Section 2 – Geographical Background

1. The Nanshan, the ‘Southern Mountains’ = the modern Qilian shan range which form the western and southern border of the Gansu corridor, separating China Proper from Qinghai, traditionally considered part of Tibetan territory. The Qilian range stretches some 800 kilometres and contains peaks up to 4,000 metres high.

2. The Han Nanshan 漢南山, or the ‘Chinese Southern Mountains,’ are now known as the Qinling shan.

“This is identified by the Chinese commentators with the Chung-nan shan [Zhong Nanshan]. South of present-day Hsi-an [Xian].” CICA, p. 72, n. 10.

3. The Karakash (Karakax) and Yurungkash (Yurungkax) rivers flow north out of the mountains south of Khotan passing just to the west of the present city. From there they flow more than a hundred kilometres north before joining to form the Khotan River which, itself, joins with the Yarkand and Aksu rivers further north, as described in the next note.

4. The Khotan, Yarkand and Aksu rivers all join together to the southeast of Aksu itself, forming the Tarim River. During wetter periods, such as the first few centuries CE, it is likely that the Kashgar River joined with the Yarkand River before flowing east to meet with the Khotan and the Aksu. It is quite possible that, in early times the river was used for the transport of goods by boat, although we have no record of this.
          The general desiccation of the Tarim Basin region in historical times is well attested. It has forced the abandonment of many communities as glacial streams retreated back towards the ranges and forced significant changes to trade routes. The old Southern Route between Dunhuang and Charklik became almost impassable over the first few centuries
CE forcing travellers to take the longer route through the mountainous region to the south, controlled by rebellious Qiang tribes, or to abandon the Southern Route altogether heading from Dunhuang past Lop Nor via Shanshan to rejoin the Northern Route near Korla. See note 1.9 above. For further information on climactic changes in the region over the past 2,000 years see, for example: the discussion in Stein (1921), pp. 207-211; Almgren (1962), pp. 93-108; Shi and Yao (1999), pp. 91-100.

“The Tarim River, which is in the centre of Eastern Turkestan, was formerly thought to be the upper course of the Huanghe [or ‘Yellow River’].” Translated and adapted from Chavannes (1907), p. 168, n. 4.

5. Puchang Hai 蒲昌海 [P’u-ch’ang] = Lop Nor. As the text notes, it was also called the Yanze 鹽澤 [Yen-tse]; literally: ‘Salt Swamp.’ See, for example, Chavannes (1905), p. 570; Stein (1921), p. 729, n. 30; (1928), pp. 293 ff.
          The name Puchang is made up of the character pu which means the cat-tail rush from which mats are woven, and chang which means ‘abundant.’ The Hanshu specifically states that there is “an abundance of rushes” (shengliu) in the kingdom of Shanshan. CICA, p. 85. Stein (1928), pp. 316, 318, notes the banks of reeds along the eastern shores of the dried-up lake.
          As in English, the Chinese often referred to large lakes, especially salt ones, as ‘seas’ (hai
rather than hu  , the usual word for ‘lake’).

6. There are two separate routes from Dunhuang listed here. The first heads west through Shanshan: the second heads north to Hami. From Hami the text says the route leads north to Turfan. It actually leads just about due west to Turfan, although it does start off from Hami in a northwesterly direction. The distances between Dunhuang and Hami (over 416 km) and between Hami and Turfan (499 km) accord well with measurements on modern maps. See note 2.11 below.

7. Jinman Town 金滿城 [Ch’in-man ch’eng]. See note 1.37 above for the identification of Jinman near Guchen. The distance of 208 km matches that between Turfan and the region of Guchen on modern maps. The town of Jinman is described as houbu 後郶 here which translates as something like: “The Headquarters for Further [Juzhi]”

8. This reference to Hami and Turfan/Jimasa being the “Doors of the Western Regions” is evocative of the more modern term of the “Ears of the Gobi” for Barkul and Pichan (the easternmost oasis in the Turfan depression), as reported in The Gobi Desert by Cable and French (1943), pp. 152-160.

9. The ‘Southern Route.’ The Hanshu describes the ‘Southern Route’ as follows:

“Starting from the Yü-men and Yang barriers there are two routes which lead into the Western Regions. The one which goes by way of Shan-shan, skirting the northern edge of the southern mountains and proceeding along the course of the river west of So-chü [Suoche = Yarkand] is the Southern Route. To the west, the Southern route crosses the Ts’ung-ling and then leads to the Ta Yüeh-chih [the Kushans] and An-hsi [Parthia].” CICA: pp. 72-73.

