BEYOND Sining, without the Gates of the Great Wall, are the Territories of the Tartars of Coconor. They are properly Eluth by Nation ; but since the Extinction of the Royal Family, nam'd Yuen tchao. They dwell to the West of China, along the Province Se tchuen, between this Province and Thibet ; and took their Name from a great Lake, which the Chinese call Si hai, that is, the Weston Sea, and which they call in their own Language, Coconal or Coconor.
The Country is pretty large: It is more than Seven Degrees from North to South, and is separated from China by such high and steep Mountains, that they serve almost every where instead of a Wall. Nevertheless, there are some small Flats towards the Straits of the Mountains, especially in the Places which are frequented by the Coconor, and by other Strangers; as, for Instance, Tsong fang ouei, in which there are kept some Battalions under the Conduct of a Tsong ping, who has other Troops in different Post, which he dispose of according as there is Occasion.
The principal Commodity of Tsong fang ouei, is a sort of Stuff made of Wool, call'd Pou lou, not unlike our Frize, but much narrower. It is the Work of the Tartars of Coconor, and of the Sifan, who have the Art of Dying it, and who sell it of all sorts of Colours. In the Country they often make long Dresses of this Stuff, and at Peking they use it to cover Saddles.
The Country of these Tartars which borders the Province of Se tchuen, is not contiguous to the Kingdom of Pegou and Ava, which the Chinese call Mieu and Ya oua, although it is to the South of it, because between them there are dreadful and inaccessible Mountains, inhabited by Nations scarcely known, and who, by the Report of the Chinese of Yun nan, who are their Neighbours, are very savage, without any Government or Laws.
That which is most Northern, and which borders upon the Tartar of Coconor, is call'd Nou y; and the most Southern, beyond the Kingdom of Ava, in 25 Degrees, 33 Minutes, is call'd Lise, upon the Limits of Yun tchangfou.
The Entrances of these Mountains, which make a pod Part of the Western Limits, have no other fortifications than those of Se tchuen: But considering the Country, they are sufficient for the Security of the State, and the Commerce which they carry on with Ava by Ten ye tcheou, a tolerable City, on which depend the Guards of the nearest and most frequented Strait.
There is less Necessity for fortifying the Spaces between the Mountains, on the South of Yun nan and of China, along the Confines of the Kingdoms of Laos and Ton king : For besides that the Air of this Country is very destructive to Strangers, it happens that the greatest Part of the Year all the Country hereabouts is uncultivated, wild, full of Rivers and very dangerous Torrents ; this is the Cause that the Chinese traffick so little, either with the Kingdom of Laos, which they call Lao chou, or Lao se, or with Tong king.
Nevertheless P. Regis met at Yun nan fou some who had been to traffick upon the Border, of both Kingdoms, from whose Memoirs and Journal he inform'd himself of some things concerning the Southern Parts of Yun nan, proportioning their Days. Journeys to certain Distances, measur'd between the Places thro' which they had pais'd in making the Map the neighbouring Cities,
The Chinese Nation has extended its Power to these Tracts of inaccessible Mountains, which in so great a Length are not broke but by great Rivers, and seem to have been made to serve as natural Bounds to a large Kingdom.
The Complaints and Efforts of some small Nation were little regarded, who remain'd shut up in this Enclosure; as we have observ'd of the Si fan, who have been enclosed by the great Wall of Si ning and Kia yu guan, Nevertheless the Chinese have not behav'd equally towards these different Nations, which we are going to describe.