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KARAKORUM (Turkish, " black stone deb...

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 676 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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KARAKORUM (Turkish, " black stone debris "), the name of two cities in Mongolia. One of these, according to G. Potanin, was the capital of the Uighur kingdom in the 8th century, and the other was in the 13th century a capital of the steppe monarchy of Mongolia. The same name seems also to have been applied to the Khangai range at the headwaters of the Orkhon. (1) The Uighur KARAKORUM, also named Mubalik (" bad town "), was situated on the left bank of the Orkhon, in the Talal-khain-dala steppe, to the south-east of Ughei-nor. It was deserted after the fall of the Uighur kingdom, and in the loth century Abaki, the founder of the Khitan kingdom, planted on its ruins a stone bearing a description of his victories. (2) The Mongolian KARAKORUM was founded at the birth of the Mongolian monarchy established by Jenghiz Khan. A palace for the khan was built in it by Chinese architects in 1234, and its walls were erected in 1235. Plano Carpini visited it in 1246, Rubruquis in 1253, and Marco Polo in 1275. Later, the fourth Mongolian king, Kublai, left Karakorum, in order to reside at Kai-pin-fu, near Peking. When the khan Arik-bog declared himself and Karakorum independent of Kublai-Khan, the latter besieged Karakorum, took it by famine, and probably laid it waste so thoroughly that the town was afterwards forgotten. The exact sites of the two Mongolian capitals were only established in 1889-1891. Sir H. Yule (The Book of Marco Polo, 1871) was the first to distinguish two cities of this name. The Russian traveller Paderin in 1871 visited the Uighur capital (see Tunics), named now by the Mongols Kara Balghasun (" black city ") or Khara-kherem (" black wall "), of which only the wall and a tower are in existence, while the streets and ruins outside the wall are seen at a distance of 14 m. Paderin's belief that this was the old Mongol capital has been shown to be incorrect. As to the Mongolian Karakorum, it is identified by several authorities with a site on which towards the close of the 16th century the Buddhist monastery of Erdeni Tsu was built. This monastery lies about 25 M. south by east of the Uighur capital. North and north-east of the monastery are ruins of ancient buildings. Professor D. Pozdneev, who visited Erdeni Tsu for a second time in 1892, stated that the earthen wall surrounding the monastery might well be part of the wall of the old city. The proper position of the two Karakorums was determined by the expedition of N. Yadrintsev in 1889, and the two expeditions of the Helsingfors Ugro-Finnish society (189o) and the Russian academy of science, under Dr W. Radlov (1891), which were sent out to study Yadrintsev's discovery. See Works (Trudy) of the Orkhon Expedition (St Petersburg, 1892) ; Yule's Marco Polo, edition revised by Henri Cordier (of Paris), vol. i. ch. xlvi. (London, 1903). Cordier confines the use of Karakorum to the Mongol capital; Pozdneev, Mongolia and the Mongols, vol. i. (St Petersburg, 1896) ; C. W. Campbell, " Journeys in Mongolia," Geog. Journ. vol. xx. (1903), with map. Campbell's report was printed as a parliamentary paper (China No. z, z9o4). KARA-KUL, the name of two lakes (" Great " and " Little ") of Russian Turkestan, in the province of Ferghana, and on the Pamir plateau. Great) Kara-kul, 12 M. long and 10 m. wide (formerly much larger), is under 39° N., to the south of the Trans-Alai range, and lies at an altitude of 13,200 ft.; it is surrounded by high mountains, and is reached from the north over the Kyzyl-art pass (14,015 ft.). A peninsula projecting from the south shore and an island off the north shore divide it into two basins, a smaller eastern one which is shallow, 42 to 63 ft:, and a larger western one, which has depths of 726 to 756 ft: It has no drainage outlet. Little Kara-kul lies in the north-east Pamir, or Sarikol, north-west of the Mustagh-ata peak (25,850 ft.), at an altitude of 12,700 ft. It varies in depth from 79 ft. in the south to 50 to 70 ft. in the middle, and loon ft, or more in the north. It is a moraine lake; and a stream of the same name flows through it, but is named Ghez in its farther course towards Kashgar in East Turkestan. KARA-KUM ("Black Sands "), a flat desert in Russian Central Asia. It extends to nearly ' 1o,000 sq. m., and is bounded on the N.W. by the Ust-urt plateau, between the Sea of Aral and the Caspian Sea, on the N.E. by the Amu-darya, on the S. by the Turkoman oases, and on the W. it nearly reaches the Caspian Sea. Only part of this surface is covered with sand. There are broad expanses (takyrs) of clay soil upon which water accumulates in the spring; in the summer these are muddy, but later quite dry, and merely a few Solanaceae and bushes grow on them. There is also shor, similar to the above but encrusted with salt and gypsum, and relieved only by Solanaceae along their borders. The remainder is occupied with sand, which, according to V. Mainov, assumes five different forms. (1) Barkhans, chiefly in the east, which are mounds of loose sand, 15 to 35 ft. high, hoof-shaped, having their gently sloping convex sides turned towards the prevailing winds, and a concave side, 3o° to 4o° steep, on the opposite slope. They are disposed in groups or chains, and the winds drive them at an average rate of 20 ft. annually towards the south and south-east. Some grass (Stipa pennata) and bushes of saksaul (Haloxylon ammodendron) and other steppe bushes (e.g. Calligonium, Halimodendron and Atraphaxis) grow on them. (2) Mounds of sand, of about the same size, but irregular in shape and of a slightly firmer consistence, mostly bearing the same bushes, and also Artemisia and Tamarix; they are chiefly met with in the east and south. (3) A sandy desert, slightly undulating, and covered in spring'with grass and flowers (e.g. tulips, Rheum, various Umbelliferae), which are soon burned by the sun; they cover very large spaces in the south-east. (4) Sands disposed in waves from 50 to 70 ft., and occasionally up to loo ft. high, at a distance of from 200 to 400 ft. from each other; they cover the central portion, and their vegetation is practically the same as in the preceding division. (5) Dunes on the shores of the Caspian, composed of moving sands, 35 to 8o ft. high and devoid of vegetation. A typical feature of the Kara-kum is the number of " old river beds," which may have been either channels of tributaries of the Amu and other rivers or depressions which contained elongated salt lakes. Water is only found in wells, to to 20 M. apart—sometimes as much as loo m.—which are dug in the takyrs and give saline water, occasionally unfit to drink, and in pools of rain-water retained in the lower parts of the takyrs. The population of the Kara-kum, consisting of nomad Kirghiz and Turkomans, is very small. The region in the north of the province of Syr-darya, between Lake Aral and Lake Chalkarteniz, is also called Kara-kum. (P. A. K. ; J. T. BE.)
End of Article: KARAKORUM (Turkish, " black stone debris ")
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