The notice on the Southern Route in the Hou Hanshu is very similar, but it provides more details on the latter part of the route following its notice on the kingdom of Dere – see notes 5.1 and 7.1 below.
          The most feared stretches of desert were between Cherchen and Khotan. Not only was there a lack of water and fodder but also the constant crossing of sandhills was very tiring for both man and beast.

 “The desert itself is quite flat, a billowing sea of soft yellow sand-dunes 5 to 30 m high. However, in some central areas, for example in the west of the Keriya River, the dunes can rise to more than 200 metres high – a tough challenge even for a camel caravan.” Baumer (2000), p. 2.

“At the site of Endere, closer to Quemo (Cherchen), Stein discovered a fort and associated buildings showing occupation by Tibetans in the eighth century.
          This next stretch of the highway is under constant threat from the desert and frequently blocked. Fences of reed-matting form sand-breaks. Quemo comprises one street only – and no wonder, since for 145 days a year it is blasted by sands blown by Force 5 winds [19-24 mph or 31-39 kph]. Until the road was completed in the 1960s it took a month’s journey through 800 kilometres (500 miles) of desert to reach Korla.” Bonavia (1988), p. 192.

The routes were frequently changed, often because of political difficulties, but often too, because of physical conditions. Early snows, landslides and avalanches frequently forced caravans to take longer, or more difficult routes. Gradual desiccation of the country in the Tarim Basin has caused long sections of the Southern Route to be abandoned in historical times. See note 2.4 above.
          The Southern Route, as mentioned in the Weilue, must have shifted to the south through the mountainous lands of unpacified Qiang tribes, presumably to avoid the harshness of the desert passing, especially during the very hot summers:

“The southern one passed from Tun-huang first through the territory of the nomadic Jô Ch’iang tribe, who grazed in the hills to the south-west, and then reaching the southern rim of the Tarim Basin about Charklik, led westwards to the Pamirs. A look at the map shows that the route meant is the one which skirts the high Āltin-tāgh range, and still serves as the usual connection between Tun-huang and Charklik during that part of the year when the shorter desert route is closed by the heat and the absence of drinkable water. In the autumn of 1907 Rai Ram Singh surveyed it on his return to Charklik.” Stein (1912), pp. 514-515.

“That ‘the southern route’ of the Wei lio is identical with the one which still leads from Tun-huang along the northernmost main range of the K’un-lun, here known as the
Āltin-tāgh, to Charkhlik and thence through the string of oases in the south of the Tarim Basin is made certain by the mention of the Jô Ch’iang, a nomadic tribe whose position in the mountains between Tun-huang and Chü-mo or Charchan is quite correctly described by the Former Han Annals.” Stein (1928), p. 418.

10. Da Yuezhi 大月氏 [Ta Yüeh-chih] = Kushans. For recent discussions of the origins of the Yuezhi / Kushans and their migrations, see: Mallory and Mair (2000), esp. pp. 94-99; Yu (1998), esp. pp. 47-66; Liu (1990), pp. 261-292, and Enoki, et al., (1994), pp. 171-189. For their ‘homeland’ according to Chinese accounts, see note 1.45 above. For more details on the Yuezhi see note 13.1 below.

11. ‘Northern Route.’ The description of the ‘Northern Route’ here is exactly the same as the description given in the Hanshu 96A (see CICA, p. 73). It outlines the route running from Turfan, along the southern slopes of the Tianshan Mountains and following the course of the Tarim River to Kashgar. From there it headed to Ferghana and points west. This is all quite clear, as far as it goes. The portion of the route from Dunhuang to Turfan is not mentioned.       
          There has been considerable confusion about the various routes described in the literature. Partly this is because there were three different routes used to reach Turfan at various times; partly it is due to the confusing use of names for the routes in the Hanshu, the Hou Hanshu, and the Weilue
especially the use of the terms ‘Northern Route’ and ‘New Northern Route’
          The first route used by the Chinese to reach Nearer Jushi (Turfan) and Further Jushi (Jimasa) seems to have run from the Yumen frontier-post through Shanshan (or Loulan – north of Lop Nor), to Weili (Korla) and Karashahr to Turfan, and from Turfan on to Jimasa.
          This was a very long way around to get to Jimasa. During the yuanshi period (1-5
CE) a new route was opened north across the desert, via a string of waterholes (now mostly dried up) to the Turfan region and from there to Jimasa:

“During the reign-period Yüan-shih [1-5 A.D.] there was a new route in the further royal kingdom of Chü-shih. This led to the Yü-men barrier from north of Wu-ch’uan [‘Five Boats’], and the journey was comparatively shorter. Hsü P’u, the Wu and Chi colonel, wanted to open up this route for use, so as to reduce the distance by half and to avoid the obstacle of the White Dragon Mounds [on the route to Loulan].” Hanshu 96B – from CICA, pp. 189-190.

