The Tarim Basin is an endorheic basin in northwest China occupying an area of about 1,020,000 km2 (390,000 sq mi). Located in China's Xinjiang region, it is sometimes used synonymously to refer the southern half of the province, or Nanjiang (Chinese: 南疆; pinyin: Nánjiāng; literally: 'Southern Xinjiang'), as opposed to the northern half of the province known as Dzungaria or Beijiang. Its northern boundary is the Tian Shan mountain range and its southern boundary is the Kunlun Mountains on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The Taklamakan Desert dominates much of the basin. The historical Uyghur name for the Tarim Basin is Altishahr (六域), which means "six cities" in Uyghur.
|Literal meaning||Southern Xinjiang|
Xinjiang consists of two main geographically, historically, and ethnically distinct regions with different historical names, Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin (Altishahr), before Qing China unified them into one political entity called Xinjiang province in 1884. At the time of the Qing conquest in 1759, Dzungaria was inhabited by steppe dwelling, nomadic Tibetan Buddhist Dzungar people, while the Tarim Basin (Altishahr) was inhabited by sedentary, oasis dwelling, Turkic speaking Muslim farmers, now known as the Uyghur people. They were governed separately until 1884.
North side: The Chinese called this the Tien Shan Nan Lu or Tien Shan South Road, as opposed to the Bei Lu north of the mountains. Along it runs the modern highway and railroad while the middle Tarim River is about 100 km south. Kashgar was where the caravans met before crossing the mountains. Bachu or Miralbachi; Uchturpan north of the main road; Aksu on the large Aksu River; Kucha was once an important kingdom; Luntai; Korla, now a large town; Karashar near Bosten Lake; Turpan north of the Turpan Depression and south of the Bogda Shan; Hami; then southeast to Anxi and the Gansu Corridor.
Center: Most of the basin is occupied by the Taklamakan Desert which is too dry for permanent habitation. The Yarkand, Kashgar and Aksu Rivers join to form the Tarim River which runs along the north side of the basin. Formerly it continued to Loulan, but some time after 330AD it turned southeast near Korla toward Charkilik and Loulan was abandoned. The Tarim ended at the now-dry Lop Nur which occupied a changing position east of Loulan. Eastward is the fabled Jade Gate which the Chinese considered the gateway to the Western Regions. Beyond that is Dunhuang with its ancient manuscripts and then Anxi at the west end of the Gansu Corridor.
South side: Kashgar; Yangi Hissar, famous for its knives; Yarkand, once larger than Kashgar; Karghalik (Yecheng), with a route to India; Karakash; Khotan, the main source of Chinese jade; eastward the land becomes more desolate; Keriya (Yutian); Niya (Minfeng); Qiemo (Cherchen); Charkilik (Ruoqiang). The modern road continues east to Tibet. There is no current road east across the Kumtag Desert to Dunhuang, but caravans somehow made the crossing through the Yangguan pass south of the Jade Gate.
Roads:The main road from eastern China reaches Urumchi and continues as highway 314 along the north side to Kashgar. Highway 315 follows the south side from Kashgar to Charkilik and continues east to Tibet. There are currently four north-south roads across the desert. 218 runs from Charkilik to Korla along the former course of the Tarim forming an oval whose other end is Kashgar. The Tarim Desert Highway, a major engineering achievement, crosses the center from Niya to Luntai. The new Highway 217 follows the Khotan River from Khotan to near Aksu. A road follows the Yarkand River from Yarkand to Baqu. East of the Korla-Charkilik road travel continues to be very difficult.
Rivers coming south from the Tien Shan join the Tarim, the largest being the Aksu. Rivers flowing north from the Kunlun are usually named for the town or oasis they pass through. Most dry up in the desert, only the Hotan River reaching the Tarim in good years. An exception is the Qiemo River which flowed northeast into Lop Nor. Ruins in the desert imply that these rivers were once larger.
Caravans and passes: The original caravan route seems to have followed the south side. At the time of the Han Dynasty conquest it shifted to the center (Jade Gate-Loulan-Korla). When the Tarim changed course about 330AD it shifted north to Hami. A minor route went north of the Tian Shan. When there was war on the Gansu Corridor trade entered the basin near Charkilik from the Qaidam Basin. The original route to India seems to have started near Yarkand and Kargilik, but it is now replaced by the Karakoram Highway south from Kashgar. To the west of Kashgar via the Irkeshtam border crossing is the Alay Valley which was once the route to Persia. Northeast of Kashgar the Torugart pass leads to the Ferghana Valley. Near Uchturpan the Bedel Pass leads to Lake Issyk-Kul and the steppes. Somewhere near Aksu the difficult Muzart Pass led north to the Ili River basin (Kulja). Near Korla was the Iron Gate Pass and now the highway and railway north to Urumchi. From Turfan the easy Dabancheng pass leads to Urumchi. The route from Charkilik to the Qaidam Plateau was of some importance when Tibet was an empire.
North of the Mountains is Dzungaria with its central Gurbantünggüt Desert, Urumchi the capital and the Karamay oil fields. The Kulja territory is the upper basin of the Ili River and opens out onto the Kazakh steppe with several roads eastward. The Dzungarian Gate was once a migration route and is now a road and rail crossing. Tacheng or Tarbaghatay is a road crossing and former trading post.
The Tarim Basin is the result of an amalgamation between an ancient microcontinent and the growing Eurasian continent during the Carboniferous to Permian periods. At present, deformation around the margins of the basin is resulting in the microcontinental crust being pushed under Tian Shan to the north, and Kunlun Shan to the south.
