient Stucco from Khotan Sites - pgs 586 -
Appendix G - Notes on Sand and Loess Specimens from the Region of Khotan - pgs
588 - 590
Index of Objects found, purchased, etc - pgs 591 - 596
Plates Described or Referred to in text - pgs 597 - 598
General Index - pgs 599 - 621
Chapter I - From Kashmir to the Pamirs
Section I - The Gilgit Road and Kisanganga Valley
Stein begins with an explanation of his long-term desire to explore Turkestan
and his choice of the Route through Gilgit as the shortest way to Kashgar. He
always had in mind accomplishing many tasks simultaneously including -
archeology, topographic surveying, geographical study, ethnology, linguistics
and more. He discusses the geography of Kashmir and the route into Central Asia
in terms of the historical trade routes. He mentions the Tragbal, Razdiangan,
and Dudhhuk Passes and the Dard occupation of the region. During his several
expeditions he was much interested in the Dards, an ethnic group that occupied
the remote north-western valleys of India toward Tibet and Afghanistn. He
refers to Sanskrit documents. He notes that the Chinese pilgrim, Wu-k'ung,
visited Kashmir from Gandhara from 759 - 763 AD. and prepared a topographic
account that Stein has proved fully accurate.
There were three roads out of Kashmir, east, southwest and north.
Section II - Chinese Historical Relations with Gilgit
Stein turns to Chinese records - The Official Annals of the T'ang Dynasty.
After the destruction of the empire of the Western Turks - 658-659 AD The
Chinese gained control not only over the whole Tarim Basin but further into the
Oxus River valley and southwestward across the mountains into Kashmir. But the
Tibetans increased their power and occupied Kashgar and the Tarim Basin from
670 to 692 AD. Then the Arabs under command of Quyatba ibn Muslim in 705-715
were victorious and expanded eastward along the Oxus River and into Sogdiana.
The Chinese drove the Tibetans out of the Tarim Basin but the Tibetans then
sought alliance with the Arabs across the Pamir Mountains. Chinese Emperor
Hsuan-tsung (713-755) developed diplomatic and military campaigns in which
Gilgit played a strategic role. Gilgit was central to communications between
the Upper Indus via Yasin and the Baroghil Pass to the Central Pamirs and Oxus
River valley. The Chinese strategic policy was to keep the Tibetans from
reaching the Arabs. For this the Chinese wanted to keep Udyana (Swat valley)
away from the Tibetans.
At the time of Hsuan-tsang's visit around 631AD the frontier of Udyana extended
northeast as far as Darel, near Chilas.. Thus the Chinese placed great
strategic importance on Gilgit. In 722 the Chinese sent a small army of 4000
troops from Kashgar to aid Gilgit against the Tibetans. Another campaign took
place in 737. But later the Tibetans succeeded in gaining control over the
small 'kingdoms' in and around Gilgit.
Section III - The Chinese Occupation of Gilgit and the Route to
The first three Chinese expeditions to regain Gilgit were failures. Then came a
fourth expedition in 747 led by General Kao Hsien-chih. General Kao Hsien-chih
was specially appointed by Emperor Hsuan-tsang with a force of 10,000 cavalry
and infantry. They started from An-hsi (Kucha) and reached Kashgar in 35 days.
They reached Tash kurghan in Sarikol in another 20 days. In another 40 days
they crossed the Pamirs. Then they turned back east going up the Oxus River
valley through the Wakan corridor to the Tibetan fortress called Lien-yun,
which is identified now with the village Sarhad on the direct route over the
Baroghil Pass and toward Gilgit and Chitral (This map
shows Chitral but the trace of Stein's route on this one is for his third
expedition). The Tibetans had a 1,000 man garrison in Kien-yun and the river
was in flood. The Chinese crossed the river and bypassed the fort to engage a
Tibetan army of 8-9000 men in the hills. The Chinese gained a great victory.
general left 3,000 men to guard the fort and led his main body over the
Baroghil (12,460 feet elevation) and down into the narrow valley to the Mastji
River and then over the Darkhot Pass ( 15,200 feet) to the Yasin River and into Gilgit.
matches all the Chinese names with the modern names of the various places. The
Chinese subdued the Yasin valley and broke the key bridge over which the
Tibetan relief army must cross. The general then returned back the way he came.
But he had to return in 750 to restore order. However in 751 Kao Hsien-chih was
soundly defeated by the Arabs who were over running all of Sogdiana. This
forced the Chinese to abandon Gilgit and all western - southwestern areas.
Stein discusses the logistic problems of the Chinese in maintaining a garrison
in Gilgit and notes that up to the building of a modern highway there from
Kashmir the same problems have existed to the present.
Section IV - Ancient Remains in Gilgit and Hunza
Stein writes that the absence of written records make
reconstruction of the history of Gilgit and Hunza very difficult.
passed through the area too rapidly to conduct local archeological study. He
found a few Buddhist ruins including a large rock-carved relief near Gilgit
compares this representation with statues of Buddha in Dandan-uiliq. Stein then
describes his view of the Hunza valley through which he traveled to the
Taghdumbash Pamir. The
valley is so isolated by high mountain ranges that it has escaped history. The
Burisheski language spoken there has no relation to any of the other languages
in NW India or adjacent regions. He did find one Buddhist stupa.
Chapter II - Sarikol and the Route to Kashgar
Section I - The Geographical Position and Ethnography of
Stein records his passage over the Kilkut Pass (15,800 feet)
theTaghdumbash Pamir on 29 June. This is close to the location where the Indus, Oxus and Tarim
rivers all have their sources. He viewed the area from Kushbel Peak and
established a survey station. This is also the meeting place of India,
Afghnistan, Russia and China. Although the other Pamir ranges are in the Oxus
river watershed, the Taghdumbash Pamir's streams flow eastward into the Tarim
basin by Tash-kurghan in the Sarikol mountain district.
Tash-kurghan is located where all the routes east to west
between the Tarim and Oxus meet in a broad valley.
discusses the geographical position and ethnography of Sarikol. Sarikol could
support a larger agricultural population but it has been subjected over many
years to attacks by warlike tribes hunting for slaves. The local population are
Tajiks plus visiting nomad Kirghiz. They speak an Iranian dialect.
Section II - Early Chinese Accounts of Sarikol
Stein again reverts to Chinese archival records to discuss medieval Chinese
views of Sarikol. His favorite pilgrim, Hsuan-tsang, passed through Sarikol in
summer of 642 AD on his return trip from India and duly recorded his
observations. (On his route to India Hsuan-tsang crossed the Altai to Samarkand
and then went south into Afghanistan before turing east into India) So did
several well known pilgrims. The area also appears in the T'ang Dynasty annals.
Stein describes all this in great detail. He traces Hsuan-tsang's route by
several possible passes leading to Sarikol in the process of which he gives us
considerable information about all the passes (their heights) and the glaciers
and river gorges in the Great and Little Pamirs. He notes that the Wakhjir Pass
(16,200) feet has
always been a main part of the merchant caravan's route between Khotan and
Section III - Historical Sites of Sarikol
Stein turns to description of the historical sites in Sarikol (called
Chien-p'an-t'o in Chinese records), once again relying on Hsuan-tsang's
reports. Tash-kurghan was the ancient capital and now has a modern
Chinese fortress (occupied in 1892) on a long plateau next to the Taghdumbash
River. This river is a tributary of the Yarkand River to the east. The fort is
an irregular quadrangle with circumference of about a mile.
walls are of sun-dried brick but the ancient earlier walls include stone. It
suffered major damage in an earthquake in 1895. The town also had walls now
Section IV - From Sarikol to Kashgar
Stein resumes his travel - from Sarikol to Kashgar. Naturally Stein would not
take the standard, easier route via the Chichiklik Pass, but wanted to climb
the imposing mountain, Muztagh-Ata. This required him to traverse narrow mountain valleys and climb
over high passes on a longer route. This passed Muztagh-Ata ( 24,321 feet)
he tried to climb (he managed up to 20,000 feet before being blocked) and then
passed through the Gez defile, to Tashmalik and then to Kashgar. He believes that Marco Polo followed mostly on this route. But
he believes Hsuan-tsang used the route over the Chichiklik Pass and along the
foothills north to Kashgar. This map shows Stein's route
through Sarikol during the first expedition in which he went west of Muzagh-ata
to climb the north-west side.
It shows the Kilkut Pass that Stein used in this trek and the Wakhjir pass he
used on the second trek.
Chapter III - Historical Notices of Kashgar
Section I - The Old Names of Kashgar
Stein reached Kashgar on 29 July. This section is his digression about the
city, starting with a discussion of its various names over the centuries. Stein
notes that considering the occupation and importance of this location in
ancient times, there is scant archeological evidence from which he can gain an
understanding of the city. (Actually at that time the city still had its
medieval fortifications but Stein didn't want to appear too nosy in a Chinese
city.) In this section he focuses on the various names ascribed to the place
and comments on the variety of ideas expressed by scholars about connections
with various possible sources.
