AND EXPLORATION OF
Jack A. Dabbs
Mouton & Co
The Hague - 1963
This very interesting book contains a
comprehensive summary of the activities of visitors to Chinese Turkestan - that
is Sin-kiang - (mostly Europeans but also some Chinese and Japanese) from
ancient times to the 1960's. The author has provided detailed footnotes, an
excellent bibliography and index. He includes four maps each with the routes of
various travelers clearly marked. But Stein's and Hedin's routes are not
included. Thus the author places Aurel Stein's three explorations into a larger
context. It also explains why Stein emphasizes so frequently that he is
exploring virgin territory. The individuals and groups described include not
only explorers and archeologists but also tourists, merchants, hunters and
pilgrims. At the height of Western interest is seems as if Kashgar was a kind
of 'Grand Central Station' with visitors passing through in every direction and
for a host of different reasons. To this reader unfamiliar with the events and
personalities described the quantity of activity and number of participants is
amazing. The value of the book for students of Stein's activities is that it
shows there was much more European exploration in the same areas that Stein
does not mention. Although he does give credit to those precursors whose maps
and itineraries he uses. The detailed descriptions of the scientific
exploration parties indicates the significant difference between those of other
teams and Stein's methods. Most of the others (apart from Sven Hedin) were very
large, consisting of many different European specialists who were then able to
conduct varied activities simultaneously. But Stein always took now other
scientists, and no Europeans, in his parties, only Indians and various Turkis.
But he collected materials relating to the full spectrum of scientific interest
and then parceled them out to the relevant specialists back in Europe.
In the Forward the author states his purpose - a study of the development of
geographical knowledge of Chinese Turkestan. It is this broad objective that
enables the author to include the sometimes casual comments by purely amateur
tourists out for adventure when such remarks did add something to an otherwise
very obscure and for Europeans unknown region. At the same time he can exclude
topics such as linguistics and ethnology. He includes some aspects of
archeology as it was a critical component of the explorations of Stein and some
of his contemporaries. The subject region includes not only the Taklamakan and
entire Tarim Basin with its surrounding mountains, but also Chuguchak and
Dzungaria which are north of the T'ien-Shan mountains. It does not include much
on Tibet. The author mentions the various names given to this area in past
centuries, such as Chinese Tartary. He notes that the term Central Asia
includes a much wider area and Turkestan alone includes the republics between
the Caspian and Pamirs.
Chapter I - "Travel in Chinese Turkestan from Ancient
Times to 1800"
This chapter contains an overview in 18 pages of those travelers whose accounts
have remained available or at least have been mentioned by other sources. These
obviously are only a small fraction of the whole Dabbs notes that there was
some (stressing some) knowledge of the region among educated Greeks and Romans.
He writes that Alexander the Great gained control of Kashgar for a time, an
assertion I have never seen previously (although he footnotes it from Baker and
Sykes). He states that the Chinese Emperor Mu-Wang is the first individual
specifically named as a visitor circa 985-980 B.C. The next mention is the
Chinese embassy of 148 - 126 B.C. Dabbs discusses the routes through Turkestan
of the Silk Road. He mentions the military campaigns of general Pan Chao, a
favorite topic of Aurel Stein.