A thick succession of Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary rocks occupy the central parts of the basin, locally exceeding thicknesses of 15 km (9 mi). The source rocks of oil and gas tend to be mostly Permian mudstones and, less often, Ordovician strata which experienced an intense and widespread early Hercynian karstification. The effect of this event are e.g. paleokarst reservoirs in the Tahe oil field. Below the level enriched with gas and oil is a complex Precambrian basement believed to be made up of the remnants of the original Tarim microplate, which accrued to the growing Eurasian continent in Carboniferous time. The snow on K2, the second highest mountain in the world, flows into glaciers which move down the valleys to melt. The melted water forms rivers which flow down the mountains and into the Tarim Basin, never reaching the sea. Surrounded by desert, some rivers feed the oases where the water is used for irrigation while others flow to salt lakes and marshes.
The Tarim Basin is believed to contain large potential reserves of petroleum and natural gas.:493 Methane comprises over 70 percent of the natural gas reserve, with variable contents of ethane (<1% ~18%) and propane (<0.5% ~9%). China National Petroleum Corporation's comprehensive exploration of the Tarim basin between 1989 and 1995 led to the identification of 26 oil- and gas-bearing structures. These occur at deeper depths and in scattered deposits. Beijing aims to develop Xinjiang into China's new energy base for the long run, supplying one-fifth of the country's total oil supply by 2010, with an annual output of 35 million tonnes. On June 10, 2010 Baker Hughes announced an agreement to work with PetroChina Tarim Oilfield Co. to supply oilfield services, including both directional and vertical drilling systems, formation evaluation services, completion systems and artificial lift technology for wells drilled into foothills formations greater than 7,500 meters (24,600 feet) deep with pressures greater than 20,000 psi (1379 bar) and bottomhole temperatures of approximately 160 °C (320 °F). Electrical submersible pumping (ESP) systems will be employed to dewater gas and condensate wells. PetroChina will fund any joint development.
In 2015, Chinese researchers published the finding of a vast, carbon-rich underground sea beneath the basin.
It is speculated that the Tarim Basin may be one of the last places in Asia to have become inhabited: It is surrounded by mountains and irrigation technologies might have been necessary.
The Northern Silk Road on one route bypassed the Tarim Basin north of the Tian Shan mountains and traversed it on three oases-dependent routes: one north of the Taklamakan Desert, one south, and a middle one connecting both through the Lop Nor region.
The earliest inhabitants of the Tarim Barin may be the Tocharians whose languages are the easternmost group of Indo-European languages. Caucasoid mummies have been found in various locations in the Tarim Basin such as Loulan, the Xiaohe Tomb complex, and Qäwrighul. These mummies have been suggested to be of Tocharian origin, and these people may have inhabited the region since at least 1800 BCE. They may be related to the "Yuezhi" (Chinese 月氏; Wade–Giles: Yüeh-Chih) mentioned in Chinese texts. Protected by the Taklamakan Desert from steppe nomads, elements of Tocharian culture survived until the 7th century, at the dawning of the 800s with the arriving Turkic immigrants from the collapsing Uyghur Khaganate of modern-day Mongolia began to absorb the Tocharians to form the modern-day Uyghur ethnic group.
Lefthand image: The Sampul tapestry, a woolen wall hanging from Lop County, Xinjiang, China, showing a possibly Greek soldier from the Greco-Bactrian kingdom (250–125 BC), with blue eyes, wielding a spear, and wearing what appears to be a diadem headband; depicted above him is a centaur, from Greek mythology, a common motif in Hellenistic art
Righthand image: Two Buddhist monks on a mural of the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves near Turpan, Xinjiang, China, 9th century AD; although Albert von Le Coq (1913) assumed the blue-eyed, red-haired monk was a Tocharian, modern scholarship has identified similar Caucasian figures of the same cave temple (No. 9) as ethnic Sogdians, an Eastern Iranian people who inhabited Turfan as an ethnic minority community during the phases of Tang Chinese (7th-8th century) and Uyghur rule (9th-13th century).
Another people in the region besides Tocharian are the Indo-Iranian Saka people who spoke various Eastern Iranian Khotanese Scythian or Saka dialects. In the Achaemenid-era Old Persian inscriptions found at Persepolis, dated to the reign of Darius I (r. 522-486 BC), the Saka are said to have lived just beyond the borders of Sogdiana. Likewise an inscription dated to the reign of Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BC) has them coupled with the Dahae people of Central Asia. The contemporary Greek historian Herodotus noted that the Achaemenid Persians called all of the Indo-Iranian Scythian peoples as the Saka. They were known as the Sai (塞, sāi, sək in archaic Chinese) in ancient Chinese records. These records indicate that they originally inhabited Ili and Chu River valleys of modern Kazakhstan. In the Chinese Book of Han, the area was called the "land of the Sai", i.e. the Saka. Presence of a people believed to be Saka has also been found in various location in the Tarim Basin, for example in the Keriya region at Yumulak Kum (Djoumboulak Koum, Yuansha) around 200 km east of Khotan, with a tomb dated to as early as the 7th century BC.
