Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kashgar, called Kashi in Chinese (), is an oasis city located west of the Taklamakan desert, at the feet of the Tian Shan mountain range in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China (39° 24’ 26” N.; 76° 6’ 47” E.). It is 1,290 m. or 4,232 ft. above sea-level. The population was given as 205,056 in 1999.
Situated at the junction of routes from the valley of the Oxus, from Khokand and Samarkand, Almati, Aksu, and Khotan, the last two leading from China and India, Kashgar has been noted from very early times as a political and commercial centre.
The Kashgar oasis is where both the northern and southern routes from China around the Taklamakan desert converge. It is also almost directly north of Tashkurgan through which traffic passed from Gandhara, in what is now northern Pakistan, and Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.
About 200 km west of the present city, just past the present border with Kyrgyztan, the main Silk Route crossed into the head of the Alai Valley from where relatively easy routes led southwest to Balkh or northwest to Ferghana. The present main road now travels northwest through the Torugart pass.
Previously the city consisted of two towns, Kuhna Shahr or "old city", and Yangi Shahr or "new city", about 5 miles (8 km) apart, separated from one another by the Kyzyl Su (literally: "Red River"), a tributary of the Tarim river. The division is now less distinct.
Kuhna Shahr is a small fortified city on high ground overlooking the Tuman river. Its walls are lofty and supported by buttress bastions with loopholed turrets at intervals; the fortifications, however, are but of hard clay and are much out of repair. The city contains about 2,500 houses. Beyond the bridge, a little way off, are the ruins of ancient Kashgar, which once covered a large extent of country on both sides of the Tuman, and the walls of which even now (in 1911) are 12 feet (3.7m) wide at the top and twice that in height. This city - Aski Shahr (Old Town) as it is now called - was destroyed in 1514 by Mirza Ababakar (Abubekr) on the approach of Sultan Said Khan 's army.
About two miles to the north beyond the river is the shrine of Hazrat Afak , the saint king of the country, who died and was buried here in 1693. It is a handsome mausoleum faced with blue and white glazed tiles, standing under the shade of some magnificent silver poplars. Around it Yakub Beg erected a commodious college, mosque and monastery, the whole being surrounded by rich orchards, fruit gardens and vineyards.
The Yangi Shahr of Kashgar was, as its name implies, relatively modern, having been built in 1838. It was of oblong shape running north and south, and was entered by a single gateway. The walls were about 10 metres (33 ft) high, of adobe brick and topped by turrets, while on each side was a projecting bastion. The walls were reportedly wide enough at the top for a two-wheeled cart. The whole was surrounded by a deep and wide ditch, which could be filled from the river, at the risk, however, of bringing down the whole structure, for the walls were of mud, and standing upon a porous sandy soil. When the Communists took power they destroyed the walls.
Before Yakub Beg's seized power from the Chinese, Yangi Shahr held a garrison of 6,000 men, and was the residence of the amban or governor. Yakub erected his orda or palace on the site of the amban's residence, and two hundred ladies of his harem occupied a commodious enclosure nearby.
The population of Kashgar was estimated (not long before 1911) at 60,000 in the Kuhna Shahr and only 2,000 in the Yangi Shahr.
Kashgar, or Qäshqär, is said to mean variegated houses. The modern Chinese name is 喀什噶爾, or 喀什 for short. The previous Chinese name was 疏勒, variously romanized as Su-leh, Sulei, Shule, Shu-le, She-le, Shu-lo or Sha-le, which perhaps represents either an original Solek or Sorak, or the Sanskrit name Śrīkrīrāti, meaning "fortunate hospitality". Alternate modern romanizations include Cascar.
The earliest authentic mention of Kashgar is during the Former Han , when the Chinese conquered the Hiungnu, Yutien (Khotan), Sulei (Kashgar), and a group of states in the Tarim basin almost up to the foot of the Tian Shan mountains. This happened in 76 BC.
Kashgar does not appear to have been known in the West at this time, but Ptolemy speaks of Scythia beyond the Imaus , which is in a Kasia Regio, possibly exhibiting the name whence Kashgar and Kashgaria (often applied to the district) are formed.
The country was converted to Buddhism early and grew extremely rapidly as the trade routes between East and West were opened up and traffic increased.
In the Hanshu, or History of the Former Han, which covers the period between 125 BCE and 23 CE, it is recorded that there were 1,510 households, 18,647 people and 2,000 persons able to bear arms. By the time covered by the Hou Hanshu (roughly 25 to 170 CE), it had grown to 21,000 households and had 30,000 men able to bear arms.
