YAKUB BEG : Ameer of Kashgaria , the jehadi who kept China and Russia from occupying muslim parts o


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YAKOOB BEG'S GOVERNMENT OF KASHGAR.Yakoob Beg's chief claim to our consideration is that, for more than twelve years, he gave a settled government to a large portion of Central Asia, and that, however faulty his external policy may have been in critical moments, his internal management was founded on a practical and sufficiently just basis.

As a warrior he had done much to justify admiration,and had proved on many a well-fought field, and in many a desperate encounter, his claims to be considered a fearless and resolute soldier; but in this quality he was equalled, if not excelled, by his own lieutenant, Abdulla Beg, the Murat of Kashgar, while some of the deeds of his son, Beg Bacha, will rank in daring and surpass in ferocity anything achieved by the Athalik Ghazi. But in capacity for administration Yakoob Beg far surpassed his contemporaries, and the merit of his success was enhanced, not so much by the originality of the method adopted, as by the unique vigour and perseverance with which it was put into force. The secret of his power can only be discovered by constantly bearing in mind the fact that he had constituted himself the champion of the Mahomedan religion in Central Asia.

The Ameers of Bokhara and Afghanistan might trifle with the seductive promises of the Russians, and might consent to sacrifice the interests of their religion for a transitory advancement of their worldly possessions; but to such degradations the Athalik Ghazitrue "champion father" as he wasnever stooped. With [Pg 138] whatever imaginary power the sympathy and good-will of the Mahomedan peoples of Turkestan may have clothed this ruler, there is no question that his attitude towards the Muscovite would have warranted the assertion of greater power than was ever attributed to him; and the secret of this delusion, an attitude of defiant strength without any solid foundation for so bold a course, can only be unravelled by remembering that the Athalik Ghazi strove to represent, not so much Kashgaria, as the whole Mahomedan world of Central Asia.

The necessities of his own position, when, having conquered Kashgar, he found that he had aroused the susceptibilities of the Russians, compelled him to seek in every direction for aid, and to have recourse to every artifice for increasing his strength, or its semblance, in order to avoid the dissolution of his state and a subjection to the Czar. So well did he succeed in his efforts, and so prompt were his movements and so fearless his attitude, that the Russians were deluded into a beliefwhich was, as we emphatically insist, unfoundedthat Kashgar would prove a more formidable antagonist than either Bokhara, or Khokand, or Khiva.

The interior management of a state, which, young in years, yet seemed to tower among its fellows, might be supposed to be a very interesting topic to dilate upon; but on this subject there is less direct evidence than could be wished. Even Sir Douglas Forsyth, in his official report, is not able to throw as much light as is desired on the inner working of the administrative system of Yakoob Beg. Still, such as it is, with the exception of the Russian writer, Gregorieff, he is the only authority on the subject. To commence with the court and the immediate surroundings of Yakoob Beg, we are struck by two inconsistencies. In the first place, there were no great nobles, or indeed adherents or his family; those chiefs who, whether they were Khokandian nobles or Kirghiz [Pg 139] or Afghan adventurers, had proved their fidelity to his rule, and their capacity for service, were actively employed as governors of districts, or as commandants of fortresses in the wide-stretching dominions of their imperious master.

Periodically they came to pay their respects in the capital, and at frequent intervals Yakoob Beg, in his journeys to the frontier, visited them, and superintended their operations in person; but, in so active a community where there was a dearth of mankind, the intellectually gifted members of the society were too valuable to be permitted to devote their energies and their attention to the object of becoming palace ornaments. Yakoob Beg had forced himself on a people who regarded him with indifference, and he had to maintain himself in his place by a never relaxing vigour. To make this possible, he required a large staff of efficient and trustworthy subordinates, who may be divided into three classes of various capacities, viz.,

soldiers, administrators, and tax-gatherers. Until the last few months of his reign there was no symptom that his system was declining in vigour, or that his supply of competent officials was limited and susceptible of being exhausted. Even in his most prosperous years, however, there was always a difficulty in obtaining a full supply; and in all inferior posts the disaffected Khitay had to be employed. The Tungani of Kucha and Aksu were scarcely more to be trusted in an emergency than their Buddhist kinsmen. Yet the extensive civil service of the state, which undertook the education, the religion, the civil order, the local administration of the people all into its own hands, had to be kept in working order, whatever else might happen. It can at once be perceived that, when a government which never obtained any deep hold on the affections of the people had only a limited population to draw upon, it was only a question of time to solve the difficulty by an exhaustion of the supply of suitable brain material, or by the uprising of an, at heart, dissatisfied people.

