/khoh"tahn", koh-/, n.
Older Spelling. Hotan.

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Wade-Giles romanization  Ho-t'ien,  Pinyin  Hotan,  
      oasis town in the southwest of the Uighur Autonomous Region of Sinkiang, China. Khotan forms a county (hsien) and is the administrative centre of the Ho-t'ien (Khotan) prefecture (ti-ch'ü), which administers a string of counties based on the oases along the southern edge of the Takla Makan Desert.

      The oasis of Ho-t'ien, the largest of these, includes Mo-yü (Kara Kash), to the northwest, and Lo-p'u, to the east. The oasis is watered by the K'a-la-k'a-shih (Kara-kāsh) River and Yü-lung-k'a-shih (Yürung-kash) River, which flow from the high Kunlun Mountains to the south. They join in the north of the oasis to form the Ho-t'ien (Khotan) River, which discharges into the desert to the north. The rivers have their maximum flow during summer and are almost dry for much of the year.

      Khotan first came into contact with China during the expeditions of the Later Han dynasty (AD 23–220) into Central Asia, which were led by the general Pan Ch'ao, who conquered Khotan for a while in AD 70. In these early centuries it was inhabited by an Aryan people known to the Chinese as the Vijaya, who spoke an Indo-European language and were much influenced by the culture of northern India and Afghanistan. Their kingdom represented an important post on the road from China to the west (via the Pamirs), and also to India. It was both a major commercial centre and one of the principal places through which Buddhism reached northern China. The Chinese again took Khotan when the expansionist policy of the T'ang dynasty (618–907) took Chinese armies into the Tarim Basin in the 630s. Disputed by the Tibetans from the south for a while, the T'ang government established the government general of Pi-sha (the Chinese transcription for Vijaya) there. This was destroyed at the time of the Chinese retreat from Central Asia after their defeat by the Arabs on the Talas River (now in Kazakhstan) in 752.

      In the 10th century Khotan was conquered by the neighbouring state of Kashgar, part of the Uighur empire, and in the 12th century it was taken by the Hsi-hsia dynasty (Tangut peoples). In 1219 it was overrun by the Mongols. It was already famous in China in the 8th century for its fine fabrics and its sophistication, and when the Venetian traveler Marco Polo (Polo, Marco) visited it in 1274 he noted its importance as a trading centre and its agricultural wealth, particularly its fine cotton. Restored to Chinese control in the mid-18th century, Khotan played a major part in the Muslim Rebellion against the Chinese beginning in 1862 and was one of the last places to be recaptured by Chinese forces in 1878.

      The oasis is a long-established centre of carefully irrigated cultivation. Corn (maize), wheat, rice, and millet are the staple grains. Cotton is intensively grown, and the area produces much fruit, including mulberries. It has a well-established textile industry, producing silks and cotton fabrics. Local herds produce fine wool that is used for making carpets and felt goods. The area is a source for a limited amount of alluvial gold and is famous throughout the Far East as the major source of jade. It is also famous for its metalwork and jewelry. Pop. (mid-1970s est.) 10,000–50,000.

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Universalium. 2010.

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