The Hou Hanshu provides a wealth of detail on developments in the region:
"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|9 CE, demoted and changed their kings and marquesses. Following this, the Western Regions became resentful, and rebelled. They, therefore, broke off all relations with the Middle Kingdom and, all together, submitted to the Xiongnu again.
The Xiongnu collected oppressively heavy taxes. The kingdoms were not able to support their demands. In the middle of the Jianwu period 25-55 CE, they each sent envoys to ask if they could submit to the Middle Kingdom, and to express their desire for a Protector General. Emperor Guangwu 25-57 CE, 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 the meantime, the Xiongnu became weaker. The king of Suoju (Yarkand), named Xian, wiped out several kingdoms. After Xian’s death, they began to attack and fight each other. Xiao Yuan, Jingjue (Niya), Ronglu (south of Niya), and Qiemo (Charchan ) were annexed by Shanshan (the region of Lop Nor, with the capital near modern Ruoqiang or Kharghalik). Qule (south of Keriya) and Pishan (modern Pishan or Guma) were conquered by Yutian (Khotan), which completely occupied them. Yuli, Danhuan, Guhu, and Wutanzili (along the route north of the Tianshan mountains) were wiped out by Jushi (Turfan/Jimasa ). Later these kingdoms were re-established.
During the Yongping period 58-75 CE, the Northern Scoundrels (= the 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."
And, more particularly in reference to Kashgar itself, including the only historical reference to Kushan involvement in the oasis, is the following record:
"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 the 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."
"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].
Then Suoju (Yarkand) continued to resist (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, who was 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 Dayuan (Ferghana) and Suoju (Yarkand), brought tribute and offerings.
(From an earlier part of the text comes the following addition): "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."
(Then the first passage continues):
"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, 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 States of Jushi (Turfan and Jimasa), altogether numbering more than 30,000, to punish Shule (Kashgar). They attacked the town of Zhenzhong [Arach – near Maralbashi] 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)."
Three Kingdoms to the Sui
These centuries are marked by the general silence on Kashgar and the Tarim Basin in general.
The Weilue, composed in the second third of the 3rd century CE, mentions a number of states as dependencies of Kashgar: the kingdom of Zhenzhong (Arach?), the kingdom of Suoju (Yarkand), the kingdom of Jieshi, the kingdom of Qusha, the kingdom of Xiye (Khargalik), the kingdom of Yinai (Tashkurghan), the kingdom of Manli (modern Karasul), the kingdom of Yire (Mazar – also known as Tágh Nák and Tokanak), the kingdom of Yuling, the kingdom of Juandu (‘Tax Control’ – near modern Irkeshtam), the kingdom of Xiuxiu (‘Excellent Rest Stop’ – near Karakavak), and the kingdom of Qin.
However, much of the information on the Western Regions contained in the Weilue seems to have ended roughly about (170 CE), near the end of Han power. So, we can't be sure that this is a reference to the state of affairs during the Cao Wei (220-265 CE), or whether it refers to the situation before the civil war during the Later Han when China lost touch with most foreign countries and came to be divided into three separate kingdoms.
The Sanguoshi, ch. 30 says that after the beginning of the Wei dynasty (220 CE) the states of the Western Regions did not arrive as before, except for the larger ones such as Kucha, Khotan, Kangju, Wusun, Kashgar, Yuezhi, Shanshan and Turfan, who are said to have come to present tribute every year, as in Han times.
In 270 CE, four states from the Western Regions were said to have presented tribute: Karashahr, Turfan, Shanshan, and Kucha. Some wooden documents from Niya seem to indicate that contacts were also maintained with Kashgar and Khotan also had contact about this time.
In 422 CE, according to the Songshu, ch. 98, the king of Shanshan, Bilong, came to the court and "the thirty-six states in the Western Regions" all swore their allegiance and presented tribute. It must be assumed that these 36 states included Kashgar.
The "Songji" of the Zizhi Tongjian records that in the 5th month of 435 CE, nine states: Kucha, Kashgar, Wusun, Yueban, Tashkurghan, Shanshan, Karashahr, Turfan and Sute all came to the Wei court.
In 439, according to the Weishu, ch. 4A, Shanshan, Kashgar and Karashahr sent envoys to present tribute.
According to the Weishu, ch. 102, Chapter on the Western Regions, the kingdoms of Kucha, Kashgar, Wusun, Yueban, Tashkurghan, Shanshan, Karashahr, Turfan and Sute all began sending envoys to present tribute in the Taiyuan reign period (435-440 CE).
In 507 Kashgar, is said to have sent envoys in both the 9th and 10th months (Weishu, ch. 8).
