ĀQSŪ (1)


ĀQSŪ, town in eastern Turkestan, modern Chinese Sin-kiang, about six km to the north of the river Āqsū. It lies on the caravan roue between Maralbāšī and Kučā at 41° 14.7’ north latitude and 80° east longitude. The name is Turkish and is first used of this town in the 14th century. Turkish aq sū (“white water”) is a technical term referring to the original bed of a river, by contrast with qara sū (“black water”), used of a derivative canal. Āqsū is the name of several rivers including the one in Sin-kiang that flows southeast from the T’ien-shan mountains. The above Āqsū is known as the “New Town” by contrast with a second Āqsū in close proximity called the “Old Town”. A third Āqsū is also found in the same region. Since no archeological remains have been discovered in the area, it is not possible to decide which Āqsū is referred to in several older sources. Nevertheless, a town in this area is referred to in several early sources by various names. It is known in Chinese from the Han period as Ku-mo, as Pa-lu-kia in Hsüan-tsang, and as Mo-lu and Po-huan in the T’ang period. In Middle Persian it is called prwʾṇč and in Sogdian pʾrmʾn, similar to Arabic Bārmān. The Sanskrit name Bharuka is also attested. In Chinese sources Āqsū is renowned for its fine woolen cloth. Āqsū remained of minor importance until it became a provincial capital in the 16th century. In 1716 it was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake. A number of western travelers, among them Younghusband and Sven Hedin, visited Āqsū in the 19th century, when it is said to have had about 15,000 inhabitants. Since 1877 it has been under Chinese rule.



P. Pelliot, “Notes sur les anciens noms de Kučā, d’Aq-su et d’Uč-Turfan,” T’oung-Pao, 1923, pp. 126-32.

Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky, pp. 293-97, 482.

W. B. Henning, “Argi and the " Tokharians’,” BSOAS 9, 1938, pp. 567-68.

B. Spuler, “Aḳ Ṣu,” EI2 I, pp. 313-14.

(R. E. Emmerick)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 10, 2011

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Vol. II, Fasc. 2, p. 199