According to the Sima Qian's Shiji, the nomadic Indo-European Yuezhi originally lived between Tengri Tagh (Tian Shan) and Dunhuang of Gansu, China. However, the Yuezhi were assaulted and forced to flee from the Hexi Corridor of Gansu by the forces of the Xiongnu ruler Modu Chanyu, who conquered the area in 177-176 BC (decades before the Han Chinese conquest and colonization of Gansu or the establishment of the Protectorate of the Western Regions). In turn the Yuezhi were responsible for attacking and pushing the Sai (i.e. Saka) west into Sogdiana, where in the mid 2nd century BC the latter crossed the Syr Darya into Bactria, but also into the Fergana Valley where they settled in Dayuan, southwards towards northern India, and eastward as well where they settled in some of the oasis city-states of the Tarim Basin. Whereas the Yuezhi continued westward and conquered Daxia around 177-176 BC, the Sai (i.e. Saka), including some allied Tocharian peoples, fled south to the Pamirs before heading back east to settle in Tarim Basin sites like Yanqi (焉耆, Karasahr) and Qiuci (龜茲, Kucha). The Saka are recorded as inhabiting Khotan by at least the 3rd century and also settled in nearby Shache (莎車), a town named after the Saka inhabitants (i.e. saγlâ). Although the ancient Chinese had called Khotan Yutian (于闐), it's more native Iranian names during the Han period were Jusadanna (瞿薩旦那), derived from Indo-Iranian Gostan and Gostana, the names of the town and region around it, respectively.
Around 200 BCE, the Yuezhi were overrun by the Xiongnu. The Xiongnu tried to invade the western region of China, but ultimately failed and lost control of the region to the Chinese. The Han Chinese wrested control of the Tarim Basin from the Xiongnu at the end of the 1st century under the leadership of General Ban Chao (32–102 CE), during the Han-Xiongnu War. The Chinese administered the Tarim Basin as the Protectorate of the Western Regions. The Tarim Basin was later under many foreign rulers, but ruled primary by Turkic, Han, Tibetan, and Mongolic peoples.
The powerful Kushans, who conquered the last vestiges of the Indo-Greek Kingdom, expanded back into the Tarim Basin in the 1st–2nd centuries CE, where they established a kingdom in Kashgar and competed for control of the area with nomads and Chinese forces. The Yuezhi or Rouzhi (Chinese: 月氏; pinyin: Yuèzhī; Wade–Giles: Yüeh4-chih1, [ɥê ʈʂɻ̩́]) were an ancient people first reported in Chinese histories as nomadic pastoralists living in an arid grassland area in the western part of the modern Chinese province of Gansu, during the 1st millennium BC. After a major defeat by the Xiongnu, during the 2nd century BC, the Yuezhi split into two groups: the Greater Yuezhi (Dà Yuèzhī 大月氏) and Lesser Yuezhi (Xiǎo Yuèzhī 小月氏). They introduced the Brahmi script, the Indian Prakrit language for administration, and Buddhism, playing a central role in the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to Eastern Asia.
Three pre-Han texts mention peoples who appear to be the Yuezhi, albeit under slightly different names.
After the Han dynasty, the Kingdoms of the Tarim Basin began to have strong cultural influences on China as a conduit between the cultures of India and Central Asia to China. Indian Buddhists had previously travelled to China during the Han dynasty, but the Buddhist monk Kumārajīva from Kucha who visited China during the Six dynasties was particularly renowned. The music and dances from Kucha were also popular in the Sui and Tang periods.
During the Tang Dynasty, a series of military expeditions were conducted against the oasis states of the Tarim Basin, then vassals of the Western Turkic Khaganate. The campaigns against the oasis states began under Emperor Taizong with the annexation of Gaochang in 640. The nearby kingdom of Karasahr was captured by the Tang in 644 and the kingdom of Kucha was conquered in 649.
The expansion into Central Asia continued under Taizong's successor, Emperor Gaozong, who dispatched an army in 657 led by Su Dingfang against the Western Turk qaghan Ashina Helu. Ashina was defeated and the khaganate was absorbed into the Tang empire. The Tarim Basin was administered through the Anxi Protectorate and the Four Garrisons of Anxi. Tang hegemony beyond the Pamir Mountains in modern Tajikistan and Afghanistan ended with revolts by the Turks, but the Tang retained a military presence in Xinjiang. These holdings were later invaded by the Tibetan Empire to the south in 670. For the remainder of the Tang Dynasty, the Tarim Basin alternated between Tang and Tibetan rule as they competed for control of Central Asia.
As a consequence of the Han–Xiongnu War spanning from 133 BC to 89 AD, the Tarim Basin region of Xinjiang in Northwest China, including the Saka-founded oasis city-state of Khotan and Kashgar, fell under Han Chinese influence, beginning with the reign of Emperor Wu (r. 141-87 BC) of the Han Dynasty. Much like the neighboring people of the Kingdom of Khotan, people of Kashgar, the capital of the Shule Kingdom, spoke Saka, one of the Eastern Iranian languages. As noted by the Greek historian Herodotus, the contemporary Persians labelled all Scythians as the Saka. Indeed, modern scholarly consensus is that the Saka language, ancestor to the Pamir languages in northern India and Khotanese in Xinjiang, China belongs to the Scythian languages.
During China's Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), the region once again came under Chinese suzerainty with the campaigns of conquest by Emperor Taizong of Tang (r. 626-649). From the late 8th to 9th centuries, the region changed hands between the Chinese Tang Empire and the rival Tibetan Empire. By the early 11th century the region fell to the Muslim Turkic peoples of the Kara-Khanid Khanate, which led to both the Turkification of the region as well as its conversion from Buddhism to Islam.
