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Historical Dzungaria

Ethnically and historically the name is now a thing of the past; but, although the people has died out, "Dzungaria" remained as a definite expression for an important geographical division of Asia. Dzungaria has been for all time a debatable land, the common battle-ground of rival peoples and conflicting creeds, a veritable cock-pit of Inner Asia. This strange land is situated midway between China and Siberia, on the boundaries of two great Empires, yet sufficiently far away from the center of each to have avoided until the late 19th Century being caught up in the net of empire. She is not rich enough to tempt a permanent colonization by either people, she is too far away for either to hold securely. Yet, lying on the high road to everywhere in Asia, every one passes this way; but only passes, for nothing seems to remain permanently in Dzungaria. The geographical features of the region have been fatal to permanence. She has been a thoroughfare for migrating peoples, the abiding-place of none ; her conquerors have been destroyers not constructors.

Situated, moreover, on the threshold of the Moslem and Buddhist worlds, in a region which has been the camping-ground of all the wild tribes which have, at different periods, overrun Asia, Dzungaria has inevitably been the prey of each recurring wave of migration which has broken across its boundless steppes. She has been the scene of wars and massacres,the victim of the wildest vicissitudes, on a scale such as only Asia can produce. She was invaded by the Huns and overrun by the Mongols long before the Dzungars, suddenly rising to eminence, first set up a kingdom. While they, too, after overrunning wide areas of Asia, suddenly collapsed and left nothing but a name.

Landmarks in the history of Dzungaria are difficult to discern at so great a distance ; in fact, they are entirely lost to view if we look back beyond the ninth century A.d. Before that date all Inner Asia was the play-ground or battle-field of numerous unsettled, roaming bands of nomads, about whom we know very little. During the first three dynasties of China (until 249 B.C.) her western borders were not in relation with the Empire. At the commencement of the ifcm. Dynasty the spirit of con- A) Aav quest resulted in the incorporation of Kansu as a province, but no notice appears to have been taken of the far western regions, such as Turkestan and Dzungaria, nor is there any mention of them in the Imperial Annals, before the reign of Chien-lung in the eighteenth century.

Between the second century B.C. and the fifth century A.d. one particular tribethe Hunscaused great changes and upheavals in Inner Asia. Emerging from the depths of Manchuria, they harried the marches of China and wandered across into Dzungaria on their way to Europe. This great human flood, however, left no trace behind it, and we have to wait until the ninth century A.d. before we find any part of Dzungaria actually occupying a position of importance. At that period the Uigurs, being driven out by pestilence, famine, and Kirghiz invaders from their home in Mongolia, migrated to Southern Dzungaria, and set up their second kingdom on the slopes of the Tian Shan mountains, with their capital at Bishbalikthe site of the present Urumchi.

The Uigur Kingdom embraced but a small portion of Dzungarianamely, the southern borders, at the foot of the Tian Shana district which corresponds precisely to the present-day colonies of Chinese and Dungans. This district was, in fact, the only portion offering facilities to an agricultural people, Dzungaria being divided into two zones, the northern portion for nomads and the southern for agriculturists. The remainder of the Uigur Kingdom was composed of the rich oases of Chinese Turkestan, on the southern side of the Tian Shan. At this particular period Turki nomadic tribes, such as the Naimans, held the northern portion of Dzungaria, and the Kirei were resident in the Altai.

This state of affairs continued until the early part of the twelfth century, when another immigration of strangers occurred. In 1123 (according to Sir Henry Howorth) a prince of the Kitan, or Liao Dynasty, emigrated from China with a small band of followers. Gathering, on his way through Shensi, a considerable number of Turki adventurers, he travelled across the confines of China to the " land of Kirghises," and settled in Northern Dzungaria, where he built a town on the banks of the " Imil" (Emil). The result was the origin of the kingdom of the Kara-Kitai, who extended their power until they embraced not only all Dzungaria, but also Chinese and Russian Turkestan. The KaraKitai became the suzerains of the Uigurs and all the smaller nomadic peoples, until the Mongol avalanche was set in motion and eventually destroyed them.

