Edward Harper Parker.

China, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day online

. (page 8 of 35)
Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day → online text (page 8 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

over the Indus to Dir : here again Sir Aurel
Stein has dogged the pilgrim's steps with affec-
tionate interest. Thence Fah-hien went to modern
Peshawur and Kabul, recrossed the Indus at
Bannu, whence he travelled straight across
India, down the Ganges Valley, to a place near
modern Calcutta ; took ship for Ceylon, Java,
and on to Kiao Chou in Shan Tung,' — notorious
since 1897 for its violent seizure by the Germans,
and since 1914 for their ejection by the Japanese.
It appears the pilgrim's junkmen first tried to
make Canton, but were carried by the wind
much farther up north : thence he returned to
Si-an Fu (a.d. 414).

It is stated that Alexander Cosmas, himself a
trader in Arabia and India (530-50), says in
his Topography that there was a maritime trade
thence with Tzinistan, a place bordered by the
Eastern Ocean. He also mentions Christianity
as having existed in Merv and Samarcand a
century earlier, and as having spread to the
Bactrians and Huns : I myself ventured to
adduce evidence upon this point a few years ago
in a paper entitled the Early Christian Road to

64 TRADE ROUTES [chap, iv

The next Chinese pilgrim in date and impor-
tance was Hiian-chwang. Starting also from
modern Si-an Fu in a.d. 629, he reached (pre-
sumably by the same route as Fah-hien) the
region of modern Turfan and Harashar, which
he found then in the hands of the Tiirgas branch
of Western Turks ; thence past Kuche (still so
called) along the southern or Aksu road over
one of the passes of the T'ien Shan Range to
modern Issyk Kul and Tokmak. Near the
" Thousand Springs " he met the Western
Turkish Jabgu Khan, who gave him an inter-
preter to take him to Kapisa. As had happened
only a generation earlier with the Greek envoy
Zemarchus, no idea of the distinction between
Western Turks and Original Central Turks seems
to have entered the pilgrim's head. Thence he
went on to Talas (modern Aulie-ata), White-
water City (Ak-su, or " white water," near
Tchimkend), to modern Nudjkend and Tash-
kend, Samarcand, Kesch, the Iron Gates (Der-
bend), Tokhara, Balkh, Bamian, and on to
Kapisa. Here he not only brings us to the
region discovered by Chang K'ien in his search
for the Yiieh-chi or Indo-Scythian nomads driven
away by the Hiung-nu, and which is also near
the old Greek and Parthian frontier of Margiana,
but he tells us stories of Kanishka, King of
Gandhara, a.d. 40, who was himself one of the
Kushan or Indo-Scythian monarchs ; their
appearance, as judged from the coins of their
ruler Kadphises, is distinctly Turkish. When
he passed through, the old Tokhara or " Haia-
thala " empire of the Oxus had already been
shattered by the Turks. He gives us quite a
long account of his travels and experiences in
both North and South India, whence, after
innumerable interesting experiences, he returns,
via Taxila, Kapisa, the Hindu Kush, and Andrab,


to the Oxus ; whence again through Shignan
and the Pamirs, past Lake Victoria, over the
mountains to Khavanda, an old state which
cannot be far from modern Kashgar : the
Emperor himself went out to the city gate to
witness his triumphant return. This voyage
occupied seventeen years, and it is interesting
to note that about ten years after that (655-60)
the capital of Tokhara was made by the Chinese
Emperor, Yiieh-chi Fu, or "the city of the
Yiieh-chi" nomads, who had been driven thither
800 years earlier. The King of Tokhara, as
friend of the Nestorians and head of the anti-
Arab party, about this time sent a map to China,
with a request that the Arab conquests between
Khotan and Persia might be taken under Chinese

