A Translation of the Chronicle on the ‘Western Regions’ from the Hou Hanshu.

Based on a report by General Ban Yong to Emperor An (107-125 CE) near the end of his reign, with a few later additions.
Compiled by Fan Ye (398-446 CE).

John E. Hill


The first draft of this book was posted on the Silk Road Seattle website in May 2002, under the title, The Western Regions According to the Hou Hanshu. It was updated again in July, 2003.

I requested comments and suggestions from readers. The response was beyond all expectations and the document has been transformed since then.

The much expanded and improved book was published in October, 2009 as Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE, by BookSurge, Charleston, S.C. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.

Since its publication people have continued to access and sometimes quote from the draft version of the book still available on this website. This has caused me some concern as the draft version contained a number of errors and omissions which have been corrected in the published book.

So, after consultation with Professor Daniel Waugh, I have decided to post here the latest translation of the actual text itself, so that it is available to all, although without the Chinese text, extensive notes, and appendices.

I have left, in square brackets, my identifications of place names, products, etc., as an aid to understanding the text. Many of these identifications are still hotly debated by scholars, so where I think there is room for serious doubt, I have indicated it by placing a question mark within the brackets.

Many thanks again to Professor Daniel Waugh for his invaluable support and advice throughout this prolonged process.

Chronicle of the Western Regions

Section 1 History of the Western Regions.

In the period of Emperor Wu [140-87 BCE], the Western Regions were under the control of the Interior [China]. They numbered thirty-six kingdoms. The Imperial Government established a Colonel [in charge of] Envoys there to direct and protect these countries. Emperor Xuan [73-49 BCE] changed this title [in 59 BCE] to Protector General. Emperor Yuan [40-33 BCE] installed two Wuji Colonels to take charge of the agricultural garrisons on the frontiers of the king of Nearer Jushi [Turfan].

During the time of Emperor Ai [6 BCE-1 CE] and Emperor Ping [1-5 CE], the principalities of the Western Regions split up and formed fifty-five kingdoms. Wang Mang, after he usurped the Throne [in 9 CE], demoted and changed their kings and marquises. Following this, the Western Regions became resentful, and rebelled. They, therefore, broke off all relations with the Interior [China] and, all together, submitted to the Xiongnu again.

The Xiongnu collected oppressively heavy taxes and the kingdoms were not able to support their demands. In the middle of the Jianwu period [25-56 CE], they each [Shanshan and Yarkand in 38 CE, and 18 kingdoms in 45 CE], sent envoys to ask if they could submit to the Interior [China], and to express their desire for a Protector General. Emperor Guangwu, decided that because the Empire was not yet settled [after a long period of civil war], he had no time for outside affairs, and [therefore] finally refused his consent [in 45 CE].

In the meantime, the Xiongnu became weaker. The king of Suoju [Yarkand], named Xian, wiped out several kingdoms. After Xian’s death [c. 62 CE], they began to attack and fight each other.

Xiao Yuan [Tura?], Jingjue [Cadota], Ronglu [Niya], and Qiemo [Cherchen] were annexed by Shanshan [the Lop Nur region].

Qule [south of Keriya] and Pishan [modern Pishan or Guma] were conquered and fully occupied by Yutian [Khotan].

Yuli [Fukang], Danhuan, Guhu [Dawan Cheng], and Wutanzili were destroyed by Jushi [Turfan and Jimasa]. Later these kingdoms were re-established.

During the Yongping period [58-75 CE], the Northern Scoundrels [Northern Xiongnu] forced several countries to help them plunder the commanderies and districts of Hexi. The gates of the towns stayed shut in broad daylight.

In the sixteenth year [73 CE], Emperor Ming ordered his generals to lead an expedition north against the Xiongnu. They took the territory of Yiwulu [Hami] and established a Commandant in Charge of Crops there to set up an agricultural garrison. Communications with the Western Regions followed these events. Yutian [Khotan] and the other kingdoms all sent sons to serve [the Emperor]. Relations with the Western Regions had been cut for sixty-five years [9-73 CE] before they were restored. A Protector General and [two] Wuji Colonels were established [one in Nearer and one in Further Jushi] in the following year [74 CE].

When Emperor Ming died, Yanqi [Karashahr] and Qiuci [Kucha] attacked and killed the Protector General Chen Mu [75 CE], and all who were with him. The Xiongnu and Jushi [Turfan/Jimasa] besieged the Wuji Colonels.

In the spring of the first Jianchu year [76 CE], the Governor of Jiuquan [one of the four commanderies of Hexi, centred near the modern town of Jiuquan in Gansu], Duan Peng, soundly defeated Jushi [Turfan-Jimasa] near the town of Jiaohe [Yarkhoto, 20 li west of Turfan].

Emperor Zhang [76-88 CE], not wishing to exhaust and ruin the Middle Kingdom in the affairs of the Yi and Di, sent for the Wuji Colonels to return, and did not appoint another Protector General. In the second year [77 CE], he abolished the agricultural garrisons at Yiwu [Hami]. After that, the Xiongnu sent soldiers to supervise Yiwu [Hami]. At the same time Major Ban Chao stayed at Yutian [Khotan], pacifying and reuniting all the kingdoms.

In the first Yongyuan year [89 CE], during the reign of Emperor He, the General-in-Chief Dou Xian had a great victory over the Xiongnu. In the second year [90 CE], [Dou] Xian sent Senior Colonel Yan Pan, at the head of more than 2,000 cavalry, on a surprise attack against Yiwu [Hami], which he conquered.

In the third year [91 CE], Ban Chao finally succeeded in pacifying the Western Regions. [Ban] Chao was then given the title of Protector General and stationed at Qiuci [Kucha]. A Wuji Colonel was re-established and, commanding five hundred soldiers, was stationed in the Kingdom of Nearer Jushi, within the walls of Gaochang [Kharakhoja – 70 li or 29 km southeast of Turfan]. In addition, a Wu Troop Captain was established and stationed in Further Jushi [Jimasa]. The Captain and the town were 500 li [208 km] from the town [of Gaochang].

In the sixth year [94 CE], Ban Chao again attacked and defeated Yanqi [Karashahr]. Following this, more than fifty kingdoms presented hostages, and submitted to the Interior [China].

Kingdoms such as Tiaozhi [Characene and Susiana], Anxi [Parthia], and all the kingdoms as far as the shores of the sea more than 40,000 li [16,632 km] away offered tribute, using several successive interpreters to communicate.

In the ninth year [97 CE], Ban Chao sent his Subordinate Gan Ying, who probed as far as the Western Sea, and then returned. Former generations never reached these regions. The Shanjing gives no details on them. Undoubtedly he prepared a report on their customs and investigated their precious and unusual [products]. After this, distant kingdoms [such as] Mengqi (west of the Chu Valley?) and Doule (Talas?) all came to submit, and sent envoys offering tribute.

Following the death of Emperor Xiaohe [in 105 CE], the Western Regions rebelled. In the first Yongchu year of the reign of Emperor An [107 CE], the Protectors General Ren Shang and Duan Xi, and others, were surrounded and attacked several times. The Imperial Government proclaimed that the post of Protector General be abolished because these regions were remote, and difficult and dangerous to reach. From this time, therefore, the Western Regions were abandoned. The Northern Xiongnu immediately took control and united all the kingdoms again. They [the Northern Xiongnu] raided the frontier with their cooperation, for more than ten years.

The Governor of Dunhuang, Cao Zong, was concerned about their violence and killings, so, in the sixth Yuanchu year [119 CE], the Emperor sent the Acting Chief Clerk Suo Ban with more than a thousand men to garrison Yiwu [Hami] and re-establish the peace. After this, the king of Nearer Jushi [Turfan] and the king of Shanshan [Lop Nur region] came to submit.

Several months later the Northern Xiongnu again led the king of the Kingdom of Further Jushi, and together they attacked and killed [Suo] Ban and others. Then they attacked the king of Nearer [Jushi], forcing him to flee.

Shanshan [Lop Nur region] was hard pressed, and pleaded to Cao Zong for assistance. [Cao] Zong therefore requested that troops be sent to attack the Xiongnu, and avenge the outrage against Suo Ban. He wanted to keep pressing ahead again in the Western Regions. However, the Dowager Empress Deng did not give her consent. She merely ordered the establishment at Dunhuang of a Colonel Protector of the Western Regions. A camp of three hundred soldiers was reinstalled just to keep them under control.

Later, the Northern Scoundrels [Northern Xiongnu] joined with the Jushi [Turfan/Jimasa] to invade Hexi [the Chinese territories west of the Huang He]. The Imperial Government was unable to prevent it. Thus, people who joined the discussion wanted to shut the Yumen and Yang frontier-passes to prevent further troubles.

