in Transbaikalia and extending farther south-west through the Gobi to East Turkestan.
ALTYN-TAGH, or Astyn-Tagh, one of the chief constituent ranges of the Kuen-lun in Central Asia, separating Tibet from east Turkestan and the Desert of Gobi.
From Manchuria and China it is separated by the border ridge of the plateau - the Great Khingan, while in the south-west it runs up to the foot of the high northern border ridges of the Tibetan plateau - an artificial frontier separating it from east Turkestan and Dzungaria.
On the east the Pamir highlands are fenced off from the East Turkestan lowlands by the double border-ridge of Sarik-kol (the Sarik-kol range and the Murtagh or Kashgar range), which has its eastern foot down in the Tarim basin (4000-4500 ft.) and its western up on the Pamirs at 10,500 to 13,000 ft.
From the East Turkestan lowlands on the north the ascent is very steep, and the passes across both sets of ranges lie at great altitudes; for example, the pass of Sanju-davan in the lower range is 16,325 ft.
The Taranchis from East Turkestan represent about 40 of the population; about 40,000 of them left Kulja when the Russian troops evacuated the territory, and the Chinese government sent some 8000 families from different towns of Kashgaria to take their place.
1 The place suffered severely during the Dungan revolt against China in 1864-1875, and again a few years later when Yakub Beg of Kashgar made himself master of East Turkestan.
Along with the desert of Gobi East Turkestan occupies the lower terrace of the great central Asian plateau, which projects from the Himalayas north-east towards the Bering Straits.
The mountain ranges which shut off East Turkestan from the rest of the world rank among the loftiest and most difficult in Asia, and indeed in the world.
On the west East Turkestan is generally approached from India by the famous pass of Karakorum (18,300 ft.), from Ferghana and West (Russian) Turkestan by the passes of Kyzyl-art (14,015 ft.) and Terek (12,730 ft.), and 'the mountains on this side attain to altitudes of 25,780 ft.
The Tian-shan Mountains skirt East Turkestan on the north-east, where the Kokshal-tau range rises to 16,000 to 18,000 ft.
The people who inhabit the plains and mountain slopes of East Turkestan consist partly of Aryans and partly of races of Ural-Altaic stock, and are partly of mixed blood.
The prevailing religion all over East Turkestan is Mahommedanism.
The caravan routes mostly followed between China and the more populous centres (Kashgar and Yarkand) of East Turkestan start from An-si-chow and Sa-chow respectively, converge upon Hami on the north side of the Pe-shan swelling, and continue westward along the south foot of the Tian-shan Mountains through the oases of Turfan, Kara-shahr, Korla, Kucha, Ak-su and Uch-turfan.
It appears very probable that at the dawn of history East Turkestan was inhabited by an Aryan population, the ancestors of the present Slav and Teutonic races, and that a civilization not inferior to that of Bactria had already developed at that time in the region of the Tarim.'
When the Huns (Hiung-nu) occupied west and east Mongolia in 177-165 B.C., they drove before them the Yue-chi (Yutes, Yetes or Ghetes), who divided into two hordes, one of which invaded the valley of the Indus, while the other met the Sacae in East Turkestan and drove them over the Tian-shan into the valley of the Ili.
Between 120 and for B.C. the Chinese extended their rule westwards over East Turkestan as far as Kashgar.
Grigoriev, 2 the Turks who succeeded the Chinese in the western parts of East Turkestan were the Karlyk Turks, who extended farther south-west up to Kashmir, while the north-eastern parts of the Tarim region were subdued by the Uighurs.
Soon Mongol hordes, the Kara-Kitais, entered East Turkestan (11th century), and then penetrated into West Turkestan.
His son reigned at Samarkand, but was overthrown by Timur (Tamerlane), the Mongol sovereign of Samarkand, who, to put an end to the attacks of the wild Tianshan tribes, undertook in 1389 his renowned march to Dzungaria, which was devastated, East Turkestan also suffering severely.
Rubruquis, who visited East Turkestan in 1254, Marco Polo between 1271 and 1275, and Hois in 1680, all bore witness to great religious tolerance; but this entirely disappeared with the invasion of the Bokharian mullahs or Mahommedan priests.
They created in East Turkestan the power of the khojas, or "theologians," who afterwards fomented the many intestine wars that were waged between the rival factions of the White and the Black Mountaineers.
But five years later he had again to sustain war with China, in which he was defeated, and East Turkestan once more became a Chinese province.
- The best and the most exhaustive accounts of East Turkestan are contained in Sven Hedin's Scientific Results of a Journey in Central Asia, 1899-1902 (vols.
The shortest route, though not the easiest, between Kashgar and East Turkestan in the east and Ferghana and West Turkestan in the west is over the Terek pass or the pass at the head of the Alai valley, a dangerous route in winter by reason of the vast quantity of snow which usually accumulates there.
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