Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

I. CHINESE TURKESTAN

When Jenghiz Khan died (1227) his second son, Djagatai, had the greater part of Central Asia for his share of the inheritance: his empire included not only Mávará-un-Nahr, between the Syr Daria and the Amu Daria, but also Ferghana, Badakhshan, Chinese Turkestan, as well as Khorasan at the beginning of his reign; his capital was Almaliq, in the Ili Valley, near the site of the present Kulja; in the fourteenth century the empire was divided into two parts: Mávará-un-Nahr or Transoxina, and Moghulistan or Jabah, the eastern division. In 1759 the Emperor K'ien Lung subjugated the country north and south of the T'ienshan and divided the new territory into T'ien-shan Peh-lu and T'ien-shan Nan-lu; in 1762 a military governor was appointed and a new fortified town, Hwei-yuan-ching, was erected (1764) near the site of Kulja: a number of Manchus, from Peking and the Amu, and Mongols were drawn to the new place and later on there came a migration of Chinese from the Kan-su and Shen-si Provinces. The local Mohammedan chieftains are known as Pe-k'e ( Beg ); they are classed in five degrees of rank from the third to the seventh degree of the Chinese hierarchy : the most important titles are Akim Beg (local governor), Ishkhan Beg (assistant governor), Shang Beg (collector of revenue), Hatsze Beg (judge), Mirabu Beg (superintendent of agriculture).

The bad administration of the Chinese governors was the cause of numerous rebellions; a great rising took place against the Governor of Ili, Pi Tsing; at the head was Jihanghir, son of Saddet Ali Sarimsak and grandson of one of the Khaja, Burhan ed-Din; unfortunate at first, Jihanghir was victorious in October, 1825, and captured the four great towns of T'ien-shan Nan-lu: Kashgar, Yangi-hissar, Yarkand, and Khotan. The Chinese Emperor Tao Kwang sent General Chang Ling to fight the rebels. Jihanghir was defeated and made a prisoner at Kartiekai (1828) and sent to Peking where he was put to death in a cruel manner. On the other hand, the establishment of Orenburg by the Russians, the exploration of the Syr Daria by Batiakov, the foundation of Kazalinsk (1848) near the mouth of this river, the exertions of Perovsky, the attacks of the Cossacks against the Khanate of Khokand, had for result the arrival of the Russians in the valley of the Ili River. On 25 July, 1851, Col. Kovalevski signed with the Chinese on behalf of the Russians at Kashgar a treaty regulating the trade at Ili (Kulja) and at Tarbagatai (Chugutchak). In the meantime new rebellions broke out after the death of Jihanghir: in 1846 one of the Khoja, Katti Torah, with the help of his brothers took Kashgar, but was soon defeated by the Chinese; in 1857 Wali Khan captured Kashgar, Artosh, and Yangi-hissar; and at last, the son of Jihanghir, Burzuk Khan, with the help of Mohammed Yakub, son of Ismet Ulla, born about 1820 at Pskent in the Khanate of Khokand, taking advantage of the Mohammedan rebellion of Kan-su, began a new struggle against the Chinese. Yakub, having taken Burzuk's place, subjugated Kashgar, Khotan, Aksu, and the other towns south of the T'ien-shan, thus creating a new empire; his capital was Yarkand, and there he received embassies from England in 1870 and 1873 (Sir Douglas T. Forsyth) and from Russian in 1872 (Col. Baron Kaulbars).