Dabbs devotes more attention to the Chinese Buddhist monk and pilgrim,
Hsuan-Tsang (629 - 645 A.D.) among a list of other travelers. This individual
Stein termed his 'patron saint' whose travel account Stein was determined to
successfully prove accurate and whose memoir he carried faithfully to show each
Chinese magistrate his own bonifide scientific interests. Dabbs next mentions
the Nestorian Christians and Manichaeans as evidence of Western penetration
into the region. By the mid 8th century Arab Moslems were gaining power as
Chinese control lapsed. Then the Mongol conquest changed the political map for
several centuries during which Western merchants such as the Polo's and priests
such as Plano Carpini made they way to Karakorum or Beijing. Dabbs continues
his description of European and Middle Eastern visitors, some of whom provided
additions to geographic knowledge and some did not. He then describes the
serious confrontations between China and Imperial Russia over Siberia and Far
East (not actually within Turkestan). Meanwhile, during the 18th century the
Chinese regained full control of Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin. A geographic
highlight of this period was Chinese Emperor K'anag-hsi's commission of a
survey of the empire including Turkestan and publication of a map. This was
followed by Emperor Ch'len-lung's survey of 1761. Both surveys were
accomplished by Jesuit priest scholars. Another 'mile stone' was the
publication of the Dsan-vun-si-you-Long, translated into Russian, German
and French. This included descriptions of many towns and regions in Turkistan.
Chapter II - "The reconnaissance Period: 1800 to the
Treaty of Pe-king"
After 1800 the volume of worthwhile personal accounts increased. But these were
largely descriptive of the terrain and towns. Archeology came later. Still,
Dabbs has collected a surprising number of descriptive records produced by a
large host of Europeans, especially Russians, many of whom he names with their
contributions. But he cites William Moorcroft and Friedrich Humbolt in
particular. The unrest in China itself with the Tai P'ing Rebellion enabled the
Moslems in Turkistan to stage another revolt, this one led by Yakub Beg in
1864, whom Stein mentions frequently.
Chapter III - "Reconnaissance Period: 1860 to the Treaty
The Treaty of Pe-king in 1860 between China and Russia helped settle boundary
problems and increased security somewhat. Therefor Dabbs establishes his
chronological divisions at this time and the Treaty of Livadia in 1877. This
relatively short period saw a very large increase in visitors to Turkestan. The
competition between Russia, France and Great Britain (India) was increasing.
The Russians, especially, organized large and well funded geographical
expeditions. Dabbs describes several Russian expeditions. They established a
fixed frontier boundary by which the Chinese Empire gave up to the Russians the
Khanates of Western Turkestan, Andijan, Kokand, Bokhara, Tajik, and Samarkand.
(Note that any Chinese control in these areas was purely historical). Chinese
actual control over some of the Khanates in Sinking was also limited. For
instance the Khan of Khotan sent his own envoy to India. And much of the region
was under the control of a Moslem rebellion that the Chinese were gradually
On the British side the boundary between India and China including Tibet was
the issue. Trade, also, with Chinese Turkestan via the Karakorum Pass was of
increasing interest. During this time the British in India began training
Indians in scientific survey methods. At that time the British had not yet
established control over Kashmir or the many independent tribal rulers in the
remote valleys. Dabbs mentions Captain T. G. Montgomerie in particular. Then he
discusses the trained geographer George J. W. Hayward's expedition in 1868 from
Leh to Kashgar using the Yangi and Sanju Passes and shows it on a map along
with other expedition routes. Among other results he found the sources of the
Yarkand River and the course of the Karakash River - issues that occupied
considerable attention by Stein. He also prepared maps from his surveys. Prior
to another planned trip from Kashmir he got in trouble with authorities.
Pushing on into Yasin he again got into difficulty and was killed. This
incident may account for the adamant insistence by the later ruler of Yasin
that Stein not allow anyone from Ladak or British frontier authorities to
accompany his passage through Yasin ( as Stein describes). The next Englishman
in Dabbs's list is Robert Shaw who visited Yarkand and Kashgar combining
merchant and geographic interests. Shaw reported much more favorably about
economic conditions and potentials for trade in Yarkand. Dabbs describes
another individual's, Mirza, travels from Afghanistan to Kashgar and across the
Karakorum to Leh. The Russians remained active with Baron Kaulbars visiting
Kashgar in 1872. The only successful expedition into the Tarim from the east
during this period was that of Ney Elias, who started at Pe-king in 1872
through Kan-su, Hami, Barkul to Kuldja, north of the T'ien Shan. He made many
astronomical observations along this extended route. After returning to England
to much acclaim, he was sent again, in 1884, from Ladak this time, to Kashgar.
