Section 8 – The Kingdom of Wuyishanli 烏弋山離 (Kandahar, including Arachosia and Drangiana)

1. Pishan 皮山 [P’i-shan] = modern Pishan or Guma – see note 1.15 above.

2. Wucha [Wu-ch’a]. This name is given as Wuhao 烏耗  [Wu-hao] in the Shanghai (1888) edition which Chavannes used. The character:  hao (or mao) – ‘to diminish’; ‘news’; ‘to consume’, ‘to dispense’ – is almost certainly a copyist’s error for the very similar-looking cha used in the Shanghai Zhonghua Shuju (1965) edition of the Hou Hanshu, the Hanshu, the Shuijingzhu and other texts, as Chavannes first pointed out:

“The commentary of 676 indicates that, according to the Qianshuyinyi [Ch’ien-shu-yin-i], this name ought to be pronounced Yanna  鷃拏, but that, according to another gloss, the word is pronounced as a combination of yi and jia   (thus ya), while the word is pronounced as a combination of zhi and jia  (thus cha). The commentator moreover reconciles these two different explanations by saying that if one rapidly pronounces the sounds indicated in the second gloss, one ends up with the sounds indicated by the first. – We will remark that in the Qian Hanshu (chap. XCVI, n, p. 4a), the name of this kingdom is spelled Wucha , the written form found in the Beishi (chap. XCVII, p. 3b), which, besides, is a little closer to the aforementioned second gloss which indicates the sound cha. We must therefore admit that the reading Wucha is closer to the true pronunciation of this placename than the reading Wuhao. Finally, this is best it seems [as] the same name is written Wusha by Xuanzang.” Translated and adapted from Chavannes (1907), p. 175, n. 3.

See also the discussion by Petech (1950), pp. 68-69.     The Hanshu (CICA, pp. 101, 103, 104) says Wucha is south of Puli (Tashkurghan), south-west of Xiye (Karghalik), adjoins Wulei (Sarhad) to its south, and Nandou (the Chitral/Kunar Valley) to its west, and says (ibid. p. 97) that it is 1,340 li (557 km) southwest of Pishan, and comes just before Xiandu (the ‘Hanging Passages’ = Hunza/Gilgit) on the way to Jibin.
          An examination of the map will show that Wucha may, with some confidence, be located near modern Ghujak Bai (Aijie Keboyi), at the junction of the Mintaka and Tashkurgan Rivers, about 70 km south of Tashkurgan.
          The Hanshu (CICA, p. 98) when it says that Wucha adjoins Zihe (Shahidullah) and Puli (Tashkurghan) in the north. This may be explained by the confusion in the Hanshu of Zihe (Shahidullah) and Xiye (Karghalik), as the Hou Hanshu (see the end of Section 5) makes clear. Karghalik is actually northeast of Wucha or Ghujak Bai. It could also indicate that they were under the control of a single ruler during the time of the Former Han, but his command of the southern route to Shahidullah had been lost by the time of the Later Han.
          From Ghujak Bai the main route headed some 80 km southwest over the Mustagh Pass (5,827 m. or 19,117 ft). This pass used to be used until recent centuries but the advance of glacier ice has forced people to use the so-called “New Mustagh Pass” (5,800 m. or 19,029 ft.), about 16 km further west; but this is also heavily glaciated and difficult. The alternative is to head another 30 km or so west over the far easier and lower Kilik Pass (4,827 m. or 15,837 ft.) into the upper reaches of the Hunza Valley.

Notes on the Mustagh Pass adapted from Merzliakova (2003): “Height = 5706 m” [17, 720 ft.]. “The Pass lies in Muztag range, in Karakorum Mountains. “The Pass lies over the main axis of the Himalayas, and divides the Chinese dominions from the British dependencies. It is also on the watershed between the rivers which flow into the Indian Ocean and those which flow towards Turkestan....” “One of the highest and most difficult in the Himalayas.”The Pass was in use in former days, till the advance of the ice upon it made it difficult that a new one was sought for, and what is known as the New Muztagh Pass, some ten miles further west along the range.”