Section II - Kashgar during the Han Epoch
In this section Stein turns to the written records of the Han Dynasty. He notes
that the earliest of these relates to the Chinese expansion into the Tarim
under the Emperor Wu Ti (140 - 87 BC). This took place after the envoy, Chang
Ch'ien, (139-127 BC) returned from his remarkable journey clear to the Oxus and
reported on the commercial opportunities that could be developed by trade
across the Tarim basin. He described the northern route, along the foothills of
the T'ien Shan but first through the narrow corridor west of Sha'chou. Stein
notes that this route, still the most frequently used ,is from Sha-chou to
Hami, Turfan, Kara- shahr, Kucha, Aksu, to Kashgar. This route then described
as passing Su-le and then over the Ts'ung-ling Mountains to Ta-wan. The area
named now Sogdiana.
The Chinese government suffered decline during the reign of the usurper Wang
Mang (9-23 AD) and lost control of Central Asia. Under Emperor Mig Ti, the
second Later Han emperor (58-75 AD) Chinese power expanded again. By then Sule
and other small domains in the western Tarim had been brought under control by
the King of Khotan. In 70 AD general Pan Ch'ao conquered Khotan and by 76 AD
the whole of the Tarim Basin except modern area of Kara-shar and Kucha. We do
not know if the route taken by Pan Ch'ao in 95AD went through Kashgar. Kao
Hsien-chih did pass through Khotan in 747AD.
Pan Ch'ao's campaign was a great Chinese victory and expansion of power into
the west. This was important for the development of the famous trade route with
the Romans. This led to the knowledge of western China shown by Marinus of Tyre
and then preserved by Ptolemy. Marinus described the land of the Seres from
whence came silk. Stein provides the detail of Ptolemy's description of the
route. He credits Sir Heny Yule and Sir H. Rawlinson with identifying the
places names. He identifies Ptolemy's Stone Tower with the then current Russian
customs station at Irkeshtam. This route is the most direct between Kashgar and
ancient Baktria. From the Ancient Han annalys we learn that in 107-113 AD
An-kuio of Su'le sent hostage to the ruler of the Great Yueh-chih, who ruled
over Baktria and eastern Afghanistan and then to Gandahara. It was during this
period that Buddhism spread to Kashgar.
Section III - Eastern Turkestan under the T'angs
Stein shifts his focus to the reign of the T'angs. He continues, noting that
the loss of Chinese control under Emperor An Ti (107-125 AD) resulted in a lack
also of Chinese records of the Kashgar region. During the following 500 years
the Uigurs rose to power around Turfan and Hami while Kashgar was dominated by
the Yueh-chih. Likewise, during the periods of the last Han Emperor Hsien Ti
(190-220) and the Three Kingdoms (221-265) contact with Kashgar and western
Tarim basin was lost. Emperor Wu Ti (265-290) may have attempted to regain
control. But the Chinese remained to weak until the T'ang emperors (619 AD).
During 563-367 the empire of the Hephthalites was conquered by the Western
Turks - Tu'chueh - under Khakan Istami. With the T'angs Chinese power grew
again. They defeated the Northern Turks in 630 and then in 640 sent an imperial
Chinese army across the desert to Turfan. The Chinese set up a protectorate
centered at An-hsi. Chinese campaigns continued until by 658 they succeeded in
control over the4 entire Tarim basin and across the mountains as far as Kabul
and to Persia, though client kingdoms. In 658 the control center was moved from
An-hsi to Kucha. But Chinese control was still maintained through local rulers
who offered submission to the emperor. For instance there was an embassy from
Su-le - the king of Kashgar - in 635 and another in 639 offering submission.
Other embassies were recorded from Kara-shahr, Karghalik, Turfan, Kucha,
Khotan, and even Sarikol.
But in 662 there was a rebellion of the Western Turks against which the Chinese
sent an army but they ran into Tibetans who soundly defeated them. The Tibetans
had conquered the Kuku-Nor region in 663 became serious rivals of the Chinese
in Central Asia. In 665 they attacked Khotan which was relieved by the Chinese.
In 670 the Chinese suffered a major defeat by the Tibetans north of Kuku-Nor.
The Tibetans went on to capture Kashgar in 676-78 and held the whole region
until 692. That year the Chinese general Wang Hsioa-chieh regained control over
An-hsi and Kucha with a garrison of 30,000 men. For the next 50 years the
Chinese continued to attempt control over all the Tarim to west and south-west.
But now they faced also the Arabs to the west and the Tibetans to the south.
The struggle continued during the reign of Emperor Hsuan-tsung (713-762). Then
Chinese policy became defensive. For one thing they faced renewed attack from
the Northern Turks, and for another there was internal governmental weakness.
Between 705 and 715 the Arab armies of Qutayba iben Muslim swept over Sogdiana
and the Oxus region and to Farghana. Arab and Chinese conflict resulted in
Farghana. Another rebellion of the Western Turkish tribe, Turgash, in 717
brought Chinese conflict with both Arabs and Tibetans who even besieged Turan
and Ak-su. At t he same time the Tibetans expanded control into the southern
border of the Tarim such as at Endere. Nevertheless Emperor Hsuan-tsung was
able to regain much control and even expand diplomatic and military campaigns
westward over the mountains. The threat of the Arab (Muslim) invasion actually
caused local rulers Kashmir to the Caspian Sea to seek Chinese protection
(719-751). A key Chinese strategic policy was to block the Tibetans from
joining the Arabs to their west. As noted in the chapter on Gilgit, the Tibetan
route west lay through Gilgit and Yasin to the upper oxus River. In 722 the
commander at Kashgar led 4,000 troops to rescue the king of Little P'o-lu from
the Tibetans. Kao Hsien-chih in 747 again pushed the Tibetans out of Little
P'o-lu. Kao Hsien-chih again was successful in 750 after crossing the Hindu
Kush. But in 751 he interfered in Tashkend and executed the ruler. This brought
about an uprising in which the Arabs were called in. Kao Hsien-chih suffered a
huge defeat by the Arabs in 751 near Talis (Auliata) from which the Chinese
The Chinese were also suffering defeat in the south, in Yun-nan and having
internal problems. Emperors Hsuan-tsung and Su-tsung could not spare troops for
western campaigns. Western troops even helped regain the capital at Ch'ang'an.
But the Tibetans lost no time to take advantage. In 758-759 they took control
of Kan-su and western Shan-si. This effectively ended Chinese communication
with the Tarim at An-hsi. Even so, as the records found by Stein show, the
local Chinese governors in some of the Tarim towns managed to retain local
control for some time. The Tibetans maintained control over all or most of the
Tarim until the years 860-873 when they were replaced by the Uigurs. They in
turn were replaced by Turks who in following centuries converted to Islam.
Section IV - Notices of Kashgar during the T'ang Period
Having described the general history of the Tarim, Stein wants to focus in more
detail on T'ang accounts of Kashgar. There follows a series of specific
incidents with their dates that record a variety of events: some are from T'ang
archives and some from memoirs of passing Buddhist monks. Stein comments that
no only Buddhism profited in its spread into China but Zoroastrian and
Nestorian Christianity did also..
Chapter IV - The Ancient Remains of Kashgar and the Oases of
Yarkand and Karghalik
Section I - The Stupas of Kurghan-Tim and Kizil-Debe
Stein took some time during his stay at Kashgar to visit any 'ancient' remains
in the vicinity that came to his attention. Two of these were the stupas at
Kizil-debe. Both these are in such ruined condition as to make detailed
measurements of their original size inconclusive. Stein several times mentions
the city wall of Kashgar, but does not describe or photograph it. Unfortunately
now the Chinese are leveling even what remains of the old city.
Section II - The Ruins near Khan-ui
Here Stein discusses his visit to another ancient site, Khan-ui, about 20 miles
from Kashgar. He
visited the place on 4 September. Nearby was the shrine, Bibi Khanum the tomb
of the daughter of Satok Beghra Khan. He found another decayed stupa nearby.
There were yet more expansive areas in which remains of pottery and ancient
debris lay on the surface, but nothing of major interest. The ruin of a place
called Mauri-Tim stood
out with another stupa the remains of which were fully 38 feet high and on a
plateau 30-40 feet above the surrounding area.
Stein drew a plan and section of the stupa. The entire stupa originally was
coated with a hard white plaster. All in all the stupa was in remarkable
condition. But there was also clear evidence that the stupa had been dug into
in search of 'treasure'. The interior contained a shaft which Stein presumed
was designed to hold a relic. Here is looks ahead and notes that this design
was similar to that of the stupas he found later at Niya, Endere and Rawak and
also in India. Near the stupa was another ruin which Stein recognized had
originally contained cells in which images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas were
displayed. There were also other ruins and scattered artifacts on the ground.