This route went directly across the desert from the Yumen barrier and was extremely difficult and dangerous. Both the Suishi – Memoir on the Western Regions and the Zhoushi  – Memoir on the Western Regions, give similar descriptions of the difficulties of the journey, the necessity of following the trail of skeletons of men and animals or their droppings, and the presence of goblins and demons. They both make the point that merchants always took the route through Hami when it was politically possible.

Paul Pelliot (1959), p. 155 points out the fact that this new route avoided Hami (then in the hands of the Xiongnu) going directly from Kharakhoja to Dunhuang. In fact he says that this new route “had nothing to do with Qomul [Hami], except to keep clear of it.”

The Weilue gives more details on the section between Yumen and Turfan:

“Heading northwest from Yumen (‘Jade Gate’) frontier-post, passing through Hengkeng (the Besh-toghrak Valley), one avoids the Sanlongsha (‘Three Sand Ridges’) as well as the Longdui (‘Dragon Dunes’), and emerges to the north of Wuchuan (‘Five Boats’) and arrives in the territory of Jushi at Gaochang (47 km SE of Turfan), which is the residence of the Mao (Wu) and Ji Commandants (in charge of the State Farms). Then it turns to the west and rejoins the Central Route to Quici (Kucha). This is the New Route.”

The ‘Central Route’ mentioned in the Weilue led from the Yumen frontier-post through Shanshan and then headed north, joining the ‘Northern Route’ to Kucha and Kashgar, as described in the Hou Hanshu.
          During the sporadic periods when the Chinese had control of the Hami oasis between 73
CE and the middle of the second century, the preferred route would have run via Hami to both Turfan and the region of Jimasa (that is, Nearer and Further Jushi). This was by far the shortest and easiest route from Dunhuang, and has always been the main route, whenever the political situation allowed its use.

“I have explained elsewhere how this ever-present threat of the Huns [between 121 BCE and 73 CE] from across the northernmost T’ien-shan determined the direction of the ‘new northern route’ [note – this should read, simply, the ‘New Route’] which the Chinese in A.D. 2 opened from the ancient ‘Jade Gate’ in order to communicate with ‘Posterior Chü-shih’ or the territory around the present Guchen. To reach this ground, which, like Turfan immediately to the south, had passed early under their control, the route via Hami would undoubtedly have been the easiest. Yet Chinese administrative policy, was always disposed to face physical difficulties rather than risks from hostile barbarians, kept the new road well away from Hami and carried it through waterless desert wastes which at least offered protection from those dreaded nomadic foes.” Stein (1928), pp. 539-540. Also, Chavannes (1905), pp. 532-535 and 533 note 1. See the note 27.3 below, where there is a description of another ‘northern route’ from Further Jushi (Jimasa) to the Wusun.

For a detailed description of the numismatic evidence for a northern route between the Black Sea and Central Asia, see: Mielczarek (1997), pp. 131-147.

12. The kingdom of Dayuan 大宛 [Ta-yüan] is generally accepted as being centred in the Ferghana valley. See, for example: Negmatov (1994), pp. 454-455; CICA, p. 131, n. 325.
          Dayuan is sometimes written Dawan – the latter character
can be read either way, though the former is preferable, and more commonly employed – see GR No. 10210 (on p. 688). Pulleyblank (1963), p. 90 write that Dayuan was, “…the first western country which Chang Ch’ien [Zhang Qian] visited (Shih-chi 123) = Greek Τόχαροι, Τάχαροι, Latin Tochari, Sanskrit Tukhara, Tuṣara, etc., based on an original which Henning reconstructed as *Taxwār (1938)….” Also see Ibid. p. 224.
          The capital of Dayuan is named Guishan
貴山 [Kuei-shan] in the Hanshu (CICA, p. 131 and n. 326). Taishan Yu (1998), pp. 69 and 92, n. 22, makes, I believe, a strong case for identifying it with Khojend.

