National Geographic : 1954 Nov
625 Fleeing Communist Rule in Sinkiang, Kazakhs Trekked 3,000 Miles to Kashmir When the Communists seized their home pastures in Chinese Turkistan, 15,000 Kazakhs left for sanc tuary in Kashmir. On the epic 2-year march, only 350 survived Red attack and hardships. One mean ing of the word "Kazakh" is "one who has left his people." The refugees left behind some 400,000 of their tribesmen in Sinkiang and several million in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. were born during the 2-year escape march of the Kazakhs (page 633). So, despite suffering and dejection, the lit tle nation, shriveling in battle, enlarged by birth, made its way south. With summer came blowing sand, intense heat, and a terri fying water shortage. They pressed on to Makhai, then west to Ghaz Kul and Timurlik. The chiefs sought out the tents of Hussain Taiji, a Kazakh leader who had lived there with his people for many years. They knew he would re place from his still-intact flocks as many of their lost animals as he could. Meanwhile, to Timurlik had come another group of fleeing Kazakhs, perhaps 50 families, under Qali Beg, the chief who became my special friend. Pasturing among the moun tains near Urumchi (Tihwa), Sinkiang's capi tal, these Kazakhs had heard of the disaster at Barkol. Leaders at once marshaled their families and got them under way southward through the Tien Shan. Their objective also was a rendezvous with Hussain Taiji's people. Running the gantlet of enemy attack and natural obstacles, Qali Beg's skeleton "horde" endured even harsher trials than had the easterly tribes under Sultan Sherif and Delil Khan. My notes record reminiscences of Hamza, Qali Beg's deputy, about their anxious crossing of the exposed Lop Nor desert, east ern reach of the dreaded Takla Makan.