Section III - The Oasis and City of Yarkand
Stein finally departed Kashgar for Yarkand on 11 September.
always he stayed off the normal commercial caravan route in order to explore in
the desert. This route led him to the oasis at Kizil. Along the way he was told
about other ancient sites that were too far away to visit. But he did make it
to Ordam-Padshah, a desolate shrine in the desert. This
place commemorated (at least the legend) of the death of Sultan Arslan Boghra
Khan who was attacked there by surprise. (This map
shows Stein's route with ruins he visited highlighted)
He continues with description of Yarkand. He writes that during the Mongol era the town was named
Yeh-li-ch'ien, or Yar-erh - k'an. Marco Polo also mentioned the place as
'Province of Yarcan', then inhabited by Nestorian and Jacobite Christians.
Stein continues with discussion of various mentions of Yarkand in ancient or
medieval Chinese documents. But he
did not stay long. He
does note that the town is very favorably situated at the junction of trade
routes south and west into India and Iran with those north to Kashgar and on to
the northern edge of the desert.
Section IV - Karghalik in Chinese Records
Stein reverts to his guide, Hsuan-tsang, whose journals he follows closely. The
monk called the town Che-chu-chia. He also references T'ang Annals and journals
of Fa-hsien and Sung Yun. The monk evidently visited Karghalik between Kashgar and Khotan.
is the largest oasis watered by the flow of streams off the mountains,
especially the Tiznaf river that flow into the desert or to the Yarkand River.
Stein discusses the languages - spoken and written - in use in Karghalik in
medieval times. Stein believes the population then was related to that of
Chapter V - The Route from Karghalik to Khotan: its Ancient
Topography and Remains
Section I - By the Desert Edge to Khotan
Stein then used the direct road from Karghalik to Khotan from 2 to 12 October.
This route passes to the southeast over barren terrain on the edge of the
desert. It is made useful by a series of small oases where it crosses small
streams and springs fed from the high southern mountains. Stein notes that
these oases, sustained by irrigation must be over 1000 years old, although
archeological remains are few. This is in contrast with the oases he found now
deep in desert east of Khotan. He ascribes this difference to the different
relationship of the area to its southern mountains. Here there are foothills
but east of Khotan the high mountains are much closer to the desert and this
caused a difference in water supply, east of Khotan the large rivers provide
more than do the small streams west of Khotan. Stein refers to the usual
memoirs of passing monks for historical details.
Section II - The Oasis of Guma
One day east from Karghalik Stein came to a rest house at Kosh-Langar near
which he found a ruin, a mound abut 75 feet in circumference and 30 feet high.
Continuing east he reached the largest oasis on the route, Guma, on 4 October,
where he remained on the 5th to explore. This oasis relies on the
water of the Kilan River. Here Stein began his direct investigation to
discredit the forged documents 'found' and sold by one clever Islam Akhun (to
be discussed in detail in the last chapter). At Guma Stein quizzed the local
head men and inspected the sites claimed by Islam Akhun. Stein was unable even
to purchase 'antiquities' at Guma. Stein consideres that Guma was part of the
medieval kingdom of Pe-shan, mentioned in the Han Annals as half way between
Khotan and Yarkand and directly on the south to India. Map
Section III - The Tati of Kakshal
On 6 October Stein left Guma toward Moji and Khotan. Much of the barren ground
was covered with pottery debris. Presently he came upon another ruined stupa -
Topa-Tim, some 47 feet square at base and 29.5 feet high, which he dated to the
10th century. He found more acres of potsherds on the hard ground
around Kakshal Tati.
Section IV - Ancient Remains at Moji
Kakshal Tati was the easternmost area of the Kilan River region. On 7 October
Stein halted at Moji Bazar. He was rewarded the following day by being
presented with bags of copper coins collected by local headmen. He found more
at the nearby original site, Togujai. He identified them as Muhammadan plus
some 23 Chinese coins of Emperor Su-tsung (758-760). In addition he found
worthwhile examples of pottery, glass and metal. But he found no examples of
structural remains. From Togujai Stein moved to a Muhammadan burial-ground
Section V - From Moji to the Khotan Oasis
Stein moved next to the oasis at Zanguya. He again found nondescript potsherds.
Moving on his next oasis was Pialma. He found another ruined stupa that
measured 65 feet square at base and 22 feet high. Finally, on 10 October Stein
reached the eastern edge of the Khotan oasis at another shrine, Kaptar-Mazar.
This is the famous place of the 'sacred pigeons' and also the 'sacred rats'.
recounts the several legends commonly told here. In General they relate to the
first conquest of the area by Muhammadans from the Buddhist residents.
Chapter VI - The Khotan Oasis: Its Geography and People
Section I - The Oasis in its Geographical Features
Khotan has from ancient times been the largest and most important territory on
the south side of the Tarim. It is frequently mentioned in Chinese Annals. As
usual Stein begins with a lesson about the geographical features and this
history but he has reserved much of this information for inclusion in Ruins
of Khotan. Stein notes that M. Grenard and Sven Hedin spent long periods
in Khotan and have already described it in detail. Map
He writes that Khotan owes its prominence to its geographic position. The
cultivated area here is 40 miles long and has ample irrigation from the
Yurung-kash and Kara-kash rivers which flow from the high Kun-lun mountains.
And these two rivers between them have an immense watershed. (Stein was to
explore and map this area during his second expedition). During this first
effort Stein was only able to approach the headwaters by going south from
Khotan until he was blocked by impassable gorges. The mountain range reaches
23,000 feet elevation with permanent glaciers. The huge volume of water
released by summer sunlight enables the two rivers when they join north of
Khotan to form the only river that is able to flow from the south clear across
the Taklamakan desert to the Tarim River on the north side (some 300 miles).
Before joining to the north, that is from well south of Khotan to its environs
the two rivers form many channels to which are added canals thus enabling the
cultivation of a wide area. Nevertheless much of the flood water that flows
from June to August is lost. But the cultivated area extends from 8 to 20 miles
in width west to east. At Stein's visit the chief restriction on irrigation and
cultivation was not water but lack of manpower. The cultivated area is also
limited by the nearby and encroaching high sand dunes.
The mountains south of Khotan are exceptionally barren. And they are rugged
with sharp ridges and deep gorges. They do not offer much grazing ground for
sheep or yaks.
Section II - Agriculture and Industries in Khotan
Stein turns to examination of the agricultural and industrial economy of Khotan
oasis. The fertile soil enables large crops of wheat, millet, rice, oats and
Indian corn (which can produce a second crop). There is also much harvest of
lucerne, cotton, mulberry trees and fruit trees (apricot, peach, olive, apple,
plus almonds, walnuts, melons and figs),. Khotan also has grapes (rasins).
Irrigation water is distributed to the villages according to ancient
established detailed custom. The political administration of the entire area is
organized according to the irrigation scheme. Stein describes this organization
in detail and provides a table depicting the population of each canton.
Khotan, Stein notes, is also the major industrial center of Eastern Turkestan.
First of all is mining of jade (white and green). Trade in jade was very
important due to its precious value to the Chinese and to its relative ease of
transport over long distance. Next in importance was silk of which Khotan was
the main supplier. Khotan's cotton crop enables the manufacture of cotton
goods. Next comes wool from the large flocks which is raw material for carpets
and felt. All these are family, home industries. Then comes paper from the bark
of the mulberry trees which grow almost exclusively around Khotan. Stein notes
that he later found paper manuscripts in several locations dating from mid
8th century. Next, Stein mentions ceramic art that was much better
long ago. By 1900 glass making had disappeared. Metal work proceeds in brass
and copper and also gold and silver.
Section III - The Population of Khotan: Its Distribution and
Stein next examines the population mainly as to culture. Stein includes the
population estimates of various European visitors and gives his own at about
220,000. Khotan is divided into three population centers none of which equal
Kashgar or Yarkand, but together with the populations of the settled areas
between and around them they become significant. Khotan's location with
mountains to south and desert to north and east and west reduced the migration
there of significant ethnic groups. Thus most large scale migration recorded in
historical times moved along the T'ien shan and northern areas beyond the Tarim
basin. Only the conquest from the west by Satok Boghra Khan could have brought
significant ethnic change. Up until then travelers such as Hsuan-tsang noted
the population was refined Buddhist in culture. The Buddhists of Khotan
resisted the conversion to Islam more strenuously than inhabitants of other
parts of the Tarim, but once converted the basic culture has remained much the
same - that is easy-going, indolent, somewhat decadent and good-natured. They
are fond of feast and entertainments, music, singing and dancing. Many men are
adventurous and seek buried treasure rumored to abound all around. There is
very little of crimes of violence.