No one will ever understand the [Pg 140] secret of Yakoob Beg's rule unless he constantly bears in mind that his strict orthodoxy as a Mussulman, and his still stricter enforcement of the laws of his religion within his borders, were elements of strength only in his external relations; addition to there being no noble or wealthy official class in the city of Kashgar, there was also the strange inconsistency of an intensely strict etiquette being enforced side by side with extreme plainness in costume and ceremonial. It is rare indeed to hear any traveller to Kashgar speaking of the richness or finery of court functionaries.

Even Hadji Torah, or the Seyyid Yakoob Khan, as he is now called, and Mahomed Yunus, the governor of Yarkand, two of the most trusted and prominent followers of the Athalik Ghazi, were not to be distinguished from a host of minor luminaries in the court circle by any external insignia of their elevated position. Some of the military, officers of the household troops, wore a device of a dragon's head worked in silk over their plain uniform of leather; and this seems to have been a custom surviving the disappearance of the Chinese. Hadji Torahwho recently visited this country, and who had on previous occasions travelled in Russia, Turkey, and Indiahowever, alone among Kashgarian notables, had introduced into his household some of the comforts and luxuries of European life.

His example was not imitated by many others, and, after a brief period of fashion, the improvements he had striven to make popular died out and were lost sight of. The ordinary dress of a person above the rank of gentleman is a large blanket-like cloak worn [Pg 141] over a close-fitting tunic and breeches; and the dress of the peasant is similar, only his cloak is usually a sheepskin. The Ameer himself set the example of exceeding plainness in his costume, and his followers were far too skilled courtiers to vary their practice from that of their ruler. But what his court lacked in pomp it gained in impressiveness by the perfect system of etiquette enforced, and by the external show of reverence to the ruler and to his religion, manifested in every petty detail of the palace ceremonial.

The Ameer received publicly in his audience-chamber every day, when all petitions and stringent punishments were submitted to him. His shaghawals, or foreign secretaries, made their report to him on whatever business might be most pressing, whether it was concerning his relations with India or Russia, with Afghanistan or the Tungani; and the local governors, who might happen to have arrived at the capital, were received in audience, either to present their personal respects to the ruler, or their reports of the government of their provinces. The most unmistakable proof of how Yakoob Beg's rule was founded, and how it was maintained, is to be seen in the fact that his orda, or palace, was one large barrack, the interior compartments of which were devoted to the accommodation of the royal household. His out-houses were filled with cannon of every description, from antiquated Chinese irjirs to modern Krupps and Armstrongs, and his select corps of artillerymen, clothed in a scarlet uniform, seldom left the chief cities, except for serious operations against foreign enemies.

At the Yangy-Shahr of Kashgar, too, he kept his military stores, and it was said that in his workshops there he was able to construct cannon and muskets in considerable numbers in imitation of the most perfect weapons of European science. But it must be noted that we have no record of any of his home-made weapons being used in actual hostilities, while the supply of arms received from Russia, or this country, is known to have been made the most of. Besides the natural aptitude of his subjects of Chinese descent for imitation, he had in his service, particularly in his artillery, many sepoys who had deserted our service either at the time of the mutiny or since.

These soldiers, valuable either as non-commissioned officers or in higher ranks still, combined with a large number of good troops from Khokand and the mountain tribes of the neighbourhood, gave a cohesion and vigour to the whole army that was simply inestimable. That army, it may be here convenient to say, was divided into two classes widely differing from each other, and called upon, except in an emergency, when all the resources of the state were summoned to take part in its defence, to perform duties as opposite as their own composition.

The army of the Ameer, founded on [Pg 143] that confused assemblage with which he conquered Kashgar, was divided into two bodies, the jigit or djinghite, the horse soldier, and the sarbaz, or foot soldier. The former of these was the more formidable warrior, being selected for personal strength or skill. The jigits were trained to fight on foot as well as on horse, and were armed with a long single-barrelled gun and a sabre. Their uniform was a serviceable coat of leathern armour mostly buff in colour, and to all intents and purposes they correspond with our dragoons, or, perhaps, still more closely with the proposed corps of mounted riflemen. The sarbaz, among whom are included the artillerymen, presented greater varieties of efficiency than his mounted comrade; still he had gone through some regular drill and training, and resided in barracks.