Suggestive evidence of Khotan's early link to India are minted coins from Khotan dated to the 3rd century bearing dual inscriptions in Chinese and Gandhari Prakrit in the Kharosthi script. Although Prakrit was the administrative language of nearby Shanshan, 3rd-century documents from that kingdom record the title hinajha (i.e. "generalissimo") for the king of Khotan, Vij'ida-simha, a distinctively Iranian-based word equivalent to the Sanskrit title senapati, yet nearly identical to the Khotanese Saka hīnāysa attested in contemporary documents. This along with the fact that the king's recorded regnal periods were given in Khotanese as kṣuṇa, "implies an established connection between the Iranian inhabitants and the royal power," according to the late Professor of Iranian Studies Ronald E. Emmerick (d. 2001). He contended that Khotanese-Saka-language royal rescripts of Khotan dated to the 10th century "makes it likely that the ruler of Khotan was a speaker of Iranian." Furthermore, he elaborated on the early name of Khotan:
The name of Khotan is attested in a number of spellings, of which the oldest form is hvatana, in texts of approximately the 7th to the 10th century AD written in an Iranian language itself called hvatana by the writers. The same name is attested also in two closely related Iranian dialects, Sogdian and Tumshuq...Attempts have accordingly been made to explain it as Iranian, and this is of some importance historically. My own preference is for an explanation connecting it semantically with the name Saka, for the Iranian inhabitants of Khotan...
In Northwest China, Khotanese-Saka-language documents, ranging from medical texts to Buddhist literature, have been found primarily in Khotan and Tumshuq (northeast of Kashgar). They largely predate the arrival of Islam to the region under the Turkic Kara-Khanids. Similar documents in the Khotanese-Saka language were found in Dunhuang dating mostly to the 10th century.
The collapse of the Uyghur Khaganate in 840 AD led to the movement of the Uyghurs south to Turpan and Gansu, and some absorbed by the Karluks. Tocharian languages became extinct due to Uyghur migtations to these areas. The Uyghurs of Turfan (or Qocho) became Buddhists. In the tenth century, the Karluks, Yagmas, Chigils and other Turkic tribes founded the Kara-Khanid Khanate in Semirechye, Western Tian Shan, and Kashgaria.
The Karakhanids became the first Islamic Turkic dynasty in the tenth century when Sultan Satuq Bughra Khan converted to Islam in 966 and controlled Kashgar. Satuq Bughra Khan and his son directed endeavors to preach Islam among the Turks and engage in conquests. Satok Bughra Khan's nephew or grandson Ali Arslan was slain by the Buddhists during the war. Buddhism lost territory to the Turkic Karakhanid Satok Bughra Khan during the Karakhanid reign around the Kashgar area. The Tarim Basin became Islamicized over the next few centuries.
In the tenth century, the Buddhist Iranic Saka Kingdom of Khotan was the only city-state that was not conquered yet by the Turkic Uyghur (Buddhist) and the Turkic Qarakhanid (Muslim) states. The Buddhist entitites of Dunhuang and Khotan had a tight-knit partnership, with intermarriage between Dunhuang and Khotan's rulers and Dunhuang's Mogao grottos and Buddhist temples being funded and sponsored by the Khotan royals, whose likenesses were drawn in the Mogao grottoes. Halfway in the 10th century Khotan came under attack by the Qarakhanid ruler Musa, a long war ensued between the Turkic Karakhanid and Buddhist Khotan which eventually ended in the conquest of Khotan by Kashgar by the Karakhanid leader Yusuf Qadir Khan around 1006.
Accounts of the Muslim Karakhanid war against the Khotanese Buddhists are given in Taẕkirah of the Four Sacrificed Imams written sometime in the period from 1700-1849 which told the story of four imams from Mada'in city (possibly in modern-day Iraq) who travelled to help the Islamic conquest of Khotan, Yarkand, and Kashgar by Yusuf Qadir Khan, the Qarakhanid leader. The "infidels" were defeated and driven towards Khotan by Yusuf Qadir Khan and the four Imams, but the Imams were assassinated by the Buddhists prior to the last Muslim victory. After Yusuf Qadir Khan's conquest of new land in Altishahr towards the east, he adopted the title "King of the East and China".
In 1006, the Muslim Kara-Khanid ruler Yusuf Kadir (Qadir) Khan of Kashgar conquered Khotan, ending Khotan's existence as an independent state. The Islamic conquest of Khotan led to alarm in the east and Dunhuang's Cave 17, which contained Khotanese literary works, was closed shut possibly after its caretakers heard that Khotan's Buddhist buildings were razed by the Muslims, the Buddhist religion had suddenly ceased to exist in Khotan. The Karakhanid Turkic Muslim writer Mahmud al-Kashgari recorded a short Turkic language poem about the conquest:
The Buddhist Uyghurs of the Kingdom of Qocho and Turfan embraced Islam after conversion at the hands of the Muslim Chagatai Khizr Khwaja.
After being converted to Islam, the descendants of the previously Buddhist Uyghurs in Turfan believed that the "infidel Kalmuks" (Dzungars) were the ones who built Buddhist monuments in their area, in opposition to the current academic theory that it was their own ancestral legacy.
Southern region of Tarim basin had influence by Naqshbandi Sufis in seventeenth century.