In the second Yanguang year [123 CE], the Governor of Dunhuang, Zhang Dang presented a report setting out three plans:

“I believe that the king of the Huyan [clan] of the Northern Scoundrels [Northern Xiongnu] frequently circulates on inspection between Pulei [Barkol] and Lake Qin. He has imposed his rule on the Western Regions and united them to raid and pillage. We should assemble more than 2,000 officers and soldiers taken from Jiuquan [Suzhou] and its dependent kingdoms at the Kunlun frontier fortress. They should immediately attack the Huyan [clan’s] king, and cut him off from his base. Therefore, 5,000 soldiers should be sent from Shanshan [Lop Nur region] to restrain the Kingdom of Further Jushi [Jimasa]. This is the best plan.
If we cannot send an army, we could install a Major with five hundred officers and men supplied with farm draft cattle, grain, and provisions by the four commanderies [of Hexi] to occupy Liuzhong [Lukchun]. This is the middle-ranking plan.
If even that can’t be done, then the town of Jiaohe [Yarkhoto, 20 li west of Turfan] must be abandoned, and [the people of] Shanshan [Lop Nur region], and other places, be gathered together and taken within the Barrier. This is the worst plan.”

The Court put this project under consideration. The Imperial Secretary Chen Zhong presented a memorial to the Emperor saying:

“Your subject has heard that, of all the ravages committed by the eight [groups of] southern barbarians, none are as bad as those of the Northern Scoundrels [Northern Xiongnu].
When the Han came to power, Gaozu [206-195 BCE] was surrounded at Pingcheng, and put in great danger. Taizong [179-157 BCE] was forced to submit to the humiliation of presenting tribute.
Emperor Xiaowu [141-87 BCE] was indignant about this. He thought deeply working out long-term strategies. He ordered brave officers be sent to cross the [Yellow] River and [Gobi] Desert, and completely destroy the Scoundrels’ [Xiongnu] court.
During this expedition, the common people fell to the north of Langwang and treasure was destroyed in the ravines of Lu Mountain. The treasury was exhausted. The shuttles and reeds of the looms were empty. Measures were taken to tax boats and wagons, and even the six types of domestic animals [horses, cattle, sheep, chickens, dogs, and pigs]. Therefore, what long-term strategies should be considered?
[The Emperor] managed to open the four commanderies west of the [Yellow] River which cut off the Southern Qiang, and gathered in the thirty-six kingdoms [of the Western Regions], cutting off the right arm of the Xiongnu. The Chanyu [Khan] had to scurry far away alone like a frightened rat.
Then, during the reigns of Emperors Xuan [73-49 BCE] and Yuan [48-33 BCE], the [Xiongnu] became foreign subjects, the frontier-posts were not shut, and urgent war summons no longer circulated.
Examination of these facts shows that the Rong and Di [peoples to the west and north of China] can be subdued by force, but it is difficult to transform them.
The Western Regions for a long period came to submit. Humbly, they are looking to the east, knocking on our frontier gates repeatedly. They do not like the Xiongnu and they admire and imitate the Han.
Now, the Northern Scoundrels [Northern Xiongnu] have already defeated Jushi [Turfan-Jimasa]. They will inevitably head south to attack Shanshan [Lop Nur region]. If we abandon the latter without help, all the kingdoms will follow them. If that happens, the wealth of the Scoundrels [Xiongnu] will increase; their audacity and strength will be multiplied; their fearful reputation will cause the Southern Qiang to join them.
Then the four commanderies to the west of the [Yellow] River will definitely be endangered. Now, when the area west of the [Yellow] River is endangered, we will have to rescue them. Expeditions will therefore increase a hundredfold and there will not be enough funds to pay for them.
In the discussions, only the extreme remoteness of the Western Regions and the numerous expenses involved [to mount such campaigns] have been considered. No account has been made of the hardship and diligent labour of former generations.
The frontier regions are currently not very well prepared to defend [themselves]. The interior commanderies are not prepared to protect themselves militarily. Dunhuang is isolated and in danger. It is a long way to send for help. If we do not help them, there will be nothing to console the officials and people of the interior. In the external regions, we will be unable to make a show of our might before the many barbarian tribes. The Classics clearly forbid advocating the reduction of the Empire.
I, your humble servant, am of the opinion that we ought to install a Commandant at Dunhuang, as they did in former times, to reinforce the agricultural garrisons in the four commanderies [west of the Yellow River] and, by this means, to control all the kingdoms to the west, so as to smash the enemy’s offensive over 10,000 li, and terrorize the Xiongnu.”

The Emperor accepted this advice. He then gave the title of Senior Clerk of the Western Regions to Ban Yong [in 123 CE] so that he could lead five hundred freed convicts west to garrison Liuzhong [Lukchun]. [Ban] Yong then conquered and pacified Jushi [Turfan/Jimasa].

From the Jianwu period [25-55 CE] to the Yanguang period [122-125 CE], communications with the Western Regions were cut three times, and then restored.

In the second Yongjian year [127 CE] of the reign of Emperor Shun, [Ban] Yong once again attacked and subdued Yanqi [Karashahr]; and then Qiuci [Kucha], Shule [Kashgar], Yutian [Khotan], Suoju [Yarkand], and other kingdoms, seventeen altogether, came to submit. Following this, the Wusun [Issyk Kul, Ili Valley and Semirechiye], and the countries of the Congling [Pamir Mountains], put an end to their disruptions to communications with the west.

Because Yiwu [Hami] was a fertile region bordering on the Western Regions which provided support to the Xiongnu in their plundering raids, the Emperor, in the sixth year [131 CE], ordered the re-establishment of an agricultural garrison like the one of the Yongyuan period [89-105 CE], when a ‘Major [in charge of] Hami’ was installed.

Following the Yangjia period [132-136 CE], the reputation of the Imperial Court gradually declined. The kingdoms [of the Western Regions] became arrogant and negligent. They oppressed and attacked each other.

In the second Yuanjia year [152 CE], the Senior Clerk Wang Jing was put to death by Yutian [Khotan]. In the first Yongxing year [153 CE], the king of the Kingdom of Further Jushi [Jimasa] again launched a counterattack against the Imperial garrison. Although their chiefs had submitted, they were not punished and made to reform, so they gradually became negligent.

Ban Gu has recorded in detail the local conditions and customs of each kingdom in the former book [Hanshu or ‘History of the Former Han Dynasty’]. Now, the reports of the Jianwu period [25-56 CE] onwards recorded in this ‘Chapter on the Western Regions’ differ from the earlier [ones by Ban Gu]; they are from Ban Yong’s report [presented] at the end of [the reign of] Emperor An [107-125 CE], and so on.

Section 2 – Geography of the Western Regions.

The kingdoms of the Western Regions subject to the Interior [China] stretch more than 6,000 li [2,495 km] from east to west, and more than 1,000 li [416 km] from south to north. At the extreme east are the Yumen and Yang frontier-passes. To the west, they stretch to the Congling [Pamir Mountains]. To the northeast, they border on the Xiongnu and Wusun [Issyk Kul, Ili Valley and Semirechiye].

To the south and north are high mountains. In the centre is a river [the Tarim]. The Nanshan [the Qilian range] runs east from Jincheng [Lanzhou fu], and joins the Han Nanshan [the modern Qinling range].

As for the [Tarim] river, it has two sources: one flows east from the Congling [Pamir Mountains]. The other [the Khotan River] flows from the Yutian Nanshan [now known as the Karakax Shan] to the north. It joins with the [Yarkand] river coming from the Congling [Pamir Mountains], and they flow together to the east. They empty into Lake Puchang [lit. ‘Abundant Rushes Lake,’ or Lop Nur]. Lake Puchang [Lop Nur] is also called the ‘Salt Swamp,’ and is more than 300 li [125 km] from the Yumen frontier-pass.

Heading west from Dunhuang via the Yumen and Yang frontier-passes, you pass through Shanshan [Lop Nur region]. [Heading] north [from Dunhuang] leads to Yiwu [Hami] after more than 1,000 li [416 km]. Leaving Yiwu [Hami], and going 1,200 li [499 km] north leads to the fortress of Gaochang [Kharakhoja], in the territory of the Kingdom of Nearer Jushi. Departing from the fortress of Gaochang [Kharakhoja] and going 500 li [208 km] north leads to the Posterior [Jushi] town, Jinman [10 km north of modern Jimasa]. These places are the doors of the Western Regions, which is why the Wuji Colonels and their respective functionaries were garrisoned there.

The region of Yiwu [Hami] is favourable for the five types of grain [rice, two kinds of millet, wheat and beans], mulberry trees, hemp, and grapes. Further north is Liuzhong [Lukchun]. All these places are fertile. This is why the Han have constantly struggled with the Xiongnu over Jushi [Turfan/Jimasa] and Yiwu [Hami], for the control of the Western Regions.

From Shanshan [Lop Nur region] one passes over the Congling [Pamir Mountains] to emerge in the various kingdoms to the west. There are two routes:

[The one which runs] parallel to the northern slope of the southern mountains, from Hexi to Suoju [Yarkand] is the Southern Route. This Southern Route crosses west over the Congling [Pamirs], and emerges into the [territory of the] Da Yuezhi [Kushans], and Anxi [Parthia].
[The other which runs] from the frontiers of the king of Nearer Jushi [Turfan] and, skirting the slopes of the northern mountains [the Tianshan], follows the river west to Shule [Kashgar], is the Northern Route. This Northern Route crosses west over the Congling [Pamirs], and emerges into Da Yuan [Ferghana], Kangju [The Talas basin, Tashkent and Sogdiana], and the old Yancai.

Section 3 – The Kingdom of Jumi (Keriya).

Leaving Yumen [frontier-pass], and passing through Shanshan [Lop Nur region], Qiemo [Cherchen] and Jingjue [Cadota], you reach Jumi [Keriya] after more than 3,000 li [1,247 km].

