Sites & cities that bear the name of Karasahr


Today in : China
First trace of activity : ca. 2nd century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : O-ki-ni, 焉耆, Yanqi, Agni, Arshi, Ārśi, Karashar, قاراشەھەر, Qarasheher, Kara Shahr, Yenki, Cialis?, Chalis?, Chialis?, Karachahr, Karashahr

Description : Karasahr or Karashar (Uighur: قاراشەھەر, romanized: Qarasheher), which was originally known, in the Tocharian languages as Ārśi (or Arshi) and Agni or the Chinese derivative Yanqi (Chinese: 焉耆; pinyin: Yānqí; Wade–Giles: Yen-ch’i), is an ancient town on the Silk Road and the capital of Yanqi Hui Autonomous County in the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang. As of the 2000 Census it had a population of 29,000, growing to 31,773 persons in 2006; 16,032 persons of which were Han, 7781 people Hui, 7,154 people Uygur, 628 Mongol and 178 other ethnicities and an agricultural population of 1078 people. The town has a strategic location, being located on the Kaidu River (known in ancient times as the Liusha), China National Highway 314 and the Southern Xinjiang Railway and is an important material distribution center and regional business hub. The town administers ten communities. It has a predominately Muslim population and contains many mosques. The earliest known inhabitants of the area were an Indo-European people who apparently referred to themselves and the city as Ārśi (pronounced "Arshi"). Their language, since it was rediscovered in the early 20th century, has been known as "Tocharian A" (a misnomer resulting from an assumed relationship to the Tukhara of Bactria). The people and city were also known as Agni, although this may have been a later exonym, derived from the word for "fire" in an Indo-Iranian language such as Sanskrit (cognate to English "ignite"). The 7th century Buddhist monk Xuanzang transliterated Agni into Chinese as O-ki-ni. Ārśi was bordered by related Tocharian cultures, many of which also spoke related languages: Kuča (or Kucha), Gumo (later Aksu) to the west, Turfan (Turpan) to the east and to the south, Krorän (Loulan). In China, Han dynasty sources describe Yanqi (Ārśi/Agni) as a relatively large and important neighboring kingdom. According to Book of Han, the various states of the "Western Regions", including Yanqi, were controlled by the nomadic Xiongnu, but later came under the influence of the Han dynasty, following a Han show of force against Dayuan (Fergana) in the late 2nd century BC. From the 1st Century BCE onwards, many populations in the Tarim Basin, including the Ārśi underwent conversion to Buddhism and, consequently, linguistic influence from Indo-Iranian languages, such as Pali, Sanskrit, Bactrian, Gandhari and Khotanese (Saka). The city of Ārśi became commonly known as Agni, almost certainly derived from the Sanskrit अग्नि "fire". Names such as Agnideśa (अग्निदेश) and Agni-visaya, both of which are Sanskrit for "city of fire", are also recorded in Buddhist scriptures. According to the Book of the Later Han, General Ban Chao went on a punitive campaign against Yanqi in 94 AD after they attacked and killed the Protector General Chen Mu and Vice Commandant Guo Xun in 75 AD. The king of Yanqi was decapitated and his head displayed in the capital. Later rebellions were subdued by Ban Chao's son Ban Yong in 127.

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