Xinjiang did not exist as one unit until 1884 under Qing rule. It consisted of the two separate political entities of Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin (Eastern Turkestan). Dzungharia or Ili was called Zhunbu 準部 (Dzungar region) Tianshan Beilu 天山北路 (Northern March), "Xinjiang" 新疆 (New Frontier), or "Kalmykia" (La Kalmouquie in French). It was formerly the area of the Dzungar (or Zunghar) Khanate 準噶爾汗國, the land of the Dzungar people. The Tarim Basin was known as "Tianshan Nanlu 天山南路 (southern March), Huibu 回部 (Muslim region), Huijiang 回疆 (Muslim frontier), Chinese Turkestan, Kashgaria, Little Bukharia, East Turkestan", and the traditional Uyghur name for it was Altishahr (Uyghur: التى شهر, Алтә-шәһәр, ULY: Altä-shähär). It was formerly the area of the Eastern Chagatai Khanate 東察合台汗國, land of the Uyghur people before being conquered by the Dzungars.
According to census figures, the Tarim Basin is dominated by the Uyghurs. They form the majority population in cities such as Kashgar, Artush, and Hotan. There are however large pockets of Han Chinese in the region, such as Aksu and Korla. There are also smaller numbers of Hui and other ethnic groups, for example, the Tajiks who are concentrated at Tashkurgan in the Kashgar Prefecture, the Kyrgyz in Kizilsu, and the Mongols in Bayingolin.
The discovery of the Tarim mummies showed that the early people of the Tarim Basin were Europoids. According to Sinologist Victor H. Mair: "From around 1800BC, the earliest mummies in the Tarim Basin were exclusively Caucasoid, or Europoid." He also said that East Asian migrants arriving in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin around 3,000 years ago, and the Uyghur peoples "arrived after the collapse of the Orkon Uighur Kingdom, based in modern-day Mongolia, around the year 842." He also noted that the people of Xinjiang are a mixture: "Modern DNA and ancient DNA show that Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, the peoples of central Asia are all mixed Caucasian and East Asian. The modern and ancient DNA tell the same story." Professor James A. Millward described the original Uyghurs as physically Mongoloid, giving as an example the images in Bezeklik at Temple 9 of the Uyghur patrons, until they began to mix with the Tarim Basin's original eastern Iranian inhabitants.
Although archaeological findings are of interest in the Tarim Basin, the prime impetus for exploration was petroleum and natural gas. Recent research with help of GIS database have provided a fine-grained analysis of the ancient oasis of Niya on the Silk Road. This research led to significant findings; remains of hamlets with wattle and daub structures as well as farm land, orchards, vineyards, irrigation pools and bridges. The oasis at Niya preserves the ancient landscape. Here also have been found hundreds of 3rd and 4th century wooden accounting tablets at several settlements across the oasis. These texts are in the Kharosthi script native to today's Pakistan and Afghanistan. The texts are legal documents such as tax lists, and contracts containing detailed information pertaining to the administration of daily affairs.
Additional excavations have unearthed tombs with mummies, tools, ceramic works, painted pottery and other artistic artifacts. Such diversity was encouraged by the cultural contacts resulting from this area's position on the Silk Road. Early Buddhist sculptures and murals excavated at Miran show artistic similarities to the traditions of Central Asia and North India and stylistic aspects of paintings found there suggest that Miran had a direct connection with the West, specifically Rome and its provinces.
Ban Chao (Chinese: 班超; pinyin: Bān Chāo; Wade–Giles: Pan1 Ch'ao1; 32–102 CE), courtesy name Zhongsheng, was a Chinese military general, explorer and diplomat of the Eastern Han Dynasty. He was born in Fufeng, now Xianyang, Shaanxi. Three of his family members — father Ban Biao, elder brother Ban Gu, younger sister Ban Zhao — were well known historians who wrote the historical text Book of Han, which recorded the history of the Western Han Dynasty. As a Han general and cavalry commander, Ban Chao was in charge of administrating the "Western Regions" (Central Asia) while he was in service. He also led Han forces for over 30 years in the war against the Xiongnu and secured Han control over the Tarim Basin region. He was awarded the title "Protector General of the Western Regions" by the Han government for his efforts in protecting and governing the regions.Battle of Dafei River
The Battle of Dafei River was fought in mid-670 between the forces of the Chinese Tang dynasty and the Tibetan Empire, for control over the Tarim Basin (the "Anxi Protectorate" in Chinese parlance). In 669, the Tibetan Empire invaded and conquered the Tuyuhun kingdom of Qinghai, which was a tributary state and important ally to Tang dynasty. To help Tuyuhun restore the regime, Emperor Gaozong of Tang launched the campaign against Tibet. The Chinese general, Xue Rengui, commanded a huge army of allegedly 100,000 men. He left his slower-moving baggage train and 20,000 soldiers under Guo Daifeng behind and advanced with the rest to the Qinghai Lake. The Tibetans attacked and captured the Chinese baggage train, and proceeded to destroy Xue's own army at the Dafei River (Dafeichuan, 大非川). In the aftermath of the battle, Chinese control over the Tarim Basin collapsed.China National Highway 218
China National Highway 218 (G218) runs from Yining, Xinjiang to Ruoqiang, Xinjiang. It is 1,067 kilometres in length and runs southeast from Yining towards Ruoqiang. The road starts at the Kazakh border. (West of Yining it may have a different number (?).) It passes Yining (Kulja) and follows the natural trade route east along the upper valley of the Ili River. It enters higher country and south of Urumchi turns south and crosses the Tien Shan mountains. It then enters the oasis country around Korla and Karashahr and then crosses the Tarim Basin along the old bed to the Tarim River to Ruoqiang (Charkilik) on the south side of the basin. With highways 314 and 315 it forms a loop around most of the Tarim basin.Conquest of the Western Turks
The conquest of the Western Turks, known as the Western Tujue in Chinese sources, was a military campaign in 657 led by the Tang Dynasty general Su Dingfang against the Western Turkic Khaganate ruled by Ashina Helu. The Chinese war against the Western Turks began in 640 with the annexation of the Tarim Basin oasis state Gaochang, an ally of the Western Turks. Several of the oasis states had once been vassals of the Tang Dynasty, but switched their allegiance to the Western Turks when they grew suspicious of the military ambitions of the Tang. Tang expansion into Central Asia continued with the conquest of Karasahr in 644 and Kucha in 648. Su Dingfang commanded the main army dispatched against the Western Turks, while the Turkic generals Ashina Mishe and Ashina Buzhen led the side divisions. The Tang troops were reinforced by cavalry supplied by the Uyghurs, a tribe that had been allied with the Tang since their support for the Uyghur revolt against the Xueyantuo. Su Dingfang's army defeated Helu at the battle of Irtysh River.