He was a regular soldier, and might be trusted in defence of his country up to a certain point. In numbers it is impossible to state accurately how many jigits and sarbazes there were in the service of the state; some months ago they would have been placed as high as 50,000 or 60,000 strong, possibly at a higher number still; now we are wiser on the subject, and we have gone to the other end of the scale. It is probable, however, that Yakoob Beg never had 20,000 perfectly trustworthy soldiers in his army, and that after the conclusion of the Tungan wars, half that number would more accurately represent his force of jigits and sarbazes. But in addition to the more or less effective main body, there was a nondescript following of Khitay, Tungani, half-savage Kirghiz, and rude degraded savages like the Dolans, that in numbers would have presented a very formidable appearance. The Khitay must at once be struck out of the estimate, for they were never permitted to go beyond the immediate vicinity of Yarkand and Kashgar, where they kept themselves apart, and were employed as military servants, as sentries, and as workmen in the military shops and factories.

The Tungani, who enrolled themselves at various epochs in [Pg 144] the service of Kashgar, were more than dubious in their fidelity to the state; besides they were of such questionable courage, that they were no allies of any importance. Even as compared with one another, these were of varying kinds of efficiency; the Tungani who joined Yakoob Beg in the earlier portion of his career seeming to be the best of them. Those who joined after the fall of Aksu and Kucha, less efficient and more ambiguous in their fidelity; and those who dwelt in the country from Korla to Turfan and Manas, were totally inefficient, and not to be trusted to any degree whatever. The Kirghiz and Kipchak nomads were rather a source of danger to their friends than of dread to their foes. Yakoob Beg had, therefore, at his orders but a very limited force to maintain his own dynasty against the machinations of Khoja and Tungan, and to defend a long and vulnerable frontier against many powerful and ambitious neighbours.

It was absurd for him to think of venturing single-handed across the path of Russia, and to do him justice he never deluded himself into the idea that he could. All he seems to have aspired to was to resist to the uttermost any invasion of his territory by them, and to die sooner than surrender. Limited in numbers as his regular forces were, they seem to have had every claim to be placed high in the rank of Asiatic soldiers. They were certainly not as formidable a body as the Sikhs or Ghoorkas, probably not as the Afghans; still they were infinitely superior, except in numbers, to any forces the Ameer of Bokhara or the Khan of Khokand could place in the line of battle. To Yakoob Beg alone belongs the credit of their organization.

Yakoob Beg's system of administration was simple in the extreme. A Dadkwah, or governor, was appointed for each district, and in his hands was vested the supreme control in all the affairs of his province. Yet he was no irresponsible minister who could tyrannize as he pleased. Tyrannize in small ways, undoubtedly, many of them did, but, as the life of the subject could only be taken away [Pg 145] by order of the ruler himself, the most powerful weapon in the hands of an unscrupulous viceroy was removed. At stated periods, too, he had to proceed to Kashgar to give a report of the chief occurrences in his province, and on such occasions petitions containing charges against the Dadkwah were formally considered in his presence. It may be said that this proceeding was a farce, and it is probably true that a favoured viceroy could laugh at any ordinary accusation against his character. But that would be an exceptional case.

Many Dadkwahs were reduced in official rank, for malpractices, and some, such as Yakoob Beg's own half-brother, were removed for incompetence in their charges. Side by side, too, with the Dadkwah, ruled the Kazi or Judge, who, if of course not on a par in rank with the viceroy, was still invested with complete authority in all legal decisions on crime. This prominence given to the legal authorities had a good effect on the public mind, for, although the Kazi, as a rule, might not dare to thwart the wishes of the Dadkwah, the effect of the law being supreme was scarcely detracted from. And what was that law?

it may naturally be asked. Precisely the same as the law of every other Mahomedan state, with a few innovations traceable to the influence of the Chinese. The Sharit, the holy code of the Prophet followed in all the Sunni states, was enforced by Yakoob Beg, with particular severity; and in its working no sense of mercy was permitted to temper the harshness of its regulations. Crimes committed by women were punished with greater inflictions than the same committed by men; and the ordinary punishments, whipping, mutilation, and torture could be inflicted by order of the Dadkwah. Only in capital cases had the decision to rest with the sovereign.

