Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/315

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URUMCHI.

287

recently explored its eastern chains, the whole subject requires further investigation. The following is the translation:—

The name Urumtsi or Urumchi is the Dzungarian for a wood suitable for a battue. Its official name, as the central place of administration for convict settlements, is Ti-hwa-chau, but it is better known in the commercial world by the name of Hung-miau-tsz, i.e. 'red temple,' after a pagoda outside the town painted red. Urumchi is situated at the foot of a western spur of the Bogdo-ula, whose triple peak is visible some distance off, and in whose honour sacrifices are annually offered up from a hill in the immediate vicinity of the town.

Urumchi consists of two parts: the old, or commercial, situated on the right bank of the river, on the slope of the mountain; and the new or Manchu town, placed on low ground near some springs.

The climate is severe, less so, however, since it has been inhabited by a settled population. Rain falls very rarely, not oftener than once or twice a year, and some years not even that, but snow falls in quantities, and lies so thickly on the ground as sometimes to block the communications. The inhabitants supply themselves with water from the streams issuing from the mountains fed by the melting snows; and from wells, which are easily dug owing to the vertical disposition of the strata. The fields are artificially irrigated. Near the town are some hot sulphur springs.

The district of Urumchi extends westward along a valley watered by the streams flowing from the Thian Shan mountains and afterwards discharging into a great marsh, whence there is no outflow. This is called Veh-i-hu or Veh-i-tan, i.e. the 'reed marsh.' It is overgrown with reeds, and is several hundred li in extent from east to west, forming a barrier to the north of the district. What there is to the north of this again no one can say, for nobody ever set foot there. Popular superstition has it that this is the breeding ground of the locust, although this