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Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 9 months ago

Aksu                                                                   "Biking from Aksu to Kashgar" blog




    Aksu (also known as Ak-su, Akshu, Aqsu, Bharuka and Po-lu-chia. Uyghur: ئاقسۇ/Ak̡su; simplified Chinese 阿克苏, traditional Chinese: 阿克蘇, pinyin: Ākèsù) is a city in the Chinese province of Xinjiang and the capital of Aksu Prefecture. The name Aksu literally means white water, and is used for both the town and the river.


    As of 2002, the city, which is in the Southern foothills of Tian Shan, has a population of 560,000, mostly Han Chinese, the city itself has a population of 362,000.


    The economy of Aksu is mostly agricultural, with cotton, in particular long-staple cotton as the main product. Also produced are grain, fruits, oils, beets and so on. The industry mostly consists of weaving, cement, and chemical industries.






    From the Former Han dynasty (125 BCE to 23 CE) at least until the early Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) Aksu was known as Gumo 姑墨 [Ku-mo]. It was an important stop on the branch of the Silk road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan desert in the Tarim basin between Kucha and Kashgar. In Buddhist Sanskrit it was known as Bharuka. There can be no question that Gumo refers to the present-day oasis of Aksu – although the ancient capital town of Nan ("Southern Town") was likely well south of the present town.


    During the Former Han it is described as a "kingdom" (guo) containing 3,500 households, 24,500 individuals and with 4,500 people able to bear arms. It is said to have produced copper, iron and orpiment.


    The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang visited this "kingdom" in 629 CE and referred to it as Baluka. He recorded that there were tens of Sarvastivadin Buddhist monasteries in the kingdom and over 1000 monks. He said the kingdom was 600 li from east to west, and 300 li from north to south. Its capital was said to be 6 li in circuit. He reported that the "native products, climate, temperament of the people, customs, written language and law are the same as in the country of Kuci (Kucha), but the spoken language is somewhat different." He also stated that fine cotton and hempen cloth made in the area was traded in neighbouring countries.


    Aksu was strongly connected with Kucha, though its spoken language differed a little from standard Kuchean. It was positioned on a junction of trade routes; the northern-Tarim silk road, and a route north to the fertile Ili River valley.


    Around 1220 it became the capital of the Kingdom of Mangalai .

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