The victory strengthened Tang control of the Western Regions, now modern Xinjiang, and brought the regions formerly ruled by the Khaganate into the Tang empire. Puppet qaghans, the Turkic title for ruler, and military garrisons were installed to administer the newly acquired territories. The Tang Dynasty achieved its maximum extent as China's western borders reached the eastern frontier of the Arabic Umayyad Caliphate. Later on, Turkic revolts ended Chinese hegemony beyond the Pamir Mountains in modern Tajikistan and Afghanistan, but a Tang military presence remained in Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin. Central Asia absorbed cultural influences from the conflict. Turkic culture and language spread into Central Asia, as did artistic and political influences from the Tang Dynasty. Many of the Tang generals and soldiers stationed in the region were ethnically Turkic, and the prevalence of Indo-European languages in Central Asia declined with acceleration of Turkic migration. The Turks, Tibetans, and the Tang competed for control over Central Asia for the next few centuries.Dzungar conquest of Altishahr
The Dzungar conquest of Altishahr resulted in the Tibetan Buddhist Dzungar Khanate in Dzungaria conquering and subjugating the Genghisid-ruled Chagatai Khanate in Altishahr (the Tarim Basin). It put a final end to the independence of the Chagatai Khanate.Eurasian Steppe
The Eurasian Steppe, also called the Great Steppe or the steppes, is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. It stretches from Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova through Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Xinjiang, and Mongolia to Manchuria, with one major exclave, the Pannonian steppe or Puszta, located mostly in Hungary and partially in Serbia and Croatia.Since the Paleolithic age, the Steppe route has connected Eastern Europe, Central Asia, China, South Asia, and the Middle East economically, politically, and culturally through overland trade routes. The Steppe route is a predecessor not only of the Silk Road which developed during antiquity and the Middle Ages, but also of the Eurasian Land Bridge in the modern era. It has been home to nomadic empires and many large tribal confederations and ancient states throughout history, such as the Xiongnu, Scythia, Cimmeria, Sarmatia, Hunnic Empire, Chorasmia, Transoxiana, Sogdiana, Xianbei, Mongols, and Göktürk Khaganate.Hexi Corridor
Hexi Corridor (Chinese: 河西走廊; pinyin: Héxī Zǒuláng; Wade–Giles: Ho2-hsi1 Tsou3-lang2, Xiao'erjing: حْسِ ظِوْلاْ, IPA: /xɤ˧˥ɕi˥ tsoʊ˨˩˦lɑŋ˧˥/) or Gansu Corridor refers to the historical route in Gansu province of China. As part of the Northern Silk Road running northwest from the bank of the Yellow River, it was the most important route from North China to the Tarim Basin and Central Asia for traders and the military. The corridor is a string of oases along the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. To the south is the high and desolate Tibetan Plateau and to the north, the Gobi Desert and the grasslands of Outer Mongolia. At the west end the route splits in three, going either north of the Tian Shan or south on either side of the Tarim Basin. At the east end are mountains around Lanzhou before one reaches the Wei River valley and China proper.Islamization of Xinjiang
The historical area of what is modern day Xinjiang consisted of the distinct areas of the Tarim Basin (also known as Altishahr) and Dzungaria, and was populated by Indo-European Tocharians and Saka peoples, who practiced Buddhism. They came under Chinese rule in the Han dynasty as the Protectorate of the Western Regions due to wars between the Han dynasty and the Xiongnu and again in the Tang dynasty as the Protectorate General to Pacify the West due to wars between the Tang dynasty and the Turkic Khaganates. The Tang dynasty withdrew its control of Xinjiang in the Protectorate General to Pacify the West and the Four Garrisons of Anxi after the An Lushan Rebellion, after which the Turkic peoples living in the area converted to Islam.Kunlun Mountains
The Kunlun Mountains (simplified Chinese: 昆仑山; traditional Chinese: 崑崙山; pinyin: Kūnlún Shān, pronounced [kʰu̯ə́nlu̯ə̌n ʂán]; Mongolian: Хөндлөн Уулс, Khöndlön Uuls; Uyghur: كۇئېنلۇن تاغ تىزمىسى) are one of the longest mountain chains in Asia, extending more than 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi). In the broadest sense, the chain forms the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau south of the Tarim Basin.