Section IV - The Population of Khotan: Its Physical
Characteristics and Racial Origin
Now comes ethnography and racial study. In his time ethnic questions were of
great interest and studies of racial makeup of populations were in vogue. Stein
was always eager to conduct anthropometrical studies on the local populations
where ever he went. He writes that his data from Khotan and Keriya is limited
and there is no similar information from the Chinese Annals. Thus he notes his
estimates are based on his own physical measurements of a limited number of
subjects. He includes photos of several groups as illustrations. He turned his
data over to an expert, Mr T. A. Joyce, whose subsequent analytical paper Stein
quotes at length. One conclusion is that the people do not display Mongolian
characteristics but rather those of the Galchas, that is Alpine Turks, a group
largely resident in the high valleys between the Hindukush and the Altai and
who speak an eastern Iranian dialect. These include the Wakhis and Sarikolis
who Stein already encountered. Some differences, Joyce, attributes to slight
admixture of Turki and Tibetan blood. Stein refers again to the T'ang Archives
in which it was noted that the peoples of Sarikol and Khotan have t he same
appearance. Furthermore, Stein notes, the documents he subsequently uncovered
at Dandan-Uiliq were written in Brahmi characters of the 8th century
in an Indo-Iranian dialect similar to the Galach dialect of the Pamir region.
Further, the admixture of Turki blood must have occurred after the Mohammedan
conquest and conversion of the Buddhists. Next, Stein expounds at length on the
peoples of Tibet and potential for some influence from that quarter on the
population of Khotan.
Chapter VII - Historical Notices of Khotan
Section I - The Early Records and Names of Khotan
In this section Stein focuses on the historical record and the names ascribed
to Khotan. For this effort he relies on Chinese official annals and the reports
of Chinese travelers plus some references in Tibetan documents. He notes that
the relations between China and Khotan extended over 1000 years prior to the
Moslem conquest. He acknowledges the work of Mr A. Remusat who published back
in 1820 a history of Khotan culled from translation of all Chinese notes on the
topic to be found in the Pien I tien. Stein remarks on a difficulty
that arises from the fact that rulers of Khotan appear in Chinese records with
Chinese names while in Tibetan records with Indian names. He writes that the
very name, Khotan, is connected with ancient legends. His Buddhist monk -
mentor (patron saint) hsuan-tsang naturally mentions Khotan under the name
Ch'u-sa-tan-na or Che-chu-chia which is a rendition ofthe Sanskrit Kustana -
and both mean 'breast of the earth'. The official Chinese records, however, use
the name, Yu-t'ien or Yu-tun. Stein continues for several pages about the name
Section II - The Legendary Traditions of Khotan
Then he turns to legendary traditions about Khotan. He writes that Khotan first
entered official Chinese records during the reign of Emperor Wu ti (140 - 87
BC). The legendary origins of Khotan are much older and he repeats several. One
ascribes the foundation to the Indian god Vaisravana or Kubera, the Hindu god
of wealth and of demons, who is also in Buddhist mythology. There he is
worshiped as one of the Lokapals, ruler of the North. The legendary foundation
of Khotan specifies colonies from both northwest India and China. This
discussion continues for many pages.
Section III - Khotan in Chinese Records, from the Han to the
Stein turns again to Chinese records, mentioning again those of the Emperor
Wu-ti. These begin with mention of the first embassy from Yu-t'ien to Wu-ti's
court from which the kings of Khotan received tokens of investiture from the
Chinese emperor on during following centuries. The population then was given as
3,300 families or 19,300 people including 2,400 soldiers. Later, during the
reign of Emperor Kuang-wu ti (25-57 AD) the King u-lin of Khotan became a
subject of the powerful king of So-ch'e (that is of Yarkand). Stein continues
with extracts from the Han Annals in which the relative power of Khotan and
such neighbors as Yarkand and Kashgar waxes and wains. It was in 73 AD that
Chinese general Pan Ch'ao launched his major offensive into the Tarim. In
following years Chinese power also waxed and wained throughout the Tarim Basin.
Section IV - Khotan during the T'ang Period
Stein moves on to the T'ang Dynasty records. The second T'ang emperor, T'ai
tsung, (627-650) reasserted Chinese power in Eastern Turkistan. Khotan then was
one of the 'four garrisons' from 648 or 649 (including Kucha, Kashgar and
Tokmak). The records continue until around 790 AD.
Section V - Later Chinese Records of Khotan
Khotan continued to be noticed in later Chinese documents after a break of 150
years or so. During this period first the Tibetans and then the Uigurs took
control of parts of the Tarim Basin. However, the Chinese records mention an
embassy from Khotan in 938 seeking assistance against the Tibetans. The Chinese
in response sent a mission to Khotan. Another embassy from Khotan arrived in
942 and others in 966,n 969, 971. Khotan was then conquered by the Moslem Turks
by 1006. Stein continues with the scattered mentions of Khotan. For instance
Marco Polo passed through between 1271-1275 at which time Khotan was on a
flourishing caravan route.
Chapter VIII - Ancient Sites of the Khotan Oasis
Section I - The hill of Gosringa
Stein resumes his archeological efforts to identify the ancient sites around
Khotan from physical evidence. But again, he relies on Hsuan-tsang for clues to
locations. He started with a visit to Kohmari hill above the Kara-kash river SW
of Khotan. By 11 November Stein reached Ukat at the entrance to the Kara-kash
gorge. The following day he went to Kohmari hill.
found the location exactly as Hsuan-tsang had described it and provides photos
for illustrations in the text. There is a Ziarat or Mazar (shrine) still there, but now Islamic
rather than Buddhist of course. Stein paid a fee to explore inside the sacred
Section II - The Culture-strata of Yotkan
Stein refers to accounts of other recent European travelers such as M. Grenard,
who first learned that the village, Yoktan, was the source now of numerous
antiques entering the market. He recognized that this must lie over the remains
of ancient Khotan. Stein
never content with second hand acquisition of ancient artifacts promptly went
to Yoktan on 15 October and began purchase of whatever was now available.
returned to Yoktan on 25 November to conduct his own exploration. He made a
detailed survey including a map. He discovered that a deep ravine in the
village showed multiple layers of archeological interest - clearly remains from
former occupation. The locals indicated that the ravine itself began in the
1860's with construction of an irrigation canal that turned into a channel
which uncovered a part of the underlying remains. But when some residents found
bits of gold the result then was annual digging efforts precisely with the
object of finding salable artifacts, especially of course gold and this greatly
expanded the excavation area. The work was an annual affair during the period, July to
September, in which sufficient flood water was available to wash the dirt. The
proceeds if any were shared by the land owners and the digger teams. Since as
is so often the case legal ownership of all gold found in the ground is the
Chinese government, naturally what is found is usually kept secret. Stein notes
that the original capital at the Yoktan site was occupied by a rich city for
centuries, so it is understandable that much valuable material should be found
eventually. The entire area of the ancient city now is buried under many feet
of soil that has accumulated during the centuries of irrigated agriculture.
Section III - The Site of the Ancient Capital
Stein turns to the archeological remains and what they may reveal. His map
provides potential details about the extent of the town. Stein again turns to
descriptions of the ancient capital in Chinese official annals and the memoir
of his favorite monk. The location of Yoktan corresponds to its description in
the Annals. Important for dating the former capital were the many coins that
Stein purchased. They included Chinese coins with Indian inscriptions dated
from after 73 AD. But there were earlier coins as well including one from near
1 AD. Stein describes many more coins with various dates. T'ang era coins
dating as late as 779 were found as well. And, after a break in dates, coins
from the 11th century were numerous. But the coins provide no
evidence related to the cause for the abandonment of the city.
Section IV - Antiques acquired from Yotkan and in Khotan
This section describes other antiques Stein found or bought in either Yoktan or
Khotan and which he displays in extensive illustrations.
Typically these are mostly ceramic pottery and terra cotta
also provides extensive text descriptions. Many are Buddhist and show the
Graeco-Buddhist artistic style of Gandhara. But there also are Roman items.
follow 12 pages of detailed descriptions of each item.
Section V - Buddhist Sites described by Hsuan-tsang
Stein devotes this section to descriptions made by Hsuan-tsang of individual
Buddhist places around Khotan. The first of these was a convent with stupa west
of the capital. Stein searched for it on 28 November.
place called Somiya he found, as usual, a Mohammedan Mazar and cemetery with
shrine located at the site taken over from a Buddhist shrine of forgotten age
but avoided by the locals for superstitious reasons. He continued on to locate
another site mentioned by Hsuan-tsang - a Buddhist convent called Sangharama
southwest of the capital and now occupied by a Ziarat, cemetery and tomb of a
Mohammedan worthy. Stein returned to Khotan on 29 November and visited more
similar locations. Stein recounts the legends and stories related to these.