Dabbs considers the mission of Sir Douglas Forsyth the most significant. This
large party started from Ladak in 1869. Forsyth led a second large expedition
in 1873 from Leh over the Sasser Pass to Shahidulla and then Karghalik to
Yarkand. After a stay, they moved on to Kashgar on 23 November 1873. From
Kashgar smaller teams completed surveys north into Russia and east along the
T'ien Shan. They completed more explorations during the return journey. This
expedition greatly expanded British (Indian) geographic knowledge including
mention by Forsyth of 'buried' cities in the desert. This reader is encouraged
to hunt for the descriptions of fortified Yarkand and Kashgar.
Dabbs notes that the first American to become involved was Eugene Schuyler, the
secretary at the U.S. Legation in St. Petersburg. But he only went as far as
Kuldja, well north of the T'ien-Shan.
Dabbs notes that the Russians actively supported Chinese military operations
against Yakub Beg whom the Russians had previously expelled from their part of
Turkestan. They sent another large expedition in 1875 via Pe-king. They visited
Hami and Guchen and returned with many specimens and photographs. At the same
time Przhevalski was on his third expedition through Guchen. Mushketov was
busy, also, in the Pamirs. In 1876 Kuropatkin crossed the Terek pass and went
along the northern edge of the Taklamakan to Maral-bashi, Ak-su, Kucha and
Kurla. Dabbs briefly describes many more Russian expeditions.
In 1877 Yakub Beg died. The same year the Chinese army re-conquered the entire
Tarim Basin. But at the Treaty of Livadia the Russians gained effective control
of Dzungaria and much of the T'ien Shan.
Chapter IV - "The Reconnaissance Period: 1879 to the Death
With this chapter title Dabbs indicates his view of the importance of Nikolai
Mikhailovich Przhevalski and the dominance of Russian exploration of the region
during this period. The Russians has the geographic advantage due to the
relatively easy access they had from Siberia and their part of Turkestan. Plus
they had the most powerful political position with the Chinese government. The
British had to cross the high mountains mostly via the Karakorum Pass. Plus
they were not in such good graces with the Chinese Empire due to the conflicts
along the Pacific coast. Moreover, the British had been friendly or tried to be
with Yakub Beg while the Russians actively supported the Chinese military
expedition to regain the Tarim Basin. The first Russian explorer Dabbs
describes is A. Regel, a botanist primarily interested in his speciality. He
was the first modern European to visit Turfan.
The Chinese did not accept the results of the Treaty of Livadia. With
diplomatic help from France and England they regained some areas with the
Treaty of St. Petersburg in 1881. As a result the Russians conducted another
border survey. Przhevalski conducted his 4th expedition from 1883 to 1885 from
Tibet and the Tsaidam to Lob-Nor. From 1884 to 1886 Potanin spent his third
expedition in Tibet and the Gobi region.
Arthur D. Carey, accompanied by Andrew Dalgleish, spent 2 years from 1885
traveling from Leh into Tibet and then across the Kun-lun to Keriya and Khotan.
He went down the Khotan river to the Tarim river, then to Kucha and Kara-shahr
and Korla. Finally he went along the river to Lob-Nor. the first Europeans to
do this. From Charkhlik he entered the Tsaidam trying to reach Tibet proper.
Giving this up, he returned north across the Tarim Basin back to Hami and then
went west through the oases along the T'ien-Shan - Turfan, Kara-shahr, Kucha,
Ak-su and then south to Yarkand. From there he recrossed the Kun-lun to Leh.
Dabbs states that this Carey expedition 'marks the climax of English
exploration for the century." Dabbs notes that Dalgleish contributed
greatly to the expedition by daily plots of positions and distances which
resulted in an excellent map. He returned to Yarkand . He took medicine on his
travels and administered free medical help, thus establishing something of an
expectation amongst the locals. (Another antecedent for Stein's practices.)
