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EXPLORATION]
739
ASIA
Tsaidam to Sachu, or Saitu, in Mongolia. He subsequently passed through eastern Tibet to the town of Darchendo, or Tachienlu, on the high road between Lhasa and Peking, and on the borders of China. Failing to reach India through Upper Assam he returned to the neighbourhood of Lhasa, and crossed the Himalayas by a more westerly route. Both these explorers visited Lhasa.
In 1871-1873 the great Russian explorer, Nicolai Prjevalsky, crossed the Gobi desert from the north to Kansu in western China. He first defined the geography of Tsaidam, and mapped the hydrography of that remarkable region, from which Russian explorers. emanate the great rivers of China, Siam and Burma. He penetrated southwards to within a month’s march of Lhasa. In 1876 he visited the Lop Nor and discovered the Altyn Tagh range. In 1879 he followed up the Urangi river to the Altai Mountains, and demonstrated to the world the extraordinary physical changes which have passed over the heart of the Asiatic continent since Jenghiz Khan massed his vast armies in those provinces. He crossed, and named, the Dzungarian extension of the Gobi desert, and then traversed the Gobi itself from Hami to Sachu, which became a point of junction between his journeys and those of Krishna. He visited the sources of the Hwang-ho (Yellow river) and the Salween, and then returned to Russia. His fourth journey in 1883-1885 was to Sining (the great trade centre of the Chinese borderland), and thence through northern Tibet (crossing the Altyn Tagh to Lop Nor), and by the Cherchen-Keriya trade route to Khotan. From Khotan he followed the Tarim to Aksu.
Following Prjevalsky the Russian explorers, Pevtsov and Roborovski, in 1889-1890 (and again in 1894), added greatly to our knowledge of the topography of western Chinese Turkestan and the northern borders of Tibet; all these Russian expeditions being conducted on scientific principles and yielding results of the highest value. Among other distinguished Russian explorers in Asia, the names of Lessar, Annentkov (who bridged the Trans-Caspian deserts by a railway), P. K. Kozlov and Potanin are conspicuous during the 19th century.
Although the establishment of a lucrative trade between India and central Asia had been the dream of many successive Indian viceroys, and much had been done towards improving the approaches to Simla from the north, very little was Other explorations in central Asia. really known of the highlands of the Pamirs, or of the regions of the great central depression, before the mission of Sir Douglas Forsyth to Yarkand in 1870. Robert Barkley Shaw and George Hayward were the European pioneers of geography into the central dominion of Kashgar, arriving at Yarkand within a few weeks of each other in 1868. Shaw subsequently accompanied Forsyth’s mission in 1870, when Henry Trotter made the first maps of Chinese Turkestan. The next great accession to our knowledge of central Asiatic geography was gained with the Russo-Afghan Boundary Commission of 1884-1886, when Afghan Turkestan and the Oxus regions were mapped by Colonel Sir T. H. Holdich, Colonel St George Gore and Sir Adelbert Talbot; and when Ney Elias crossed from China through the Pamirs and Badakshan to the camp of the commission, identifying the great “Dragon Lake,” Rangkul, on his way. About the same time a mission, under Captain (afterwards Sir Willaim) Lockhart, crossed the Hindu Kush into Wakhan, and returned to India by the Bashgol valley of Kafiristan. This was Colonel Woodthorpe’s opportunity, and he was then enabled to verify the results of W. W. M‘Nair’s previous explorations, and to determine the conformation of the Hindu Kush. In 1885 Arthur Douglas Carey and Andrew Dalgleish, following more or less the tracks of Prjevalsky, contributed much that was new to the map of Asia; and in 1886 Captain (afterwards Sir Francis) Younghusband completed a most adventurous journey across the heart of the continent by crossing the Muztagh, the great mountain barrier between China and Kashmir.
It was in 1886-1887 that Pierre G. Bonvalot, accompanied by Prince Henri d’Orléans, crossed the Tibetan plateau from north to south, but failed to enter Lhasa. In 1889-1891 the American traveller, W. W. Rockhill, commenced his Tibetan explorations. Tibetan journeys, and also attempted to reach Lhasa, without success. By his writings, as much as by his explorations, Rockhill has made his name great in the annals of Asiatic research. In 1891 Hamilton Bower made his famous journey from Leh to Peking. He, too, failed to penetrate the jealously-guarded portals of Lhasa; but he secured (with the assistance of a native surveyor) a splendid addition to our previous Tibetan mapping. In 1891-1892-1893 the gallant French explorer, Dutreuil de Rhins, was in the field of Tibet, where he finally sacrificed his life to his work; and the same years saw George N. (afterwards Lord) Curzon in the Pamirs, and St George Littledale on his first great Tibetan journey, accompanied by his wife. Littledale’s first journey ended at Peking; his second, in 1894-1895, took him almost within sight of the sacred walls of Lhasa, but he failed to pass inside. Greatest among modern Asiatic explorers (if we except Prjevalsky) is the brave Swede, Professor Sven Hedin, whose travels through the deserts of Takla Makan and Tibet, and whose investigations in the glacial regions of the Sarikol mountains, occupied him from 1894 to 1896. His is a truly monumental record. From 1896 to 1898 we find two British cavalry officers taking the front position in the list of Tibetan travellers–Captain M. S. Wellby of the 18th Hussars and Captain H. Deasy of the 16th Lancers, each striking out a new line, and rendering most valuable service to geography. The latter continued the Pamir triangulation, which had been carried across the Hindu Kush by Colonels Sir T. H. Holdich and R. A. Wahab during the Pamir Boundary Commission of 1895, into the plains of Kashgar and to the sources of the Zarafshan.