   “On the location of the town of Guishan, the seat of the royal government of Dayuan, there are five theories. They are: a) Kokand, b) Ura-tübe, c) Akhsikath, d) Kāsān and e) Khojend. Up to now, the first three have already been discarded. But which of the last two is correct has not been determined. I believe that Khojend is better than Kāsān.” Ibid., p. 69.

He refers the reader to Kuwabara (1934-2, 3, 4) for critiques of the first three theories. He then goes on to give his reasons for choosing Khojend. (However, note that by a slip of the pen he has, in his second point, mistakenly quoted from Shiji, ch. 123: “Dayuan is situated more than 2,000 li southwest of Dayuan….”. This should, of course, read: “Daxia is situated more than 2,000 li southwest of Dayuan….”).
          Khojend (ancient Alexandria Escharte or ‘Alexandria the Furthest’; during Soviet times, Leninabad) is very strategically placed and not only guards the entrance to the fertile Ferghana Valley, but controls the main trade route from the east which forks here either southwest towards Samarkand, or north towards Tashkent.
          Yu correctly points out in his point no. 3, that:

   “In the Hanshu, Ch. 96A, it is recorded that “[to the northwest of the state of Xiuxun] is a distance of 920 li [383 km]to the state of Dayuan, and 1,610 li [669 km]to the west, the the Da Yuezhi.” This shows that from Xiuxun to the Da Yuezhi one could go northwest by the roundabout way of Dayuan, but could also go west and reach straight there. The “1,610 li” must have been the distance is one went west to the Da Yuezhi. However, it was mistaken for the distance to the Da Yuezhi from Xiuxun if one went northwest by the roundabout way of Dayuan by the editor of the Hanshu, who, hased on this distance, calculated further the distance from Dayuan to the Da Yuezhi: 1,610 - 920 = 690 li. Thus it can be seen that we cannot decide the location of the town of Jianshi on the basis of the distance from Dayuan to the Da Yuezhi recorded by the Hanshu.” Yu (1998), p. 59.

In the mid-second century B.C. the Yüeh-chih tribes passed southwards through Ferghana and Usrushana, and subsequently conquered Bactria. It seems likely that the far-flung, wealthy and densely populated state of Ta-yüan arose about the same time. Much detailed information about this state is given by the Chinese chronicler Szü-ma Ch’ien, who passed through Ta-yüan in the latter half of the second century B.C. The name Ta-yüan was used until the second century A.D., when it was replaced by Pu-han and Pa-han-na (fifth century A.D.) – the Chinese transcriptions of the name ‘Ferghana’. The identification of Ta-yüan with Ferghana is firmly established in historical literature.
          According to the Chinese sources, the country had many large and small towns and settlements, numbering over seventy. The population was 300,000 and the inhabitants had deep-set eyes and thick beards; they were skilled merchants and held women in high esteem. The country’s army numbered 60,000 fighting men armed with bows and spears, skilled in shooting from horseback. It was a land of highly developed agriculture; both wheat and rice were grown; there were large vineyards, wine was made and stored for dozens of years, and much mu-su (lucerne) was sown. Particularly famous were the Ferghana horses, highly prized in neighbouring lands and especially in China. They were said to ‘sweat blood’ and were considered ‘heavenly’. Emperor Wu-ti was particularly keen to have these blood-sweating horses. At one time they were worshipped in China and poets wrote odes to them.
          Ta-yüan also included Khojand and Usrushana. To the north and west it bordered on K
’ang and to the south on the Yüeh-chih or Kushan possessions. Its capital was the city of Ershi, identifiable either with the ancient site of Markhamat in Andizhan District or with Khojand or Ura-Tyube. Its rulers also had a residence in the city of Yu-chen, possibly present-day Uzgen.” Negmatov (1994), pp. 454-455. Note that Pulleyblank (1963), p. 120 identifies Ershi with “Nesef, Naskhšab, present Karchi in Sogdiana. Historical grounds for this identification of the capital of Ta-yüan which the Chinese besieged and captured in 101 B.C. will be given elsewhere (Shih chi 123).”

“The powerful state of Dawan in modern Ferghana was similar to the Yuezhi in custom and style, according to the description in the History of the Han Dynasty.27 Dawan was famous for its grape wine and for its horses. Grape wine might be one of the legacies of Hellenistic influence or Hellenization of the region before the Tuharan speakers took over. The name Dawan, as mentioned above, was a variation of Tuharan. The horses of Dawan were so famous that Wudi sent two major military expeditions to defeat the king and obtain horses. As for the Yuezhi, who lived further west now, their major trading item with the Han was probably no longer horses. They now controlled the resources not only of Central Asia, but also those on the fertile agricultural land of Bactria, they were not poor nomads in tatters, but rich, proud horse-riding people skilful at trade.”