In 512, Kashgar sent envoys in the 1st and 5th months. (Weishu, ch. 8).
Early in the 6th century Kashgar is included among the many territories controlled by the Yeda or Hephthalite Huns, but their empire collapsed at the onslaught of the Western Turks between 563 and 567 who then probably gained control over Kashgar and most of the states in the Tarim Basin.
The Tang Dynasty
The opening of the Tang dynasty, in 618 CE, saw the beginning of a prolonged struggle between China and the Western Turks for control of the Tarim Basin.
In 635 the Tang Annals report an embassy from the king of Kashgar. In 639 there was a second embassy bringing products of Kashgar as a token of submission.
Xuan Zang passed through Kashgar (which he calls Ka-sha) in 644 on his return journey from India to China. The Buddhist religion, then beginning to decay in India, was active in Kashgar. Xuan Zang records that they flatened their babies heads, were ill-favoured, tattooed their bodies and had green eyes. He said they had abundant crops, fruits and flowers, wove fine woollen stuffs and rugs, their writing had been copied from India but their language was different from that of other countries. The inhabitants were sincere believers in Buddhism and there were some hundreds of monasteries with more than 10,000 followers, all members of the Sarvastivadin School.
In 646, when the Turkish Kagan asked for the hand of a Chinese princess, the Emperor claimed Kucha, Khotan, Kashgar, Karashahr and Sarikol as a marriage gift, but this was not to happen.
In a series of campaigns between 652 and 658, with the help of the Uighurs, the Chinese finally defeated the Western Turk tribes and took control of all their domains, including the Tarim Basin kingdoms.
In 662 a rebellion broke out in the Western Regions and a Chinese army sent to control it was badly defeated by the Tibetans south of Kashgar.
After another defeat of the Chinese forces in 670, the Tibetans gained control of the whole region and completely subjugated Kashgar in 676-8 and retained possession of it until 692, when China regained control of all their former territories, and retained it for the next fifty years.
In 728, the king of Kashgar was awarded a brevet by the Chinese emperor.
Soon after the Chinese pilgrim monk Wukong passed through Kashgar in 753. He again reached Kashgar on his return trip from India in 786 and mentions a Chinese deputy governor as well as the local king.
The Arab Invasions
In the 8th century came the Arab invasion from the west, and we find Kashgar and Turkestan lending assistance to the reigning queen of Bokhara, to enable her to repel the enemy. But although the Muslim religion from the very commencement sustained checks, it nevertheless made weight felt upon the independent states of Turkestan to the north and east, and thus acquired a steadily growing influence. It was not, however, till the 10th century that Islam was established at Kashgar, under the Uighur kingdom.
The Uighurs appear to have been the descendants of the people called Tolas and to have been one of the many Turkish tribes who migrated westwards from China. Boghra Khan, the most celebrated prince of this line, was converted to Islam late in the 10th century and the Uighur kingdom lasted until 1120 but was distracted by complicated dynastic struggles. The Uighurs employed an alphabet based upon the Syriac and borrowed from the Nestorian missionaries. They spoke a dialect of Turkish preserved in the Kudatku Bilik, a moral treatise composed in 1065.
The Uighur kingdom was destroyed by an invasion of the Kara-Khitai, another Turkish tribe pressing westwards from the Chinese frontier, who in their turn were swept away in 1219 by Jenghiz Khan. His invasion gave a decided check to the progress of the Muslim creed, but on his death, and during the rule of the Jagatai Khans, who became converts to that faith, it began to reassert its ascendancy.
Marco Polo visited the city, which he calls Cascar, about 1273-4 and recorded that there were many Nestorian Christians there with churches of their own.
In 1389-1390 Timur ravaged Kashgar, Andijan and the intervening country. Kashgar passed through a troublous time, and in 1514, on the invasion of the Khan Sultan Said , was destroyed by Mirza Ababakar , who with the aid of ten thousand men built the new fort with massive defences higher up on the banks of the Tuman river. The dynasty of the Jagatai Khans collapsed in 1572 by the dismemberment of the country between rival representatives; and soon after two powerful Khoja factions, the White and Black Mountaineers (Ak and Kara Taghiuk), arose, whose dissensions and warfares, with the intervention of the Kalmucks of Dzungaria, fill up the history till 1759.
In 1759 a Chinese army from Ili (Kulja) invaded the country, and, after perpetrating wholesale massacres, finally consolidated their authority by settling therein Chinese emigrants, together with a Manchu garrison.
