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ON THE AMAZONS OF CENTRAL ASIA.
BY M. J. KLAPROTH.
WE have heard of the Amazons placed by the ancients to the north of Caucasus, and upon the banks of the Thermodou in Asia Minor; but it has not been hitherto known that there formerly existed a peculiar state in Central Asia governed by women. The following is the account given by Chinese historians, of the period of the dynasties Suy and Tang, respecting these Gynaikocratumenoi.
The eastern country of females is called Su-fa-la-neu-ko-chu-lo: it is inhabited by a tribe of Kheangs, or Tibetans. Upon the borders of the Western Sea (the Caspian) there are also women who rule; wherefore the former country is called, by way of distinction, the eastern country of females. In the east, it adjoins Too-fang, Tang-heang, and the city of Mow-chow, in Szechuen; westward it is bounded by San-puh-ho; northward by Yu-tien, or Khoten; to the south-east it has the tribes of the Lo-neu of Ya-chow; and on the frontier of the Chinese province of Sze-chuen, those of the barba rians, Pe-long. Its extent is nine days' journey from east to west; and twenty from south to north. It contains nineteen cities. A woman governs it. She resides on a steep rock near the banks of the Khang-yan-chuen. This country is encompassed, on its four sides, by the Jo-shuy,† or feeble water, which flows towards the south, and which is crossed by means of barks made of skins sewed together. Its population consists of 40,000 families, and 10,000 troops, composed of picked men. The title of honour belonging to the queen is Peen-tseu; the mandarins are called Kaou-pa-le, which means minister. The mandarins of the exterior are all males, and bear the title of Ho. The female mandarins of the interior transmit orders to the former, who carry them into execution. The queen is surrounded by some hundreds of women. Every five days she holds a court of justice. At her death, many thousand pieces of gold are distributed amongst her relations. A handsome woman is then chosen and raised to royal dignity. There is also an underqueen, who is destined to succeed the superior when the latter dies. Upon the death of a woman, her daughter-in-law inherits the property. In this country, theft and rapine are never heard of. The houses are of several stories; the queen's palace has nine, and the habitations of her subjects six. The queen wears a tunic and petticoats of greenish coloured stuff, worked or stitched with wool, and a long robe of the same colour, the sleeves of which touch the ground. In winter she dresses in a sheep-skin pelisse, with ornaments richly embroidered. She fastens her hair on the top of her head, and wears carrings and laced buskins. In this country men are of very small account; women alone are esteemed; so that men adopt the family name of their mothers.
The country is cold; it produces wheat, and the natives rear horses and sheep; gold is likewise found there. The manners and customs of the inhabitants are the same as in India. The eleventh moon is the period for their grand magical ceremonies; on the tenth, the inhabitants proceed to the
• Magasin Asiatique, tom. i, no. ii, p. 230.
The Jo-shuy is a river celebrated in Chinese antiquity: it is often used as a general name for all the rivers of eastern Tibet which flow towards the south. It is more particularly applied to the upper part of the Ya-lung, or Ya-lu-keang; and then the Jo-shuy is regarded as one of the sources of the great Keang.
mountains for the purpose of offering up there stuffs, lees of wine, and wheat; upon that occasion they call upon the birds that fly about in flocks; if they stop, like fowls, on a sudden, the inhabitants expect that the year will be productive in corn; whereas, if the birds do not come, it is an indication of a bad harvest. They call this "Divination by birds."
Under the dynasty of Suy (in 586), an embassy arrived from this country, bringing tribute. Under that of Tang (between 618 and 626), the queen, named Tang-p’hang, sent a similar embassy. Towards the year 638, another came to the emperor Tae-tsung, who granted the queen a seal and the dignity of Wei-fou. About 657, an ambassador, named Kaou-pa-li-wan, and San-lu, the queen's son, were presented at court. The latter was made commander of the guard at one of the gates of the palace. The queen Leen-pe sent to request a title of honour for herself. The empress Woo-how conferred upon her that of general of the exterior on the left of the fort Ya-kean-wei. She was presented with a violet-coloured robe, richly embroidered.
In 693, and between 713 and 741, the queen and her son came in person to the court; she received, as well as her husband, a title of honour. After this period, there were also kings who reigned in this country. In 793, the king (or queen) Tang-le-se and the prince of Pe-k'how submitted, and their country, which was to the south of Keang-chow, in Sze-chuen, was incorporated with the empire. These, however, appear to have been the chiefs of certain Tibetan hordes, or the oriental relics of the ancient kingdom of women.
Chinese authors speak besides of a western kingdom of females. They place it westward of the mountains Tsung-ling, and state that its manners and customs were similar to that in the east. They add, that it was inhabited by women only; that it produced precious commodities; and that it formed a part of the Fu-leen, or Roman empire, the prince of which, when advanced in age, commanded one of his sons to set out in order to marry the queen. If a son had been born from this union, he would not have succeeded his mother. This country sent no embassy to China before the year 634.