27. Ban Gu, Hanshu (History of the Han Dynasty) (Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 1964), 96a/3894.

Liu (2001), p. 268.

13. Kangju
康居 [K’ang-chü] = Tashkent plus the Chu, Talas, and middle Jaxartes (Syr Darya) basins. There has been some confusion in the literature over the extent of Kangju’s territories during the Kushan period, and this is difficult to determine with confidence. The character jū means residence, settled part of the country; so Kangju can be translated as either: the territory of Kang, or the territory of the Kang (people).
          As Mark Passehl kindly pointed out in a personal communication (7th July, 2003), Kangju territory was described as “small” at the time of Zhang Qian’s visit c. 129

“… probably concentrated around the Tashkent oasis as you say. They probably had no common frontier with the Wusun until a bit later when Kangju land became the name of a much larger and more powerful federation which seems to have included a great slab of the Massagetans dispersed west and south by the westward migrations forced by the Xiongnu victories and expansion, as also probably most of the nomad inhabitants of Kazakhstan displaced westwards at the same time.”

The Shiji chap. 123 says:

“K’ang-chü is situated two thousand li northwest of Ta-yüan. Its people likewise are nomads and resemble the Yüeh-chih in their customs. They have eighty or ninety thousand skilled archer fighters. The country is small and borders Ta-yüan. It acknowledges nominal sovereignty to the Yüeh-chih people in the south and the Hsiun-nu people in the east.” Watson (1961), p. 267.

          There seems to have been a considerable expansion of Kangju territory and population after the time of Zhang Qian’s visit to the region c. 129 BCE. The Hanshu records that were 120,000 households, 600,000 individuals and 120,000 men able to bear arms (CICA, p. 126). This represents an increase of their fighting force by at least a third. By this time their territory had also increased:

   “1.       In the Hanshu, Ch. 96 A, it is recorded that “[Wusun adjoins] Dayuan in the west. In the same book, ch. 70, it is also recorded:

     Zhizhi 郅支, the Chanyu 單于 of the Xiongnu 匈奴, turned west and went to Kangju, and borrowed troops from Kangju. With troops [given by Kangju], he attacked Wusun many times and penetrated as far as the town of Chigu赤谷, he slaughtered and plundered the people and seized their domestic animals. The Wusun dared not pursue him. The west of [the date of Wusun] was then weakly defended, an uninhabited area extending for 1000 li.

This shows that the town of Chigu, the seat of the royal government of Wusun, which was situated in the upper reaches of the Narin River, was about 1,000 li [416 km] from the western boundary of the state. Therefore the natural boundary between Dayuan and Wusun may have been the Kagart Mountain and Yassi Mountain.

   2.         In the Hanshu, Ch. 96A, it is recorded that “[Dayuan adjoins] Kangju in the north.” Since the metropolitan territory of Kangju lay on the northern bank of the Syr Darya and its eastern boundary extended as far as the east of the Talas River, the natural boundary between Dayuan and Kangju may have been Chatkal-tau and Urtak-tau.” Yu (1998), p. 67.

In general, I agree with Yu’s analysis here with the rider that, although I have been unable to locate the “Kagart Mountain and Yassi Mountain”, I believe the town of Chigu was situated elsewhere (see note 1.60 above). The Chaktal and Urtak-tau ranges, on the other hand, look like logical boundaries:

   “From the middle of the Alexander range [now referred to as the Kirghiz Range], in about 74o E., a chain known as the Talas-tau breaks away from its south flank in a W.S.W. direction, and from near the western extremity of this latter two parallel ranges, the Chotkal or Chaktal (14,000 ft.)[ 4,267 m.], and the Alatau, break away in a south-westerly direction, and running parallel to one another and to the river Naryn, or upper Syr-darya, terminate at right angles to the middle Syr-darya, after it has made its sweeping turn to the north-west. The Talas-tau, sometimes known as the Urtak-tau, while the name of Ala-tao is also extended to cover it, has an average elevation of 14,000-15,000 ft. [4,267-4,572 m.], but lifts its snow-capped summits to 15,750 ft. [4,801 m.]; it is crossed by passes at 8,000-10,650 ft. [2,438-3,246 m.].” Taken from the “1911 Encyclopedia,” downloaded from: on 27 April 2003.