Chapter IX - The Ruins of Dandan-Uiliq
Section I - The Desert March to the Site
Stein engaged the local Ak-sakal of Afghan traders ,one Badruddin Khan, to send
parties of 'treasure seekers' into the desert to locate potential ancient sites
worth excavating. When
Stein returned to Khotan in November the results were offered. The most
promising result was offered by Turdi Khwaja, a resident of Tawakkel and a
professional explorer with long experience in the desert, who already had
visited such places. Turdi turned out to be one of Stein's best assistants in these
explorations. He advised a visit to Dandan-uliq (houses of ivory).
turned out that this location had been discovered by Dr Hedin by accident in
1896 and his two guides were found. Moreover, the samples produced by Turdi
convinced the local Chinese Amban - Pan Ta'jen - of the potential of such
explorations in the desert so that adequate labor was made available. Stein
spent a week after 29 November writing reports of results to date. He also had
to reorganize his baggage in order to take the minimum essential into the
desert on camels. He left Khotan on 7 December for Dandan-uliq via Tawakkel.
They crossed the Yurung-kash to Tawakkel, a recent colony in reclaimed desert.
There he hired laborers for excavation teams. Stein spent 11 December at At-bashi organizing the 30 laborers
and collecting a month's food supply. Eight camels were insufficient for the load so a dozen donkeys
were hired as well and the ponies were sent back to Khotan. They started into
the desert on 12 December. Meanwhile Stein had sent Ram Singh on another
surveying route through the mountains east of Khotan before turning north to
rejoin the party. The march to Dandan- uiliq took 5 days through empty sand
dunes. Water was found on this route by digging wells to a depth of 7 feet.
daytime temperature remained below freezing and at night reached -10 degrees.
On 18 December they reached the remains. The area containing the ruined
buildings was 1.5 miles from north to south and about a mile east to west.
immediately two Chinese copper coins of 713-741 were found. Once unloaded at
the site the camels were sent on to the Keriya Darya for rest, water and
donkeys were sent back to Tawakkel.
Section II - First Excavation of Buddhist Shrines
Stein got to work promptly on December 19th with the assistance of Turdi Khwaja
who could indicate the best specific places to excavate starting with a
Buddhist shrine. This
consisted of an inner room surrounded by an outer corridor. Both inner and
outer walls consisted of a wood frame with reed matting covered with rough clay
were covered with plaster of Paris fresco decorations of Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas. Remarkably the color of many decorations was preserved.
uniformity of many stucco items indicated that they were made in moulds. Other decorations were produced by using stencils. Stein
includes these in the illustrations. After describing both the excavation
methods and results of work at D1 he continues to DII a much better preserved
shrine. Because that building was more deeply buried in sand the
decorations on walls were better preserved. Unfortunately a huge statue of the Buddha was not so protected
which resulted in only the feet remaining.
Section III - Art Relics of Shrine D ii
Excavations on 20 and 21 December revealed another shrine containing many
artistic items which Stein describes as usual. Again,
many were small relief Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. Stein
notes the similarity of the artistic style here to that of Gandhara. One
relief, he notes, depicts two soldiers wearing coats of mail the look like
Greeks with lower armor plates in horizontal rows and upper armor resembling a
lorica with scales in vertical order exactly like armor worn by figures in the
museum at Lahore. Stein
considers that there is a representation of Kubera - Vaisravana - the most
prominent of the four Yaksa kings or Lokapalas who was worshiped at Khotan.
Vaisravana is depicted on one of the pillars. Stein continues with detailed interpretations of many items
based on Buddhist mythology.
Section IV - First Finds of Ancient Manuscripts
In addition to Buddhist art Stein found many ancient documents, among them some
of the most significant finds. On December 22 he proceeded to another ruined
building DIII expecting to find a former dwelling. This structure measured 23
feet east to west and near 20 feet north to south. In this one Stein found
Buddhist texts in Proto-Tibetan language. Other documents were in Brahmi alphabet and Eastern Iranian
language. Sanscrit documents of the 7th to 8th century
were also uncovered. Stein uncovered a kitchen complete with many utensils and
supports. He also found more shrines among the ruined buildings. He found also
painted wooden blocks. Among the representations Stein identifies Vajrapani,
Manjusri, Maitreya and Avalokiesvara.
Section V - Discovery of Dated Documents
Stein next shifted work to ruins east north east of the camp, Div and Dv. They
yielded some wood paintings and tablets and Brahmi documents. A Chinese
document was also found. It was
a private petition to recover a donkey and dated from 781 AD. It remarkably
corresponded with other documents Turdi had recovered and sold some years past.
Stein continues with discussion of many more documents. From these Stein dates
the closing of the site to shortly after 781- 790. And he believes that the
Brahmi script documents in Iranian language then date the same as the Chinese
documents, indicating that the Iranian language was still spoken there at the
end of the 8th century.
Section VI - Records from the Hu-kuo Convent
Stein recovered a significant harvest of relics from another groups of
buildings designated Dvi and Dviii. The lower part of the walls still had their
fresco decorations. He found manuscripts as well. These related to a Buddhist
Section VII - Other Ruins of Dandan-Uiliq and General
Observations on Site
This section deals with various other ruined buildings that Sten excavated. All
are described in detail. He notes in this section that Ram Singh arrived on 24
December from his extensive survey route from the east - the Keriya River
route. He records his general conclusions. He again proposes that Dandan-uiliq
was abandoned near the end of the 8th century, shortly after 790.
The documents also indicate that there was a Chinese garrison with Chinese
control at that time. Stein connects this abandonment with the major political
changes that took place in T'and China at that time. This was the period of the
Tibetan invasion and collapse of T'ang power in the Tarim. The loss of
population and effective political control would result in the desert gaining
an upper hand due to failure to maintain irrigation canals and reduced water
supply. Stein notes that Dandan is on the highest ground, the watershed between
the Keriay Darya and the Yurung-kash and that this would be the logical
location for a line of canal coming from the south. Thus the permanent
abandonment of the location centuries later is likely due to the change over
that time period in the climate and reduction of the amount of water available
at the oases due south.
Section VIII - List of Objects excavated or found at
An extensive and detailed 16-page description of the artifacts recovered at
Chapter X - From Dandan-Uiliq to the Niya River
Section I - The Rawak Site
Stein finished work at Dandan on 3 January and set out north to Rawak on the
4th. (This is not the much larger and more famous Rawak that Stein
found later.) He paid the Tawakkel workers and sent them back home.
Khwaja showed Stein the ruin which consisted of two badly ruined stupas. They
found some broken glass and stucco laying about. However the very tall sand
dunes covered whatever else may have remained of buildings. They did find a
pair of long tablets containing Kharosthi script in an Eastern Iranian dialect.
In addition they found six Chinese coins, 4 were Han Dynasty and one T'ang.
Section II - A Judaeo-Persian Document
Stein was surprised when several of the Tawakkel workers returned. Rather than
return home immediately they had continued to search at Dandan and had found a
remarkable document that they thought Stein would want. In addition to a small
stucco on which were written some Chinese characters and the other was a lump
of paper that was sensational. After the paper was opened back in London it was
determined to be a fragment of a Judaeo-Persian document. It turned out that
this is the most ancient such document,. It is a letter written by a Persian
speaking Jew relating to business affairs and was likely written around 718 AD.
Section III - Keriya, Niya, and Iman
From Dandan Stein next moved on to the Niya River and was shown another
extensive ruined village abandoned in the desert. He set out from Rawak on 6
January for the Keriya River. By evening of January 8th they reached
the frozen Keriya. After for long days they reached Keriya town.
Keriya on 12 January Stein met with the Aamban, Huang Daloi, who eagerly
assisted with obtaining more workers and supplies. He remained there for 5
days. On 18 January he set out by way of the Mazar of Iman Ja'far Sadiq for a
rumored site near Niya. He reached Niya on the 22nd. Niya
corresponds to the Ni-jang described by Hsuan-tsang. There he hired another
group of laborers and obtained supplies. Stein was excited when a local man
brought him several ancient tablets with Kharosthi writing which were claimed
to have been found at a deseerted site to the north.
He left Niya on 23 January headed north along the river for Iman Jas'far Sadiq
with 20 workers and additional camels. They reached the shrine after 3 days.
there on the course would be across desert sand. The shrine is an active site
visited by pilgrims from throughout Turkestan. It has mosques and Madrashas and
houses for the shaikhs. An
imposing tomb houses the saint who it is believed died here in battle with the
remaining infidels (Buddhists). Stein measured the temperature at 44 below
zero. At last he found the remains of buildings mostly buried in the sand.