Thieves, beggars, and vagrants found wandering about the streets at prohibited hours were immediately locked up, and brought before the Kazi, who would either administer a caution, or a whipping, if the accused had previously offended. Another check on the abuse of [Pg 146] power by the officials was to be found in the following regulation. A charge to be visited with a severer punishment than twenty heavy strokes from the diraa leather strap, fixed in a wooden handlehad to be investigated by a member of each official rank; so the Kazi passed a culprit on, with his comments, to the Mufti, the Mufti to the Alim, and the Alim to the Dadkwah. If any of these officials dissented from the remarks of his subordinate, and the matter was found impossible to arrange by mutual concessions, it was either referred to the sovereign for solution, or was permitted to fall through.

The Dadkwah had also to be present at every punishment within his jurisdiction, and was directly responsible to the Ameer for any miscarriage of justice. The Kazi Rais, or head judge, had the right to decide all minor matters for himselffor instance, in his patrols through the streets, if he met a woman unveiled he could order her to be struck so many times with the dira; or if he found a man selling adulterated food, or using light weights, he could confiscate his goods, or in some other manner mulct him in addition to administering a certain number of strokes.

He and his attendants were particularly energetic and zealous in compelling idlers about the bazaars to repair to the mosques at prayer time, and in a very paternal and authoritative manner did the Rais exercise his petty power for the good of his people. Even on his despotism there was some check, as he had no authority to inflict more than forty blows with the dira for one offence. Intimately connected with the administration of justice was the police system, which in its intricate ramifications permeated all sections of society. Much as we may feel admiration for the judicial code, which, up to a certain point admirably administered,

ensured a certain kind of rough justice throughout the Athalik Ghazi's dominions, the police laws and discipline have greater claims to our favourable opinion, as evidences of an astonishing capacity for government. In his legal code, Yakoob Beg simply adopted the laws [Pg 147] enforced on all true believers by the Koran, and he had no claims to originality as a lawgiver. But as a ruler adopting all those checks on sedition which lie at the disposal of an unscrupulous sovereign, and which were brought to such a pitch of perfection under Fouch and the Second Empire, Yakoob Beg has reason to be placed in the very highest class of such potentates. In this achievement, too, he was not a plagiarist, and, as he must have been ignorant of similar regulations existing in Europe, he must be allowed the credit of having originated a system of police in which it is difficult to find a single flaw.

In China, indeed, something of the same kind has at all times existed, and at periods when the Emperor grasped the sceptre firmly, and made his individuality felt in the management of affairs, the police were one of the most active tools of power. But even in that empire there is no record of their having attained so complete a control over the actions and sentiments of the people as in Kashgaria during the last decade. It appears, too, that in superiority of system lay the sole pre-eminence of the latter; for the Tungan, or policeman, of China was, individually man for man, a superior class to the Kashgarian and other constables of Yakoob Beg. In short, the whole credit of their existence belongs to that ruler. The municipal police were subdivided into urban and suburban, and they present a complete contrast to the vague body we have just attempted to describe. Their functions were known and recognizable. They were the functionaries who put into practice the behests of the Kazi, and they maintained order in the streets and bazaars, much as our own do. The Corbashi is the head of this body, and his subordinates are styled tarzagchi.

They wore a distinct uniform, and had drilling grounds attached to barracks, in which, however, they were not all compelled to reside. They were essentially military in their rules, and presented a powerful first front to all evil-doers and would-be rebels. It was they who accompanied the Kazi Rais in his daily circuit of the streets and market-place, and it was from their weapon, the dira, that the ordinary punishment was received. Their principal avocation seems to have been to maintain order in the towns during the night-time, for in the day we only hear of a few of them being detailed for personal attendance on the Dadkwah and Kazi. With sunset their true importance is more visible, for not only were they stationed in all main thoroughfares, squares, and other open places of the city; but until sunrise patrols at frequent intervals throughout the night visited all the chief quarters of the town.