These two are by no means the only priests
who made important journeys. A work by the
bonze I-tsing (643-713), who had himself wan-
dered to Sumatra, " Malayu," the Nicobars, the
mouths of the Hoogly, and modern Behar,
returned the same way to Canton, and thence
to Ho-nan Fu where the Court then was. My
excellent friend Edouard Chavannes has trans-
lated the whole of this work, which, however,
touches only casually on geographical points,
and aims chiefly at the encouragement of Buddh-
ism. It gives a list of sixty priests who
made the grand tour, some by land and others
by sea, all moved by a purely literary and
charitable enthusiasm in the shape of an eager
desire to learn at the fountain head all about
the Buddhist rites : at that time these ruled
supreme, and had a strong civilising influence
all the way from Affghanistan to Japan : they
had not yet felt the shock of competing Islam,
either along the seaboard or along the land
chain of states. The fact that hundreds of

66 TRADE ROUTES [chap, iv

Nestorian, Hindoo, and Chinese priests and
bonzes were able to move freely, by land and
by sea, all over Asia proves, though it may not
throw specific light upon commerce, that trade
routes were frequented then along exactly the
same lines as they had been before, and as they
are now. So far as I can see, the Mongol
generals of the thirteenth century, who generally
used the northernmost road, past Issyk Kul, as
being in a most suitable climate for their men
and beasts, never travelled by any of the more
southerly roads, except on one or two occasions
over parts of those traversed by Fah-hien and
Hiian-chwang. The reason is plain : there was
no pasture for the animals, and no sufficient
space for their huge waggons. It must not be
forgotten, however, that irrigation on a large
scale was introduced, or at least improved,
under Chinese auspices.

The road followed in 569 by the Byzantine
return mission, under Zemarchus and Maniach
the Sogdian, sent by Justin II. to the Turks,
as mentioned above, actually passed through
Tokhara or Sogdiana, where the first Turks
were encountered, offering or selling iron. The
Khan was found in the *' Ektag " or '' Ektel "
(Turkish Ak-tagh or "White Mountains"),
whence Zemarchus, who had meanwhile been
presented with a Kirghis concubine, accom-
panied him to Persia, stopping on the way at a
place called Talas : the Kirghis at this time
used to pay tribute of iron to the Turks. I am
disposed to think that the Khan " Bizabul "
was not the Great Turk at all, but the Western
Khan, whose ordo was somewhere between Issyk
Kul and Lake Balkash. On his way back
Zemarchus crossed the " Oech " (Oxus), and,
after a long journey, reached a large lake, which
he skirted for twelve days. Then he crossed


four rivers, all running into the north side of
the Caspian, traversed the Alan country and
the Caucasus, and took ship at Trebizond for
Constantinople. A few years previous to this
the Turks had allowed Maniach, as a Sogdian
subject of theirs, to go to Persia in order to
arrange for a less obstructed silk trade with
China ; but an I ndo- Scythian envoy there
named Catulphus thwarted the project, and
therefore Persia, fearing Turkish resentment,
sent envoys to North China. Consequently the
Turks sent Maniach by way of the Caucasus to
Constantinople, and the envoy was able to state
that the Indo-Scythians ("Haiathala," Eph-
thalites, or Chinese Eptat) had been annexed. It
was now that Justin sent him back with Zemarchus
to act as guide as above related. All this gives
us a wonderfully clear confirmation upon numer-
ous points, such as the ancient iron and silk
trade, the West Turk encampment at Talas, the
road later followed by Rubruquis, and so on.

In the early part of the T'ang dynasty (seventh
century) large numbers of Persian traders are
stated to have come by sea and spread them-
selves over the Empire. Owing to the anarchy
which ushered out the ruhng house (end of the
ninth century), they and other foreigners at
last confined their trading operations to Canton.
Besides the accounts already mentioned in the
chapter on " Early Trade Notions," there are
the often-quoted narratives of the Arabs Wahab
and Abu Seid (850-79), which testify once more
to an active sea trade all along the Indian
Ocean, the Persians being apparently ahead of
the Arabs in numbers and energy. It is Abu
Seid who describes the great massacre of Canton,
when (879), apart from natives, 120,000 Mussul-
mans, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians are
stated to have perished.