To check the advance of Yakub to the west, the Russians who had captured Tashkent (27 June, 1865) took possession of Ili, i.e. the north of the T'ien-shan, on 4 July, 1871. When the Chinese had quelled the Yun-nan rebellion after the surrender of Ta-li, they turned their armies against the Mohammedans of the north-west; the celebrated Tso Tsung-tang, Viceroy of Kan-su and Shen-si, had been appointed commander-in-chief; he captured Su-chau (Oct., 1873), Urumtsi, Tih-hwa, and Manas (16 Nov., 1876) when a wholesale massacre of the inhabitants took place; the Russian Governor of Turkestan, General Kauffman, wrote a protest against these cruelties. The task of the Chinese was rendered easy by the death of Yakub (29 May, 1877); Aksu (19 Oct., 1877), Yar-kand (21 Dec.), Kashgar (26 Dec.), and at last Kohtan (14 Jan., 1878) fell into their hands. The Chinese then turned to the Russians to have Ili, occupied temporarily, restored to them. Ch'ung-hou, sent as an ambassador to St. Petersburg, signed at Livadia in Oct., 1879, a treaty ceding to the Russians a large portion of the contested territory including the Muz-Art Pass, giving them the privilege of selling their goods not only at T'ien-tsin and Han-kou but also at Kalgan, Kia-yu, Tang-shan, Si-ngan, and Hanchung; permission was also granted to the Russians not only at Ili, Tarbagatai, Kashgar, and K'urun, but also at Kiayü-kwan, Kobdo, Uliasut'ai, Hami, Turfan, Urumtsi, and Kushteng. The treaty was strongly attacked by the censor, Chang Chi-tung, and Ch'ung-hou, tried by a high court, was sentenced to death. War between Russia and China very nearly broke out, but, thanks to the good offices of foreign powers, a new embassy sent to Russia with the Marquis Tseng arranged matters. A new treaty was signed at St. Petersburg, 12 (24) Feb., 1881, and Russia kept but the western part of the contested territory, restoring the pass of Muz-Art and giving up some of the commercial privileges granted by the Livadia Treaty.

After the Mohammedan rebellion had been crushed, the territory was organized in 1878 and was called Sin-Kiang or New Dominion, the names Eastern Turkestan and Chinese Turkestan being also used; it is bounded on the north by Siberia, on the west by Russian Turkestan and India, on the south by Tibet, and on the east by Mongolia and the Chinese Province of Kan-su. Its area is 550,579 square miles, with a population of 1,200,000 inhabitants scattered over this immense desert varying in altitude from 3000 to 4000 feet above the level of the sea and surrounded by mountains: in the south the Kwen-lun and its two branches, the Nan-shan and the Altyn-Tagh; in the west, the Karakoram, the Pamirs and the Trans-Altai; in the north by the T'ien-shan, north of which chain the country is called T'ien-shan Peh-lu or Sungaria, and south of it T'ien-shan Nanlu or Kashgaria. The chief river of Chinese Turkestan is the Tarim or Tali- mu-ho, about 1250 miles in length, resulting from the junction of the rivers or darias , watering Yarkand, Khotan etc.; finally the Tarim empties its waters into the Lob-Nor, now more of a marsh but a lake in ancient times. The principal passes to enter Sin-Kiang are the following: the Tash-Davan (Kwen-lun range), south of Lob-Nor; the Karakoram Pass, road leading from Yarkand to Leh in Ladak; the Shishiklik Pass, in the Pamirs; the Kyzil Art Pass, in the Trans-Alai; the Muz-Art, road from Kulija to Aksu; the Terek-Davan, in the Western T'ien-shan, the Urumtsi Pass, in the Eastern T'ien-shan; the Talki Pass, to the north of the Ili Valley.

Sin-Kiang includes the following regions: Hami or Qomujl or Pa Shan; the great Gobi Desert or Shamo, the largest portion of Turkestan, the south-west part of it is the Takla-makan Desert ; the region of oases (Khotan, Yarkand, Kashgar, Aksu, Uch-Turfan, Yangi-hissar); the Turfan region (Turfan, Karashar); Sungaria (Urumtsi, Kuch'êng); the Ili region (Kulja). Sin-Kiang is crossed by three main roads: (1) from Kan-su to Turfan, by Ngansi and Hami; (2) north from Urumtsi to Kulja, via Manas; (3) south from Turfan to Kashgar, via Karashar, Kurla, Kucha, Aksu, Maralbashi; there is also a route from Kashgar to Lob-Nor, via Khotan, Kiria, Charchan, Lob-Nor, thence to Sha Chou; this is Marco Polo's itinerary. The New Dominion is divided into four Tao or Intendancies: Chen Ti Tao (Tih-hwa Fu), in 1908 Jung Pei was Tao-t'ai and judge; Aksu Tao (Yenk'i Fu), Tao-t'ai vacant in 1908; Kashgar Tao (Sulofu), in 1910 Yuan Hung-yu was Tao-t'ai; and I T'a Tao (Ning yuan hien), in 1908 K'inghiu was Tao-t'ai. It includes six Fu or Prefectures: Tih-hwa or Urumtsi, Yenki or Karashar, Su lo or Kashgar, Soch'ê or Yarkand, Wensuh or Aksu, and Ili; two Chou, K'uch'ê or Kucha, and Hwotien or Khotan; and eight T'ing: Yingkihshaeul or Yangi-hissar, Wushih or Uch-Turfan, K'ueulk'ohlah Wusu or Kurkara-usu, Chensi or Barkul, Hami or Qomul, T'ulufan or Turfan, Tsingho, and T'ahch'êng or Tarbagatai.