Unfortunately, he was murdered on the Karakorum Pass in 1888 by a Pathan. The
next English explorer Dabbs discusses is Francis Younghusband who traveled from
Pe-king in 1886 through Hami and then south of the T'ien-shan through Turfan,
Karashahr, Ak-su to Kashgar. From there he went to Yarkand but instead of
continuing south went west and then south to Kashmir. Dabbs writes more detail
about Przhevalski's 4th expedition in 1883-85. The confrontations he had with
armed Tungut bands give some reason for the fears Stein's Chinese laborers had
about venturing into the mountains. For his 5th expedition Przhevalski
organized a larger party with a strong Cossack guard, but he died before the
party could depart. The Russian government assigned Colonel Pievtsov to lead it
instead. This expedition reached Yarkand, Khotan, Keriya and Niya (where they
spent the winter without finding the ruined town that made Stein famous. They
made repeated unsuccessful efforts to reach Tibet and finally returned north
across the T'ien-Shan and back to Russia. Other Russian expeditions also
attempted unsuccessfully to reach Tibet from Niya. Dabbs notes that the
principal objectives of these explorations were collecting geological and
biological samples and establishing mapping of the mountains and
Chapter V - "The Archeological Period: 1888 to Stein's
This clearly indicates the turning point that the author ascribes to Stein's
activities. But he begins the chapter with description of G. E. Grum
Grzhimailo's expeditions (1884-85 , 1886, and 1888-9) Dabbs lists the various
places they visited including Guchen, Turfan, Hami and Su-chou, collecting
mostly zoological specimens. But they also performed extensive mapping
including astronomical fixing. They also obtained several of the Przhevalski
Horse. This led to a frenzy to capture such horses for the circus. Dabbs'
descriptions of the many exploring groups meeting in obscure places as they
crossed paths indicates the intensity of the general activity. One of these who
crossed path with many others was Captain Bower. During his search for
Dalgleish's murder he was presented with an 'old book' which turned out to be a
5th century manuscript written in Sanskrit with Brahmi alphabet. It was a
sensation. Meanwhile the murderer was tracked west to Samarkand where he was
arrested and then committed suicide. Dabbs cites this expedition and the Bower
Manuscript as a source of Aurel Stein's interest in finding more of the same.
Dabbs then notes the Dutreuil de Rhins Expedition of 1890. After a stay at
Kashgar they also went to Niya from which they succeeded in reaching Tibet as
far as the head waters of the Yang-tze and Mekong. But Dutreuil de Rhins was
also murdered. Later, Grenard, who had been in the party, recovered some of the
valuable manuscripts they had found. These included documents as far as the 6th
and 7th centuries written in Brahmi and Kharosthi. This murder and the results
set Sven Hedin, who was in Kashgar, to investigate, leading to his extensive
and valuable explorations. Two Russian explorers (Roborovski and Kozlov) spent
1893-94 mostly in the eastern Tarim and at Su-chou They mapped the Nan-shan
including the Alexander III Range which was named by another Russian, Obruchev.
They found the "caves of the thousand Buddhas" and Lake Koko-nor.
This expedition accomplished much survey mapping, astronomical and
meteorological data. It is surprising that these experts passed through the Han
wall without rendering reports.