The main centre of Jumi [the Keriya Oasis] is Ningmi. It is 4,900 li [2,037 km] from Liuzhong [Lukchun], the residence of the Senior Clerk [of the Western Regions], and 12,800 li [5,325 km] from Luoyang. It controls 2,173 households, 7,251 individuals, and 1,760 people able to bear arms.

During the reign of Emperor Shun, in the fourth Yongjian year [129 CE], Fangqian, the king of Yutian [Khotan], killed the king of Jumi [Keriya], Xing. He installed his son as the king of Jumi [Keriya]. Then he sent an envoy to offer tribute to the Han. However, the Governor of Dunhuang, Xu You, sent a report to the Throne to ask that he be punished. The Emperor pardoned the crime of [the king of] Yutian [Khotan], ordering him to hand back the kingdom of Jumi. Fangqian refused.

In the first Yangjia year [132 CE], Xu You sent the king of Shule [Kashgar], Chenpan, who with 20,000 men, attacked and defeated Yutian [Khotan]. He beheaded several hundred people, and released his soldiers to plunder freely. He replaced the king [of Jumi] by installing Chengguo from the family of [the previous king] Xing, and then he returned.

In the fourth Xiping year [175 CE], during the reign of Emperor Ling, Anguo, the king of Yutian [Khotan], attacked Jumi, and defeated it soundly. He killed the king and many others. The Wuji Colonels and the Senior Clerk of the Western Regions each sent soldiers to support Ding Xing, the son [of the king of Jumi] who had been a hostage with the Emperor, and placed him on the throne. At that time, the population had been reduced to a thousand people. This kingdom borders on Yutian [Khotan], which is 390 li [162 km] to the west.

Section 4 - The Kingdom of Yutian (Khotan).

The main centre of the kingdom of Yutian [Khotan] is the town of Xicheng [‘Western Town’ = Yotkan]. It is 5,300 li [2,204 km] from the residence of the Senior Clerk [in Lukchun], and 11,700 li [4,865 km] from Luoyang. It controls 32,000 households, 83,000 individuals, and more than 30,000 men able to bear arms.

At the end of the Jianwu period [25-56 CE], Xian, the powerful and prosperous king of Suoju [Yarkand], attacked and annexed Yutian [Khotan]. He transferred Yulin, its king, to become the king of Ligui.

During the Yongping period [58-76 CE], in the reign of Emperor Ming, Xiumo Ba, a Khotanese general, rebelled against Suoju [Yarkand], and made himself king of Yutian [in 60 CE – see Section 20]. On the death of Xiumo Ba, Guangde, son of his elder brother, assumed power and then [in 61 CE] defeated Suoju [Yarkand]. Thereafter his kingdom became very prosperous. From Jingjue [Cadota] northwest, as far as Shule [Kashgar], thirteen kingdoms submitted to him. Meanwhile, the king of Shanshan [Lop Nur region] had also begun to prosper. From then on, these two kingdoms were the only major ones on the Southern Route in the whole of the region to the east of the Congling [Pamirs].

In the sixth Yongjian year [131 CE], during the reign of Emperor Shun, Fangqian, the king of Yutian [Khotan], sent one of his sons to serve and offer tribute at the Imperial Palace.

In the first Yuanjia year [151 CE], the Chief Clerk Zhao Ping was in Yutian [Khotan] and died there from a carbuncle. [Zhao] Ping’s son went to mourn for him. On his way, he passed through Jumi [Keriya]. The king of Jumi [Keriya], Chengguo, had had disagreements for some time with Jian, the king of Yutian [Khotan]. He said to [Zhao] Ping’s son: “The king of Yutian [Khotan] ordered a Hu doctor to put a poisonous drug in the wound, which caused [your father’s] death.” [Zhao] Ping’s son believed this story. When he returned to the frontier region, he informed Ma Da, the Governor of Dunhuang.

The next year [152 CE], Wang Jing was named Chief Clerk in place [of the late Zhao Ping]. [Ma] Da ordered [Wang] Jing to make a thorough secret investigation into the affair. [Wang] Jing first passed through Jumi. Chengguo again said: “The people of Yutian [Khotan] want to have me as king. Now, you should kill Jian because of his crime. Yutian [Khotan] will certainly acquiesce.”

[Wang] Jing was eager to acquire merit and glory for himself and, besides, he believed what Chengguo had said to him. Before reaching Yutian [Khotan], he prepared everything to receive Jian, [then] invited him; meanwhile he developed a sinister plan. Someone had warned Jian of Wang Jing’s plot. He didn’t believe it and said: “I am innocent. Why would the Chief Clerk Wang [Jing] want to kill me?” The following morning Jian, with an escort of several tens of officials, came to pay a visit to [Wang] Jing. When they were seated, Jian got up to serve the wine. [Wang] Jing then ordered his retinue in a menacing tone to seize him but, as none of the officers and soldiers wanted to kill Jian, all the officials suddenly fled.

At this point, Qin Mu, Chengguo’s Secretary, following [Wang] Jing, drew his sword and said, “The main issue has already been decided. Why are we still hesitating?” He immediately advanced and beheaded Jian. Then the Khotanese Marquis-General, Shupo, and some others, joined up again with the soldiers and attacked [Wang] Jing. Jing took Jian’s head, climbed a tower, and proclaimed: “The Son of Heaven ordered us to punish Jian.”

The Khotanese Marquis-General, Shupo, then set the camp buildings on fire killing the officials and soldiers. He climbed the tower and beheaded [Wang] Jing and hung his head in the marketplace. Shupo wanted to make himself king, but the people of the country killed him, and put Anguo, the son of Jian, on the throne.

When Ma Da was informed of what had happened, he wanted to put himself in charge of the troops of several commanderies, and proceed through the frontier regions to attack Yutian [Khotan], but Emperor Huan [147-167 CE] did not allow it. He recalled [Ma] Da and substituted Song Liang as the Governor of Dunhuang. When [Song] Liang arrived, he appealed to the people of Yutian [Khotan], asking them to behead Shupo. By then, Shupo had already been dead for more than a month, so they sent the head of a dead man to Dunhuang without saying what had really happened. [Song] Liang was informed of this trickery later but, in the end, he could not get the troops to depart. Encouraged by this, Yutian [Khotan] became arrogant.

Heading on from Yutian [Khotan], you pass through Pishan [modern Pishan or Guma] reaching Xiye [Karghalik], Zihe [Shahidulla], and Dere [Bāzār Darra].

Section 5 – The Kingdom of Xiye (Karghalik).

The kingdom of Xiye [Karghalik] is also called Piaosha [‘Drifting Sands’]. It is 14,400 li [5,988 km] from Luoyang. It has 2,500 households, more than 10,000 people, and 3,000 men able to bear arms. The region produces baicao [lit. ‘white grass’ – a species of aconite?], which is poisonous. The inhabitants extract a drug from it that is used on arrow points and kills immediately. The Hanshu [History of the Former Han Dynasty] wrongly stated that Xiye [Karghalik] and Zihe [Shahidulla] formed one kingdom. Each now has its own king.

Section 6 - The Kingdom of Zihe (Shahidulla)

The kingdom of Zihe [Shahidulla] is the Hujian Gorge, 1,000 li [416 km] from Shule [Kashgar]. It controls 350 households, 4,000 people, and 1,000 men able to bear arms.

Section 7 – The Kingdom of Dere (Bāzār Darra).

The kingdom of Dere [Bāzār Darra] controls more than 100 households, 670 individuals, and 350 men able to bear arms. On the east, it is 3,530 li [1,468 km] to the residence of the Chief Clerk [at Lukchun]. It is 12,150 li [5,052 km] from Luoyang. It borders on Zihe [Shahidulla], and their way of life is the same.

Section 8 – The Kingdom of Wuyishanli (Arachosia & Drangiana).

Southwest of Pishan [modern Pishan or Guma], you pass through Wucha [Upper Hunza and the Taghdumbash Pamir], cross over the ‘hanging passages’ [the xuandu in Hunza], cross Jibin [Kapisha and Gandhara] and, at the end of more than 60 days march, you arrive at the kingdom of Wuyishanli [Arachosia and Drangiana]. [Wuyishanli] extends for several thousand li. Now its name has changed to Paizhi [or Paite in some accounts]. Going southwest more than a hundred days further on horseback, you reach Tiaozhi [Characene and Susiana].

Section 9 – The Kingdom of Tiaozhi (Characene & Susiana).

In the kingdom of Tiaozhi [Characene and Susiana] there is a town on the top of a hill that is more than 40 li [16.6 km] in circumference [Susa]. It borders on the Western Sea, and the seawater winds around it on the south, east, and north. Thus, access is blocked on three sides. It is only to the northwest that there is communication by road on firm ground. This region is hot and humid. It produces lions, rhinoceroses, zebu cattle, peacocks, and giant birds [ostriches]. The giant birds have eggs as big as water jars.

If you turn north, and then towards the east, riding by horse for more than 60 days, you reach [the old capital of] Anxi [Parthia]. Later on, [Anxi] conquered, and subjugated Tiaozhi [Characene and Susiana]. They have, in fact, installed a Senior General there to supervise all the small towns.