The Chinese had thoughts of pushing their conquests towards western Turkestan and Samarkand, the chiefs of which sent to ask assistance of the Afghan king Ahmed Shah. This monarch dispatched an embassy to Peking to demand the restitution of the Muslim states of Central Asia, but the embassy was not well received, and Ahmed Shah was too much engaged with the Sikhs to attempt to enforce his demands by arms. The Chinese continued to hold Kashgar, with sundry interruptions from Muslim revolts - one of the most serious occurring in 1827, when the territory was invaded and the city taken by Jahanghir Khoja ; Chang-lung , however, the Chinese general of Ili, recovered possession of Kashgar and the other revolted cities in 1828. A revolt in 1829 under Mahommed Ali Khan and Yusuf, brother of Jahanghir, was more successful, and resulted in the concession of several important trade privileges to the Muslims of the district of Alty Shahr (the six cities), as it was then named.
Until 1846 the country enjoyed peace under the just and liberal rule of Zahir-ud-din , the Chinese governor, but in that year a fresh Khoja revolt under Kath Tora led to his making himself master of the city, with circumstances of unbridled licence and oppression. His reign was, however, brief, for at the end of seventy-five days, on the approach of the Chinese, he fled back to Khokand amid the jeers of the inhabitants. The last of the Khoja revolts (1857) was of about equal duration with the previous one, and took place under Wali-Khan , a degraded debauchee, and the murderer of the lamented traveller Adolf Schlagentweit .
The 1862 Revolt
The Tungani troops in Yarkand rose, and (August 1863) massacred some seven thousand Chinese, while the inhabitants of Kashgar, rising in their turn against their masters, invoked the aid of Sadik Beg , a Kirghiz chief, who was reinforced by Buzurg Khan , the heir of Jahanghir, and his general Yakub Beg (surnamed the Atalik Ghazi ), these being dispatched at Sadik's request by the ruler of Khokand to raise what troops they could to aid his Muslim friends in Kashgar.
Sadik Beg soon repented of having asked for a Khoja, and eventually marched against Kashgar, which by this time had succumbed to Buzurg Khan and Yakub Beg, but was defeated and driven back to Khokand. Buzurg Khan delivered himself up to indolence and debauchery, but Yakub Beg, with singular energy and perseverance, made himself master of Yangi Shahr, Yangi-Hissar, Yarkand and other towns, and eventually became sole master of the country, Buzurg Khan proving himself totally unfitted for the post of ruler.
With the overthrow of the Chinese rule in 1865 by Yakub Beg (1820-1877), the manufacturing industries of Kashgar declined.
Kashgar and the other cities of the Tarim Basin remained under Yakub Beg's rule until 1877, when he died and the Chinese regained possession.
Kashgar features a large statue of Chinese former leader, Mao Zedong. It also has a cultural-historical museum, a necropolis constructed from mud brick, a large central mosque, as well as another famed mosque complex housing the tombs of many historically-significant individuals.
Economics & Society
The city has a very important Sunday market. Thousands of farmers pour in from the surrounding fertile lands with an amazing variety of superb fruit and vegetables. Kashgar's livestock market is also very lively.
Silk culture and carpet manufacture have flourished for ages at Khotan, and the products always find a ready sale at Kashgar. Other manufactures consist of a strong coarse cotton cloth called kham (which forms the dress of the common people, and for winter wear is padded with cotton and quilted), boots and shoes, saddlery, felts, furs and sheepskins made up into cloaks, and various articles of domestic use. A curious street sight in Kashgar is presented by the hawkers of meat pies, pastry and sweetmeats, which they trundle about on hand-harrows just as their counterparts do in Europe; while the knife-grinder's cart, and the vegetable seller with his tray or basket on his head, recall exactly similar itinerant traders further west.
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- Shaw, Robert. 1871. Visits to High Tartary, Yarkand and Kashgar. Reprint with introduction by Peter Hopkirk, Oxford University Press, 1984. ISBN0-19-583830-0.
- Stein, Aurel M. 1907. Ancient Khotan: Detailed report of archaeological explorations in Chinese Turkestan, 2 vols. Clarendon Press. Oxford. 
- Stein, Aurel M. 1921. Serindia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China, 5 vols. London & Oxford. Clarendon Press. Reprint: Delhi. Motilal Banarsidass. 1980. 
- Yu, Taishan. 2004. A History of the Relationships between the Western and Eastern Han, Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties and the Western Regions. Sino-Platonic Papers No. 131 March, 2004. Dept. of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania.
- Silk Road Seattle (The Silk Road Seattle website contains many useful resources including a number of full-text historical works including the Travels of Benedict Göez)
-  (For a number of historical texts available on-line which may be of interest.)
- Kashgar government website
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