Dabbs then mentions several other travelers. Then he turns to Sven Hedin who
turned his attention to Turkestan in 1894. Hedin was already a well known
explorer of Iran when he arrived at Kashgar. He evidently had extensive
financial backing in order to stay in Turkestan and Tibet for years as his
leisurely agendas shows. Stein was always in a rush to accomplish as much as
possible in the periods away from his regular employment granted him by the
Indian Government. Hedin began by focusing on the Pamirs west of Kashgar. He
devoted most of a year to Kara-Kul Lake and climbed to 20,000 feet up the
famous Muztagh Ata, a feat Stein was determined to better as a priority. In
1895 Hedin began work between Kashgar and Yarkand and along the Yarkand river.
He attempted a direct crossing of the Taklamakan moving east from Marl-bashi
between the Kokand and Yarkand Rivers, which led to disaster. This was another
feat Stein attempted but turned back from before disaster occurred. Hedin
picked up fragments of documents and noted various ruins along the way but this
sort of exploration was not his primary objective. Hedin then traveled along
the Tarim River eastward to the mapped location of Lob-Nor but he found it in
another place instead. The issue of Lob-Nor became another main objective of
Stein. Hedin then traveled from Khotan into Tibet crossing the Kun-lun and
Altyn-tagh. Back into Tsaidam he had to fight Tangut bandits. It is no wonder
Stein always went well armed even though his small party would have had no
chance against a large bandit group. Finally Hedin went east to Pe-king and
then back to Europe via the Trans Siberian Railroad. He successfully mapped
6,520 miles of terrain on this journey. From this expedition he produces
popular and scientific books and gave many lectures.
Dabbs then turns to Captain H. H. Deasy, another explorer and mapper upon whom
Stein relied. Deasy started in 1896 from Leh into Tibet. He surveyed 24,000
miles on this trip. He went again in 1897 to the Taghdumbash Pamir, which he
surveyed extensively (another place Stein visited several times.) At Yarkand
Deasy began looking for ancient ruins as mentioned by Bower, but without luck.
He did survey the route east to Keriya before returning to Leh. Meanwhile
Deasy's initial companion, R. P. Cobbold split off at Kashgar and went north,
crossing the T'ien Shan to Lake Balkhash and then back across again and back to
Gilgit. In 1898 the Russian, Klementz expedition surveyed in Dzungaria and the
western Gobi, They also found the ruins at Turfan, Khara-Khoja and Toek Mazar
from which they took manuscripts and art works back to Europe.
Dabbs discusses other expeditions as well including that of two Germans, Karl
Futterer and Dr. Holderer, and of several Frenchmen.
The Russians, too, remained very active. In 1899 they sent Captain Kozlov again
with a large party from Semi-Palantinsk to Kobdo. From there they moved east to
Lan-chow and Su-chow passing the Etsin-gol River. Their principal objective was
Tibet, which they reached in 1900 and where they stayed for 9 months. They also
were beset by bandits. On the way they found the Hoang-ho and Mekong Rivers.
They returned to Russia by the route they came.
In 1899 Sven Hedin began his second expedition. Dabbs' description of his
financial backing by the Swedish King and Russian Tsar again shows the
difference between his support and that of Stein. Hedin's main objective was to
explore the course of the Tarim River to Lob-Nor (by boat to the extent
possible). He started from Yarkand in September. He spent the winter around
Lop-Nor. In March 1900 he was based at Altmish Bulak, the same spring Stein
used. Hedin was the first to find the ancient ruin that turned out to be
Lou-lan. After a brief bit of excavation he proceeded south to the Tsaidam, but
soon returned and explored around Lou-lan again. There he recovered many
Chinese documents and coins from the 4th century AD. Once again he went south
into Tibet in disguise but was turned back before reaching Lhasa. By the end of
1902 he reached Leh. From there it was back across the mountains to Kashgar and
again across more mountains to St. Petersburg. Hedin created 100 map sheets at
1:35,000 scale and had travelled 10,500 miles. Again, he produced both popular
accounts and scientific reports - a procedure followed by Stein.