Section 10 – The Kingdom of Anxi (Parthia).

The main centre of the Kingdom of Anxi [Parthia] is the town of Hedu [Hekatompylos]. It is 25,000 li [10,395 km] from Luoyang. To the north, it borders Kangju [the Talas basin, Tashkent and Sogdiana], and joins Wuyishanli [Arachosia and Drangiana] to the south. It is several thousand li across. There are several hundred small towns. The households, people, and men able to bear arms are extremely numerous. On its eastern frontier is the town of Mulu [Merv], which is also called Little Anxi, and is 20,000 li [8,316 km] from Luoyang.

In the first Zhanghe year [87 CE], during the reign of Emperor Zhang, this kingdom sent an envoy to offer lions and fuba [Persian gazelle]. The fuba looks like a female unicorn but it has no horn.

In the ninth Yongyuan year [97 CE], during the reign of Emperor He, the Protector General Ban Chao sent Gan Ying to Da Qin [the Roman Empire]. He reached Tiaozhi [Characene and Susiana] next to a large sea. He wanted to cross it, but the sailors of the western frontier of Anxi [Parthia] said to him:

“The ocean is huge. Those making the round trip can do it in three months if the winds are favourable. However, if you encounter winds that delay you, it can take two years. That is why all the men who go by sea take stores for three years. The vast ocean urges men to think of their country, and get homesick, and some of them die.”

When [Gan] Ying heard this, he discontinued (his trip).

In the thirteenth year [101 CE], the king of Anxi [Parthia] named Manqu [= Manchihr I of Persis?] again offered lions, and some of the giant birds of Tiaozhi [Characene and Susiana], which people call ‘Anxi birds’ [ostriches].

From [the eastern frontier of] Anxi [Indo-Parthia], if you travel 3,400 li [1,414 km] west, you reach the kingdom of Aman (or Alüan) [Herat]. Leaving Aman and travelling west 3,600 li [1,497 km], you reach the kingdom of Sibin [Susa]. Leaving Sibin [Susa] and travelling south you cross a river, then going southwest, you reach the kingdom of Yuluo [Charax Spasinou] after 960 li [399 km]. This is the extreme western frontier of Anxi [Parthia]. Leaving there, and heading south, you embark on the sea and then reach Da Qin [Roman territory]. In these territories, there are many precious and marvellous things from Haixi [‘West of the Sea’ = Egypt].

Section 11 – The Kingdom of Da Qin (Roman Empire).

The kingdom of Da Qin [lit. ‘Great China’ = the Roman Empire] is also called Lijian. As it is found to the west of the sea, it is also called the kingdom of Haixi [lit. ‘West of the Sea’ = Egypt]. Its territory extends for several thousands of li. It has more than four hundred walled towns. There are several tens of smaller dependent kingdoms. The walls of the towns are made of stone.

They have established postal relays at intervals, which are all plastered and whitewashed. There are pines and cypresses, as well as trees and plants of all kinds. The common people are farmers. They cultivate many types of trees, breed silkworms and grow mulberries. They shave their heads, and their clothes are embroidered. They have screened coaches [for the women] and small white-roofed one-horse carts. When carriages come and go, drums are beaten and flags and standards are raised.

The seat of government [Rome] is more than a hundred li [41.6 km] around. In this city are five palaces each ten li [4.2 km] from the other. Moreover, in the rooms of the palace the pillars and the tableware are really made of crystal. The king goes each day to one of the palaces to deal with business. After five days, he has visited them all. A porter with a sack has the job of always following the royal carriage. When somebody wants to discuss something with the king, he throws a note in the sack. When the king arrives at the palace, he opens the bag, examines the contents, and judges if the plaintiff is right or wrong. Each [palace] has officials [in charge of the] written documents.

[A group of] thirty-six leaders [or generals] has been established to meet together to deliberate on affairs of state. Their kings are not permanent. They select and appoint the most worthy man. If there are unexpected calamities in the kingdom, such as frequent extraordinary winds or rains, he is unceremoniously rejected and replaced. The one who has been dismissed quietly accepts his demotion, and is not angry.

The people of this country are all tall and honest. They resemble the people of the Middle Kingdom and that is why this kingdom is called Da Qin [or ‘Great China’].

Section 12 – The Products of Da Qin (Roman Empire)..

This country produces plenty of gold [and] silver, [and of] rare and precious [things] they have luminous jade, ‘bright moon pearls,’ Haiji rhinoceroses, coral, yellow amber, opaque glass, whitish chalcedony, red cinnabar, green gemstones, gold-thread embroideries, rugs woven with gold thread, delicate polychrome silks painted with gold, and asbestos cloth.

They also have a fine cloth which some people say is made from the down of ‘water sheep,’ but which is made, in fact, from the cocoons of wild silkworms. They blend all sorts of fragrances, and by boiling the juice, make a compound perfume. [They have] all the precious and rare things that come from the various foreign kingdoms. They make gold and silver coins. Ten silver coins are worth one gold coin. They trade with Anxi [Parthia] and Tianzhu [Northwest India] by sea. The profit margin is ten to one.

The people of this country are honest in business; they do not have two prices. Grain and foodstuffs are always cheap. The resources of the state are abundant. When envoys from a neighbouring kingdom arrive at their border, they use the courier stations to get to the royal capital, and when they arrive, they are given gold coins.

The king of this country always wanted to send envoys to Han, but Anxi [Parthia], wishing to control the trade in multi-coloured Chinese silks, blocked the route to prevent [the Romans] getting through [to China].

In the ninth Yanxi year [166 CE], during the reign of Emperor Huan, the king of Da Qin [the Roman Empire], Andun [Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, r. 161-180], sent envoys from beyond the frontiers through Rinan [Commandery on the central Vietnamese coast], to offer elephant tusks, rhinoceros horn, and turtle shell. This was the very first time there was [direct] communication [between the two countries]. The tribute brought was neither precious nor rare, therefore raising suspicions that the accounts [of Da Qin] might have been exaggerated.

It is said that to the west of this kingdom is Ruoshui [the ‘Weak River’] and Liusha [the ‘Shifting Sands’] which are close to the place where Xiwangmu [‘Spirit-Mother of the West’] lives, and which go almost as far as the place where the sun sets.

The Hanshu says: “Leaving Tiaozhi [Characene and Susiana], if you head west for more than two hundred days, you approach the place where the sun sets.” This does not agree with the books of today. [The reason is that] the Han envoys under the first [Han] dynasty all returned after reaching Wuyi [Arachosia and Drangiana], and none of them went as far as Tiaozhi.

It is said that: “if you leave Anxi [Parthia] by the land route, you circle through Haibei [‘North of the Sea’], and come into Haixi [Egypt], to reach Da Qin [Roman territory]. The population there is dense. Each ten li [4.2 km] there is a postal stage, and each thirty li [12.5 km] a postal station. Finally, there is no trouble with bandits, but there are many ferocious tigers and lions on the road that obstruct and kill travellers. If the caravans do not have more than a hundred armed men, they will be devoured.”

Also, it is said that: “There is a raised bridge, several hundred li long, which crosses over to Haibei [‘North of the Sea’].” They [the vassal kingdoms of Da Qin] produce curious gems and so many other peculiar and bizarre things that I will not record what is reported.

Section 13 – The Kingdom of Da Yuezhi (Kushan Empire).

The headquarters of the Da Yuezhi [Kushan] kingdom is the town of Lanshi [Baghlan?]. To the west it borders Anxi [Parthia], which is 49 days march away. To the east, it is 6,537 li [2,718 km] from the seat of the Chief Clerk [in Lukchun], and 16,370 li [6,807 km] from Luoyang. There are 100,000 households, 400,000 individuals, and more than 100,000 men able to bear arms.

Formerly, the Yuezhi were defeated by the Xiongnu. They then moved to Daxia [Bactria] and divided up this kingdom between five xihou [princes], which were those of Xiumi [Western Wakhan and Zibak?], Shuangmi [Shighnan], Guishuang [Badakhshan and adjoining territories north of the Oxus?], Xidun [the region of Balkh and Sheberghan?], and Dumi [the region of modern Termez].

More than a hundred years later, the prince [xihou] of Guishuang, named Qiujiuque [Kujula Kadphises], attacked and exterminated the four other xihou. He established himself as king, and his dynasty was called that of the Guishuang [Kushan] King. He invaded Anxi [Indo-Parthia], and took the Gaofu [Kabul] region. He also defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puda [Paktiya?] and Jibin [Kapisha and Gandhara]. Qiujiuque [Kujula Kadphises] was more than eighty years old when he died.

His son, Yangaozhen [probably Vima Tak(tu) or, possibly, his brother Sadaṣkaṇa], became king in his place. He defeated Tianzhu [North-western India] and installed Generals to supervise and lead it. The Yuezhi then became extremely rich. All the kingdoms call [their king] the Guishuang [Kushan] king, but the Han call them by their original name, Da Yuezhi.

Section 14 – The Kingdom of Gaofu (Kabul).

