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Aurel Stein visited Khotan, the capital of a significant kingdom in the middle ages, during all three of his expeditions. This major oasis city located centrally along the southern side of the Takla Makan was the key base from which he mounted his expeditions north and east. He immediately secured the interest and great assistance of the Chinese magistrate ()Amban) P'an Ta-jen and the military Amban, T'ang Ta-jen. During his second expedition he was assisted by the new Amban, Ch'e Ta-jen.


There are more maps and photographs with the several books

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A section of Stein's map showing the narrow cultivated strip between Khotan and Keriya and his two routes between them - one through the foothills and the other along the desert.

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The legend and south-east section of Stein's map of Khotan area made from his first expedition in 1900-1901 which was limited to the south-west section of the Tarim Basin.

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Detail from map in Ancient Khotan showing the region around the oasis and the Yurtung-Kash and Kara-Kash Rivers- they join north of the city as they flow into the desert.

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Section of Stein's map of Khotan area showing the Borazan and Tosalla tracts.

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Detail from Stein's maps showing the two routes across the Takla Makan - via the Khotan and Keriya rivers. The sites at Endere, Nkiya, Kara-dong, Mazar-tagh, Rawak stupa are shown.

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A detailed section from Stein's map showing the area between Karghalik, Khotan and Keriya. The excavation sites at Niya, Endere, Rawak, Kara-dong, and Mazar-tagh are shown.

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On Central Asian Tracks 5 - Entrance to bazar of Borache, Khotan oasis

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On Central Asian Tracks26 - Fragments of terra-cotta figurines and decorated pottery from Yotkan - Yotkan was the medieval capital later replaced by Khotan. Residents discovered the remains burried under many feet of soil and began digging for gold flakes - in the process they retrieved hundreds of this sort of fragments and sold them to tourists and merchants for sale abroad.

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Sand Buried Ruin of Khotan 51 - House of Tokhta Akhun, Khotan - Tokhta Akhun was Stein's local host in Khotan for his three expeditions who provided not only accommodations but also significant assistance in finding local guides and logistic support.

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Sand Buried Ruin of Khotan 52 - Pan-darin, Amban of Khotan, with personal attendants - this photo also appears in several of Stein's reports, as well as other photos of Pan-darin. This Amban rendered the most assistance to Stein during his three expeditions. By the second Pan-darin had been promoted to Ak-su and by the third to Urumchi. Stein gained immediate friendship by showing Pan-darin the texts of medieval Buddhist pilgrims that he was following. Stein called Hsuan-tang his 'patron saint' whose memoir opened many doors for Stein.

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Sand Buried Ruin of Khotan 59 - Turdi, "Treasure seeker" - This gentleman had spent his lifetime exploring the desert north of Khotan searching for 'treasure' - that is artifacts salable to European collectors. Badruddin Kahn (Aksal of Khotan) immediately thought of Turdi as the ideal guide for Stein and was very right. Turdi knew all the locations of ruins and had an unerring sense of dead reckoning to lead Stein to them. Stein was quite emotionally over whelmed when they parted. The same photo is # 70 in Ancient Khotan

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Sand Buried Ruin of Khotan 60 - Khotanese waiting for medicines - Stein quickly became something of a western medicine man in local lore and was besieged by people asking for medicine. He wisely brought along a supply and took some time from his work for charitable as well as public relations reasons.

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Sand Buried Ruin of Khotan 61 - Jade pit with diggers, near debouchure of Yurung-kash - Khotan from early medieval times to today has been famous as the source of precious jade - so highly prized by Chinese - The fortress, custom's post on the Chinese frontier north of Tun-huang was called the "Jade Gate" - It is found, but rarely, in the Yurung-kash river bed like gold in Californian and Yukon rivers. Rarity makes it all the more worth while to scrounge around in the rocks in hopes of finding a small piece.

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Sand Buried Ruin of Khotan 62 - North-west corner of excavated area at Yotkan, with entrance to 'yar' - Yotkan was the medieval capital and previous city prior to the shift eastward a few miles to build Khotan. The medieval city was completely destroyed and buried. In the late 19th century a chance flood of the river between them caused erosion and created a deep ditch or 'yar' in part of Yotkan. This revealed flakes of gold leaf from the medieval temples and set off a mad rush of prospectors. When the original 'yar' was exhausted the men rented land from the land owners and expanded the excavation - as seen here - Stein was not too interested in flakes of gold but highly excited to obtain any relics - potsherds, small statues, bronze items, and anything else of archeological value. See {short description of image}for Khotan and Yotkan

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Sand Buried Ruin of Khotan 63 - Antiques from Yotkan - Samples of some types of relics Stein purchased from the archeological dig in Yotkan.

