1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Issyk-Kul
ISSYK-KUL, also called Tuz-Kul, and by the Mongols Temurtu-nor, a lake of Central Asia, lying in a deep basin (5400 ft. above sea-level), between the Kunghei Ala-tau and the Terskei Ala-tau, westward continuations of the Tian-shan mountains, and extending from 76° 10′ to 78° 20′ E. The length from W.S.W. to E.N.E. is 115 m. and the breadth 38 m., the area being estimated at 2230 sq. m. The name is Kirghiz for “warm lake,” and, like the Chinese synonym She-hai, has reference to the fact that the lake is never entirely frozen over. On the south the Terskei Ala-tau do not come down so close to the shore as the mountains on the north, but leave a strip 5 to 13 m. broad. The margins of the lake are overgrown with reeds. The water is brackish. Fish are remarkably abundant, the principal species being carp.
It was by the route beside this lake that the tribes (e.g. Yue-chi) driven from China by the Huns found their way into the Aralo-Caspian basin in the end of the 2nd century. The Ussuns or Uzuns settled on the lake and built the town of Chi-gu, which still existed in the 5th century. It is to Hsüan-tsang, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim, that we are indebted for the first account of Issyk-kul based on personal observation. In the beginning of the 14th century Nestorian Christians reached the lake and founded a monastery on the northern shore, indicated on the Catalan map of 1374. It was not till 1856 that the Russians made acquaintance with the district.