          I assume that the “uninhabited area extending for 1000 li [416 km],” threatened by the Xiongnu and their Kangju allies, refers to the stretch of the important northern route between modern Tokmak (to the northwest of Issyk-kul) as far west as the region of modern Taraz (Dzhambul), to the north of the Kirghiz Range. This would have allowed the Xiongnu and Kangju to bypass the Wusun and control the northern route, until the Han defeated Zhizhi in 36 BCE. These events are described in Hanshu 96A:

   “In the east [the inhabitants] were constrained to serve the Hsiung-nu. In the time of Emperor Hsüan, the Hsiung-nu became ill-disciplined and disordered, with five Shan-yü contending for power simultaneously. Han supported the Shan-yü Hu-han-yeh and had him established; so the Shan-yü Chih-chih, felt offended and put the Han envoys to death and blocked the way west to K’ang-chü. Later the protector-general Kan Yen-shou and deputy colonel Ch’en T’ang brought out troops of the Wu and Chi colonel and of the various states of the Western Regions. On reaching K’ang-chü he punished the Shan-yü Chih-chih and exterminated [his line], as is described in the biography of Kan Yen-shou and Ch’en T’ang. These events occurred in the third year of the reign-period Chien-chao of Emperor Yüan [36 B.C.].” CICA, p. 126.

Direct communications were then re-established by the Han with Kangju which, however, continued to be somewhat unhelpful and disrespectful in spite of sending hostages to Changan. See CICA, pp. 127-128.
          Taishan Yu (1998), pp. 105-107 also does, I think, an excellent job of identifying the seats of the five “lesser kings” of the Kangju listed in the Hanshu. The identifications are based on the accounts in Xin Tangshu, ch. 221B which make mention of their earlier names. See also Chavannes (1900), I, pp.136-147.

“According to this, of five lesser kings of Kangju, the seats of governments of Ji [Chi], Fumo [Fu-mo], and Suxie [Su-hsieh] were situated at Bokhāra, Tashkent, Kashania, and Kesh respectively. As mentioned above, these oases had been subject to Kangju in the Han times. As for “Huoxun” (Khwarizm), the seat of the royal government of Aojian must have been identical with “Huanquian,” a small state west of Dayuan, recorded in the Shiji, ch. 123. Khwarizm which lay on the left bank of the Amu Darya, had once confronted Anxi. In view of its location, since Sogdiana was subject to Kangju, Huanqian (Huoxun) also was possibly subject to Kangju. In the Hanshu, ch. 96A, it is recorded that Anxi adjoined Kangju in the north. As mentioned above, this shows that Anxi adjoined Sogdiana, a dependency of Kangju, in the middle reaches of the Amu Darya. As this was so, the relevant records in the Xin Tangshu, ch. 221B, are, generally speaking, reasonable. It has been suggested that the records are all fantastic talk. I disagree.” Yu (1998), p. 106.

          Again, in the Later Han, we find Kangju taking hostile action against Chinese expansionism. In the Biography of Ban Chao – see Chavannes (1906), p. 230 – it is said that the Kangju sent troops in 84
CE to help Kashgar against the Han. Ban Chao was able, however, to bribe the king of the Yuezhi, who was in the process of making a marriage alliance with the Kangju, to get the Kangju to desist. Then Ban Chao was able to capture the king of Kashgar (thus gaining control of the route to the west for a few years).    

“The K’ang-chü were of course an important people in Sogdiana in the Han period. They later gave their name to Samarkand but in the Former Han period were centred around Tashkent. The Ch’iang-ch’ü group in the Hsiung-nu were presumably a part of the K’ang-chü people who had at some time been captured and incorporated by the Hsiung-nu. Now it happens that Tashkend was later known in China as Shih Kuo “Stone Country” and people from there who came to China took the surname Shih “Stone”. Tashkend itself means “Stone City” in Turkish. This is usually regarded, following Marquart (1901, p. 155), as simply a Turkicization of the earlier Čāč, but this does not account for the Chinese name which is long before the region became Turkish.
          The K’ang-chü people are usually though of as Iranian but they had close links with Ta-yüan (= *Taxwār, Tochari) and the Yüeh-chih and they shared the title hsi-hou = yabgu with the latter and the Wu-sun. It is quite likely therefore that they too were Tocharian in origin and that they moved into Sogdiana as part of the same westward movement that brought the Yüeh-chih and then the Tochari spilling over the Pamirs. In this case we may look in Tocharian for an interpretation of their name. It happens that there is a word kāṅka- in Tokharian A about which Sir Harold Bailey has kindly given me the following note.” [This is followed with Bailey’s rather lengthy note that can be summed up in his sentence: “The above contexts seem to assure a Tocharian word kāṅk- meaning “stone”.”] Pulleyblank (1963), p. 247.