es TRADE ROUTES [chap, iv

It has already been mentioned that in a.d.
628, after a century of tyranny, the Persians
threw oil the Turkish yoke. Pirouz, the son of
Yezdedgerd, escaped from their vengeance to
Tokhara, and appealed to the Emperor of
China, who sent a mission to expostulate with
the Arabs in 651. The Persian King Yezded-
gerd had been killed by the Arabs as he was
flying to Tokhara, and the victory of Kadesieh,
in 636, put an end to the Sassanides altogether.
When in 661 China took over the administration
of all the states between Khotan and Persia,
Pirouz was appointed Chinese Viceroy. Again
attacked by the Arabs, he fled in 670 to Si-an
Fu, where he died. The Chinese Mussulmans
have in some way confused the victorious Arab
general Sadi Wakas with the first Arabs who
came by sea to Canton, and have always had a
legend that the famous Arab pagoda built in
751, which still stands there, is his tomb. In
other Mussulman temples at Canton there are yet
to be found trilingual inscriptions in Arabic,
Persian, and Chinese. It appears from Arab
sources that their General Kotaiba between 705
and 707 subdued Balkh, Merv, and Bokhara,
on his return from which last-named place he
was attacked by the Turks, Sogds (Tokhara),
and Ferghana people (Kokand). They defeated
the Turks in 709, and set up a King of Sogd in
710. No mention is made of any Ephthalite
dominion, the very shadow of which must now
have totally disappeared. All this is in accord
with Chinese history. The Greek authors, in
mentioning these " Abdeli " or Ephthalites, also
allude to the " Taugas," a name stated by the
Chinese themselves in the form Tau-hwa-sh to
be applied by the people of High Asia to the
Chinese. During the eighth century several Arab
missions came to China by way of Tokhara, the

A.D. 900-1000] ARABS AND CHINA 69

north branch of the South Road, the Purun-ki
River, Si-ning, and Liang-chou. The Chinese men-
tion Arab traders at Ansi on the Purun-ki River,
and only last year [1916] the vivacious American
traveller Rodney Gilbert gave us his charming
sketches of Arab reminiscences and survivals in
these parts. The early Arabs mention tea (ch''a-ye,
the Russian chai) under the name of sakh. At
that time the Chinese employed large numbers of
foreigners in the army, and both Arabs and
Ouigours (who therefore must have some of
them already become Mussulmans) assisted China
in recovering Si-an Fu and Ho-nan Fu from the
rebels. These or other Arabs would seem to
have worked their way from Si-ning down to
the head waters of the Yang-tsze, for in 801 both
they and the Samarcandians or Tokharans
(K'ang state) were found taking part in the
struggle between the Tibetans and Siamese (Chao
confederacy) on the head waters of the Kin-sha
(Yang-tsze) River. It is interesting to note in
this connection that, during the Nepaul war of
1788, a Manchu general made a very bold march
from Si-ning across the Murui-usu and Tibet
direct to Nepaul. Probably it will be found
that both he and the Arabs took the same route
as far as Charing Nor (near the Yellow River's
source), where the road branches.

There is no mention of the Arabs during the
Five Dynasty anarchy, between the fall of the
house of T'ang and the rise of Sung (say 900-
960) ; but there is evidence of friendliness
between Khotan and the Ouigours, and of a brisk
trade along the southern branch of the South
Road. During the whole period of the Tungusic,
Kitan, and Niichen reigns in North China (900-
1200), the Arabs only found their way once or
twice to the north. In 924 the founder of the Kitan
dynasty was on the Orkhon, trying to persuade

70 TRADE ROUTES [chap, iv

the Kan-chou Ouigours to come back to their
old habitat there. An Arab mission promptly
turned up on the Orkhon, and appHed to him
for a marriage alliance. It is not likely that it
arrived from the north-west by the Uliassutai
Road ; probably it came by way of the Great
High Road to the West from Si-an Fu, which
then ran through Ouigour territory. In 1120
another Arab mission, bent on a similar quest,
actually obtained a Kitan princess.

