1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chang Chun, Kiu

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CHANG CHUN, KIU (1148–1227), Chinese Taoist sage and traveller, was born in 1148. In 1219 he was invited by Jenghiz Khan, founder of the Mongol empire and greatest of Asiatic conquerors, to visit him. Jenghiz’ letter of invitation, dated the 15th of May 1219 (by present reckoning), has been preserved, and is among the curiosities of history; here the terrible warrior appears as a meek disciple of wisdom, modest and simple, almost Socratic in his self-examination, alive to many of the deepest truths of life and government. Chang Chun obeyed this summons; and leaving his home in Shantung (February 1220) journeyed first to Peking. Learning that Jenghiz had gone far west upon fresh conquests, the sage stayed the winter in Peking. In February 1221 he started again and crossed eastern Mongolia to the camp of Jenghiz’ brother Ujughen, near Lake Bör or Buyur in the upper basin of the Kerulun-Amur. Thence he travelled south-westward up the Kerulun, crossed the Karakorum region in north-central Mongolia, and so came to the Chinese Altai, probably passing near the present Uliassutai. After traversing the Altai he visited Bishbalig, answering to the modern Urumtsi, and moved along the north side of the Tian Shan range to lake Sairam, Almalig (or Kulja), and the rich valley of the Ili. We then trace him to the Chu, over this river to Talas and the Tashkent region, and over the Jaxartes (or Syr Daria) to Samarkand, where he halted for some months. Finally, through the “Iron Gates” of Termit, over the Oxus, and by way of Balkh and northern Afghanistan, Chang Chun reached Jenghiz’ camp near the Hindu Kush. Returning home he followed much the same course as on his outward route: certain deviations, however, occur, such as a visit to Kuku-khoto. He was back in Peking by the end of January 1224. From the narrative of his expedition (the Si yu ki, written by his pupil and companion Li Chi Chang) we derive some of the most faithful and vivid pictures ever drawn of nature and man between the Great Wall of China and Kabul, between the Aral and the Yellow Sea: we may particularly notice the sketches of the Mongols, and of the people of Samarkand and its neighbourhood; the account of the fertility and products of the latter region, as of the Ili valley, at or near Almalig-Kulja; and the description of various great mountain ranges, peaks and defiles, such as the Chinese Altai, the Tian Shan, Mt Bogdo-ola (?), and the Iron Gates of Termit. There is, moreover, a noteworthy reference to a land apparently identical with the uppermost valley of the Yenisei. After his return Chang Chun lived at Peking till his death on the 23rd of July 1227. By order of Jenghiz some of the former imperial garden grounds were made over to him, for the foundation of a Taoist monastery.

See E. Bretschneider, Mediaeval Researches from Eastern Asiatic Sources, vol. i. pp. 35–108, where a complete translation of the narrative is given, with a valuable commentary; C. R. Beazley Dawn of Modern Geography, iii. 539.  (C. R. B.)