“The most extensive and stable state in the west of this region was K
ang (the ancient Kangha in the Avesta or Kang-chü in the Chinese chronicles). Some scholars believe that the K’ang-chü state was centred on oases situated between the upper and lower reaches of the River Syr Darya (Jaxartes), known in ancient times as the River Kanga. During the early period, the power of the rulers of K’ang-chü extended to the territories of Transoxiana and the valley of the river Zerafshan, while in the north there were vassal states, the largest of which was Yen-ts’ai. According to the Chinese chronicles, by the second century it had been renamed Alania and was dependent on K’ang-chü. Alania was situated between the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea.
          A military and political alliance between the Sarmatian and Alan tribes living between the lower reaches of the Volga and the Aral Sea was formed under the name of Yen-ts’ai
Alania. it consisted mainly of semi-nomadic herdsmen speaking Iranian languages....
          In K
ang-chü itself, which lay north-west of Ta-yüan (Ferghana), although there were many semi-nomadic herdsmen, most of the Iranian-speaking population were reported to be farmers and craftsmen. The inhabitants of the region were said to lead a settled life, have towns, cultivate the land and breed livestock. Originally all the territories were dependent on the great Hsiung-nu power. The sources mention that in the first century B.C. dissent among the Hsiung-nu leaders weakened their power and Chih-chih (5636 B.C.), a rebellious shan-yü (ruler) of the Hsiung-nu, sought refuge for a short time in Kang-chü and was killed there. Kang-chü is still mentioned in fifth-century sources, but in the sixth century instead of Kang-chü we find five principalities which, as the chronicles stress, were situated in the former territories of Kang-chü. Kyzlasov (1996), pp. 315-316.

          Kangju certainly controlled the oasis of Tashkent (which was possibly the administrative centre of their kingdom) and the middle and lower reaches of the Syr Darya or Jaxartes (also known in ancient times as the Kanga or the Jayhun) river, and they almost certainly also had control of the rich grazing lands and trade routes along the valleys of the Chu and Talas rivers.
          Pulleyblank (1963), p. 94 states, on the basis of the account in Hanshu 96A, that the Kangju had their capital in their summer territory at Beitian (“ = Bin-kāth, the old name for Tashkend, with Bin < *Bidn through loss of medial d?”). See also, ibid. p. 247, and CICA, p. 124, n. 299. Exactly where their eastern border with the Wusun was, though, remains to be discovered.

   “The construction of the Salar-Karasu-Dzhun irrigation system in the second and first centuries B.C. gave impetus to the development of the agricultural oasis of ancient Tashkent. The origin of crop-raising on the territory of the Chirchik-Ahangaran basin dates back to an earlier period. However, as the Buzgon-tepe, Taukat-tepe, Kugait, Shash-tepe and other archaeological monuments located in the irrigation zone of the Salar-Karasu-Dzhun system show, the intensive application of irrigation in that region and the urbanization of a part of its settled area began at the dawn of the Christian era. One characteristic feature of the establishment of the Tashkent agricultural oasis is the fact that all the lands comprised in it were not brought under cultivation at the same time. Priority was given to the use of water resources for irrigation areas which were most favoured by natural conditions and were, for the most part, situated in regions adjacent to the water supply.” Mukhamedjanov (1996), p. 267.

“It must be noted, however, that although the inhabitants of Tashkent and Ferghana at that time followed a settled way of life and were engaged in crop-raising, livestock-breeding and highly artistic handicraft work, careful study and analysis of written and material sources indicate that ancient Ta-yüan (Ferghana) and Chach (Tashkent) were less developed economically than Parthia, Bactria and Sogdiana.” Mukhamedjanov (1996), p. 277.

          It has been suspected for a long time that the Kangju had also conquered and were in control of ancient Sogdiana during the Kushan period. This now may be confirmed. The key is in a short passage in the Hou Hanshu on the kingdom of Liyi, which is said to be dependent on Kangju (see Section 17).
          As Professor Enoki (1955), p. 51, and others, have suggested, Liyi
栗弋 is an obvious error for Suyi , a common Chinese representation of Sogdiana (see Part 12, note 7, below for the quote from Enoki). The characters li and su are so similar that they are commonly confused. Chavannes (1907), p. 195, note 1, noticed that the Tangshu used the form Liyi, but wrongly deduced that this was a mistake for the Liyi of the Weilue.
          Sogdiana included most of the territories between the Jaxartes (Syr Darya) and the Oxus (Amu Darya) rivers. It was centred in the Zerafshan valley, which includes the key oases of Samarkand and Bukhara and also controlled the rich and strategically important centres of Kesh (modern Shakhrisabz) and Alexandria Eschate (modern Kujand).