The power vested in their hands during these hours was very great, and it was dangerous for any stranger to venture out after prohibited hours. All persons found in the streets after [Pg 150] sunset were arrested and incarcerated until the morning, when, if they could give a satisfactory account of themselves, they were released, with a caution not to keep such unseemly hours for the future. If, however, they were unable to explain their business, a further term of imprisonment was imposed; and it was a matter of some difficulty for a stranger to obtain his complete liberty for some time afterwards.

The suburban police fulfilled much the same duties, and on all the country roads patrols passed up and down during the night, while pickets were stationed at the cross-roads. In the same manner as in the towns all travellers, except those armed with a passport, were interned for a minute investigation into their affairs in the morning. And "thieves, beggars, and wanderers" were chastised at the discretion of the local magistrate.

The vagrant laws were as much enforced, too, as they were in this country in the days of Queen Elizabeth, and in a general mode of interference with the thoughts and actions of its subjects, the Kashgarian government had attained a height of excellence that would entitle it to rank with the Inquisition. Still there was order. No riots occurred to distract the harmony of the public weal, and to an external observer, especially to one belonging to a country where order is considered the greatest desideratum, the government of the Athalik Ghazi seemed to be the perfection of an Asiatic state, and that order a reason for attributing all other virtues to its originator. Travellers, however, who were provided with a passport, were accorded privileges of transit, and were permitted, if they felt so disposed, to continue their journeys during hours interdicted to less privileged mortals.

In each chief town there were offices for the issue of these permits to travel. Not many obstacles were thrown in the path of those, who left permanent guarantees in the shape of property behind them for their return, in accomplishing their desire for travel; but rarely was permission granted to any one, not blessed with these [Pg 151] worldly advantages, to proceed farther than the neighbouring district. Indeed in all cases leave to visit foreign states, other than Khokand or Bokhara, was a matter of difficulty to be obtained, and only in the most exceptional cases was it granted. But it appears that there were some evasions of this regulation by a simulation of religious zeal, for the Sheikh-ul-Islam had it in his power to grant permits to leave the country on pilgrimages to Bokhara the "holy," or to Mecca. In themselves the passports were simple in phraseology. They merely stated the name and address of the traveller, the nature of his business, and his destination.

Having obtained the consent of the Dadkwah, and the authority of the Kazi, no difficulty was experienced in procuring the necessary slip of paper. Infractions of this permission, by too long an absence, or by proceeding in some forbidden direction, were visited on a first offence with a fine. On a repetition of it, however, the punishment became more severe. It would be interesting to know how these protectors of the public peace were paid, and by what means. But on this point there is little trustworthy information. We, however, know of one tax which was devoted to the support of the urban police, but of the funds from which the suburban were remunerated, we have no authority for any assertion. A weekly tax was levied from all the shop and booth owners, to go towards the payment of their protectors; but it is not supposed that this amounted to a sufficient sum to maintain the large force in the more important cities.

The difference was probably paid out of the state coffers under the head of justice. Where formerly lived a light-hearted and happy race there now seemed as if a never-to-be-removed gloom had settled down on the face of the land, and neither the assurance of security nor the irregular encouragement of the ruler to commerce could remove the blight that had fallen upon the energies and happiness of the people. As one of them expressed it, in pathetic language, "During the Chinese rule there was everything; there is nothing now." The speaker of that sentence was no merchant, who might have been expected to be depressed by the falling-off in trade, but a warrior and a chieftain's son and heir. If to him the military system of Yakoob Beg seemed unsatisfactory and irksome, what must it have appeared to those more peaceful subjects to whom merchandise and barter were as the breath of their nostrils?

All the advantages of a perfect police system, heavily weighted by the incumbrance of a costly addition of spies and tale-bearers, would seem as nothing compared with the loss incurred by the fetters placed on individual motion and enterprise. Considered by itself, the police organization of Kashgar was, perhaps, the most perfect design achieved by Yakoob Beg, and his community of spies will rank with anything in effectiveness that has ever been accomplished by any potentate. But as a permanent addition to his strength it is permissible to doubt whether he really secured his rule by employing the latter, or obtained much more by the formation of the former than the services of a trained body of trustworthy, courageous men.