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Sand Buried Ruin of Khotan 64 - Terra-cotta figurines from Yotkan - more samples from the extensive 'dig' but Stein of course was unable to pinpoint the locations and dates.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 70 - Amban's guests feasting on terrace leading to 'my' (Stein's) pavilion in Nar-bagh - Stein was being welcomed at a 'dastagar' by the Amban. By 'my' Stein means the local accomodations he was offered for his stay at Khotan. Stein didn't like all the official protocol but realized it was essential for him to gain approvals and obtain support. But his Indian team members refused to eat with infidels.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 71 - Ch'e Ta-jen, Amban of Khotan, with local begs - on extreme right is Islam Beg, Beg of Kayash

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 72 - Roze Akhun's band of Khotan 'treasure-seekers' - Roze Akhun is on extreme right - These fellows have their 'ketmans' handy for work

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 292 - Pullat Mullah and Ibrahim of Khotan - 'Treasure-seekers' - two of the locals whose years of intrepid individual exploration of the desert had given them both knowledge of the places they had seen and an unerring feel for direction and distance that brought Stein right to the recommended locations.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay301 - Pan Ta-jen, Tao t'ai of Ak-su, my old patron and friend - from Khotan during the first expedition. Shown here during the second expedition.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 307 - Turdi, my dak-man from Khotan - The saddle-bag across Turdi's shoulder served to carry small mails. The 'dak-men' carried the mail on ponies or on foot throughout Central Asia from Kashmir to China. This remarkable, intrepid Turki version of a pony express man managed to find Stein regularly when he had no fixed address and was moving through the high mountains in summer or the coldest part of thedeserts in winter. Thus he managed to keep Stein in amazing contact with India, England, Hungary and other places througout the expeditions.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 309 - Badruddin Khan, Indian Ak-sakal at Khotan, with his sons and a trusted servant. As ak-sakal, Badruddin Khan was the chief of the Indian commercial community in Khotan and throughout the oases south of the Taklamakan. He arranged all sorts of logistics and personnel work for Stein.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 310 - Khuda-berdi (Yuz-bashi) and cultivators of Yotkan - Khuda berdi sits on extreme left; the figures stuck in his belt serve for easy reference in anthropometrical list. Yotkan was the western suburb of Khotan and the site of the buried medieval capital. Stein found the locals were busy excavating parts of the old city in hopes of recovering flakes of gold leaf. He never ceased to photograph representative local groups for experts back in England.

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Serindia 37 - Remains of ruined mound, Naghara-khana, near Yokan, seen from south - Yotkan is within the Khotan oasis just to the west - it was the medieval capital.

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Serindia Plan 4 - Plan of ruined shrine near A,-terek, Hangya, Khotan -

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 48 - Entrance to Bazar of Borache, Khotan oasis - one of the numerous local bazars that Stein visited both seeking ancient artifacts and examining the local population

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Innermostasia 298 - P'an Ta-jen with his two sons at Urumchi - This scholarly mandrin was Stein's main official help at Khotan during the first expedition, then had been elevated to magistrate at Ak-su during the second and now was at the capital at Urumchi during Stein's third expedition. He was instrumental in providing Stein with official support.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 49 - T'ang Ta-jen, military Amban of Khotan, with his children and attendants - Stein always devoted diplomatic attention to the local ambans whose support was vital for securing labor and logistic support. However, he felt that the numerous 'dastarkan's - banquets - simply took precious time from his work.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 47 - Mosque and avenue of poplars near Borache, Khtoan - a suburb that Stein crossed when entering Khotan

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 52 - "Haji" Akhun Beg, Stein's host at Khotan - "Haji' meant that Akun Beg had completed the pilgrimage all the way to Mecca and back, no small feat. As 'host' he graciously enabled Stein to set up his tent and team in his spacious housing area.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 50 - Badruddin Khan "Ak-sakal' of Indian and Afghan traders at Khotan - the 'Ak-sakal' was the leader, semi-official head man of the foreign trader - merchant - money changer - community in Khotan and therefor along the entire southern side of the Taklamakan. He knew everyone and everything about securing logistics and 'treasure seekers' who would guide Stein to buried ruins in the desert.

