China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia

By Peter C. Perdue | Go to book overview

Appendix C

Haggling at the Border

These amusing excerpts illustrate the frustrating experiences of Qing commanders attempting to control trade at the border and the tenacious efforts of canny Central Eurasian caravan leaders to push as many goods as possible onto Qing markets.

Anxi Provincial Commander-in-Chief Li Shengwu memorializes on reports of barbarian traders arriving at the border:

On May 7, 1748, we received a report from Hami Division Commander Wang Neng'ai saying that from April 28 to May 4 each border post on the mountain ridges sighted from afar men and herds moving eastward on the Leibaquan road. The general received the report and concluded that these were barbarian traders "maoyi yiren" heading for East Daban. He immediately sent Captain Chang Qing with troops to East Daban to guard it and wait for the barbarians to arrive at the border. He waited until May 2 without sighting the barbarians. He then took ten crack troops with him to go beyond the palisade to reconnoiter. On May 5 he arrived at Kuisu and saw the barbarians coming.

He asked them, "What are you doing here?"

One of them replied, "This is our trading year. Our chief according to precedent has sent us to do business."

The captain asked, "How many men have come? How many headmen are there? What are their names? How many animals? When did you leave Ili?"

He replied, "There arc 136 men, including 46 'Tartars' "Mongols" and 90 'turban heads' "Turkic Muslims". Of our four headmen, three are Turki. I am Elianhuli; one is called Maimolitihali Bek "given below as Momolitibu",

-575-

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