Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/197

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179

ORIGIN OF NAME.

179

Toso-nor, it is defined on the west by the course of the Nomokhun-gol, which flows from its southern foot, sweeps round the western end and enters the Tsaidam plain, where it joins the Baian-gol.[1] The Burkhan Buddha is, therefore, a distinct range, more particularly on the north, where it rises boldly from the perfectly level plains of Tsaidam; it has no very conspicuous peaks, but extends in one unbroken chain.

The Mongol tradition regarding the origin of the name 'Burkhan Buddha,'[2] dates several hundred years back, when a certain gigen happened to be returning to Mongolia from Tibet, and, after encountering all the horrors of the Tibetan deserts, descended in safety to the warmer plains of Tsaidam; desirous of showing his gratitude to the Divine Being, he named after Buddha himself that range which, like a giant watchman, keeps guard over the adjacent cold and sterile highlands. These mountains are indeed a distinguishing physical feature of this region. To the south of them the elevation is from 13,000 to 15,000 feet[3] the whole way to the head waters of

    but is well wooded. Lake Toso-nor is narrow, but about forty miles, or two days' journey, in length. The Baian-gol flows out of it.

  1. The Nomokhun-gol flows from the Shuga mountains in a narrow channel; at its confluence with the Baian-gol the Mongols say there are some old ruins, formerly occupied by Chinese troops.
  2. This name means ​'god Buddha.' [Since Burkhan is a word commonly used by the Mongols as the synonym of 'Buddha,' it is probable that the name as given by Huc is more correct, viz. Burkhan Bota, which that traveller interprets as 'Buddha's Kitchen,' connecting the name with the supposed mephitic gases which he speaks of there, ii. 212. — Y.]
  3. With the exception of the narrow gorge of Nomokhun-gol, which intersects the plateau.