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Ancient Khotan 26 - North-west corner of excavated area at Yotkan, with entrance to Yotkan-yar - Yotkan was the medieval capital and predecessor of Khotan town - located in its western suburb. A few years prior to Stein's visit a flood had dug a channel exposing deep layers of the ancient remains in which there were significant flakes of gold and other artifacts. This set the local population into gold digging and excavating wider and wider areas - the poor photograph illustrates the results as Stein found them. He was eager to buy whatever coins, ceramics or other items he could buy.

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Ancient Khotan 27 - South-west banks of excavated area, Yotkan, near Allama hamlet. - Another view of the expanding excavation area - the gold diggers had to pay a rent or royalty to the land owners whose holdings were being destroyed but gold, as always, had its mythical appeal. Apparently the medieval buildings had been covered with gold leaf now found as tiny flakes in the thick layers.

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Ancient Khotan 25 - Entrance to sacred cave of Kohmari hill - This cave was visited by Stein's favorite Chinese Buddhist pilgrim in the 7th century, so Stein was determined to find it located southwest of Khotan

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 53 - Testing raft of inflated skins on a tank of Nar-bagh - Stein used this mode of river travel on the Indus with locally supplied rafts of known quality. Here, in Turkestan he expected to have recourse to similar rafts, but took precaution ahead of time to test them. The 'tank's were local water supply.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 54 - Tank and arbour near Ruknuddin Mazar, Yotkan - For interior of this shrine see figure 312. - Yotkan was western suburb of Khotan and the actual location of the long gone medieval capital city. Mazar's were shrines to Moslem saints.

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Ruins of Desert Cathay 55 - Mosque with tank near west gate of Khotan town.


This extract is from Stein's description of Khotan in Ancient Khotan - the official, detailed report of this first expedition.
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 Character

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.

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 of Khotan.

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 Sui Dynasty

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.


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. {short description of image}He found the location exactly as Hsuan-tsang had described it and provides photos for illustrations in the text. {short description of image}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 cave.

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. {short description of image}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. {short description of image}He 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. {short description of image}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.


This is an extract from Stein's personal narrative of his first expedition - Sand Buried Ruins of Khotan

Chapter XII - Arrival in Khotan

On 10 October Stein passed the boundary markers dividing Karghalik and Khotan. He passed deep wells dug for travelers. Before reaching Mazar of Kum-rabat-Padshahim (My Lord of the Sands Station) the road was again through sand dunes. Then he reached Kaptgar-Mazar "Pigeons' Sanctuary' a popular stop at which travelers feed thousands of pigeons, naturally with a magical origin from the heart of Iman Shakir Padshah who died there in battle with infidels. Stein duly purchased some corn at the local store to show his generosity. No doubt his Moslem team were watching, but one wonders what the Hindus thought. Stein thought these pigeons were replacements for rats mentioned in Buddhist stories. He found throughout Turkestan instances of Moslem worship sites occupying previous Buddhist shrines. The caravan halted for the night at Tarbugaz Langar. That evening the Beg of Zawa, the next village, arrived to welcome Stein to Khotan. But he decided to rest the camels and ponies so stopped one more time before making his grand entrance into Khotan city. On the way he crossed the Kaa-kash (Black jade) Darya and and the Yangi-Darya to camp at Sipa. On the morning of the 13th as Stein prepared to start another Beg arrived from the Amban sent as an escort. He was dressed of course in full ceremonial dress and had a suitable retinue with him. They were soon joined by Badruddin Kahn, the head of the Afghan merchants. Stein describes riding around the bastioned fortress walls. (Again how disappointing we have no photos.) Camp was offered in the garden of Tokta Akhun, a rich merchant, but Stein found it too dismal. So he simply proceeded to find another, more congenial location, which he did at the home of Akhun Beg. Once established, on the following day Stein paid his protocol visit to Pan-Darin, the Amban. Again this elderly gentleman found favor in Stein's projects, especially after they discussed Hiuen-Tsang. Meanwhile Stein asked Badruddin Khan to ask local 'treasure seekers' to present themselves and provide guidance to the potential sites in the desert. As this process would require most of a month, Stein decided to use the interval for his other project, that is searching for the headwaters of the Yurung-kash in the high Kun-lun Mountains. Stein had sketch maps created by British explorers in 1865, 1875 and 1898 but these were confusing.