Chapter XI - The Ancient Site Beyond the Niya River
Section I - The Ruin N i and the first Finds of Inscribed
Stein immediately headed on 28 January for the building from which his guide,
Ibrahim, claimed to have taken the two wooden tablets.
anxious as always that his finds not be disturbed before he could render
scientific archeological descriptions of their exact settings.
precaution he even had this individual carefully watched less he go ahead and
grab more tablets to offer. The building Stein marked as Ni and it is
illustrated in the report. Stein was delighted to find the mass of documents just as
Ibrahim had claimed. The latter was no doubt chagrined that he had not realized
their great value and extracted more of them when he had the chance.
building was constructed of timber with massive squared beams as foundations
upon which were square wooden posts that framed the walls and supported the now
gone roof. The walls were composed of matting made of thin tamarisk branches
woven diagonally. This was covered on each side with white plaster, making the
walls 6 to 8 inches thick. Lesser buildings such as sheds were constructed less
elaborately. Stein numbered 114 tablets recovered in the main room. The
documents were composed of two wood tablets carefully tied together with
writing on the inside surfaces and clay seals on the outside.
describes the physical characteristics of the tablets in detail. Stein
determined that the form of the Kharosthi writing of an early Prakrit language
corresponded to that of North-West India during the Kusana or Indo-Scythian era
- the first three centuries AD. On January 29 Stein began clearing again.
building is shown on Plate XXVIII. Immediately more and more documents (over
145) were recovered. These included not only more of the double tablets with
writing on inside surfaces but also many various single wooden pieces of varied
length and width with a wide variety of text there on. Stein
decided these were records and accounts and there were also official letters.
Stein was able to translate much of the Sanscrit writing. These appeared to be
the random remains from some official's residence or office. Stein also remarks
on the total absence of paper. He also noted the severe erosion caused by wind
and wind-blown sand.
Section II - Excavation of Ancient Residences, Nii, Niii, Niv
On 30 January Stein walked to several areas in which his men had located other
ruins which he described in detail. Some buildings were empty, but in others he found more wooden
tablets, but most of them were too badly eroded for recovery. In one building
he discovered an ancient ice house. The method for preserving ice there for
summer use was recognized by his Keriya locals as identical to that still in
use. But he soon abandoned further excavation as the chance for finding
documents was clearly too small.
By 31 January the minimum temperature had risen to minus 3 but daytime maximum
was already up to 43 degrees, indicating the rapid approach of warm spring and
hot summer. The
critical immediate issue was not the heat for working conditions or even the
pending sand storms, but the continued preservation of the vital ice supply on
which they depended for water. He humidly concentrated on several imposing
ruined structures. In one of these his helpers recognized the organization of a
kitchen similar to their own. In
another room he found a bow and part of a shield and staff and other
walls of this ruin remained to a height of 6 to 8 feet thus preserving
interesting fresco decoration. The
part of an ancient rug and the ornamental carving on a chair showed Stein the
influence of Indian art seen in Gandara. More documents were uncovered in adjacent ruins. Included there
were Chinese texts on wood as well as more in Kharosthi. He also found more
chairs and woolen carpet. Outside these buildings Stein found the remains of
gardens and orchards including peach, apricot, mulberry, and oleaster trees.
Stein finished clearing building Viv on 5 February..
Section III - Discoveries in an Ancient Rubbish - heap, Nxv
On February 6th Stein shifted the camp site north to be closer to
more ruins. One
of these was a refuse dump from which Stein recovered a trove. He
also excavated a stupa that measured 20- feet 6 inches tall and with lowest
base 19 feet 6 inches square. It was built of sun-dried bricks. In the center
was a shaft 1 foot square. The refuse heap yielded over 250 documents on wood
and leather as well as broken pottery, matting, wood, straw, rags and woven
material. It was
so extensive that 3 days were required for its excavation.
Section IV - Ancient Documents on Wood and Leather
Stein turns from his description of the physical characteristics of the
buildings and rubbish heap to discussion of the wood and leather (sheepskin)
documents found there in. Stein notes that these leather documents are among the oldest
ever found in an Indian language. He describes the methods for creating completed documents from
two pieces of wood tied together with string and sealed cover the tie of the
string with a clay stamped seal and provides with the text clear drawings
showing how this was accomplished. The desired result was to create a secure
message written on the inner side of the wood tablets thus sealed together. On
the outside surface of the covering tablet the name and title of the addressee
was written. On the reverse of the under tablet the name of the messenger or
person referred to in the text was written. Unfortunately at the time of the
writing of this report Stein did not posses the professional translations being
accomplished at the British Museum. He is left to guess at the content and
purpose of these documents, considering that they may be contracts or
agreements. He turns to description of some of the clay seals found either
still in place or separately. Many are too eroded to be decoded. Bu some show Greek or Roman
designs, such as an Eros of Pallas Athene. Some
are bust portraits. Still others are Oriental and likely made locally. Stein
remarks on the evidence of such wide spread influence of Western art into
Section V - Chinese Documents from Nxv and the Writing on Wood
In this section Stein focuses on the physical description of the documents. The
examples of documents written in Chinese were fewer in number than those in
Kharosthi. But Stein describes them in detail. He again references M. Chavannes
for descriptions of Chinese methods of writing and document construction found
in Chinese literature. Stein found physical documents of which no examples
existed in China. This section will be of interest to readers who study ancient
Chinese methods of writing.
Section VI - Decipherment of Ancient Documents, Kharosthi and
In this section Stein turns to translation (decipherment) of the documents,
both those in Kharosthi and Chinese. While he is fluent in Sanskrit, he
regularly deplores his lack of time to learn Chinese. Thus translation on the
spot depends on his Chinese secretary and later on experts back in Europe. He
mentions the three fold importance of the Kharosthi documents - the nature of
the script, the relation of the language to others, and the enlightenment on
Asian history from the texts. He notes that the full translation and commentary
on the texts has not been accomplished by the experts as of the date of his
report. However, Professor Rapson has already confirmed that the main language
for the Kharosthi documents is an early form of Prakrit, with mix of Sanskrit
terms. Most are official documents and records such as reports and orders to
local officials dealing with police, complaints, summonses, supply and
transport and the like. The wedge-shaped double tablets appear to concern the
bearer. Some of the documents relate to private matters. Some are only drafts.
Some of the proper names written in the documents are Indian but others are
not. Various non-Indian titles are included. The documents are from the first
centuries BC and AD and generally correspond to the Kusana era and the region
around Taxila. Stein wonders how such documents containing language and script
not found from such an early date in India itself (apart from inscriptions)
should have been in such use in Turkestan. The Kusana era in north west India
was the first three centuries AD. The coins found at Niya were all from the
Later Han era.
Stein turns to the Chinese language documents. These also were mostly official
texts in script associated with the Later Han dynasty. One of these is
explicitly dated to the 5th year of the reign of T'ai-shis of the
Emperor Wu ti (265-289 AD), founder of the Western Chin and relating to the
year 269 AD. The documents confirm that the Chinese established administrative
centers over the local rulers throughout the Tarim basin at that time.
Documents also refer to Tun-huang as a center of administrative control. Some
of the documents appear to be identifications of individuals providing name,
age and appearance - evidently as passes for travel. They also list the
material being transported. The manner in which the Chinese and Kharosthi
documents were mixed indicates that the local officials and Chinese worked
The other artifacts, lacquer wear and pottery are also Chinese. But the glass
wear was imported from the West, The Yueh-chin - or Indo-Scythians.
Section VII - Exploration of Ruins Nvi - xii and General
Observations on Site
In this section Stein describes his excavation of remaining buildings at Niya,
which continjued into February, and his general conclusions about the site. One
building was a shrine. Relatively few objects were recovered from these
buildings. The Niya site measured 7 miles north to south and 2 miles west to
indicates that the substantial wooden buildings he found scattered throughout
the area most probably belonged to the Begs and other head-men who lived on
their own property, but that the common folk likely lived in mud huts in
between and that these would have decayed completely. He
estimated the extent of the original cultivated area and noted that the site
must have been abandoned when the Niya River ceased to flow far enough north.
Section VIII - List of Antiques excavated at Niya Site
Again, Stein provides detailed descriptions of each item recovered at Niya with
reference numbers indicating where it was found. This fills about 30 pages in
folio size. A typical entry is N.i. 24. Wedge cov. tablet (belongs to N.i 180)
Obv. 2.5 inches from sq. end, seal cav. Remains of string; cav 2 5/8th by 1 1/4
inches. No writing visible. Rev blank 13 7/8th by 2.5 by 3/4 inches Much
perished by damp.
Chapter XII - The Endere Ruins
Section I - The March to the Endere River
Stein describes his move from Niya to Endere River. He notes that the
temperature while at Niya had a minimum of 6 - 9 degrees below zero. On 13
February Sten started back to the Mazar Iman Ja'far Sadiq. He was reluctant to
leave, but realized the winter was ending and little time remained before the
spring would bring sand storms. There he paid the exhausted workers. He hired a
fresh team from Niya village. They set out eastward on 15 February. On 17
Febrary they followed the course of the Yartunguz River. They stopped at a new
oasis village, Kala-sulaghi. On 18 February they continued east over sand dunes
reaching to 180 feet high.
