Aksu

Aksu

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Encyclopedia
Aksu is a city in the Chinese
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 autonomous region of Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 and the capital of Aksu Prefecture
Aksu Prefecture
Aksu Prefecture is located in mid-western Xinjiang, China. It has an area of 132,500 km² and 2.19 million inhabitants .The name Aksu is Turkic for 'white water'.-Geography:...

. The name Aksu literally means white water (in Turkic), and is used for both the oasis
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 town and the river
Aksu River (China)
The Aksu River Turkish) is a transboundary river in the Xinjiang province in China and Ak-Suu District of Issyk Kul Province of Kyrgyzstan. In Kyrgyzstan it is known as Saryjaz River . The total length of the river is 282 km, of them 197 km in Kyrgyzstan...

.

The economy of Aksu is mostly agricultural, with cotton, in particular long-staple cotton, as the main product. Also produced are grain, fruits, oils, beets and so on. The industry mostly consists of weaving, cement, and chemical industries.

Historical Aksu


From the Former Han dynasty (125 BCE to 23 CE) at least until the early Tang
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 dynasty (618-907 CE), Aksu was known as Gumo 姑墨 [Ku-mo]. The ancient capital town of Nan ("Southern Town") was likely well south of the present town.

During the Former Han dynasty, Gumo is described as a "kingdom" (guo) containing 3,500 households and 24,500 individuals, including 4,500 people able to bear arms. It is said to have produced copper, iron and orpiment
Orpiment
Orpiment, As2S3, is a common monoclinic arsenic sulfide mineral. It has a Mohs hardness of 1.5 to 2 and a specific gravity of 3.46. It melts at 300 °C to 325 °C...

.

The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang
Xuanzang
Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

 visited this "kingdom" in 629
629
Year 629 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 629 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Persian and Byzantine Empires :* September –...

 CE and referred to it as Baluka. He recorded that there were tens of Sarvastivadin Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 monasteries in the kingdom and over 1000 monks. He said the kingdom was 600 li
Li (unit)
The li is a traditional Chinese unit of distance, which has varied considerably over time but now has a standardized length of 500 meters or half a kilometer...

from east to west, and 300 li from north to south. Its capital was said to be 6 li in circuit. He reported that the "native products, climate, temperament of the people, customs, written language and law are the same as in the country of Kuci Kucha
Kucha
Kuchaor Kuche Uyghur , Chinese Simplified: 库车; Traditional: 庫車; pinyin Kùchē; also romanized as Qiuzi, Qiuci, Chiu-tzu, Kiu-che, Kuei-tzu from the traditional Chinese forms 屈支 屈茨; 龜玆; 龟兹, 丘玆, also Po ; Sanskrit: Kueina, Standard Tibetan: Kutsahiyui was an ancient Buddhist kingdom...

, (some 300 km to the east)], but the spoken language is somewhat different [from Kuchean]." He also stated that fine cotton and hemp cloth made in the area was traded in neighbouring countries.

In the 7th, 8th, and early 9th centuries, control of the entire region was often contested by the Chinese Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

, the Tibetan Tufan Empire, and the Uyghur Empire
Uyghur Empire
The Uyghur Khaganate, or, Uyghur Empire or Uighur Khaganate or Toquz Oghuz Country was a Turkic empire that existed for about a century between the mid 8th and 9th centuries...

; cities frequently changed hands. Tibet seized Aksu in 670 AD, but Tang forces reconquered the region in 692. Tibet regained the Tarim Basin in the late 720s, and the Tang Dynasty again annexed the region in the 740s. The Battle of Talas
Battle of Talas
The Battle of Talas in 751 AD was an especially notable conflict between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and the Chinese Tang Dynasty for control not only of the Syr Darya region, but even more...

 led to the gradual withdrawal of Chinese forces, and the region was contested between the Uyghurs and Tibetans.

Aksu was positioned on a junction of trade routes: the northern-Tarim route Silk road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

, and the dangerous route north via the Tian Shan
Tian Shan
The Tian Shan , also spelled Tien Shan, is a large mountain system located in Central Asia. The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Victory Peak , ....

's Muzart Pass to the fertile Ili River
Ili River
thumb|right|300px|Map of the Lake Balkhash drainage basin showing the Ili River and its tributariesThe Ili River is a river in northwestern China and southeastern Kazakhstan .It is long, of which is in Kazakhstan...

 valley.

Around 1220 Aksu became the capital of the Kingdom of Mangalai
Kingdom of Mangalai
Mangalai was a Central Asian kingdom, mentioned by Marco Polo. From 1200 onwards, Mangalai's capital was Aksu. It was subservant to Genghis Khan from 1224 to his death in 1227. On the edge of the Yuan Dynasty of China, Mangalai was controlled by the Chagatai Khanate...

. In 1207-08, they submitted to Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

. The area had been part of the whole Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 before it was occupied by the independent-minded Chagatai Khanate
Chagatai Khanate
The Chagatai Khanate was a Turko-Mongol khanate that comprised the lands ruled by Chagatai Khan , second son of the Great Khan Genghis Khan, and his descendents and successors...

 under the House of Ogedei
House of Ogedei
The House of Ogedei, sometimes called the Ogedeids were an influential family of Mongol Borjigin from the 12th to 14th centuries. They were descended from Ogedei Khan , a son of Genghis Khan who had become his father's successor, second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. Ogedei continued the...

 in 1286 from the hands of Kublai's Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

. After the decline of the Yuan Dynasty in the mid-14th century and subsequently the Chagatai Khanate in the late 14th century, Aksu fell under the power of Turkic and Mongol warlords.