With the professional transport men and animals on their yearly journey over the Karakorum Stein had a problem in finding sufficient ponies until the Amban simply requisitioned them from nearby villages. The camels would have a holiday until winter's journey into the desert. Badruddin procured the essential fur coats for the men and felt covers for the ponies. Meanwhile Stein visited Yoktan, the old capital, where gold diggers were uncovering relics buried deep in the accumulated soil. He purchased enough of the offered coins and pottery to generate, he hoped rightly, further activity. Then an Armenian showed up with the very kind of document Stein was looking for - something created by Islam Akhun. Sure enough Stein quickly determined it was a forgery. On the last evening the dak came in from India via Yarkand and another from Europe via Kashgar. Stein noted that the former was last dated 17 August but the latter had dates as late as 19 Sept. This impressed him about the new speed of communication created by the construction of the Russian railway system.

Chapter XV - Antiquarian Preparations at Khotan

Stein continued down the Kara-kash on 11 November to Ujat in a thick cloud of dust that obscured the nearby mountains. He was fortunate to have completed his survey work in time. He was interested in Mount Gosringa, the Buddhist pilgrimage site described by Hiuen-Tsang now called Kohmari. Stein includes the legend of its origin. Typically a Muhammaden Mazar had replaced the Buddhist Vihara (monastery), dedicated to a very different saint. The same cave mentioned by Hiuen-Tsang still exists and is frequented by a new type of pilgrims. Stein was also attracted by the previous obtaining there of Kharoshthi manuscripts by M. Grenard. Stein personally inspected the cave and surroundings which caused him to doubt that the manuscripts had actually come from the site. And the monks there whom he interrogated professed no knowledge of the French having obtained the documents there. He proceeded to Ujat, a sizable village known for its grapes. Again, the dak man managed to deliver mail from Kashgar at this distant location. On 15 November Stein returned to Khotan where he declared a much needed rest for men and ponies. But he remained busy, now inspecting the antiquities that his prior request now were delivered. He was quickly taken with Turdi Khwoja, an experienced 'treasure seeker from Tawakkel. Stein was much pleased with the finds and hired Turdi to guide him to Dandan-Uiliq (houses of ivory) not too far north-east into the desert. Amban Pan Darin ordered the Beg there to send two experienced hunters as guides. On 20 November, these gentlemen, Ahmad Merghen and Kasim Akhun, duly responded to the summons along with their Beg. Stein set his tent again in Akhun Beg's garden rather than Tokhta Akhun's house despite the increasing cold. The following days were devoted to repair of the gear the yaks had so cleverly seen to damage by knocking them off against convenient rocks. This required the combined efforts of saddler, blacksmith and tailor under Stein's watchful eyes. Many locals turned up with antiques from Yoktan, but the purveyor of the mysterious 'ancient' documents was no where to be found. Stein suspected his absence was purposeful. Stein had to give priority to local Begs and Chinese officials seeking cures from his limited medicine supply (even though Stein considered most of it placebos). Meanwhile Stein sent Ram Singh back into the mountains east of their just completed route. (It shows on Stein's map). They departed Khotan on 23 November. The first night they camped at Jamada. The next day Stein crossed another hard plain covered with potsherds and then the area in which prospectors were digging deep holes, searching for jade deposited by the river centuries ago. He also found another ruined stupa. Finds of jade are quite rare but the occasional one of great value is enough to cause the hopeful to invest in the efforts. Stein found one Kashgar Bai supervising a team of 20 hired men who claimed to have cleared a total of 100 Yambus of silver from an investment of 30 over the previous three years. Separately jade is also 'fished' for by prospectors searching right in the upper river bed. Stein notes that this activity is fully described in Chinese annals back to Han dynasty times.