Section II - Excavation of the Endere Temple
On February 21 Stein sighted the stupa at Endere ruin. The
new team from Niya arrived at the same time, having crossed 120 miles of
desert. Immediately Stein found something new - an imposing fortress wall
encircling the main ruin shown in plan on Plate XXXVI.
a circular clay rampart nearly 320 feet in diameter.
immediately put his entire team to work excavating a building within the
fortress walls. It turned out to be a well decorated temple. It was ab out 18
feet 4 inches on each side, with walls made of timber and plaster. The main
timbers were very large. Remains of statues occupied each corner of the central
Although most of the plaster figures and decorations were broken and extremely
fragile, Stein managed to take a few samples including a piece of otherwise
destroyed wall fresco to London. He describes the building and its contents in
detail and includes photos. His hopes for documents were fulfilled when he
found a nearly complete 46 page folio sized Buddhist canonical work in Sanskrit
from the 7th or 8th centuries. Other documents were in Brahmi or
Gupta in possibly proto-Tibetan language. There were other fragments in Tibetan
language. Dr Barnett confirmed that these were part of a Pothi containing about
half of the canonical text of the Salistamba-sutra. Analysis of the
paper indicates that the document was imported from Tibet. Stein writes that
these are the earliest specimens of Tibetan language yet known. On one wall he
found a written text with a specific date of 791 AD. It was in 791 that T'ang
control finally fell to a Tibetan invasion. On other walls there were grafiti
in Tibetan script. Stein also found pieces of textiles and drawings.
Section III - The Ruined Fort and Stupa of the Endere Site
After thoroughly excavating the temple on 23 February Stein focused on several
smaller rooms. In
some of these the walls retained the lower portion of excellent frescos and on
one wall appeared a complete panel depicting Ganesa or Vinayaka, the four armed
deity with elephant head from India. Stein found another, very large, building with massive walls
constructed of large bricks. The remains of large roof beams were lying in the
sand. He identified this as the residence of the commander.
Stein then examined the fortification. The
wall was a solid rampart of stamped clay probably built up inside rectangular
forms. Sections of the wall were destroyed by erosion but other
sections retained some height up to 17.5 feet . The
width of the rampart was about 30 feet at the base and where the top remained
there was a parapet 5.5 feet high and 3 feet thick. Where
the original gate was located there was only a wide gap 18 feet wide with small
square bastions on either side. Stein
then describes the stupa, which is well illustrated with the text. It was
rather large, a dome 16 feet in diameter and 14 feet tall despite a broken off
top. This is on top of the standard three level square base.
For more illustrations please see Endere.
Section IV - List of Antiques from the Endere Ruins
This is an extensive 5-page listing of the items recovered at Endere.
Chapter XIII - Kara-dong and the Search for Hsuan-tsang's
Section I - Expedition to the Kara-dong
Stein completed work at Endere on 26 February. With the spring sand storms
rapidly approaching Stein started back westward to explore more ruins around
Keriya and Khotan. He returned to Niya by 2 March, thus completing a loop over
300 miles long. On 3 and 4 March he rapidly moved to Keriya, 80 miles. Two days
there sufficed for Stein to obtain additional labor, camels and supplies thanks
to the gracious assistance of the Amban, Huang-Daloi. Stein's next objective
was the ruin at Kara-dong, about 150 miles north of Keriya in desolate desert.
This required a 6-day trip down the Keriya River. At the Mazar of
Burhanuddin-Padshahim Stein hired more local laborers. But finding the ruin
turned out to be difficult due to the hazy memory if the local guides.
ruin consisted of a quadrangle within a mud rampart about 30 feet thick around
an enclosure 126 feet square. Much of it was covered by deep sand.
was much pottery, metal objects and shreds of fabrics lying about in the open.
Stein did recover two bronze arrow-heads five Chinese copper coins and a few
other items. He found the 21 foot square gateway on the eastern side was well
preserved owing to protective walls and sand. Stein as always meticulously
recorded the measurements of each room and building and the meager quantity of
artifacts. Kara-dong was a much more primitive site than Endere or Niya and was
located in a more desolate area with less water available.
guessed it was designed as a way station for travelers along the Keriya river
route. In the Middle Ages the Keriya river reached as far north across the
desert as the Tarim River. This route is the most direct and shortest between
Keriya and Khotan and the north around Kucha.
(We learn later that Stein in fact during his second exploration tested this
idea, but not by marching north along the river in relative safety but rather
south from Kucha across the empty space between the Tarim and the lost end of
the Keriya in the desert).
Stein remarks that the medieval history of the area shows that the governments
of Khotan and Kucha had a common border in the desert and close contacts. Stein
found no datable items from which to establish exactly the period during which
Khara-dong was occupied.
Section II - Hsuan-tsang's Notice of P'i-mo and Marco Polo's
Stein finished his work at Kara-dong on 17 March and departed on the
18th . Sand storms were already significant. He was set on finding
another ancient place - P'i-mo because it was mentioned by Hsuan-tsang and was
likely the place Marco Polo named Pein. Therefore he moved South-westward from
Kara-dong into the desert. Once again local guides supplied by authorities were
too afraid to admit their actual ignorance, so led Stein into the desert from
the Keriya River starting on 23 March. Eventually they found some pottery
debris in the desert near Arish-Mazar. Stein digresses to recount the legend
told to Hsuan-tsang.
Section III - The Sites of Uzun-Tati and Ulugh-Ziarat
Stein continued his search around Mazar Lachin-ata. He questioned local farmers
and shepherds at length about any ruins seen in the desert. So they set out
again on 25 March with out reliance on the guides. They passed through now-
abandoned cultivated areas of 'old Domoko'. Eventually after days of wandering
they found ruins called Uzun-tati and Ulugh-Ziarat. Stein indicates that they
wandered about and finally found these places with a couple miles of their
tracks but hidden by sand dunes. These were fields strewn with pottery and
other debris and a few low mud walls. But the area showed clear evidence of
previous digging by 'fortune seekers' from local villages. However, a coin from
the period 1038-39 AD and some ceramic porcelain from late Chinese production
served to show the remains dated much later than Niya or Endere. Another coin
was from Muhammad Arslan Khan - 11th century. Ulug-Ziarat proved to
contain the ruin of a small oval fort 480 feet north south and 348 feet east to
west. The remaining wall was 11 feet thick a base and 9 feet high composed of
stamped dirt with layers of rushes. There was a parapet about 5 feet high and 3
feet thick. Behind it was a platform 5 feet wide.. There were no visible
remains of buildings within the enclosure. Even though Stein found precious
little at these locations, he was determined to connect them with
Husuan-tsang's P'i-mo. He places strong reliance on the measured distances
between various towns and also in the name, Ulugh-Ziarat. Ziarat means a holy
shrine and the medieval Buddhist travelers wrote that there was a very famous
and large statue of the Buddha at this place. Stein always considers
significant that Moslems take over Buddhist holy places and then continue to
worship there to different saints.
By March 28 the temperature at mid day was already 88 degrees in the shade
while the minimum at night was still 27-28 degrees. Moving back south they soon
reached the flourishing oasis at Gulakhama.
Section IV - The Tuga-dong Mounds and the Keriya-Khotan Route
Stein allowed for a day's halt at Gulakhama, but was pressed for time to beat
the coming summer. During the break Stein visited ruins at nearby Chira. There
he found mounds and uncovered human bones. So on March 30 Stein set his main
party under conrol of Lal Singh on to Khotan while he went back to Keriya for
the courtesy of proper leave-taking of the Amban. This he accomplished on 1
April with Huang-Daloi. Stein made sure to heap high praise on his Darogha,
Ibrahim Akhun, which secured the latter recognition and a promotion. Stein
started back to Khotan on 2 April observing along the way the extent of the
spring flood. He reached the edge of the Khotan oasis at Lop village.
Chapter XIV - The Ruins of Ak-sipil
Section I - Hanguya Tati and the Site of Tam-oghil
On April 5 Stein moved from Lop Bazar north, directly to the ancient Tati of
Hanguya. After crossing cultivated areas and the desert he came to
Arka-kuduk-Tim (the Mound of the Back Well), which was another ruined stupa. He
then returned through extensive cultivated areas to camp at Yurung-kash. Stein
stayed at Yurung-kash on 6 April, but left on the 7th for Ak-sipil
(the White Wall).
Section II - The Remains of Ak-sipil and Kighillik
Stein camped at Ak-sipil on 8 and 9 April in order to complete a full survey of
the area. This was another ruin of a fort. The rampart and parapet of the an
ancient fort was among low sand dunes about 8 to 15 feet above the original
ground level. But
most of it was destroyed by erosion. The better preserved northern part was an
arc about 360 feet long. Stein estimated the original fort at 800 feet in
rampart was built of stamped loess and was about 50 feet thick at base and 11
feet high. The
parapet on top was made of sun-dried bricks on a platform 2 feet high that
projected 3 feet outside the wall and 2 feet inside. The parapet was 8 feet
thick and no where more than 7 feet high. The bricks measured 20x15x4 inches.
