Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/419

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at the British Museum are of great beauty, and are said to reveal Greek influence, being probably connected with the "Græco-Buddhist" art of India.

More recently, during 1906, Dr. Stein has made some further discoveries, and has found some excellently preserved large rolls of a Buddhistic work in Chinese, having on the covers what evidently is its translation into the "unknown" language of old Khotan. It is hoped that this may furnish the long-desired clue for the decipherment of this "unknown" language.

Zungaria, situated to the north of the Tien-shan, receives its name from the Zungars, who were a branch of the Kalmuks or Western Mongols. This tribe, early in the eighteenth century, rose to great power, their sovereign commanding as many as a million armed warriors. After three successive attacks, his army captured and sacked Lhasa in 1717, but they were finally overthrown and annihilated by the Chinese in 1757, a million persons, men, women, and children, having been put to the sword.

As has been mentioned above, the natural lines of communication between China and Europe run through the three depressions to the west of Zungaria; and Reclus, in his Standard Geography, says: "The future continental railway from Calais to Shanghai may be said to be already traced by the hand of nature through Zungaria, Kansu, Liangchow Fu to the Hwang-ho basin. Hence the importance attached by Russia to the approaches of this route, which they secured before consenting to restore the Kuldja district occupied by them during the Dungan insurrection."

Kuldja, which is wedged into the heart of the Central Tien-shan, is regarded by many as by far the richest land in the Chinese Empire, outside the limits of China proper. This country has also suffered from wars and massacres, the records of which are almost incredible. In the great rising of the Dungans (the native Mohammedans) and