Notes on New Mustagh Pass from Merzliakova: “Height = 5800 m [19,029 ft].”The Pass is glaciated. It lies at the head of the Chiring glacier. An ancient route to Central Asia went here.
          The discovery that Chiring is a surging glacier gives a new slant to an old debate about the role of glacier fluctuations in historic closings of this and other glacier passes to Inner Asia [summarized by Shipton, 1938]. Maps, drawings, and photographs from 1856, 1861, 1929 and 1937 show the lower Chiring was easily crossed by travelers [Godwin-Austen, 1864; Desio, 1929; Shipton, 1938; and Kick, 1993]. Although altitude and bad weather posed problems, the upper glacier also offered a relatively straightforward traverse to the Pass. However, in 1887 a British explorer, Francis Younghusband, coming from the Chinese side, found the Pass closed. After crossing by another route, he attempted to ascend the Chiring but found it impassable because of "... an immense ice-slip on to the glacier and gigantic blocks of ice... tumbled about on top of one another..." [Younghusband, 1896, 205B6]. His descriptions accord with the effects of a surge and strongly suggest that the Chiring last surged in 1885-87, giving a surge cycle of about 110 years.” “Ancient route to Central Asia went there. When the Pass was discovered, it became more usable than the more difficult Muztagh Pass.”

Notes on the Kilik Pass adapted from Merzliakova (2003): “Height = 4877 m [16,001 ft], or 4827 m [15,837 ft].” "The Pass leads to the Pamir plateau." The ancient trade routes, a part of the famous “Silk Route”, went here. [In the 19th century]: Diplomatic mail runners used this Pass. At present: “Near the Pass there are herds of grazing yaks and dzos (cross between a yak and a domestic cow).” “Misgar villagers in China have divided the route to the Mintaka Pass into 4 ‘stages’. At the 2 stage from Misgar to Murkushi the routes to Kilik and Minataka divide. Misgar, the chief town in the previously off-limits valley of the same name, was the last outpost of the British empire in the colonial era, and the point from which mail runners left to carry the diplomatic dispatches over the Kilik Pass to the British envoy in Chinese Kashgar. In 1894 George Nathaniel Curzon paid a visit to Baltit, and then, accompanied by the Mir, continued on up to the top of the Kilik Pass on the Tagh-Dumbash Pamir. It is on record that, after taking the elevation at the summit of the Pass and finding it to be 15870 feet, he sat down on a rock and wrote a letter to “The Times.”

The Kilik pass is wide and gentle - actually a huge grassy alp. The trails are broad, easy to follow, and probably the easiest trails in all Northern Pakistan.” This note was written by John Mock and Kimberley O’Neil on: Downloaded on 25 April 2003. Note: It is marked as being 15,837 ft [4858 m] on my “Road Map of Pakistan,” 1st edition (1975).

          The route then headed south and west across the terrifying xiandu or ‘Hanging Passages’ – the rickety pathways constructed along the cliff-faces on the way to Gilgit. The main, and relatively easy, route from Gilgit headed down the Chitral Valley to Swat and Gandhara in Northern Pakistan or on to the region of modern Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan; another route led to Kashmir.
          Ghujak Bai also controlled the route south to the alternate Kunjerab Pass (4,700 m or 15,420 ft) to Hunza, which is the route taken by the modern Karakoram Highway. To the southeast of Ghujak Bai there is also a route connecting it with Mazar and Shahidullah (see notes 5.1 and 6.1 above).

3. Xuandu 縣度 [Hsüan-tu, often incorrectly given as Hsien-tu], from: 縣度 xuan = ‘to suspend”, ‘hang’, ‘dangerous’ + du = GR 11640a: “7. – To cross (the water by ferry). To cross (over)].” From this we get the infamous, ‘Hanging Passages’ – the narrow and dangerous hanging footpaths of the Hunza region. 
          It is significant that Xuandu is not listed as a guo (= ‘kingdom’ or ‘country’) in any of the ancient Chinese texts. It is clearly described as a locality, not a state. The name translates literally as ‘Hanging Passages,’ and it has long been recognised that it refers to the terrifying hanging pathways, locally known as rafiks, which are so characteristic of the route through the Hunza valley to Gilgit. The most difficult passage in the whole Hunza valley is the section south of the junction of the Misgar and the Hunza rivers. See, for example, Chavannes (1905), p. 529, n. 5.
          Although it was impossible to take pack animals over this route, a route barely practicable for people on foot, it was by far the shortest route from the Tarim Basin to Gandhara and Jibin in what are now northern Pakistan and southeastern Afghanistan. The Hanshu describes Xiandu as follows:

“What is termed the Suspended Crossing is a rocky mountain; the valley is impenetrable, and people traverse the place by pulling each other across with ropes.” CICA, pp. 99 and n. 169, 100.