There were loopholes about 3 inches square on the lower level and 6 inches wide
by 8 inches high in the upper level, which were 16 inches and 5 feet above the
base. Stein found two areas along the wall that were strengthened by solid
brick platforms projecting 3 feet on either side of the base. They likely
served as bases for watch towers. One had a stairway near by.
Stein found only one coin at Ak-sipil, but was brought 13 old copper coins
while at Khotan by sellers who alleged they came from Ak-sipil. Stein as always
was very cautious about crediting such information. Turdi guided Stein to
another ruined Buddhist shrine 1.5 miles to the south-west, called Kighillik
(the dunghill - for evident reasons) where despite the destruction already
created by 'treasure seekers' he uncovered plaster and terra-cotta fragments.
Over the course of the three expeditions Stein found much of interest in
similar 'refuse' dumps. The mound proved to be the remains also of a Buddhist
shrine. Many of the fragments were formerly part of wall decorations, small
Section III - The Rawak Stupa
Stein left Ak-sipil on 10 April to move to another site recommended by Turdi
Khwaja - Rawak (the high mansion). (This is a very different Rawak from that Stein found and
described in an earlier chapter). He was surprised and rewarded to find a very
large stupa instead of a simple dwelling. (Fig 60, PlateXIII)
about were remains including heads and upper parts of formerly massive statues.
Stein called back to Yurung-kash village for more laborers and dug a well. The
Rawak location was only 7 miles from the Yurung-kash River making the water
table relatively high. But already the season of intense sand-storms had begun.
Excavation of the Buddhist Vihara nevertheless proceeded rapidly
despite the dense haze and increasing heat. The Vihara court was a rectangle
163 feet on south-western and north-eastern faces and141 feet on the other two
enclosing wall was 3 feet 6v inches thick and built of sun-dried bricks. Were
best preserved by the sand dunes on the south corner it remained 11 feet high.
The bricks were 20x145 by 3.5 inches. The longer side walls were covered by so
much sand they could not be uncovered with the workers available. There was a
gate 8.5 feet wide in the south-east face. The large stupa was in the center of
the court yard. Its three story base alone measured 22.5 feet high. The lowest
story was 78 feet square and 7.5 feet high. The second story was 45.5 feet
square and 9 feet high. Above that was a circular drum 3 feet high and above it
another circular drum 32 feet in diameter as base for the ruined dome. Stein
found that 'treasure seeking' operations had already created serious cuttings
into the stupa. In addition to the standard construction of the base there were
projections about 52 feet long on each face supporting flights of stairs from
the court yard to the base of the dome. The lowest level of the ramp was 14
feet wide, the next level 9 feet and the third 6 feet wide. Remaining sections
of the stupa protected by sand were covered with white plaster. Attached and
nearby were many copper coins that had been votive offerings. Stein considered
the many relief sculptures and decorations to be the most important finds. The
larger than life statues represented the Buddha and Bodhisatvas in various
poses with smaller statues of lesser divinities between them. In addition there
were frescos and other colored art. The statues had been built with supports
made of timber embedded back into the wall, but this had rotted due to the
moisture in the soil. This made the statues extremely fragile and they were in
danger of collapse once the sand cover was removed. Therefor he had to recover
the statues once they were photographed. Already the statues had lost their
heads due to exposure, fragile fragments of these were found scattered in the
sand. Stein cited the evidence indicating that the entire shrine had already
been covered by sand before the advent of Islam in the Khotan region.
Section IV - The Sculptures of the Rawak Vihara.
As usual, Stein separated his analysis of the art from his discussion of the
mechanics of its find and excavation. This strenuous work continued all day and
into the evening from 12 to 17 April. By then he had uncovered about 155 feet
of wall or a quarter of the total length. In this length he had recovered
91large sculptures and numerous smaller reliefs. He carefully provided detailed
descriptions and photographs despite the intense glare, heat and blowing sand.
(Plan plate XL). The first statue by the west corner was a huge standing
intact only up to the shoulders. The exposed right hand is in the standard
"Abhayapanimudra" pose. Stein remarks on how closely these statues
correspond to those of Gandhara - Grecian style in India. Unfortunately the
reproduction of his carefully made photography in the book is very poor.
details of these statues can hardly be seen. His text describes each statue in
great detail. Removal of the statues was impossible. To preserve them Stein
reburried them as quickly as possible. For
more photos of Rawak please see rawak.htm and the list
of photos for Ancient Khotan.
Section V - The Date of the Rawak Remains: The Jumbe-kum Site
.Stein notes that the statues themselves offer no evidence of their date of
construction, despite their close similarity to the Greco-Buddhist art of
Gandhara, which means they are indeed old. No documents or other objects likely
to suffer from decay were found. However, numerous Chinese copper coins with
the characteristic wu-chu mark were found as votive offerings near the statues
and around the stupa. This wu-chu coinage was used during the Former and Later
Han dynasties. The second of these was from 25 to 220 AD. but similar coins
continued to be minted into the 4th century. Stein comments that the
absence of coins of either an earlier or later era indicates that the site was
abandoned between the 3rd and 7th centuries AD. Stein
left the Rawak site on 19 April for Khotan.
Chapter XV - Departure from Khotan
Section I - Islam Akhun and his Forgeries.
This is a fascinating section of a much different kind than the accounts of
archeology or surveying in high mountains. It seems that beginning in the
1890's strange documents written in unknown scripts and languages began to
appear for sale at Khotan and Kashgar and in due course found their way to
London and to India. Naturally learned scholars began to attempt decipherment
and offer all sorts of theories about these 'finds', which were published in
leading European scientific journals. Stein was skeptical. As one of his minor
projects for this expedition he sought to find the source of these strange
manuscripts. Stein's account of his investigation and 'judicial' proceeding is
humorous and delightful in every way. And it reveals a great deal about the
culture common in Chinese Turkestan in the 19th and early
20th centuries. Skipping much detail, we summarize that the whole
forgery industry was started and expanded by one Islam Akhun, who recognized in
the excitement that buying anything 'ancient' by passing Europeans caused them
an opportunity to generate a small profit. From creating such forgeries by
hand, using primitive methods he gradually expanded operations into a whole
factory that flooded the market. But with this expansion carelessness caused
the results to become more questionable. Stein asked the Amban to order the
miscreant to appear. Islam Akhun duly arrived at the Yamen under orders on 25
April. Stein conducted intense cross examinations over several days while
producing examples of Akhun's work that had already appeared in European
forger was delighted to see that his efforts had seen such publication in
scholarly journals but became off guard. Eventually Stein unraveled the whole
mystery. He gradually elicited the whole story. But one has to read Stein's
full account to enjoy this episode. I read it over and over with many laughs.
Stein remarks several times that he was happy that "Eastern methods of
judicial inquiry" were not employed. Stein was generous to his friends
among the scholars who had insisted on the genuine nature of the forgeries.
Section II - Last Days in the Khotan Oasis
Stein departed Khotan on 28 April. He stopped briefly at Yotkan and acquired
yet more artifacts. By 29 April he was at Kara-kash. There he met his former
Darogha, Islam Beg, now appointed local Beg on Stein's recommendation. On the
30th he stopped at another ruin, Kara-dobe at which he found more
artifacts. All these days were spent passing through well watered and thriving
agricultural territories. On 1 May he started the long trip to Kashgar. At
Tarbugaz, the western border of the Khotan government Stein left Islam Beg and
Section III - From Khotan to London
The journey to Yarkand required 6 days. He stopped there for 2 days during an
intense rain storm that destroyed many a mud house. Then it was on to Kashgar
which he reached on 12 May. The Indian Government had obtained permission from
St. Petersburg for Stein to cross Russia on the Trans-Caspian Railroad and to
ship his huge treasure in twelve large boxes also via Russia to London. The
equipment and written records went back to India directly over the usual
mountain passes under the care of Ram Singh and Mian Jasvant Singh. Stein
started west again on 29 May, one year after having left Srinagar. He crossed
the several passes in the Pamirs still deep with snow and reached Osh in 10
days. Via railroad he passed through Margilan and Samarkand, where he visited
the medieval architecture of Tamerlane and the ancient ruin at Afrasiyab where,
naturally, he obtained a few more ancient pieces of terra-cotta. He contined to
Merv and then crossed the Caspian to Baku. He reached London on 2 July, 1901.
The government graciously allowed Stein 6 weeks stay at the British Museum to
arrange for division of the materials between that museum and those in Lahore
We leave it to the reader to study the scholarly appendices.