The exact definition of this range varies. An old source uses Kunlun to mean the mountain belt that runs across the center of China, that is, Kunlun in the narrow sense: Altyn Tagh along with the Qilian and Qin Mountains. A recent source has the Kunlun range forming most of the south side of the Tarim Basin and then continuing east south of the Altyn Tagh. Sima Qian (Records of the Grand Historian, scroll 123) says that Emperor Wu of Han sent men to find the source of the Yellow River and gave the name Kunlun to the mountains at its source. The name seems to have originated as a semi-mythical location in the classical Chinese text Classic of Mountains and Seas.Niya ruins
The Niya ruins (simplified Chinese: 尼雅遗址; traditional Chinese: 尼雅遺址; pinyin: Níyǎ Yízhǐ), is an archaeological site located about 115 km (71 mi) north of modern Niya Town on the southern edge of the Tarim Basin in modern-day Xinjiang, China. The ancient site was known in its native language as Caḍ́ota, and in Chinese during the Han Dynasty as Jingjue (Chinese: 精絕; pinyin: Jīngjué, Old Chinese tseng-dzot, similar to Caḍ́ota). Numerous ancient archaeological artifacts have been uncovered at the site.
Niya was once a major commercial center on an oasis on the southern branch of the Silk Road in the southern Taklamakan Desert. During ancient times camel caravans would cut through, carrying goods from China to Central Asia.Saka
Saka, Śaka, Shaka or Saca (Persian: old Sakā, mod. ساکا; Sanskrit: Śaka; Ancient Greek: Σάκαι, Sákai; Latin: Sacae; Chinese: 塞, old *Sək, mod. Sāi) were a group of nomadic Iranian peoples who historically inhabited the northern and eastern Eurasian Steppe and the Tarim Basin.Though closely related, the Sakas are to be distinguished from the Scythians of the Pontic Steppe and the Massagetae of the Aral Sea region, although they form part of the wider concepts of "Scytho-Siberian" or "Scythic" culture. Like the Scythians, the Sakas were derived from the earlier Andronovo and Karasuk cultures. Their language formed part of the Scythian languages. Prominent archaeological remains of the Sakas include the Pazyryk burials, the Issyk kurgan, artifacts of the Ordos culture and possibly Tillya Tepe. It has been suggested that the ruling elite of the Xiongnu was of Saka origin.In the 2nd century BC, many Sakas were driven by the Yuezhi from the steppe into Sogdia and Bactria and then to the northwest of the Indian subcontinent, where they were known as the Indo-Scythians. Other Sakas invaded the Parthian Empire, eventually settling in Sistan, while others may have migrated to the Dian Kingdom in Yunnan, China. In the Tarim Basin and Taklamakan Desert region of Northwest China, they settled in Khotan, Yarkand, Kashgar and other places, which were at various times vassals to greater powers, such as Han China and Tang China.Saka language
(Eastern) Saka or Sakan was a variety of Eastern Iranian languages, attested from the ancient Buddhist kingdoms of Khotan, Kashgar and Tumshuq in the Tarim Basin, in what is now southern Xinjiang, China. It is a Middle Iranian language. The two kingdoms differed in dialect, their speech known as Khotanese and Tumshuqese.
Documents on wood and paper were written in modified Brahmi script with the addition of extra characters over time and unusual conjuncts such as ys for z. The documents date from the fourth to the eleventh century. Tumshuqese was more archaic than Khotanese, but it is much less understood because it appears in fewer manuscripts compared to Khotanese. Both dialects share features with modern Pashto and Wakhi. The language was known as "Hvatanai" in contemporary documents. Many Prakrit terms were borrowed from Khotanese into the Tocharian languages.Tang campaign against Kucha
The Tang campaign against Kucha was a military campaign led by the Tang Dynasty general Ashina She'er against the Tarim Basin oasis state of Kucha in Xinjiang, which was aligned with the Western Turkic Khaganate. The campaign began in 648 and ended on 19 January 649, after the surrender of the Kuchan forces following a forty-day siege in Aksu. Kuchean soldiers tried to recapture the kingdom with the assistance of the Western Turkic Khaganate, but were defeated by the Tang army.Tang campaigns against the Western Turks
The Tang campaigns against the Western Turks, known as the Western Tujue in Chinese sources, were a series of military campaigns conducted during the Tang dynasty of China against the Western Turkic Khaganate in the 7th century AD. Early military conflicts were a result of the Tang interventions in the rivalry between the Western and Eastern Turks in order to weaken both. Under Emperor Taizong, campaigns were dispatched in the Western Regions against Gaochang in 640, Karasahr in 644 and 648, and Kucha in 648.
The wars against the Western Turks continued under Emperor Gaozong, and the khaganate was annexed after General Su Dingfang's defeat of Qaghan Ashina Helu in 657. The Western Turks attempted to capture the Tarim Basin in 670 and 677, but were repelled by the Tang. The Second Turkic Empire defeated the fragmented Western Turks in 712, and absorbed the tribes into the new empire.