The following descriptions will illustrate why this route was so feared:

“Surrounded thus by granite precipices and huge wastes of ice and snow, affording only a hazardous passage during a few summer months into the neighbouring countries, Hunza-Nagar has but one vulnerable point on the southern part of the Hindoo Koosh, the ravine of the Kanjut River; while the junction of that torrent with the Gilgit River is the one gateway of the country assailable for an invading force. Even this entrance is practically closed during the summer months; for then the river, swollen by the melting snows, becomes an unfordable and raging torrent, overflowing the whole bottom of the valley at many points, so that the only way left by which one can ascend the gorge is a rough track high up upon the cliff-side, carried along narrow ledges, and overhanging frightful precipices – a road fit only for goats and cragsmen, which could be easily held by a handful of determined men against a large force; while at this season the river can only be crossed by means of the frail twig-rope bridges, which will support but two or three men, and can be cut adrift with a knife in a few moments.
          Such is the road into Hunza-Nagar from our side; but at the head of the Kanjut Valley there is a group of comparatively easy and low passes, leading across the Hindoo Koosh on to the Tagdambash Pamir, in Chinese territory, which are used by the Kanjuts on their raiding expeditions....” Knight (1893), pp. 345-346.

“As one ascends the valley beyond Hunza.... It is only at certain points, where passage along the cliffs would otherwise be absolutely impossible for the best cragsmen, that any steps have been taken to open a road, and then it is but the narrowest scaffolding thrown from ledge to ledge. One comes upon position after position of immense natural strength in this gorge, where the dangerous and only path passes under stout sangas, which could be held by a handful of men against a host. Even as the Kanjuts had left the approaches to their valley below Nilt as difficult of access as possible, so had they done here, at the outlet of their country on to the Pamirs, rendering it almost impossible for an enemy to invade them from either direction.” Ibid. pp. 488-489.

Rafiks, the local name for such galleries, are fastened to the sheer cliffs by branches of trees forced into the fissures of the rock and covered with small stones. Elsewhere natural narrow ledges are widened by flat slabs packed over them. In some places the rafiks “turn in sharp zigzags on the side of cliffs where a false step would prove fatal, while at others again they are steep enough to resemble ladders. To carry loads along these galleries is difficult enough, and . . . for ponies, sure-footed as they are, wholly impassable.” Even his [Aurel Stein’s] terrier, Yolchi Beg, so nimble on the rocks of Mohand Marg, was fearful and allowed himself the indignity of being carried. Rafiks alternated “with passages over shingly slopes and climbs over rock-strewn wastes.” To negotiate this terrain, the “baggage animals were left behind [at Chalt] and coolies taken for the rest of the journey up to the Taghdumbash Pamir.” Mirsky (1977). p. 121.

“The next day’s march [from Khudabad] to Misgar, he had been warned, would be the worst part of the route. By starting before dawn while the river was still low enough to ford, he avoided a long detour and a perilous crossing on a rope bridge. Then the going reached a climax of “scramble up precipitous faces of slatey rocks . . . with still more trying descents to the riverbed”; slower still was the progress along rafiks clinging to cliffs hundreds of feet above the river. But the previous five days had toughened him, and he felt fresh when he emerged from the rocky gorge to an open valley.... Here he discharged the “hardy hillmen who had carried our impedimenta over such trying ground without the slightest damage.” Beyond, the route was open to baggage animals at all seasons.” Mirsky (1977), p. 125.

The Kushans appear to have controlled the whole region from the late 1st century, and for most (or all) of the 2nd century CE. There is a brief mention in Ban Chao’s biography that, “(Ban) Chao then crossed the Congling and got as far as Xiandu.” Although this must have occurred sometime in the late 1st century, there is no indication of the specific date, or any other details. One can only assume that the reference was to a brief foray of little on-going consequence or, perhaps, a meeting with Kushan envoys.
          Xiandu (‘the Hanging Passages’) formed a natural frontier between the Indian subcontinent and the territories of Central Asia. Indeed, the Weilue notes that after crossing the Xiandu one entered the territory of the Da Yuezhi who were in control of northern India at the time. From Xiandu (Hunza/Gilgit) there were four main routes one could take:

1. south along the Astor river and across the Burzil Pass into Kashmir,

Notes on Burzil Pass adapted from: Merzliakova (2003): “Height = 3200 m [10,499 ft] , or 4500 m [14,764 ft], or 5000 m [16, 464 ft].” “The crest of the Pass is wide and covered in summer with alpine grass vegetation.” “The Pass was practicable for horses and ponies.”
”It is covered with snow from 20th of October….” “The trade routes split in Skardu with one leading to Satpara over the Deosai and Burzil Pass into Srinagar (Kashmir) and another leading to Gol. The first one named Gilgit route was active up to Pakistan's independence. The travelers used horses and ponies. It was the oldest route connecting Gilgit with Srinagar via Burzil Pass and Skardu through Chotta Deosai and Sadpara. On the beginning of XX century a hut of post courier was situated on the crest of the Pass. He brought mail from India to China. After Pakistan's independence, the accessibility to Northern Areas was improved as a jeepable link with Rawalpindi was developed through Kaghan Valley and Chilas by army engineers. This track linking Gilgit and Skardu was developed in the mid-fifties and it was shorter. The importance of the Pass came down.” “There are no vegetation around the Pass and much snow.”

Author’s note: It is marked as being 13,775 ft [4,199 m] on my “Road Map of Pakistan,” 1st edition (1975).

2. a difficult route along the Indus River Valley to Taxila, rarely used in ancient times. It roughly corresponds to the route taken by the modern Karakoram highway

3. through the Swat Valley to Gandhara and Peshawar or,

4. the easiest route of all, whenever it is politically feasible, which leads via the Chitral valley directly to the region of modern Jalalabad (Jibin), and on to Kandahar (Wuyi) or Kabul (Gaofu).

4. Jibin [Chi-pin] = Kapisha-Peshawar. See note 13.14 below.

5. Wuyishanli 烏弋山離 [Wu-i-shan-li]. Wuyishanli (shortened to Wuyi in the Weilue) is almost certainly a transliteration of Alexandria and, according to most authorities, stands here for Kandahar, one of the many Alexandrias established by Alexander the Great, and the chief city of the province of Arachosia. See the discussions in Daffinà (1982), p 319; Chavannes (1905): 555, n. 6; Pelliot (1959), p. 29; Pulleyblank (1963), pp. 116, 128; and CICA, p. 112, n. 250.
          Alexandria-in-Arachosia or Alexandropolis, from which the modern name of Kandahar is derived, was founded in the spring of 329

   Arachosia, Persian HARAUVATISH or HARAHVATISH, in ancient times a province of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, and Parthian empires. It occupied southern Afghanistan and was bounded on the south by Gedrosia (Baluchistan). The capital city, Alexandria-of-the Arachosians, was founded by Alexander the Great and is usually identified with Qandahār. Arachosia was famous for its ivory and elephants.” NEB, I, p. 471.

          Yu (1998), pp. 168-169, however, suggests that it more likely referred to both Arachosia and Drangiana (modern Seistan), to the west. I agree with him on the grounds that the descriptions in both the Hanshu and the Hou Hanshu mention only one state between Jibin to the northeast and Tiaozhi and Lijian to the west.
          Also, we know that they were closely associated from early times, forming two adjoining provinces of the Achaeamid empire, and later, in the time of Aśoka and the Seleucid king, Antiochus II that “it is clear that the two kingdoms were then contiguous with a frontier west of Kandahar….” Sherwin-White and Kuhrt , p. 80.
          Yu (p. 169) goes on to propose that Wuyishanli probably referred to Alexandria Prophthasia (Farāh), south of Herat. However, I feel that his arguments could equally be applied to Kandahar:

1). that it is hot, covered in vegetation and flat,

2). That it was cut off and remote and Han envoys only reached there rarely and it was the extreme point of the Southern Route

And, as Kandahar has for long been the larger and more prosperous region, and famous as one of the few places where elephants could be bred and raised successfully in captivity (meaning it was the coveted production area of the ancient equivalent of tanks), I am inclined to accept, along with most other authorities that Wuyishanli here referred primarily to Arachosia, a kingdom centred on Kandahar.

