Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/397

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

From a line about 150 miles to the north, and parallel with the Tsangpo, stretches the vast northern plain or Chang-Tang, which extends to the foot of the Kuen-luen range, the southernmost fringe of which is peopled by nomads, dwelling in black tents. The remainder of this plain is at too great an elevation (from 15,000 to 16,000 feet) for man to live or procure food, and is occupied by vast herds of wild animals—antelopes, wild asses, bears, foxes, hares, wild sheep, and great herds of wild yak. The last-mentioned animal is to the Tibetan quite indispensable. Its milk, rich in cream, supplies quantities of butter; its long hair, of a peculiarly tough nature, is made into tents which are used by the nomads, and into sacks for the farmers. Further, the animal is constantly requisitioned as a beast of burden, it being sure-footed and unwearying, although carrying loads of two hundredweight along dangerous paths and over narrow rocky passes. The tea from China is carried by them in large caravans, both to Lhasa and all over Tibet. Game is plentiful on the upland pastures, there being hares, wild turkeys, partridges, pheasants, and tragopan, etc.

The political divisions of Tibet are three: Ngari on the west; Tsang and Wei (or sometimes the two combined, Utsang), the central province, and containing the chief population of the country, including Lhasa, Shigatze, and Gyangtse; and the whole of Eastern Tibet from long. 92" to the Chinese border, and roughly below lat. 34°, occupied by the province of Kham.

North-west of Kham, around the lake of the same name, is the province of Kokonor, inhabited partly by Mongols, under eighteen chiefs, and partly by Tibetan nomads in black tents; all of whom are governed by the Viceroy residing at Sining in Kansu. Included under this jurisdiction is Amdo, a name given to the Tibetan peopled parts of Western Kansu, China. These Tibetans are peculiarly fine and intellectual. In these districts are many monasteries, several of which are of great reputation, such as Kumbum, Lhabrang, and others. Ngari, with a part of