The tradition respecting these western Amazons seems to refer to those which the ancient authors placed in Caucasus. It has probably reached the Chinese from the west; but the details which the latter have given us concerning the important kingdom, situated in the northern part of Tibet, is highly deserving of attention. It extended, we perceive, from the north-western frontier of the province of Sze-chuen to the south of Khoten, with a very considerable breadth.
It is curious to trace in the books of the Hindus indications of the existence of this state governed by women. According to the history of Cashmir, translated from the Sanscrit by Mr. H. Wilson, the great king Lalitaditya, who reigned in the early part of the eighth century, effected the conquest of India, as far as the island of Lanka, or Ceylon. After making war in Persia, he turned his arms against the Bhotta, or Tibetans; took the city of Prajotish, which is thought to be Gohati, in Assam, and from thence marched against the Stri Rajyá, or kingdom of women: but the queen and her subjects triumphed, by their charms, over the Cashmirean monarch and his soldiers.
In the fourth book of the Rámáyana, which contains a description of the whole earth, according to the notions of the Hindus, mention is made of
or a kingdom of women: but this work places it to the south
of the Panchananda, or Punjab; after which comes Cashmir.
It is still more remarkable, that in the Chinese account, the name of the country, Su-fa-la-neu-ko-chu-lo, is altogether Sanscrit ; namely, M T ñat, Subha rájní góchara, that is, country of the beautiful
title of the ministers, kaou-pa-le, is Sanscrit likewise,
usa, gópála, and
signifies properly a pastor, and also a prince or king, in short, whosoever directs a people.
Subsequently to the Tang dynasty, there is no further mention of the kingdom of women in Tibet. Only in the history of the Mongol dynasty of Yuen we find the following passage, which has a reference to this subject: "The kingdom of women is to the south of the mountains Tsung-ling; this kingdom is governed by queens only; there is, besides, another princess of less note, who takes a part in the administration. The people in that country are devoted to the service of the genii A-seaou-lo. This kingdom has sent tribute only to the Suys and the Tangs." In this passage, again, we recognize in the genii A-seaou-lo, the assūra, or demons of the Hindus.
What I have here stated appears to me calculated to throw a new light upon the discovery of M. Abel Rémusat, who was the first to reveal in Europe the Hindu colonies anciently established in Central Asia, and which now no longer exist.
EAST-INDIA COMPANY'S MARINE.
To the Editor of the Asiatic Journal.
SIR: I would suggest, with reference to Col. Macdonald's paper on the Education of Cadets (vide page 664, Journal of December 1825), that the benefit proposed, of preparatory education previous to going to India, should be extended to young men intended for the Company's marine, a service in which the situation and circumstances of its officers, particularly the younger branches, are not sufficiently attended to. Young men going into the marine are placed in immediate active service on their first arrival in India; hence the importance of a previous knowledge of their duty and of the oriental languages is the more obvious. Our line of coast is daily becoming more extensive; their's is a branch of our Indian force which must consequently increase; for the British navy can never perform, but in a partial manner, the duties required of the Bombay marine: since the advantages expected from it depend on an acquaintance with the country, customs, temper, and manners of the inhabitants, and a degree of local knowledge which is to be acquired only by a life actually passed in India, and by a proficiency in the Hindoostanee language.
C. W. ELWOOD.
P.S.-If any apology be necessary for the above article proceeding from the pen of a military man, I have to state, that during the twelve years I was situated at the port of Porcbunder, the greater part of the time as agent to Government, vessels of the Company's marine were frequently placed under my orders; hence affording occasion for the observations I have made on that useful branch of our Indian armament.
C. W. E.
GEOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF NEW SOUTH WALES.
(From the Australian, a Sydney Newspaper.)
We have at this age of our colony acquired a more detailed and precise acquaintance with the sinuous outline of the extensive and variously modified coasts of Terra Australis, than the cold broad sketch of its eastern shore, as left us by Cook, or the more ancient, rude, and unconnected definitions of its western coasts by Vlaming or Dampier, could possibly furnish: the labours of late years of a Flinders in completing the minutia and detail of geographical science, and more recently those of King, in the equinoctial portions of our continent, having pointed out to us the many amply sheltered recesses of those shores, and their degrees of eligibility for the establishment of dependant intra-tropical settlements.