“Arachosia (Old Persian harahuvati, corresponding to Sanskrit sarasvati ‘rich in rivers’) was the well-named land of present southern Afghanistan, the valley of the Upper Helmand (Avestan Ha’tumant ‘rich in dams’) and the tributaries where the Thamani (Herodotus III.93, 117) lived..., the people of Arachosia must have been settled agriculturalists from an early time in this fertile land comparable to Bactria in the north. Similar to Bactria in the north, Arachosia was the centre of Achaemenid rule over neighbouring tribes to the south and east and Darius was fortunate to have a loyal satrap who, after a number of battles with the rebels sent against him from the west, was able to consolidate the rule of the new king.
          The lower course of the Helmand river and the Hamun lake was occupied by the Zrangi (Old Persian Z(a)ra(n)ka, with local zB for Old Persian d-), which name has been explained as ‘sea land’ by many scholars, unsuccessfully, I believe. The name survived into Islamic times as Zarang, the capital of the country. The Hamun lake area played an important role in Zoroastrian tradition and as the homeland of the hero Rustam. By geography and history it has been connected with Arachosia and the upper Helmand rather than with Fars province or the west. The invasion of Saka tribes in the second and first centuries before our era undoubtedly changed the population for their name was applied to the land which has held to this day, Seistan. In pre-Achaemenid times as today it is a land where the steppe and sown are intermingled and nomads are on all sides of the lake which is large in winter while almost vanishing in the late summer.” Frye (1963), pp. 71-72.

Pavel Lurje of the Department of Ancient Near East, St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, kindly wrote on 18 May 2002 informing me that the form Ha’tumant in the above quotation is incorrect: “Avestic Haetumant-, (Greek Etymandres), not Ha’tumant. The Kandahar inscription of Ashoka seems to be not in Aramaic language, but some local Iranian or Indian language in Aramaic script ….”
          The rich agricultural lands along the Helmund River centred on Kandahar have, since ancient times, formed an essential link and staging post on the shortest and easiest routes between Persia and India. From northern Parthia one travelled to Herat and then on to Kandahar. From southern Parthia the route travelled through Persepolis to Kandahar. The Persian name for the city was Kapisakaiš but it was renamed Alexandria after Alexander’s visit in 329
BCE and the present name, Kandahar, is ultimately derived from Alexandria
          The city of Kandahar itself is located on the Tarnak River, one of the tributaries of the Helmand has, since early times, been a major centre of trade. The ancient city, which was sacked by Nadir Shah in 1738 was located about 6 km west of the present city and was the capital of the whole region since Achaemenid times. It was famous for its elephants which thrived in the hot and humid conditions (see below). Its’ pomegranates, melons and grapes are still deservedly famous throughout Afghanistan. There is also an abandoned gold mine about 3 km north of the city that may have had some importance in antiquity.
          It appears that the Kushans never conquered this region and it remained under a series of semi-autonomous or autonomous Parthian rulers until the arrival of the Sasanians about 240
CE. See: Simonetta (1978), p. 186.

   “Alexander moved on swiftly to Kandahar [from the west] to Kandahar, where he founded [or, rather, renamed!] another town, Alexandria in Arachosia (the part of Baluchistan which lies behind the Quetta Hills). Again, this has been a strategic site throughout Afghan history, and Kandahar has been occupied from then till now. In the old citadel, a temple to the deified Alexander has been discovered, along with an inscription in Greek and Aramaic by the Indian emperor Ashoka who lived a few decades after Alexander. (This is a place where the Indian and West Asian culture zones have always overlapped.) In the bazaar in the old town, the hakims (traditional doctors) claim descent from the doctors who went with Alexander – descendants of the physicians Philip and Critobulos. They still practise the Yunnani (Greek) herbal medicine which can be found right across Pakistan and North India.” Wood (1997), p. 136.

          From Kandahar there were two main routes to the Indian subcontinent. One route ran northeast  upstream along the Tarnak River past modern Ghazni to Kabul and, from there, through the Khyber Pass (1,067 m or 3,500 ft) into the Gandharan plains of northern Pakistan. The other ran southeast, via the relatively easy Khojak (2,707 m or 8,881 ft) and Bolan (1,798 m or 5,899 ft) passes, to the lower Indus River, in what is now southern Pakistan. All three passes are open all year.

A1552 – “Those who go from Persia, from the kingdom of Horaçam (Khoraṣan), from Bohára, and all the Western Regions, travel to the city which the natives corruptly call Candar, instead of Scandar, the name by which the Persians call Alexander....” – Barros, IV, vi. 1.” Yule and Burnell (1886), p. 154.

