or Mugala Town
: 木尕拉镇, Pinyin
: Mùgǎlā Zhèn; Ugyhur
: كېرىيە / Keriyə), is a town in Keriya County
, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
, on the old Southern Silk Road
. As the commercial and administrative centre of Keriya County, it is about 166 km east of Khotan
, 80 km east of Qira, and 120 km west of Niya
. Yutian County has a population of about 160,000.
During the Han Dynasty
the kingdom based on the Keriya Oasis
was known as Jumi
(拘彌). The Hou Hanshu
records that during the Later Han Dynasty
(25-220 CE) there were "2,173 households, 7,251 individuals, and 1,760 people able to bear arms" in Jumi.
The small modern town of Keriya is situated on the western bank of the Keriya River. Approximately 180 km north along the Keriya River is the ancient fortified site of Karadong where the world's oldest Buddhist murals have been found. It was abandoned in the 4th century CE. Another site, Yuan Sha, some 40 km north of Karadong, dates from the Iron Age but was abandoned by about 130 BCE.
There is a village about 75 km south of Keriya called Pulu. There are a number of peaks over 6,000 metres to the south of the oasis including Qong Muztag at 6,962 m (22,841 ft) in the upper Keriya River Valley. About 100 families of the distinctive Keriya Uyghurs, who are said to be quite distinct from other Uyghurs, live at Tangzubasti Village, about 170 km north of the town of Yutian. It is said to be on the ruins of the ancient city of Keladun where artifacts from the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-222 CE) have been found.
Marco Polo visited the oasis in the late 13th century. He described it as being five day's journey in extent, but with sandy deserts to both east and west. Both the Province and the "most splendid" capital city were called Pem. He notes that the people "all worship Mahomet" and that there were many towns and villages. "It is amply stocked with the means of life" with rich estates including orchards, vineyards, and lots of cotton. He also mentions that "jasper" (probably nephrite jade) and chalcedony were found in the rivers and the people "live by trade and industry" and were "not at all war-like."
Gold mines were reported near Keriya in the 19th century.
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- Slideshow of archaeological sites along the Keriya River
- 3000 year old archaeological finds at Liushui Village, Yutian County
- Archaeological GIS and Oasis Geography in the Tarim Basin
- Description of the Keriya Uyghur people by a Christian evangelical group.
- Site showing photos of the mosque and a statue in Keriya town.