Chapter VI - "The Archeological Period: 1901 to 1914"
Dabbs begins this chapter thusly: "The work of Dr. Mark Aurel Stein (later
Sir Mark) furnishes the best example of the combination of geographical and
archeological exploration during this period. Geologists, geographers,
missionaries, hunters, and naturalists had been over the ground already a
number of times, but so far no qualified archaeologist had ventured into the
area." Stein was aware of the variety of materials mentioned in the
previous chapters. Dabbs continues, "His successes more than justified his
hopes, they set off a treasure hunt that lasted for ten years and left the
desert area carefully despoiled of its secrets." Stein started out in 1900
with a small team that included the professional surveyor, Ram Singh, who had
been with Deasy. They took the usual route from Srinigar over the Kilik Pass to
Tashkurgan, Tashmalik Fort and Kashgar. Stein next went to Khotan. Here Dabbs
is mistaken in his narration. He notes correctly that Stein then attempted to
follow the Yurung Kash River to its sources in the Kun-lun Mountains. But Dabbs
writes that the effort was successful, when it was not - at least on this
expedition. Dabbs describes Stein's successful excavations at Dandan-Uilik and
then at the ruin north of Niya and on to Endere. After returning to Khotan,
Stein excavated at Rawak, another sensational discovery. Another sensation was
Stein's exposure of Islam Akhun as the perpetrator of a hoax (the 'finds' of
ancient block prints - created by himself) that had exercised the greatest
linguistic minds of Europe. (All this is delightfully described in Stein's
reports - Ancient Khotan).
Much to Stein's dismay the wide spread publication of his discoveries set off
an international race to collect more. The first team on the spot was Japanese.
They went via Kashgar and Ak-su to Kucha and the Buddhist temples close to the
T'ien Shan. In 1902 Merzbacher led another expedition into the T'ien Shan,
financed by the Russians, which Dabbs describes in detail. Their objective was
geological study of the mountains and glaciers.
The American, Ellsworth Huntington, participated in a party exploring the
Pamirs and T'ien Shan. Dabbs considers Huntington's book, "The Pulse of
Asia" to be the most popular account in America today. Huntington made
another expedition in 1905 from Leh across the Karakorum to Khotan. He noted
that desiccation was the cause of increased desert encroachment on the ancient
cities being found in the desert. He continued east around Lob-Nor then
north-west to Karashahr and Turfan. Stein frequently comments on Huntington's
views on the geography of the Taklamakan.
In 1902 the Germans sent Albert Grunwedel to conduct archeological work around
Turfan which they thoroughly exploited, taking 46 chests of artifacts back to
Berlin. A second German archeological expedition reached Turfan and Kara-Khoja
in November 1904. They spent 9 months excavating. Grunwedel returned to Turfan
in 1906 and brought back still more manuscripts and art. (When Stein reached
Turfan he complained about the heavy-handed German methods which he claimed
destroyed what they did not take.)
In 1905 Major C. D. Bruce conducted a survey from Leh to Keriya and then east
to Cherchen, Charkhlik, Kara-nor and Su-chou and then to Pe-king. Of special
interest is that Rai Lal Singh was the professional surveyor for this party.
And he later became Stein's principal surveyor for the second and third
Sven Hedin undertook a third expedition in 1906 but was mostly planned for
Tibet, but at Leh he was blocked from Tibet by the British (Indian) government
so diverted to Turkestan. However, he then went around to reach Tibet and back
The French sent Paul Pelliot in 1906 to Kashgar and then Marl-bashi, Ak-su, Bai
and Kucha. At Kucha and Karashahr they excavated the same caves already
exploited by the Germans, Russians and Japanese. Then later went to the
"caves of the Thousand Buddhas" from which Stein had already
purchased a huge volume of manuscripts. Nevertheless Pelliot managed to obtain
more. But Dabbs does not mention Pelliot's mistake of taking his treasure
through Su-chou to Pe-king where it naturally alerted the Chinese government to
what was going on.
In 1906 Stein started on his second expedition with a team of Indian surveyors
and an engineer. Dabbs narrates Stein's passage over the Lowarai Pass to
Chitral and then to the Wakhjir Pass into the Taghdumbash Pamir to Kashgar.