Early in the thirteenth century the Mongols arose, and, sweeping all Inner Asia, entirely altered the map of racial-distribution. The Mongols were destroyers, not organizers, in consequence of which all permanent conditions in Dzungaria disappeared; but, since Northern Dzungaria formed the high-road between the extremities of the Mongol Empire, it played an important part, and the encampment of some great chieftain was always to be found in the Emil Valley. After the death of Jenghis Khan, Dzungaria fell to the lot of his third son, Oktai; or Ogodai, who also held Mongolia Propel ; it seems, however, to have been a bone of contention between Oktai and his brother Chagatai, who ruled over the Middle Kingdom of Turkestan and Afghanistan, and was generally in a state of unrest. Later, in 1254, the Emil district of Northern Dzungaria formed the headquarters of Kuyuk Khan, grandson of Jenghis.

As the power of the Mongols decreased, China regained her influence, and constant fighting took place along the Chinese-Mongol borders, until, in the middle of the fifteenth century, she finally threw off the Mongol yoke. Then Mongolia and Dzungaria lapsed into intrigues and quarrels between themselves, and nothing of note is recorded until the end of the seventeenth century, when movements of great importance again took place in Dzungaria.

The Eleuths are generally styled Kalmuks, a name which has stood for all branches of Western Mongol tribes, but has in itself no specific meaning. "Kalmuk" is not a Mongol word, but it seems to have been in use amongst the Turks for a very long period. Some writers claim that the word means "remnant," i.e. the broken branches of the great Mongol people who were left, as it were, as the Mongol flood receded from the west; while others suggest that "Kalmuk" is only a corruption of "Kalpak," i.e. "fur cap," a name in use among Mohammedan Turks for all Mongol tribes.

A section of the Western Mongols, named after their leader, Eliutei, or Eleuth, had been slowly gaining power in these regions, until in 1690, under their Khan Galdan, they conquered Samarkand, Bokhara, and Yarkand the great cities of Turkestan. On the death of Galdan, his nephew Rabdan, who was chief of a small branch of the Eleuths named Songares or Dzungars, succeeded to the possessions of his uncle. He established a firm hold over all his subjects, and gave the name of his own tribe to his entire kingdom; hence the origin of the name Dzungaria. Here arose, for the first time, a power whose headquarters were in this hitherto nameless portion of Inner Asia.

Rabdan must have been a man of remarkable ability. He is said to have hindered the Russian advance into Turkestan, and to have reduced the kingdom of Hami. He warred with China and invaded Tibet, where he contented himself with looting the monasteries. Eventually the Chinese drove the Dzungars out of Tibet, and retook Hami on behalf of its Khan,who remained vassal to them,while the Dzungars were pushed back into their own Dzungaria.

Then followed a short period when the Chinese stood aside and allowed anarchy to prevail amongst the tribes on the far western confines of her dominion. Rabdan, Khan of the Dzungar Empire, died, and his son continued a similar course of war and quarrel. All authority was lost on account of continual intrigue and assassination, many of the inhabitants fled from the country, including the Torguts, who migrated en masse into Russian territory, and the Empire gradually fell to pieces. Finally the leadership passed to an adventurer, Amursana, who played his cards first for the Dzungars, and then for the Chinese.

The whole range of country between the parallels of 37 and 44 of north latitude and of 72 and 93 of east longitude was held by the Eleuths from 1683 to 1758, when it was conquered by the Chinese in the reign of the Emperor Kien-lung. It was then called the "country of the new frontier," and it was later administratively distinguished from Dzungaria as the country to the south of the Thian Shan line of frontier or "Nan-lu," a Peh-lu" or northern line being similarly drawn along the northern bases of the same mountain chain in Dzungaria.

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