The kingdom of Gaofu [Kabul] is southwest of the Da Yuezhi [Kushans]. It is also a large kingdom. Their way of life is similar to that of Tianzhu [Northwest India], but they are weak and easy to subdue. They are excellent traders and are very wealthy. They have not always been ruled by the same masters. Whenever one of the three kingdoms of Tianzhu [Northwest India], Jibin [Kapisha and Gandhara], or Anxi [Indo-Parthia] became powerful, they took control of it; when weakened, they lost it. Gaofu [Kabul] was never previously dependent on the Yuezhi. The Hanshu was wrong when it included it among the five xihou. Later, it was a dependency of Anxi [Indo-Parthia]. It was only after the Yuezhi defeated Anxi [Indo-Parthia] that they took Gaofu.

Section 15 – The Kingdom of Tianzhu (Northwest India)..

The kingdom of Tianzhu [Northwest India] is also called Juandu. It is several thousand li southeast of the Yuezhi [Kushans]. Their way of life is similar to that of the Yuezhi [Kushans], but the country is low, humid, and hot. This kingdom is beside a great river [the Indus]. The people ride elephants into battle. They are weaker than the Yuezhi [Kushans]. They practice the Buddhist Way, not to kill, or wage war, which has become the custom.

From the Yuezhi [Kushan] and the kingdom of Gaofu [Kabul], heading southwest, you reach the Western Sea. To the east, you reach the kingdom of Panqi [Vanga in Bengal?], which is part of Juandu [India]. Juandu has several hundred other towns. A Chief is placed in each town.

There are several dozen other kingdoms. Each kingdom has its own king. Although the kingdoms differ slightly, they are all still called Juandu. Now they are all subject to the Yuezhi [Kushans]. The Yuezhi [Kushans] killed their kings and installed Generals to govern them.

This region produces elephants, rhinoceroses, turtle shell, gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin. To the west, it communicates with Da Qin [the Roman Empire]. Precious things from Da Qin can be found there, as well as fine cotton cloths, fine wool carpets, perfumes of all sorts, sugar candy, pepper, ginger, and black salt.

During the reign of Emperor He [89-105 CE], they sent several envoys carrying tribute and offerings. Later, the Western Regions rebelled, and these relations were interrupted. Then, during the second and the fourth Yanxi years in the reign of Emperor Huan [159 and 161 CE], and frequently since, [these] foreigners have arrived [by sea] at the frontiers of Rinan [Commandery south of Jiaozhi] to present offerings.

There is a current tradition that Emperor Ming dreamt that he saw a tall golden man the top of whose head was glowing. He questioned his group of advisors and one of them said: “In the West there is a god called Buddha. His body is sixteen chi high [3.7 m or 12 ft], and is the colour of gold.” That is why the Emperor sent envoys to Tianzhu [Northwest India] to inquire about the Buddha’s doctrine, after which paintings and statues [of the Buddha] appeared in the Middle Kingdom.

Then Ying, the king of Chu [a dependent kingdom which he ruled 41-71 CE], began to believe in this Practice, following which quite a few people in the Middle Kingdom began following this Path. Later on, Emperor Huan [147-167 CE] devoted himself to sacred things and often made sacrifices to the Buddha and Laozi. People gradually began to accept [Buddhism] and, later, they became numerous.

Section 16 – The Kingdom of Dongli (Kushan Empire – ‘Eastern Division’).

The main centre of the kingdom of Dongli [‘Eastern Division’] is the town of Shaqi [Saketa]. It is more than 3,000 li [1,247 km] southeast of Tianzhu [Northwest India]. It is a big kingdom. Its products are similar to those of Tianzhu [Northwest India]. There are several tens of major towns whose rulers take the title of king. The Da Yuezhi attacked and subdued it. The men and women are all eight chi tall [about 1.85 m or 6 ft] tall, but are cowardly. They ride elephants and camels when travelling to neighbouring kingdoms. When invaded, they ride elephants to wage war.

Section 17 – The Kingdom of Liyi (Sogdiana).

The kingdom of Liyi [read Suyi = Sogdiana] is a dependency of Kangju [Tashkent and Sogdiana]. It produces famous horses, cattle, sheep, grapes, and all sorts of fruit. The water and soil of this country are excellent, which is why its grape wine is so well-known.

Section 18 – The Kingdom of Yan (Upper Aorsi).

The kingdom of Yan is to the north of Yancai [= ‘Alan (and) Liao’ ― see Section 19] and is a dependency of Kangju [the Talas basin, Tashkent and Sogdiana]. It produces small animal pelts, which it uses to pay tribute to that country [Kangju].

Section 19 – The Kingdoms of Alan and Liao.

The kingdom of Yancai [lit. ‘Vast Steppe’] has changed its name to the kingdoms of Alan [and] Liao. They occupy the country and the towns. They are dependencies of Kangju [the Talas basin, Tashkent and Sogdiana]. The climate is mild. Wax trees, pines, and ‘white grass’ [aconite] are plentiful. Their way of life and dress are similar to those of Kangju.

Section 20 – The Kingdom of Suoju (Yarkand).

Going west from the kingdom of Suoju [Yarkand], and passing through Puli [Tashkurghan] and Wulei [the Great and Little Pamir Valleys], you arrive among the Da Yuezhi [Kushans]. To the east, it is 10,950 li [4,553 km] from Luoyang.

The Chanyu [Khan] of the Xiongnu took advantage of the chaos caused by Wang Mang [9-24 CE] and invaded the Western Regions. Only Yan, the king of Suoju [Yarkand], who was more stubborn, did not agree to annexation.

During the time of Emperor Yuan [48-33 BCE], he was a hostage prince and grew up in the capital. He admired and loved the Middle Kingdom and extended the rules of Chinese administration to his own country. He ordered all his sons to respectfully serve the Han dynasty generation by generation, and to never turn their backs on it. Yan died in the fifth Tianfeng year [18 CE]. He was awarded the posthumous title of ‘Faithful and Martial King’. His son, Kang, succeeded him on the throne.

At the beginning of Emperor Guangwu’s reign [25-57 CE], Kang led the neighbouring kingdoms to resist the Xiongnu. He escorted, and protected, more than a thousand people including the officers, the soldiers, the wife and children of the former Protector General. He sent a letter to Hexi [the Chinese territories west of the Huang He] to enquire about the activities of the Middle Kingdom, and personally expressed his attachment to, and admiration for, the Han dynasty.

In the fifth Jianwu year [29 CE] the General-in-Chief of Hexi, Dou Rong, following Imperial instructions, bestowed on Kang the titles of: “King of Chinese Suoju, Performer of Heroic Deeds Who Cherishes Virtue [and] Commandant-in-Chief of the Western Regions.” After that, the fifty-five kingdoms were all made dependencies.

In the ninth year [33 CE Kang died. He was awarded the posthumous title of “Greatly Accomplished King.” His younger brother, Xian, succeeded him on the throne. Xian attacked and conquered the kingdoms of Jumi [Keriya] and Xiye [Khargalik]. He killed both their kings, and installed two sons of his elder brother, Kang, as the kings of Jumi and Xiye.

In the fourteenth year [38 CE], together with An, the king of Shanshan [the Lop Nur region], he sent envoys to the Imperial Palace to offer tribute. Following this, the Western Regions were [again] in communication with China. All the kingdoms to the east of the Congling [Pamirs] were dependent on Xian.

In the seventeenth year [41 CE], Xian again sent an envoy to present offerings [to the Emperor], and to ask that a Protector General be appointed. The Son of Heaven questioned the Excellency of Works, Dou Rong, about this. He was of the opinion that Xian, and his sons and brothers who had pledged to serve the Han were truly sincere. Therefore, [he suggested that] it would be appropriate to give him higher rank to maintain order and security.

The Emperor then, using the same envoy that Xian had sent to him, bestowed upon him the seal and ribbon of “Protector General of the Western Regions,” and gave him chariots, standards, gold, brocades and embroideries.

Pei Zun, the Administrator of Dunhuang, wrote saying: “Foreigners should not be allowed to employ such great authority, as such rulings would cause the various kingdoms to lose hope.” An Imperial decree then ordered that the seal and ribbons of Protector General be recovered, and replaced with the seal and ribbon of “Great Han General.” Xian’s envoy refused to make the exchange, and [Pei] Zun took them by force.

Consequently, Xian became resentful. Furthermore, he falsely named himself “Great Protector General,” and sent letters to all the kingdoms. They all submitted to him, and bestowed the title of Chanyu on him. Xian gradually became arrogant making heavy demands for duties and taxes. Several times he attacked Qiuci [Kucha] and the other kingdoms. All the kingdoms were anxious and fearful.

In the winter of the twenty-first year [45 CE], eighteen kings, including the king of Nearer Jushi [Turfan], Shanshan [the Lop Nur region], Yanqi [Karashahr], and others, sent their sons to enter the service of the Emperor and offered treasure. As a result, they were granted audience when they circulated weeping, prostrating with their foreheads to the ground, in the hope of obtaining a Protector General. The Son of Heaven, considering that the Middle Kingdom was just beginning to return to peace, and that the northern frontier regions were still unsettled, returned all the hostage princes with generous gifts.

At the same time, Xian, infatuated with his military power, wanted to annex the Western Regions, and greatly increased his attacks. The kingdoms, informed that no Protector General would be sent, and that the hostage princes were all returning, were very worried and frightened. Therefore, they sent a letter to the Governor of Dunhuang to ask him to detain their hostage sons with him, so that they could point this out to the [king of] Suoju [Yarkand], and tell him that their young hostage sons were detained because a Protector General was to be sent. Then he [the king of Yarkand] would stop his hostilities. Pei Zun sent an official report informing the Emperor [of this proposal], which he approved.