Comparatively small, however, have been our advances towards the acquirement of some just ideas of the physical, internal structure of this "great south land"—the peculiar formation of those portions of our interior to which the limited researches of Mr. Oxley have been extended, and the consequent absence of navigable rivers-those important aids to extensive inland penetration, seeming to have set a bound, westerly, to our geographical inquiries of the country whose eastern shores we inhabit, and to have circumscribed our interior view (some years past extended over a variously characterized surface, not exceeding 450 geographical miles in breadth) to the longitude of 144° E., about which meridian our surveyor-general had penetrated, in nearly the parallel of our colony, so long back as 1817. In contemplating that physical defect, the non-existence of internal navigable streams, it may be observed as a singular fact, formerly remarked by Mr. Oxley, and since confirmed by others, that all the highlands of this southern continent are on, or at no great distance from, its shores; the more elevated ranges appearing to occupy its eastern coast, which they either immediately invest, or are to be observed inland, at a distance not exceeding 100 miles, lying generally north and south. These meridional ranges of mountainous land, parts of whose extreme elevation above the sea have been estimated at 6,000 feet, give rise to, and determine the courses of, the several streams that water and fertilize our expanding colony; those that fall on their eastern side, after a brief existence, being discharged on the coast we inhabit, whilst those that descend in an opposite direction, meander over some extent of declining country to the westward, until having fallen to a seemingly internal level, the velocity of current acquired in their course becomes arrested, and an extensive dispersion of these waters appears to take place. Although our present limited knowledge does not fully warrant the assertion, that thus terminate our internal waters, there are nevertheless grounds for such an apprehension; no high lands having been perceived to the westward of the eastern verge of the marshes, and no river having been yet discovered disemboguing itself on our eastern or southern coasts, whose general character in the examination has shewn an indication of distant origin in a communication with our interior swamps, the recently discovered Brisbane river perhaps excepted, which, however, can the more readily be supposed to be their eastern outlet to the sea, upon the admission that the eastern country, between the parallels of 27° and 31° S., and easterly about to the meridian of 150°, is one continuous bog; an extent of country too considerable to be thus characterized, in the existing absence of that proof which is alone to be derived from an examina
tion. From the observations, however, that were made during the progress of the important expeditions of Mr. Oxley in 1817 and 1818, we may gather, that a vast undefined portion of our interior regions is an inhospitable level, in part subjected to continual inundation by the several waters that thereto flow from our Blue Mountain ranges; and thence are led to the conclusion, that not only the several western streams that were formerly intersected, and in part traced by our indefatigable surveyor-general, but also those of very recent discovery by Messrs. Hovell and Hume, in the parallels of 36° and 37° S., which are stated to flow from eastern snow-capped mountains, towards the west and north-west, and which were at their discovery respectively named "Hume's," "Ovens'," and "Goulburn's Rivers," meet one common fate,* namely, that of being dissipated over an uninterrupted plain of internal region; there being no opening on the south coast, that we know of, by which the three distinct streams that have been announced to us by those persevering south-western travellers can possibly make their escape to the sea.
If then an impassable morass occupies tracts yet undefined of our interior, forbidding all penetration westerly beyond the meridian, to which penetration has already been effected, our future journeys of discovery will doubtless be extended in a northerly direction. Thus a tour undertaken nearly on the meridian of 150° E. north to the latitude of 27° S., would prove most interesting to geographical science, and highly important to a grazing community in our colony, daily on the increase. To the one, the definition and extent, northerly, of the great marshes above adverted to; the identity of any northern or north-eastern outlet from them and the Brisbane; the origin of this latter stream, and the ascertaining how far it is entitled to be considered other than a coast-water; and the general structure of the interjacent country; -whilst to the other, such a journey would prove a solid gain, by the disclosure of the extent of undulated grazing lands, which, from the elevated character of the country easterly of the above meridian to the coast-line, may be reasonably inferred to exist, north from Liverpool Plains to the confines of the country west from the shores of Moreton Bay.
The existence of that spirit of interior geographical inquiry which had, some seven or eight years elapsed, manifested itself, appears to have met with no small check when the keen edge of curiosity was taken off by the fatal, premature terminations of those, then recently discovered, promising western streams, the Lachlan and Macquarie rivers; which, by a wished-for mutual confluence, were to have furnished an increase of magnitude sufficient to have formed a deep-groved channel through a vast depressed surface of our continent to an embouchure on the south coast, west of the meridian of 140° E. With the exception of the late excursion to Western Port, on the south coast, no journey of any magnitude has been undertaken since those above referred to; nevertheless, certain enterprizing individuals, whom leisure and circumstance have favoured, have at various periods proceeded on minor tours, wherein they have intersected previously untrodden tracts, that widely separate certain distinctly-defined portions of our colony; determining, in their perambulations, the value and capabilities of the interjacent country they had traversed,
* It may tend not a little to strengthen the inference drawn of the presumed terminations of those lately detected western waters by observing, that the point at which the Hume River was intersected in November last (1824) by its discoverers, does not exceed in distance 200 geographical miles from those very extensive internal marshes that receive the waters of the Lachlan, which, bearing from their line of route, N.W., is the exact direction in which this principal stream of their journey (the Hume) was observed by them to flow.