Since the beginning of the century the work of Deasy in western Tibet has been well extended by Dr M. A. Stein and Captain C. G. Rawling, who have increased our knowledge of ancient fields of industry and commerce in Turkestan and Tibet. Ellsworth Huntington threw new light on the Tian-shan plateau and the Alai range by his explorations of 1903; and Sven Hedin, between 1899 and 1902, was collecting material in Turkestan and Tibetan fields, and resumed his journeys in 1905-1908, the result being to revolutionize our knowledge of the region north of the upper Tsanpo (see Tibet). The mission of Sir Francis Younghusband to Lhasa in 1904 resulted in an extension of the Indian system of triangulation which finally determined the geographical position of that city, and in a most valuable reconnaissance of the valleys of the Upper Brahmaputra and Indus by Captains C. H. D. Ryder and C. G. Rawling.
Meanwhile, in the Farther East so rapid has been the progress of geographical research since the first beginnings of investigation into the route connexion between Burma and China in 1874 (when the brave Augustus Margary lost his life), that a Chinese explorations. gradually increasing tide of exploration, setting from east to west and back again, has culminated in a flood of inquiring experts intent on economic and commercial development in China, essaying to unlock those doors to trade which are hereafter to be propped open for the benefit of humanity. Captain William Gill, of the Indian survey, first made his way across China to eastern Tibet and Burma, and subsequently delighted the world with his story of the River of Golden Sand. Then followed another charming writer, E. C. Baber, who, in 1877-1878, unravelled the geographic mysteries of the western provinces of the Celestial empire. Mark Bell crossed the continent in 1887 and illustrated its ancient trade routes, following the steps of Archibald Colquhoun, who wandered from Peking to Talifu in 1881. Meanwhile, the acquisition of Burma and the demarcation of boundaries had opened the way to the extension of geographical surveys in directions hitherto untraversed. Woodthorpe was followed into Burmese fields by many others; and amongst the earliest travellers to those mysterious mountains which hide the sources of the Irrawaddy, the Salween and the Mekong, was Prince Henri d’Orleans. Burma was rapidly brought under survey; Siam was already in the map-making hands of James M’Carthy, whilst Curzon and Warrington Smyth added much to our knowledge of its picturesque coast districts. No more valuable contribution to the illustration of western Chinese configuration has been given to the public than that of C. C. Manifold who explored and mapped the upper basin of the Yang-tsze river between the years 1900 and 1904, whilst our knowledge of the geography of the Russo-Chinese borderland on the north-east has been largely advanced by the operations attending the Russo-Japanese war which terminated in 1905.
Turning our attention westwards, no advance in the progress of scientific geography is more remarkable than that recorded on the northern and north-western frontiers of India. Here there is little matter of exploration. It has rather been a Indian frontiers—Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Persia. wide extension of scientific geographical mapping. The Afghan war of 1878-80; the Russo-Afghan Boundary Commission of 1884-1885; the occupation of Gilgit and Chitral; the extension of boundaries east and north of Afghanistan, and again, between Baluchistan and Persia—these, added to the opportunities afforded by the systematic survey of Baluchistan which has been steadily progressing since 1880—combined to produce a series of geographical maps which extend from the Oxus to the Indus, and from the Indus to the Euphrates.
In these professional labours the Indian surveyors have been assisted by such scientific geographers as General Sir A. Houtum Schindler, Captain H. B. Vaughan and Major Percy M. Sykes in Persia, and by Sir George Robertson and Cockerill in Kafiristan and the Hindu Kush.
In still more western fields of research much additional light has been thrown since 1875 on the physiography of the great deserts and oases of Arabia. The labours of Charles Doughty and Wilfrid S. Blunt in northern Arabia in 1877-1878 were Arabia. followed by those of G. Schweinfurth and E. Glaser in the south-west about ten years later. In 1884-1885 Colonel S. B. Miles made his adventurous journey through Oman, while Theodore Bent threw searchlights backwards into ancient Semitic history by his investigations in the Bahrein Islands in 1888 and in Hadramut in 1894-1895.
In northern Asia it is impossible to follow in detail the results of the organized Russian surveys. The vast steppes and forest-clad mountain regions of Siberia have assumed a new geographical aspect in the light of these revelations, and Northern Asia, Siberia, &c. already promise a new world of economic resources to Russian enterprise in the near future. A remarkable expedition by Baron Toll in 1892 through the regions watered by the Lena, resulted in the collection of material which