In the twenty-second year [46 CE] Xian, aware that no Protector General was coming, sent a letter to An, king of Shanshan [the Lop Nur region], ordering him to cut the route to the Han. An did not accept [this order], and killed the envoy. Xian was furious and sent soldiers to attack Shanshan. An gave battle but was defeated and fled into the mountains. Xian killed or captured more than a thousand men, and then withdrew.

That winter [46 CE], Xian returned and attacked Qiuci [Kucha], killed the king, and annexed the kingdom. The hostage princes of Shanshan, and then Yanqi [Karashahr] and the other kingdoms, were detained a long time at Dunhuang and became worried, so they fled and returned [to their kingdoms].

The king of Shanshan [the Lop Nur region] wrote a letter to the Emperor expressing his desire to return his son to enter the service of the Emperor, and again pleaded for a Protector General, saying that if a Protector General were not sent, he would be forced to obey the Xiongnu. The Son of Heaven replied:

“We are not able, at the moment, to send out envoys and Imperial troops so, in spite of their good wishes, each kingdom [should seek help], as they please, wherever they can, to the east, west, south, or north.”

Following this, Shanshan [Lop Nur region], and Jushi [Turfan/Jimasa] again submitted to the Xiongnu. Meanwhile, Xian became increasingly violent.

The king of Guisai, reckoning that his kingdom was far enough away, killed Xian’s envoy. Xian then attacked and killed him. He appointed a nobleman from that country, Sijian, king of Guisai. Furthermore, Xian appointed his own son, Zeluo, to be king of Qiuci [Kucha]. Xian, taking account of the youth of Zeluo, detached a part of the territory from Qiuci [Kucha] from which he made the kingdom of Wulei [Yengisar]. He transferred Sijian to the post of king of Wulei [Yengisar], and appointed another noble to the post of king of Guisai.

Several years later, the people of the kingdom of Qiuci [Kucha], killed Zeluo and Sijian, and sent envoys to the Xiongnu to ask them to appoint a king to replace them. The Xiongnu established a nobleman of Qiuci [Kucha], Shendu, to be king of Qiuci [Kucha], making it dependent on the Xiongnu.

Because Da Yuan [Ferghana] had reduced their tribute and taxes, Xian personally took command of some tens of thousands of men taken from several kingdoms, and attacked Da Yuan [Ferghana]. Yanliu, the king of Da Yuan [Ferghana], came before him to submit. Xian took advantage of this to take him back to his own kingdom. He then transferred Qiaosaiti, the king of Jumi [Keriya], to the post of king of Da Yuan [Ferghana]. Then Kangju [the Talas basin, Tashkent and Sogdiana] attacked him there several times and Qiaosaiti fled home [to Keriya] more than a year later. Xian appointed him king of Jumi [Keriya] and sent Yanliu back to Da Yuan [Ferghana] again, ordering him to bring the customary tribute and offerings.

Xian also banished the king of Yutian [Khotan], Yulin, to be king of Ligui and set up his younger brother, Weishi, as king of Yutian.

More than a year later Xian became suspicious that the kingdoms wanted to rebel against him. He summoned Weishi, and the kings of Jumi [Keriya], Gumo [Aksu], and Zihe [Shahidulla], and killed them all. He did not set up any more kings, he just sent generals to maintain order and guard these kingdoms. Rong, the son of Weishi, fled and made submission to the Han, who named him: “Marquis Who Maintains Virtue.” A general from Suoju [Yarkand], named Junde, had been posted to Yutian [Khotan], and tyrannised the people there who were distressed.

In the third Yongping year [60 CE], during the reign of Emperor Ming, a high official of this country, called Dumo, had left town when he saw a wild pig. He wanted to shoot it, but the pig said to him: “Do not shoot me; I will undertake to kill Junde for you.” Following this, Dumo plotted with his brothers and killed Junde. However, another high official, Xiumo Ba, plotted, in his turn, with a Chinese man, Han Rong, and others, to kill Dumo and his brothers, then he named himself king of Yutian [Khotan]. Together with men from the kingdom of Jumi [Keriya], he attacked and killed the Suoju [Yarkand] general who was at Pishan [Guma]. He then returned with the soldiers.

Then Xian sent his Heir Apparent, and his State Chancellor, leading 20,000 soldiers from several kingdoms, to attack Xiumo Ba. [Xiumo] Ba came to meet them and gave battle, defeating the soldiers of Suoju [Yarkand] who fled, and more than 10,000 of them were killed.

Xian again fielded several tens of thousands of men from various kingdoms, and personally led them to attack Xiumo Ba. [Xiumo] Ba was again victorious and beheaded more than half of the enemy. Xian escaped and fled, returning to his kingdom. Xiumo Ba advanced and encircled Suoju [Yarkand], but he was hit and killed by an arrow, and his soldiers retreated.

Suyule, State Chancellor of Yutian [Khotan], and others, appointed Guangde, the son of Xiumo Ba’s elder brother, king. The Xiongnu, with Qiuci [Kucha] and the other kingdoms, attacked Suoju [Yarkand], but were unable to take it.

Later, Guangde recognising the exhaustion of Suoju [Yarkand], sent his younger brother, Marquis Ren, ‘Who Supports the State’, commanding an army, to attack Xian. As he had suffered war continuously, Xian sent an envoy to make peace with Guangde. Guangde’s father had previously been detained for several years in Suoju [Yarkand]. Xian returned Guangde’s father and also gave one of his daughters in marriage and swore brotherhood to Guangde, so the soldiers withdrew and departed.

In the following year [61 CE], Qieyun, the Chancellor of Suoju [Yarkand], and others, worried by Xian’s arrogance, plotted to get the town to submit to Yutian [Khotan]. Guangde, the king of Yutian [Khotan], then led 30,000 men from several kingdoms to attack Suoju [Yarkand]. Xian stayed in the town to defend it and sent a messenger to say to Guangde: “I have given you your father and a wife. Why are you attacking me?” Guangde replied to him: “O king, you are the father of my wife. It has been a long time since we met. I want us to meet, each of us escorted by only two men, outside the town wall to make an alliance.”

Xian consulted Qieyun about this. Qieyun said to him: “Guangde, your son-in-law, is a very close relation; you should go out to see him.” Xian then rashly went out. Guangde advanced and captured him. In addition, Qieyun and his colleagues let the soldiers of Yutian [Khotan] into the town to capture Xian’s wife and children. [Guangde] annexed his kingdom. He put Xian in chains, and took him home with him. More than a year later, he killed him.

When the Xiongnu heard that Guangde had defeated Suoju [Yarkand], they sent five generals to launch from Yanqi [Karashahr], Weili [Korla], and Qiuci [Kucha] more than 30,000 men from fifteen kingdoms to besiege Yutian [Khotan]. Guangde asked to submit. He sent his Heir Apparent as a hostage and promised to give embroidered felt each year. In winter, the Xiongnu ordered soldiers to take Xian’s son, Bujuzheng, who was a hostage with them, to appoint him king of Suoju [Yarkand]. Guangde then attacked and killed [Bujuzheng], and put his younger brother, Qili, on the throne. This was in the third Yuanhe year [86 CE] of Emperor Zhang.

Then Chief Clerk Ban Chao dispatched the troops of several kingdoms to attack Suoju [Yarkand]. He soundly defeated Suoju [Yarkand] so it submitted to Han [in 88 CE]. These matters have already been described in the biography of Ban Chao.

Leaving Suoju [Yarkand] towards the northeast [should read ‘northwest’] you reach Shule [Kashgar].

Section 21 – The Kingdom of Shule (Kashgar).

The kingdom of Shule [Kashgar] is 5,000 li [2,079 km] from the residence of the Senior Clerk [Lukchun], and 10,300 li [4,283 km] from Luoyang. It controls 21,000 households, and has more than 30,000 men able to bear arms.

In the sixteenth Yongping year of Emperor Ming [73 CE], Jian, the king of Qiuci [Kucha], attacked and killed Cheng, the king of Shule [Kashgar]. Then he appointed the Qiuci [Kucha] Marquis of the Left, Douti, King of Shule [Kashgar].

In winter [73 CE], the Han sent Major Ban Chao who captured and bound Douti. He appointed Zhong, the son of the elder brother of Cheng, to be king of Shule [Kashgar]. Zhong later rebelled. [Ban] Chao attacked and beheaded him. These things have already been described in the biography of [Ban] Chao.

During the Yuanchu period [114-120 CE] in the reign of Emperor An, Anguo, the king of Shule [Kashgar], exiled his maternal uncle Chenpan to the Yuezhi [Kushans] for some offence. The king of the Yuezhi became very fond of him. Later, Anguo died without leaving a son. His mother directed the government of the kingdom. She agreed with the people of the country to put Yifu [lit. ‘Posthumous Child’], who was the son of a full younger brother of Chenpan, on the throne as king of Shule [Kashgar]. Chenpan heard of this and appealed to the Yuezhi [Kushan] king, saying:

“Anguo had no son. His relative [Yifu] is weak. If one wants to put on the throne a member of [Anguo’s] mother’s family, I am Yifu’s paternal uncle; it is I who should be king.”