On the other hand, nearly thirty Arab missions
are mentioned between 968 and 1116 as arriving
by sea, and we find Chinese history discussing
the advantages of the sea route over that of the
land. Previously to all this, in 966, a priest who
had made a tour through the West by land, had
taken presents to and " summoned " the King to
do homage to China. In one case the King is
called K'o-li-foh (Caliph), and in another the
envoy comes along in company with a mission
from Pin-t'ung (Binhthuan) in Cochin China.
In 1017 half the duties " charged on foreign
trades" were specially remitted as a favour to
the Arabs, and these people are afterwards
spoken of at Canton as belonging to a country
over 40 days' sail north-west of Ts'iian-chou to
Lan-li (Lambri), " whence the next year 60 more
days." Later on we shall see that this wintering
of Chinese junks in the South Seas was quite

During the northern Sung dynasty (from 960
to its flight south in 1127) there was a " barbarian
hotel " or caravanserai at Si-an Fu, inside of the
south gate of the city. Nothing whatever of the
Nestorians is heard during this period ; but there
are still existing some records at K'ai-feng Fu
of the Jews there, who, in the opinion of Father
Tobar, S.J., used most probably to come to
China as merchants.


The best authorities on the sea trade during
the Sung dynasty are Frederick Hirth and W. W.
Rockhill, who have succeeded in discovering and
translating several very valuable and rare Chinese
works on the subject. As we have seen, Canton
lost its monopoly in a.d. 999, when customs
officers were appointed to modern Ningpo and
Hangchow : Kan-p'u, Marco Polo's Canfu, was
made a military or naval station in 1205, and lay
opposite, between the two. The Ming history
specially states that in Mongol times Canfu was
a great trading centre, and that it had for that
reason been walled in and created a municipal
town : the place still exists under the old name
of Kan-p'u, but is now quite insignificant and
almost forgotten. However, in 1087, long before
Kan-p'u became a famous port, the merchants of
Zaitun (Ts'iian-chou) had obtained the coveted
official recognition. Trade between Loochoo and
Japan clearly went on, and there are full de-
scriptions of Sumatra, Java, and Borneo, which
places the Zaitun junks reached with the north-
east monsoon in six weeks. But I see no evi-
dence that Manila had yet been discovered, as
suggested by Hirth. The junks usually waited
until the following spring for a favourable breeze
to take them on to Ceylon, the Malabar coast,
and the Arabian and African ports, amongst
which Berbera, Shehr or Shaher, and Djafar can
be specifically identified from the Chinese char-
acters used. There is ample evidence from
standard Chinese history, as well as from Mr.
Rockhill's and Dr. Hirth's rare books, that Zanzi-
bar was included in the usual voyages, and there
are also descriptions of Cambay, Gujerat, Malwa,
Bagdad, Basra, and other places in the Persian
Gulf. It is to be noticed that one Chinese author
(a.d. 1000) identifies the " sea-trading barbarians
at Canton with the " Uien sectarians " of the Ta-

72 TRADE ROUTES [chap, iv

ts'in monastery at Si-an Fu. At one time it was
thought that Nestorians were referred to when
these two words were used ; but twenty years
ago the late Gabriel Deveria proved them to
have been Persian Mazdeans and Manichseans.
As an instance of the slowness of the Chinese in
identifying members of groups of the same
nation coming by land or sea, I may mention
once more that during the Nepaul war of a
hundred and twenty years ago certain diplomatic
representations were made by Nepaul with a
view to assisting China in her action against the
" Franks " of Calcutta trading " at Canton."
It was only when, during the Yarkand War, the
Manchu Resident there sent some mysterious
information to Peking about the " Franks "
having taken the Panjab, that the Emperor
awoke to the startling fact that in both cases
these feringhi or pHling were simply his old and
very objectionable friends the Ingkili (English) ;
the point is of importance in connection with the
Fulin question.