The areas controlled by Tang China came under the dynasty's cultural influences and the Turkic influence of the ethnically Turkic Tang soldiers stationed in the region. Indo-European prevalence in Central Asia declined as the expeditions accelerated Turkic migration into what is now Xinjiang. By the end of the 657 campaign, the Tang had reached its largest extent. The Turks, Tibetans, Muslim Arabs and the Tang competed for control over Central Asia until the collapse of the Tang in the 10th century.Tang dynasty in Inner Asia
The Tang dynasty in Inner Asia was the expansion of the Tang dynasty's realm in the Inner Asia in the 7th and, to a lesser degree, the 8th century AD, in the Tarim Basin, across the Gobi Desert and into Middle Asia. Wars were fought against the Gokturk Empires and Xueyantuo, but also against the states of the Tarim basin. This expansion was not steady; for example, the Tang did lose control of the Tarim basin temporarily to the Tibetans in the 680s, and their expansion north of the Gobi was thwarted in 682. Emperor Taizong's military success was, in part, a consequence of changes he initiated in the Chinese army, including improved weaponry. The emperor placed a new emphasis on cavalry, which was very important because his non-Chinese opponents used the horse effectively in warfare.Tarim River
The Tarim River (Chinese: 塔里木河; pinyin: Tǎlǐmù Hé; Uyghur: تارىم دەرياسى, ULY: Tarim deryasi), known in Sanskrit as the Śītā is an endorheic river in Xinjiang, China. It is the principal river of the Tarim Basin, a desert region of Central Asia between the Tian Shan and Kunlun Mountains. The river historically terminated at Lop Nur, but today reaches no further than Taitema Lake before drying out.
It is the longest inland river in China, with an annual flow of 4 to 6 billion cubic metres (3,200,000 to 4,900,000 acre⋅ft) or 158.5 cubic metres per second (5,600 cu ft/s). Its basin is home to nearly 10 million Uyghur and other ethnic minorities.Tarim mummies
The Tarim mummies are a series of mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang, China, which date from 1800 BCE to the first centuries BCE. The mummies, particularly the early ones, are frequently associated with the presence of the Indo-European Tocharian languages in the Tarim Basin, although the evidence is not totally conclusive and many centuries separate these mummies from the first attestation of the Tocharian languages in writing. Victor H. Mair's team concluded that the mummies are Caucasoid, likely speakers of Indo-European languages such as the Tocharians.Tocharians
The Tocharians or Tokharians ( or ) were Indo-European peoples who inhabited the medieval oasis city-states on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China) in ancient times.
The Tocharian languages, a branch of the Indo-European family, are known from manuscripts from the 6th to 8th centuries AD. The name "Tocharian" was given to them by modern scholars, who identified their speakers with a people who inhabited Bactria from the 2nd century BC, and were known in ancient Greek sources as the Tókharoi (Latin Tochari). This identification is generally considered erroneous, but the name "Tocharian" remains the most common term for the languages and their speakers.
Agricultural communities first appeared in the oases of the northern Tarim circa 2000 BC. (The earliest Tarim mummies, which may not be connected to the Tocharians, date from c. 1800 BC.) Some scholars have linked these communities to the Afanasievo culture found earlier (c. 3500–2500 BC) in Siberia, north of the Tarim or Central Asian BMAC culture.
By the 2nd century BC, these settlements had developed into city states, overshadowed by nomadic peoples to the north and Chinese empires to the east. These cities, the largest of which was Kucha, also served as way stations on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan desert.
From the 8th century AD, the Uyghurs – speakers of a Turkic language from the Kingdom of Qocho – settled in the region. The peoples of the Tarim city states intermixed with the Uyghurs, whose Old Uyghur language spread through the region. The Tocharian languages are believed to have become extinct during the 9th century.Xinjiang
Xinjiang (Uyghur: شىنجاڭ; SASM/GNC: Xinjang; Chinese: 新疆; pinyin: Xīnjiāng; formerly romanised as Sinkiang), officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), is a provincial-level autonomous region of China in the northwest of the country. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and the eighth largest country subdivision in the world, spanning over 1.6 million km2 (640,000 square miles). Xinjiang contains the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, which is administered by China and claimed by India. Xinjiang borders the countries of Mongolia (Bayan-Ölgii, Khovd and Govi-Altai Provinces), Russia (Altai Republic), Kazakhstan (East Kazakhstan and Almaty Provinces), Kyrgyzstan (Issyk Kul, Naryn and Osh Regions), Tajikistan (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region), Afghanistan (Badakhshan Province), Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan), and India (Jammu and Kashmir). The rugged Karakoram, Kunlun, and Tian Shan mountain ranges occupy much of Xinjiang's borders, as well as its western and southern regions. Xinjiang also borders Tibet Autonomous Region and the provinces of Gansu and Qinghai. The most well-known route of the historical Silk Road ran through the territory from the east to its northwestern border. In recent decades, abundant oil and mineral reserves have been found in Xinjiang, and it is currently China's largest natural gas-producing region.
It is home to a number of ethnic groups, including the Uyghur, Han, Kazakhs, Tibetans, Hui, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Mongols and Russians. More than a dozen autonomous prefectures and counties for minorities are in Xinjiang. Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan. Xinjiang is divided into the Dzungarian Basin in the north and the Tarim Basin in the south by a mountain range. Only about 9.7% of Xinjiang's land area is fit for human habitation.With a documented history of at least 2,500 years, a succession of people and empires have vied for control over all or parts of this territory. The territory came under the rule of the Qing dynasty in the 18th century, which was later replaced by the Republic of China government. Since 1949, it has been part of the People's Republic of China following the Chinese Civil War. In 1954, Xinjiang Bingtuan was set up to strengthen the border defense against the Soviet Union, and also promote the local economy. In 1955, Xinjiang was turned into an autonomous region from a province. In the last decades, the East Turkistan independent movement, separatist conflict and the influence of radical Islam have both resulted in unrest in the region, with occasional terrorist attacks and clashes between separatist and government forces.
|Hanyu Pinyin||Tǎlǐmù Péndì|
|Latin Yëziqi||Tarim Oymanliqi|
|Yengi Yeziⱪ||Tarim Oymanliⱪi|
|Siril Yëziqi||Тарим ойманлиқи|
Basins of China