The Yuezhi [Kushans] then sent soldiers to escort him back to Shule [Kashgar]. The people had previously respected and been fond of Chenpan. Besides, they dreaded the Yuezhi [Kushans]. They immediately took the seal and ribbon from Yifu and went to Chenpan, and made him king. Yifu was given the title of Marquis of the town of Pangao [90 li or 37 km from Shule].

Afterwards Suoju [Yarkand] followed by resisting Yutian [Khotan], and put themselves under Shule [Kashgar]. Thus Shule [Kashgar], became powerful and a rival to Qiuci [Kucha] and Yutian [Khotan].

In the second Yongjian year [127 CE], during Emperor Shun’s reign, Chenpan sent an envoy to respectfully present offerings. The Emperor bestowed on Chenpan the title of Great Commandant-in-Chief for the Han. Chenxun, the son of his elder brother, was appointed Temporary Major of the Kingdom.

In the fifth year [130 CE], Chenpan sent his son to serve the Emperor and, along with envoys from Da Yuan [Ferghana] and Suoju [Yarkand], brought tribute and offerings. In the second Yangjia year [133 CE], Chenpan again made offerings [including] a lion and zebu cattle.

Then, during Emperor Ling’s reign, in the first Jianning year [168 CE], the king of Shule [Kashgar] and Commandant-in-Chief for the Han [i.e. presumably Chenpan], was shot, while hunting, by the youngest of his paternal uncles, Hede. Hede named himself king.

In the third year [170 CE], Meng Tuo, the Inspector of Liangzhou, sent the Provincial Officer Ren She, commanding five hundred soldiers from Dunhuang, who, with the Wuji Major Cao Kuan, and Chief Clerk of the Western Regions, Zhang Yan, brought troops from Yanqi [Karashahr], Qiuci [Kucha], and the Nearer and Further Kingdoms of Jushi [Turfan and Jimasa], altogether numbering more than 30,000, to punish Shule [Kashgar]. They attacked the town of Zhenzhong [Arach?] but, having stayed for more than forty days without being able to subdue it, they withdrew. Following this, the kings of Shule [Kashgar] killed one another repeatedly while the Imperial Government was unable to prevent it.

Northeast [from Shule] you pass through Weitou [Akqi], Wensu [Wushi or Uch Turfan], Gumo [Aksu], Qiuci [Kucha], and arrive at Yanqi [Karashahr].

Section 22 – The Kingdom of Yanqi (Karashahr).

The king of the kingdom of Yanqi [Karashahr] lives in the town of Nanhe [‘South River’], which is 800 li [333 km] from the residence of the Senior Clerk [Lukchun], and is 8,200 li [3,410 km] east of Luoyang. It has 15,000 households, 52,000 individuals, and more than 20,000 men able to bear arms. It has high mountains on all four sides. There are hazardous passes on the route to Qiuci [Kucha] that are easy to defend. The water of a lake winds between the four mountains, and surrounds the town for more than 30 li [12.5 km].

At the end of the Yongping period [58-75 CE], Yanqi [Karashahr] and Qiuci [Kucha] attacked, and killed the Protector General Chen Mu and Senior Colonel Guo Xun, and more than 2,000 officers and soldiers.

In the sixth Yongyuan year [94 CE] the Protector General Ban Chao put the soldiers of the various kingdoms on campaign to punish the kingdoms of Yanqi [Karashahr], Weixu [Hoxud], Weili [Korla], and Shanguo [in the western Kuruk mountains?]. He then sent the heads of the two kings of Yanqi [Karashahr] and Weili [Korla] to the capital where they were hung in front of the residences of the Man and Yi princes in the capital. [Ban] Chao then appointed Yuanmeng, who was the Yanqi [Karashahr] Marquis of the Left, king [of Kashgar]. The kings of Weili [Korla], Weixu [Hoxud], and Shanguo [in the western Kuruk Mountains?] were all replaced. Then, during the reign of Emperor An [106-125 CE], the Western Regions rebelled.

In the middle of the Yanguang period [122-125 CE] [Ban] Yong, [Ban] Chao’s son, was appointed Chief Clerk of the Western Regions. He returned to govern and pacify the various kingdoms once again. [Only] Yuanmeng, and [the kings of] Weili [Korla] and Weixu [Hoxud] refused to submit. In the second Yongjian year [127 CE], [Ban] Yong, with Zhang Lang, the Governor of Dunhuang, attacked and defeated them. Yuanmeng sent his son then to the palace with offerings.

Section 23 – The Kingdom of Pulei.

The kingdom of Pulei is west of the Tianshan Mountains, in the Shuyu [‘Scattered Elms’] Valley. On the southeast, it is 1,290 li [536 km] from the residence of the Senior Clerk [in Lukchun]. It is 10,490 li [4,362 km] from Luoyang. It has more than 800 households, more than 2,000 individuals, and there are more than 700 men able to bear arms. The people of this country live in tents. They tend to move about in search of water and pasture and cultivate some fields. They have cattle, horses, camels, sheep, and other domestic animals. They know how to make bows and arrows. This country produces good horses.

Pulei was originally a large kingdom [near Lake Barkol] but when the Western Regions were subject to the Xiongnu, the king of Pulei offended the Chanyu. The Chanyu was angry and had more than 6,000 people from Pulei deported to a place called the Awu region of the right [or western] section of the Xiongnu. That is why this kingdom was called the kingdom of Awu. To the south it is more than 90 days ride by horse to the Kingdom of Further Jushi [Jimasa]. It is said that [some of] the poor, miserable people fled into the mountain valleys where they settled and established a kingdom [here at the new Pulei].

Section 24 – The Kingdom of Yizhi (Barkol).

The kingdom of Yizhi [‘Transplanted Branch’] is in the Pulei [Lake Barkol] region. It has more than 1,000 households, more than 3,000 individuals, and more than 1,000 men able to bear arms. These people are brave and hardy in combat. Robbery and pillage are their normal occupations. They all have dishevelled hair. They follow their flocks in search of water and pasture. They know nothing of agriculture. Their products are the same as those of Pulei.

Section 25 – The Kingdom of Eastern Jumi (Dashitou).

To the east of the kingdom of Eastern Jumi, it is 800 li [333 km] to the residence of the Senior Clerk [Lukchun]. It is 9,250 li [3,846 km] from Luoyang. There are more than 3,000 households, more than 5,000 individuals, and more than 2,000 men able to bear arms. The people live in tents. They go in search of water and pasture. They farm a bit. The produce is the same as Pulei. They are nomads.

Section 26 – The Kingdom of Nearer Jushi (Turfan).

The king of Nearer Jushi [Turfan] lives in the ).town of Jiaohe [Yarkhoto, 20 li west of Turfan]. A river divides into two and surrounds the town, which is why it is called Jiaohe [‘River Junction’]. It is 80 li [33 km] from Liuzhong [Lukchun], the residence of the Chief Clerk. To the east it is 9,120 li [3,792 km] to Luoyang. He [the king] controls more than 1,500 households, more than 4,000 individuals, and 2,000 men able to bear arms.

Section 27 – The Kingdom of Further Jushi (Jimasa).

The king of Further [Jushi] lives in the Wutu Valley, which is 500 li [208 km] from the seat of the Senior Clerk [in Lukchun], and 9,620 li [4,000 km] from Luoyang. He controls more than 4,000 households, more than 15,000 individuals, and more than 3,000 men able to bear arms.

The Nearer and Further Kingdoms [Turfan and Jimasa], with Eastern Jumi, Beilu, Pulei, and Yizhi [‘Transplanted Branch’] make up the Six Kingdoms of Jushi. They are bordered by the Xiongnu to the north. The Nearer Kingdom [Turfan] communicates to the west with Yanqi [Karashahr] via the Northern Route. The Further Kingdom [Jimasa] [also] communicates to the west with the Wusun [Issyk Kul, Ili Valley and Semirechiye]. In the twenty-first Jianwu year [45 CE], [the king of Further Jushi] with [the kings of] Shanshan [Lop Nur region], and Yanqi [Karashahr], sent their sons to enter the service of the Emperor. Emperor Guangwu sent them back, and then [these kings] submitted to and joined the Xiongnu.

In the sixteenth Yongbing year [73 CE] of Emperor Ming, the Han took Yiwu [Hami] so they could communicate with the Western Regions. Jushi [Turfan /Jimasa] then began to become dependent on the Empire again but the Xiongnu sent soldiers to attack it, and it renewed its submission to the Northern Scoundrels [Northern Xiongnu].

In the second Yongyuan year of Emperor He [90 CE], the General-in-Chief, Dou Xian, defeated the Northern Xiongnu. Jushi [Turfan/Jimasa] trembled in terror. Both the Nearer and the Further kings sent one of their sons with tribute to enter into the service of the Emperor. Seals and ribbons, gold, and lengths of silk were bestowed on them.

In the eighth year [96 CE], the Wuji Colonel, Suo Jun, was about to depose Zhuodi, who was king of the Further Kingdom, and put Xi Zhi, the ‘Conqueror of the Scoundrels Marquis,’ on the throne. Zhuodi was angry that the Nearer King had betrayed him, so he retaliated by taking the offensive against Wei Beida, king of the Nearer Kingdom. He captured his wife and son.