The conquests of Genghiz Khan once more
opened freely the great trade routes of the West.
The immediate cause of the conqueror's first
bellicose rage was the treacherous behaviour of
the frontier officials at Otrar, on or near the
Jaxartes, near the Fort Perovsky of our day.
He left his native place on the Onon near the
close of 1218, and made straight for the Irtish ;
then he was joined by various allies, and pro-
ceeded by the road north of Issyk Kul to Otrar,
which was captured and looted towards the end
of 1219. He then marched across the Jaxartes
upon Samarcand and Bokhara. Whilst at Samar-
cand he took it into his head to send post-haste
back to Shan Tung for an old Chinese Taoist
philosopher, who at once set off with his Mongol
guide, vid Peking and Kalgan, to the Kerulon


River ; whence along the banks of the Tola,
past Karakoram, to Urumtsi ; then through the
Ouigour country to Almalik (Hi), by the road
north of Issyk Kul to Sairam, Khodjand, and
Samarcand. There some messengers from Gen-
ghiz Khan met him, and escorted him through
Kesch, Derbend, over the Oxus, to Balkh. This
most northerly road must not be mistaken for the
" North (Celestial Mountain) Road " above first
described, which runs from Hami and Urumtsi
to Hi, and thence over the passes to Kashgar.

In 1254-5 the King of Little Armenia sent his
brother to Gayuk Khan with presents. This
prince first of all visited Batu and Sartak, as
Rubruquis did ; then he passed through the
steppe country, and travelled to the north of
Issyk Kul by way of modern Cobdo and Ulias-
sutai to Karakoram : Batu's brother, Barca,
was the first prominent Mongol to adopt Islam. In
returning, the Armenian took the most southerly
road by way of modern Urumtsi and the south
side of Issyk Kul ; whence, through Tashkend
and Otrar, to Samarcand, Bokhara, Tehran, and
Tabriz. Rubruquis took nearly two months to
get from the Volga to Talas ; thence along the
road running south of Lake Balkash, from which
place he reached Karakoram in a month.

In the first edition I mentioned Ogdai Khan's
great Kitan minister in the (now obsolete)
discussion upon the Chinese Calendar. This
minister's great-grandson Yelii Hiliang subse-
quently travelled on foot from Tun-hwang to
Urumtsi, Manas, and Emil (near Tarbagatai).
On the whole, therefore, the Great Northern
High Road, which may be called the main road,
manifestly seems preferable to those running
both n6rth and south of it, for waggons, cattle,
and foot travellers alike.

Marco Polo himself seems to have followed

74 TRADE ROUTES [chap.it

the usual main road from Balkh through Dogana
(Tokhara), Kunduz, Talecan, Badakshan, Shig-
nan, Tagarma or Tashkurgan, Kashgar, Yarkand
(perhaps Khotan), Harashar, Lob Nor, Sha-chou
(Tun-hwang), Cam^ul (Hami, orHamil), the Tolas
or " plain " of Chikin (the Chikin Ouigours, not
the same as the Talas, near Lake Balkash), Suk-
chur (Suh-chou), Campichu (Kan-chou), Etzina,
and Karakoram. I should mention that the
Mongol history makes specific mention of the
Etzina road and of many other High Asian
branch roads which Kublai either improved or
opened. All places I name appear upon one
or the other of the accompanying sketch maps.
Marco Polo's description of Ylin Nan and Burma
is simply that of the chief trading road of to-day
by way of Momein and Bhamo (the Irrawaddy).
He never went to the more southerly Shan states,
nor to Siam ; and consequently he does not
mention the only two other peninsular trade
routes, one by way of the Kunlon Ferry (Sal-
ween), and the other via Keng-hung (Mekong).
Nothing has essentially changed from that day
to this, and as many as 5,000 Chinese mules from
Yiin Nan may be seen any day during the
autumn trading season picketed amongst their
burdens in the vacant fields around Bhamo. The
other two routes are also in full vogue for the
Maulmein and Siamese trade ; and of course
the French railway through Tonquin to the
Yiin Nan capital has given a great fillip to the
sea trade with Hongkong.