Along with most of Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

, Aksu fell under the control of the Khojas
Khoja (Turkestan)
Khwāja or Khoja, , a Persian word literally meaning 'master', was used in Central Asia as a title of the descendants of the famous Central Asian Naqshbandi Sufi teacher, Ahmad Kasani . The most powerful religious figure in the late Timurid era was the Naqshbandi Shaykh Khoja Ahrar...

, and later that of Yaqub Beg, during the Dungan Rebellion of 1864-1877. Yakub Beg seized Aksu from Chinese Muslim
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 forces and forced them north of the Tien Shan mountains, committing massacres upon the Chinese Muslims (tunganis). After the defeat of the rebellion, a learned cleric named Musa Sayrami
Musa Sayrami
Mullā Mūsa Sayrāmī was a historian from Xinjiang, known for his account of the events in that region in the 19th century, in particular the Dungan Rebellion of 1864-1877...

 (1836–1917), who had occupied positions of importance in Aksu under both rebel regimes, authored Tārīkh-i amniyya (History of Peace), which is considered by modern historians as one of the most important historical sources on the period.

The British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 officer Francis Younghusband
Francis Younghusband
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Edward Younghusband, KCSI, KCIE was a British Army officer, explorer, and spiritual writer...

 visited Aksu in 1887 on his overland journey from Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. He described it as being the largest town he had seen on his way from the Chinese capital, with a population of about 20,000, besides other inhabitants of the district and a garrison of about 2,000 soldiers. "There were large bazaars and several inns—some for travellers, others for merchants wishing to make a prolonged stay to sell goods."

The Battle of Aksu
Battle of Aksu
The Battle of Aksu was a minor battle when Chinese Muslim troops were driven out from the Aksu oases of Xinjiang by Uighurs when they rebelled. Isma'il Beg, a uighur, became the rebel Tao-yin of Aksu....

 occurred here on May 31, 1933. Isma'il Beg
Isma'il Beg
Isma'il Beg , was a uighur who dislodged Ma Zhancang's Chinese Muslim troops from Aksu on May 31, 1933. He was then appointed Tao-yin of Aksu. He was a supporter of the Khotan Emirs Abdullah Bughra and his brothers.-References:...

, a Uighur, became the rebel Tao-yin of Aksu. Aksu was the site of the a bombing in 2010
2010 Aksu bombing
The 2010 Aksu bombing was a bombing in Aksu, Xinjiang, People's Republic of China that resulted in at least seven deaths and fourteen injuries when a Uyghur man detonated explosives in a crowd of police and paramilitary guards at about 10:30 on 19 August, using a three-wheeled vehicle. The...

.

Climate



Neighbours


The kingdom bordered Kashgar
Kashgar
Kashgar or Kashi is an oasis city with approximately 350,000 residents in the western part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Kashgar is the administrative centre of Kashgar Prefecture which has an area of 162,000 km² and a population of approximately...

 to the south-west, and Kucha
Kucha
Kuchaor Kuche Uyghur , Chinese Simplified: 库车; Traditional: 庫車; pinyin Kùchē; also romanized as Qiuzi, Qiuci, Chiu-tzu, Kiu-che, Kuei-tzu from the traditional Chinese forms 屈支 屈茨; 龜玆; 龟兹, 丘玆, also Po ; Sanskrit: Kueina, Standard Tibetan: Kutsahiyui was an ancient Buddhist kingdom...

, Karasahr
Karasahr
Yanqi , or Karasahr , is an ancient town on the Silk Road and capital of Yanqi Hui Autonomous County in the Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang, in northwestern China...

 then Turpan to the east. Across the desert to the south was Khotan
Khotan
Hotan , or Hetian , also spelled Khotan, is the seat of the Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang, China. It was previously known in Chinese as 于窴/於窴 and to 19th-century European explorers as Ilchi....

.

Literary sources

  • The Chinese
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

     History of the Western Han
    Book of Han
    The Book of Han, Hanshu or History of the Former Han Dynasty |Fan Ye]] . Various scholars have estimated that the earliest material covered in the book dates back to between 206 and 202 BCE...

    records some information about the kingdom.
  • Either the Old Book of Tang or the New Book of Tang
    New Book of Tang
    The New Book of Tang , is a classic work of history about the Tang Dynasty edited by Ouyang Xiu and Song Qi and other official scholars of the Song Dynasty. The emperor called for a revision of the former Book of Tang in 1044. The New Book was presented to the throne in 1060. It was given its...

     records Xuanzang
    Xuanzang
    Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

    's information and a little extra.

Further reading

  • Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.
  • Puri, B. N. Buddhism in Central Asia, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, 1987. (2000 reprint).
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1907. Ancient Khotan: Detailed report of archaeological explorations in Chinese Turkestan, 2 vols. Clarendon Press. Oxford. http://dsr.nii.ac.jp/toyobunko/
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1921. Serindia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China, 5 vols. London & Oxford. Clarendon Press. Reprint: Delhi. Motilal Banarsidass. 1980. http://dsr.nii.ac.jp/toyobunko/
  • Yu, Taishan. 2004. A History of the Relationships between the Western and Eastern Han, Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties and the Western Regions. Sino-Platonic Papers No. 131 March, 2004. Dept. of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania.

External links

  • Silk Road Seattle (The Silk Road Seattle website contains many useful resources including a number of full-text historical works)