Chapter XVI - Yotkan, the Site of the Ancient Capital

Stein turns to his visit to Yotkan on 25 November. He remained over night in the comfortable home of the local Yubashi next to the area being dug for gold. Unfortunately the camels became stuck in a ravine so Stein had to send a rescue party back. They did bring the camels in but not before the one carrying Stein's tent and bedding had slipped in a river and soaked the load. It was the creation of the ravine some years previous by a flood of the river that uncovered the remains of the medieval city under many feet of accumulated soil. And the strata so revealed contained enough bits of gold to generate a significant but part time industry of 'treasure seekers'. Stein was not much interested in bits of gold but very highly interested in antiquities that would identify the medieval capital. This work became organized and gradually expanded the ravines so much that the owners of the lost land were compensated from the results obtained from the digging. Evidently the results generate a small profit for everyone. Stein discusses the expanding process and its results. He purchased some samples - shown in his official report. Among the many coins Stein dated samples from Han to T'ang eras. Stein examined the 'culture strata' which varied from 5 to 14 feet thick and could find no traces of the buildings which no doubt had been built of mud bricks. This strata was under 9 to 20 feet of soil of different color and devoid of any artifacts that was deposited over centuries by the river and irrigation brought from it. The level of the cultivated fields constantly rises. Thus roads and cemeteries lie on ground at a level below the fields.

On 28 November Stein began survey of the villages west of Khotan looking for sacred places mentioned by Hiun-Tsiang and other pilgrims. He soon found in Somiya the remains of a stupa where the annals indicated it would be, but now reduced to a 5 foot high mound which the local elders considered to be a sacred spot, not to be touched, although who it related to was unknown. Stein spent the day locating still more modern replacements for ancient Buddhist holy places. He returned from Yoktan to Khotan on 29 November. Along the way he interviewed an elderly gentleman at Halalbagh who informed him of the history and legends related to Khotan. Upon his return this time Stein forwent his usual criteria when the cold drove him into the warm home of Tokhta Akhun.

Chapter XXXII - Last Days in Khotan Oasis

Stein made his last visit, the parting one, to the Yamen on 17 April. He was genuinely sorry to bid farewell to the gentleman, Pan-Darin, who had become his friend and scholarly associate. On the 18th he departed Nar-Bagh, having already sent all the heavy baggage ahead with Ram Singh to Yarkand. His final local act was to distribute medicines and silver or gold to the many locals who had been tasked with rendering assistance. First stop was at Yoktan to see the spring cultivation in progress. And to the south he marveled at the appearance of the mountains he had surveyed the past November. On 29 April he rode on to Kara-kash where he found his intrepid 'darogha' Islam Beg now appointed to the Begship. Islam and Badruddin Khan followed Stein west to the edge of Khotan oasis through Bizin. It was the local market day for Bizin. Stein marveled at the heavy traffic of merchants on the road with him. Stein was informed about the routine. There were seven main bazars - Old and New Khotan, Yurung-kash, Sampula, Iman Musa Kasim, Bizin and Kara-kash each not to far from the others. So the merchants organized things to have the market day in each on a different day and then the traders could move their wares and equipment from one to the next each day. These included many foreigners; Kabulis, Bajauris, men from Baluchistan, Andijanis, Kashmiris, Afghans and more. Badruddin Khan knew them all and described their entire personalities and operations. Stein remained overnight in Kara-kash with Islam Beg, busy with anthropological examinations of the many varieties of individuals he could assemble and recording information about local conditions from Islam. On 30 April Stein made a detour to see Kara-dobe (the black mound) another well-known tati. Again, the ground here for a mile around was covered with potsherds by a brick mound. He reached Zawa for overnight camping. Next day there he parted from Turdi with much sadness and with Niza Akhun with much less concern. But Islam Beg and Badruddin Khan insisted on continuing on to Tarbugaz. Stein felt an urge to again offer corn to the sacred pigeons as he passed their shrine for all the success he had achieved, far beyond even what he had hoped for.