Dabbs devotes rather more attention to the details of this important expedition
than to most others. But the expedition is well described in Serindia so we will leave out the detail
In 1907 the Germans organized another expedition which Merzbacher eventually
led. This expedition also was focused on geological and hydrological study. In
1980 the Japanese mounted another expedition. Dabbs notes then departed Pe-king
on 16 June and reached Kashgar on 6 July, so they could not have stopped long
any where on the route. But they did visit Lou-lan and find some more
documents. They returned to Japan via the Karakorum Pass and Leh.
In 1908 Kozlov led another expedition. They set up a station at Koko-Nor in the
Nan-shan mountains. They too were met by Tanguts and had to defend themselves.
The most interesting result was the discovery of Kara-Khoto - ruined city in
the Etsin gol delta. News of this prompted Stein to make excavation there a
major objective for his third expedition.
Dabbs ends this chapter with the comment: "With the expedition of
Tachibana and the political upheaval in China the period of archaeological
discoveries and the despoiling of Chinese Turkestan of its buried art work and
manuscripts ceased. Since that time a few expeditions have found scattered
items, but the great finds apparently are no more. the artistic works are now
mostly in museums. The study and interpretation of the manuscripts, which had
started with great fervor immediately upon their discovery, continued apace,
adding immeasurably to linguistic science." - This book was published in
1963. It seems to me that a new era of exploration and publication of the
artistic heritage of the Tarim Basin began with the increasing interest in
China about its own ancient history and the opening of China itself to the
world. At least now one can find numerous museums in the major cities and
especially places like Dunhuang in which tourists are encouraged to
Chapter VII - "The Political Period: 1911 to the Present.
Dabbs notes of course the major change in Chinese attention to Sin-king after
the 1911 revolution. One of the most significant expeditions nevertheless was
that of the Italians in 1912 who mounted a very large team with the latest
scientific apparatus including geodetic and magnetic instruments. They also had
wireless apparatus necessary for establishing longitudes. They crossed the
Karakorum and went to Yarkand and Kashgar. Among other results they were able
to complete a gravimetric tie between India and Russia via Turkestan.
In 1913 Stein began his third expedition. Dabbs describes it in detail. But one
can read the whole report in Innermostasia.
The main theme of the chapter is the impact on political conditions in
Sin-kiang on travel there. The conflicts and struggles were many-sided -
Chinese government against Moslem separatists and Mongols - Chinese central
government versus local warlords - Chinese government against Russian and then
Soviet encroachments - Chinese Nationalist government versus Communists -
British versus Russians - and British versus Germans - White Russians versus
As before, the Russians (and Soviets) had the advantage from geographical
location, even more so after the extension of their railroads and roads near
the frontier. The interwar period and into World War II saw increasing use of
automobiles and trucks and improvement of caravan tracks into passable roads.
Air travel also opened new conveniences for tourists to reach Urumchi and
Russian Colonel Kozlov planned an expedition for 1914 that was canceled due to
World War I, but later returned in 1923. British Consul General at Kashgar, C.
P. Skrine, traveled throughout the area in early 1920's. Former President
Theodore Roosevelt even made an appearance, as a hunter. So did Owen Lattimore
as a student. Sven Hedin would not give up despite setbacks - in 1928 and again
in 1932-34. British Lt. Colonel R. C. F. Schomberg focused on economic
geography during visits in 1927-29 and 1930-31. Dr. Ph. Visser organized a
large expedition over the old routes from Leh to Kashgar in 1929. Khan Afraz
Gul Khan, one of Stein's surveyors, took part in this expedition. Haardt and
Audoin-Dubreuil organized an even larger double-group in 1931 with one group
advancing west from Pe-king and the other moving east from Beirut. Father
Teilhard de Chardin took part in this one. Christian missionaries were more and
more active until being curtailed by the Communists.
Dabbs describes the complex activities in Sin-king during World War II during
which there was an American military attache in Urumchi. Dabbs includes the few
visits by journalists in the 1950's.