Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/207

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DISASTROUS CARAVAN JOURNEY.

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travel to Munhu-tsu[1] (Lhassa) itself on camels, but that pilgrims left theirs at Napchu because no good pasturage could be found beyond.

Caravans leave Koko-nor or Tonkir early in September,[2] to arrive at Lhassa in the beginning of November, Here they remain two or three months, and start on the return journey in February. They are then usually accompanied by Tibetan merchants, who take cloth, lambskins, and various other commodities, to sell at Tonkir and Si-ning. In former years an envoy from the Dalai-Lama was sent every three years with presents for the Emperor at Peking, but since the outbreak of the insurrection these embassies have been discontinued.

The caravan journey across Northern Tibet in the autumn and spring of the year is never unaccompanied by danger; and casualties to men and beasts are frequent. So many of the latter perish that a large reserve of camels or yaks is always taken; but notwithstanding this precaution, the men have sometimes to abandon all they possess, and to think only of their own safety. In February 1870, a caravan which left Lhassa 300 strong, with 1,000 beasts of burden, in a violent snow-storm, followed by severe cold, lost all the animals and fifty men besides. One of the survivors related to us how, when they found

  1. We find in Huc and Gabet Monghe djo, interpreted as signifying 'Eternal Sanctuary,' applied to Lhassa. The words are misprinted Mouhe dehot in Huc, ii. 240. — Y.
  2. But rarely in winter or summer: it sometimes snows heavily in winter; and in summer no fuel is obtainable, all the argols having become damp from the constant rains.