Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/67

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THE LAMA-CARAVAN.

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the Kutukhtus of Mongolia — the Gigen Djandji, owner of a great many churches at Peking and in Mongolia, including the renowned monastery of Utai, not far from Kuku-khoto. The saint himself was born at the temple of Chobsen, in the province of Kan-su, whither our future companions were now travelling. They were a motley assemblage. Exclusive of our four selves, the caravan numbered 37 men, ten of whom were lama-warriors, sent as an escort by the Gigen of Ala-shan; the others were mostly Tangutans, natives of Chobsen; there were also a few Mongol pilgrims on their way to pray at Lhassa. For the conveyance of all their luggage, 72 camels and 40 horses, including our own, were required. The chiefs of the caravan were Donir-Lamas (treasurers of Lamasiries), Tangutans by birth, and excellent obliging men. To cement our friendship with them, I gave to each one a small plaid.

All the members of the caravan were armed with matchlocks, lances, or swords. They had the reputation of being brave, almost foolhardy men, to venture at such a time into a country infested with bands of marauding Dungans. The courage of our companions, however, as we shall presently see, was not great even when the danger was only of an imaginary kind.

The lama-warriors carried English smooth-bores, bought by the Chinese Government, and sent from Peking to Ala-shan. Their guns, however, were of an inferior kind, and were rendered still more unserviceable by careless treatment. But the appearance