The restrictions imposed on trade by the severance of all communications with the East by the Tungan wars and by the limited amount of liberty granted the native Kashgari, proved most deterrent [Pg 153] to all mercantile adventure, and placed in the hands of Khokandians or Russians on the north, and of Cashmerians and Punjabis on the south, most of the trade still carried on with Eastern Turkestan. The trade carried on by the Athalik Ghazi's state, if we are to judge solely by amount, with foreign countries, was greatest with Russia and her dependencies; but if we investigate the matter more closely we find that the result is a little more satisfactory to ourselves. The direct trade that was carried on by way of Leh with Khoten and Sanju was steadily increasing, while that of Russia by Khokand had for some time remained stationary, if it had not even decreased. And then much of the Russian trade has to be scored to this country, for in the marts of Kashgar, underneath Russian exteriors,

were very often to be found English interiors, and the brand of well-known Manchester and Liverpool makers was discovered beneath some gaudy and brilliant-looking cover hailing from Moscow or Nishni Novgorod. Besides, recent investigations have proved that some of the goods exported from Shikarpore, in Scinde, through the Bholan Pass find their way through the mountainous districts that intervene into the territory of his late Highness the Ameer of Kashgar. Nor had Yakoob Beg totally neglected all means for inducing merchants to enter his state; indeed, his chief objection seemed to have been, not that they should have entered his state, but that they should leave it. Serais were built in all the chief towns for the accommodation of such merchants as might take up a temporary abode within his territory,

and the Andijani Serai, or hotel, specially constructed for merchants from Khokand, was one of the largest and most striking buildings in the city of Kashgar. Yakoob Beg had even detailed off to take care of the serai and its occupants a large number of the old Khitay, or Yangy Mussulmans, who were generally employed throughout the city as domestic servants. When we come to the description of [Pg 154] the relations of Yakoob Beg with England and with Russia we will speak more fully of the details of those treaties of commerce which were ratified on several occasions, and whose ostensible object was the promotion of trade and other friendly intercourse.

Source :book on Yakub Beg titled :


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Extra note from


The treament by chinese of Yakub Beg children after his death

Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events, Volume 4. NEW YORK: D. Appleton and Company. 1888. p. 145. Retrieved 2011-05-12. At the time that Eastern Turkistan again passed into the hands of China, there were taken prisoners four sons, two grandsons, two granddaughters, and four wives of Yakoob Beg. Some of these were executed and others died; but in 1870 there remained in prison at Lanchanfoo, the capital of Kan-suh, Maiti Kuli, aged fourteen ; Yima Kuli, aged ten ; K'ati Kuli, aged six, sons of Yakoob Beg; and Aisan Ahung, aged five, his grandson. These wretched little boys were treated like state criminals. They arrived in Kan-suh in February, 1879, and were sent on to the provincial capital to be tried and sentenced by the Judicial Commissioner there for the awful crime of being sons of their father. In the course of time the Commissioner made a report of the trial, which he concluded as follows : In cases of sedition, where the law condemns the malefactors to death by the slow and painful process, the children and grandchildren, if it be shown that they were not privy to the treasonable designs of their parents, shall be delivered, no matter whether they have attained full age or not, into the hands of the imperial household to be made eunuchs of, and shall be forwarded to Turkistan and given over as slaves to the soldiery. If under the age of ten, they shall be confined in prison until they shall have reached the age of eleven, whereupon they shall be handed to the imperial household to be dealt with according to law. In the present case, Yakoob Beg's sons Maiti Kuli, Yima Kuli, and K'ati Kuli, and the rebel chief Beg Kuli's son, Aisan Ahung, are all under age, and were not, it has been proved, privy to the treasonable designs of their parents. They have, therefore, to be handed to the imperial household to be dealt with in accordance with the law, which prescribes that, in cases of sedition, the Sons and grandsons of malefactors condemned to dealt by the slow and painful process, if it be shown that they were not privy to the treasonable designs of their parents, shall, whether they have attained full age or not, be delivered into the hands of the imperial household to be made eunuchs of, and shall be sent to Turkistan to be given as slaves to the soldiery. But, as these are rebels from Turkistan, it is requested that they may, instead, be sent to the Amoor region, to be given as slaves to the soldiery there. As Maiti Kuli is fourteen, it is requested that he may be delivered over to the imperial household as soon as the reply of the Board is received. Yima Kuli is just ten , K'ati Kuli and Aisan Ahung are under ten: they have, therefore, to be confined In prison until they attain the age of eleven, when they will be delivered over to the imperial household to "be dealt with according to law.
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