“A Persian army was reported to be massing for an attack on Herat in western Afghanistan [in 1836]. Encouraged, partly financed and probably officered by Russians, it looked as if the hour of reckoning might already be nigh. Herat could not be expected to hold out for long and, as Burnes knew only too well from his strategic studies, once Herat fell the easiest of approaches to India, that via Kandahar, would lie right open.” Keay (1977), pp. 142-143.

“Zaranj-Kandahar-Ghazni Route: The other important route from Zaranj [in the Helmand basin in Seistan] was the famous Kandahar route which still plays an important role in the political and economic system of modern Afghanistan and Pakistan. The main stages on this route were Bust Banjaway and Ghazni. This route went through the Garmsil region, that is, Zanbuk, Sanizan and Haruri on the left bank of the river Khwash. Between Haruri and Bust it crossed a desert. Between Bust and Banjaway of Rukhaj it crossed two tributaries of the Helmand namely the Arghandab and the Tarnak and reached Ghazni which was situated to the northeast of Banjaway.” Verma (1978), pp. 46-47.

Here is the account of the Hanshu on the Kingdom of Wuyishanli:

“The seat of the king’s government is at . . . [the text seems to be defective here] and it is distant by 12,200 li [5,073 km] from Ch’ang-an. It is not subject to the protector general . . . [There are many] households, individuals and persons able to bear arms, and it is a large state. To the north-east it is a distance of 60 days’ journey to the seat of the protector general. It adjoins Chi-pin in the east, P’u-t’ao in the north, and Li-kan and T’iao-chih in the west ; after travelling for some one hundred days one then reaches T’iao-chih.. [a passage on Tiaozhi (T’iao-chih) is inserted here in the Chinese text – in the middle of the section on Wuyi].
          The land of Wu-i is very hot ; it is covered in vegetation and flat. For matters such as grass, trees, stock-animals, the five field crops, fruit, vegetables, food and drink, buildings, market-stalls, coinage, weapons, gold and pearls, [conditions] are identical with those of Chi-pin, but there are antelope, lion and rhinoceros.
          The way of life is such that a serious view is taken of arbitrary murder. The obverse of the coins shows only a human head with a rider on horseback on the reverse. Their staves are embellished with gold and silver.
          [The state] is cut off and remote and Han envoys reach it only rarely. Proceeding by the Southern Route from the Yü-men and the Yang barriers, and travelling south through Shan-shan one reaches Wu-i-shan-li, which is the extreme point of the Southern Route; and turning north and then proceeding eastward one arrives at An-hsi.” CICA, pp. 112-113.

          This description of the region of Kandahar (Arachosia) seems reasonably accurate. Certainly it is hot and fertile. The mention of pearls is presumably a reference an active trade in pearls, though it is not clear whether they originated in the Persian Gulf or in Indian waters. (They are also mentioned in the account on Jibin – which was even further inland).
          The reference to the “serious view taken of arbitrary murder” is perhaps reflective of the influence of Buddhism. The early arrival of Buddhist ideals in the region is confirmed by a bilingual inscription (in both Greek and Aramaic) by Ashoka (died c. 238
BCE) which advocates a vegetarian diet and the avoidance of, or at least restraint in, the hunting and killing of animals.
          I have been unable to find references to coins from Kandahar with the portrait of the king on one side and a horseman on the other, but the coinage of the area is poorly known. Certainly silver coins that would fit this description were issued by Eucratides I (c. 170-145
BCE) – probably from Taxila, and by the late 1st century CE Kushan monarch now known as Wima Taktu or Soter Megas, apparently issued from Balkh and/or Kapisha. So, it is quite possible that similar coins were circulating in, or were issued from, Kandahar during the time of the informant for the Hanshu.
          The reference to lions and rhinoceros in the Hanshu is accurate. Lions were found in southeastern Iran until recent times. Rhinoceros, though now extinct in the region, were still being hunted in the Afridi hills northeast of Kandahar in the sixteenth century:

“c. 1555. – “We came to the city of Purshawar, and having thus fortunately passed the Kotal we reached the town of Joshāya. On the Kotal we saw rhinoceroses, the size of a small elephant.” – Sidi ‘Ali, in J. As. Ser. 1. tom. ix. 201.” Yule and Burnell (1886), p. 700.