“Intensive trade was also conducted during this period with Han China, which exported silk, nephrite [jade], lacquerware, hides, iron and nickel. Central Asian merchants exported glass, precious stones and ornaments to China. Luxury goods were the main articles of trade, as was usually the case in ancient times. The Sogdians played an important role in the development of trade links with China. In Tun-huang (East Turkestan), letters in the Sogdian language have been found dating back to the early fourth century A.D. (or to the end of the second century A.D.). One of them notes that 100 freemen from Samarkand were living in Tun-huang. W. B. Henning estimates the number of Sogdians (including slaves and their families) in Tun-huang must have totalled 1,000. Several letters contain information on merchandise, trade, prices, etc. The Sogdians living in East Turkestan maintained close contact with their home town in Samarkand.” Mukhamedjanov (1996), p. 286.

          Kangju, therefore, controlled the two major caravan routes from China to the West: the main “Silk Route” which ran from Kashgar through Ferghana, Samarkand, and Bukhara before it entered Parthian territory in Merv, or headed south through Balkh, as well as the important alternative route north of the Aral and Caspian Seas (thereby avoiding Parthian territory) to their kinsmen, the Alans, who were in direct contact with the Roman ports on the Black Sea.
          Relations between Kangju and the Kushans were close as evidenced by the marriage of a Kushan emperor to a Kangju princess in 84
CE. See the biography of Ban Chao in Hou Hanshu, 77.6 b, Chavannes (1906), p. 230; Zürcher (1968), p. 369.
          The Kushans controlled the routes from Balkh to the west, and all the routes into northern India, and through southern Afghanistan. Therefore, the middle sections of all the main trade routes between Chinese territory and India, Parthia, and the Roman Empire were under the control of either the Kushans or their close allies, the Kangju.

“The nomadic federation of the K’ang-chü was the second great power after the Yüeh-chih in Transoxiana. According to the Chinese sources, K’ang-chü lay north-west of Ta-yüan and west of the Wu-sun, bordering upon the Yüeh-chih to the south. The territory of the K’ang-chü, therefore, covered the region of the Tashkent oasis and part of the territory between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya rivers, with its heartland along the middle Syr Darya. It seems to have emerged as a powerful state in the second century B.C. As the historians of Alexander do not refer to the existence of any political confederation on the Jaxartes (Syr Darya) except Chorasmia, the K’ang-chü must have appeared a little later. They united a number of regions which had sedentary, agricultural and nomadic populations.Kyzlasov The K’ang-chü were inevitably affected by the events of the mid-second century B.C., when the Central Asian tribes invaded Graeco-Bactria. The migration of the nomadic peoples (the Asii, Tochari, etc.) to the south altered the balance of power in the valley of the Syr Darya. Taking advantage of these circumstances, as the Hou Han-shu suggests, the K’ang-chü subjugated Yen-ts’ai in the region of the Aral Sea, and the still more remote land of the Yen in the southern Urals. Yen-ts’ai is identified with the large confederation of Sarmatian tribes led by the Aorsi. Thus, K’ang-chü established direct contact with the Sarmatian world to the north-west. The expansion of K’ang-chü in this direction in the first and second centuries A.D. was occasioned by the rise of the powerful Yüeh-chih confederacy (subsequently the Kushan Empire) to the south and by the presence in the east of the formidable Wu-sun state allied with the Hsiung-nu and the Han Empire. The Chinese sources inform us that K’ang-chü was tributary to the Yüeh-chih in the south and to the Hsiung-nu in the east. The north-west advance of K’ang-chü and its conquest of Yen-ts’ai apparently obliged some tribes of the Aorsi, and later of the Alans, to move west; it may, therefore, be concluded that K’ang-chü played a major historical role in the initial stages of the Great Migration of Peoples, which was such an important event in world history. In this way, K’ang-chü gained control over the northern sector of the international trade route known as the Northern Route.” Zadneprovskiy (1994), p. 463.

“Undaunted, K’ang-chü continued to pursue an independent policy. It maintained its independence u