The following year [97 CE], the Han ordered the Chief Clerk, Wang Lin, to put the soldiers of the six commanderies of Liang province on campaign, plus more than 20,000 Qiang prisoners of war and Hu to attack Zhuodi. They took more than a thousand Scoundrels’ [Xiongnu] heads. Zhuodi sought refuge on the territory of the Northern Xiongnu, but the Han army followed, attacked, and beheaded him. Nong Qi, the younger brother of Zhuodi was appointed king.

In the first Yongning year [120 CE], Jun Jiu, the king of the Further Kingdom, and his mother, Sha Ma, rebelled. They killed the Major of the Further Tribe who arrived to handle matters for Dunhuang [they had already killed Suo Ban who had been sent to establish a military colony the previous year]. In the fourth Yanguang year [125 CE], during Emperor An’s reign, the Senior Clerk Ban Yong, attacked Jun Jiu, defeated him soundly, and beheaded him.

In the first Yongjian year [126 CE], of Emperor Shun’s reign, [Ban] Yong led the son of King Nong Qi of the Further Kingdom, Jiatenu, Bahua, and others on campaign with some elite troops to attack the king of the Huyan [clan] of the Northern Scoundrels [Northern Xiongnu], and defeated him. [Ban] Yong asked the Emperor to install Jiatenu as the king of the Further Kingdom. Bahua was named ‘Marquis of the Further Kingdom Allied to Han.’

In summer of the third Yangjia year [134 CE], the Major of the Further Kingdom of Jushi [Jimasa] led Jiatenu and 1,500 men to launch an attack against the Northern Xiongnu in the Changwulu Valley. He destroyed their dwellings and camps and beheaded several hundred [men]. He captured the mother and aunt [wife of the youngest paternal uncle] of the Chanyu and a hundred other women. He took more than 100,000 oxen and sheep, more than a thousand carts, and a vast quantity of military equipment and other items.

In spring of the fourth year [135 CE], the king of the Huyan [clan] of the Northern Xiongnu led troops to invade [the territory of] the Further Kingdom [Jimasa]. Because the Six Kingdoms of Jushi bordered on the Northern Scoundrels [Northern Xiongnu], and protected the Western Regions, the Emperor ordered the Governor of Dunhuang to send out troops from all the kingdoms as well as the Captain of the Yumen frontier-pass, and the Major of Yiwu [Hami], altogether 6,300 cavalrymen to go to help. [They launched] a surprise attack on the Northern Scoundrels near Le Shan [‘Le Mountain’]. The Chinese army was not successful. That autumn, the king of the Huyan again led 2,000 men to attack the Further Kingdom [Jimasa] and defeated them.

In the first Yuanjia year [151 CE], the king of the Huyan [clan] led more than 3,000 cavalrymen to invade Yiwu [Hami]. Mao Kai, the Major of Yiwu [Hami], sent five hundred officials and soldiers to the east of Lake Pulei [Barkol]. They fought the king of the Huyan [clan], but were all killed there. Following this, the Huyan king attacked the garrison town of Yiwu [Hami].

In the summer, Major Da, Administrator of Dunhuang, was sent at the head of more than 4,000 officers and troops recruited from Jiuquan [Suzhou], Zhangye [Ganzhou], and the vassal kingdoms, to go to the aid of Yiwu [Hami]. He left the frontier regions and arrived at Lake Pulei [Barkol], but the Huyan king, warned of his coming, had already retreated. The Chinese army could not attack him [so] they returned.

In the first Yongxing year [153 CE], Aluoduo, king of the Kingdom of Further Jushi, and Yan Hao, Captain of the Wu Troop, had a disagreement. The king became angry and rebelled. He besieged and attacked the agricultural garrison at the town of Qiegu, killing and wounding [some of] the officers and men. Tan Zhe, Captain of the Further Tribe, led the rest of the people [of Further Jushi who had stayed behind] to rebel against Aluoduo, and proceed to the Chinese officials to submit. Aluoduo hurriedly took his mother, wife, and children away with him and, with about a hundred cavalrymen, fled to the Northern Xiongnu. Song Liang, the Governor of Dunhuang, recommended that Beijun, the son of the former king of the Further Kingdom [of Jushi], Juejiu, who had been a hostage at the Chinese Court, be installed as king of the Further Kingdom.

Later, Aluoduo returned from among the Xiongnu and struggled with Beijun for control of his kingdom. Quite a few of the people supported him. The Wu Colonel Yan Xiang, worried that he would attract the Northern Scoundrels [Northern Xiongnu] causing disturbances in the Western Regions, promised that he could be king again; Aluoduo therefore went to [Yan] Xiang to submit. The seal and ribbon that had been bestowed on Beijun was taken away, and Aluoduo was made king; consequently Beijun was taken to Dunhuang. Three hundred tents of people from the Further Tribe guarding the frontiers were put under his control to provide revenue for him. Tents are like households in China.

Section 28 – Commentary.

The Commentary [by Fan Ye, 398-445] says:
“The natural conditions and customs of the Western Regions were not known in ancient times. In the Han era, Zhang Qian conveyed [our] goodwill to remote regions – through his astuteness. Ban Chao deployed all his energy and earned a Marquisate – through his ambition. In the end, they were able to accomplish glorious deeds in the far West, restraining and subduing foreign kingdoms.
The reputation of our soldiers made them submit. Rich gifts were sent to win them over to us. None of them neglected to present the marvellous products of their countries in homage, and gave their loved ones to be hostages. With bared heads, they walked towards the east on their [knees and] elbows before the Imperial Court and the Son of Heaven. Therefore wuji officials were established to share responsibility for these affairs. A Protector General was put in charge to exercise authority.
Those who yielded early were rewarded with baskets of gold, and button seals in the form of tortoises and seal ribbons were granted to pacify them. Those who submitted late had their heads hung at the Northern Gate [of the Capital, Luoyang], which was rubbed with their blood.
Agricultural garrisons were created in the fertile regions. Relay stations were established in strategic positions allowing orders to travel quickly between the main postal stations at all seasons. Hu merchants coming to trade, and travellers, arrived at the frontier regions every day. Later [in 97 CE], Gan Ying travelled to Tiaozhi [Characene and Susiana], crossing Anxi [Parthia], to the Western Sea [the Persian Gulf], observing Da Qin [the Roman Empire] from a distance. Beyond the Yumen and Yang frontier-passes, for more than 40,000 li [16,632 km], there is nowhere he did not fully explore.
Whatever their territories, customs, temperaments, and wisdom; the sorts of things they produce; the fortified mountain passes and sources of the mountain torrents and rivers, the similarities and differences of climate and temperature, the climbing of mountains, [using] hanging wooden footpaths to cross gorges, and ropes to cross scree; the regions of suffering from fevers, rheumatic aches, plagues, and demons – I have tried to comprehensively record the situation by examining authentic sources.
The Buddhist Way of transforming the soul arose in Juandu [India]. Nevertheless, the two Han gazetteers [in the Hanshu and Hou Hanshu], say nothing about it.
Zhang Qian noted only that: ‘this country is hot and humid. The people ride elephants into battle.’ Although Ban Yong explained that they revere the Buddha, and neither kill nor fight, he has recorded nothing about the excellent texts, virtuous Law, and meritorious teachings and guidance.
As for myself, here is what I have heard: This kingdom is even more flourishing than China. The seasons are in harmony. Saintly beings descend and congregate there. Great Worthies arise there. Strange and extraordinary marvels occur such that human reason is suspended. By examining and exposing the emotions, one can reach beyond the highest heavens.
Meanwhile, [Zhang] Qian and [Ban] Chao did not mention any of this. It is unfortunate that the [Buddhist] Doctrine was previously closed, only to be opened towards the end of the period, but that is how it was. Why make inflated and false claims?
It was from the time of [Liu] Ying, [the king] of Chu, [c. 65 CE] during the Han, that fasting rather than killing and sacrificing animals became popular for the first time; and then Emperor Huan [147-167 CE] prepared a canopy to adorn [a statue of the Buddha]. Were only folk deities and heretical [doctrines practised]?
Examining [Buddhism] closely it teaches the purification of the heart and the elimination of attachment, emptiness and being. The Daoist books follow a similar line. Moreover, it cherishes unselfish love and loathes killing, removes evils and honours virtue. Many wise and true gentlemen give the Dharma to others.
[However, the Buddhists] have become boastful without any foundation, and speak in endless monstrous parables. Even Zou Yan’s discussions on heaven, and the dissertations of Zhuang Zhou on the tentacles of a snail, form not a ten-thousandth part [of the Buddhist extravagances]. Also, [the Buddhist doctrines on] the origin and extinction of souls, and the relationship between cause and effect, look clear but are actually obscure; which is why learned scholars doubt them. It is really not the way to guide the common people. To reach everybody, one should take that which all the doctrines agree on, and thus deal with people’s doubts. Then the Great Dao will certainly be communicated.”

Section 29 – Eulogy.

The Eulogy says:

The Western Hu are far away.
They live in an outer zone.

Their countries’ products are beautiful and precious,
But their character is debauched and frivolous.

They don’t follow the rites of China.
They don’t have the canonical books.

If they don’t follow the ‘Way of the gods,’
Why should they care, and what can control them?