This is from Stein's memoir on his second expedition Ruins of Desert Cathay

Chapter XIV - My Return to Khotan
Stein found the temperature at 4 AM when he arose to be 60 degrees. He made the usual food offering to the sacred pigeons. Stein was met by a cavalcade of local Begs and their attendants outside the city and given a royal welcome. Fruit and tea were served at a rest stop along with fodder for the ponies and more food for the men. {short description of image}With the Kara-kash River in flood stage Stein had to move down stream to Kark-kash village to find boats causing a day's delay on entering Khotan itself. More Begs and more "Dastarkhans", as well as old friends including Islam Beg and Badhuddin Khan (chief Indian merchant), who rushed to greet him, {short description of image}filled Stein's day and evening. Finally, on 5 August Stein rode into Khotan in the midst of a formidable entourage. The temperature at 10 AM he recorded at 100 degrees. Then came the 'official' welcoming at a road-side hall. A host of Chinese officials lead by the military Amban, T'ang Ta-jen, {short description of image}and a military guard of honor in resplendent costumes was assembled. On the following day Stein met with the newly returned civil Amban, Ch'e Ta-jen. Two days later Rai Ram Singh arrived having successfully surveyed a large area of the Kun-lun as far south as 17,400 feet up into the Hindu-tash and then between Kok-yar and Khotan. Stein spent several days preparing both for the immediate return expedition into the mountains and the fall expedition eastward into the desert. {short description of image}On 11 August they set out southward to Langhru near the Kara-kash river. There he found the remains of another fort of sun-dried bricks designed to guard the opening of the pass from the mountains to the south.

Chapter XVIII - A Feast At Khotan
Stein returned to Akhun Beg's suburban garden, where he has stayed in 1900. {short description of image}But his host had departed on the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, an immensely arduous trip from Turkestan over the high mountains and across desolate plains. The usual route west was through Kashgar and across Russia to Constantinople and the return journey was then to India and across the Karakorum back to Khotan. This section is filled with Stein's detailed description of an elaborate banquet in his honor given by the Amban. {short description of image}The entire Chinese staff and all the Mohammedan dignitaries were in attendance. This chapter is a marvelous insight into Chinese and Turkestani culture and political life in 19th and early 20th century Central Asia.

Chapter XCI - Preparations at Khotan
By 9 June Stein had returned from Yarkand to Khotan. Along the way, at Pialma, he conferred with Satip-aldi Beg and arranged for the transport he would need in September across the Kara-korum. At Khotan he was back to his favorite camp site at Nar-bagh. ({short description of image} - {short description of image}) Stein became very busy organizing the mass of artifacts he had sent from along the southern edge of the Takla in 1906-07 with the loads being delivered from his more recent explorations north of it. He comments that the acquisitions of tin plate to fashion his crates took the supply of the whole of Turkestan. The laborious task of sorting and packing took 6 full weeks. Teams of carpenters were busy cutting tree trunks and fashioning boards to turn into cases. Stein made sure to do all the actual wrapping and packing of each artifact himself. He invented a method using glue and cotton to strengthen the backs of the fragile frescos from Miran. He had to prepare them for the coming 8000 mile journey to London.
A tragedy occurred during this period. In March Stein sent his faithful engineer, Naik Ram Singh, back to Miran to photograph the art work that could not be moved. There the healthy Sikh suddenly developed glaucoma and became blind. Despite this he resolutely continued to accomplish his mission at Miran. He insisted also on doing all his own cooking in conformity with caste eating rules. Finally, Ibrahim Beg brought him back to Khotan. Stein hired a Hindu cook and sent the two to Yarkand for medical attention. There the Swedish Medical Mission director, Rev. Mr. Raquette, diagnosed the disease. Stein then sent his engineer over the Kara-korum to India via Ladak with assistants to insure his care. The eventual outcome was that Ram Singh was medically retired with an exceptionally large pension, but died in 1909 after witch the Indian Government authorized a continued pension for the widow and son.
As Stein labored with the packing, Chiang-ssu-yeh continued with cataloguing as much of the Chinese documents as time permitted. Meanwhile, Stein also was busy with extensive preparation for another exploit. He was determined to find the head waters of the Yurung-kash River that had been blocked from him as he went south from Khotan. His solution was to journey east along the foothills and then turn south around the end of the highest range, pass behind it, and then turn back west up the inner plateaus to find the river before then continuing west to intersect the caravan route to the Kara-korum. Along this lengthy route he would of course complete the topographical survey of many square miles of unexplored terrain. And of course Stein simply loved being in extremely high mountains. But the whole region lacked vegetation, so how to feed ponies during what would surely be at least a 40-day trek? Stein planned a final supply at Polur, the last inhabited hamlet in the Kun-lun - then to reach the Kara-kash valley where Satip-aldi Beg would bring a Kirghiz supply caravan and establish a depot. As always, Stein's planning was meticulous and far-seeing, but events turned out otherwise. No matter how many ponies and donkeys were utilized they could only carry fodder for themselves. Yet the party required also 7 saddle ponies for the men and 10 more for the camp and survey equipment. which would require another 17 ponies to carry their fodder, and so on and on, plus the pack animals would require more men as drivers. (This is a familiar problem analyzed by students of Alexander the Great's campaigns). Stein decided to use teams of donkeys in groups that would be sent back as their fodder loads became exhausted. There were many donkey men in Khotan. But Stein faced the same kind of problem that he found in Kan-chou. He would be paying exorbitant prices for animals he wanted to survive the entire tourney; but, having received more than the full total value for the animal as a rent, the owners would prefer to palm off their worst beasts and not see then again. Stein was deeply appreciative of the invaluable assistance Badruddin Khan, the Afghan Ak-sakal, provided in expertly handling this task. Lal Singh arrived on 20 July from his extensive survey project which had been hampered by damage to the level on the theodolite. Stein completed his archeological efforts by a return to Yoktan to purchase some of the new season's 'finds' of terra-cotta figures. On 1 August he sent off the main caravan of over 50 loaded camels to Sanju and then on to the upper Kara-kash where Stein expected to join it for the trek over the Kara-korum. Moving south-east he had to cross the flooded Yurung-kash by ferry boat, an undertaking that required hours to get his three boatloads safely across. He rode through Sampula to Kotaz Langer. There he said good-bye to Badruddin Khan and Chiang.


