From Visits to High Tartary, Yarkand and Kashgar by Robert Shaw, John Murray, London 1871

pp. 21 ff "From the Chinese annals it is gathered that about the middle of the second century B.C. a tribe of Tartars called the Yoochee, being pressed upon by other Tartar tribes on their North-east, advanced into Yârkand and Kâshghar, driving out the original inhabitants.

It may be gathered that these original inhabitants were by no means entirely expelled, to judge from the strong infusion of Aryan blood which, as I have said, is still noticeable in the population of these provinces. Those that emigrated before the Tartars must have been at first pushed up against the Pamir Mountains and Steppes, a huge wall running North and South, and dividing them from the country to the West until they overflowed that boundary, and poured into the valleys which lead down to the Oxus and the plains of Bokhâra, which they would find occupied by men of a kindred race to themselves. Up to the present day, however, one small remnant of them which hesitated to cross the mountains was left cooped up in the valleys of the Sarikol district East of the Pamir, and in the corner between it and the Mustak Range. This last relic of the Trans-Pamir Aryans has within the last two years been removed from its resting-place; the Àtalik-Ghâzee having transplanted the whole tribe (consisting of not more than 1000 or 1500 individuals), after the manner of Eastern conquerors, as they caused him continual trouble. Some of these captives I saw at Kâshghar, and have since been informed that none are now left in Sarikol, where Kirghiz immigrants from the North have replaced this ancient Aryan people. They speak a dialect of Persian mixed with Toorkee words, few and far between, but without any apparent admixture from the Dardoo languages to their South.

Beyond the Sarikol district, and across the Pamir Range, another portion of the escaping Aryan population halted and settled down in the high valley of Wakhan at the head-waters of the Oxus. The other gorges by which the high plateau of Pamir drains westward are also partly occupied by people of this race, and partly by wandering Kirghiz with their cattle.

It is of course difficult, in our present state of knowledge, to say where the tide of immigrants from the East ceases in these valleys, and which of them had already at the time of the migration been occupied by men from the plains to the westward, as both populations were of the same race. It is enough to have traced the fugitives from Yârkand up to the Pamir and across it."


From: Innermost Asia: Travel & Sport in the Pamirs, by Ralph Cobbold, William Heinemann, London 1900

p. 192 "Fair hair was not at all uncommon, and I noticed red hair once or twice."

All text and photographs (c) Robert Middleton 2002

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