There is no doubt that Marco Polo's Zaitun
was to all intents one of the places immediately
north or south of Amoy, and it almost certainly
included, in a trader's sense, both Chang-chou
and Ts'iian-chou. These are still the great
emigration and trade ports for the southejn
ocean, and both of them lie near the European

A.D. 1200-1300] MARCO POLO'S ROUTE 73

*' open port " in Amoy Bay. Learned men have
long disputed what " Zaitun " specifically means,
but I think it almost certainly stands for the
coast town of Haiteng, which, though not made
an official " city " until 1564, must have long
borne that name ; just as Shanghai was not
made an official city till 1291, Kan-p'u not until
the Ming dynasty, and Hankow not until 1899.
Kan-p'u was one of the grain stores when the
great Mongol general Bayen established his sea
routes in 1283.

Marco Polo describes the voyage from Zaitun
to Ciampa (Faifo), Java, Lochac (Siam), Pentam
(Bantam, or Batavia) ; Little Java, Ferlech,
Basman, Samara, Dagroian, Lambri, Fansur (all
in Sumatra Island) ; Necuveran (Nicobar), Anda-
man, Seilan, Maabar, Masulipatam (? Chinese
" Soli "), Madras, Lar, Cail, Coilon, Comari,
Delly, Melibar, Gozurat, Tana (near Bombay),
Cambaia, Semenat, Scotra, " Madagascar "
(Magadoxa), Zanghibar, Abascia (Abyssinia),
Escier (Shaher), Dufar (Djafar), Calatu (Kalhat),
and Cormos (Hormuz). Almost every single one
of these names is mentioned either in the Chinese
history of Kublai's relations with the Indian
Ocean, or in the Ming history of the eunuchs'
voyages to the West two centuries later. Where
the names are not specifically mentioned by the
Chinese, it is generally because they had appar-
ently changed, or for other sufficient reasons ;
in most cases discrepancies are satisfactorily
explained. These eunuch travels, coming as
they did half way between Ibn Batuta's and
Vasco de Gama's times, form a good connecting-
link between the Arabs and the Portuguese.

Now, the Arab traveller Ibn Batuta sailed from
Aden to Magadoxa in 1339, just between the
Mongol and the Ming times. He went to Zanuj
(Zanzibar), thence to " Zafar " (Djafar), Hormuz,

76 TRADE ROUTES [chap, iv

Lar, Bengal, Java (Sumatra), " Mul Java "
(Java), and El Zaitun in China ; whence again
to El Khansa (Marco Polo's Kinsai, i.e. Hang-
chow). Here he heard of the Mongol dynasty
being on the point of collapse, and he returned
to Zaitun, where he took a Sumatra junk for
Java and Sumatra, sailed thence to Kawlam
(Quilon) and Kalikut, and got home to Zafar
and other places in Arabia in 1347.

The celebrated Si-an Fu tablet discovered by
a Chinese Christian, and reported on by Father
Semedo in 1625, is further testimony to the fact
that Syrians, if not also Europeans, had for many
centuries followed the great road from Mesopo-
tamia to China. This inscription was the work
in 781 of a bonze of the Ta-ts'in monastery,
and gives a full account of Christianity : the
Japanese Buddhophile M. Takakusu some years
ago made ingenious discoveries as to the precise
identity of this learned bonze, and the difficulty
found in pairing off a competent knowledge of
Pali and Chinese in one man. There are many
evidences that the Chinese confused Nestorians
with Mazdeans and with Persians generally.
That brilliant Jesuit priest the late Father
Havret, even expressed his conviction that we
might yet discover on the banks of the River
Wei (Si-an Fu) proofs of a Christian mission
contemporary with the apostolic era ; but this
hope I cannot help thinking too sanguine. The
Nestorian stone, inscribed with perfectly legible
Chinese and Syriac characters, mentions an
imperial edict, dated a.d. 638, according tolera-
tion to the Christian religion, and specifically to
the priest Olopen of Ta Ts'in. The original edict
was long unsuccessfully searchedf or by sinologists,
and was at last unearthed in 1855 by the inde-
fatigable Alexander Wylie, the only difference in

Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day → online text (page 8 of 35)