Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/245

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THE MURUI-USSU.

221

last we were obliged to throw anything away by stealth, to avoid its attracting the attention of this monomaniac.

After passing the low Baian-kara-ula[1] range, at length, on January 22, 1873, we reached the banks of the Yangtse-kiang or Blue River, called by the Mongols in its upper course the Murui-ussu, and by the Tangutans Di-chu.[2] This river rises in the Tang-la mountains, and after passing through the highlands of Northern Tibet, pursues its course to the boundaries of China Proper, where it soon swells into a mighty stream.[3] The current of the Murui-ussu is extremely rapid, and the width of its channel at the spot where we saw it, i.e. at its confluence with the Napchitai-ulan-muren, is 750 feet; but the whole river-bed from bank to bank is upwards of a mile wide and, as our guide assured us, is entirely covered with water during the rainy season in summer, when it sometimes even overflows the banks. In autumn, after the floods have subsided, the Murui-ussu is fordable, but only in a few places.[4]

  1. The pass over the Baian-kara-ula is very gradual and not high; it may even be entirely avoided by following the valley of the Napchitai-ulan-muren, as we did; Huc, however, describes it as an enormous range, dreadfully difficult to cross. The père declares that in certain places he was obliged to hold on to the tail of his horse and drive it before him up the steep incline. — Souvenirs d'un Voyage, &c., ii. 216-218.
  2. The latter name signifies 'cows' river,' probably from the abundance of wild yak. The translation of the Mongol name is 'river-water,' 'mur' being an abbreviation of 'muren,' i.e. river, and 'ussu' meaning water. [I should greatly doubt this bit of etymology. — Y.]
  3. See Supplementary Note.
  4. The first ford, in ascending the river from the confluence of the Napchitai-ulan-muren, is 20 miles distant.