Stein discusses his visits to Khotan during the second expedition very briefly in Serindia.
Section I - Old sites near the oasis

Stein returned to Khotan on 5 August after an absence of 5 years. His two visits during this second expedition were brief, in August and again in September. Interestingly he here completely omits discussion of his aborted effort during a month (last part of August and first days of September) to reach the headwaters of the Kara-kash River. He was pleased to see the rapid extension of the irrigation that was opening new areas for agriculture even though in some areas this would cover the wide debris fields known as 'Tati'. He rode south on 11 August in hopes of completing topographic surveys to the headwaters of the Kara-kash in the high K'un-lun south of Nissa and Karanghu-tagh. Sand Buried Ruins of Desert Cathay contains the account of this arduous effort in which the hill dwelling locals caused him so much difficulty. On the way he stopped briefly again at Yoktan, then continued to Aiding-kula and Naghara-khana. The latter, a mound, was now more exposed due to increased cultivation around it. He was determined to link the buildings formerly on it with a monastery mentioned by Hsuan-tsang. Yoktan continued to show some results of local efforts to search for gold under the ground but the increases in price of agricultural land and cost of labor was making such searching less profitable. He also visited Kohmari Mazar the sacred site from Buddhist accounts of Khotan as Mount Gosringa. Across the river opposite Faizabad Stein observed a grotto carved into the rock wall. Three miles beyond Faizabad Stein came upon a ruined, irregularly shaped, quadrilateral fort located on a narrow plateau. One wall was over 300 feet long and another 245 feet long. The 8 feet thick walls were constructed of sun-dried bricks measuring 18x12x6 inches. Near the apparent entrance the wall retained a height of 15 feet. Stein could find no datable evidence. The purpose for the fort, however, was clear - to guard the route from the mountains down the Kara-kash River valley.


Stein returned to Khotan during his third expedition. In Innermostasia he briefly describes his preparations there for exploration of the Lop sea and the Nan-shan further east.


In his popular description of all three expeditions, On Central Asian Tracks, Stein briefly mentions his stop at Khotan.


Chapter IV - First Explorations at a Sand-buried Site
Stein in this chapter reverts first to a description of his first expedition at Khotan. He briefly mentions his work around Khotan finding the ancient Buddhist sites described by Hsuan-tsang. He also comments on the way in which 'treasure hunters' have unearthed remnants of the medieval city, Yoktan, while sifting the lower levels in search of gold flecks. He was alerted to his first desert venture by an old desert denizen, Turdi, from Tawakkel. Stein also located and hired two desert hunters, Ahmad Merghen and Kasim Akhun who had led Sven Hedin during previous explorations. So on 7 December he set out for Tawakkel, where he hired (conscripted) reluctant local laborers to dig in the forbidding desert. He added local donkeys to his camels to transport the baggage, food, and water, leaving the ponies to return to Khotan (everyone including Stein had to walk in the deep sand). On 12 December he departed Tawakkel into the real desert of sand-dunes. {short description of image}After some erroneous guidance from the two hunters, Turdi was able to show Stein the ruin at Dandan-uiliq. Stein's description in this chapter is identical to that in his narrative.


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