“1519. – “After sending on the army towards the river (the Indus), I myself set off for Sawâti, which they likewise call Karnak-Khaneh (kark-khâna, ‘the rhinoceros-haunt’), to hunt the rhinoceros. We started many rhinoceroses, but as the country abounds in brushwood, we could not get at them. A she rhinoceros, that had whelps, came out, and fled along the plain; many arrows were shot at her, but... she gained cover. We set fire to the brushwood, but the rhinoceros was not to be found. We got sight of another, that, having been scorched in the fire, was lamed and unable to run. We killed it, and everyone cut off a bit as a trophy of the chase.” – Baber, 253.” Quoted from Baber in: Yule and Burnell (1886), p. 762. Also see Chandra (1977), p. 9.

          The so-called “antelope” is discussed at some length by Hulsewé and Loewe on page 114, n. 262. Unfortunately, they seem to have made a mistake with the Chinese and rendered it tiaoba 挑拔 [t’iao-pa] – first character GSR 1145o, instead of taoba 桃拔 [t’ao-pa] – first character GSR 1145u. In any case, the important thing is that they point out that it was said to be another name for the fuba, a specimen of which was sent as a present to Emperor Zhang in 87 CE by the king of Parthia. This was most probably the Persian or Goitered Gazelle – Gazella subgutterosa. See note 10.5 below.
          Kandahar and the associated district of Arachosia was not only of great importance because of its fertility in an otherwise barren region and its strategic position in controlling the main southern route between India and Persia. It also provided the hot and steamy conditions and abundant fodder needed for the breeding and raising of herds of war elephants along the Helmand River to the west of Kandahar.

“Suitable sites for elephant-parks are rare in both Syria and Afghanistan. And the Seleucids’ war-elephants, like the Ghaznavids,’ were sinews of war in the literal sense. In discussing Ashoka’s inscription at Qandahar, I have recalled that the first Seleucus ceded all his provinces west of Qandahar and south of the Hindu Kush to Chandragupta Maurya in exchange for 500 of the Indian emperor’s elephants; and the price in terms of ceded territory turned out not to be excessive from Seleucus’s point of view. Those 500 elephants were trumps. They won him his victory over his rival Antigonus ‘One-Eye.’ In fact, they won him his empire. No wonder that he and his successors took trouble to provide their elephants with congenial accommodation.” Toynbee (1961), p. 72.

6. Paizhi 持 [P’ai-chih] or Paite [P’ai-t’e]. This may have been a transcription of some foreign name, but the reconstructed ancient pronunciations do not resemble any name known from other sources and neither of the characters in it are commonly used to transcribe foreign sounds. According to K. 579x + 961p, 排should have been pronounced something like: *b’εr-dəg. See CICA, p. 112, n. 250. Yu (1998), p. 168, however, suggests:


“In the Houhanshu, ch. 88, it is recorded: “[The state of Wuyishanli, which] covers several thousand li 里, has changed its name into Paite.” Similarly, the “Xirongzhuan” of the Weilue records that “Wuyi’s other name is Paichi” ( is noted mistakenly as 持 in the original text). “Pai-te” [buəi-dək] can be read as a short transcription of “Prophthasia”.


However, I am not sure from which edition of the Hou Hanshu Yu got the form of the name: Paite, although it is known in other sources:


“This information [i.e. 排持 as an alternate name for Wuyi(shanli)] is found again in the Hou Hanshu (chap. CXVIII, p. 4b). The edition of the Sanguozhi, said to be of the Northern Song gives the reading Paite 特 (critical notes of Qianlong).” Translated and adapted from Chavannes (1905), p. 555, n. 7.



 The Shanghai edition of 1888 which Chavannes used; the Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju, Min guo 25 [1936] edition, and the Shanghai Zhonghua Shuju 1965 edition (reprint 1973), all have the same form: Paichi, which is also found in the Weilue. This form does not suggest the reconstruction of the name “Prophthasia.”

            Another suggestion has been that Paichi might have been a “slip of the pen” for Saichi (literally: “Governed by the Sai/Saka”). However, I consider this unlikely, as the characters for Pai and Sai not only look so different, but the reconstructed ancient pronunciations are also quite dissimilar, and unlikely to have been confused.

            It is possible that the name should be considered literally. The character pai (GR 8449) can have the meaning of ‘shield’ or ‘platoon(s), and chi (GR 1872) means ‘to take in hand’, ‘to govern’, ‘maintain’, or ‘guard with firmness’. I suspect that this literal translation of the name is possibly the explanation for the name Paichi, and could possibly have represented something like “Guarded or governed by platoons”, or “Military Post”, being somewhat similar to the English military term, “Cantonment”.

            Finally, s