The administration of Sin-Kiang has at its head a Fu-t'ai (in 1908, Lien K'uei), who resides at Urumtsi and is deputed by the Shen-Kan Tsung-tu (Viceroy of Kan-su and Shen-si) whose seat is at Lan-chou, Kan-su; the treasurer, Fan-t'ai (in 1908, Wang Shu-nan), who resides at Urumtsi (Tih-hwa); as well as the judge, Nieh-t'ai, who is also the Tao-t'ai of the circuit. The four Tao-t'ai have been mentioned. There are three Tsung Ping (brigade generals) at Aksu (Yênk'i), Palik'un (Barkul), and Ili. The Banner Organization includes: at Ili, a Tsiangkukn (Tatar general), a Futut'ung (deputy military lieut. governor), a Ts'an Tsan Ta Ch'ên (military assistant governor), and the Ling Tui Ta Ch'ên (commandants of forces) of Solun, Oalot, Chahar, Sibe; at Tarbagatai, a Futut'ung, and Ts'an Tsan Ta Chien; at Uliasut'ai, a Tsiang Kün and two Ts'an Tsan Ta Ch'ên; at Urga, a Panshi Ta Ch'ên (commissioner) and a Pangpan Ta Ch'ên (assistant commissioner); at Kobdo, a Ts'an Tsan Ta Ch'ên and a Panshi Ta Ch'ên; and at Si Ning, a Panshi Ta Ch'ên.

Mission

The Ili country is a part of the second ecclesiastical region of China ; it was constituted as a distinct mission (Ili or Sin-Kiang mission) at the expense of the Vicariate apostolic of Kan-su by a decree of 1 October, 1888; it is placed under the care of the Belgian missionaries (Cong. Imm. Cord. B.M.V. de Scheutveld) with Jean-Baptiste Steeneman as their superior. The mission includes five European priests and 300 Christians.

II. RUSSIAN TURKESTAN

Russian Central Asia includes the two khanates under Russian protection, Bokhara and Khiva, and the Turkestan region with its five provinces: Syr Daria, Samarkand, Ferghana, Semirechensk, and Transcaspian; it extends from the Caspian Sea to China, and from Siberia to Persia and Afghanistan, with an area of 721,277 square miles for Turkestan and 63,012 square miles for the Khanates. To the east, towards China, the country is mountainous and contains numerous lakes, Balkash, Issyk-kul, etc.; to the west, it is a large plain with desiccated lakes, watered by the two large rivers, Amu Daria and Syr Daria which run into the Aral Sea. The conquest of this region began in 1867 with the annexation of the country south of Lake Balkash, and occupation of the valley of the Syr Daria, forming the provinces of Semirechensk and Syr Daria; in 1878 the Zarafshan district was added and became subsequently the Samarkand Province. Later on, in 1873, part of the Khanate of Khiva, on the right bank of the Amu Daria, was occupied and was incorporated with the Syr Daria Province. In 1875 and 1876 the Khanate of Khokand being annexed became the Province of Ferghana. The population is but 6,243,422 inhabitants including, on the one hand, Russians, Poles, Germans, etc.; on the other, the natives: Aryans, Sarts, Tajiks, Tzigans, Hindus, with Mongols: Kirghizs, Ubeks, Torbors, etc., and emigrated Jews and Arabs representative of the Semitic Race. The chief products are corn, barley, rice, jugara, cotton. Cattle-breeding is the main source of commerce. The trade of Turkestan amounts to about 320 millions and a half of rubles, of which 140 millions and a half are exportation and 180 millions are importation. The chief trading province is Ferghana with 120 millions. Tashkent, the chief city of the Syr Daria Province, is also the centre of the administration of Russian Turkestan with a population of 191,500 inhabitants, of which 150,622 are natives, for the most part (140,000) Sarts. The two main rivers of Russian Turkestan which flow into the Aral Sea are the Syr Daria, Sihun, or Jaxartes, and the Amu Daria, Tihun, or Oxus.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2014 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter